fMRI studies show that people who score on novelty seeking scores (high exploratory, extravagant response to potential pleasures) also score the highest on emotional expectancy and activation of the medial prefrontal cortex (reward). Eide Neurolearning Blog
A new study provides intriguing insight into the way that humans approach novel situations. The research, published in the April 29 issue of the journal Neuron, reveals neural mechanisms that underlie our remarkable ability to discover abstract cognitive relationships when dealing with new problems.
While the new study demonstrates that humans are not completely focused on their own self-interests, it is unclear how the physiological evidence translates to behaviors in real-world circumstances. Humans experience physiological and emotional rewards from helping others and donating to charities, but the brain seems to stop short of wanting to redistribute wealth across the board. The association between work, reward and equality, and the brain’s mechanisms underlying all of them, remain unclear.
...Self-control constitutes a fundamental aspect of human nature. Yet there is reason to believe that human and nonhuman self-control processes rely on the same biological mechanism—the availability of glucose in the bloodstream. Two experiments tested this hypothesis by examining the effect of available blood glucose on the ability of dogs to exert self-control. Experiment 1 showed that dogs that were required to exert self-control on an initial task persisted for a shorter time on a subsequent unsolvable task than did dogs that were not previously required to exert self-control. Experiment 2 demonstrated that providing dogs with a boost of glucose eliminated the negative effects of prior exertion of self-control on persistence; this finding parallels a similar effect in humans. These findings provide the first evidence that self-control relies on the same limited energy resource among humans and nonhumans. Our results have broad implications for the study of self-control processes in human and nonhuman species. — Psychological Science
The computer metaphor has served brain science well as a tool for comprehending neural systems. Nevertheless, we propose here that this metaphor be replaced or supplemented by a new metaphor, the "Internet metaphor," to reflect dramatic new network theoretic understandings of brain structure and function. [J Cogn Neurosci. 2010]
By manipulating the amount of money on offer in each situation, Cohen and his collaborators could watch this neural tug of war unfold. Our ultimate decision - to save for the future or to indulge in the present - was largely determined by whichever region showed greater activation.
The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem.
Randy Gallistel and Adam King in their book Memory and the Computational Brain: Why Cognitive Science Will Transform Neuroscience, claim that addressable memory architecture is necessary to explain complex animal behaviour such as food caching by Scrub Jays or even the human capacity to recollect and reconsider prior beliefs.
Their view is contrasted with non-addressable architecture in contemporary neuroscience. Traditional neural networks suppose that computations in neural tissue are implemented by relaying action potentials between neurons. Gallistel and King argue that the implementation must be sought elsewhere. They offer two neurobiological suggestions of where to look, 1) subcellular, e.g. dendritic spines and 2) molecular, something like re-writable DNA & RNA. Philosophy of Memory
When it comes to task management, the prefrontal cortex is key. The anterior part of this brain region forms the goal or intention—for example, "I want that cookie"—and the posterior prefrontal cortex talks to the rest of the brain so that your hand reaches toward the cookie jar and your mind knows whether you have the cookie. So what happens when another goal enters the mix?
The moral is that even minor tweaks can help reduce the performance problems caused by choking. Given the newfound importance of standardized tests - and this includes everything from high-school graduation exams to the SAT - we really need to better understand how the act of being testing warps the results. This is especially true for groups (women, minorities, etc.) that have been subject to various stereotypes. Sometimes, all it takes is a math problem presented in a different direction.
Self-control constitutes a fundamental aspect of human nature. Yet there is reason to believe that human and nonhuman self-control processes rely on the same biological mechanism—the availability of glucose in the bloodstream.
Everybody wants a creative child - in theory. The reality of creativity, however, is a little more complicated, as creative thoughts tend to emerge when we're distracted, daydreaming, disinhibited and not following the rules. In other words, the most imaginative kids are often the trouble-makers.
MRI measurements have shown that the the right temporoparietal junction (RTPJ) - an area just above the right ear - receives more blood than usual when we think or read about the beliefs and intentions of other people, particularly if we use the information to judge people negatively.
Move over, Marilyn Monroe neurons and Halle Berry neurons... The cellular media darlings of action observation and action execution would like to join you in the human hippocampus and surrounding medial temporal lobe (MTL) areas critical for memory.
Kids with the genetic condition called Williams Syndrome have no social anxiety and are highly gregarious--and also exhibit no racial bias in standard social-bias experiments. Adam Hinterthuer reports.
# Cells in SMA respond during execution and observation of actions # Cells in medial temporal lobe respond during observation and execution of actions # Some respond with excitation during execution and inhibition during observation
The hippocampus, a part of the brain essential for memory, has long been known to "replay" recently experienced events. Previously, replay was believed to be a simple process of reviewing recent experiences in order to help consolidate them into long-term memory. However, researchers have discovered that the replay function of the hippocampus is actually a much more complex, cognitive process.
Our ability to think has long been considered central to what makes us human. Now research suggests that our bodies and their relationship with the environment govern even our most abstract thoughts. This includes thinking up random numbers or deciding whether to recount positive or negative experiences. - life - 24 March 2010 - New Scientist
When economists first started playing this game in the early 1980s, they assumed that this elementary exchange would always generate the same outcome. The proposer would offer the responder approximately $1⎯a minimal amount⎯and the responder would accept it. After all, $1 is better than nothing, and a rejection leaves both players worse off. Such an outcome would be a clear demonstration of our innate selfishness and rationality.
The X’s marked areas where Kiehl had discovered abnormally low grey matter density in Dugan’s brain. In a curious meeting of law and neuroscience, those X’s would help jurors decide whether he should be executed or sentenced to life in prison. Did the way Dugan’s brain had developed leave him spring-loaded for violence? Or had he chosen freely when he abducted, raped and killed a 10-year-old girl in 1983?
A dose of the "trust hormone" oxytocin may help bring some autistic people out of their shell. Patients with the condition usually have a hard time interacting with others, but when they inhaled oxytocin in a new study, they began looking at people in the eye and recognizing social concepts like fairness in a computer game. Although the results are preliminary, the work could lead to drugs to treat a variety of social disorders, including schizophrenia and anxiety,
the basic shot structure of the movies, the way film segments of different lengths are bundled together from scene to scene, act to act, has evolved over the years to resemble a rough but recognizably wave-like pattern called 1/f, or one over frequency — or the more Hollywood-friendly metaphor, pink noise. Pink noise is a characteristic signal profile seated somewhere between random and rigid, and for utterly mysterious reasons, our world is ablush with it.
The amygdala damage did not appear to affect risk-aversion—a similar behavior with an important difference. People who are risk-averse are less likely to take chances even when they have nothing to lose.
We invite you to apply to attend the first Summer Institute in Cultural Neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. SICN is an annual two-week program that provides graduate students as well as faculty with an overview of core topics and recent research developments related to cultural neuroscience in order to prepare them to start their own empirical investigations.
Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions.
One of the hottest topics in psychology today is something called “cognitive fluency.” Cognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard. On the face of it, it’s a rather intuitive idea. But psychologists are only beginning to uncover the surprising extent to which fluency guides our thinking, and in situations where we have no idea it is at work.
Watching another person being touched activates a similar neural circuit to actual touch and, for some people with 'mirror-touch' synesthesia, can produce a felt tactile sensation on their own body. In this study, we provide evidence for the existence of this type of synesthesia and show that it correlates with heightened empathic ability. This is consistent with the notion that we empathize with others through a process of simulation.