Browsing: Cognition

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

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.

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.