Category Archives: Perception

April 11

Breathe the Pain Away: Mindfulness and Chronic Pain

Focus on your breath. Notice the sensation of air flowing in at the tip of your nose, of your chest expanding, and your shoulders rising.

January 31

Stars for Eyes – The Neurological Wonder of the Star-Nosed Mole

Beneath the eastern wetlands of Canada and the United States, there lives underground a bizarre and unique animal with an impressive list of evolutionary adaptations. This creature holds the world record as fastest eater among mammals [1], can smell underwater [2], and has a very unique sensory organ that basically operates as its eyes [3]. […]

August 02

Snake Eyes: The Fear That Built Your Brain

Indiana Jones is a quintessential American hero, his fedora, satchel, and whip instantly recognizable around the world. He lives a double life, a scholarly professor of anthropology in public and a globetrotting treasure hunter in private. He defeats the Nazis and always gets the girl, displaying daring and fearlessness, with one notable exception. He has […]

March 15

Remember Tomorrow?

  We humans have an impressive ability to plan for the future — lapsed New Year’s resolutions and overambitious project planners notwithstanding. We can make decisions in the present (like bringing an umbrella) that make our lives easier in the future (we stay dry). Among the animal kingdom, this capacity is distinctly rare. Even animals […]

June 15

Your Brain, the Liar

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Thinking machines, like those portrayed in HBO’s Westworld, use new information from their environment to update their beliefs about the world and take action to further their goals. For all such machines, the success of that process of integrating new input is limited by their hardware, […]

January 19

Through the Looking-Glass, and What the Brain Sees There

  She complained of recurrent attacks during which she feels that her body is growing larger and larger until it seems to occupy the whole room. “I feel,” she said, “that I have got so big that if I put out my hand I could touch the far wall.’ Less frequently, she feels that she […]

September 30

To See, but not to See

In 2008, a man shocked researchers when he successfully walked through a hallway cluttered with boxes, trash cans, and other junk without stumbling into anything. That may not seem terribly impressive (particularly if you’re used to navigating through a messy bedroom every night), but here’s the catch: that man was blind. That man, known as […]

March 17

We Are All Actually in the Matrix

I’m not kidding: you, me, and everyone else are actually in the matrix. But it’s not quite the same matrix as in the movie “The Matrix.” We are (probably) not being grown and harvested by robots who (somewhat inexplicably) have chosen to use us as a power source.

No, I’m talking about your brain. Your brain is your own personal matrix. It enables your consciousness, your sensations, your positive and negative feelings.

It lies to you. All the time.

Let me show you.

September 17

Singing in the [B]rain

Music has always wielded a disconcerting power over me. In times of overwhelming emotions, listening to a sad song or playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat on the piano has propelled me into cathartic fits of sobbing. Songs with escalating intensity and complexity (such as San Fermin’s Parasites) have made me feel as if a wave […]

April 09

You Do Have a Sixth Sense – and More!

Ever wish you had more than just five senses? Sure, it’s cool to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste the world, but wouldn’t it be great to be able to sense other things? Perhaps you would prefer X-ray vision, telepathy, the ability to tell the future, or maybe you want to see dead people (or […]