Articles

I am a contributing editor at Scientific American and write the Brain Waves blog for Psychology Today (you can find those posts here). My work has also appeared in The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Vogue and many other publications. Earlier in my career, I was on staff at Newsweek, and People, among other places and I’ve included a few of my old favorites from those days.

Growing Up and Gazing Down at Mom

Thoughts on the moment when your kids are taller than you are.

My youngest son grew up the other day. He is now officially taller than I am. I knew this was coming. If you are a mother of boys, it’s a near certainty that you will one day be the shortest in the family. My older two sons are now nearly…

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The Slippery Slope of Dishonesty

A new study proves that once you start lying, your brain stops noticing.

If you say you have never lied, you are almost certainly lying. Only little lies, you say? Well, it’s long been thought that’s where the seeds of dishonesty are usually sown. Even convicted swindler Bernie Madoff thought so. According to his secretary, he said: “Well, you know what happens, it starts…

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With a Little Help From Our Friends

Researchers delving into genetics, social networks and animal behavior are discovering how friendship affects our health and wellbeing–and played a part in our evolutionary story.

Picture two female chimpanzees hanging out under a tree. One grooms the other, systematically working long fingers through fur, picking out bugs and bits of leaves. The recipient sprawls sleepily on the ground, looking as relaxed as someone enjoying a spa day. A subsequent surreptitious measurement of her levels of…

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What Exactly Does Lead Do to a Child’s Brain?

The educational stakes are high for lead-poisoned kids in Flint and elsewhere.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has put lead back in the news. By now, anyone who’s paying attention must know that lead is a potent neurotoxin that can permanently affect a child’s ability to learn. But I suspect very few understand what it is exactly that lead does to a…

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The Tragedy Behind Flint’s Lead Poisoning that No One is Discussing

It’s something no one wants to face, least of all Congress.

It’s something no one wants to face, least of all Congress. When Michigan Governor Rick Snyder testifies today before the Congressional committee investigating Flint’s water crisis, he’s likely to come under heavy criticism. As he should. It took his administration an unconscionably long time to acknowledge the gravity of the…

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The Enemy Within

The possibility that autism is caused by a maternal immune system gone awry is no longer a fringe idea – but proposals to identify or fix these glitches are controversial.

Read the original story here.  Judy Van de Water got into autism research precisely because she wasn’t an expert in autism. She is an immunologist, studying the strategies our bodies employ to defend us against pathogens, and the ways those strategies sometimes misbehave or overreact. But about 15 years ago,…

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