Category: Brain Research

Talk is Cheep

iStock_000019872102_LargeWe’ve known for a long time that humans are capable of assigning meaning to sounds based on context. In other words, we often figure out the meaning of a sound (take “bear” and “bare,” for example) based on where the sound falls in a string of other sounds.

It’s a fabulous skill that requires rather sophisticated cognitive abilities. And now researchers have discovered that humans are not alone in this ability. In fact, the ability to interpret sounds based on context has been observed in swamp sparrows, a grey-breasted bird found in North American wetlands.

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Should You Make a Big Decision on a Warm or Cold Day?

cold dayDid you know that temperature affects complex decision making?

Say you’re vacationing in Texas in the dead of summer and you run to the store to buy something you need. There are two choices: one is a more familiar option and the other is unfamiliar and a little more complicated. Studies say you’re more likely to buy the familiar product on that particular day than you would in the dead of winter. This is because on a hot day you may not have the cognitive resources to make a more complex decision.

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Can Attention be Trained? Seniors (and Babies) Prove It Can

Baby girl playing outdoorsWhen TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked the secret of her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.”

If you struggle with ADHD, however, that’s a lot easier said than done.

About 6 million children and teens have been diagnosed with ADHD, with an estimated four percent of U.S. adults struggling with the disorder as well.

The good news is that support and education help. Plus, there are things you can do. In fact, if you’re looking for something you can do to help yourself or a child who struggles, two studies on attention are worth, well, paying attention to.

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Texting Alters Teen Brain Chemistry

texting vid

New data on teen texting is disturbing, to say the least. Over the past three years, teen texting is up 600%, with the average number of texts among teens hitting 3000 texts every month. Increasingly, doctors are treating teens for sleep disorders because one out of five teens wake up at night so they can text.

According to a report aired on ABC, doctors are describing the teen texting phenomenon as a physical addiction that can alter the brain.

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That Pain in Your Heart Isn’t All in Your Head

We call breakups “painful” for good reason: When you experience an unwanted breakup, thinking of  your ex-love-interest activates the same parts of your brain that process physical pain.

Researchers measured brain activity while showing love-sick men and women photos of their former-sweethearts, and then photos of platonic friends. They also measured brain activity as they exposed subjects to physical pain with a hot probe on the arm. And guess what? The same parts of the brain lit up when exposed to physical pain and memories of the ex.

What does this mean for you if you’ve just experienced a painful breakup? For starters, don’t beat yourself up about feeling bad. Researchers believe your brain is wired to help you move on, survive and eventually thrive by lumping memories of your past relationship in the same category as rope burns and root canals.

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