Tag Archives | Cognition

Do Intelligent People Drink More?

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson

Here’s a recent story from Discovery News as Liz Day writes:

The next time you’re inclined to enjoy an extra glass of wine, consider that it may be a reflection of your intelligence.

That is one of the findings from data from the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States.

Childhood intelligence, measured before the age of 16, was categorized in five cognitive classes, ranging from “very dull,” “dull,” “normal,” “bright” and “very bright.”

The Americans were revisited seven years later. The British youths, on the other hand, were followed in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Researchers measured their drinking habits as the participants became older.

More intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children. In the Brits’ case, “very bright” children grew up to consume nearly eight-tenths of a standard deviation more alcohol than their “very dull” cohorts.

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Is Precognition Real? New Study Shows Some Evidence That the Human Mind Can Perceive the Future

Minority ReportThis study from Professor Daryl Bem at Cornell University certainly is interesting, but what’s even more interesting is the scientific establishment doesn’t seem to be bashing his work. Check out it for yourself. Ben Goertzel writes on h+ magazine:

According to today’s conventional scientific wisdom, time flows strictly forward — from the past to the future through the present. We can remember the past, and we can predict the future based on the past (albeit imperfectly) — but we can’t perceive the future.

But if the recent data from the lab of Prof. Daryl Bem at Cornell University is correct, conventional scientific wisdom may need some corrections on this particular point.

In a research paper titled “Feeling the Future,” recently accepted for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Bem presents some rather compelling empirical evidence that in some cases — and with weak but highly statistically significant accuracy – many human beings can directly perceive the future.

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Did Literacy Steal Brain Power From Other Functions?

Warning: Reading this may cause parts of your brain to become powerless. From Ars Technica:

The human brain contains many regions that are specialized for processing specific decisions and sensory inputs. Many of these are shared with our fellow mammals (and, in some cases, all vertebrates), suggesting that they are evolutionarily ancient specializations. But innovations like writing have only been around for a few thousand years, a time span that’s too short relative to human generations to allow for this sort of large evolutionary change. In the absence of specialized capabilities, how has it become possible for such large portions of the population to become literate?

The authors of a paper that will be released by Science today suggest two possible alternatives to explain this widespread literacy. Either reading is similar enough to something that our brains could already do that it’s processed by existing structures, or literacy has “stolen” areas of the brain that used to be involved in other functions.

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Smart People Sleep Late

SleepingInteresting article from Robert Alison in the Winnipeg Free Press earlier in the year:

Sleep is a fundamental component of animal biology. New evidence confirms that, in humans, its timing reflects intelligence. People with higher IQ’s (intelligence quotients) tend to be more active nocturnally, going to bed later, whereas those with lower IQ’s usually retire to bed sooner after nightfall.

The precise function of sleep is arguable. But, accumulating evidence shows that lack of sleep in humans and animals can result in obesity, high blood pressure and reduced life spans. Drowsiness impairs mental performance. For instance, 37 per cent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by drowsy motorists, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. Even minor sleep deficiencies impact on body chemistry.

According to Juliette Faraco of Stanford University, sleep loss generates a proportionate need for “sleep rebound”. One of the most controversial and significant recent findings is the correlation in humans between the earliness/lateness of sleep preferences and intelligence.

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How To Improve Your Study Habits

classroomTurns out everything we thought we knew about studying is wrong … the New York Times reports on cognitive science research that reveals how to improve study habits, whether you’re in grade school or a post-graduate:

…In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying.

The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language. But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.

For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

“We have known these principles for some time, and it’s intriguing that schools don’t pick them up, or that people don’t learn them by trial and error,” said Robert A.

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Does Language Shape Culture?

New cognitive research suggests that language profoundly influences the way people see the world. Lera Boroditsky reports for the Wall Street Journal:

Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?

Take “Humpty Dumpty sat on a…” Even this snippet of a nursery rhyme reveals how much languages can differ from one another. In English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we say “sat” rather than “sit.” In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can’t) change the verb to mark tense.

In Russian, you would have to mark tense and also gender, changing the verb if Mrs. Dumpty did the sitting. You would also have to decide if the sitting event was completed or not. If our ovoid hero sat on the wall for the entire time he was meant to, it would be a different form of the verb than if, say, he had a great fall.

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Study Sheds Light on What Makes People Shy

Clark KentI’m not suggesting that “shyness” means you secretly are an alien from the planet Krypton, who has to disguise one’s true nature from everyone around you … but it can feel like that at times. Reports LiveScience:

The brains of shy or introverted individuals might actually process the world differently than their more extroverted counterparts, a new study suggests.

About 20 percent of people are born with a personality trait called sensory perception sensitivity (SPS) that can manifest itself as the tendency to be inhibited, or even neuroticism. The trait can be seen in some children who are “slow to warm up” in a situation but eventually join in, need little punishment, cry easily, ask unusual questions or have especially deep thoughts, the study researchers say.

The new results show that these highly sensitive individuals also pay more attention to detail, and have more activity in certain regions of their brains when trying to process visual information than those who are not classified as highly sensitive.

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