Sunday, March 1, 2009

This blog is my absolute lowest of low priorities. I've had stuff tabbed for months now that I wanted to put here and never seem to get to. I don't think anyone even looks at this but if someone does, it's best to follow me at You're Doing It Wrong
For several decades, however, researchers have known that placebo effects can also arise from subconscious associations as opposed to overt beliefs. Stimuli that a patient links with feeling better or with physical improvement—say, a doctor’s white lab coat, a stethoscope or the smell of an examining room—may induce physiological reactions even if a patient has no explicit faith in the treatment being given. That is, simply seeing a doctor holding a syringe can produce a placebo reaction if a patient has previously associated that scenario with feeling better. In such cases, the overall effect—improvement or even complete recovery—stems from a combination of the pharmacological action of the drug and the subconscious or conditioned response.
Via Scientific American

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finding A Face in A Crowd

I think it's funny how often I can spot my sweetheart in a crowd. I'll see someone familiar out of the corner of my eye and there he is.
As we walk along a city street, it takes no effort to recognize the face of a friend in the crowd. But the ease of the feat masks its cognitive complexity—all faces have eyes, noses and mouths in the same relative place and can bear an array of emotional expressions. For decades, scientists have debated the basis for our facility with faces: either human brains evolved specialized face-processing machinery, distinct from regions that deal with other objects, or they process all objects using an expansive, multipurpose network, merely developing an expertise for faces. Two experiments have now clarified this perennial dispute by uncovering a distinct network that is indeed dedicated to faces.
Via Scientific American

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Grief Ghosts

A scientific explanation of ghosts. But what about scary ghosts like the ones in movies that rips your guts out? Are those a hallucination?
There are hints that the type of grief hallucinations might also differ across cultures. Anthropologists have told us a great deal about how the ceremonies, beliefs and the social rituals of death differ greatly across the world, but we have few clues about how these different approaches affect how people experience the dead after they have gone. Carlos Sluzki, the owner of the shadow cat and a cross-cultural researcher at George Mason University, suggests that in cultures of non-European origin the distinction between “in here” and “out there” experiences is less strictly defined, and so grief hallucinations may not be considered so personally worrying.
Via Scientific American

My Favorite Legume Destination

One of our favorite places to visit. We call it The Bean Store.
Tucked into an industrial park off Oregon 224 in Milwaukie, the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store is the flagship of the 25-year-old company, which produces and markets all manner of flours and grains, legumes, nuts, dried fruit and spices. While you can buy Bob's Red Mill products in most markets around town, it's well worth a trip to the picturesque mill-themed store for the remarkable selection, specials and bulk purchases (25 pounds of beans, cornmeal or rye flakes?). I could have bought half the store, but I limited myself to a small haul of mixed cereals, beans and grains. And when you go, go hungry: Bob's has a full kitchen and prepares hearty -- and healthy -- meals for breakfast and lunch.
Via Oregonian

Turnip Love

My favorite vegetable, getting some love in the Oregonian. My favorite turnips are the tiny white ones in Spring. I use turnips in all the same places I use carrots: diced small for salad or diced big in hot dishes like soups.

Turnips may have an image problem, but it's undeserved. After all, almost anything you can do to a potato you can do to a turnip. Look for younger turnips, which have a more delicate and sweeter flavor.

The thought of turnips may not immediately get your tastebuds tingling, but it's a mistake to ignore this nutritious and versatile root.
Via Oregonian

Monday, December 1, 2008

There's No Magic: You Just Have to Do It

The characteristic most strongly linked to procrastination is conscientiousness—or lack thereof. A highly conscientious person is dutiful, organized and industrious. Therefore, someone who is not conscientious has a high probability of procrastinating. A person who is impulsive also is a procrastinator at risk. “People who are impulsive can’t shield one intention from another,” Pychyl says. So they are easily diverted by temptations—say, the offer of a beer—that crop up in the middle of a project such as writing a term paper.

Via Scientific American

I'm Just Distracted

Older brains do not think as quickly as younger brains do. But does this cognitive impairment arise because processing speeds slacken or because the ability to block out irrelevant information falters? A recent study reconciles these two leading hypotheses: older brains have a harder time ignoring distractions in the initial stages of performing a task, which slows down processing.

Via Scientific American