Suzana Herculano-Houzel

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 […]

The pleasure of unjigging the puzzle

It’s been two months since I took possession of the dining table, the only place in the house large enough to accommodate the assembly of a 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Almost every day during those months, I went to the table either after waking up, when my neurons weren’t awake enough to work, or after dinner, […]

Neuroscientist on the dance floor!

This business of being a columnist is great for many reasons, but I like one in particular: having to write articles every two weeks is the perfect excuse to embark on research that runs parallel to the usual neuroscience subjects in the lab. And so I found myself taking lessons in… ballroom dancing. Neuroscientifically, of […]

Longing, memory of the future

I’ve been in the USA for two weeks, without children or husband. The husband has been busy with the work at home, the children have been busy on vacation with their father – and while I’m not busy discovering under a microscope how many neurons monkeys’ brains are made of, I’m dying of homesickness. I […]

About being able to take medicine

Nobody likes the idea of needing medication for the rest of their life, let alone “for the head”. I once received an email from a young man who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and had accepted a medication from his psychiatrist that proved to be effective. The reason for the email, however, was that he was […]

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