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Psychology · 7 February 2011 ·

What's insane anyways?

It’s already hard to define insanity, but it’s even harder to define what’s sane. What is considered to be sane behaviour in one condition might be considered completely insane in another, but even this depends on the context. If you see an old man crouching crouching and quacking through his garden, it is likely to think that this man must have lost his mind. But when you know that this man was the famous ethologist Konrad Lorenz, trying to imprint a group of ducklings hidden in the grass, you would interpret the actions quite differently (Watzlawick et al., 1967, p. 20). Thus, sanity has a lot to do with the intentions we are trying to attribute to another’s mind: If we can follow them, they are sane, otherwise not.

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Psychology Science · 9 July 2010 ·

Fear, Faces and the Amygdala

Brain imaging techniques such as CT, fMRI and EEG have revolutionised psychology. They are indeed exciting technologies that can offer insights into the way our brain works. And thus, scientific columns in newspapers regularly report that a behaviour or perception can be linked to a certain brain area. The idea is that if we know that if a brain area is active during a certain task that is otherwise not, it is involved in the process, or, if a brain area is defective and with it specific cognitive functions, then these are linked, too. But things are not as simple. (They never are) Just because an area is active during a cognitive process does not necessarily tell you what it actually does.

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