Browsing: Cognition

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

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.

Positive mood allows brain to think more creatively

People who watch funny videos on the internet at work aren’t necessarily wasting time. They may be taking advantage of the latest psychological science—putting themselves in a good mood so they can think more creatively.

Fewer synapses, more efficient learning

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology and the Yale University studied the adhesion protein SynCAM1, which glues synapses together. When they increased the amount of SynCAM1 in neurons, the number of synapses grew. This would offer the neurons more routes for transmitting information. However, a behavioral experiment showed that mice without SynCAM1 learned better than animals with normal levels of the protein.

Are all movie viewing experiences enjoyable?

We’ve all been there: we are watching a movie with a parent or relative when a steamy love scene appears. A new study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology shows that all of that squirming and averting of eyes is normal, especially when you are accompanied by your parents.

Imitating someone’s accent makes it easier to understand them

In conversation, we often imitate each other’s speech style and may even change our accent to fit that of the person we’re talking to. A recent study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggests that imitating someone who speaks with a regional or foreign accent may actually help you understand them better.

Writing exercise helps women overcome sexist stereotypes

According to a new study, a brief writing exercise can help women in college physics classes improve their academic performance and reduce some of the well-documented differences between male and female science students. The writing exercise seems particularly beneficial to female students who tend to subscribe to the negative stereotype that males perform better in physics, the researchers say.

Architecture can bias your cognitive map

Some people always know which way is north and how to get out of a building. Others can live in an apartment for years without knowing which side faces the street. Differences among people that include spatial skills, experience, and preferred strategies for wayfinding are part of what determines whether people get lost in buildings—and psychological scientists could help architects understand where and why people might get lost in their buildings, according to the authors of an article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.