51 posts · 65,418 views

Jordan Gaines Lewis is a science writer and neuroscience doctoral candidate at Penn State. She is the author of "Gaines, on Brains"—blogging about the brain, without the jargon. Visit for more info.

Sort by Latest Post, Most Popular

View by Condensed, Full

  • March 11, 2014
  • 07:54 PM

Why We're Wired to Binge-Watch TV

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

A new type of consumer has evolved in recent years—the love child of the Couch Potato and the Channel Surfer, raised by streaming devices and nurtured by entire seasons of shows available at the click of a remote. Neuroscience, it turns out, can partially explain the phenomenon of binge-watching TV.... Read more »

Zak PJ, Stanton AA, & Ahmadi S. (2007) Oxytocin increases generosity in humans. PloS one, 2(11). PMID: 17987115  

  • February 6, 2014
  • 09:21 PM

Love, Love Medulla: The Neuroscience of Beatlemania

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

As we approach the 50th anniversary of John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s first U.S. appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show this Sunday, we can’t help but look back and laugh nostalgically. Just what was it about the moptop haircuts, Cuban heels, and “yeah yeah yeah”s that turned us, our parents, or our grandparents into primeval beings whose sole purpose was to drown out the blare of a Vox AC30 amplifier?

As it turns out, neuroscience can (partially) explain the phenomenon.... Read more »

  • January 28, 2014
  • 09:38 PM

Brain-Training Apps: Neuroscience, or Pseudoscience?

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

I sure could use a little memory boost. Unfortunately, despite the growing popularity of brain-training apps and programs like Lumosity, CogniFit, CogMed, and Jungle Memory, I’m not going to find any help here.

They're totally bogus, you see.... Read more »

  • December 18, 2013
  • 09:38 PM

Why Does Time Fly as We Get Older?

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

Time seems to pass more quickly as we age. Why is this?... Read more »

Friedman, W.J. and S.M.J. Janssen. (2010) Aging and the speed of time. Acta Psychologica. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.01.004  

  • October 26, 2013
  • 09:13 AM

Alcohol, Sleep, and Why You Might Re-think that Nightcap

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

What causes alcohol's strange and dichotomous effect on the sleeping brain? And the real question—do you accept the nightcap or not?... Read more »

  • October 3, 2013
  • 10:30 PM

Sleep Cycle App: Precise, or Placebo?

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

What's the verdict on sleep-tracking apps? How do they work, and how accurate are they? Is it all a big scam, or perhaps the placebo effect at work?... Read more »

  • September 23, 2013
  • 09:24 PM

Prosopagnosia: Why Some are Blind to Faces

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

He eyed me strangely and walked a couple steps closer before returning the greeting. "Oh, didn't recognize you in the coat. You were wearing green earlier. Have a good night, Jordan."

It would have been a puzzling encounter if I didn't already know about his strange afflication.

Dr. P has prosopagnosia, or the inability to recognize faces.... Read more »

Grüter T, Grüter M, & Carbon CC. (2008) Neural and genetic foundations of face recognition and prosopagnosia. Journal of neuropsychology, 2(Pt 1), 79-97. PMID: 19334306  

  • August 29, 2013
  • 11:01 PM

Why do we cry when we're happy?

by Jordan Gaines Lewis in Gaines, on Brains

We cry when we're sad, frustrated, or stressed. Why do we cry when we're happy, too?... Read more »

  • July 22, 2013
  • 10:38 PM

Are we pushing pink on girls...or pushing boys away?

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Do gendered toys affect cognitive development? The more relevant issue may be social development, and the negative consequences for gender non-conformity. ... Read more »

  • June 19, 2013
  • 06:50 PM

LEGO Faces are Getting Angrier; So What?

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Perhaps LEGO faces have indeed become angrier—and more disdainful, more fearful, more smug—since their 1975 debut. But is it actually affecting the emotional and mental well-being and learning of a developing child?... Read more »

BAIRD, A., GRUBER, S., FEIN, D., MASS, L., STEINGARD, R., RENSHAW, P., COHEN, B., & YURGELUN-TODD, D. (1999) Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Facial Affect Recognition in Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child , 38(2), 195-199. DOI: 10.1097/00004583-199902000-00019  

Thomas, K., Drevets, W., Whalen, P., Eccard, C., Dahl, R., Ryan, N., & Casey, B. (2001) Amygdala response to facial expressions in children and adults. Biological Psychiatry, 49(4), 309-316. DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3223(00)01066-0  

  • June 2, 2013
  • 09:49 AM

Sound it out: Do you "see" or "hear" words you have to spell?

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

What do we know about spelling, and why are some of our most brilliant peers some of the greatest misspellers out there?... Read more »

  • April 27, 2013
  • 02:40 AM

How stores trick our senses to make us buy more (Part 4 of 5: Smell)

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Not only is the ability to smell one of humans' most primitive senses, but it is also closely tied to memory and emotion. How do stores take advantage of our sense of smell to tempt us to buy more than we bargained for?... Read more »

Rabin MD, & Cain WS. (1984) Odor recognition: familiarity, identifiability, and encoding consistency. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 10(2), 316-25. PMID: 6242742  

  • April 17, 2013
  • 10:50 PM

How stores trick our senses to make us buy more (Part 3 of 5: Touch)

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Sure, a company can do its job to create an attractive, pleasurable product for us consumers. But—you guessed it—the store does its own part in tricking us, ensuring that the phrase "you touch it, you buy it" often holds true.... Read more »

James R. Wolf, Hal R. Arkes, & Waleed A. Muhanna. (2008) The power of touch: An examination of the effect of duration of physical contact on the valuation of objects. Judgment and Decision Making, 3(6), 476-482. info:/

  • April 10, 2013
  • 11:00 PM

Why do we sigh?

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Why do I sigh? Does it help regulate my breathing when I'm stressed? Is it a subconscious action I do to express to those around me that I'm anxious or upset? Perhaps a mental reset button, so to speak?... Read more »

  • February 17, 2013
  • 12:31 AM

Fainting at the sight of blood

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Do you get woozy when you see blood? It seems like an oddly dramatic physiological response for just seeing a little red liquid, right? As it turns out, fainting at the sight of blood may be a primitive reflex buried deep in our brain.... Read more »

Zervou EK, Ziciadis K, Karabini F, Xanthi E, Chrisostomou E, & Tzolou A. (2005) Vasovagal reactions in blood donors during or immediately after blood donation. Transfusion medicine (Oxford, England), 15(5), 389-94. PMID: 16202053  

  • January 28, 2013
  • 08:30 PM

Smell and memory: old feelings in a new place

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Why do smells bring back deep, emotional memories even when we're in unfamiliar places?... Read more »

Rabin, M., & Cain, W. (1984) Odor recognition: Familiarity, identifiability, and encoding consistency. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 10(2), 316-325. DOI: 10.1037/0278-7393.10.2.316  

  • January 3, 2013
  • 11:16 PM

How stores trick our senses to make us buy more (Part 2 of 5: Sight)

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

In this second installment, we'll explore how stores betray our sense of sight, tricking us to buy stuff we really don't want or need.... Read more »

Berns GS, McClure SM, Pagnoni G, & Montague PR. (2001) Predictability modulates human brain response to reward. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 21(8), 2793-8. PMID: 11306631  

  • December 8, 2012
  • 10:24 PM

How stores trick our senses to make us buy more (Part 1 of 5: Taste)

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Our brains are endlessly fascinatingly organs—but sometimes they betray us. The following is the first post in a five-part series on how stores trick our senses into shelling out more money than we may intend.... Read more »

McClure SM, Li J, Tomlin D, Cypert KS, Montague LM, & Montague PR. (2004) Neural correlates of behavioral preference for culturally familiar drinks. Neuron, 44(2), 379-87. PMID: 15473974  

  • November 19, 2012
  • 11:33 PM

Why you should give thanks this Thursday—and always

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Expressing gratitude is more than just a nice idea—it's beneficial to your health and happiness.... Read more »

  • October 30, 2012
  • 09:22 PM

Why are clowns scary?

by Jordan Gaines in Gaines, on Brains

Is coulrophobia (fear of clowns) real? And, for that matter, what is fear?... Read more »

Adolphs, R. (1997) Fear and the human amygdala. Neurocase, 3(4), 267-274. DOI: 10.1093/neucas/3.4.267  

join us!

Do you write about peer-reviewed research in your blog? Use to make it easy for your readers — and others from around the world — to find your serious posts about academic research.

If you don't have a blog, you can still use our site to learn about fascinating developments in cutting-edge research from around the world.

Register Now

Research Blogging is powered by SRI Technology.

To learn more, visit