Tag Archives | Cognition

Study Shows Children Can Be Better Than Adults at Figuring Out New Gadgets

Yasmin Anwar at UC Berkeley:

Preschoolers can be smarter than college students at figuring out how unusual toys and gadgets work because they’re more flexible and less biased than adults in their ideas about cause and effect, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Edinburgh.

The findings suggest that technology and innovation can benefit from the exploratory learning and probabilistic reasoning skills that come naturally to young children, many of whom are learning to use smartphones even before they can tie their shoelaces. The findings also build upon the researchers’ efforts to use children’s cognitive smarts to teach machines to learn in more human ways.

“As far as we know, this is the first study examining whether children can learn abstract cause and effect relationships, and comparing them to adults,” said UC Berkeley developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, senior author of the paper published online in the journal, Cognition.

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False Memories Occur Even Among Those with Superior Memory

400px-Neuron_Hand-tuned.svgRick Nauert writes at Psych Central News:

Some people have the unique talent of being able to remember daily details of their lives from decades past.

But surprising new research finds that even among this select group of memory experts, false memories occur at about the same frequency as among those with average memory.

False memories are the recollection of an event, or the details of an event, that did not occur. UC Irvine psychologists and neurobiologists created a series of tests to determine how false information can manipulate memory formation.

In their study they learned that subjects with highly superior autobiographical memory preformed similar to a control group of subjects with average memory.

“Finding susceptibility to false memories even in people with very strong memory could be important for dissemination to people who are not memory experts.

“For example, it could help communicate how widespread our basic susceptibility to memory distortions is,” said Lawrence Patihis.

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Your Brain Sees Things You Don’t

spoonVia ScienceDaily:

University of Arizona doctoral degree candidate Jay Sanguinetti has authored a new study, published online in the journal Psychological Science, that indicates that the brain processes and understands visual input that we may never consciously perceive.

The finding challenges currently accepted models about how the brain processes visual information.

A doctoral candidate in the UA’s Department of Psychology in the College of Science, Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the white spaces on the outsides.

Saguinetti worked with his adviser Mary Peterson, a professor of psychology and director of the UA’s Cognitive Science Program, and with John Allen, a UA Distinguished Professor of psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, to monitor subjects’ brainwaves with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, while they viewed the objects.

“We were asking the question of whether the brain was processing the meaning of the objects that are on the outside of these silhouettes,” Sanguinetti said.

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The Smarter You Are, The Stupider You Are

Alva Noë explains the Identity Protective Cognition Thesis, or how some people buy into their own B.S.

via NPR

Education is necessary if democracy is to flourish. What good is the free flow of information if people can’t make sense of it? How can you vote your own interests if you don’t understand the consequences of policy choices? How can you know what’s best for you or your community?

A recent study by Yale’s Dan M. Kahan and colleagues might be thought to call these truisms of democratic political culture into question. According to the finding, the better you are at reasoning numerically, the more likely you are to let your political bias skew your quantitative reasoning.

Put another way, the brainier you are, the better you can twist facts to your own pre-existing convictions. And that’s what you will tend to do.

Far from showing that there’s no hope for democracy, or that education is not necessary for democracy to thrive, these findings give us occasion to recall that education isn’t just learning how to be good with numbers.

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Is Early-Age Reading Developmentally Appropriate?

Activity_at_the_library6Marsha Lucas asks if introducing children to reading at an early age developmentally appropriate.

via Rewire Your Brain For Love:

Louise Bates Ames, PhD, a superstar in child development and the director of research at the world-renowned Gesell Institute of Child Development, stated that “a delay in reading instruction would be a preventative measure in avoiding nearly all reading failure.” Leapfrogging necessary cognitive developmental skills — and asking a young brain to do tasks for which it isn’t truly ready — is asking for trouble with learning.

The brains of young children aren’t yet developed enough to read without it costing them in the organization and “wiring” of their brain. The areas involved in language and reading aren’t fully online — and aren’t connected — until age seven or eight. If we’re teaching children to do tasks which their brains are not yet developed to do via the “normal” (and most efficient) pathways, the brain will stumble upon other, less efficient ways to accomplish the tasks — which lays down wiring in some funky ways — and can lead to later learning disabilities, including visual-processing deficits.

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Your Consciousness is Editing Itself

Our brains have a lot of ways of tricking us. In many ways, they are worse enemies to our faculties of logic and critical thinking than even some exterior forces, for the ‘tricks of the mind’ often facilitate demogogues, cult leaders, and even magicians with their illusory machinations.

New research led by cognitive scientist Claire Sergent has found that conscious experience can be altered retrospectively. Specifically, the information of visual input can be ‘altered’ by the brain a split second later by distracting our attention elsewhere.

"Cueing Attention" circles used in the study

Via Mind Hacks:

The research involved asking people to stare at a centre point of a screen with two empty circles either side.

At some point, one of the two circles would fill with randomly oriented stripes for just 50ms (one twentieth of a second) and afterwards the participants were asked to say which direction the stripes were pointing in.

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Brain Can Read and Write Without Full Consciousness

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that your brain reads and does basic math before you’re even aware of it:

Via LiveScience:

In a series of experiments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, more than 300 student participants were unconsciously exposed to words and equations through a research technique known as Continuous Flash Suppression (CFS). With this method, a static image appears in front of one eye while rapidly changing pictures flash in front of the other eye. The changing pictures dominate awareness at first, letting the still image register subliminally before popping into consciousness.

In the first part of the study, one eye was presented with a static phrase or sentence, which was “masked” by changing colorful shapes flashing in front of the other eye. The students were instructed to press a button as soon as they became aware of the words. It usually took about a second, but negative phrases like “human trafficking” and jarring sentences such as “I ironed the coffee” typically registered quicker than positive expressions and more coherent phrases such as “I ironed clothes,” the study found.

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Scientists Implant Short-Term Memories in Rat Brain tissue

Picture: Janet Stephens (PD)

Via ScienceDaily:

Evoking scenes from science fiction B-movies, (I’m looking at you, Battlefield Earth), scientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine succeeded in implanting rudimentary memories in sections of puny rat-brains! rat brain tissue.

In their study, the researchers sought to better understand the mechanisms underlying short-term declarative memories such as remembering a phone number or email address someone has just shared.

Using isolated pieces of rodent brain tissue, the researchers demonstrated that they could form a memory of which one of four input pathways was activated. The neural circuits contained within small isolated sections of the brain region called the hippocampus maintained the memory of stimulated input for more than 10 seconds. The information about which pathway was stimulated was evident by the changes in the ongoing activity of brain cells.

The experiment will pave the way for a greater understanding of how short-term memories are formed, according to the article at ScienceDaily.… Read the rest

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How To Deprogram Your Own Mind

Brainwashing 1, acrílico sobre lienzo, 100 x 80 cmsWary that your thoughts aren’t your own? You may want to deprogram your own mind. A. Orange writes:

1. Recognize that programming is everywhere, and it isn’t all bad. Your programming started with your parents teaching you things, and both consciously and unconsciously programming you with all of their beliefs and attitudes. That is not necessarily bad — it is usually good. You are better off for having had parents who cared about you and wanted to teach you. But unfortunately, you also inherited all of their misinformation, superstitions, mistakes, and irrational and untrue beliefs.

And you also inherited your “culture”, which includes all of the false, irrational, and wrong beliefs of your entire society. And you are left with the job of figuring out which of those beliefs are good and true, and which are stupid and crazy.

And you are always vulnerable to pressure from your peer group, which will always try to make you conform to their beliefs, standards, and behavior, even if your friends are not even really aware of the fact that they are doing it.

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Fear is the Mind Killer: Stress and Depression Shrinks the Brain

The low-grade existential despair inflicted by your day-to-day cubicle farm existence may actually be making you dumber: A team of Yale scientists have discovered that stress and depression can actually cause your brain to atrophy.
The research team analyzed tissue of depressed and non-depressed patients donated from a brain bank and looked for different patterns of gene activation. The brains of patients who had been depressed exhibited lower levels of expression in genes that are required for the function and structure of brain synapses. Lead author and postdoctoral researcher H.J. Kang discovered that at least five of these genes could be regulated by a single transcription factor called GATA1. When the transcription factor was activated, rodents exhibited depressive-like symptoms, suggesting GATA1 plays a role not only in the loss of connections between neurons but also in symptoms of depression.
Maybe the makers of Joe vs. The Volcano were on to something:
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