Mind the Brain

Creating TED talks from peer-reviewed growth mindset research papers with colored brain pictures

The TED talk fallacy – When you confuse what presenters say about a peer-reviewed article – the breathtaking, ‘breakthrough’ strength of findings demanded for a TED talk – with what a transparent, straightforward analysis and reporting of relevant findings would reveal. 

Flawed meta-analysis reveals just how limited the evidence is mapping meditation into specific regions of the brain

The article put meaningless, but reassuring effect sizes into the literature where these numbers will be widely and uncritically cited.

Jane Brody promoting the pseudoscience of Barbara Fredrickson in the New York Times

Journalists’ coverage of positive psychology and health is often shabby, even in prestigious outlets like The New York Times. Jane Brody’s latest installment of the benefits of being positive on health relied heavily on the work of Barbara Fredrickson that my colleagues and I have thoroughly debunked. All of us need to recognize that research … Continue reading "Jane Brody promoting the pseudoscience of Barbara Fredrickson in the New York Times"

Complex PTSD, STAIR, Social Ecology and lessons learned from 9/11- a conversation with Dr. Marylene Cloitre

Dr. Marylene Cloitre is the Associate Director of Research of the National Center for PTSD Dissemination and Training Division and a research Professor of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the New York University, Langone Medical Center in New York City. She is a recipient of several honors related to her service in New … Continue reading "Complex PTSD, STAIR, Social Ecology and lessons learned from 9/11- a conversation with Dr. Marylene Cloitre"

Talking back to “Talking Therapy Can Literally Rewire the Brain”

This edition of Mind the Brain was prompted by an article in Huffington Post, Talking Therapy Can Literally Rewire the Brain. The title is lame on two counts: “literally” and any suggestion that psychotherapy does something distinctive to the brain, much less “rewiring” it. I gave the journalist the benefit of a doubt and assumed … Continue reading "Talking back to “Talking Therapy Can Literally Rewire the Brain”"

Trusted source? The Conversation tells migraine sufferers that child abuse may be at the root of their problems

Patients and family members face a challenge obtaining credible, evidence-based information about health conditions from the web. Migraine sufferers have a particularly acute need because their condition is often inadequately self-managed without access to best available treatment approaches. Demoralized by the failure of past efforts to get relief, some sufferers may give up consulting professionals … Continue reading "Trusted source? The Conversation tells migraine sufferers that child abuse may be at the root of their problems"

Is risk of Alzheimer’s Disease reduced by taking a more positive attitude toward aging?

Unwarranted claims that “modifiable” negative beliefs cause Alzheimer’s disease lead to blaming persons who develop Alzheimer’s disease for not having been more positive. Lesson: A source’s impressive credentials are no substitute for independent critical appraisal of what sounds like junk science and is. More lessons on how to protect yourself from dodgy claims in press … Continue reading "Is risk of Alzheimer’s Disease reduced by taking a more positive attitude toward aging?"

Sex and the single amygdala: A tale almost saved by a peek at the data

So sexy! Was bringing up ‘risky sex’ merely a strategy to publish questionable and uninformative science? My continuing question: Can skeptics who are not specialists, but who are science-minded and have some basic skills, learn to quickly screen and detect questionable science in the journals and media coverage? “You don’t need a weatherman to know … Continue reading "Sex and the single amygdala: A tale almost saved by a peek at the data"

Neurobalm: the pseudo-neuroscience of couples therapy

Special thanks to Professor Keith Laws, blogger at LawsDystopiaBlog and especially the pseudonymous Neurocritic for their helpful comments. But any excesses or inaccuracies are entirely my own responsibility.   You may be more able to debunk bad neuroscience than you think. In my last blog post, I began critically examining whether emotionally focused couples therapy … Continue reading "Neurobalm: the pseudo-neuroscience of couples therapy"

Soothing psychotherapists’ brains with NeuroBalm

Promoters of Emotionally Focused Psychotherapy offer sciencey claims with undeclared conflicts of interest, cherry picked evidence, and bad science. The temptation exists for researchers and clinicians to search for the strongest and most provocative version of their knowledge, which will create greatest publicity. The appeal is great; oversell and over-dramatize the result and attention will … Continue reading "Soothing psychotherapists’ brains with NeuroBalm"

Mind the Brain Podcast Episode 02: The Neuroscience of Music – Anticipation and Reward

For the second in my neuroscience podcast series, I chat with Robert Zatorre, who is a Professor in the Department of Neurology at McGill University. His lab studies the function of our auditory systems, in the context of complex cognitive functions like speech and music. He studies not only the sensory perception of speech and music, … Continue reading "Mind the Brain Podcast Episode 02: The Neuroscience of Music – Anticipation and Reward"

The way we were

Every now and then a paper gets published that makes me react with a mixture of “Finally” and “I told you so”. Last week as I was going through my feeds I came across one of such articles. The last sentence of the abstract immediately caught my attention: “Neuroglial signaling in the adult brain may … Continue reading "The way we were"