Developing Intelligence

Archives for June, 2007

In 1948, Alan Turing wrote: “An unwillingness to admit the possibility that mankind can have any rivals in intellectual power occurs as much amongst intellectual people as amongst others: they have more to lose.” Accordingly, comprehensive comparisons between the intellectual powers of great apes and humans are rare – perhaps because we feel safe in…

Though widely separated in terms of both neuroanatomical location and evolutionary development, there are surprising parallels between parietal cortex and the hippocampus: – Both structures are important for spatial cognition, although parietal cortex is thought to maintain a “self-centered” map of the environment (i.e., where locations are represented relative to the direction of gaze) whereas…

Blogging on the Brain: 6/26

The best from recent cognitive/brain blogs: Suspect someone’s lying to you? Ask for the story in reverse order. Psyblog also has some suggestions. A sober look at mind-reading fMRI pattern classification techniques over at Mind Hacks. Nabokovian reviews a new computational model of short term memory, using a recurrent network. What’s all the hooplah about…

Can you move a single matchstick to form a valid mathematical statement equation? No sticks can be discarded, an isolated slanted stick cannot be interpreted as I (one), and a V (five) symbol must always be composed of two slanted sticks. UPDATE: The only valid symbols are Roman numerals and “+”, “-” and “=”. (Thanks…

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has captured the popular imagination since its introduction in the early 1990s, at least partially because of the stunningly beautiful images it generates. Although it has mostly used to identify brain regions involved in specific cognitive operations, new pattern classification techniques have been applied to fMRI data in what some…

Though anatomically heterogenous, the human prefrontal cortex seems to perform a rather general function: it actively maintains context representations to guide and control behavior. What, then, is the reason for the anatomical diversity within this region of the brain? Some theories suggest that prefrontal cortex (PFC) is organized to represent increasingly protracted contexts. According to…

How does your brain represent the feelings and thoughts that are a part of conscious experience? Even the simplest aspects of this question are still a matter of heated debate, reflecting science’s continuing uncertainty about “the neural code.” The fact is that we still don’t have a clear picture of the ways in which neurons…

What was your 6th birthday party like? If you successfully retrieved that memory, you may now be ever so slightly less able to remember your other childhood birthdays. A variety of behavioral evidence has shown that such “retrieval induced forgetting” of strongly competing memories is fundamental to memory retrieval. In a new article in Nature…

Children have often been claimed to blend reality and fantasy, but according to some this is a wild exaggeration of the truth. For example, renowned child researchers have written that “even the very youngest children already are perfectly able to discriminate between the imaginary and the real” and certainly a lot of recent research tentatively…

Symbols redirect attention – in some ways, that is their intended purpose – but this “reorienting” is a surprisingly literal and involuntary effect. Even when we know symbols are irrelevant to our current circumstances, they still influence our behavior. A simple experiment demonstrates this nicely. Hommel et al. showed that letters appearing in unpredictable locations…