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.

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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".

Before a green-rumped parrotlet is even able to chirp and squawk, mom and dad teach it a distinct series of sounds used by parrots to recognize a specific individual. In short, they give their nestling a name.

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Among other animals known to imitate the sounds of others and give each other unique names are dolphins and humans (and, possibly, whales.) Like humans and dolphins, parrots are highly social. Using names makes it easier to keep track of relationships and individuals.

European robins may maintain quantum entanglement in their eyes a full 20 microseconds longer than the best laboratory systems, say physicists investigating how birds may use quantum effects to “see” Earth’s magnetic field.

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Even in laboratory systems, atoms are cooled to near–absolute-zero temperatures to maintain entanglement for more than a few thousandths of a second. Biological systems would seem too warm and too wet to hold quantum states for long, yet that’s exactly what they appear to do.

The problem of isolation goes beyond ordinary loneliness, however. Consider what we’ve learned from hostages who have been held in solitary confinement—from the journalist Terry Anderson, for example, whose extraordinary memoir, “Den of Lions,” recounts his seven years as a hostage of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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He missed people terribly, especially his fiancée and his family. He was despondent and depressed. Then, with time, he began to feel something more. He felt himself disintegrating. It was as if his brain were grinding down. A month into his confinement, he recalled in his memoir, “The mind is a blank. Jesus, I always thought I was smart. Where are all the things I learned, the books I read, the poems I memorized? There’s nothing there, just a formless, gray-black misery. My mind’s gone dead. God, help me.”

One thing that is certain is that the compass of birds is located in their eyes. In fact, the tight connection between vision and magnetoreception suggests that birds can literally see magnetic fields.

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.

Både kråkfåglar och människoapor betraktas som intelligenta. Men hur går egentligen tänkandet till? Idag handlar Vetandets värld om ett nytt forskningsprojekt som vill jämföra hur olika djur tänker. I programmet möter vi kognitionsforskaren Mathias Osvath och råkan Pluto.

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