Our observations prove that innovative tool-related problem-solving is within this species’ cognitive resources. As it is unknown for tools to play a major role in this species’ ecology, this strengthens the view that tool competences can originate on general physical intelligence, rather than just as problem-specific ecological solutions (see discussions in [2,4]). The precise cognitive operations underlying such innovations are still unknown, but future studies may continue to unravel them by modifying the tasks, and controlling the developmental history and pre-experimental experience across different groups of subjects.

It is known that childhood experience influences brain development but the only evidence scientists have had for this has usually come from extreme cases such as children who had been abused or suffered trauma. Martha Farah, director of the centre for neuroscience and society at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the latest study, wanted to find out how a normal range of experiences in childhood might influence the development of the brain.

Farah took data from surveys of home life and brain scans of 64 participants carried out over the course of 20 years. Her results, presented on Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans, showed that cognitive stimulation from parents at the age of four was the key factor in predicting the development of several parts of the cortex – the layer of grey matter on the outside of the brain – 15 years later.

Children who grow up learning to speak two languages are better at switching between tasks than are children who learn to speak only one language, according to a study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. However, the study also found that bilinguals are slower to acquire vocabulary than are monolinguals, because bilinguals must divide their time between two languages while monolinguals focus on only one.

Nagel concluded that democracies rarely or never elect the best leaders. Their advantage over dictatorships or other forms of government is merely that they "effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders."

Forskning kring barn och lek visar ett tydligt samband mellan lek och kreativitet. Men det forskas väldigt lite kring vuxna och lek.

Lek för vuxna är ganska tabu. På jobbet riskerar man att ses som oseriös, inkompetent och fånig om man släpper fram sin lekfullhet. Men mycket tyder på att kreativt framgångsrika människor är just de som leker på jobbet. Och motsatsen till lek är inte arbete, det är depression. Det säger Samuel West, doktorand i psykologi vid Lunds universitet. Han forskar kring om det finns ett samband mellan en lekfull arbetsmiljö och

kreativa medarbetare.

The Gothenburg group has developed a psychological model of patterns as seen and selected by humans, and incorporated it in their IQ test solving programs. The result is a program that attacks abstract problems using approaches similar to those a very smart person would use.

...

"Our programs are beating the conventional math programs because we are combining mathematics and psychology. Our method can potentially be used to identify patterns in any data with a psychological component, such as financial data. But it is not as good at finding patterns in more science-type data, such as weather data, since then the human psyche is not involved," says Strannegård.

At an age when "ba-ba" and "da-da" may be their only utterances, infants nevertheless comprehend words for many common objects, according to a new study.

Evidence has long shown that getting a group of people to think individually about solutions, and then combining their ideas, can be more productive than getting them to think as a group. Some people are afraid of introducing radical ideas in front of a group and don’t speak up; in other cases, the group is either too small or too big to be effective.

But according to a recently published study, the real problem may be that participants’ [sic] get stuck on each others’ ideas. On Monday, the British Psychological Society highlighted a recent study by Nicholas Kohn and Steven Smith, two researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington and Texas A&M; University. [...] As expected, the “nominal” groups, or those made up of individual ideas that were later pulled together, outperformed the real chat groups, both with the number of ideas and the diversity of them.

The illusion of asymmetric insight makes it seem as though you know everyone else far better than they know you, and not only that, but you know them better than they know themselves. You believe the same thing about groups of which you are a member. As a whole, your group understands outsiders better than outsiders understand your group, and you understand the group better than its members know the group to which they belong.

...

In a political debate you feel like the other side just doesn’t get your point of view, and if they could only see things with your clarity, they would understand and fall naturally in line with what you believe. They must not understand, because if they did they wouldn’t think the things they think. By contrast, you believe you totally get their point of view and you reject it. You see it in all its detail and understand it for what it is – stupid.

To the end, Nim's largely prompted and cursory sign use seems never to have expressed anything particularly meaningful. Project Nim was a total bust: quixotic, constantly improvised, and badly managed. I'm not sure it should be called a project at all.

Yes, it would be wonderful to see propositional communication across a interspecies barrier. But that hasn't happened yet. This film should convince you of that.

And it should also convince you that the title of Herb Terrace's 1987 book Nim, A Chimpanzee Who Learned Sign Language is blatantly dishonest. I guess the publisher would not have gone with an honest one like "Nim, A Chimpanzee Who, Like Every Other Chimpanzee, Never Learned Sign Language".

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