Suzana Herculano-Houzel

The secrets of positive thinking

Visualizing yourself doing well, imagining everything working out, attracting only good things… The wave of positive thinking that has been spreading for some time in self-help literature has recently reached a new peak: the proposal that all you have to do is think about your goal with great conviction and you’ll walk on water, get […]

Sun for the jet-lagged brain

Ah, the problems of modern life. When we were only bipeds and had no artificial light, going to sleep and waking up were simple matters, dictated by the time of the sun (and disturbed at most by an evening fire, or later a lamp); it was impossible to change time zones in the space of […]

Happiness out of time

Happiness is one of the divine sensations that the brain gives us. But happiness in excess, who knew, can be just as serious a problem, if not more so, than the evil sadness of depression. Sadness in itself is not bad. It’s very important to be sad when that’s what the circumstances call for: the […]

Pleasure to learn

My daughter asked to change her ballet classes for tap dancing – so I decided to pay the price and take a class with her and her age mates. From the very first lessons, we learned how to transform the disorganized clop-clop of the metal plates under the shoes into the rhythmic sounds of the […]

Why is it difficult to end a relationship?

They say that love blinds us. For neuroscience, this is true: some regions of the brain responsible for social judgments – whether a person is trustworthy or not, for example – are less active when we contemplate the object of our passion, be it a child or a boyfriend. Maybe that’s why they tend to […]

Calm down your hippocampus

Write the column, correct exams, deliver the report, call the contractor who didn’t show up, answer the accumulated emails, use the microscope, pay bills, go to the meeting, pick up the kids on time. The single-day agenda of modern life is hectic and the list would need to be under the eyes at all times […]

Help your child say yes!

Watch out for the challenge: one, two, three and… Don’t think of a pink elephant! Did you get it? I doubt it very much. The reason for a chubby pink elephant automatically appearing in your mind is the same reason why young children have difficulty obeying various “no’s”: the brain automatically activates its representations of […]

The problem with saying no

The intention is the best possible: to prevent them from being run over, destroying the house, taking what isn’t theirs, falling off the wall or killing the cat. You say “don’t put your hand there!” – but your child does anyway. Why is it so difficult to get a child to obey no?   Asterix […]

Adolescence is a brain thing

Pick a book about the brain at random and you’ll probably read that most of the brain’s transformations take place during the first three years of life – or, with good grace, the first ten. After that… chaos: with the brain supposedly ready, adolescence would be that phase of life where everything would be fine […]

Sexual preference or choice?

Human beings find it incredibly difficult to accept that they are animals. Special in many ways, it’s true – but an animal nonetheless. We like documentaries about the biology of monkeys and lions, but we find it hard to accept that nature can sometimes have a determining influence on our behavior too. We even believe […]

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