Developing Intelligence

Archives for September, 2007

Cognitive scientists are increasingly aware of how individual differences can confound experimental results. That is, differences in group means cannot always be interpreted clearly if, for example, only some subset of individuals in each group demonstrates the effect. Consequently, even the oldest paradigms in cognitive psychology are undergoing a revival with new mixed experimental/correlational methods.…

Infantile “amnesia” refers to the apparent absence or weakness of memories formed at ages younger than 3 or 4. Some evidence indicates that these early-life memories are not actually lost or forgotten, but are rather merely mislabeled or otherwise inaccessible to adult cognition. One potential reason for this inaccessibility is that adults tend to use…

Say you are writing an email when the phone rings. After the phone call, you return to finish the email. Are you slower to continue writing this email than you would be if you’d been doing something else prior to the phone call? In general, yes – at least according to the finding known as…

What processes allow us to execute delayed intentions? This ability, known as prospective memory, is often considered to have two constituent parts: a prospective component which involves forming the intention and possibly maintaining it until action execution, and a retrospective component which involves retrieving this intention, if that intention is not successfully and continuously maintained…

The word “noise” comes from the latin nausea, meaning disgust or annoyance. But in the phenomenon known as stochastic resonance, noise can actually be a good thing: it can serve as a signal amplifier in thresholded systems. This phenomenon is not nearly as arcane as it sounds. The image above (borrowed from Stein, Gossen &…

Can information be directed to different networks in the brain depending on the “transmission frequency”, like the channels on a TV? A 2006 Cerebral Cortex paper reveals that this may not be as absurd as it sounds. A relatively new technique in cognitive neuroscience is the use of frequency tagging, where a stimulus (whether visual…

In the “motion standstill” illusion, a rapidly moving object is perceived as motionless, and yet not blurred. This means that color, depth, and shape are accurately processed while the motion system fails: in fact, subjects are no better at detecting the direction of motion than chance. At slightly different frequencies than those which elicit standstill,…

The claim that language processing can be carried out by purely “general purpose” information processing mechanisms in the brain – rather than relying on language-specific module(s) – may seem contradicted by a slew of recent neuroimaging studies demonstrating what appears to be a visual “word form” area in the left fusiform gyrus of the temporal…

An article in last week’s Nature describes a highly experimental – but also highly promising – new treatment for patients who have undergone massive traumatic brain injury. These patients are typically left in a “minimally conscious” state, showing little to no responsiveness to verbal commands, and little capacity to interact socially. Schiff and colleagues identified…