Browsing: Cognition

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

Listening to music is biological

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.

Scientists create illusion of having 3 arms

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 blind also have a Stripe of Gennari

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.

The brain as a ‘task machine’

The portion of the brain responsible for visual reading doesn’t require vision at all, according to a new study published online on February 17 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. Brain imaging studies of blind people as they read words in Braille show activity in precisely the same part of the brain that lights up when sighted readers read. The findings challenge the textbook notion that the brain is divided up into regions that are specialized for processing information coming in via one sense or another, the researchers say.

Human sentence processing unconcerned by sentence structure

The hierarchical structure of sentences appears to be less important in human sentence processing than hitherto assumed. Readers seem to pay attention to simple word sequences above all. These are the conclusions of research conducted by Dr. Stefan Frank and Prof. Rens Bod from the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Their findings, which run counter to the prevailing view, will soon be published in the renowned scientific journal Psychological Science.

Gene important for daily rhythms of the sleep-wake cycle

Northwestern University scientists have discovered a new mechanism in the core gears of the circadian clock. They found the loss of a certain gene, dubbed “twenty-four,” messes up the rhythm of the common fruit fly’s sleep-wake cycle, making it harder for the flies to awaken.

Drivers engaging in secondary task may pay more attention to road

Although many human factors/ergonomics studies conducted over the past few years indicate that drivers who talk on the phone fail to attend to the road and increase the likelihood of an accident, the monotony of driving may also pose an accident risk. New research by HF/E researchers at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, published in Human Factors, suggests that drivers who lose focus on the road because of boredom may actually increase their attention by engaging in a secondary task, particularly during the last leg of their journey.

JPEG for the mind: How the brain compresses visual information

Most of us are familiar with the idea of image compression in computers. File extensions like .jpg or .png signify that millions of pixel values have been compressed into a more efficient format, reducing file size by a factor of 10 or more with little or no apparent change in image quality. The full set of original pixel values would occupy too much space in computer memory and take too long to transmit across networks.

Look at your body to reduce pain

Simply looking at your body reduces pain, according to new research by scientists from UCL (University College London) and the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy.

Words help people form mathematical concepts

A study based on research on deaf people in Nicaragua who never learned formal sign language showed that people who communicate using self-developed gestures, called homesigns, were unable to comprehend the value of numbers greater than three because they had not learned a language containing symbols used for counting.

Out of mind in a matter of seconds

The dynamics behind signal transmission in the brain are extremely chaotic. This conclusion has been reached by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization at the University of Göttingen and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Göttingen.

Expectations speed up conscious perception

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt am Main have now shown that this delay may vary in length. When the brain possesses some prior information − that is, when it already knows what it is about to see − conscious recognition occurs faster.

Flash of fresh insight by electrical brain stimulation

Are we on the verge of being able to stimulate the brain to see the world anew – an electric thinking cap? Research by Richard Chi and Allan Snyder from the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney suggests that this could be the case.

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