Your Personality May Determine How You Respond to Placebo Pills

The placebo effect is a puzzling phenomenon. Placebos (sugar pills or saline solutions secretly substituted for actual drugs) are commonly used in clinical trials to set a baseline against which to measure the effects of a drug. However, people in the placebo group will often show improvements alongside the treatment group. The fact that an inactive substance, such as a sugar pill, can lead to … Continue reading Your Personality May Determine How You Respond to Placebo Pills

New Detailed Brain Map Could Aide Future Understanding

Researchers have created the most detailed general map of the brain to date by scanning the brains of 1200 people. After recording detailed imaging of the subjects’ brain activity as they performed a variety of mental tasks, the information was used to ‘teach’ a computer to identify spatial ‘regions’ of related activity. These regions span the brain, creating a 3D, puzzle-like map. Also called a … Continue reading New Detailed Brain Map Could Aide Future Understanding

Oh no! Recent paper may make it harder to blame your character faults on birth order

If you have siblings you’ve probably been told at one point or another that firstborns are bossy, the youngest is spoiled and the poor middle child is always neglected. People have been trying to figure out the effect of birth order on personality for over a hundred years and at times it feels that with each month a new study pops up either supporting or … Continue reading Oh no! Recent paper may make it harder to blame your character faults on birth order

A Reanalysis: Paxil Declared Unsafe for Teens

In 2001, a famous clinical trial, Study 329, declared that the antidepressant Paxil was safe for adolescents. After a great deal of controversy, criticism, and numerous lawsuits, patient level data was finally made available by GlaxoSmithKlein for reanalysis. The original study found that adolescents on Paxil fared no better than those given a placebo on the study’s standard depression questionnaire, but did improve according to … Continue reading A Reanalysis: Paxil Declared Unsafe for Teens

Ask the Brain: Why Do We Crave Sugar When We’re Stressed?

In America, uncontrolled sugar consumption is a concern because of its contributions to obesity and diabetes. A recent study investigated the psychological basis of sugar cravings during times of stress. Researchers proposed that sugar turns down the stress response in the human brain. As a result, we may be consuming sugar as a quick way to hold back feelings of stress. To test this hypothesis, … Continue reading Ask the Brain: Why Do We Crave Sugar When We’re Stressed?

ScienceEd

Sparking Scientific Curiosity: (R)evolutions in the way we teach and learn

Presented by Kevin Harlen, Greg Kestin, Katie Dagon, and Ben Morris Science education is a hot topic many of us have heard discussed widely in the media, by politicians and in America’s school systems. This talk will shed light on the different aspects of science education, why they are important and how they will impact us today and in the future. Our presentation will open … Continue reading Sparking Scientific Curiosity: (R)evolutions in the way we teach and learn

Born to be Bad? The Biological Basis of Criminal Behavior

Presented by Clare Malone Is there a biological reason why some people become violent offenders? This is an area of biology with many legal, ethical, and societal implications. Tonight we will focus on what the biology can, and cannot, tell us about the causes of violent behavior. We will talk about the studies that have been done, their results, and their limitations. Along the way … Continue reading Born to be Bad? The Biological Basis of Criminal Behavior

Mindfulness meditation: A mental workout to benefit the brain

Meditation has ancient, religious roots, but it has also become a secular practice, implemented to promote wellbeing and to treat depression and anxiety. Skeptics might be wary of this jump from spiritual origins to medical treatment, but mounting evidence suggests that meditation can have tangible effects on the brain. In a practice called mindfulness meditation, people concentrate on the present moment: on breathing, physical sensations, … Continue reading Mindfulness meditation: A mental workout to benefit the brain

Mind control: mapping motivation with light

— It has been estimated that around 20 percent of people suffer from major depression. In addition to symptoms such as persistent negative feelings, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, depression can be marked by a debilitating lack of motivation. Unfortunately, very little is known about the biological causes of depression, much less how it affects motivation. In a paper recently published in Nature, however, Professor Karl Deisseroth and his team have begun unraveling the dynamics behind motivation—and the lack thereof experienced in people with depression. Continue reading Mind control: mapping motivation with light

Thinking About Thinking: the science of decision-making from an economics and neurobiology perspective

Presented by Jessica Laird, Brenna Krieger, and Philip Shiu Decision-making is part of our daily routine, but what is really going on in our heads? This lecture will explore the science of decision-making from the perspectives of Economics and Neurobiology. First, we’ll learn how economists examine decision-making when there is a tradeoff between immediate and future happiness. For example, how do people compare the present … Continue reading Thinking About Thinking: the science of decision-making from an economics and neurobiology perspective