A look behind a changing mind

Successfully changing someone’s mind is incredibly challenging, especially because in some cases providing evidence that contradicts someone’s firmly-held beliefs may actually strengthen their confidence in their original stance. Picture yourself, for instance, convincing someone who is pro-life to be pro-choice, or vice versa. Challenging, but not impossible. Challenge Accepted GIF from Barney GIFs While we can attribute holding onto beliefs (even if they are false or outdated) to obstinance, the implications are slightly different for…

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The Teen Sleep Epidemic: Biology and School Start Times

  “It’s too expensive to start the school day later.” “Extracurriculars will suffer if we start school later.” “We shouldn’t coddle teens by pushing school start times.” These are just some of the arguments against later school start times for teens. Although the public has become increasingly aware of the sleep deprivation epidemic among teens in the US, the cost and logistic difficulties associated with addressing the problem have stymied attempts at reform. But what…

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Outreach Event: Brain Awareness Week 2016

Sleep! Taste! Heart rate! Emotions! Memory! These were only a few of the winning performances by middle school students during Brain Charades, a Psychology in Action (PIA) led event during Brain Awareness Week. The PIA outreach team was on the frontlines, as middle school students battled it out in head-to-head competition – acting out various functions of the brain for their teammates to guess. Students played for the championship through several bonus rounds where they…

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Highlights of “Building Minds”

  For those who missed “Building Minds: Microchips & Molecules”, here is a taste

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The Neuroscience of Altruism

At times, it is tempting to take a rather cynical view of human nature. After the latest revelation of political corruption, exposure of fraud, or swiping of the last space in the crowded supermarket parking lot that you had been waiting 10 minutes for, we may want to conclude that people are fundamentally selfish. A great deal of research has investigated the neural mechanisms that may support anti-social behaviors, such as aggression or the absence…

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Outreach Event: Thought Suppression vs. Mindfulness!

Infinity, pizza, spiders, shoes, pizza, iPhones, sleep, pizza, code names, iPads, games, pizza… When we asked elementary students to think about anything these were the responses. However, when we asked elementary students to think about anything but a yellow jeep, the kids told us they thought of the yellow jeep about 100 times in a minute. One child even thought of yellow pizza. Why? Well, as we explained this past Friday at the PIA Outreach Event…

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Mind the Explanatory Gap

Dualism is dead – it’s been dead for a while now, actually, and is beginning to smell a bit. Somebody ought to take it out. Ask any scientist, philosopher, or academic involved in the study of the mind and you will discover this in no uncertain terms for yourself. The notion that the mind and body are separate is an antiquated one heavily influenced by religious ideas about the separation of the soul and the…

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Music Reaches Down to Our DNA

  You’ve likely experienced strong emotions while listening to music. Would it surprise you to know that, at the same time, something as fundamental as the expression of your genes was potentially being altered? Chakravarthi Kanduri and his colleagues1 at the University of Helsinki found evidence for such deep effects. They collected blood samples before and after participants of varying aptitude listened to Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major. These samples were compared…

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Outreach Event: Brain Awareness Week 2015!

Imagine your typical morning. You crave some sugary cereal to get you fueled for the day ahead. You dash out the door to realize you forgot your keys. And – especially for you teenagers – as you’re heading out to school, you realize that you’d rather go on a spontaneous adventure today… Is it possible that all these behaviors are connected? Psychology in Action outreach coordinators Jenna Cummings and Nicco Reggente, and PIA member Micah…

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Jumping for joy on four paws: Neurological evidence of emotion in dogs

Running with Rainey is simultaneously the best thing and the worst thing.  As a joint new year’s resolution to get in better shape, we’ve been trying to run together several times a week.  Yesterday, as we started out in the warm afternoon sunshine, my iPod jamming away to White Panda’s mashup of pop music from 5 years ago, she got so excited she jumped for joy.  Let me repeat: my dog jumped for joy.

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Surrendering to Creativity: The Psychology of Remembering to Breathe (Part 3 of 3)

Up until graduate school, I often indulged the myth that good writing was a sacred thing to be done under the most precise conditions.  Akin to knowing without a timer when the soufflee has finished (sorry, I have holidays sweets on the mind), the creativity dedicated to a well-written piece had to be carefully cultured and perfected.  My patterns were always the same, although the specific details evolved with time.  In high school I had…

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Serial: the Case of Memory

Serial has quickly become an international obsession. From the master storytellers of This American Life, the focal story of the inaugural season is about details surrounding the 1999 conviction of then high-school student Adnan Syed for the murder of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. A new episode is released every Thursday (this week will be the 11th episode), and narrator Sarah Koenig artfully pieces together recollections from other suspects, high school friends of Adnan and Hae,…

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Outreach Event: Explore Your Universe!

What was the first science experiment you ever conducted? When did you first think about thinking? Were you in awe the first time you saw an illusion? Well, this past Sunday, Psychology in Action participated in UCLA’s annual Explore Your Universe Event – a scientific expo for the community to come and learn about the brain, behavior, fossils, rockets, chemistry, and more! There were over 5,000 attendees of all ages at the event, and in particular,…

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Obscurantism: Lame explanations to the lame questions

“Indeed, the quantum theory implies that consciousness must exist, and that the content of the mind is the ultimate reality.” Your intuition can fail you on what is genius and what is asinine. Good thinking strives, almost as its prime directive, to clarify. It doesn’t mean a discussion you have with someone else on a topic is going to be brief or simple, but it will strive to clarify by focusing on identifying common robust…

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Rapid Reaction – The Suicide of Robin Williams

  “This post is co-written by Michael Sun and guest writer Jordan Coello, M.A., both authors contributed equally.”       “O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of…

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“Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability” Symposium – May 16, 4pm

Psychology in Action is proud to announce the third annual Psychology Interdisciplinary Events symposium, Criminally Minded: The Psychology and Law of Culpability, to be held Friday, May 16th, 2014, from 4 to 6pm in UCLA’s CNSI Auditorium.  The discussion will focus on legal and psychological issues regarding mens rea.  The event is completely FREE and open to the general public!  We hope to see you there!

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