How The Brain Makes Sense of Sensory Stimuli: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Processing


Perception is how the brain makes sense of sensory stimuli: perception is the organization, identification and interpretation of sensory stimuli.

To create our perceptions, the brain makes use of two processing systems, namely the bottom-up and the top-down processing system. Continue reading

What You Didn’t Know About Your Boss: Possession of Power Changes How the Brain Responds to Others

It is often observed that power can change people. But why is that? A new study by Hogeveen and colleagues (2013) examined this. In short, the study shows that power changes how the brain operates at a very fundamental level. It seems to change the neurological basis for empathy. Continue reading

The Placebo Effect: How Expectations Produce Real Effects


Placebo pills are not “real” pills, but they may have similar effects.

According to Gibbs (2010), placebos are interventions that do not have a true treatment effect on the symptom or disease for which they are used. An important aspect is that people think they receive a true treatment. Continue reading

The Zeigarnik Effect: The Tendency to Complete Things That Were Left Incomplete


We like to finish what we have started. When we leave things incomplete (e.g., a puzzle), we tend to feel bad about it. This is the so-called Zeigarnik Effect. Continue reading

Study: People Who Help Others May Live Longer Compared to People Who Don’t

Help others to help yourself, research shows.

A five-year study by Poulin and colleagues (2013) shows that helping others (such as providing transportation, doing errands, shopping, housework or childcare) is associated with a decreased association between stress and mortality. Continue reading

4 Assumptions About the Mean Value in Statistics

Speelman & McGann (2013) emphasize that over-reliance on means may contribute to misleading, and possibly erroneous, findings. Continue reading

The Certainty Effect: Why We Fail at Calculating Probabilities

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From Where Do We Get Our Morality? From Religion or Intuition?


Purzycki (2013) has compared two cultures with different religions (American Christians and Buddhist-animist Tyvans). The author wanted to examine cross-cultural variations in the representations of their gods, and how these relate to (religious) prosociality. Continue reading