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Showing posts from November, 2015

Where happiness resides? In your precuneus.

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No, really.  In your precuneus. That's where happiness is found.  And you have one.  

In your brain. 

In a region in your medial parietal lobe.

But here's the cool part:  Researchers can now objectively measure precuneus activity to come up with an objective scale of happiness.

Here's a cooler part:  Some people are born with a larger precuneus and are therefore happier, potentially leading to schoolyard chants of "Mine's bigger than your's is, so I am happier."

Or, maybe not.

Here's the article with a link to the full study in the attribution.  Hope it makes you happy.
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The search for happiness:  Using MRI to find where happiness happens Narrowing in on the neural structures behind happiness
"People who feel happiness more intensely, feel sadness less intensely, and are more able to find meaning in life have a larger precuneus."
Exercising, meditating, scouring self-help books... we go out of our way to be happy, but do we really know what h…

How laughter leads to love.

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Between romance novels and rom-com movies and television, there is a never ending, ever growing market for romance.  So what leads to romance?  Of everything, it is laughter.  Not at, but with.  So here's how it works:  Boy meets girl.  Boy gets the girl to laugh.  (Add a few tasty comedic or dramatic interludes), and viola, girl catches boy (after boy makes a complete horse's ass of himself,) and the happy couple goes giggling into the sunset.  
Formulaic?  Very much so.  
Greatly entertaining?  Very much so.
Until kids, mortgage and divorce. . . but that's a story for later.
Here's a report on laughter in romance, with a link to the full study in the attribution. *  *  *  *  *
Laughter, then love:  Study explores why humor is important in romantic attraction
"Shared laughter might be a pathway toward developing a more long-lasting relationship."
Men might want to ditch the pickup lines and polish their punchlines in their quest to attract women, new research at the…

Multiple tattoos lead to higher self-esteem? Yes.

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Body modifications of all sorts are common today, from tattoos to piercings.

What do these mean other than establishing control over one's own body and confirming one's individuality?  

Sociologist Jerome Koch has been researching just this question for some years now, and have come to a number of interesting conclusions.  As a writer, understanding what a body mod means to the individual and what they might indicate in a larger context is useful in character development for you fiction.

In addition to a link to Dr Koch's latest study, there are links below to his earlier research on the subject.
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Tattoos may be a coping mechanism  for some college-age women
Women with multiple tattoos report higher self-esteem than anyone else in a recent study, and escalating acquisition of body art does not correlate with increased depression or suicide ideation. However, the same multi-tattooed women also report a much higher frequency of past suicide attempts.
Texas Tech Univers…

Do you write self-help? You may be doing more harm than good.

One piece of advise I've heard many times is that writing a non-fiction how-to book is a great way to break into writing professionally.  How about writing self-help books?  Do they really help the reader?  Or cause unintended problems?

According to this pilot study of self-help book readers, many authors actually cause stress and depression within their readers.  Yes, this is a pilot study, but it's something to seriously consider.  Are you writing your tome to make money?  Or help people?  If the later, the lead researcher made a comment that can interpreted as two bits of advice for the nascent self-help author:
report scientifically proven facts.If not a scientist or experienced science writer, work actively with researchers or clinicians affiliated with recognized universities, health care facilities, or research centers.You owe at least this much to your readers.
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Self-help books: Stressed readers or stressful reading?
"Logically, if such books were truly ef…

The latest research on terror: How people react.

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Below are reports of the latest research on how people - you and I - tend to react in response to a terror attack such as the events of this weekend past in Paris.

Obviously, the initial reaction is shock and horror.  What these studies address is how people react in the weeks and months post terrorism.

As writers, how people react to any situation is the staple of our work.  Knowing how Joe Average responds gives us the insight to build a different reaction in a character.  While most of us are appalled and horrified, perhaps your character is enthralled with the reaction an act causes.  Or is crippled by empathy and sorry, or even turned on sexually.  These different reactions play off the reaction of the crowd.

As you might assume, some people recover quickly and go about their lives essentially unaffected, while others change, giving up some favorite activities.  Why is this?  That's what this research addresses.


A topic of interest to writers and to our population as a whole.  As…

Apathetic? It could be loose connections in the brain.

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Apathetic?  

Yes, I am, so I'm not writing an intro to this article, cool as the information is.

Yes, I'm motivated, but. . . I just can't get it together to act on it.

Here - read this.  Make up your own mind.
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Can't be bothered to read on?  It might be due looser connections in your brain
Scientists have found evidence of a biological basis for apathy in healthy people. Research could shed light on the way some people become pathologically apathetic, for example after a stroke or with Alzheimer's disease.

When brain scientists at Oxford University studied apathy, they didn't expect to see less motivated people making more effort. Their results suggest that for some people traditionally perceived as lazy, it's biology -- not attitude -- that might be the cause.

A team of neuroscientists at Oxford, funded by The Wellcome Trust, decided to study young people to see if there were any differences in the brains of those who were motivated compared to tho…

Crime: Is detecting a lie even possible?

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The lying game Toward a clearer understanding of how humans behave when they bend the truth
University of Huddersfield investigative psychology lecturer Dr Chris Street is making breakthroughs that are leading towards a clearer understanding of how humans tell lies and how their deceptions can be detected. For more than 30 years it has been said that we should trust our hunches and unconscious knowledge of body language. Yet his work, described in a new journal article, shows that we would be better off consciously relying on a single "cue," such as whether or not a person is plainly thinking hard.
But gathering reliable research data is a tricky proposition. To begin with, a set of lies and truths need to be collected. Ideally, participants should not be aware that they are taking part in experiments that are dealing with the subject of truth and lies. So Dr. Street and his colleague devised an ingenious and well-intentioned deception of their own that involved hiring a film s…

What is Curiosity?

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Here's a curious situation: scientists are debating. . . well, arguing. . . about the definition of curiosity.  This may seem a bit silly, but it's not.  Unless there is a standard, broadly accepted definition of a phenomena such as "what is an atom?", it becomes very difficult to conduct research that can be replicated by other researchers.  And replication of an experiment achieving the same results is critical to verifying the research as accurate.

As writers, we all depend on standard definitions of words, relying heavily on both a precise definition and the implied definition.  What is curiosity?  It's a word I've used for years assuming that my readers understand what I mean.  But do we?  

These sorts of arguments are common in science.  It is entertaining to read about the twenty some years of debates between Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein about quantum mechanics. Einstein was awarded his one Nobel Prize for identifying light as discreet packets of energ…