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Cognitive Science

Cognitive science information and blogs.
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Marshall Scholar Katie O’Nell investigates how the brain resolves complicated questions involving morality and generosity.

Source Feed: MIT News - Brain and cognitive sciences



PhD student Sarah Schwettmann explains how the study of visual perception can translate students’ creativity across domains.

Source Feed: MIT News - Brain and cognitive sciences


Eppendorf & Science Prize for Neurobiology Entries Accepted Until June 15, 2019 Researchers 35 years and younger, the annual Eppendorf &Science Prize for Neurobiology, which is awarded for contributions to neurobiological research based on methods of molecular and cell biology, is now open for entries. Applying requires a 1,000-word essay and tell the prize committee about your work. The prize is $25,000 plus Science magazine will publish an essay about your work. You'll have...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior




MIT Professor David Pesetsky describes the science of language and how it sheds light on deep properties of the human mind.

Source Feed: MIT News - Brain and cognitive sciences

McGovern Institute researchers find that the brain starts to register gender and age before recognizing a face.

Source Feed: MIT News - Brain and cognitive sciences

Authors: Temperley D Abstract Main clause phenomena (MCPs) are syntactic constructions that occur predominantly or exclusively in main clauses. I propose a processing explanation for MCPs. Sentence processing is easiest at the beginning of the sentence (requiring less search); this follows naturally from widely held assumptions about sentence processing. Because of this, a wider variety of constructions can be allowed at the beginning of the sentence without overwhelming the...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com


Authors: Stevens JS, Roberts G Abstract The acceptability of sentences in natural language is constrained not only grammaticality, but also by the relationship between what is being conveyed and such factors as context and the beliefs of interlocutors. In many languages the critical element in a sentence (its focus) must be given grammatical prominence. There are different accounts of the nature of focus marking. Some researchers treat it as the grammatical realization of a potentially...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

Learning From Peers' Eye Movements in the Absence of Expert Guidance: A Proof of Concept Using Laboratory Stock Trading, Eye Tracking, and Machine Learning. Cogn Sci. 2019 Mar;43(2):e12716 Authors: Król M, Król M Abstract Existing research shows that people can improve their decision skills by learning what experts paid attention to when faced with the same problem. However, in domains like financial education, effective instruction requires frequent, personalized feedback...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

In this study, we asked whether adults (n = 58) and 2- to 6-year-old children (n = 180) use discourse coherence relations (i.e., the meaningful relationships between elements within a discourse) to constrain their interpretation of novel words. Specifically, we showed participants videos of novel animals exchanging objects. These videos were accompanied by a linguistic description of the events in which we manipulated a single word within a sentence (and vs. because) in order to alter the...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

This study examined to what extent children respond to weak explanations by seeking additional learning opportunities. Seven- to ten-year-olds (N = 81) explored questions and explanations (circular or mechanistic) about 12 animals using a novel Android tablet application. After rating the quality of an initial explanation, children could request and receive additional information or return to the main menu to choose a new animal to explore. Consistent with past research, there were both...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

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Authors: von Sobbe L, Scheifele E, Maienborn C, Ulrich R Abstract Several reaction time (RT) studies report faster responses when responses to temporal information are arranged in a spatially congruent manner than when this arrangement is incongruent. The resulting space-time congruency effect is commonly attributed to a culturally salient localization of temporal information along a mental timeline (e.g., a mental timeline that runs from left to right). The present study aims to...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

Authors: Galle ME, Klein-Packard J, Schreiber K, McMurray B Abstract Speech unfolds over time, and the cues for even a single phoneme are rarely available simultaneously. Consequently, to recognize a single phoneme, listeners must integrate material over several hundred milliseconds. Prior work contrasts two accounts: (a) a memory buffer account in which listeners accumulate auditory information in memory and only access higher level representations (i.e., lexical representations) when...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

Authors: Garten J, Kennedy B, Hoover J, Sagae K, Dehghani M Abstract Meaning depends on context. This applies in obvious cases like deictics or sarcasm as well as more subtle situations like framing or persuasion. One key aspect of this is the identity of the participants in an interaction. Our interpretation of an utterance shifts based on a variety of factors, including personal history, background knowledge, and our relationship to the source. While obviously an incomplete model of...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

We examined whether variations in contextual diversity, spacing, and retrieval practice influenced how well adults learned new words from reading experience. Eye movements were recorded as adults read novel words embedded in sentences. In the learning phase, unfamiliar words were presented either in the same sentence repeated four times (same context) or in four different sentences (diverse context). Spacing was manipulated by presenting the sentences under distributed or non-distributed...

Source Feed: Cognitive Science via MedWorm.com

A project I’ve been working on a for a long time has just launched: The Choice Engine is an interactive essay about the psychology, neuroscience and philosophy of free will. To begin, follow and reply START — ChoiceEngine (@ChoiceEngine) September 20, 2018 By talking to the @ChoiceEngine twitter-bot you can navigate an essay about choice, … Continue reading "The Choice Engine"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: nonsense

This thread started by Ekaterina Damer has prompted many recommendations from psychologists on twitter. Can anyone recommend an (ideally brief) introductory paper or post or book explaining what makes for a good theory? For example, how to construct a good psychological theory, what are key things to consider?@psforscher @lakens @talyarkoni @chrisdc77 @tomstafford @kurtjgray — Ekaterina … Continue reading "After the methods crisis, the theory crisis"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: theory

Open science essentials in 2 minutes, part 4 Before a research article is published in a journal you can make it freely available for anyone to read. You could do this on your own website, but you can also do it on a preprint server, such as psyarxiv.com, where other researchers also share their preprints, … Continue reading "Open Science Essentials: Preprints"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: theory

I have a guest post for the Research Digest, snappily titled ‘People who think their opinions are superior to others are most prone to overestimating their relevant knowledge and ignoring chances to learn more‘. The paper I review is about the so-called “belief superiority” effect, which is defined by thinking that your views are better … Continue reading "Believing everyone else is wrong is a danger sign"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: reasoning

I have a review of John Bargh’s new book “Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do” in this month’s Psychologist magazine. You can read the review in print (or online here) but the magazine could only fit in 250 words, and I originally wrote closer to 700. I’ll put the … Continue reading "Review: John Bargh’s “Before You Know It”"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: books

Psychologists have been measuring reaction times since before psychology existed, and they are still a staple of cognitive psychology experiments today. Typically psychologists look for a difference in the time it takes participants to respond to stimuli under different conditions as evidence of differences in how cognitive processing occurs in those conditions. Galton, the famous … Continue reading "Did the Victorians have faster reactions?"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: nonsense

Spaced repetition is a memory hack. We know that spacing out your study is more effective than cramming, but using an app you can tailor your own spaced repetition schedule, allowing you to efficiently create reliable memories for any material you like. Michael Nielsen, has a nice thread on his use of spaced repetition on … Continue reading "spaced repetition & Darwin’s golden rule"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: learning

The contrast sensitivity function shows how our sensitivity to contrasts is affected by spatial frequency. You can test it using gratings of alternating light and darker shade. Ian Goodfellow has this neat observation: By looking at this image, you can see how sensitive your own eyes are to contrast at different frequencies (taller apparent peaks=more … Continue reading "A graph that is made by perceiving it"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: seeing

Nicky Case (of Explorable Explanations and Parable of the Polygons internet fame) has a fantastic essay which picks up on the theme of my last Cyberselves post – technology as companion, not competitor. In How To Become A Centaur Case gives blitz history of AI, and of its lesser known cousin IA – Intelligence Augmentation. … Continue reading "How To Become A Centaur"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: reasoning

A talk I gave titled “Debating Sex Differences in Cognition: We Can Do Better” now has a home on the web. The pages align a rough transcript of the talk with the slides, for your browsing pleasure. Mindhacks.com readers will recognise many of the slides, which started their lives as blog posts. The full series … Continue reading "Debating Sex Differences: Talk transcript"

Source Feed: Mind Hacks
Categories: gender

#5: Competition horses calmed by lavender In looking back over the history of the blog, I thought it would be fun to take another glimpse at the top 5 most popular posts in 2017 thus far... Image of lavender from GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=322384 While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Cheap Science Books Two science books cheap (Kindle version, two bucks): The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think Dr. Louann Brizendine, the founder of the first clinic in the country to study gender differences in brain, behavior, and hormones, turns her attention to the male brain, showing how, through every phase of life, the "male reality" is fundamentally different from the female one. Exploring the latest breakthroughs in male psychology and...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Pigeons outperform humans when it comes to multitasking Sara Letzner had humans compete against pigeons in a behavioural experiment. Photo from: Ruhr-Universitat at Bochum A new study conducted by Drs. Sara Letzner and Onur Gunturkun (Ruhr-Universitat at Bochum) as well as Dr. Christian Beste (Technische Univeritat at Dresden) shows that pigeons are better than humans when it comes to multitasking. Their findings were published in Current Biology. The findings from...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Torturing more mice in the name of antivaccine pseudoscience: PubPeer versus antivaxers Last week, an antivaxer "challenged" me to look over a paper purporting to show that aluminum adjuvants in vaccines cause inflammation of the brain and therefore contribute to autism, a paper that she would be "citing frequently." Being someone who lives by the motto, "be careful what you wish for," I looked it over in detail. Not surprisingly, my conclusion was that the experiments were poorly...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Torturing more mice in the name of antivaccine pseudoscience, 2017 aluminum edition   "Why, oh, why do I have to die in the cause of such crappy science?" For antivaxers, aluminum is the new mercury. Let me explain, for the benefit of those not familiar with the antivaccine movement. For antivaxers, it is, first and foremost, always about the vaccines. Always. Whatever the chronic health issue in children, vaccines must have done it. Autism? It’s the vaccines. Sudden infant death...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Comments of the Week #173: From quantum uncertainty to Earth's final total solar eclipse “It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” ―Galadriel, LOTR, J.R.R. Tolkien The scientific stories we've covered this week have been out-of-this-world here at Starts With A Bang! But the greatest show is still to come. Right now, I'm on my way down to the path of totality in Oregon, along with millions of...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Trump touts racial segregation, antisemitism, lewd behavior, at Boy Scout rally If you give your children over to the Boy Scouts for a day or two, they may do something to them akin to abuse. This happened. The Boy Scouts knew what they were getting into when they invited Donald Trump to speak at their national event. They even posted warnings for the troop leaders and scouts, on their blog. As a unit leader or staff member, you can help make the president’s visit a success by...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

An antivaxer starts a WhiteHouse.gov petition for a five year moratorium on childhood vaccines. Hilarity ensues. I've been writing about antivaccine loons for a long time, and during that time I've seen them propose some crazy ideas. The other day, I came across one proposing what might well be the craziest, most irresponsible idea I've ever seen from an antivaccine activist. It comes from our old friend Kent Heckenlively. Heckenlively, as you might recall, started out over at the...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

Yawn. Another study tries to convince us that mind-body interventions can "reprogram our DNA." It fails. One of the most persistent narratives latched on to by advocates of "integrative medicine" is that the "mind" can somehow "heal" the body. Sometimes, the claim is that such interventions work through "powerful placebo" effects. Sometimes it involves the abuse of emerging science, such overblown claims about what can be accomplished through epigenetic modifications of DNA and...

Source Feed: Brain and Behavior

More than a quarter of children with autism spectrum disorder are also diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders. Now researchers have identified a possible biological cause: a key mechanism that regulates emotion functions differently in the brains of the children who exhibit disruptive behavior.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily

A new study shows that a synthetic molecule stimulates repair of the protective sheath that covers nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The study demonstrates in mice that a synthetic molecule called sobetirome efficiently repairs damaged myelin without side effects.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily

An international research team modeled the growth of cerebral tracts. Using neurons derived from stem cells, they grew cortical-like spheroids. In a microdevice, the spheroids extended bundles of axons toward each other, forming a physical and electrical connection. Fascicles grew less efficiently when one spheroid was absent, and when a gene relevant to cerebral tract formation was knocked-down. The study further illuminates brain growth and developmental disorders.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily



Researchers have found that general anesthesia induces unconsciousness by hijacking the neural circuitry that makes us fall sleep. They traced this neural circuitry back to a cluster of cells at the base of the brain responsible for churning out hormones to regulate bodily functions, mood, and sleep. The finding could lead to better drugs capable of putting people to sleep with fewer side effects.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily

New evidence suggests that those who smoke cannabis, or marijuana, weigh less compared to adults who don't. The findings are contrary to the belief that marijuana users who have a serious case of the munchies will ultimately gain more weight.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily

Some people may rely on principles of both guilt and fairness and may switch their moral rule depending on the circumstances, according to a new study on moral decision-making and cooperation.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily


A study reveals that neurons in the motor cortex exhibit an unexpected division of labor, a finding that could help scientists understand how the brain controls the body and provide insight on certain neurological disorders.

Source Feed: Mind & Brain News -- ScienceDaily

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