Developing Intelligence

Archives for March, 2007

Blogging on the Brain: 3/29

Recent highlights from the best in brain-blogging: Is our sense of morality localized to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex? More reasons for caution when beginning sentences with the phrase; “Only humans are cognitively capable of …….” Are wild monkeys in a stone-age of their own? Spatial memory in single-celled organisms.

“A good metaphor is something even the police should keep an eye on.” – G.C. Lichtenberg Although the brain-computer metaphor has served cognitive psychology well, research in cognitive neuroscience has revealed many important differences between brains and computers. Appreciating these differences may be crucial to understanding the mechanisms of neural information processing, and ultimately for…

The past continuously besets our ability to act flexibly in the future; habits grow strong, automaticity takes over and the mind wanders. Before you know it, you’ve forgotten to stop for milk on your regular commute, neglected to go to your dentist appointment, or merely “lost track” of what you were doing. These kinds of…

Imagine you are invisible. Congratulations, you are now actually less likely to remember what you were doing a few minutes ago, and possibly a lot longer ago than that. At least, this is the basic finding from a 2002 article by Sahakyan & Kelley, who showed that when people are asked to forget something they’d…

In the new issue of Seed, Douglas Hofstadter talks about “strange loops” – his term for patterns of level-crossing feedback inside some medium (such as neurons) – and their role in consciousness. Likewise, Gerald Edelman has talked about how a “reentrant dynamic core” of neural activity could tightly integrate large groups of neurons through positive…

Imagine that you are about to pass to a teammate when he suddenly darts in another direction, in an attempt to get clear. With some difficulty, you will be able to modify your pass and correctly throw the ball to your teammate’s new location. How is this process implemented in the brain? This scenario relies…

Last week I discussed how central dopamine levels appear to correlate with how strongly actions are bound to particular visual features. I presented this as part of “the binding problem,” but in fact the topic runs must deeper: cognitive neuroscience has yet to reveal the mechanisms by which the motor system “links up” with the…

Some theories suggest that color and shape information – processed in different parts of the brain – must be integrated by attention in order to give rise to a coherent visual experience (in other words, attention is thought to solve the “binding problem”). Although that explanation is probably not satisfying to many, no doubt mostly…

Blogging on the Brain: 3/10

Recent highlights from the best in brain blogging: Online experiments at the Harvard Visual Cognition Lab! Less invasive brain-computer interfacing, for video games. Brain-computer interface implants: videos. A new weapon in the Israeli arsenal: the VIPER robot. The current state of the art in robotics, as reviewed by Cognitive Daily. Guiding pigeons with remote controls.…

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci “The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanation of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher…