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tricks of the mind

The 5 most annoying tricks your brain plays on you, explained

Ever wonder why you hate the way you look in photos? It can be EXPLAINED.


Powerful tools packed with knowledge, delicious food for zombies, and the things that keep us lying awake at night, thinking of all the embarrassing things we’ve ever done in chronological order.

Mostly though, they’re trying to pull the rug from under us at every opportunity.

Here, we attempt to break down and explain five of the most annoying tricks your mind plays on you. No, it’s not just to drive you daft. There are REASONS.

1. Why do I like how I look in the mirror, but not in photographs?

There’s no definite scientific explanation for this one, but photographer Duncan Davidson believes it’s because we think the image of ourselves we see in the mirror is the real us.

What we see in the photo is the flipped version of what we see in the mirror, so we automatically recoil from this ‘fake’ version of ourselves.

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This is turn means that the ‘awful’ photos you’re tagged in on Facebook might not be as unattractive as you think. Result.

2. Why do I wince in ‘pain’ when I see someone getting hurt?

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Ow! Didn’t you just feel that wallop she gave herself in your own head? Scientists say we have ‘mirror neurons’ which make us imitate what we are observing. So when we see people get hurt, we just have to empathise.

Some people with mirror-touch synaesthesia (who experience the exact same sensation that another person feels) may even feel actual pain when they see people get hurt. We’ll take the wincing.

3. Why do I feel like I’m falling when I go to sleep?

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This one’s a real pain in the bum. There are a lot of theories about what causes these involuntary twitches (or hypnic jerks) in the REM stage of sleep, including caffeine, stress and anxiety. Some say they’re an evolutionary reaction from when humans used to live in trees.

But a lot of them can just happen randomly to completely healthy people – it’s just like a battle between your sleeping self and your waking self. NO ONE IS SAFE.

4. Why do I sometimes remember things that didn’t happen?

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Researchers think that our minds fail to take in absolutely everything in our surroundings, leading to gaps in memory. To fill the gaps, our mind automatically plants whatever ‘false’ memories it believes make the most sense.

In one creepy study, scientists managed to convince college students that they had a negative experience with Pluto at Disneyland as children just by showing them some suggestive materials. Shudder.

5. Why does a song get stuck in my head on loop?

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We’re all familiar with ‘earworms’, sadly, but there is a real reason why one part of a song can get stuck in your head.

It’s because our brain doesn’t like unfinished thoughts, so it continuously goes back to that snippet of song, trying to finish it off. Kind of like having a brain itch.

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If it’s really bothering you, the trick to getting it out of your head is to focus on a brain activity that isn’t too hard or too easy – like solving anagrams or reading a book.

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