Can Pupil Size Predict IQ?

Could IQ--a famous standard of intelligence that has long eluded quantification--be as easy to measure as pupil size? Could the reason why establish a link between norepinephrine and fluid intelligence (and therefore, Mental Mojo consumption--See last paragraph)? Georgia psychologists Jason Tsukahara and colleagues hypothesize affirmatively in a paper they published two months ago. First a little background. Pupils have long been known to vary in size due to changes in emotional state and cognitive effort (i.e., brain strain). As Tsukahara writes: Starting in…

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Is Your Reality an Illusion?

Since the dawn of humankind, we've believed that we've been immersed in a continuous flow of consciousness. But that was merely an illusion our brains created according to cognitive neuroscientists at the Swiss National Science Foundation.  Their paper, published earlier this month, is titled "Time Slices," and theorizes that consciousness works much like a movie reel--we rapidly perceive myriad discrete images and our brains splice them together to create what we perceive as consciousness. Because visual processing takes only a few milliseconds,…

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Is Your Brain Over the Hill by 30?

Cognitive aging is widely misunderstood. It is true that many cognitive capabilities begin to decline in one's twenties, foremost among them fluid intelligence (the ability to solve novel problems). However, new studies are emphasizing that this is only half of the intelligence equation. The other half--crystallized intelligence--continues to improve all the way into one's seventies. And what's more, new theories are being advanced that fluid intelligence, once thought to be static and genetic, can be amplified through focused…

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Sleep Like a Genius

Dreaming of success? Maybe it's literally time to stop dreaming. Sleep, or lack thereof, seems to be a common thread among some of history’s most successful people. Leonardo DaVinici never got a full night’s sleep, and instead relied on 20 minute naps every 4 hours! In this week’s Science Saturday, check out this infographic to help you sleep like a genius.    

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Professions That Promote Pessimism, and How to Stay Happy Against the Odds

Lawyers, accountants and other professionals may be training themselves to be unhappy. Research indicates that careers that require people to look for mistakes or problems can also train the brain to be pessimistic. Now that we've unloaded that bad news, here's the good news- optimism is easier than you'd think. Learn how giving, striving, savoring and other psychological tactics can help you achieve perpetual happiness in this article. 

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Tech Use Up, Memory Capacity Down: Techniques to Counteract it

Remember the days before smart phones where we actually memorized dozens of phone numbers? We don't really do that anymore, and it could be directly linked to why more of us are routinely forgetting where we put our keys or where we parked our car. Science shows us that technological conveniences like smart phones and GPS are making our memories worse. However, you can improve your memory with techniques as simple as doodling. Read on for more…

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Routine Genius: How the Greats Catalyze Creativity

It seems paradoxical, but creative geniuses like Beethoven, Dickens and Freud relied on rigid routines to catalyze creative thought.  Beethoven's routine began bright and early with coffee brewed from precisely 60 beans (which he hand counted).  Freud utilized evening strolls to channel creative thought.  Dickens could only write in absolute silence. This Wednesday Wisdom distills the  routines of humanity's creative geniuses into elegant infographics. See how you stack up, and who knows, maybe get inspired: here.

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What Drives Decisiveness?

Paralysis by analysis: we've all been there.  But the average CEO has to complete 139 tasks each week, and must make 50% of the decisions underlying them in 9 minutes or less.  How do they do it?  In her TED talk, Sheena Iyengar identifies and explains how "choice overload" catalyzes indecision, and identifies four techniques that can help overcome it: cut, concretize, categorize and condition for complexity.  Check out her presentation here, and if you're in a…

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Become a Memory Grand Master

Ever struggle with names?  In this Wednesday Wisdom, renowned science journalist Joshua Foer discusses how mental athletes train their memories to perform unbelievable feats of memory: memorizing poems in a minute, shuffled packs of cards in two minutes and 1000 random digits in an hour.  The bottom line: it comes down to training, not talent.  Check out the video here.

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