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Psychology

Abracadabra! How magic can help us understand animal minds

By performing tricks for birds, monkeys and other creatures, researchers hope to learn how they perceive and think about their world

To pee or not to pee? That is a question for the bladder — and the brain

How do we sense the need to urinate? The basic urge is surprisingly complex and can go awry as we age.

Time for half-year resolutions?

If your good intentions from a few months ago haven’t led to much, take note. A psychologist tells us what we can learn from studies on willpower.

When are parents responsible for their kids’ behavior?

A researcher weighs in on who’s accountable, when and why, in the eyes of the law — and whether the measures work as intended

Why do some people always get lost?

Research suggests that experience may matter more than innate ability when it comes to a sense of direction

Psychedelic drugs and the law: What’s next?

The push to legalize magic mushrooms, MDMA, LSD and other hallucinogens is likely to heighten tensions between state and federal law, drug law expert Robert Mikos says

How to overcome political polarization on climate change

Conversations — in real life — can help bridge the partisan divide, but the trick is to have some structure to the discussion, says a human ecologist

Indigenous languages are founts of environmental knowledge

Peoples who live close to nature have a rich lore of plants, animals and landscapes embedded in their mother tongues — which may hold vital clues to protecting biodiversity

Scientists scrutinize happiness research

From meditation to smiling, researchers take a second look at studies claiming to reveal what makes us happy

The psychopathic path to success

Psychopathic tendencies may be present to some extent in all of us. New research is reframing this often sensationalized and maligned set of traits and finding some positive twists.

How the placebo effect went mainstream

PODCAST: Sloppy by today’s standards, and maybe even back when it was published in 1955, Henry Beecher’s paper paved the way for sounder drug trials and pushed scientists to better understand how we process pain (Season 3, Episode 3)

Better therapy for Asian Americans

Most of today’s psychotherapies are grounded in Western values. Researchers hope that tailoring treatments to patients’ cultural backgrounds will improve mental health outcomes.

Nature, nurture and randomness

OPINION: More than genes and upbringing determine animal personalities: There’s a good dose of chance in the mix, too.

The neurons that make us feel hangry

Neuroscientists think a cluster of cells in the brain that stimulate appetite could be a target for eating disorder therapies

Teens can have excellent executive function — just not all the time

Adolescents’ brains are highly capable, if inconsistent, during this critical age of exploration and development. They are also acutely tuned into rewards.

The secrets of cooperation

Most people care what others think of them. In many situations, that can be leveraged for the common good.

Zooming in on the brains of babies

New tools are helping neuroscientists investigate why early life is such a crucial time for neural development

Animal personalities can trip up science, but there’s a solution

Individual behavior patterns may skew studies. A new approach called ‘STRANGE’ could help, by taking into account the habits, tendencies and life experiences of the creatures under scrutiny.

The mature mind: Aging resiliently

VIDEO: Connect with brain health experts about the best ways to cultivate resilience as we age, and how to support loved ones with memory loss and dementia

What makes for a ‘great’ sex life?

Research into intimacy upends many popular notions about sexual fulfillment. One hint: It’s more about connection than technique.

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