When I first heard about Twitter and took a look at what it had to offer I figured it wasn’t for me. My reasoning was that I don’t have internet access on my ancient phone (yes, yes, I know… I’m stuck in the past, but it helps to keep me sane), I don’t really see how anyone could realistically say anything interesting in a text message broadcast to the world (140 character maximum… just like a text message) and I have no interest whatsoever in knowing what my favourite moviestar/popstar etc had for breakfast. I was also put off by the thought of signing up as I have an aversion to giving away reams and reams of personal information that will no doubt be sold off to people who will simply bombard me with spam. I was wrong. You can access it from home on you PC or Mac in exactly the same way as you sign in to gain access to your emails. 140 characters is plenty of space to make an interesting point. As for signing up, the form you need to fill is the shortest I’ve ever seen (it takes less than 60s). Furthermore, you have complete freedom to follow the Tweets of absolutely anyone that interests you (and only them). Finding and following them is as simple as typing in their name and clicking a button.
The first thing that made me consider Twitter more favourably was when I heard the following (poorly paraphrased) comment: “If Facebook is the social networking site that allows you to keep in touch with people you went to school with, then Twitter is the social networking site that allows you to get in touch with all the people that you WISHED you went to school with.” I’m not into celebrity culture in the slightest but I must admit that there are many fascinating individuals and institutions out there in Twitterland whose regular offerings of 140 characters or less are really very thought provoking. So, inspired by the idea that it can be used not only to peddle gossip, self-promotion and pseudo-philosophical musings, but also to disseminate more substantial information, I set up an account and began to dispense BrainTweets. Below are my first 100 pearls of brain wisdom, tweeted one every weekday, from which I would like you to choose THREE that you find particularly stimulating. This will help me to ensure that, in the future, I am able to give you more of what you genuinely find relevant, useful & engaging:
Practice makes perfect because our brains adapt to perform better the next time round. If you practice everyday-the adaptation occurs faster
Your eyes don’t see… they simply harvest the light; sending messages to regions at the back of the brain that actively create what we see
Saying to someone “can you keep a secret?” really means “will you lie for me if you are ever asked about what I’m about to tell you?”
When an epilepsy patient had electric current applied to the ‘nucleus accumbens’ (deep in the brain) they declared their love for the doc!
A board game called “Ricochet Robots” is effectively a brain training tool that is not only great fun to play but improves spatial memory.
Male bosses tend to try and blag it when they don’t understand something – female bosses are much more honest about what they do & don’t know
“Butterflies in the stomach” = adrenaline rush constricts blood vessels in the gut so that there’s more blood available 4the brain & muscles
There are more synapses (connections between brain cells) in your head than there are stars in our galaxy.
We are extremely risk averse – in games of chance we only get involved if what we stand to win is at least double the potential loss
Omega oils are good for your brain because they make its cell membranes more flexible allowing electrochemical messages 2 flow more smoothly
The brain is a greedy beggar.. it consumes 20% of the blood’s oxygen at rest and a whopping 50% when your thinking hard
Babies hear before they’re born-a sharp mum noticed that, during her 3rd trimester, the baby stopped kicking during the theme tune4Neighbours!
In gelastic epilepsy the person’s fit primarily involves uncontrollable laughter. In one case a young patient won a “happy baby” contest!
Check out: “Climbing”( http://twitthis.com/tzwie3 )
Candlelit dinners always make for a romantic date because the flickering light makes your pupils dilate telling your partner: you excite me!
Female orgasms occur when the inhibitory prefrontal brain influence is removed allowing the state of ecstasy to gradually build up unimpeded
In a brain scanning study where people traded money only men showed strong activity in the pleasure pathways when they punished unfair play
Alcohol gives you a hangover cos it clogs up the channels that reabsorb water back into the blood after it’s been extracted by the kidneys
During adolescence, brain maturation=pruning away lesser used brain cells so that remaining neurons can function more efficiently #psychology
The act of laughing exercises muscles, lowers blood pressure & reduces cortisol (stress hormone) – which improves immune function #psychology
A special brain area is dedicated2hearing music -if damaged, you cannot make sense of music, yet you hear other sounds just fine #psychology
Babies’ senses are intermingled-we learn2separate them through experience. Synaesthesia(e.g. hearing colours)=incomplete sensory segregation.
A natural smile involves contraction of 4 out of 98 muscles in the face. When we pose for a photo we can’t help but use others = fake smile
In a newborn baby responsive smiling begins at around 5weeks whilst laughter doesn’t usually kick in until about the 4th month #psychology
Your brain’s 10,000,000,000 neurons were in place@birth, but the 10,000,000,000,000 connections between them were forged through experience
One month before birth a foetus’s brain is one third of it’s full adult weight, yet contains double the adult number of neurons #psychology
Colour doesn’t exist in the outside world. The brain actively creates colour based on relative strengths of different wavelengths of light.
Between the ages of 20 to 90 a healthy human brain loses only 5-10% of its neurons but it’s volume reduces by 15-20% #psychology
Neurons of the nasal epithelium, which detect scent, are replaced throughout life-which is why, when smokers quit, their sense of smell returns
Hippocampus@core of temporal lobes (behind temples) creates memories. Physical exercise boosts neurogenesis rate (more new cells) #psychology
We humans are extremely loss averse – a greater activity reduction occurs in the striatum when losing £50 than the increase from winning £50
Overly-optimistic in predicting time2complete tasks?We focus entirely on steps2success,neglecting previous experience of interfering factors
Extraverts=happier than neurotics 2 opt for high benefit/high risk choices i.e. more likely2succeed but less likely2stay alive! #psychology
Your ventromedial PFC (behind forehead between eyebrows) enables emotions assoc with being rewarded/punished by ur choices 2guide future decisions #psychology
CONFIRMATION BIAS is our tendancy2focus on info that confirms our existing beliefs whilst ignoring that which goes against them #psychology
Easier we can think of e.g.’s of a phenomenon, the more freq we perceive it2b. Violent crime makes headlines daily so we’ve an exaggerated sense of the threat
Can’t be bothered2do the washing up? Putting it in the sink only breeds more dirty dishes cos sink then can’t be used-that’s logic..not science
The reward pathways in ur brain produce much higher levels of activity (=greater degree of happiness) when gifts are unexpected #psychology
Brush the palm of a 10 week old foetus’s hand & the beginnings of the grasp reflex can be observed in real-time ultrasound scans #psychology
Brains adapt2their environment even before birth: a newborn’s “stepping” reflex actually develops in the womb2enable somersaults #psychology
The foetal brain develops so fast that the beginnings of the grasp reflex in response2touch@palm of the hand is in place@10weeks #psychology
When people are dealt with unfairly by others, activity in their insula (an area that also responds2painful or unpleasant stimuli) shoots up
Next time U listen2a tune with 80beats/minute reflect on the fact that in the3months B4Uwere born that was what U heard when UR mum was chilling
At 3yrs old, but not 2.5, brain is developed enough2locate an object in a real room using mini-object placed in model of the room #psychology
When expectations of how events will turn out don’t match the true outcome – ur anterior cinguate enables u2 adapt ur behaviour #psychology
Do dogs “love” their owners? I suggest fMRI experiment: dogs shown pictures/smells of owners vs others & see if their caudate nucleus lights up! #psychology
Placebo pain-relieving creams make electric shocks feel less painful via prefrontal cortex causing insula activations 2b reduced #psycholgy
Purchasing decisions = a tug of war between the pleasure (nucleus accumbens) & pain (insula) induced when u consider each option #psychology
Cravings, whether for food or for drugs, involve activation of the same 3 brain areas: hippocampus, insula & the caudate nucleus #psychology
LIKING vs WANTING: Dopamine can make U WANT things that u don’t even like&endogenous opiods can make U LIKE things that U don’t actually want
“Smells are surer than sights or sounds2make ur heart strings crack”(Kipling)=unlike the other senses, smell goes straight2the limbic system
Damage2left frontotemporal brain areas results in speech difficulties but can also unleash previously unknown musical abilities #psychology
Curly kale is packed full of tryptophan which the brain needs to make serotonin which is involved in regulating mood, appetite & sleep
Pre-schoolers playing together in make-believe scenarios strengthens sustained attention,logical reasoning,creativity,empathy… #psychology
Kids’ game “Simon Says” develops inhibitory control which frees up working memory2improve problem solving, reasoning & attention #psychology
The lateral prefrontal cortex is vital4problem solving & thickness of its grey matter is positively correlated with intelligence #psychology
Music is such a fundamental brain function that even those w/ severe Alzheimer’s can retain their musical abilities&appreciation #psychology
Dementia is misunderstood.We’d all get it if we lived forever.To help people understand how 2 deal with it: http://bit.ly/cCxpyY #psychology
Omega-3 oils: vital4development of the foetal brain but health benefits in adults now seems questionable: http://bit.ly/93rVap #psychology
In 2007, when Steven Pinker was asked2explain how the brain works in 5words or less, he replied: “Brain cells fire in patterns” #psychology
ADDICTION: early “impulsive” stage involves ventral(lower)striatum shifting 2 dorsal(upper)striatum in later “compulsive” stages #psychology
PAIN: physical sensation is generated by parietal-insular cortex&unpleasantness by the anterior cingulate: http://bit.ly/afHxfO #psychology
Prove chronic abuse disrupts brain development then measure how well childhood intervention can prevent it: http://bit.ly/bZq7iA #psychology
Caffeine high “works” only by bringing coffee addicts back up2 the same level of alertness as non-drinkers: http://bit.ly/aSGPu4 #psychology
Exciting new Korean plant extract drink multipies brain cells&reduces stroke risk/skin aging-2good2believe? http://bit.ly/ahk3Yk #psychology
Brain scans may1dayB used2readURthoughts(whetherUlike it or not)so should it B regulated now?: http://bit.ly/aGwp7s #psychology #BrainTweets
Caffeine might not wake U up properly: http://bit.ly/c1GfwR but it could fend off Alzheimer’s! http://bit.ly/4jRIo #psychology #BrainTweets
Bad night’s sleep? Montmorency cherries=full of melatonin,helping you2 sleep better&age slower: http://bit.ly/EKjtm #psychology #BrainTweet
Stroke ( http://bit.ly/aUe343 ) victims saved by Canadian neurosurgeons’ “blood clot hoover”: http://bit.ly/aqpXp0 #psychology #BrainTweet
New genetic research provides clues2origins of autism: http://bit.ly/92DylF =earlier diagnosis+quicker intervention #psychology #BrainTweet
Oxytocin – the Jekyll&Hyde of neuropeptides – makesUwant 2embrace ur friends but repel ur foes: http://bit.ly/9cwoxs #psychology #BrainTweet
Lucid dreaming – how2gain control of UR dreams: http://bit.ly/cvvxJA … just imagine the mischief U could get up2!! #psychology #BrainTweet
Brain training is big business but does it really work? The BBC says NO. I say the jury’s out: http://bit.ly/aMxFgy #BrainTweet #psychology
Don’t worry…you’re not so fat…our brains perceive our bodies 2b wider than they really are: http://bit.ly/b9t7hg #psychology #BrainTweet
Why it feels so much better when people agree rather than disagree with our opinions… http://bit.ly/b2L8JR #psychology #BrainTweet
New research in2light therapy2find out why epileptics have fewer seizures during summer months http://bit.ly/a2XUex #BrainTweet #psychology
Cyclists who listen2loud music on their headphones R missing out on 360 hearing ie what’s beyond their field of view #psychology #BrainTweet
Conquering phobias – new neuroscience research uncovers brain area that helps us be brave: http://bit.ly/9WVgdW #BrainTweet #psychology
Are you impulsive? Increased dopamine makes us go4small gains NOW over larger rewards later on: http://bit.ly/cb9yaX #BrainTweet #psychology
Brain area critical for understanding sarcasm revealed… http://bit.ly/anmEqI #brainBrainTweet #psychology
Fascinating radio interview with woman who chose2undergo brain operation whilst fully conscious http://bit.ly/cbAfHE #BrainTweet #psychology
Cannabis receptor blocker producing “Anti-Munchies” effect may soon help us fight off the flab: http://bit.ly/cy0Arc #BrainTweet #psychology
New study provides clues2brain causes of anti-social behaviour in chronically aggressive teens: http://bit.ly/aH6uAo #BrainTweet #psychology
Step closer2spotting people@risk of developing schizophrenia based on EEG brain signals? http://bit.ly/dAhF88 #BrainTweet #psychology
If U ever developed Alzheimer’s disease U may find that having a big head comes in very handy: http://bit.ly/dutewM #BrainTweet #psychology
Even celebrity endorsement seems2boost ‘liking’ response in mOFC,making the item easier2recall: http://bit.ly/cghxcc #BrainTweet #psychology
Monitoring changes that lead2Alzheimer’s will allow treatment2be given early enough2prevent it: http://bit.ly/aTmEdH #BrainTweet #psychology
The secret of long life – animals with larger brains (relative to body size) have longer lives: http://bit.ly/agbGwm #BrainTweet #psychology
Quitting smoking joints=double trouble:addict must get used2functioning without cannabis AND nicotine in their brain #BrainTweet #psychology
Cannabis doesn’t just get you high – it also has many useful/therapeutic effects… shame it’s so carcinogenic! #BrainTweet #psychology
Super-weed: pain suppressing,anti-puking,appetite-boosting,blood pressure-reducing,brain-protecting Cannabis sativa! #BrainTweet #psychology
The reason Cannabis has so many different effects on the brain is because it contains 60+ different active compounds #BrainTweet #psychology
VOTE NOW: please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog to let me know which were your top 3 braintweets. This will help me to figure out which subjects stimulate the greatest interest so that I can try to provide more on the topics that you find most fascinating.
If you are curious about the “#” that precedes the keywords at the end of each tweet these are “hashtags”. Hashtags can be created by anybody to identify the theme of the tweet in the hope that others will start using it themselves. Hashtags allow tweets to be searched for by a common theme rather than just searching for individual keywords (which usually turn up lots of irrelevant tweets as well as those of interest). So if any of you out there stumble across a fascinating brain fact or new piece of research from the neurosciences then get onto twitter and remember to label your tweets with: #braintweet.
You might also be wondering why the weblinks on tweets are so unusual. As Twitter only allows a maximum of 140 characters per Tweet it was essential that web addresses, which are often extremely long, could be abbreviated as much as possible. The following website offers this service: http://bit.ly/ You simply paste in the long version of the address, click on “shorten”, and it instantly provides you with a shorter link (which usually looks completely different) which can then be cut and pasted into your Tweet saving space for your words of wisdom. This allows Twitter to be used to share interesting websites and webarticles with your followers and anyone who happens to search for the keywords you have used in your Tweet.
To follow me simply go to: www.twitter.com, sign in (or join), type: “DrJackLewis” into the search box in panel on the right, press enter.
In the search results you should see my photo, next move the cursor arrow over my face.
It will bring up a “rollover” box with a button in it that you can click allowing you to: “Follow” me – so that my tweets are fed straight to your account… enjoy!!