Making eye contact with someone is powerful: at the very least, it shows you’re listening attentively. But how long before holding someone’s gaze starts to feel uncomfortable? And why is it hard to maintain eye contact and think at the same time? Can’t take my eyes off you From birth, we prefer looking at faces that look directly at us. And from a very early age, our brains respond more to a face looking […]
When was the last time you laughed out loud? Can you remember what set you off? It turns out laughing is more complex than it might appear: we laugh for many different reasons. And some of them aren’t that funny. Is laughter the best medicine? Laughter has been claimed to be good for just about everything, from boosting the immune system, to decreasing stress and lowering blood pressure. There’s some evidence laughter protects against heart disease and […]
Do you blush easily? We tend to blush when we’re embarrassed, ashamed or nervous. Why do our cheeks go red, and why can’t we control it? And does blushing serve a purpose?
Your panic is rising. The walls are closing in. You’re sweating, trembling, having trouble breathing and on the verge of fainting. It’s claustrophobia and it’s all-consuming. Many people experience claustrophobia and it can be utterly debilitating. Why, and what can be done? When the ceiling is too close Last week, I had an MRI. And for the first time, I had an inkling of what claustrophobia must feel like. I couldn’t see out either end of […]
As cute as a… button? Puppy? Kitten? Panda cub? There’s no shortage of things we respond to by saying ‘Awwww, that’s so cute’. But what is it exactly that we find cute, and why? And why do we often feel an overwhelming urge to squeeze cute things?
Have you ever been to a pheromone party? The idea is to find your perfect partner based on smell, yep: body odour. All you need is a smelly t-shirt, a zip-lock bag and an open mind. We know pheromones play a huge role in the animal world, but scientists can’t agree if the same is true for us.
Hi I’m Jen and I’m not a big fan of spiders. Research shows I’m not alone: fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias in the world. But why are so many of us scared of spiders when hardly any spiders are actually dangerous? And what can we do about our arachnophobia?
The other day my seven-year-old told me a blatant lie. He wasn’t trying to hide the lie but instead immediately asked ‘did you notice the twinkle in my eye?’ Somewhere along the way he’d heard that twinkling eyes are a good indication of lying and he wanted to test me out. We’re all aware of certain gestures that are meant to clearly give away dishonesty. But it turns out although we may hear dozens of […]
Most young kids do it. Michael Jordan was famous for it. And it’s quite possible you do it too. What am I talking about? Sticking your tongue out when you concentrate. It’s incredibly common and over the years there have been a variety of theories attempting to explain the habit. Recent research supports the suggestion it’s connected to the way humans evolved spoken language. A quirky tongue? Next time you have the opportunity, watch a […]
When I was a kid I aspired to live to 100 so I could get my letter from the Queen. These days I have a rather different view of the monarchy and more insight into the pivotal role of good health in old age. If you want to talk old age, there are a plenty of other animals and plants with lifespans far more impressive than ours. The question is: why do some living things live so much longer than others?