The traffic jam in your head (now with Slashdot goodness)

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My new brain column for Discover is online, and it’s about one of the weirder failings of our mind: the way our thoughts can get stuck in a traffic jam. When we are required to do two things in quick succession–like answer a cell phone and hit the brakes–our brains freeze up for an instant. Researchers have known about this so-called psychological refractory period for decades, but they’re still trying to figure out how, and why, it happens. As I explain in my column, this inner weakness may actually reveal an inner strength. Check it out. (And thanks to Slashdot for the tsunami of link love.)