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Posts Tagged "Learning"

Anthropology in Practice

What will the future of education look like?

In the absence of a traditional classroom, learning goes on in Mexico. | Image by JIji Lee. Click for license and information.

Scientific American’s August supplement takes a look at the changing landscape of education in the face of emerging technology, and asks the question, how do we increase interest and engagement in STEM initiatives? Learning in the Digital Age tackles issues of using big data to better understand students, the validity of online courses, and the [...]

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Anthropology in Practice

Getting Serious With Siri

Our robotic overlords must be delighted by the way iPhone users have taken to Siri. I met her on Friday. But apparently, she was talking to me before we were formally introduced: When S arrived at the rail station to pick me up, Siri had been reading my text messages aloud and sending me his [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

A Hangout with Google Science Fair in Swaziland

Left to right: Sakhiwe Shongwe, TH Culhane, Bonkhe Mahlalela, Rohit Fenn, Bayinda, Amit Fenn in Swaziland. Credit: YouTube

You know what’s awesome? Seeing a bunch of young people at work on changing the world to make it a better place for all. Today, I hosted a Google Science Fair Hangout On Air on Sustainability in Swaziland, and I got to have that privilege. Now I want to share it with you. My fellow [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

A Hangout IN Air–Off a Cliff Face–for Science

Jason Osborne rappelling, running Hangout On Air with phone, and looking for fossils. Credit: Aaron Alford.

When I last did a Google Science Fair Hangout On Air with Jason Osborne and Aaron Alford, founders of Paleo Quest, they were diving in a swamp looking for fossils. Yesterday, they took their fossil quest to new heights, rather literally: this time, they hung on ropes off the side of a cliff for a [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Kid Scientists Make Real Fossil Finds at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

Kids searching for fossils using SharkFinder kits at Scientific American's booth at the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

Kids searching for fossils using SharkFinder kits at Scientific American’s booth at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Credit: Jason Osborne Jason Osborne was trying to grab a quick lunch away from the crowds when his wife called his cellphone. “Jason, you’ve got to come see this boy at the booth. He’s amazing!” When Osborne, [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Astrophysics, Citizen Science and the Google Science Fair

Chris Lintott, astrophysicist of Oxford University and founder of The Zooniverse. Credit: YouTube

Find out why Oxford University astrophysicist and founder of The Zooniverse Chris Lintott believes that humanity’s ability to be “deliciously distractable” is a creative engine powering the benefits of citizen science for discovery–and how, if you are a researcher, you might like to “play with your phyiscs.” With Google Student Ambassador Hanne Paine, we had [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Curious about Professional Learning? N.Y.U. Is Offering 2 Webinars to Demo a Course

We’ve received some questions about the Professional Learning online courses offered by Scientific American and N.Y.U. Polytechnic School of Engineering. In response, our partners at N.Y.U. are holding two informational Webinar sessions where experts will provide a guided tour of the interface and answer any questions you have. Click on one of the links below [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Google Science Fair Hangout On-Air: Meet the Deep-Sea-Diving Exosuit

Vincent Pieribone, John Sparks, Exosuit and Mariette DiChristina. Credit: YouTube

Scientists studying marine life now have a new tool in a next-generation atmospheric diving system called the Exosuit. The suit–which looks like something an astronaut would wear and is on display at the American Museum of Natural History until March 5–lets a diver descend to 1,000 feet at surface pressure for several hours. As part [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Google Science Fair 2013 Finalist Gala

Google Science Fair 2013: Viney Kumar, Ann Makosinski, Elif Bilgin and Eric Chen. Credit: Google

Since I couldn’t bring you all with me to the amazing Google Science Fair Finalist Gala on 23 September, I’m posting the video here. The age-category winners are Viney Kumar, 14, for his work on a signalling system for emergency vehicles in the 13-14-year-old category; Ann Makosinski, 16, for her work in creating a batter-free [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Google Science Fair 2013: A Hangout in a Swamp

Paleo Quest founders Jason Osborne (left), holding fossil whale vertebra, and Aaron Alford, fresh from a swamp dive. Credit: Google Science Fair

We had a fun first today for the 2013 Google Science Fair Hangouts On Air series of live chats with researchers around the world: with the aid of a smart phone propped up by two fossil bones, we streamed live from a Virginia swamp for a session called Paleo Quest: Venturing into the Unknown. I [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Videos for Executive Summit: Learning in the Digital Age

Mariette DiChristina, editor in chief and senior vice president of Scientific American, awarding the distinguished actor Alan Alda with the Scientific American Award for achievements in the public communication of science. Credit: Scientific American

What’s driving the digital revolution in education? And will it be a boon for students, helping the U.S. stay competitive in a global economy, as advocates say? Or, as critics say, will it improve only little on what teachers can do already—and threaten student privacy to boot? In the “Executive Summit: Learning in the Digital [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Science in Action Winner for 2013: Elif Bilgin

Elif Bilgin, winner of the 2013 Science in Action award, a $50,000 prize sponsored by Scientific American as part of the Google Science Fair.

“Genius,” Thomas Edison famously said, “is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” He would have found a kindred spirit in Elif Bilgin, 16, of Istanbul, Turkey, winner of the 2013 $50,000 Science in Action award, part of the third annual Google Science Fair. The award honors a project that can make a practical difference [...]

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Beautiful Minds

From Chess to Dreams: Interview on the Creative Writing Process with Fred Waitzkin

Fred Waitzkin

In 1984, Fred Waitzkin published Searching for Bobby Fischer, the story of three years in the lives of Fred and his chess prodigy son, Josh Waitzkin. The book became an internationally acclaimed bestseller. Five years later, Paramount released the movie version of Searching for Bobby Fischer, which has become a cult classic. Waitzkin also wrote Mortal Games (1993), [...]

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Dog Spies

Is Dog Training Scientific?

ScienceinTraining

Dog owners seem pleased when they meet me because they can talk about their dog with someone who is truly interested. Sometimes they share intricate descriptions about something interesting that their dog does (often followed with the question, “Why does she do that?”), and other times, owners have a question like, “How do I get [...]

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Guest Blog

Learning from Tinka: Able-bodied chimps cop a back-scratching technique from a handicapped friend.

With one misstep and the snap of a trap, Tinka was broken. The 50-year-old chimpanzee’s hands were mangled and left severely deformed and almost useless. Most of the muscles of his left wrist were paralyzed, and he was left with a limited range of movement. His left hand just sat there in a hooked position, [...]

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Illusion Chasers

Multitasking, pickpockets and hubris

DCIM100MEDIA

One consequence of my laboratory’s collaboration with stage pickpocket Apollo Robbins is that I am often asked for strategies to thwart pickpockets in the real world. My usual advice is to avoid multitasking while you’re out and about, especially in the midst of a crowd. I speak not only from my experience as a cognitive researcher, but also as a former victim of pickpocketing.

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Illusion Chasers

Feeling Persecuted? You May Be Delusional.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Walton%28reconstitution%29.png

Lack of clarity about how the world works is implicated in delusions, along with overly strong—stubborn—beliefs that sculpt perceptual data into conformity.

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Illusion Chasers

Neuroscience in Fiction: Crux, by Ramez Naam

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Crux (Angry Robot Books) is an outstanding speculative fiction adventure. It combines the very highest level of neuroscientific reality with plausible neuroscience fiction that is very well thought through.

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Illusion Chasers

The Neural Magic of Hypnotic Suggestion

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A new review of the scientific literature studying hypnosis, in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, by Oakley and Halligan, discusses the potential for hypnosis to provide insights into brain mechanisms involved in attention, motor control, pain perception, beliefs and volition and also to produce informative analogues of clinical conditions.

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Illusion Chasers

Join a Think Tank in NYC!

TTT-model

The Think Tank is a mobile cognitive science lab and education station that will harness intrinsic interest in the human brain.

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Illusion Chasers

To sleep perchance to learn

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sleeping-girl.jpg

A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that humans can acquire entirely new information while they sleep.

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Not bad science

Bumblebees Are More Flexible Than We Knew

A bee drinking the sucrose reward on the yellow 'flower'

I recently wrote about how bumblebees were able to perform some seemingly impressive feats, although the underlying reason they could do so was relatively simple. However, recent work by Caroline Strang and David Sherry has demonstrated that bumblebees are capable of another behavioural feat, never before shown in this species. In this post, researcher Caroline [...]

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Not bad science

Left-Eyed Fish Are Faster Learners

The rainbowfish, Melanotaenia duboulayi

You may have heard the claim that left-handed people are smarter than right handed people. Specifically, it seems that left-handed people are over represented in musicians, architects and art and music students. Why this might be isn’t entirely clear, but it is possible that it has something to do with the left-handed brain being larger [...]

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Not bad science

Does Social Learning Need to be Social? Insights from Bumble Bees

the buff-tailed bumble bee, Bombus terrestris

This might seem perplexing to some, but I’ve just spent two days listening to talks and meeting with people who all work on social insects. And it was great. I was at Royal Holloway, University of London, where the IUSSI meeting was taking place. The IUSSI is the ‘International Union for the Study of Social [...]

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Observations

How Do Our Brains Remember? [Video]

Kandel_06 crop

Each of us has a unique experience on this earth. A major reason for that is the buildup of our memories over time, which forms the ongoing narrative that we know as our life. Memories are also central to learning. But how does the brain—a collection of cells, neurons chief among them—remember and learn? Eric [...]

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Observations

Brains in Boston: Weekend Recap of Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s Annual Meeting

poster at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting

Greetings from Boston where the 21st annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society is underway.  Saturday and Sunday were packed with symposia, lectures and more than 400 posters.  Here are just a few of the highlights. The bilingual brain has been a hot topic at the meeting this year, particularly as researchers grapple with the [...]

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Observations

Can Children Teach Themselves?

ted.com/sugata

Sugata Mitra gave street kids in a slum in New Delhi access to a computer connected to the Internet, and found that they quickly taught themselves how to use it. This was the moment he says he discovered a new way of teaching. He calls it the grandmother technique, and it goes like this: expose [...]

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Observations

Bumblebees Quickly Learn Best Paths to Sweet Flowers

bumblebees learn shortest routes to flowers

Bumblebees, it turns out, don’t bumble. Using tiny radar tracking devices, motion-activated cameras and artificial flowers, scientists have learned how the bees themselves quickly learn the best routes to take when they go foraging from flower to flower. In fact, their cognitive competence in this area seems to match that of bigger-brained animals. A team [...]

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Observations

Spine Tuning: Finding Physical Evidence of How Practice Rewires the Brain

all-star-shoelaces

In kindergarten, several of my friends and I were very serious about learning to tie our shoes. I remember sitting on the edge of the playground, looping laces into bunny ears and twisting them into a knot over and over again until I had it just right. A few years later, whistling became my new [...]

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Observations

Fewer Babies Die, but Many Suffer Long-Term Health Problems

premature infant

Infant mortality is at its lowest rate ever. Now fewer than three percent of babies worldwide die within the first five weeks of life, which is surely cause for celebration. Many of the infants who have been saved, however, did not enter this world easily. A new analysis published online Thursday in The Lancet found [...]

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Observations

How a Computer Game Is Reinventing the Science of Expertise [Video]

If there is one general rule about the limitations of the human mind, it is that we are terrible at multitasking. The old phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” applies equally well to the mechanisms of attention as it does to a patriotic cause. When devoted to a single task, the brain excels; when [...]

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Observations

Now: Bring Science Home Every Week!

bring science home logo

At Scientific American, we appreciate the value of a good experiment. So in May, we launched Bring Science Home as a series of free science activities for parents to do together with their six- to 12-year-old kids. We made sure the activities would be fun and easy to do, so families could complete them in [...]

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Observations

Interactive Learning Closes College Science Achievement Gap–on a Shoestring Budget

students learn better acheivement gap for disadvantaged students closes with active structured learning

We all know how to get to Carnegie Hall: practice. The same holds true for a range of goals—from improving a golf swing to giving a good presentation. As a graduate student at the University of Washington, David Haak wondered if this principle could be used to help boost the performance of students—especially those considered [...]

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Observations

Robots Evolve to Look Out for Their Own

robots evolve to learn to share

A robot must protect its own existence. This mid-20th-century dictate to the robotic clade from science fiction author and biochemist Isaac Asimov seems cleanly in step with Darwinian theory and the biological world of survival of the fittest. But as scientists continue to witness animals and other organisms habitually sacrificing themselves for the greater good [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Children Reason Differently from Adults [Video]

          // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the ninth video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Multitask at Your Own Risk

unicycle_Elsie esq

        // Editor’s note: Brain Basics from Scientific American Mind is a series of short video primers on the brain and how we feel, think and act. Below is a synopsis of the eighth video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Cultivate Your Character [Video]

The term “character” has numerous and widely varied meanings. It defines each of these letters and symbols I am typing. It can be used to refer to features of wines, and it captures fictional folks in movies in books. I often call funny or stand-out individuals “characters,” too. In psychology, however, “character” most often adheres [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Who Needs Stimulants for ADHD?

Ritalin. Courtesy of en:User:Sponge via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1970, 150,000 U.S. children were taking stimulant medications. By 2007, that number had risen to 2.7 million, according to pediatrician Sanford Newmark of the University of California, San Francisco. In the video embedded in this post, titled “Do 2.5 Million Kids Really Need Ritalin?” Newmark analyzes the reasons behind the rise in prescriptions, which [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Teen Builds Gateway to the Brain for Girls

Girls run on a brain maze

The Synapse Project “encourages young women to enter the field of neuroscience through information and mentorship,” according to its website. This endeavor, an amalgam of outlets for kids, information for teens and career advice for young women, turns out to be the brainchild of … a child, one keenly interested in the brain. Sixteen-year-old Grace [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

The Making of a Mathematical Mind: 1 Step at a Time

worksheet for times 5

One time when I was in the third grade, I got sick and missed a week of school. My dad wanted me to keep up with my schoolwork, so he brought my assignments and books home. I did the required work in the math workbook quickly, or so the story goes, and went on to [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

How to Avoid the Self-Esteem Trap

Courtesy of Key Foster via Flickr.

I have always assumed that having a strong sense of self-worth was important. I figured it made a person happier, healthier, more successful, and easier to be around. Turns out that these benefits of self-esteem are rather hard to prove. Having high self-esteem has some modest pluses, studies suggest. It makes you more persistent, for [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Hear Me Talk about Social and Emotional Learning!

On Monday, May 13, at 7pm, I’ll be moderating a panel at The New York Academy of Sciences. If you are in the area, please attend! Here a description of the event: Social and Emotional Learning: Preparing Our Children to Excel Monday, May 13, 2013 | 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM The New York Academy [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

A Surefire Way to Sharpen Your Focus

peaceful scene, village by the water

How many times have you arrived someplace but had no memory of the trip there? Have you ever been sitting in an auditorium daydreaming, not registering what the people on stage are saying or playing? We often spin through our days lost in mental time travel, thinking about something from the past, or future, leaving [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

The Education of Character—Stoking Memory with Stones [Video]

In MindUP, a social and emotional learning program pioneered by actor Goldie Hawn, children learn to be mindful—that is, attuned to the present without judgment. This skill engenders a healthy outlook on life, hones the ability to pay attention and creates a sense of calm, preparing the mind for learning. (For more on the brain [...]

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Talking back

Sleep Hits the Reset Button for Individual Neurons

A little shuteye refreshes. Right, but what does that really mean? Not talking here about leaping out of bed ready for a five-mile run upon awakening, but rather about what’s happening at the level of individual brain cells deep inside your head. A new study by R. Douglas Fields, a pioneer in researching out-of-the-mainstream  brain [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

For Word Learning, Size Matters If You’re A Dog

Gable and Toys

In 1988, a three-year-old child is led into a brightly colored testing room in a psychology department in Bloomington, Indiana. A small toy is brought out and put onto a table in front of the child. The toy was wooden, blue, about two inches square, and U-shaped. “This is a dax.” The researchers picked a [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

For Chimps, Tool Choice Is A Weighty Matter

chimp nuts currbio

A juvenile chimpanzee in the Ivory Coast’s Tai Forest watches as her mother carefully places a soft coula nut onto a hard, flat rock. In her other hand, mom has a chunk of hard wood. Mom smashes the nut with her makeshift hammer, once, twice, three times. Having broken the outer shell, she plucks out [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Sensing Magnets: Navigation in Desert Ants

Ant on stilts

The more scientists discover about desert ants, the more impressive they seem. Decades of research have established that ants use path integration – an innate form of mental trigonometry – in order to navigate the visually featureless environments that are the salt pans of Tunisia. They do this by calibrating a mental clock based on [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

What Is Classical Conditioning? (And Why Does It Matter?)

20111225-IMG_4242

Classical conditioning is one of those introductory psychology terms that gets thrown around. Many people have a general idea that it is one of the most basic forms of associative learning, and people often know that Ivan Pavlov’s 1927 experiment with dogs has something to do with it, but that is often where it ends. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Are Sheep Better at Botany than the US Government?

Botanically, a tomato is a fruit: a seed-bearing structure that grows from the flowering part of a plant. In 1893, however, the highest court in the land ruled in the case of Nix v. Hedden that the tomato was a vegetable, subject to vegetable import tariffs. Unfortunately, the vegetal confusion did not end in 1893. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Cold-Blooded Cognition: Social Cognition in a Non-Social Reptile?

Earlier this week, scientist Anna Wilkinson won an IgNobel prize for her research on contagious yawning (really, the lack thereof) in red-footed tortoises. In case you’re not familiar with them, the IgNobel Prizes are given for research that “first makes you laugh, then makes you think.” Read Scicurious’s coverage of the awards here. Since I’ve [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Office Parties Are Just Like Four Loko (Which Is Just Like The Copenhagen Philharmonic)

When this headline from The Telegraph flashed across Google Reader, I couldn’t help but be amused: Scientists explain why the office party so often ends in embarrassment. From the article: Now scientists have come up with an explanation for why the office party is so often the cause of embarrassing and inappropriate behaviour. Researchers have [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

How Do You Figure Out How Chimps Learn? Peanuts.

What is culture? One simple definition might be: a distinctive behavior shared by two or more individuals, which persists over time, and that ignorant individuals acquire through socially-aided learning. There are at least four different ways to learn a particular behavior or problem-solving strategy. That is to say, there are four different ways to learn. [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Four Loko Is Just Like The Copenhagen Philharmonic

Fourlokoproducts-square

It’s an ordinary afternoon at Copenhagen Central Station. At 2:32pm, a man who appears to be a run-of-the-mill street performer sets up a drum in the center of a large hall. A cellist joins him. A woman approaches with her flute. The melody is sort of recognizable… It sounds sort of like Ravel’s Bolero. Pretty [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Monday Pets: Cold Blooded Cognition

turtle igloo.JPG

She: “What are you writing about?” Me: “Cognition in cold-blooded animals.” She: “Hot.” Most people who study cognition focus on mammals or birds. But I hope I’ve convinced you that other animals are important to investigate as well. One research group at the University of Vienna likes cold-blooded critters. Turtles and lizards and such. They [...]

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