Laughter, jokes and moral judgements
The prefrontal cortex (PFC), the frontal part of the brain below the forehead, exists in mammals, but the version evident in primates and especially humans, is unique. This part of the brain is also a recent evolutionary adaption and can differentiate humans from all other animals. We use this part of the brain when we solve complex problems; when we learn new things and when we search our memories. The PFC is also involved in making moral judgments; trying to work out what is fair, and modulates responses and emotions. People with prefrontal brain damage show deficits in the ability to plan and organize their behaviour.
Music and your brain
It is obvious that music can change your mood. We may switch on the radio and listen to an upbeat song and suddenly we are feeling great. Conversely, if a sad or melancholy song comes on then we may slip into a sad or melancholy mood. Some scientists, like Stephen Pinker, think that music is just "auditory cheesecake;" that it hijacks the language and emotional parts of our brains. The neurologist Oliver Sachs, however, thinks that music goes even further than language as a means of expression. And, that essentially, we are a musical species. While about 4% of the population experience "amuisa", a condition of being "tone deaf", where music sounds just like noise. Other people, like Bob Milne, have musical "super powers." Milne can listen to four different pieces of music simultaneously!
Chewing Gum and Memory
Research has previously shown that chewing gum can improve your concentration when doing visual memory tasks. However, according to research published in the British Journal of Psychology, chewing gum can also help you to stay focused during audio memory tasks over a long period of time. Research from Japan, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, shows that chewing appears to affect around 8 areas of the brain. It is thought that arousal is increased by chewing, and there is also increased blood flow to the brain.
Male brains and autism
The female hormone estrogen protects women from the risk of stroke, but it also appears to reduce autism risk. Scientists have found that the expression of estrogen receptor beta is greatly reduced in people suffering from autism. Estrogen not only provides brain protection, but is important in locomotion, anxiety, behaviour, depression, memory and learning.
It is generally believed that there are two different types of intelligence: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Crystallized intelligence develops over a lifetime and is largely demonstrated through vocabulary and general knowledge. The good news is that almost everybody can work at improving their general knowledge and expression of ideas. Fluid intelligence, however, is independent of acquired knowledge. It generally involves the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations. Fluid intelligence can be improved by seeking out novelty, thinking creatively, challenging yourself, doing things the difficult way, and by networking.
Jealously and the brain
Scientists have found that when a person experiences jealously or envy, brain regions in the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and related areas, which are involved in registering physical pain, are aroused. The more envy felt: the more activation of the nodes in this area of the brain. However, when it comes to that feeling of schadenfreude -taking delight in the misfortunes of others -then the brain’s reward circuits are activated. Matthew D. Lieberman, who wrote about this research said that interestingly, the neural correlates of envy and schadenfreude were tied together: with the degree of one predicting the strength of the other.
A stimulus, that produces a stronger response, than the normal stimulus, of a particular response, is called "supernormal stimuli". For example, birds when offered a giant egg and a normal egg, attempt to retrieve the giant egg and neglect the normal-sized egg. This primitive instinct perhaps relates to larger eggs being healthier. Humans also show such instincts toward supernormal stimuli, even when very young. A baby of two months of age will smile at a picture of an oval and two small circles, where eyes usually occur. Humans, however, have crafted a whole world of supernormal stimuli which has hijacked our natural drives and inclinations. This supernormal stimuli is luring us toward extremes and excess. Think of casinos, sex toys, porn, junk food, breast implants, video gaming, TV and films: just to name a few. Everything is larger than life. Even baby birds when offered a choice between a normal mother’s beak and a fake one that is huge and redder will prefer the fake one.