Browsing: Cognition

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

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.

Challenging the limits of learning

Although we’re convinced that baby is brilliant when she mutters her first words, cognitive scientists have been conducting a decades-long debate about whether or not human beings actually learn language.

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.