Where you stand

Plus, your brain on social media

“It’s almost as if there's a little demon inside us, an irrational little monster who controls our consumption.”Bruce Hood

BRAIN WAVES

  • Stand tall, think quick. We’ve all heard that standing versus sitting at your desk might benefit your physical health. But it could be good for your mind, too. Research published in Psychological Science suggested that standing with an upright posture can improve attention. In a study, volunteers were asked to look at color words that were printed in either a corresponding or conflicting color, and then to identify the color of the text. (This is also known as the Stroop Effect test. Turns out, people were able to think more quickly when they were on their feet. Read more about the findings here.

  • Your brain on social media. We know social media can be unhealthy, and there’s fascinating neuroscience that explains why that is. Mark Miller, a philosopher of cognition, and Ben White, a neuroscience researcher, say that the unrealistic world presented on social media can give us a warped sense of our environment and ourselves. “As social media platforms develop features that allow us to present ourselves inauthentically, those platforms become all the more powerful bad-evidence generators,” the authors write, “flooding the predictive systems of their users with inaccurate information, telling us that the world is full of impossibly beautiful, happy people, living wonderfully luxurious and leisurely lives.” If you want to keep your mental health in check while you scroll Twitter or refresh Instagram, read more about what happens to your brain on social media.

  • Over the past year, many of us have become familiar with the sense of fear expressing itself in our bodies. We may feel restless or physically exhausted. At times, we may even have trouble catching our breath. This deep connection between mind and body was also at the center of our episode about the placebo effect. Listen to learn what placebos can teach us about the nature of healing.

ON THE PODCAST

May 31: What do the things you own say about who you are? Bruce Hood studies the psychology behind our possessions — from childhood memorabilia to the everyday objects we leave behind.

June 7: How many ads have you encountered today? In this episode, we explore how corporations have found ways to grab your attention, package it, and then make money from it. 

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MINDGAMES

What one three-letter word can be placed in the blanks below to make four different words?

___less

___ure

___orse

___ing

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

Five years ago, a boy was three times as old as his sister. Now he is only twice as old. How old are the boy and his sister?

The Answer: He is 20 and his sister is 10. Five years ago he was 15 and she was 5.

WE ASKED...

Too often, we underestimate our capacity for resilience. What obstacles and hurdles have you overcome that you never thought would be possible?

HELP A RESEARCHER OUT

When listening to Hidden Brain, you learn about behavioral science. Well, now is your chance to contribute to it. Researchers On Amir, Juliana Schroeder, and Alicea Lieberman, who are from UCSD, UC Berkeley, and UCLA, are studying how you listen to podcasts and your perceptions of what you hear. They've designed a survey that takes only one minute to answer. Please help them build some cool science! (As an added plus, On, Juliana, and Alicea will enter all participants in a drawing for a $200 prize.)

Here's the survey: https://bit.ly/3paSLGS

A MOMENT OF JOY

In this week's episode, Professor Bruce Hood says possessions say a lot about who we are. Listen to the Hidden Brain production team discuss their favorite objects.

Have an idea for Hidden Brain? A story you want to share with us? Send an email to ideas@hiddenbrain.org. And if you’d like to support our work, you can do so here. Listen to us on Spotify, Apple or your favorite podcast platform.

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