8 Fascinating Things We Learned About The Mind In 2015

As the New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flight to Pluto and some scientists explored the far reaches of our solar system, others were making some incredible advances in their exploration of the inner workings of the mind.

Studies published this year shed light on the mysteries of the brain and human behavior, and began paving the way for new treatments to mental and neurological health problems, ranging from addiction to autism to Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are eight fascinating things we learned about the human mind in 2015.

1. Smartphones are wildly distracting.

Americans are spending more time than ever looking at screens, and we’re only beginning to learn how this is affecting our brains.

Just hearing your smartphone vibrate is enough of a distraction to significantly impair focus and productivity, according to a Florida State University study published in August.

Another recent study found that heavy smartphone users are more prone to experiencing “cognitive failures” arising from forgetfulness, inattention and a lack of awareness of one’s surroundings, including things like missing appointments, walking into people and forgetting things.

“The Internet is great, mobile phones are great, but there is a point at which we need to sit back, log off and really start to think about how technology is impacting on our capacity to focus,” said Dr. Lee Hadlington, a psychologist at England’s De Montfort University and the latter study’s lead author. “We are always eager to get the new piece of tech — but not to think about its underlying consequences to our cognitive capabilities.”

2. Psychedelics may be the next big thing in mental health care.

We witnessed a renaissance in psychedelic research this year. A review of studies on the therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs, published —> Read More