Work harder by remembering you don’t have to work

What things will you do this week, not because you particularly want to, but because you feel you have to? For many people, this probably includes everything work related, from waking up early in the morning, to gritting teeth through a rush hour commute, to trying to stay awake through a particularly torturous meeting. Whatever…

What’s your birth control doing to your brain?

Any woman starting on a birth control pill is warned about some of the physical and emotional effects of those additional hormones floating around in your bloodstream: weight gain. mood swings. acne. headaches. If you’ve followed along popular science reports, you may even have heard that being on the pill could change what kind of person…

The Psychology of Chocolate

Judging by my nephew’s sugar-coated face and chocolate-covered hands this weekend, Valentine’s Day is quickly catching up with Halloween as a candy-focused holiday for the young (for the older and frugal of us, the days after the holiday are the best time to indulge). To mark the celebration, let’s look back at the chocolate and sugar themed…

Be mindful, forgive a political opponent

As a cognitive psychologist, I am naturally drawn to the potential beneficial impacts of mindfulness on the mind and brain: The possibility of fostering better attention, of improving children’s self-regulation, of wiring the brain in more sensible ways than the barrage of Internet and smartphone chatter will. But in the political mayhem of election season,…

Would You Recognize a Mind When You See One?

This was one of my very first blog posts on Contemplating Cognition, originally published September 13, 2012. The Chinese Room continues to be one of my favorite philosophical puzzles. Human beings see minds everywhere. In one classic experiment, Heider and Simmel showed people simple animated shapes and asked people to describe the events afterward. Most…