Scientific American

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.

The Loneliness of the “Social Distancer” Triggers Brain Cravings Akin to Hunger

A study on isolation’s neural underpinnings implies many may feel literally “starved” for contact amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Loneliness hurts. It is psychologically distressing and so physically unhealthy that being lonely increases the likelihood of an earlier death by 26 percent. But the feeling may serve a purpose. Psychologists theorize it hurts so much because, like hunger and thirst, loneliness acts as a biological alarm bell. The ache…

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Antisense is Finally Making Sense

A long-disdained therapy that targets RNA is suddenly achieving spectacular success

At her first birthday, Emma Larson was not walking or standing, but neither are plenty of other kids at that age. She loved the bouncer her parents set up in their Long Island, N.Y., home, and she crawled with gusto. Then, at 13 months, Emma’s legs stopped working. Her mother,…

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Social Media Has Not Destroyed A Generation

New findings suggest the angst over social media is misplaced.

It was the headlines that most upset Amy Orben. In 2017, when she was a graduate student in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford researching how social media influences communication, alarming articles began to appear. Giving a child a smartphone was like giving a kid cocaine, claimed one. Smartphones…

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The Significant Problem of P Values

Standard scientific methods are under fire. Will anything change?

In 1925 British geneticist and statistician Ronald Fisher published a book called Statistical Methods for Research Workers. The title doesn’t scream “best seller,” but the book was a huge success and established Fisher as the father of modern statistics. In it, he tackles the problem of how researchers can apply…

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New Insights into Self-Insight: More May Not Be Better

An innovative study technique yields surprising results that counter the popular idea that knowing yourself is good for you

How useful is it, really, to know thyself? The idea that self-insight is good for us dates all the way back to the inscriptions on ancient Greece’s Temple of Apollo in Delphi. It is still popularly assumed that people with a clear view of themself and their abilities are better…

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Debate Arises over Teaching “Growth Mindsets” to Motivate Students

Research shows conflicting data on the impact of the intervention, but a major new study confirms it can work

In her 2006 book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University identified the power of beliefs. “They strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it,” she wrote. “Changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have profound effects.” She then argued that people who possess “fixed mindsets” believe…

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