Cookie or apple? Many of us would choose the cookie if we were by ourselves. But what about around others? If you have ever been at, say, a conference where you see many of your peers choosing an apple, you might choose one as well. New research suggests that this behavioral change also happens on the neurological level: Social norms shift brain activity related to how we value foods.
Q&A with Marta Kutas
Marta Kutas has been smitten from the beginning with ERPs – event-related potentials, measures of electrical activity in the brain. She calls them “temporally exquisite instruments for investigating what the brain does – loosely, the mind.”
“The memorable peaks in life come scattered among the many hard and often dreary days of work.” -Michael Gazzaniga
In an interview with National Geographic on the occasion of his new book, Michael Gazzaniga, a founder of CNS, talks about his work on the “split brain,” his early years at Caltech, the nature of consciousness, and much more. He also reflects on where the next big breakthroughs in understanding the brain will come from in the next 50 years:
On Twitter yesterday, social psychologist Amy Cuddy asked psychologists what theme they believe to be generally true about human nature. Among the great responses was this by social cognitive neuroscientist Jay Van Bavel: “We are social animals.”
The paintings of Paul Cézanne, whose birthday we celebrated this week, transport us to a different time and different place. His use of color and brushstroke force us to look at people and places in new ways. But any person’s evaluation of a single piece of art, of course, is subjective. While some may gravitate toward Cézanne, others may go for the more abstract work of Paul Klee.
Guest Post by Michelle Voss, University of Iowa
We all know that exercise is good for us And this past holiday season, the market was awash with activity monitors like the FitBit and Nike Fuel Band to help you reach your fitness goals from the neck down. But what about from the neck up?
Seeing the new photos of the Pillars of Creation from the Hubble Telescope took my breath away. Beautiful and awe-inspiring. But what was happening in my brain when I looked at them? How and why we react to beauty is something we rarely think about, but neuroscientists are making progress in better understanding these processes.
4Our round-up of some of the top CNS blog posts of the year, featuring a range of cognitive neuroscience, from new research on memory, learning, and language, to the importance of neuroscientists using Twitter.
Imagination is not just something for creative endeavors — it is a real-world tool that can not only shape the way we act in the future, but also affect how we feel right now. Think about the dread you feel the day before a tooth extraction, imagining the pain to come. New research finds that you might be able to lessen those feelings by changing your visual point of view — imagining yourself as an outsider.
Guest Post by Nick Wan, Utah State University
Imagine driving in a simulator while undergoing an fMRI. No, you won’t be lying down — this is not your typical large, chamber-like scanner. An instrument called functional near-infrared spectroscopy, or fNIRS, is using a smaller, more portable design to record brain activity in more real-world settings.