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…

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…

The murky waters of moral mornings

This is the final entry of a three-part series of blog entries based on a series of three articles in which two teams of researchers go back and forth on what they think is the influence of time on day on our decisions. You can refresh on the original study here, and the counterargument that…

Mornings are only moral for morning people

This is Part II of a series of three blog entries, based on a series of three articles in which two teams of researchers go back and forth on what they think is the influence of time on day on our decisions. Part I was posted last Thursday, and Part III will be posted this…

“Ctrl+S” Gives You Permission to Forget

Pressing Ctrl-S is a reflex for me, born in the heyday of the Blue Screen of Death and activated every few sentences of text, or every few words in the case of some of my more laborious college term papers. Though it’s far less necessary with today’s more stable technology, I still consider it a…

For your new year’s resolution, get more grit

Once again, the thoughts of the nation are turning toward New Year’s resolutions: lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthy, save money. Statistically speaking, about a third of people are going to slip up on those resolutions before the end of the month (and anecdotally speaking, I will be one of them). So once again, the…

Women, science, stereotypes, and Star Trek

At the start of the semester, my mind always turns to matters of gender and sex differences. Not because I teach at a women’s college, or because one or two students out themselves as being transgender or gender fluid, but because virtually every course I teach touches on the nature-nurture issue in our opening weeks, and…

A battle over the link between strep and OCD

Today I introduced a class of students to the notion that a strep infection could give a child obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). The idea was first widely publicized in the memoir “Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD“, and briefly recapped in this clip from the Today Show: I am already on record as identifying this…