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Browsing: Cognition

The latest news about cognitive psychology, brain development and neuroscience research

Writing by hand strengthens the learning process

When writing by hand, our brain receives feedback from our motor actions, together with the sensation of touching a pencil and paper. These kinds of feedback is significantly different from those we receive when touching and typing on a keyboard.

Students more likely to retake the SAT if their score ends with ’90’

High school students are more likely to retake the SAT if they score just below a round number, such as 1290, than if they score just above it. That’s the conclusion of a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, which found that round numbers are strong motivators.

A second language gives toddlers an edge

Toddlers who learn a second language from infancy have an edge over their unilingual peers, according to a new study from Concordia University and York University in Canada and the Université de Provence in France.

Youth adapt faster than seniors to unexpected events

A new study from Concordia University shows that when a routine task is interrupted by an unexpected event, younger adults are faster at responding. Published in the Journal of Gerontology, the findings have implications for educators and for older adults in situations where performance is crucial.

Music releases neurotransmitter associated with drugs and sex

Scientists have found that the pleasurable experience of listening to music releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain important for more tangible pleasures associated with rewards such as food, drugs and sex. The new study from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro at McGill University also reveals that even the anticipation of pleasurable music induces dopamine release, as is the case with food, drug, and sex cues.

People neglect who they really are when predicting their own future happiness

Humans are notoriously bad at predicting their future happiness. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that part of the reason for these mispredictions lies in failing to recognize the key role played by one’s own personality when determining future emotional reactions.

‘Facebook neurons’ could provide insight into the neocortex

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have found that within the brain’s neocortex lies a subnetwork of highly active neurons that behave much like people in social networks. Like Facebook, these neuronal networks have a small population of highly active members who give and receive more information than the majority of other members, says Alison Barth, associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC).

Gesturing while talking helps change your thoughts

University of Chicago psychological scientists Sian Beilock and Susan Goldin-Meadow are bringing together two lines of research: Beilock’s work on how action affects thought and Goldin-Meadow’s work on gesture. After a chat at a conference instigated by Ed Diener, the founding editor of Perspectives on Psychological Science, they designed a study together to look at how gesture affects thought.

Trust your gut… but only sometimes

When faced with decisions, we often follow our intuition—our self-described gut feelings—without understanding why. Our ability to make hunch decisions varies considerably: Intuition can either be a useful ally or it can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that the trustworthiness of our intuition is really influenced by what is happening physically in our bodies.

Eyes make faces appear alive

The face of a doll is clearly not human; the face of a human clearly is. Telling the difference allows us to pay attention to faces that belong to living things, which are capable of interacting with us. But where is the line at which a face appears to be alive? A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that a face has to be quite similar to a human face in order to appear alive, and that the cues are mainly in the eyes.

Past experiences subconsciously influence behavior

Researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report for the first time how animals’ knowledge obtained through past experiences can subconsciously influence their behavior in new situations.

Skill in recognizing faces peaks after age 30

Scientists have made the surprising discovery that our ability to recognize and remember faces peaks at age 30 to 34, about a decade later than most of our other mental abilities. Researchers Laura T. Germine and Ken Nakayama of Harvard University and Bradley Duchaine of Dartmouth College will present their work in a forthcoming issue of the journal Cognition.

Emotional intelligence peaks as we enter our 60s

Older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when viewing heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows, psychologists have found. But they’re better than their younger counterparts at seeing the positive side of a stressful situation and empathizing with the less fortunate, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley.