It can be a little difficult sometimes for the growing army of bio-hackers, peak performance enthusiasts and the neuroscience-curious to find reliable, scientifically valid information on the most recent developments on the brain and nervous system.
You can of course always read scientific and medical journals, but for those without scientific training this can be hard work at best (and just plain confusing at worst).
Enter the best brain blogs – serving up bite-sized pieces of neuroscience goodness for the layman.
Here’s my top five.
With posts stretching right back to the dial-up days of 2004, Mindhacks is one of the internet’s most well established Neuroscience and Psychology blogs. Self-described as “Neuroscience and psychology tricks to find out what’s going on inside your brain”, Mindhacks provides interesting, solid information in an easy to read format suitable for pretty much anyone.
Articles on Mindhacks are obviously comprehensively researched and link out to relevant sources at every opportunity, making it easy to sate your appetite for knowledge. Another nice touch, and one that I’m particularly fond of, is that Mindhacks doesn’t hold with any form of advertising – stating that they only link out to things they find interesting. Way to demonstrate authenticity guys!
The Not So Good
While it doesn’t really bother me, I can imagine the design of the Mindhacks site could be a little off-putting for some people. Maybe it’s time for an update, although I can see how the old-school design kind of adds to the charm.
Personal highlight – This article on “Why the stupid think they’re smart”
Neurophilosophy is the blog of Mo Constandi, a Neurobiologist turned science writer. Constandi describes Neurophilosophy as “.. a weblog about molecules, mind and everything in between”. Hosted by The Guardian since 2011, This blog has a pretty authoritative backer.
Ask anyone from the UK and they’ll tell you that a blog being endorsed, much less hosted by The Guardian is a pretty big deal. Neurophilosophy has also been featured in The New York Times and The Independent and, in 2010, it was listed by the British Psychological Society as one of the most influential neuroscience and psychology blogs.
The Not So Good
I may be nitpicking here (actually, I’m definitely nitpicking – I love this blog) but I find that some of the articles are not necessarily that useful for someone like me (bio-hacker). Pieces about how an octopus can see with it’s skin and how memories can be implanted in mice don’t really contain any useable information for the peak performance enthusiast. They are very interesting though!
Personal highlight – This article on “White Matter Synaptic Plasticity”
BrainBlogger is another one that has been around for more than a decade, and describe themselves as “..an award winning health and science blog and brain-themed community”. BrainBlogger is the official blog of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation (GNIF) and they claim to “..review the most impactful news and research related to neuroscience/neurology, psychology/psychiatry, and health/healthcare”.
A quick look at BrainBlogger’s ‘About’ page demonstrates that this blog has some seriously high authority contributors. Pretty much every article is written by an MD/PhD, really well referenced and sufficiently high-brow without drifting too much into sciency-jargon.
The No So Good
I’m not sure if this should really be counted as a negative, but BrainBlogger is vast. The sheer number of topics and categories can make it difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for, however there’s usually some gold on the front page.
Personal highlight – This article on “How Meditation Makes You Smarter”
YourBrainHealth is the website and blog of Dr Sarah Mckay, an Oxford university neuroscience graduate and science writer. Dr Mckay states her blog “..has been created to give you access to the latest neuroscience research relevant to brain health and wellbeing”.
Dr Mckay is a serious player is the world of Neuroscience with a high profile website, blog, online neuroscience course for coaches and a TedX talk to her name. YourBrainHealth is an endlessly interesting and well written blog, With a lot of posts relevant to the peak performance/biohacker enthusiast.
The Not So Good
There is a lot of material on this blog that is aimed at coaches and therapists. While there is a lot of value in this for those of us looking to be our own ‘coach’, it does require a certain amount of mental gymnastics to work out how to apply it.
Personal Highlight – This article on superfoods
5) Be Brain Fit
Be Brain Fit is the blog of Deane and Dr Pat Alban. The Alban’s have more than 40 years in the health and wellness industry between them, and started the blog due to their own struggles with mid-life mental decline. Be Brain Fit is self-described as “..a consumer resource for information about maintaining and improving cognitive and mental health based on the best available scientific research”.
Be Brain Fit is split into four easily navigable sections (brain function, brain nutrition, brain exercise and memory) that makes it simple to find their latest articles on the topics that interest you most. The brain exercise section is particularly useful for me – it’s probably the most comprehensive collection of articles on this topic that I’ve found in one place.
The Not So Good
In my opinion, there are far too many adverts on this blog. Whilst advertising is probably the most common method of monetizing blogs, it’s also the one that get’s people’s backs up the most. On a blog such as this, with a huge amount of valuable information, I can’t help thinking that it’s a pity that some readers will be put off.
Personal Highlight – This article on “The brain benefits of learning a second language”
So there you have it – 5 of the best online resources for learning about neuroscience and psychology. The web is packed with information for the budding neuroscience enthusiast, a lot of it confusing and difficult to navigate, but if you start with these you’ll get a solid footing.
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