Panpsychism, the idea that inanimate objects have consciousness, gains steam in science communities

DNA, Atoms and particles (Getty Images/Yuichiro Chino) An expanding notion of what “consciousness” is could have profound repercussions By MATTHEW ROZSA Dr. Martin Picard is an associate professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, specializing in both psychiatry and neurology. Together, expertise in these two fields suits one well to understanding the essence of what makes one human. Picard is particularly knowledgable about mitochondria, a structure found within nearly all cells that have a nucleus. They provide most of the chemical energy that cells use in their various biochemical tasks, and are sometimes likened to batteries. Picard sees something else in mitochondria, too. Last year, he … Continue reading Panpsychism, the idea that inanimate objects have consciousness, gains steam in science communities

We’re More of Ourselves When We’re in Tune with Others

Music reminds us why going solo goes against our better nature. BY KEVIN BERGER When musicians have chemistry, we can feel it. There’s something special among them that’s missing when they perform alone. Anyone who’s heard a Mick Jagger solo album knows that’s the case. Clearly nature wants us to jam together and take flight out of our individual selves. The reward is transcendence, our bodies tell us so. What’s the secret of that chemistry? It’s a question that one of the most refreshing neuroscientists who studies music has been probing lately. Refreshing because her lab is not only in … Continue reading We’re More of Ourselves When We’re in Tune with Others

Stop Calling Them “Girls’ Bikes“

A case for pedaling a step-through bike by Eben Weiss Like a dog’s tail communicates its mood, a bike’s top tube indicates its intent. A level top tube implies a bicycle of classical proportions and dignified comportment. A sloping one suggests light weight and snappy acceleration. And a top tube low enough to easily lift your foot over in order to mount the bicycle means it’s a “girl’s” bike, and not one meant to be ridden hard by serious riders. Yeah, right. While the purpose of the step-through frame was originally to accommodate a woman’s wardrobe (women in pants was a radical … Continue reading Stop Calling Them “Girls’ Bikes“

Your brain has limits. Here are some simple ways to extend your mind, according to science

Acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul says that in order to think the intelligent, informed, original thoughts we’re capable of, we can’t rely on the brain alone. Read on to learn how you can extend your mind. BY BOOK BITES Annie Murphy Paul is an acclaimed science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, TIME magazine, and the Best American Science Writing. She is currently a fellow in New America’s Learning Sciences Exchange. Below, Annie shares five key insights from her new book, The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain. Listen to the audio version—read by … Continue reading Your brain has limits. Here are some simple ways to extend your mind, according to science

Everything could have been so different

Your life is far more arbitrary than you might think. by Jonny Thomson  Jorge Borges’ story, The Library of Babel, asks us to imagine all the books that could be written using a random shuffling of 25 characters. Daniel Dennett argues that, in some ways, the genetic makeup of all life is similar but with only four characters. The history of the universe is only one possible way our story could have gone. Much of our reality is simply arbitrary. Imagine all the lives you didn’t live. A life where you never met your partner. Where you never had a brother … Continue reading Everything could have been so different

The purpose of life evolves

by Thomas Oppong Many people swear by a grand purpose — the reason for their existence. Something they look forward to every day. Purpose is a personal experience. It evolves — it’s a transformational journey. You are probably not pursuing the same things you wanted a decade ago. New opportunities and possibilities emerge as we change physically, mentally, intellectually and emotionally. The purpose of life is not universal. There’s no single reality you need to experience to make life worth living. Purpose can mean finding and doing the small things that guarantee deep joy every day. It can also mean … Continue reading The purpose of life evolves

Perfectionistic tendencies are associated with reduced cognitive flexibility and heightened emotional suppression

by Eric W. Dolan Perfectionistic individuals are more likely to view their problems as outside their control, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, which may help to explain why they often struggle to cope with stressful events. But the new findings indicate that the emotion regulation strategy known as cognitive reappraisal could help perfectionists view difficult situations as more controllable. “I study psychological attributes that make it possible for people to achieve their goals. One of these attributes is cognitive flexibility — which is the ability that allows us to change our perspective or alter our behaviors,” … Continue reading Perfectionistic tendencies are associated with reduced cognitive flexibility and heightened emotional suppression

Consider Yourself a Tourist

Advice from the Dalai Lama on making our lives meaningful and dealing with our mortality. By The Dalai LamaWINTER 1999 Within less than fifty years, I, Tenzin Gyatso, the Buddhist monk, will be no more than a memory. Indeed, it is doubtful whether a single person reading these words will be alive a century from now. Time passes unhindered. When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well. Therefore, if when our final day comes we are able to look back and see that we have lived full, … Continue reading Consider Yourself a Tourist

How to Unlearn a Disease

Medicine’s latest cure is forgetting you’re sick. BY KELLY CLANCY My father, a neurologist, once had a patient who was tormented, in the most visceral sense, by a poem. Philip was 12 years old and a student at a prestigious boarding school in Princeton, New Jersey. One of his assignments was to recite Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. By the day of the presentation, he had rehearsed the poem dozens of times and could recall it with ease. But this time, as he stood before his classmates, something strange happened. Each time he delivered the poem’s famous haunting refrain—“Quoth the Raven … Continue reading How to Unlearn a Disease

The Antidote to the Irreversibility of Life: Hannah Arendt on What Forgiveness Really Means

“Forgiving… is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly, unconditioned by the act which provoked it and therefore freeing from its consequences both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven.” BY MARIA POPOVA “To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt,” poet and philosopher David Whyte observed as he dove for the deeper meanings of our commonest concepts. But, as James Baldwin and Margaret Mead demonstrated in their historic conversation about forgiveness and the crucial difference between guilt and responsibility, Western culture has a confused understanding … Continue reading The Antidote to the Irreversibility of Life: Hannah Arendt on What Forgiveness Really Means