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