What is the origin of thinking? A new book argues that it's action, not language.

Barbara Tversky takes an outdated idea to task in Mind in Motion.

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  • In Mind in Motion, Stanford psychologist Barbara Tversky argues that action is the foundation of thinking.
  • Tversky focuses on a variety of communication systems that transcend language, such as gestures, signs, maps, accounting, and music.
  • Paying attention to our environment makes us better communicators and, arguably, better thinkers.
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Surprising Science

New research sheds light on a possible cause of autism: processed foods

The more we learn about the microbiome, the more the pieces are fitting together.

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  • A new study from the University of Central Florida makes the case for the emerging connection of autism and the human microbiome.
  • High levels of Propionic Acid (PPA), used in processed foods to extend shelf life, reduces neuronal development in fetal brains.
  • While more research is needed, this is another step in fully understanding the consequences of poor nutrition.
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Surprising Science

How psychedelics work: Fire the conductor, let the orchestra play

Michael Pollan explains what goes on during the mental fireworks of a psychedelic experience.

  • If your ego had a "location" in the brain, it would be the default mode network, where much of your self-critical mind chatter happens. Taking psychedelics down-regulates this brain network.
  • Researchers describe the effect of psychedelics as "letting the brain off its leash", or firing the conductor to let the orchestra play. Without the default mode network acting as a dictator, areas of the brain that don't normally interact meet, producing phenomena like hallucinations and synesthesia.
  • An overactive ego may be what punishes those of us plagued with anxiety, addiction and mental health disorders. Psychedelics can have a beneficial effect by temporarily killing the ego, jogging the brain out of negative thinking patterns.
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Videos

Researchers were surprised to find bungee jumpers' cognition was enhanced after a jump

Think adrenaline leaves you unable to think clearly? Think again.

It's well-established in psychology that intense emotion and physiological arousal interfere with people's ability to think straight.

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Mind & Brain

Psychedelics change how you read faces. That may help alleviate anxiety and depression.

Even more intriguing is the reason: recognizing facial expressions.

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  • A new systematic review states that serotonergic hallucinogens help users recognize emotions in facial expressions.
  • Sufferers of anxiety and depression often only read negative emotions in other people's faces, adding to their malaise.
  • While more research is needed, psychedelics could prove to be a powerful agent in battling mental health disorders.
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Surprising Science