Neuroscience and Social Sciences

Every four years, Americans become obsessed with The Polls. What do the polls say? Have the polls shifted? Which presidential candidate is up, and which is down? Entire careers have been built (and destroyed) by analyzing The Sacred Polls.

Savvy politicos know that not just any poll will do. Online polls, in which anybody can vote, are not legitimate. The reason is because they do not accurately reflect the voting public. Imagine, for instance, a poll on Starbucks' website asking readers if they like to drink coffee every day. In this hypothetical poll, it would not be a surprise if nearly 100% of respondents said "yes," even though only 64% of Americans drink coffee...

Homelessness has surged in some U.S. cities. According to the Wall Street Journal, from 2010 to 2015, homelessness increased 42% in New York City and 12% in Seattle.

A November 2015 report (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ranked the top 10 large cities and top 10 small cities by their homeless populations. These counts were conducted on a single night in January.

As shown, the top three large cities (or geographic areas) with the biggest...

Imagine you receive a phone call from a pollster. When you answer, the person on the other end asks, "For whom do you plan to vote in November: The honest and trustworthy Mr. Smith, or his lying, cheating, and disgusting opponent Mr. Jones?" Quite obviously, the pollster is trying to elicit a particular response.

This is a technique called "push polling," and it's actually far more of an advertising campaign than an attempt to discern the will of the voters. Nobody would take the results of such a poll seriously.

Gallup, a well-respected pollster, recently released the results of a poll on race relations that also asked African-Americans a loaded question: Can you think...

In that important oral monograph "Ten Rounds With José Cuervo", the musical scholar Tracy Byrd discusses that in the first experiment of a 10 test study, a band which was un-listenable when he entered the lab sounded much better after a shot of tequila, and after two they sounded pretty darn good.

This was in line with the long-standing hypothesis that alcohol in moderation makes a lot of things better to the vast majority of people.  Yet a new psychology paper turns that on its bottle cap and finds that instead it may have been the music that led to shots three through 10. Music may have made...

Starting in middle age, the brains of obese people show startling differences in white compared to those of normal weight, according to an analysis of fMRI images.

White matter tissue connects regions of the brain and allows for information to be communicated between those regions.

To draw their conclusion, scientists looked at data from 473 individuals between the ages of 20 and 87 who were recruited by the Cambridge Centre for Aging and Neuroscience. It's a cross-sectional study (it looked at data from individuals at one point in time) so it can't be conclusive, but they wanted an idea of how obesity impacts brain structure across the adult lifespan and to infer...

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In the fight against Alzheimer's, memory loss has kept its place as the frontrunner of early warning signs, but that may no longer hold true. Experts unveil that sharp changes in behavior and personality could indicate very early stages of frontotemporal dementia. They shared the findings and other themes at the annual...

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Chronic pain is debilitating, it takes over your life, according to patients. The prospect of ongoing pain is why torture is effective. One of the struggles in modern pain mitigation is how to prevent opioid addiction without adding to the suffering of those with chronic pain, such as cancer patients.

Part of the problem is a lack of ability to clinically describe pain and the varying levels of severity....

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Gender may be a social construct, according to modern sociological thinking, but biologically infants prefer toys by sex long before gender identity is demonstrated, according to a paper in the journal of Infant and Child Development.

Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, the study found, suggesting that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys.

The study was of...

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Our bodies work on induction and our brains have electric current, so it makes sense that, properly done, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) may enhance cognition and lessen symptoms of depression, anxiety and other conditions.

Yet even experts can't be sure how and if it can truly work reliably yet. For that reason, the recent fad of Do-It-Yourself tDCS devices could be doing more harm than good.

In a new editorial published in Annals of...

The Orlando nightclub attack on June 12 was among the deadliest in American history, and it was the 133rd mass shooting to take place in the United States this year alone.

In its aftermath, there has been much talk of the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms – and of how to introduce new laws to make it harder for mad or bad people to get their hands on guns. But what else can we do to try to bring this under control? Working on ways to perhaps recognize people who might...