Health Mind & Brain

Debunking the 6 biggest myths about ‘technology addiction’

Debunking the 6 biggest myths about ‘technology addiction’

How concerned should people be about the psychological effects of screen time? Balancing technology use with other aspects of daily life seems reasonable, but there is a lot of conflicting advice about where that balance should be. Much of the discussion is framed around fighting “addiction” to technology. But to me, that resembles a moral panic, giving voice to scary claims based on weak data.

Why we need to figure out a theory of consciousness

Why we need to figure out a theory of consciousness

Understanding the biology behind consciousness (or self-awareness) is considered by some to be the final frontier of science. And over the last decade, a fledgling community of “consciousness scientists” have gathered some interesting information about the differences between conscious and unconscious brain activity.

Breathing lunar dust could give astronauts bronchitis and even lung cancer

Breathing lunar dust could give astronauts bronchitis and even lung cancer

It’s been over forty years since the Apollo Program wrapped up and the last crewed mission to the Moon took place. But in the coming years and decades, multiple space agencies plan to conduct crewed missions to the lunar surface. These includes NASA’s desire to return to the Moon, the ESA’s proposal to create an international Moon village, and the Chinese and Russian plans to send their first astronauts to the Moon. 

Bacteria may be powerful weapon against antibiotic resistance

 Bacteria may be powerful weapon against antibiotic resistance

When I was a child, my parents gave me a sweet pink syrup to destroy the bacteria causing my sore throat. That memory is a testament to the power of antibiotics. But, through my research as a microbiologist over the past few years, I’ve learned that not only are some microbes immune to antibiotics but they can actually “eat” these drugs, using them as a nutritious food to grow and multiply.

End of ageing and cancer? Scientists unveil structure of the ‘immortality’ enzyme telomerase

End of ageing and cancer? Scientists unveil structure of the ‘immortality’ enzyme telomerase

Making a drug is like trying to pick a lock at the molecular level. There are two ways in which you can proceed. You can try thousands of different keys at random, hopefully finding one that fits. The pharmaceutical industry does this all the time – sometimes screening hundreds of thousands of compounds to see if they interact with a certain enzyme or protein. But unfortunately it’s not always efficient – there are more drug molecule shapes than seconds have passed since the beginning of the universe.

How brain stimulation can boost memory if paired with learning

How brain stimulation can boost memory if paired with learning

In 47 CE, Scribonius Largus, court physician to the Roman emperor Claudius, described in his Compositiones a method for treating chronic migraines: place torpedo fish on the scalps of patients to ease their pain with electric shocks. Largus was on the right path; our brains are comprised of electrical signals that influence how brain cells communicate with each other and in turn affect cognitive processes such as memory, emotion and attention.

It’s not my fault, my brain implant made me do it

It’s not my fault, my brain implant made me do it

Mr. B loves Johnny Cash, except when he doesn’t. Mr. X has watched his doctors morph into Italian chefs right before his eyes. The link between the two? Both Mr. B and Mr. X received deep brain stimulation (DBS), a procedure involving an implant that sends electric impulses to specific targets in the brain to alter neural activity. While brain implants aim to treat neural dysfunction, cases like these demonstrate that they may influence an individual’s perception of the world and behavior in undesired ways.