Browsing: Cognition

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

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.

Gestures provide a helping hand in problem solving

Talking with your hands can trigger mental images that help solve complex problems relating to spatial visualization, an important skill for both students and professionals, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Revealing the wiring that allows us to adapt to the unexpected

The brain’s ability to react adaptively, becomes crucial for survival, when faced with potential dangers, such as snakes and spiders, so to what extent does the harmfulness of an anticipated outcome affect our brain’s event monitoring system? Not at all, reveals a new study published in the February 2011 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex: the processes are the same, regardless how scary the anticipated event.

Presence of peers heightens teens’ sensitivity to rewards of a risk

Temple University psychologists Jason Chein and Laurence Steinberg set out to measure brain activity in adolescents, alone and with peers, as they made decisions with inherent risks. Their findings, published this month in Developmental Science, demonstrate that when teens are with friends they are more susceptible to the potential rewards of a risk than they are when they are alone.

Map of brain connectivity changes during development

Connected highways of nerve cells carry information to and from different areas of the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Scientists are trying to draw a complete atlas of these connections—sometimes referred to as the “connectome”—to gain a better understanding of how the brain functions in health and disease.

Ancient body clock discovered that helps to keep all living things on time

The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by scientists. Not only does the research provide important insight into health-related problems linked to individuals with disrupted clocks – such as pilots and shift workers – it also indicates that the 24-hour circadian clock found in human cells is the same as that found in algae and dates back millions of years to early life on Earth.

Looking at the horizon stabilizes posture

Everybody who has been aboard a ship has heard the advice: if you feel unsteady, look at the horizon. For a study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers measured how much people sway on land and at sea and found there’s truth in that advice; people aboard a ship are steadier if they fix their eyes on the horizon.

Humans’ critical ability to throw long distances aided by an illusion

Can’t help molding some snow into a ball and hurling it or tossing a stone as far into a lake as you can? New research from Indiana University and the University of Wyoming shows how humans, unlike any other species on Earth, readily learn to throw long distances. This research also suggests that this unique evolutionary trait is entangled with language development in a way critical to our very existence.

People aren’t born afraid of spiders and snakes: Fear is quickly learned during infancy

There’s a reason why Hollywood makes movies like Arachnophobia and Snakes on a Plane: Most people are afraid of spiders and snakes. A new paper published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reviews research with infants and toddlers and finds that we aren’t born afraid of spiders and snakes, but we can learn these fears very quickly.

Brain’s clock influenced by senses

Humans use their senses to help keep track of short intervals of time according to new research, which suggests that our perception of time is not maintained by an internal body clock alone.

Creating simplicity: How music fools the ear

New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Research Notes suggests that the brain simplifies complex patterns, much in the same way that ‘lossless’ music compression formats reduce audio files, by removing redundant data and identifying patterns.