Suzana Herculano-Houzel

The thrill of music

There are sites for everything on the Internet, and the other day I discovered one that sold music that supposedly induced “brain states” similar to those produced by drugs. For a few dollars, the site offered the experience of a lysergic, cocaine or cannabinoid trip produced by your brain in response to specifically created music […]

The reality of psychosomatic stress

How annoying it is to hear from others that a problem you feel on your skin is “just in your head”. It’s good that science has freed us from other people’s beliefs, including this one: health problems that are “just psychosomatic”. Well, they’re so real that even rats suffer the effects of stress. What kind […]

Observations from an autistic neuroscientist on twitter

When a disability is a superpower Bombastic news to start the new year: it’s been four years since I found out I’m autistic. Please spare me the “nice” or “flattering” comments like “gee, you don’t look it”, or “but you look so normal”. Functioning in the world of normals, or “neurotypicals”, takes a lot of […]

Acting as another requires self-suppresion

I wrote here recently that the brain in a creative state stops self-policing and lets itself be carried away by its own baggage accumulated throughout life, freely forming and discovering new associations between the elements, including memories and emotions, in its repertoire. The products of our creativity are therefore highly personal – this is guaranteed […]

Yes, I have special needs!

What a wonderful thing to recognize that I like to joke that autistic adults like me need adult supervision, but it’s great when we remember to take the joke seriously. A particular problem with autism is that part of the constellation of characteristics is a lack of self-awareness about one’s own emotional state: others notice […]

When playing loses its fun

Jonathan Schaeffer, a computer games expert at the University of Alberta in Canada, has just proved, after 18 years of mathematical calculations, that the game of checkers is doomed to a draw. From any of the 19 possible starting moves, no one wins if none of the opponents makes a mistake: winning at checkers is […]

No, everybody is NOT a little bit autistic

Are you “normal”? Probably yes, and for a very simple reason: mathematically, about 90% of the population is “normal” for every characteristic that can be quantified. Being “normal” doesn’t imply anything good or bad; the term simply denotes that the distribution of that characteristic in the population is bell-shaped, with 90% concentrated near the mean, […]

Weed does harm, too

Magazines keep rehashing articles about marijuana, always with a defensive tone, ignoring the ever-increasing evidence: “marijuana is not bad for you”. The worst thing is that more and more young people believe this. But I’m hopeful that this time things will change. Firstly, because a study of Dutch users showed that heavy marijuana consumption is […]

Dress rehearsal

It had been 20 years since I’d been on stage – and there was no dress rehearsal: we went straight from the classroom to the public performance of our tap dance number which, in addition to the coordination of our feet, involved bouncing basketballs, throwing them up in the air, into the aisles and back […]

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 […]

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