Half-Past Child

The Teen Brain
of Adolescence

Chances are, if you have a teenager or two living at your home, you may have been puzzled by how their minds work. Or how you should kill them. Either way, you’re definitely not alone in this quagmire: they wouldn’t be able to tell you either.
Parents, siblings, psychologists, and pretty much everyone and the grandfather of that oh so adjusted adolescent who suddenly murdered his whole family, have agonized over what makes those years between childhood and early adulthood so mind boggling.
At least, since the concept of adolescence itself was created around the time the Industrial Revolution. It definitely changed forever the way humans were supposed to be raised, grow and leave their homes to join the world workforce and form families of their own.
Such radical changes haven’t stopped reshaping the nuclear family ever since. After WWII, specially, new generations effectively took the helm of society mores with the birth of a youth culture that suddenly was no longer expected to follow on their parents’ footsteps.
The pill and the sexual revolution of the 1960s helped to consolidate Continue reading

What Do You Think?

A Machine May Let Us
All In Your Thoughts

Even without hearing a thing, some people can understand speech by reading the speaker’s lips. Now there’s a machine that does roughly the same thing: it ‘sees’ the brain waves that words create while still inside the listener and ‘translate’ them back into speech.
We’re not even close yet to being able to carry around such a device, and check what other people are thinking (about us), but researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, may be on their way to understand how the brain makes sense of the sound of words, either spoken aloud or as waves, inside somebody’s mind.
The science of brain imaging has had truly quantum leaps in the past 20 years, and modern medicine is now completely dependent on the precision of CAT scans and MRIs to make accurate diagnosis. It’s a matter of when, not if, we’ll be able to apply that to understanding the physiology behind our thoughts.
So far, research has been promising. To talk about cats, we told you just a few months ago about another team at the same university, that was able to track the group of cells in their brains that processes Continue reading

Cursed Gifts

Of Bright (but Troubled) Kids &
Savants Who Improve the World

To most parents, their children are very smart until they catch them having a hard time becoming middle-level managers.
Savants are another story, and often too much to their own kin to handle. To most of us, though, life is a succession of lackluster encounters and evil torment in the hands of the terminally mediocre.
In fact, educators have argued for years whether reward equals spoiling, or if depriving necessarily builds character. The jury is still out on that one.
What only now they’re beginning to understand is why outstanding childhood intelligence doesn’t always translate into promising lives.
Pedagogy has experienced many fortuitous leaps and surprising regressions, but a major landmark in this turnaround of expectations Continue reading

Strange Love

Help! My Left Hand
Is Trying to Choke Me

If you think that the man who mistook his wife for a hat was out of his mind, you’ve got something else coming for you. Since 1908, scientists have recorded cases of people with one of their hands acting as if it has a mind of its own.
Take a 67-year-old man whose identity shall remain unknown, who was reported having a very special left hand that would do Continue reading