Developing Intelligence

Archives for February, 2007

Encephalon 16 at MindHacks

Check out the latest issue of Encephalon at MindHacks – covering topics like sleep research, decision making, music perception, and the cognitive processing of time. Nice job Vaughan!

According to some perspectives, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) may become activate in situations where the reward value of given representation or stimulus has decreased, resulting in more competition between representations. Activation of this region may help increase tonic norepinephrine, resulting in more exploratory behavior, and thus more variable responding.

Whereas yesteryear’s artificial neural networks models were focused on achieving basic biological plausibility, today’s cutting edge networks are modeling cognitive phenomena at the level of neurotransmitters. In a great example of this development, McClure, Gilzenrat & Cohen have an article in Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems where they propose a role for both dopamine…

Khalil Gibran said that “music is the language of the spirit,” but today many would claim it can convey only a general impression or mood. However, recent research has shown that the meaning of musical passages can be surprisingly specific. In their 2004 article, Koelsch et al. demonstrate that even 10-second musical excerpts can build…

Intuitively, an adaptive information processing system should deal with unique or unusual information in a special way. For example, an unusual encounter might indicate that an organism’s environment is changing, and by implication that there’s a new potential for danger. Or novel information can represent a favorable change in circumstances. Either way, a system that…

Although “executive function” may seem like an elusive topic for study, in cognitive neuroscience it is largely approached simply as the ability to control one’s own behavior in accord with some goal, despite interference from previous experiences. Central to many accounts of executive function is the ability to “cancel” or “inhibit” actions that are not…

Humans are notoriously finicky decision makers, and new research is beginning to elucidate the neural networks that are responsible. For example, we are exquisitely sensitive to framing effects regardless of whether two decisions have mathematically equivalent value – a previous post reviews how this framing effect may arise in the brain. Another famous example is…

What cognitive processes make up consciousness? One way of answering this question is to identify conscious processes as those involved in controlled but not in automatic behaviors. For example, if you see a bright dot appear in your field of vision, your eyes will automatically orient to that location in space. In contrast, if I…

Blogging on the Brain: 02/03

My favorites from the last two weeks in brain blogging: First off, a new blog: Robots Will Take Over! Neural networks in silicon, and progress in brain-computer interfaces. Lifestyle improvements, brought to you by your friends at DARPA Is machine learning really any different from statistics? (One of my pet peeves, incidentally). A critical view…

To the extent that the cognitive sciences actually consider the brain, the focus is clearly on neurons. Even the name of the field “neuroscience” suggests that neurons take the center stage. However, neurons are vastly outnumbered by glia, a different type of cell that is now known to be involved in sleep, memory, the fMRI…