5 neuroscience reality checks, from a top neuroscientist

In his new book, The Deep History of Ourselves, Joseph LeDoux explains where we come from.

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  • In his latest book, neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux challenges current assumptions about emotions and consciousness.
  • LeDoux investigates the origins of life on this planet dating back four billion years.
  • His book is a reminder that humans share the planet with a diverse array of animals and that, while unique, consciousness is not the only trait worth celebrating.
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Does ‘night mode’ shift your brain out of sleep mode?

A new study suggests that a device's night mode may damage sleep hygiene even more.

  • The social consensus claims that blue-light emitting devices interrupt sleep by curbing melatonin production.
  • However, new research suggests that the ruddy hues of "night mode" may have a more detrimental effect on quality sleep.
  • While causal effect remains unknown, the correlation between screen time and poor sleep habits is nonetheless strong.
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What is free will, really? Steven Pinker explains.

The processes behind our ability to make decisions are complex, but they're not miracles.

  • Free will exists, but by no means is it a miracle.
  • We use "free will" to describe the more complex processes by which behavior is selected in the brain. These neurological steps taken to make decisions respect all laws of physics.
  • "Free will wouldn't be worth having or extolling, in moral discussions, if it didn't respond to expectations of reward, punishment, praise, blame," Pinker says.
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Heartbeats align during an Islamic ritual, new study finds

Researchers found that the hearts of Sufi devotees harmonized as one during a mystical practice. And this isn't the first study to show heart synchronization between people.

  • Anthropologists at the University of Connecticut discovered that the heartbeats of Sufi practitioners synchronized during an important ritual.
  • Sufism is a mystical component of Islam that emphasizes coming to know God through direct experience, like trance.
  • Other studies have also found that individuals who are closely connected emotionally and socially experience physiological alignment.
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Does chiropractic work?

Despite acceptance by many insurance companies, a number of studies don't confirm its effectiveness.

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  • With over 70,000 certified chiropractors in America, the modality has gained wide acceptance.
  • Yet many studies do not show chiropractic to be more effective than placebo or pharmaceuticals.
  • Some chiropractors treat newborns as young as two weeks to help alleviate "birth trauma."
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