Your Brain Is an Energy-Efficient ‘Prediction Machine’

Results from neural networks support the idea that brains use predictions to create perceptions—and that they work that way to conserve power. HOW OUR BRAIN, a three-pound mass of tissue encased within a bony skull, creates perceptions from sensations is a long-standing mystery. Abundant evidence and decades of sustained research suggest that the brain cannot simply be assembling sensory information, as though it were putting together a jigsaw puzzle, to perceive its surroundings. This is borne out by the fact that the brain can construct a scene based on the light entering our eyes, even when the incoming information is noisy … Continue reading Your Brain Is an Energy-Efficient ‘Prediction Machine’

Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?

Quantum mechanics + consciousness: There is nothing better than mixing two great mysteries to produce an even bigger one. KEY TAKEAWAYS Despite the tremendous success of quantum physics, its interpretation remains uncertain.  The brain, which is made up of neurons, which themselves are made up of molecules, is likely influenced by quantum effects.  Can quantum mechanics and neuroscience be merged into a theory of “quantum consciousness”? by Marcelo Gleiser Few mysteries are more persistent and inscrutable than the mystery of who we are. Granted, there are many ways to go about exploring this question, and science is not the only … Continue reading Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?

Should Beginners Use Meditation Apps? A New Study Warns of Adverse Effects

A study in Psychotherapy Research indicates that people who started meditating using an app may be more likely to develop what’s known as “meditation sickness.” By Wendy Biddlecombe Agsar Anew study published in the journal Psychotherapy Research indicates that people who started meditating using an app have a higher likelihood of developing the adverse effects that can result from meditation practice.   This finding was included in “Prevalence of meditation-related adverse effects in a population-based sample in the United States,” which was published in June 2021. The study’s authors conducted what they believe to be the first population-based survey of the adverse effects of meditation (participants, it should … Continue reading Should Beginners Use Meditation Apps? A New Study Warns of Adverse Effects

What Happens If We Recognize the Love Inside of Grief?

Accepting grief as a way to honor loss can help us open into a more intimate and heartfelt union with life itself. By Sharon Salzberg At times, pain can reach such a powerful level that it can be devastating. In spiritual life, we might call it the dark night of the soul. In interpersonal life, we call it grief, and this intense emotional experience does not limit itself to the loss of someone who has died. It can occur as the experience of nearly any kind of deep loss. I learned that in a poignant way from a man who was … Continue reading What Happens If We Recognize the Love Inside of Grief?

How do you know?

Correct information doesn’t always come with its own bright halo of truth. What makes something worth believing? Nate Sheff is a writer and an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Edited bySam Dresser You can’t be wrong on purpose. To see this, try one of my favourite philosophical parlour tricks. Right now, believe something you think is false: that the Sun is just a big lightbulb, for instance. Don’t imagine you believe it – really believe it. Become so confident in it that you’d bet good money that it’s true. When I try this, I feel a funny cognitive … Continue reading How do you know?

Among Social Scientists, a Vigorous Debate Over Loss Aversion

A principle that explains decision-making — from investor behavior to insurance markets — isn’t ironclad, experts argue. BY MICHAEL SCHULSON WHILE MOST PEOPLE have likely never heard of loss aversion, the concept — arising in the social sciences some four decades ago — is among the most influential in the behavioral sciences. In a nutshell, it holds that when people make decisions, the impact of losing something carries greater weight than the impact of gaining something of similar value — or that, in the often-quoted words of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, “losses loom larger than gains.” The idea has come to inform empirical … Continue reading Among Social Scientists, a Vigorous Debate Over Loss Aversion

Geopsychology: Your personality depends on where you live

The nascent field of geopsychology shows that the Big Five personality traits vary by region. But not all results conform to stereotype. KEY TAKEAWAYS Scientists in the relatively new field of “geopsychology” are seeing links between personality and location. A recent study found geographically significant variations in the distribution of the Big Five personality traits. It turns out that Southerners are more agreeable, while Northeasterners are more neurotic — but not all results conform to stereotype. The Big Five personality traits, a.k.a. the CANOE model. There is also a geographic component to their distribution, research suggests. (Credit: MissLunaRose12 / Wikimedia … Continue reading Geopsychology: Your personality depends on where you live

10 surprising new things we’ve learned about death

Studying death can improve life. By Kevin Dickinson Black cloak. Scythe. Skeletal grin. The Grim Reaper is the classic visage of death in Western society, but it’s far from the only one. Ancient societies personified death in a myriad of ways. Greek mythology has the winged nipper Thanatos. Norse mythology the gloomy and reclusive Hel, while Hindu traditions sport the wildly ornate King Yama. Modern science has de-personified death, pulling back its cloak to discover a complex pattern of biological and physical processes that separate the living from the dead. But with the advent of these discoveries, in some ways, death … Continue reading 10 surprising new things we’ve learned about death

3 Things No One Ever Told You About Making Friends in Adulthood

by Brett & Kate McKay There are lots of bits of advice you probably weren’t given growing up. How to budget your money. How to know if you should marry the person you’re dating. How to make or break a habit. Also assuredly on that list: How to make friends in adulthood. Not only is it not part of any school curriculum, but you probably didn’t receive any guidance from your parents, either verbally or by way of example, as there’s a good chance they didn’t have any real friends themselves. If, as a result, you’re struggling to find pals as a grown-up, … Continue reading 3 Things No One Ever Told You About Making Friends in Adulthood

From Cows to Covid: The Spooky Origins of Vaccines

Like many life-saving innovations in medicine, vaccination emerged long before we understood how it worked. BY BRENDAN BORRELL BACK IN THE 18TH century, it was a wonder how anyone ever survived a trip to the doctor. Many didn’t. England’s drug stores were stocked with bulls’ penises, frogs’ lungs, and powdered Egyptian mummy, which was evidently used against tuberculosis. Syphilis, known as the “Great Pox,” was treated with mercury. Never mind that it made you slobber and eventually go mad. The Scottish physician John Brown, the author of “Elementa Medicinae,” simply gave his patients roast beef, opium, and booze. Many people thought he … Continue reading From Cows to Covid: The Spooky Origins of Vaccines