Claire Masterson

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How to spot a murderer's brain

Do your genes, rather than upbringing, determine whether you will become a criminal? Adrian Raine believed so – and breaking that taboo put him on collision course with the world of science<p>In 1987, Adrian Raine, who describes himself as a neurocriminologist, moved from Britain to the US. His …

The devil you know: inside the world of a psychopathic scientist

James Fallon has the biology of a stone-cold killer — and he would know<p>James Fallon is a happily married father of three, an award-winning neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, the founder of several successful biotech companies, and a scientific advisor to the US Department of …

How the Brain Creates Personality: A New Theory

Are you a mover, a perceiver, a stimulator, or an adapter? Modes of thinking can be understood in terms of how the top and bottom—rather than right and left—parts of the brain interact.<p>It is possible to examine any object—including a brain—at different levels. Take the example of a building. If we …

fMRI scan indicating increased brain activity associated with happiness after a 20-minute walk vs. 20 minutes sitting. Go outside! 

fMRI scan indicating increased brain activity associated with happiness after a 20-minute walk vs. 20 minutes sitting. Go outside!

The changing face of psychology

After 50 years of stagnation in research practices, psychology is leading reforms that will benefit all life sciences<p>In 1959, an American researcher named Ted Sterling reported something disturbing. Of 294 articles published across four major psychology journals, 286 had reported positive results – …

The Neuroscience Of Superstition

With the Super Bowl in sight, we look at what makes some people accept superstitious beliefs and others reject them.<p>The Super Bowl is this Sunday, which means millions of fans and gamblers alike will spend the next 48 hours looking for signs from the universe about who’s going to win. If Seattle’s …

Bionic hand lets wearer feel what they're holding

The latest bionic hand can do a lot more than just let its wearer hold things: it can actually let them feel. By hooking into nerves in an amputee's arm, the new prosthetic can let a person tell how hard or soft an object is and even distinguish its basic shape. "The sensory feedback was …

Human brain reacts to emoticons as real faces

Just a few decades after they were invented, emoticons have become an indispensable part of online communication - so much so that the human brain now reacts to them in the same way as a real face<p>Emoticons such as :-) have become so important to how we communicate online that they are changing the …

The Brain

The War on Reason

Scientists and philosophers argue that human beings are little more than puppets of their biochemistry. Here's why they're wrong.<p>Aristotle’s definition of man as a rational animal has recently taken quite a beating.<p>Part of the attack comes from neuroscience. Pretty, multicolored fMRI maps make …

Malcolm Gladwell: Tell People What It's Really Like To Be A Doctor

In last week’s article, Malcolm Gladwell dissected and diagnosed American health care.<p>Throughout our interview, he tackled controversial topics from the Affordable Care Act and medical malpractice to the contrasting Canadian health care system and much more. I expected him to dive deep below the …

No More Knife: The Stem-Cell Shortcut To Injury Recovery

Stephan Drake was halfway down a backcountry ski run in Alaska last March, filming with Sweetgrass Productions and Patagonia, when he aired over a steep spine onto an unexpected wind crust. The snow grabbed his right ski and Drake felt the unmistakable <i>snap!</i> of his knee ripping apart as he rolled …

Medicine

Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? Mystery Solved, Scientists Say

For years, scientists have debated the evolutionary reason behind a zebra's stripes. Are they: a. Costumes for courtship? b: Camouflage to confuse lions and other predators? c: A natural way to cool off? d: Bug repellent?<p>If you answered "d," you'd win the prize, at least in the eyes of Tim Caro, a …

Biology

The Evolutionary Mystery of Left-Handedness and What It Reveals About How the Brain Works

<i>“Sahara is too little price / to pay for thy Right hand,”</i> Emily Dickinson wrote in a poem. <i>“The right hand = the hand that is aggressive, the hand that masturbates,”</i> Susan Sontag pondered in her diary in 1964. <i>“Therefore, to prefer the left hand! … To romanticize it, to sentimentalize it!”</i> The human …

How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession

Nine of 10 doctors discourage others from joining the profession, and 300 physicians commit suicide every year. When did it get this bad?<p>By the end …

Epigenetics 101: a beginner’s guide to explaining everything

The word ‘epigenetics’ is everywhere these days, from academic journals and popular science articles to ads touting miracle cures. But what is epigenetics, and why is it so important?<p>Epigenetics is one of the hottest fields in the life sciences. It’s a phenomenon with wide-ranging, powerful effects …

Installing the world's first electronic spine

In <i>The Washington Post</i> this week, reporter Jim Tankersley follows a team of doctors as they install one of the world's first electronic spine replacements, dubbed the Neurobridge. The patient is paralyzed from the chest down, but researchers hope the Neurobridge can restore control of his hands. A …

Phineas Gage neuroscience case: True story of famous frontal lobe patient is better than textbook accounts.

1 From a virtuous foreman to a sociopathic drifter<p>On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a …

Pop Quiz: 20 Percent Chance Of Rain. Do You Need An Umbrella?

This week, <i>All Things Considered</i> is exploring how people interpret probability. What does it mean to us, for example, when a doctor says an operation has a 70 percent chance of success?<p>One of the most common encounters with percent probabilities has to do with weather. Take a moment to consider the …

China seals off 30,000 people after bubonic plague death

And 151 residents have been placed under quarantine<p>Parts of Yumen, a city in northwestern China, have been sealed off after a local died of bubonic plague last week, reports Reuters. The 38-year-old man is said to have contracted the bacterial disease, also known as "the black death," after coming …

6 Surprising Things That Can Influence Your Dreams

<b>By Aatif Zubair, Delhi Technological University, India</b><p>What goes into creating dreams is a subject of great interest to almost everyone—including …

Action Hero

Do You Use Only 10% of Your Brain?

<i>We may be biased, but we think the human brain is pretty special. All this week, mentalfloss.com is celebrating this miracle organ with a heap of</i> …

How All 50 States Got Their Names

<b>Alabama</b><p>Before Europeans landed on American shores, the upper stretches of the Alabama River in present-day Alabama used to be the home lands of a …

Native Americans

Why Do We Laugh When We're Tickled?

It's a mystery that's challenged some of science's greatest minds, including Charles Darwin, Galileo, Francis Bacon, and Plato [PDF]. One thing is …

10 Ways to See the Dinosaur in a Bird

Forget everything you’ve heard about dinosaurs dying out 66 million years ago. That’s not true.<p>Even though the era of dinosaurian dominance came to a …

What’s the Difference Between In- and Un-?

English has two different prefixes that make a word into its opposite. OK, yes, there are more than two (dis-, a-, anti-, de-, etc.), but in- and un- …

Linguistics

20 Latin Phrases You Should Be Using

You’d probably be surprised by how much Latin you actually already know. Hundreds of words—like <i>memo</i>, <i>alibi</i>, <i>agenda</i>, <i>census</i>, <i>veto</i>, <i>alias</i>, <i>via</i>, <i>alumni</i>,</i> …

Language

Why do we laugh?

Our picks of the week from around the web, including how to flawlessly predict anything, the function of laughter and the man who saved the dinosaurs.<p>Superintelligence<br>Caspar Henderson | Guardian | 17 July 2014<br>Discussion of new books by philosopher Nick Bostrom and natural scientist James Lovelock. …

Singularity