Essential Reads

Our Top-Down Brains and How They Help Us Adapt to the World

What the gold-white, blue-black dress debate reveals about how our brains work

Why We Hate It When People Invade Our Space

John Travolta and Joe Biden put it in the news, but it's an everyday problem.

Born to Gossip

Every sentence is a juicy tidbit about who did what to whom.

Think You Can't Get Drunk on Soda Water? Think Again.

A powerful demonstration of how easily we can be fooled.

Recent Posts on Cognition

5 Things Everyone Should Know about Resilience

By Peg Streep on March 02, 2015 in Tech Support
When we speak of someone being "resilient," we tend to think of it as a character strength. But what is resilience anyway, and what does it take to weather the setbacks in life? A look at the research reveals much...

Sex and Leadership for Women

Sex differences in the brain can help women be better leaders

Could You Be Addicted to Your Cell Phone?

Could you go 24 hours without your cell phone? Many people can't!

Fear and Pain Can Alter Memory

What we experience today can impact our memories of similar events that happened yesterday. Our present-moment experience is so powerful it may reinforce or ‘overwrite’ our memory of a past experience.

Why You Can't (and Shouldn't) Be Happy Most of the Time.

By Frank T McAndrew Ph.D. on March 01, 2015 in Out of the Ooze
We work very hard to reach goals, anticipating the happiness that they will bring us. After a brief fix of “yippee," however, we quickly slide back to our sorry-ass, humdrum, ordinary state of being. Studies of lottery winners and others who seem to "have it all" throw cold water on our dream of a different life. And yet, we persist. Why?

A Dress of a Different Color

By Maureen Seaberg on March 01, 2015 in Sensorium
The dresses of the year, are, in fact, marsala!

Meaning is Where the Action Is

Whether a therapist’s expression of emotional understanding will produce therapeutic or counter-therapeutic effects will depend on the emotional meanings that such expressions have for the patient.

The Blue/Black-White/Gold Dress & Questioning Reality

The blue and black & white and gold dress debate is actually very deep and profound.

Modern Intellectual History of Cognitive Sciences

By Sean X. Luo M.D., Ph.D. on February 28, 2015 in Hooked on Patterns
Did cognitive science come out of Einstein or Darwin?

Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock and Us - Who is Superior?

By Eyal Winter on February 28, 2015 in Feeling Smart
Mr. Spock, Emotions, Super Rationality, Leonard Nimoy

Our Top-Down Brains and How They Help Us Adapt to the World

What you see is often not a matter of the stimuli that are in front of you, but a matter of your expectations. The “affair of the dress,” and whether you see it as white-gold or blue-black is just another example of our top-down brains.

Where’s The Market For Organs (And Sex)?

By Jesse Marczyk on February 28, 2015 in Pop Psych
Sometimes you aren't allowed to sell things that you are free to give away; a curious bit of moral psychology

Schizophrenia and Violence, Part II

By Betsy Seifter Ph.D. on February 27, 2015 in After the Diagnosis
The insanity defense fails again, but mentally ill offenders need treatment, not punishment.

Does Neuroimaging Provide the Ultimate Answers?

By Daniel Voyer Ph.D. on February 27, 2015 in Perceptual Asymmetries
Does the state of knowledge and methodology on neuroimaging warrant the confidence we have on results obtained with these methods?

Why We Hate It When People Invade Our Space

By Joe Navarro M.A. on February 27, 2015 in Spycatcher
Why exercising social intelligence matters and why it can dominate a news cycle

Born to Gossip

By David Ludden Ph.D. on February 27, 2015 in Talking Apes
Since our brains are finely tuned for coordinating our relationships with others, it’s not surprising that language is structured to convey social information.

Should We Fan the Romantic Flame?

By Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in In the Name of Love
All human experiences, including romantic ones, can be boring. The remedy for boredom is often change and novelty. Should we then change our romantic partners in order to fan our romantic flames? Although change is indeed essential to emotional intensity, there are several types of changes, and emotional intensity is far from being the whole story when it comes to romance.

ADHD and Weed: What’s the Draw?

Does marijuana help with ADHD?

Is Declining Ability With Aging Inevitable?

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Black Belt Brain
There’s an inevitable decline in ability across the lifespan, or so we’ve been told. This idea that we have to deteriorate as we age has had widespread and pervasive traction in our society. But is it true?

Is Good Psychotherapy Worth the Investment?

By Judith Coche Ph.D., ABPP on February 26, 2015 in No Ordinary Life
Nick, age 55, gets unstuck when he and wife Barbara join together to invest in their own depth therapy to deal with how to feel passion, be more cognitively flexible, and create a happier marriage. They are glad they did.

Think You Can't Get Drunk on Soda Water? Think Again.

Don't blame it on the alcohol! Blame it on your expectations about drinking.

The Psychology of Wonder

By Thomas Hills Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Statistical Life
Who we are is a consequence of our internal model, and when we change that by learning something new, we change our understanding of ourselves.

Entangled Empathy: How to Improve Human-Animal Relationships

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Animal Emotions
A new book by philosopher Lori Gruen called "Entangled Empathy" sets out a new ethic for our interactions with other animals, including humans, that involves blending our feelings and our knowledge of the others with whom we are in relationship and focusing on their situations by attending to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and sensitivities.

Coping With Traumatic Brain Injury

By Robert T Muller Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Talking About Trauma
Tricia Williams, a clinical neuropsychologist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, explains how to improve child development and mental health for individuals coping with a TBI.

Are Kids Curious?

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in This Is America
In The Hungry Mind, Engel draws on the latest social science research to understand why curiosity is nearly universal in babies, and less evident in school. Although most children learn more when their curiosity is piqued, “schools do not always, or even often, foster curiosity.” But in an era that prizes quantifiable results, curiosity is not likely to be a priority.

Some Things Get Better With Age

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on February 26, 2015 in Off the Couch
My ninety year old aunt complains that she does not have much energy anymore. She doesn’t like it that she can’t remember what day it is, or the names of new acquaintances. But when it comes to emotional advice, there’s no one better to ask. Research has shown that as we age, not all of our cognitive abilities are on a steady downward path.

Is Sadomasochism a Uniquely Human Form of Sexuality?

By Hal Herzog Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Animals and Us
From an evolutionary point of view, the enjoyment of pain would seem to be maladaptive. Is there an animal analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?

Are People Naturally Scientific?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Hot Thought
Some social and developmental psychologists have claimed that people—even children—naturally think like scientists. I find this claim implausible because: people are naturally religious rather than scientific; everyday thinking frequently deviates from scientific reasoning; and science is a relatively recent cultural development.

Work Smarter, Not Harder by Breaking Bad Habits

Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, we're only as good as our worst habits. Getting rid of worst habits allows us to operate more efficiently.