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Posts Tagged "cognition"

Beautiful Minds

The Real Neuroscience of Creativity

ku cover

So yea, you know how the left brain is really realistic, analytical, practical, organized, and logical, and the right brain is so darn creative, passionate, sensual, tasteful, colorful, vivid, and poetic? No. Just no. Stop it. Please. Thoughtful cognitive neuroscientists such as Anna Abraham, Mark Beeman, Adam Bristol, Kalina Christoff, Andreas Fink, Jeremy Gray, Adam Green, Rex Jung, John Kounios, Hikaru Takeuchi, Oshin Vartanian, Darya Zabelina [...]

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Bering in Mind

You Disgust Me: Does Bad Behavior Really Make Us Feel Unclean and Nauseated?

Research shows that people feel dirty after contemplating crimes

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Dog Spies

Could a Life-Sized TV Control Your Dog’s Brain?

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This question was not proposed by a mad scientist bent on world doggie domination. The idea to see whether dogs follow life-sized videos is actually entirely sensible. Researchers studying non-human animals want to know whether their species of interest will attend to artificial stimuli—like photographs, slides or films—because if a species realistically attends to artificial [...]

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Guest Blog

How Do You Play with Your Dog?

Millions of people around the world come home to four legs and a wagging tail, and many spend some of their time together playing. While dog-dog play has been studied extensively, dog-person play, which takes on a different form and appears to have different rules, has not attracted nearly as much scholarly attention. At the [...]

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Guest Blog

Science Education and Changing People’s Minds: Writing to convince

I find online science communication fascinating. I am enthusiastic about its possibilities and intrigued by its challenges. With an interest in online communication, comes an interest in text. While videos, animations and images are powerful too, the written word is often the simplest and the default mode of online communication–-think blog posts, tweets, status updates, [...]

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Guest Blog

“Project Nim” Reveals a Scientific Scandal

The most important sign language study done with an ape was surely the first one back in the 1960s, with Washoe, for it established that chimpanzees can use American Sign Language (ASL). The most decisive such study, however, was probably the one a decade later, with Nim Chimsky because it put a halt to such [...]

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Guest Blog

Animal emotion: When objectivity fails

Pig_gestation_crate

There seems to be an explosion of concern over animal welfare these days. With growing awareness to factory farming conditions, Americans are at last faced with the recent histories of their burgers, their nuggets, their pork chops. What we see makes us viscerally uncomfortable, and reasonably so. Those of us who are sympathetic to animal [...]

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Guest Blog

Trains, nukes, marriage, and vaccines (and anything else): Why the facts don’t matter

A lot has been written about why people deny the findings of science. Why, ask the devotees of reason, do people’s views on vaccines or climate change not match the overwhelming bulk of the evidence? To that question I would add this; why are these views so fiercely held? Why do disagreements about the facts [...]

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Guest Blog

Turkey talk: The social cognition of your Thanksgiving dinner

It is well-known that when the bald eagle was picked for the emblem of America after six years of debate, Ben Franklin expressed his dismay that the turkey was not picked instead. In a letter to his daughter, he wrote, For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Expert Cancer Care May Soon Be Everywhere, Thanks to Watson

Watson. Courtesy of IBM.

This blog is the first in a series of guest posts on technology and the brain to celebrate Scientific American Mind’s 10-year anniversary. The magazine’s special November/December issue similarly highlights the interface between code and thought in profiling a future, more digital YOU.   “You know my methods, Watson.” – Sherlock Holmes Even those who [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Coincidences Reflect a Rational Mind

Parked, orange moped and automobile

While we can all agree coincidences have fascinated scholars and lay people alike, what they mean divides us into one of two camps: skeptics or believers. A believer thinks that coincidences are evidence of mysterious, hidden and possible paranormal causes. A skeptic will put coincidences down to statistical quirks that are more common than we [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Self-Controlled Crows Ace the Marshmallow Test

Are four treats better than two? Not if you’re a crow picking a favorite snack. Crows and ravens hold off on gobbling a tidbit when they can see a better one coming after a short wait. But they’ll only act with restraint if the future treat is something they like more than what they already [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

How I Recovered My Social Skills after Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can seriously impair the ability to relate to people, but with effort, a degree of normalcy can be attained. As someone who lives with schizophrenia, this is glaringly obvious to me. When you have schizophrenia, the overarching plot of the experience is the inability to tell whether the things you are thinking are actually [...]

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Not bad science

Building on Experience

A southern masked weaver

This move from my old site to the Scientific American network has also coincided with my own physical move from the UK to the USA to start some new research. Given this is the closing of a chapter of my life (or rather, my PhD thesis, which will now no doubt sit on a dusty [...]

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Not bad science

Emotional bees

Whether animals feel emotion, and are capable of suffering, is a question the answer to which has far-reaching implications. I recently read Victoria Braithwaite’s ‘Do Fish Feel Pain?’, a question that I didn’t worry about much until reading this book, but now bothers me a lot more. This book raised a number of quandaries I [...]

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Not bad science

The bowerbird: a master of illusion

The article I discuss below came out last year, but it really is a rather cool experiment, so I felt I had to share it. Bowerbirds, perhaps best known from Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries, are unique in their elaborate constructions of bowers. My description of them won’t do them justice, so I’ll have to hand [...]

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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

Brainy Watson Computer to Tackle Cancer and Other Medical Research

IBM,Watson,computer,cognition

After vanquishing humans on Jeopardy!, IBM says its Watson computer is ready to help save human lives. The company on Thursday announced it has created a new business unit specifically to advance Watson and deliver its artificially intelligent wisdom to research organizations, medical institutions and businesses so that they can process “big data” for detailed [...]

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Observations

Integrating Left Brain and Right, on a Computer

ibm,cognitive,computer,processor,brain

As computers have matured over time, the human brain has no way of keeping up with silicon’s rapid-fire calculating abilities. But the human cognitive repertoire extends far beyond just fast calculations. For that reason, researchers are still trying to develop computers that can recognize, interpret and act upon information—like the kind pulled in by eyes, [...]

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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

Caveman Couture: Neandertals Rocked Dark Feathers

Neandertal wearing feathers

GIBRALTAR—Jordi Rosell removes a thumbnail-size piece of reddish-tan bone from a sealed plastic bag, carefully places it under the stereomicroscope and invites me to have a look. Peering through the eyepieces I see two parallel lines etched in the specimen’s weathered surface. Tens of thousands of years ago, in one of the seaside caves located [...]

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Observations

Phone Calls and Exercise Make Pain Treatments More Effective

woman on phone with pain

Chronic pain affects at least a fifth of the U.S. population, yet many of these people remain in significant physical discomfort whether they receive treatment or not. Even strong drugs, such as opioids, are often not up to the task, which is one of the reasons why researchers are looking to other avenues to treat [...]

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Observations

Artificial Intelligence: If at First You Don’t Succeed…

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The last symposium in M.I.T.’s 150-day celebration of its 150th anniversary (who ever said that geeks don’t like ritual?) is devoted to the question: "Whatever happened to AI?" Of course, that is a particularly appropriate self-introspection for M.I.T. because a lot of artificial intelligence action occurred there during the past 50 years. The symposium [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

How Lil Wayne, the NYC Octopus, Will Help Scientists Understand the Brain

BROOKLYN—It wasn’t hard to name Lil Wayne. He actually volunteered to take the rapper’s moniker. On April 2, Frank Grasso, director of the Biomemetic and Cognitive Robotics Lab at Brooklyn College, showed me around his lab spaces—from where they build mobile robots to where they keep their axolotls and fiddler crabs to the crown jewel: [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Brilliance Often Springs from Boredom

Every so often, we face a job we dread because it seems exceedingly dull. As a child, I felt that way about household chores—scrubbing a toilet, sweeping a floor, wiping a countertop, weeding. I remember one day my grandmother was visiting and announced that she would sweep the floor for me, because she liked sweeping. [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Parents of Young Athletes: Protect Your Child’s Brain in 8 Steps

When I was kid, I remember my dad scolding my brother and me when one of us decided to hold the other one upside-down. In that position, he reasoned, we could fall on our head. As a cognitive psychologist, my dad was always thinking about the brain. Despite his concern with all things cerebral, my [...]

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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

Remember When…How Your Brain Builds A Memory [Video]

Courtesy of Genista via Flickr.

        // 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 fifth 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

Quick! What Is the Word for a Pair of Opposites? [Video]

memory_nyoin

  // 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 first video in the series written by a guest on this blog, Roni Jacobson, a science journalist based in New York City. [...]

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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

Repent for Your Sins—or Turn Them into Something Good

Courtesy of jhoana.tamayo via Flickr.

The November/December Scientific American Mind is a tribute to the seven deadly sins. Not that gluttony, envy, greed, sloth, wrath, lust and pride are necessarily laudable traits, but we can learn a lot from them. Some of them can even work in our favor if we know how to harness them. Others, we must simply [...]

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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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Talking back

Will “Call of Duty” Be Assigned for 10th Grade (Gaming) Homework?

Two prominent neuroscientists have published a commentary in the Feb. 28th Nature suggesting that video games might be crafted to improve brain function and enhance personal well-being. In “Games To Do You Good,” they cite prospects for bettering performance on behavioral measures ranging from visual perception to altruism. Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester [...]

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