The latest news about cognitive psychology, brain development and neuroscience research
When Professor Henry Higgins instructed Eliza Doolittle that it was “Ay not I, O not Ow, Don’t say ‘Rine,’ say ‘Rain'”, he was drawing on years of experience as a professor of phonetics. But research funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Commission suggests that Higgins’s ability to differentiate expertly between similar sounds may have stemmed from birth.
Read the comments on any website and you may despair at Americans’ inability to argue well. Thankfully, educators now name argumentive reasoning as one of the basics students should leave school with.
Unconsciously, right-handers associate good with the right side of space and bad with the left. But this association can be rapidly changed, according to a study published online March 9, 2011 in Psychological Science.
Although it is quite common for a brief, unique experience to become part of our long-term memory, the underlying brain mechanisms associated with this type of learning are not well understood. Now, a new brain-imaging study looks at the neural activity associated with a specific type of rapid learning, insight. The research, published by Cell Press in the March 10 issue of the journal Neuron, reveals specific brain activity that occurs during an A-ha! moment that may help encode the new information in long-term memory.
Researchers in Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology have developed a technique for unraveling these masses. Through a combination of microscopy platforms, researchers can crawl through the individual connections composing a neural network, much as Google crawls Web links.
The powers that be in Las Vegas figured out something long before neuroscientists at two Duke University medical schools confirmed their ideas this week: Trying to make decisions while sleep-deprived can lead to a case of optimism.
Previous research has pointed to the immature adolescent brain as a major liability, but now, a unique study reveals that some brain changes associated with adolescence may not be driving teens towards risky behavior but may actually reflect a decrease in susceptibility to peer pressure. The findings, published by Cell Press in the March 10 issue of the journal Neuron, provide a more complete perspective of the neural systems associated with adolescent behavior.
Scientists at the MPI for Brain Research in Frankfurt/Main could now show that seeing can be trained. Their tests revealed that the brain regions underlying the learning effects on conscious perception are different than the ones underlying the learning effects on the mere processing of stimuli.
The vast majority of humans – over 90% – prefer to use their right hand for most skilled tasks. For decades, researchers have been trying to understand why this asymmetry exists. Why, with our two cerebral hemispheres and motor cortices, are we not equally skilled with both hands? A study from the University of Aberdeen in the UK, published in the April 2011 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex, suggests that the explanation may stem from actions that require us to use both hands at the same time, which may bias right-handers toward choosing their right hands.
Experiments by Brown University psychologists have produced positive evidence that people often think about positive evidence the wrong way — if it is weak. Defying logic, people given weak evidence can regard predictions supported by that evidence as less likely than if they aren’t given the evidence at all.
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast are taking the first step towards discovering the true effectiveness of brain training exercises with the release of their own app aimed at those over 50.
A study led by Academy Research Fellow Eleanor Coffey identifies new players that put the brakes on. They show in mice that lack the star player JNK1, that newborn neurons spend less time in the multipolar stage, which is when the cells prepare for subsequent expedition, possibly choosing the route to be taken.
Music is listened in all known cultures. Similarities between human and animal song have been detected: both contain a message, an intention that reflects innate emotional state that is interpreted correctly even among different species. In fact, several behavioral features in listening to music are closely related to attachment: lullabies are song to infants to increase their attachment to a parent, and singing or playing music together is based on teamwork and may add group cohesion.
In a novel paper published in the online scientific journal PLoS ONE they describe how it is possible to create an illusion of owning three arms, under controlled conditions in a laboratory. The experiment involves the participant sitting at a table and having a realistic prosthetic arm placed next to their right arm.
The Stripe of Gennari develops even in those who are blind from birth and does not degenerate, despite a lack of visual input. This was discovered by Robert Trampel and colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences using magnetic resonance imaging.