Why it’s so hard to stop obsessing about things — and what to do about it

Try not to think about your hands. Now enjoy a few minutes of not being able to stop thinking about them.

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  • The "white bear problem" describes that situation in which we can't stop thinking about something no matter how hard we try.
  • Your mental process at such times pits two parts of your brain against each other.
  • Research support a few ways to exit this maddening hamster wheel.
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Personal Growth

Octopus arms can make decisions on their own

The remarkable distributed nervous system of the octopus is discussed at an astrobiology conference.

Image source: Kondratuk Aleksei/Shutterstock
  • Unlike vertebrates, two-thirds of an octopus' neurons are in its tentacles.
  • Tentacles respond to the surrounding environment without help from the head's brain.
  • If something this weird is here on our own Earth, what could be out there in space?
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Surprising Science

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

New study reveals that reincarnation is real — kind of

Nematodes demonstrate that neurons can influence offspring's genetics.

Photo by Jeremy Horner/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • Caenorhabditis elegans nematodes can transmit information about the environment through neurons to future generations.
  • Research from Tel Aviv University pushes back against the "second law of biology," which states that heritable information is segregated from somatic influences.
  • If applicable to humans, this research could have important uses in medicine.
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Surprising Science

Psychedelics may be a powerful treatment for alcoholism

It's been difficult to research the illicit drugs, but we're slowly building a better understanding of their potential.

Flickr user Denis Pavlyuk
  • A survey supplied to 343 individuals showed that psychedelic drugs such as LSD or psilocybin may have serious benefits when it comes to treating alcoholism.
  • The majority of the participants reported having severe alcoholism, but 83% of these individuals significantly reduced their drinking to more manageable levels after taking a psychedelic.
  • This research underscores the potential that currently illegal drugs may have in as methods of treatment, but more research is needed to say so for certain.
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Surprising Science