DailyDirt: Playing Tricks With The Mind

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The human brain is a pretty interesting contraption. And generally, we learn about how it works when things "go wrong" with it. The results of brain mapping are pretty fascinating -- especially when we find out that many humans have common brain areas that perform the same tasks. Armed with this information, we can try to trick ourselves and hack our own thoughts. But even if we can't quite figure out how our brains work, the odd cases of various brains gone awry are interesting to see. Here are just a few examples:
  • A woman who knows no fear has been studied at the University of Iowa. Researchers say, "It is quite remarkable that she is still alive." [url]
  • One Vietnamese man hasn't slept in decades. Unfortunately, he doesn't like taking MRIs, so it's tough to say what's going on with him. [url]
  • A few people have really really good memories. Not being able to forget things doesn't quite seem like a comic book superpower, but maybe it should be. [url]
  • Harvard researchers show that the placebo effect works even when patients are told they're being given sugar pills. This study actually just proves how bad doctors are at running control experiments (... or maybe that some patients really don't trust anything a doctor tells them.) [url]
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation sounds like a cool way to turn off parts of your brain. But becoming an idiot savant probably isn't as appealing as it sounds. [url]

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    1. icon
      Michael Ho (profile), 25 Dec 2010 @ 1:19pm

      Re: Confused by the placebo comment

      "This study actually just proves how bad doctors are at running control experiments." What evidence do you have for that slam? I don't see any, and that comment seems to me to miss the entire point of the study.

      From the article:

      "People just assumed it was that belief was important, and that was never tested, and I donít know why," said Kaptchuk, the lead author, in a telephone interview. "A lot of what we think we know about placebo was conjecture that got firmed up as truth."


      My comment is based on that statement... that the placebo effect has existed since the 1950s... and only NOW doctors are running this kind of control experiment? Perhaps I should be more forgiving and simply say that "people" (not just doctors) are bad at running control experiments....

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