All posts tagged: brain

Is training your brain just a game?

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Health / Medicine / Myths / Psychology

Want to be smarter and better at concentrating? Want to improve your memory and protect yourself against dementia? Brain-training programs promise all this and more – but do they work? Do brain-training games make you smarter? Image credit: dire schaefer via Flickr The claims The logic behind brain training is simple. Carry out a mental task repeatedly, and you get better at it. It could be memorising a string of numbers, or fitting together a […]

Getting in the zone

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Health / Medicine / Myths / Psychology

Time has stopped. The world around you has disappeared. You are completely immersed in whatever you’re doing. Anything is possible and you feel invincible. What’s going on in your brain when you’re ‘in the zone’? Going with the flow Do you call it being ‘in the zone’? Or perhaps ‘in the groove’? If you’ve ever felt completely engrossed in a task to the point that nothing could distract you, you’ve experienced what psychologists call ‘flow’. […]

Do I know you?

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Health / Medicine / Myths / Psychology

Are you good with faces? Would you be able to recognise someone you’ve only met once before? Some of us are better at remembering faces than others. But most of us take for granted being able to recognise our family and friends. What if you couldn’t? Face-blindness Being able to recognise my partner, kids and parents is something I completely take for granted. But for one in fifty people, it’s by no means a given. That’s how […]

Are we seeing eye to eye?

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Anthropology / Evolution / Myths / Psychology

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 […]

Superbaby

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Anthropology / Myths / Psychology

Is it a bird? Or a plane? No, it’s a baby. When we think of babies, it’s easy to focus on all the things they can’t do – walk, talk, look after themselves, or think like we do. But there are also plenty of things babies can do that we can’t. And few of us are aware of the ‘superpowers’ we’ve lost. Seeing is believing Are you good at remembering faces? Most of us do a decent […]

Just doodle it!

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Health / History / Myths / Psychology

Do you doodle? Sketch? Or like many people, were you told at some point you were bad at drawing and gave it up completely? While virtually all kids draw, few adults do. But there’s good evidence we should all pull out our coloured pencils: drawing and doodling improve focus and memory and can help us learn. Is drawing a thing of the past? In days gone by, drawing was an important and valued skill in a variety […]

Breaking bad… habits

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Health / Myths / Psychology

Got any bad habits? Smoking, biting your nails, compulsively checking your email or heading to the vending machine every day at 3pm? We’ve all got habits we’d like to break. Perhaps there are a few new habits you’d like to adopt too. What can science tell us about how to do it? Your brain on autopilot Ever arrived somewhere in your car and realised you have no memory of having driven there? Do you remember […]

Remembering what never happened

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Health / Myths / Psychology

Do you often forget things? Wish you had a better memory? Me too. But there’s a far more sinister way your memory may be failing you. Being positive you remember an event is actually no guarantee it ever happened. Your memory is fickle It’s tempting to think our memories work like video recorders: faithfully recording our surroundings, thoughts and feelings. We can accept our brains might not have room for everything, so we end up holding […]

The sense of claustrophobia

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Evolution / Health / Myths / Psychology

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 […]