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Can Mexico's health program teach the U.S. to lose weight? Mexico has launched a rigorous campaign to combat the epidemic, including taxes on sugary drinks and other high-calorie snack foods.
Anger: You don't have buttons Many people struggle with what they call an "anger management problem." What people really mean is that they do not know how to choose differently, in a moment. They are struggling with solving what they ideally want or think should be with what is not happening in reality, and they choose anger as a best solution to get what they want. Anger, however, if it is over-used or misused can have negative consequences for relationships with spouses, children and co-workers.
What is Sex? Many people spend little time thinking about the meaning of sex or the purpose of sex. It is not until you cannot get it or it stops working in your relationship that you really examine it. How we define sex or what we consider to be sex can create problems for couples.
Researchers hijack cancer migration mechanism to 'move' brain tumors One factor that makes glioblastoma cancers so difficult to treat is that malignant cells from the tumors spread throughout the brain by following nerve fibers and blood vessels to invade new locations. Now, researchers have learned to hijack this migratory mechanism, turning it against the cancer by using a film of nanofibers thinner than human hair to lure tumor cells away.
Thinking it through: Scientists seek to unlock mysteries of the brain Pioneering researchers work to uncover the circuitry of human cognition, identify the genetic roots of disease, unlock the power of Big Data for diagnosis, build a new generation of computing hardware inspired by the brain, and perform revolutionary experiments on a realistic model of the brain.
Sexual Satisfaction: Highly Valued, Poorly Understood Sexual satisfaction is an easy concept to grasp, but not to study. Despite recent advances, we are still far away from a thorough understanding of the causes and implications of this important component of a happy life. read more
Superstars of Psychology: 10 Best Short Talks (Videos) Here are 10 of the best talks about psychology from some of the superstars of this and related fields.Talks from Philip Zimbardo, Barry Schwartz, Alison Gopnik, Steven Pinker, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and more... Continue reading - - > → Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
I don't know what I think | Stephen Curry Stephen Curry: I don't know what I think "” and neither do you. But Daniel Kahneman's book may helpStephen Curry
Daniel Kahneman changed the way we think about thinking. But what do other thinkers think of him? Thinking, Fast and Slow was a global bestseller, and had a profound impact on psychology and economics, as these tributes from other leading figures show'He revolutionised large parts of psychology'Steven Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard University. He is frequently named one of the world's top intellectuals and has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.I've called Daniel Kahneman the world's most influential living psychologist and I believe that is true. He pretty much created the field of behavioural economics and has revolutionised large parts of cognitive psychology and social psychology. His central message could not be more important, namely, that human reason left to its own devices is apt to engage in a number of fallacies and systematic errors, so if we want to make better decisions in our personal lives and as a society, we ought to be aware of these biases and seek workarounds. That's a powerful and important discovery.His work has had a great impact on my own. I've taught his research for more than 30 years and it's one of my favourite lectures when I teach psychology. My most recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, is about the historic decline of violence, a fact that I argue is underappreciated precisely because the human mind works the way Kahneman says it works, namely, that our sense of risk and danger is influenced by salient events that are available from memory. Our minds do not naturally process statistics on incidents of violence, and so Kahneman helps explain why my claim is news or why it's hard for people to believe.In person, Daniel is very stimulating. When I first presented the material that became my book The Blank Slate, he gave me a comment that really sat with me: he noted that the idea of human nature with inherent flaws was consistent with a tragic view of the human condition and it's a part of being human that we have to live with that tragedy. It was a profound philosophical observation and it influenced my writing of that book.We have our differences. I think he is a pessimist, whereas I am an optimist. I do think he's right that human nature saddles us with some unfortunate limitations, but I also think – and actually he himself shows in the "slow thinking" part of his book – that we have the means to overcome some of our limitations, through education, through institutions, through enlightenment. It will always be a flaw, human nature will always push back, but gradually, bit by bit, with two steps forward, one step back, I think that our better angels can push back against our limitations and flaws.Thinking, Fast and Slow is an interesting capstone to his career, but his accomplishments were solidified well in advance of writing it and they'd be just as significant without the book. His work really is monumental in the history of thought.'Danny is warm and moderate but also highly volatile' Richard Thaler is a behavioural economist and expert in the psychology of decision-making. A professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, he is also the co-author of the bestseller Nudge, which explores how individuals and governments can influence people to make choices. Although Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky [the cognitive psychologist who collaborated with Kahneman; he died in 1996] were not economists, they made behavioural economics possible. When I was a second-year assistant professor, I heard that they were going to be visiting the US from Israel and I made it my business to go to Stanford [University, where Kahneman used to work] that year to hang out with them. It changed my life. This was early in my career – I was 32 – and following the work of two psychologists was not a strategy that anyone thought was brilliant.I spent enormous amounts of time with them at Stanford. There was a whole clan: Amos and his wife, Barbara, Danny and his now-wife, Anne Treisman, and Anne's soon-to-be-ex-husband – they all came to the Bay Area that year. My office was near Danny's and we spent countless hours wandering the hills, brainstorming about what the intersection of our two fields might be. They knew nothing about economics and I knew nothing about psychology, so it was one walk at a time, but we had a lot of fun.Danny is warm and moderate but also, inside himself, highly volatile. He quit writing this book at least a dozen times. And I had to convince him not to quit, n+1 times. He genuinely didn't think anybody would buy it. It was a biased forecast – he prides himself on being a pessimist. He was shocked that it did so well and he's still in shock. He didn't think it would sell more than a million copies worldwide.On every project we worked on together, there were several times when he would call me up, at 9.30 on a Saturday morning, to tell me that he'd figured out that what we were doing was crap – he'd found the fatal flaw. Amos, who was very even, used to provide a counterbalance. So after 1996, when Amos died, I took over the role of the one who would reassure him. I'd say: going on base rates, most of what you've done so far is not crap, therefore the probability that this is crap is low. I tried to speak his language, and, not knowing Hebrew, I thought I'd better go with the jargon.Certainly his work has to be viewed as one of the most important accomplishments of 20th century science. It's hard to think of any psychologist whose work has influenced so many different fields.'He made happiness respectable as a goal for society'Professor Richard Layard is a British economist. After years researching inequality and unemployment, he became one of the first economists to study happiness, chairing the World Economic Forum's global agenda council on health and wellbeing at Davos in 2011 and co-editing a world happiness report in 2012 and 2013.Danny Kahneman changed my life. He persuaded me that happiness is a real experience which can be measured and therefore studied and understood. I had always believed that the best society is one where there is the most happiness and (above all) the least misery. But the new science of happiness, which Danny was inspiring, made this ideal a hundred times more practicable.So I started writing a book on happiness, with Danny as my tutor. He invited me to Princeton. He introduced me to Richie Davidson, the great neuropsychologist who located areas of the brain where happiness and misery are experienced, and many other outstanding American psychologists. And, despite a dodgy back, he flew across the Atlantic four times to conferences we held, one of them on the draft of my book.Danny is not only brilliant but exceptionally charming, which is how he became the focal point for people working on happiness. As Danny himself says, it is not often that you make close friends when you are beyond a certain age. I'm so lucky that it happened.By chance I was visiting Princeton when, in 2002, Danny won the Nobel prize. That prize, more than anything, has made happiness respectable – not only as a subject of study but as a goal for society. In Britain, the government now measures happiness, the OECD promotes the standard international measurement of happiness and the UN holds a huge conference on happiness. And millions of people in their lives feel authorised to pursue meaningful objectives going way beyond material success.And that is only part of the story. A huge part of Danny's work is on how we think – and how profoundly irrational we can be. That, too, is transforming business, however slowly, and explains the million copies he has sold of his new book. But, in the great sweep of history, I suspect he will be most remembered as the man who made happiness respectable.'I learned one can force people to have a healthy outlook'Risk engineering professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb is author of the bestselling book The Black Swan, about the problems created by rare events.I met Daniel Kahneman in 2003, at a conference in Rome, soon after he got the Nobel Memorial prize. I was standing with a bunch of French researchers and this French-sounding fellow told me that he was puzzled by my idea that humans were not good at understanding rare events. It did not hit me that it was Kahneman, who it turned out, spoke French with no accent – not well-known since he avoids using it professionally and even socially.I gave my talk to a crowd who took my lecture (on The Black Swan) with an icy cold – it was before the publication of the book and I was then totally unknown. I had informed the audience (financiers) about their cluelessness concerning rare events (black swans) and I could discern their annoyance – a few bankers looked a bit insulted. The chairman announced that there was going to be no Q&A. I feared that they would disinvite me from the rest of the conference, and perhaps even throw me out of the building, and if they could, the country. Kahneman was the next speaker. He unexpectedly saved my life when his opening sentence was that he "fully agreed with the previous speaker".We became friends (in English). There have been memorable episodes, particularly a five-hour drive to rural Delaware, in which – among other problems – we were tailgated by a huge angry fellow, as, forgetting that Danny was in the car, I gave the man the finger.People talk about his ideas in vague terms but I have been able to get from his work at least a dozen simple practical solutions.When I met Danny, it was at a low point in my professional life, as I was starting to manage money for other people and, while I learned to administer my own psychology, thanks to trial and error and a dose of Stoic philosophy (Seneca), I proved incompetent at managing the clients' emotions. The clients had invested in a strategy expected to take steady, small losses for long periods against occasional large gains. They were convinced of its merits but they had difficulties with the emotional aspect of it – they rapidly forgot the properties of the strategy and became impatient. The mistake, it turned out, is that I presented the premium as a "loss", rather than an expense. There was no economic difference but, because of irrationality, there was a large behavioural one.The first idea Danny gave me in Rome is that people do not perceive stand-alone objects, rather differences away from an anchor point. He said that it was not cultural: even the vision of babies was based on identifying variations. It was simply more economical for the brain to do so. Investors are more affected by changes in wealth than by wealth itself and they are very sensitive to the way information is presented to them; they are more unhappy if one tells them they have lost $10,000 (the variation) than if one informs them that their wealth is now $480,000 (the total). They just take a benchmark and react to variations from it. So one could make them react more rationally by modifying the anchor.That small point was miraculous: upon my return to New York I forced the clients to write off the amount they were willing to lose during the year (like an insurance premium expensed at the beginning of the period). I then posted performance reports showing how much they "recovered", ie, money not lost. It was a wonder pill: clients became excited as they treated the money not lost as if it were a profit.The second – equally potent – point I learned is that people do not aggregate information properly. When the portfolio is composed of many trades, and the net performance is positive, though some trades were up while a few were down, the clients got excited when they only saw the net total, but not when they saw the details. A small loss in a trade more than compensated by gains elsewhere would turn them off, and cause them to interrupt my lunch for an urgent conversation.I also learned that one can change people's anchor to force them to have a realistic outlook on things. I am Lebanese and people keep bemoaning the relatively small tension in the wake of the Syrian civil war. But when I tell my mother to think of the turmoil that did not happen, her mood changes instantly.'Ultimately he demonstrates that we are not rational'Salley Vickers is a former psychotherapist and bestselling British author whose novels include Miss Garnet's Angel and Dancing Backwards.Thinking, Fast and Slow confirmed for me that economics is not a science but deeply connected to our psyche. I know several grand economists and have been dismayed by their lofty disregard for how the human animal actually functions. Daniel Kahneman's lucid and witty accounts (backed by thorough research) of our apparently innate tendency to risk-aversion reveals the crucial link between economics and psychology.It also underlines our problem with rationality. We are no less keen, it seems, on abandoning hopeless endeavours than we are at taking risks. Ultimately, Kahneman demonstrates, we are not rational creatures but instinctive ones and any attempt to make us act rationally must take that inbuilt bias into account or fail. As a psychoanalyst turned novelist, this was not news to me, but it is wonderful to have Kahneman's intellectual support for what I have always felt in my bones.His other great gift to me is his insight that financial success has more to do with random chance than planning. The rise and fall of businesses has little to do with who runs them and much to do with a natural statistic – failure of any kind is usually, that is to say statistically, followed by success. On a more personal note, his dismissal of financial advisers and insurance policies, confirming my ignorant but it turns out accurate prejudice, made me rejoice that I never buy into these.In short, Kahneman is a breath of fresh air and Thinking, Fast and Slow is a book I treasure.PsychologyEconomicsThe Observertheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Beauty in Art and Mathematics Activates The Same Brain Region Beauty is processed in part of the reward circuit of the brain, a new study finds.Although mathematics might not seem a source of beauty comparable to the wonders of nature, elegant formulas can by very beautiful to mathematicians. So finds a study by neuroscientists at University College London, in which mathematicians were shown a series of equations they had previously rated on a beauty scale... Continue reading - - > → Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick"
Four Ways to Ask for, and Get, Your Favors Granted There are times in life when you need someone to do something for you. The question is how to ask for a favor in way that ensures you'll get that help. The 4 basic ingredients to having a favor granted are yours for the taking. read more
This column will change your life: inboxes rock! 'At first, the realisation that inboxes are everywhere will make you feel like the only normal human in a zombie movie, surrounded by the living dead. Really, though, it's good news'If you're feeling overstretched, at work or at home, let me make a suggestion: you need more inboxes in your life. I'm aware that this may strike you as the delusional ramblings of (to use the neuroscientific term) a wrong 'un. Isn't your existing inbox already overstuffed with emails? Who needs more of that? But I mean it. I've felt this way ever since installing Evernote, an app that's been called an "everything bucket", into which I fling all manner of electronic clutter: articles to read later, thoughts jotted down in text files, photos I take on my phone. These all accumulate in my Evernote inbox. Then, once or twice a week, I spend half an hour clearing it out: filing things, reading others, deleting rubbish. If this sounds like pointless bother, let me blow your mind: your life's already full of inboxes. You just don't realise it yet. And it can be surprisingly liberating once you do.Define an "inbox" as any place where stuff mounts up, needing – or claiming to need – your attention. (The godfather of productivity, David Allen, to whom this theory owes much, calls them "collection buckets".) Your email inbox isn't your only inbox. Your voicemail's an inbox. So is that pile of bank statements, batteries and solitary socks that's teetering on the arm of the sofa. So are the dirty dishes in the sink, stacking up until someone loads the dishwasher. So's the basket of clean laundry, waiting to be folded or ironed and put away. At first, the realisation that inboxes are everywhere is alarming: you're liable to feel like the only normal human in a zombie movie, as it dawns on you that you're surrounded by the living dead. Really, though, it's good news. Start treating all these inboxes as inboxes – visiting them intermittently, and dealing with what's in them – and they won't weigh on your mind at other times.This, by the way, is the real value of the much-misunderstood email system known as Inbox Zero. The idea isn't to spend all day waiting to pounce on every new message, fixating on keeping things pristine. It's the opposite: build the habit of regularly emptying an inbox, and you can spend most of the day not thinking about it. It's when you don't take this approach that stress arises: every incoming item demands attention now. Which is why it's worth considering actively creating more inboxes. At home, if you don't already, nominate one surface as the zone for Stuff That Needs Dealing With; dump stray items or papers there; every so often, process it. Travelling for work? Throw every ticket, receipt and Post-it you acquire into a folder; back home, go through it.Not every place where stuff accumulates is best thought of as an inbox. To use another metaphor, some are "streams", to be dipped into, with no pressure to deal with everything. Facebook and Twitter are streams: follow a few hundred people on Twitter and you'll go crazy if you try to read all they post. Likewise most print media. You can think of your laundry basket that way, too, if you don't mind picking out clothes as you need them. Don't define something as an inbox if you can treat it as a stream. But if it is an inbox, dedicate regular time to clearing it. Fun? No. But that's the point: you can have fun the rest of the time.oliver.burkeman@theguardian.comFollow Oliver on Twitter.Health & wellbeingPsychologyOliver Burkemantheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
Growing number of chemicals linked with brain disorders in children Toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children -- such as autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia.
3 Ways to Build a Question-Centric Culture Great leaders gain the power to transform their business strategies, and in some cases, entire industries,by uncovering "golden questions"that disrupt the status quo. To guarantee future success in today's innovate-or-die marketplace, however, they must teach others to do the same. They must create a question-centric culture.read more
Another reason to not mix work, family: Money makes parenting less meaningful, study suggests Money and parenting don't mix. That's according to new research that suggests that merely thinking about money diminishes the meaning people derive from parenting. The study is one among a growing number that identifies when, why, and how parenthood is associated with happiness or misery.
New depression treatments reported New insights into the physiological causes of depression are leading to treatments beyond common antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft, according to an evidence-based report.
Consequences of protein misfolding in neurodegenerative disorders Research has provided new insight into the consequence of accumulated 'misfolded proteins' in neurodegenerative disorders, such as Prion and Alzheimer's disease. These are protein misfolding brain diseases, where genetic mutations, or more commonly, interactions between an individual's genetics and environmental influences cause functional proteins in neurons to become misfolded or misrouted.
Nota Bene: How We Take Notes Matters Taking notes using traditional methods"”writing in longhand, for example"”appears to promote better learning and retention of course material than does taking notes on a laptop computer. This finding should have consequences for how technology is used in the classroom.read more
Brain's 'sweet spot' for love found in neurological patient A region deep inside the brain controls how quickly people make decisions about love, according to new research. The finding, made in an examination of a 48-year-old man who suffered a stroke, provides the first causal clinical evidence that an area of the brain called the anterior insula "plays an instrumental role in love," said neuroscientist Stephanie Cacioppo, lead author of the study.
Talking to babies boosts their brain power, studies show Children whose parents speak to them least fare worst in language tests, lagging behind by up to six months at age twoReading bedtime stories to babies and talking to them from birth boosts their brain power and sets them up for success at school, researchers say.Studies on babies and toddlers found that striking differences emerged in their vocabularies and language processing skills as early as 18 months old.Children whose parents spoke to them least came out worst in language tests, and at 24 months old some lagged behind their contemporaries by up to six months. The handicap often stayed with the children and influenced how well they did at school over the next six years.Prof Anne Fernald, a developmental psychologist at Stanford University, said chatting with infants helped them grasp the rules and rhythms of language at an early age and provided them with a foundation to build up an understanding of how the world worked.Repetition helped children to remember words, while learning relationships between words, such as "the horse pulls the cart", helped them to construct a picture of the world that paid dividends when they reached school age."You need to start talking to them from day one," Fernald said at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Chicago. "You are building a mind, a mind that can conceptualise, that can think about the past and the future."Fernald described a series of experiments in which she tested children's language processing skills. In one of the tests, babies and toddlers sat on their parents' laps in front of a computer that displayed pictures of a baby and a dog side by side.The researchers used slow-motion video cameras to record how quickly the children shifted their gaze from the wrong image to the right one when told to "look at the baby" or "look at the doggy". Half of the time they were already looking at the right image.The test measured the children's ability to process language information. In the youngest children there was a pause before they looked at the right picture. But as their language skills developed, they shifted their gaze much faster, until they fixed on to the right image before the word baby or dog had been finished.In one study, Fernald found that the slowest children were 200 milliseconds slower to find the right picture than the fastest ones. The different speeds were down to how much their parents talked with them. When parents chatted more with infants, their children's language processing improved and they learned new words more swiftly.Though the difference in performance was marginal, it had a striking effect on the children's readiness for school, with some children being more than two years behind others in verbal and memory skills by the age of five.Fernald said children developed language best when their parents or carers involved them in conversations around things the children found interesting. She said plonking a child in front of the TV or giving them an iPad to play with was no substitute for a conversation that centred on the child and their interests, and might even have damaging effects on the children's language development."Parents who talk more to their kids are more likely to realise their developmental potential," Fernald said. "You are obligated to feed them, wash them, and clothe them. Talk to them while you are doing it. We are not saying quit your job and home school them."Prof Erika Hoff, a developmental psychologist at Florida Atlantic University, said parents should not restrict their conversations to simplistic baby talk. Rich and complex language, with adjectives and subordinate clauses, helped them to learn the complex structure of language. "Children cannot learn what they don't hear," she said.LanguagePsychologyNeuroscienceParents and parentingEarly years educationChildrenAAASIan Sampletheguardian.com © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds