It's thrilling when it happens, but what actually causes insight? New research in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience takes us one step closer to an answer: up to 8 seconds before people solve problems thought to require insight, a particular set of very fast oscillations are observable above the right frontal lobe.
WE HAVE all heard of experts who fail basic tests of sensory discrimination in their own field: wine snobs who can't tell red from white wine (albeit in blackened cups), or art critics who see deep meaning in random lines drawn by a computer. We delight in such stories since anyone with pretensions to authority is fair game. But what if we shine the spotlight on choices we make about everyday things? Experts might be forgiven for being wrong about the limits of their skills as experts, but could we be forgiven for being wrong about the limits of our skills as experts on ourselves? (18 April 2009 - New Scientist)
A young man I’ll call Alex recently graduated from Harvard. As a history major, Alex wrote about a dozen papers a semester. He also ran a student organization, for which he often worked more than forty hours a week; when he wasn’t on the job, he had classes. Weeknights were devoted to all the schoolwork that he couldn’t finish during the day, and weekend nights were spent drinking with friends and going to dance parties. “Trite as it sounds,” he told me, it seemed important to “maybe appreciate my own youth.” Since, in essence, this life was impossible, Alex began taking Adderall to make it possible.
Forming a grammatically correct sentence may seem to require advanced cognitive skills, but it turns out that our creative language capacity might rely on a less sophisticated system than is commonly thought. A recent study suggests that our ability to construct sentences may arise from procedural memory—the same simple memory system that lets our dogs learn to sit on command. (Scientific American)
I first saw Price last May in a YouTube clip of her on 20/20. Diane Sawyer asks Price, an avid television viewer, to identify certain significant dates in broadcast history. When did CBS air the "Who shot JR?" episode of Dallas? When was All in the Family's baby episode shown? And so on. Price nails every question. She not only gives the date for the final episode of MASH but describes the weather that day.
Emerging technologies raise the possibility that we may be able to treat trauma victims by pharmaceutically dampening factual or emotional aspects of their memories. Such technologies raise a panoply of legal and ethical issues. While many of these issues remain off in the distance, some have already arisen.
In this brief commentary for the journal Neuroethics, I discuss a real-life case of memory erasure. The case reveals why the contours of our freedom of memory -- our limited bundle of rights to control our memories and be free of outside control -- already merit some attention.
On the day I visited, there were half a dozen brains sitting on a table. Vonsattel began by passing them around so the medical students could take a closer look. When a brain came my way, I cradled it and found myself puzzling over its mirror symmetry. It was as if someone had glued two smaller brains together to make a bigger one. (Carl Zimmer)
Language, memory and intuition depend on rapid communication between both hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum is the conduit for that communication. Tony Grobmeier was born without one. Lynn Paul, a neuroscientist, tries to understand how Tony faces the world with a brain disconnected from itself. (YouTube)
To Steven Quartz & Colin Camerer the brain is a huge number-cruncher, assigning a numeric value to everything from a loaf of bread to our most deeply held moral "values". In that sense, moral decisions are also economic ones. Using a brain scanner (fMRI), they want to catch the brain in the act—to see what it's doing at exactly the moment a tough moral decision gets made. Their research is pioneering a new branch of neuroscience -- neuroeconomics. (YouTube Video)
The term 'Rashomon effect' is often used by psychologists in situations where observers give different accounts of the same event,and describes the effect of subjective perceptions on recollection. The phenomenon is named after a 1950 film by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa.
Emotions linked to our moral sense awaken slowly in the mind, according to a new study from a neuroscience group led by corresponding author Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California.
n 2005, the British Journal of Psychiatry published a study which found an increased amount of white matter, and a decreased amount of gray matter, in the brains of subjects they categorized as “pathological liars.” (Neuroworld)
Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are.
We share Jens Clausen's opinion, expressed in his Commentary 'Man, machine and in between' (Nature 457, 1080–1081; 2009), that brain–machine interfaces promise many benefits and should be pursued. However, we do not agree that these technologies pose similar ethical challenges to those already addressed. Some consequences may be unprecedented.
Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge or motor skills.
There is growing evidence that the brain can be trained to compensate for dead or damaged areas. As Ian Sample reports, this could benefit those suffering anything from a stroke to depression or relationship problems
The experimenters used a regular movie, a silent without accompanying sound track, a purely audio storytelling, an unedited film of people aimlessly moving about, and a series of films that demonstrated a gradation of less and less directorial control.
I'd sum that up by saying the viewers' brains behaved alike at the level of sensory processing and simple comprehension of the plot of the film. But in later experiments, this group refined those findings.
You might think it would be easy to see how our brains function while we are watching a movie. Just hook some viewers up to an electroencephalograph or a magnetic resonance imager (MRI) and see what happens when they watch a movie. But who ever said it would be easy?
With such high stakes, it's worth remembering that traders, regardless of their intellect or experience, are as fallible as the rest of us and their brains and bodies are influenced by the same ensemble of hormones. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
the study provides a solid blow to the idea that sex hormones affect our attitudes to trust or fairness, and it reminds us yet again to be cautious about relying too heavily on correlations. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
Today, many psychologists, cognitive scientists and even philosophers embrace a different view of morality. In this view, moral thinking is more like aesthetics. As we look around the world, we are constantly evaluating what we see. Seeing and evaluating are not two separate processes. They are linked and basically simultaneous. (David Brooks)
Amputation of a limb leads to significant reorganization of the primary somatosensory cortex, that part of the brain which processes touch- and pain-related information. The cortical region normally devoted to the amputated body part is suddenly deprived of sensory inputs, but because the adult brain is plastic, it does not lay dormant - the area assumes other functions, and begins to process sensory information from other parts of the body. (Neurophilosophy_
What happens when you remember a good deed, or think of yourself as a stand-up citizen? You might think that your shining self-image would reinforce the value of selflessness and make you more likely to behave morally in the future. But a new study disagrees. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
Because image-enhancing technology is readily availabl e, people are frequently exposed to doctored images. However, i n prior research on how adults can be led to report false childhood memories, subjects have typical ly been exposed to personal ized and detailed narratives describing false events. Instead, we exposed 20 subjects to a false childhood event via a fake photograph and imagery instructions.
The study thus shows that there is a unique pattern of activity in the brain in the context of hate. Though distinct from the pattern of activity that correlates with romantic love, this pattern nevertheless shares two areas with the latter, namely the putamen and the insula.
In a recent issue of Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (45, 155-60), Daniel Batson—known for his influential empathy-altruism studies—and colleagues find little evidence of moral outrage. In a series of studies meant to measure people’s judgments of torture, they find little evidence that torture evokes much anger unless the subjects have some relation to the person tortured. (Neuroethics & Law Blog)
As neuroscientists, we’re excited about the potential of using computational models to test our understanding of how the brain works. On the other hand, although it eventually may be possible to design sophisticated computing devices that imitate what we do, the capability to make such a device is already here. All you need is a fertile man and woman with the resources to nurture their child to adulthood. With luck, by 2030 you’ll have a full-grown, college-educated, walking petabyte. A drawback is that it may be difficult to get this computing device to do what you ask. (NYTimes.com)