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French poet Paul Valery once said “the purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different
idea of the things we know best”. Like why we find some things disgusting, why time seems
to pass slower when we’re bored or why we feel bored at all.
This week I’m going to answer some of your questions so we can all discover why some
animals eat their own poop. And more.
Why does your stomach hurt when you see something gross?
Back in 1872, Darwin originally defined disgust as the revulsion response to distasting foods.
More recently, researchers have included a range of stimuli that elicit the revulsion
response, like uncleanliness, contamination, or the potential for disease.
For example, these are some items on the disgust scale that’s used in psychological testing.
You decide how gross they are...
You are walking barefoot on concrete and you step on an earthworm.
You see someone accidentally sticking a fishing hook through their finger.
You see a man with his intestines exposed after an accident.
We have an evolutionary bias against gross things because avoiding them means we don’t
get sick. And the activation of a certain brain area, the insular cortex, has been shown
to trigger physiological responses, like nausea and a feeling of uneasiness in your stomach.
Why do birds eat their own poop ?
Some animals, like flies and dung beetles, eat the faeces of larger animals because it
contains a lot of semi-digested food.
Rabbits reingest their own poop to extract nutrients, and birds may do the same if they’re
suffering from a dietary deficiency. Some birds eat the faeces of their youngsters to
keep their nests clean and to keep predators away.
Or, if they’re a pet bird, they may just eat their poop because they’re bored.
Why does time seem to pass faster the more you are having fun, but go slower when you
are bored? Why do we get bored at all?
It’s been said that having too little stimuli undermines our dopamine and attentional systems
crucial to maintaining brain plasticity.
We crave stimulation so our brain can make new connections, so we can learn more, and
we’re motivated to do more. And people with fewer dopamine receptors need more stimuli
to be content.
I spoke about our warped perception of time in one of my first episodes…
On some occasions time seems to fly, like when you're so close to a game's next level.
But other times it slows to a crawl, like that moment before your first kiss. Of course
the rate at which objective, physical time passes is always constant for you, unless
you're moving at a fraction of the speed of light. But it certainly doesn't feel that
Your perceived duration of events changes depending on your age, emotional state, body
temperature and the movement of objects. When you’re bored, the lack of stimulus probably
cause time to drag on.
And for everything about boredom, there’s always Vsauce.
where did you buy your necklace? It is awesome!!!! :D
Thanks for all the nice comments! I bought it from a flea market, but someone has kindly
found a similar version on Etsy so there’s no need to tear up.
Why are tears salty?
Actually all of the fluids in your body are a little bit salty– like blood, sweat and…
tears. Each of our teardrops there's roughly contains 2 or 3 grains of salt, which acts
as an antiseptic to prevent infection.
But we have more in our tears than just water and salt. Research has found that emotional
tears, different to tears from cutting up an onion, contain more protein-based hormones.
Are you can even buy salt made from human tears.
Why did you decide to study psychology and neuroscience, and what prompted you to start
the BrainCraft channel?
I was always so interested in people and behaviour. Like why we have certain emotional states,
how we communicate, and just why we act the way we do. So I started BrainCraft because
I wanted to talk to more people about brain stuff and share my love of science with you
too. I’ve learnt so much along the way! This is actually my 50th episode, so thanks
for learning with me.
what kind of accent do you have?
I actually film by myself so Hugh here helps me focus.