Category Archives: Moving

Brains in their feat

Footballers skills seem light years from our own. But, Tom Stafford argues, the jaw-dropping talents on the World Cup pitch have more in common with everyday life than you might think. The first week of the 2014 World Cup has already given us a clutch of classic moments: Robin Van Persie’s perfect header to open […]

How muggers size up your walk

The way people move can influence the likelihood of an attack by a stranger. The good news, though, is that altering this can reduce the chances of being targeted. How you move gives a lot away. Maybe too much, if the wrong person is watching. We think, for instance, that the way people walk can […]

Workout music and your supplementary motor cortex

Why do we like to listen to tunes when we exercise? Psychologist Tom Stafford searches for answers within our brains, not the muscles we are exercising. Perhaps you have a favourite playlist for going to the gym or the park. Even if you haven’t, you’re certain to have seen joggers running along with headphones in […]

BBC Future column: Hypnic Jerks

Here’s my column at BBC Future from last week. You can see the original here. The full listof my columns is here and  there is now a RSS feed, should you need it As we give up our bodies to sleep, sudden twitches escape our brains, causing our arms and legs to jerk. Some people […]

Flatline movement

I’ve just found another video of the Lazarus sign, the spinal reflex that triggers an arm raising and crossing movement in recently brain dead patients. We’ve covered the mechanism behind the somewhat disconcerting movement before, and have noted an earlier video, but this one seems to have been uploaded quite recently. The movement is triggered […]

A note on human behaviour

Enjoying the Natural History Museum yesterday, I came across this exhibit somewhere in the geology section: The exhibit is a serious of columns, which you pass from right to left. The penultimate column is to illustrate the idea of ice, and you’re invited by a palm shape to put your palm to the column (which […]

Pointing the finger

A brief yet intriguing description of a talk on pointing, by the ever versatile neuroscientist and philosopher Ray Tallis at the recent Hay Literary Festival. A spellbinding hour with philosopher and self-confessed “many-layered anorak” Raymond Tallis on the subject of pointing. Yes, sticking your finger in the air and directing it at an object. It […]

The busy night

Two things I love are sleeping and data collection. Now, thanks to a new iPhone app, I can do both at once. Sleep Cycle uses the accelerometer in the iPhone to record vibrations in your mattress caused by you moving in the night. In this way it acts as an actigraph, keeping a record of […]

Bang goes the bus top and still no tickle

Last night, I walked past a bus stop adorned with a poster advertising the new BBC science programme Bang Goes the Theory asking “Is it possible to tickle yourself?” and giving a number to text for an explanation. Fantastic, I thought. Neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore’s work on the role of action prediction in the sensory attenuation […]

Taking pride in your posture

A simple but elegant study just published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that getting people to generate words about pride caused them to unknowingly raise their posture, while asking them to generate words about disappointment led to an involuntary slouch. The research team, led by psychologist Suzanne Oosterwijk, asked people to list […]

Bionic arm technology reroutes nervous system

Damn this is cool. The New York Times has an article on an innovative technology that allows people to naturally use mechanical prosthetic arms. While most of the media attention has been focused on implanting electrodes directly into the brain as a form of ‘neuroprosthetics’, this technology takes a novel and remarkably ingenious approach with […]

Mirror’s Edge as proprioception hack

Mirror’s Edge is a first person computer game in which you play an urban free-runner, leaping, sliding, and generally acting fly across the roofs of a dystopian city (see the trailer here). It looks good. In fact, it looks amazing. But, reportedly, to actually play it is even better, sickeningly better. Clive Thompson, writing for […]

The common language of pride and shame

Wired Science covers an elegant study that suggests that spontaneous expressions of pride and shame are innate behaviours that are not significantly influenced by culture. The researchers came up with the ingenious idea of comparing how judo wrestlers from the 2004 Olympics and blind judo wrestlers from the 2004 Paralympics celebrated and commiserated their matches. […]

Rock climbing hacks! (now with added speculation)

I’m going to tell you about an experience that I often have rock-climbing and then I’m going to offer you some speculation as to the cognitive neuroscience behind it. If you rock-climb I’m sure you’ll find my description familiar. If you’re also into cognitive neuroscience perhaps you can tell me if you think my speculation […]

Parapsychology, laughter and military neuroscience

BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind just broadcast a wonderfully eclectic edition with pieces on parapsychology and why people hold paranormal beliefs, the psychology of laughter, and the military applications of neuroscience. Dr Caroline Watt and Prof Chris French discuss both the current boom in scientific parapsychology research and the psychology of paranormal belief. […]

The art of non-verbal attraction

PsyBlog has just published a couple of short articles on non-verbal communication, one examining a common myth, and the other looking at how it indicates attraction between people who’ve just met. The first article is on the research that debunks the myth that ‘93% of communication is nonverbal’. Just the precision of those sorts of […]

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