Developing Intelligence

Archives for July, 2008

To enhance any system, one first needs to identify its capacity-limiting factor(s). Human cognition is a highly complex and multiply constrained system, consisting of both independent and interdependent capacity-limitations. These “bottlenecks” in cognition are reviewed below as a coherent framework for understanding the plethora of cognitive training paradigms which are currently associated with enhancements of…

Most readers of this blog are probably familiar with “unilateral neglect,” one of several behavioral manifestations of brain damage to the parietal lobe. Perhaps fewer readers are aware of other findings from unilateral neglect patients which are often omitted from classic descriptions of this syndrome.

How would an ideal behavioral method for cognitive enhancement actually affect the brain? Perhaps cognitive enhancement would be accompanied by more activity in the prefrontal cortex, indicating more successful engagement of control – or perhaps by less, indicating more efficient processing? Perhaps it would be accompanied by a transition from prefrontal activation to parietal activation,…

Training high-level cognition or “executive function” is not always successful. Interestingly, some of the least robust training effects come from one of psychology’s most robust paradigms – the Stroop task.

Klaus Oberauer has a fascinating paper from 2006 which seems to have been ignored by the cognitive training community. Oberaurer demonstrates how improper counterbalancing, ignorance of the power-law of practice, and confounds in the design of memory load tasks can substantially misconstrue the real effects of training on performance. This work has implications for the…

Self-selection refers to the fact that certain kinds of people may be drawn to certain kinds of lifestyles or practices (including participation in human research). When the effects of those lifestyles/practices are observed scientifically, they are confounded with myriad other factors which also characterize that group. For example, in the context of meditation studies, it…

How does meditation experience functionally change the brain, and what effects does this have on distractibility? These are the questions addressed in a 2006 PNAS article from Brefczynski-Lewis et al, who compare expert meditators (between 10,000 and 54,000 hours of meditation experience) with two age-matched novice groups, one paid to help control for any motivation-related…