We're a social species, and we want to get along with the people we like and who are like us. That's just good adaptive behaviour. We're more likely to accept something if we hear it from a friend, whereas we're sceptical of people who are not like us - which is what leads to racism, nationalism, sexism and all forms of bigotry.
The human brain long ago evolved a mechanism for rewarding us when we encountered new information: a little shot of dopamine in the brain each time we learned something new. Across evolutionary history, compulsively seeking information was adaptive behavior.
Our species uses music and dance to express various feelings: love, joy, comfort, ceremony, knowledge, and friendship. And each one is distinct and widely recognized within cultures. Love songs cause us to move slowly and fluidly, for example, while songs of joy inspire us to dance in a full-body aerobic way.
We're assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting.
I don't think we should have less information in the world. The information age has yielded great advances in medicine, agriculture, transportation and many other fields. But the problem is twofold. One, we are assaulted with more information than any one of us can handle. Two, beyond the overload, too much information often leads to bad decisions.
The electric guitar and its players hold a place of privilege in the annals of rock music. It is the engine, the weapon, the ax of rock.
I actually became a producer because I saw the producers getting all the babes. They were stealing them from the guitarists.
Use the environment to remind you of what needs to be done. If you're afraid you'll forget to buy milk on the way home, put an empty milk carton on the seat next to you in the car or in the backpack you carry to work on the subway.
The rest-seeking procrastinators would generally rather not exert themselves at all, while the fun-task procrastinators enjoy being busy and active all the time but have a hard time starting things that are not so amusing.
When do you suppose the electric guitar was invented? If you thought the 1950s, you'd be wrong. If you can muster a recollection of hearing electric guitar in Lionel Hampton's big band in the 1940s and date it to that decade, you'd still be off - by more than 30 years.
Approximating involves making a series of educated guesses systematically by partitioning the problem into manageable chunks, identifying assumptions, and then using your general knowledge of the world to fill in the blanks.
We get stressed out now by having somebody yell at us in the office or by making a mistake or by losing a bunch of money. These aren't problems that our hunter-gatherer ancestors had. They'd get stressed if a lion came to them or a boulder was rolling towards their living quarters. That kind of stress provoked the fight or flight response.
We've learned that musical ability is actually not one ability but a set of abilities, a dozen or more. Through brain damage, you can lose one component and not necessarily lose the others. You can lose rhythm and retain pitch, for example, that kind of thing.
I think of the brain as a computational device: It has a bunch of little components that perform calculations on some small aspect of the problem, and another part of the brain has to stitch it all together, like a tapestry or a quilt.
Brain extenders are anything that get information out of our heads and into the physical world: calendars, key hooks by the front door, note pads, 'to do' lists.
I became interested in structure when I was in graduate school. How is it that the brain perceives structure in a sometimes disorganized and chaotic world? How and why do we categorize things? Why can things be categorized in so many different ways, all of which can seem equally valid?
Every status update you read on Facebook, every tweet or text message you get from a friend, is competing for resources in your brain with important things like whether to put your savings in stocks or bonds, where you left your passport, or how best to reconcile with a close friend you just had an argument with.
Of the thousands of ways that humans differ from one another, turns out there's this one cluster of traits called conscientiousness that predict a whole host of positive life outcomes, such as longevity over our health, life satisfaction.
The conscious mind can only pay attention to about four things at once. If you've got these nagging voices in your head telling you to remember to pick up the laundry and call so-and-so, they're competing in your brain for neural resources with the stuff you're actually trying to do, like getting your work done.
We used to think that you could pay attention to five to nine things at a time. We now know that's not true. That's a crazy overestimate. The conscious mind can attend to about three things at once. Trying to juggle any more than that, and you're going to lose some brainpower.