Blogroll: Mind Hacks
Today I’d like to direct your attention to a blog that I’m adding to our blogroll: Mind Hacks is one of my favorite blogs. It provides short, accessible, and insightful commentary on new developments in psychology and neuroscience. Much like the HRSFANS blog, it often provides links to longer articles, in both popular science and original scientific research. For the truly dedicated, following all of these links could provide you with a lifetime of reading material. But I what I particularly appreciate are the pithy summaries that accompany each link, so that, even if you don’t read the original article, the Mind Hacks post itself will leave you with a better appreciation of some interesting topic.
A couple recent posts are great examples of the range of topics that the blog covers:
“Symbol of remembrance triggers mass false memory” covers two experiments that demonstrate how surprisingly poor our memories are, and how susceptible we are to the power of suggestion in creating false memories. These findings are both at the core of the neurobiological study of memory, and immediately interesting for their implications about our everyday lives.
For the historically inclined, “Rendered frantic, crazy by unbroken concentration” discusses an 18th-century book which claims that excessive reading is dangerous, as it requires too much concentration. The blog post contrasts that claim with current fears that computers are causing us to lose our ability to concentrate, pointing out that there is no more evidence for the latter claim than there was for the former.
If you find these topics interesting, or if you want to learn about more funny tricks that our minds play on us, I highly recommend that you check out Mind Hacks!
I just found another reference to the same book-addiction in the March-April 2009 issue of _Harvard Magazine_:
“In his most recent book, _On Deep History and the Brain_, [Daniel Lord] Smail posits a new view of human history in which physiology and culture evolve symbiotically in a process driven by brain chemistry and psychotropic effects. … He argues that the way we define addiction is arbitrary and artificial. … In eighteenth-century Europe, Smail points out, the list of addictive substances to be used with caution included books. With the rise of the novel and the spread of literacy, a new fear of “reading mania” gripped the populace. He quotes one scholar’s account that young women were seen as particularly vulnerable, because they might “grow addicted to the pleasures induced by novels…have their passions awakened, and form false expectations about life.””
That’s a fantastic quote, and I like the reference to addiction, which again (given our current attitudes towards reading) should cause us to question poorly-defined modern notions like “internet addiction”.