An additional complexity added to decision-making

We have long held that most decisions are made in the subconscious and non-reasoning part of the brain, specifically in areas of the limbic system— namely the amygdala, striatum, caudate, hippocampus and basal ganglia. Additional conformation of this comes from a research paper in the latest edition of the journal Neuron.… [read more]

A smile increases your, and your kids’, lifespan

To show that they’re not aggressive, humans smile and use relationship-favouring statements. Baboons grunt and groom. Research published today shows that grunting and grooming female baboons have a wide and supportive social network and live longer, as do their offspring. It seems that there are two equally successful strategies for long life in baboon society—you can be born to power—i.e.… [read more]

How the brain decides to remember

A fascinating study from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry reveals for the first time how the hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain, decides what to remember (and thus allow learning). The scientists, working with rats, looked at the memory-forming and learning process in real time while the animals experienced a range of things.… [read more]

Position your cameraman just right to look trustworthy

Getting your photo taken for the company website? Want to look, well, trustworthy? You smile, of course, you try to look relaxed (relaxed is perceptibly more trustworthy). All this is standard stuff. But researchers at Caltech wondered if the distance between the subject and the photographer altered people’s perceptions of trust.… [read more]

Bored to death at work?

An interesting article published this month in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science claims that boredom, especially at work, can be dangerous , even deadly. Boredom, they claim, is behind much alcoholism, problem gambling, inattention leading to fatal accidents and a whole lot more.… [read more]

The secret for a long male lifespan: become a eunuch

Research published today, also in Current Biology, suggests that, in the light of studies of Korean court eunuchs, the best way for a male to live a long life is to undergo a small operation. The researchers muse that the secret to longevity might be to reduce the amount of testosterone in men.… [read more]

Group decision making is the best, for us ants

I am also a fan of the ‘50s and ‘60s British comic song duo Flanders and Swan. In a song called ‘Dead Ducks’ they sing about how various species became extinct and said that their fate ‘holds a lesson for us ants’.… [read more]

Official: You can teach old dogs new tricks

One of my favorite TV series is the BBC’s New Tricks about three retired policemen who are brought back to the force to solve cold cases. Research published today in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience shows that  the old cops are not alone.… [read more]

Rewards, especially recognition rewards, work better than information

The best way to get people to change their behaviour is to give them public recognition for the change. This blinding flash of the obvious came from research by the Social and Economic Research Council, published yesterday. Giving people information and the opportunity to discuss the change didn’t work nearly so well.… [read more]

Dieting doesn’t make you live longer

Being overweight is just about the most targeted scourge of corporate fitness programs, some of which offer participants considerable sums of money—or even advancement—if they lose weight. Is it worth it? In terms of longevity, maybe not. Skinny rats live longer, but skinny monkeys don’t, according to research reported in Science (31/08/12).… [read more]