Cotard Syndrome – Walking Dead Disorder

By Anupum Pant

Neurological conditions can be bizarre. Now I know that there is a condition that can delude patients to such an extent that they start thinking they no longer exist, or are dead. It’s called the Cotard Syndrome or the walking dead disorder.

Named after a French doctor Jules Cotard, the Cotard syndrome is a neurological condition in which severe degeneration of neural synapses occurs and messes with the facial recognition and emotion centres of the brain. Their brain creates a totally impaired perception of the self. As a result, patients suffering from it some times get convinced that their body parts no longer exist, or have started decaying.

Often times, patients think that they no longer need to eat (because they are already dead), and they starve to death.

There have also been cases in which patients have tried to get rid of their body parts using acid because they felt doing this was only the way to free themselves of being zombies.

Graham, a person who got caught up by this bizarre disorder was totally convinced that his brain did not exist. He had lost all his senses, he thought he was in a state between life and death, and saw no point in continuing to live this way. He tried to kill himself by getting electrocuted in a bathtub. Graham got cured to some extent, but the disorder completely messed up the rest of his life.

Another person who suffered brain injury due to a motorcycle accident was first cleared as health by doctors initially. After which he went on a vacation to South Africa. By the time he came back, he was totally convinced that he had died and had gone to hell.

Thankfully, it is an extremely rare disorder.

via [NewScientist]

Stopped Clock Illusion

By Anupum Pant

When you quickly move your eyes to focus on the seconds hand of an analogue clock, have you ever noticed that the first second you see actually seems to linger for a slightly longer time? Yes, it does. And there’s a reason why it happens.

When you rapidly move eyeballs to focus from one point to the another, it’s called a Saccade. If you ever try doing this rapid movement with a camera, a motion blur occurs in between the first point focus and the last point focus.

Unlike cameras our eyes (work closely with the brain) has a built-in mechanism to erase this motion blur. The brain erases all the motion blur during those few milliseconds and replaces the motion blur frames with the final image in the end.

This is why you see the longer first second when you quickly focus your eyes on the seconds hand – the stopped clock illusion or chronostasis. This also explains why you can never see your eyeballs moving when you try to spot their movement while staring at your own eyes on a mirror.

Michael Stevens from Vsauce explains…

A 2-Minute Exercise to Do Better in Interviews

By Anupum Pant

Is there a job interview or a public speaking gig coming up for you? Well, you don’t have to worry as much as you are doing right now because Amy Cuddy is here to save you.

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, talks about a power pose – a 2-minute pose – you could strike before going into an interview which has been proven to have a significant difference in your performance at anything that requires confidence (like an interview).

She introduces this concept in the a very convincing TED talk that I’ve attached below. If you do not need much convincing, you could skip watching the talk and just do this before you go into an interview or go to the stage for something.

  • Find a quiet place where no one will see you and make fun of you.
  • Strike a superhero pose. If you don’t know what that means, stand like this. For 2 minutes. Done! Otherwise, here is a nice infographic based on Cuddy’s research. [Link]
  • If you don’t, at least do not stoop and close your shoulders while waiting in the lobby because it certainly affects you negatively.

Apparently, according to an experiment by Amy Cuddy and Dana Carney of Berkeley, 86% of those who posed in the high-power position (the superhero pose) opted to gamble, while only 60% of the low-power posers (closed poses) felt comfortable taking a roll of the dice.

Moreover, a significant difference was found in the saliva samples of both the high-power pose people and the low-power pose people. Who’d have thought that a simple 2 minute pose could make chemical differences in your body!

On an average, the high-pose people saliva showed an 8% increase in the testosterone level, while the ones who did the low-power pose had a 10% decrease of the same. That is phenomenal, if you ask me.

Also, the hormone related to stress, Cortisol decreased by 25% among high-power posers and increased 15% among low power posers. (A decrease in cortisol levels is better for activities like interviews)