Developing Intelligence

Archives for April, 2007

Early neuropsychology research indicated that long-term memory and short-term memory were separable – in other words, long-term memory could be impaired by damage to the hippocampus without any corresponding deficits in short-term memory. However, this idea has come under scrutiny in recent years. Neuroimaging technology has demonstrated that the same network of brain regions is…

People are remarkably bad at switching tasks – and research focusing on this fact has isolated a network of brain regions that are involved in task-switching (I’ll call it the “frontal task network” for short). One of the stranger findings to emerge from this literature is the fact that we’re actually worse at switching to…

A lack of clear definitions for terms like “intelligence” and “consciousness” plagues any serious discussion of those concepts. A recent article by Seth, Baars & Edelman argues for a core set of 17 properties that are characteristic of consciousness, and could be used in the “diagnosis” of consciousness in humans and other animals. Property 1:…

Ever heard that “you’re born with all the brain cells you’ll ever have”? It turns out that could be a good thing – if it were true. A new study shows that at least in some circumstances, neurogenesis actually impairs memory performance. To understand why this might be the case, consider that adults are constantly…

Have you ever momentarily forgotten the name of a specific place, or person, despite being able to recall many things about the name (for example the first few letters, or the number of syllables)? Chances are, if you’ve experienced this “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon, you’ve also had the word spontaneously occur to you minutes or hours later.…

Children are famously bad at considering the future consequences of their actions, but some evidence suggests this criticism is slightly off-the-mark: they may not even comprehend “time” in the same way adults do. A variety of findings from multiple lines of research tentatively support this surprising claim about the limitations of children’s cognition. Based on…

Blogging on the Brain: 4/18

What better way to start out than some cool visual illusions known as hybrid images. It’s a short jump from visual illusions to mass delusions. Is the benefit of exercise a similar mass delusion, a kind of population-level placebo effect? How do we turn perception into action? It may involve binding between the brain’s dorsal…

Your body’s bilateral symmetry statistically predicts your health, probability of schizotypy and depression, number of sexual partners, and resting metabolic rate (particularly if you are male). Bodily symmetry may reflect “developmental stability” – i.e., influences like disease, mutation and stress may cause a developmental divergence from DNA’s symmetric blueprint. Not only do individuals differ in…

Among nature’s most impressive feats of engineering is the remarkably flexible and self-optimizing quality of human cognition. People seem to dynamically determine whether speed or accuracy is of utmost importance in a certain task, or whether they should continue with a current approach or begin anew with another, or whether they should rely on logic…

Very early in the history of artificial intelligence research, it was apparent that cognitive agents needed to be able to maximize reward by changing their behavior. But this leads to a “credit-assignment” problem: how does the agent know which of its actions led to the reward? An early solution was to select the behavior with…