Developing Intelligence

Archives for November, 2007

Blogging on the Brain: 11/30

A lot of good brain blogging lately; some beautiful drawings from the era of phrenology, some crazy kids high on scopolamine, James Flynn’s current thoughts on intelligence, and more…

The world wide web can be understood as a giant matrix of associations (links) between various nodes (web pages). At an abstract level, this is similar to human memory, consisting of a matrix of associations (learned relationships, or neuronal connections) between various nodes (memories, or the distributed representations constituting them). In the new issue of…

The ability to actively maintain more information in memory, known as “working memory,” seems to benefit performance in a variety of tasks. One idea is that these tasks require controlled attention, allowing for better control over behavior. But there’s a serious problem with this explanation: maybe this doesn’t reflect improved control so much as superior…

Geoff Hinton has a new TiCS paper describing recent advances in algorithms used to train multilayered neural networks. First, a little background: neural networks of a sufficient size can calculate any mathematical function (an infamous proof among neural network modelers). Unfortunately, the tricky part is figuring out how to set the connections in that network…

Neuroesthetics seeks to identify the neural basis of aesthetic experience – how does the brain give rise to the perception of beauty? A new paper in Network indicates that artists consistently create works which contain the same statistical properties as natural scenes, even when the objects being depicted do not themselves contain such statistics when…

Asperger’s disorder is a subtype of autism, characterized by deficits in social interaction, delays in nonverbal communication and possibly also deficits in nonverbal IQ (such as on a test known as Block Design). However, a new study in Brain and Cognition challenges this latter claim – with surprising results.

Speech recognition remains a daunting challenge for computer programmers partly because the continuous speech stream is highly under-determined. For example take coarticulation, which refers to the fact that the auditory frequencies corresponding to a given letter are strongly influenced by the letters both preceding and following it – sometimes interpreted to mean that there is…

Aging is associated with some slow but measurable forms of cognitive decline, but there is debate over the type of cognitive changes taking place. A recent study by Rush, Barch & Braver uses a series of interesting tasks to clarify the nature of this cognitive decline. The results seem to show that changes in “context…

Blogging on the Brain: 11/04

A first-hand report of caloric vestibular stimulation – to treat Body Integrity Identity Disorder, in which patients often desire to have large parts of their bodies amputated. Ambien, a sleep drug recently discovered to awaken some people from comas is also linked to strange behavior: one woman paints her frontdoor – in her sleep. Altruism…

Trueswell & Kim‘s paper in the Journal of Memory and Language describes a phenomenon known as “fast priming,” in which a reading task is momentarily interrupted by a brief presentation of a “prime” word, usually lasting around 30 to 40 ms. The reading task then continues, and although subjects are typically unaware of the presentation…