Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

DailyTech - Temperature Monitors Report Widescale Global Cooling

It looks like my 20% probability prediction may have been rather low - and my time estimate of 12 to 15 years a bit short.

Or it could be a one-year anomaly.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Advertisers, neuroscientists trace source of emotions in brain

Advertisers, neuroscientists trace source of emotions in brain

If the first word of the title of this post doesn't strike fear into your heart, then you are employed in marketing.

Children show goal-oriented behavior by age 3

Children show goal-oriented behavior by age 3

What? Do the researchers not have any children? I've got 3 and I could have told you they engage in goal-oriented behavior much sooner than that. This needed research?

Seriously, reading that report made me scratch my head.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

God (and Gadgets) of the Lonely?

Mixing Memory : God (and Gadgets) of the Lonely?

I find the 1st paragraph the most interesting - atheists talking to other atheists about religious beliefs.

Priceless. Apparently the non-religious viewpoint is the only valid one and anyone with a religious bent is, well, bent (illogical and therefore not worthy of contributing to the argument). Of course, I could be wrong about that assumption, but in my experience most atheists think along those lines whether they admit it or not. Atheism, to an atheist is the ONLY logical belief system and any other viewpoint isn't just illogical but wrong and even (for truly radical adherents) dangerous.

And they accuse religious believers of being zealots.

Oh, well. I left a comment on the blog - it will be interesting to see if anyone responds.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Will neuroscience end responsibility?

Cognition and Language Lab: Will neuroscience end responsibility?

His short answer is: no. However, the arguments in it are worth reading to view the two sides of the argument around free-will and how science views it.

State of the Statistics: A Nonlinear Non-Diebold Effect?

Developing Intelligence : State of the Statistics: A Nonlinear Non-Diebold Effect?

For all you stat geeks out there.

The impostor syndrome

Cognition and Language Lab: The impostor syndrome

Great reference to an article on a very fun motivational construct.

When Cognitive Dissonance Doesn't Matter

PsyBlog: When Cognitive Dissonance Doesn't Matter

Trying to pawn this off as falling strictly under "cognitive dissonance" gives the scope of the problem short shrift I think. The problem sort of spans the area between cognition, social cognition, motivation and behaviorism. If you try and refine it down to just "cognition" I think that would be a mistake.

The algebraic mind

Cognition and Language Lab: The algebraic mind

More interesting stuff on trying to analyze the way the mind thinks.

Friends' school achievement influences high school girls' interest in math

Friends' school achievement influences high school girls' interest in math

Lots of talk out there about how to get girls more interested in math. Turns out it's possible a few good "plants" could turn the tide.

More brain research suggests "use it or lose it"

More brain research suggests "use it or lose it"

The Rat Park: Addiction and Environmental factors

The Mouse Trap: The Rat Park: Addiction and Environmental factors

This is one of the best research articles I've ever read about. This is simply fantastic stuff. Not only the results/conclusions of the study but also how it came about.

Go forth and read.

Study finds some thoughts really do require language

Cognitive Daily: Study finds some thoughts really do require language

This is pretty cool stuff, and it follows relatively quickly on the heels of another paper that claims that memory depends on language, noting that the first real memories you have as a child are usually from about the time that you acquire a fluency in language ability.

More about specific cognitive abilities being tied to specific languages and/or cultural experiences here.

Implicit associations

Mind Hacks: Implicit associations

This could also be filed under "Attributions" - I really want to get my hands on the test they're talking about.

Children who have an active father figure have fewer psychological and behavioral problems

Children who have an active father figure have fewer psychological and behavioral problems

This is sure to get under the skin of a few of the more liberal-minded folks who espouse the theory that there is no difference in children from single or dual parent households.

Of course, the claim will be that the study is flawed or the statistics are wrong. The same stuff we hear from either side of a hotly contested idea.

The Psychology of Free Will, Love, and Other Cool Stuff

Mixing Memory : The Psychology of Free Will, Love, and Other Cool Stuff

Actually some interesting takes here on the concept of free will.

Implanting False Memories

PsyBlog: Implanting False Memories: Lost in the Mall & Paul Ingram

I've posted a few items similar to this recently, and it appears that there is a lot of research going into this for some reason right now.

More here.

Even more here.

How Cognitive Science Can Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations

Applied Cognitive Science: How Cognitive Science Can Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations

Oh, that every engineer I've ever met could read this article.....

The art of persuasion

Psychology - Mimicry - Persuasion - How to Build Rapport - New York Times

Kind of a fun article. Worth reading if for nothing else than to be able to recognize when others are doing this type of thing to you.

Some more information on "imposters" here.

Teach students to use online literature

Teach students to use online literature

Fantastic advice. And the reasons behind it are impeccable.

More geek-centric take on a similar subject here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Video Games Normalize Killing, Doctors Say

Video Games Normalize Killing, Doctors Say

Anyone who wants to seize on this as evidence that we should outlaw video games will, of course, do so. But it's a mistake. The research simply showed that one type of video game showed that different parts of the brain were affected for one type of game than for another, and that the areas aroused by the "violent" video game were those normally associated with emotional arousal.

Here are the questions to ask: what was the non-violent video game? Did it provide the same type of visceral competitiveness? What about the role of survival? They focus on the act of killing, but in violent games you are also seeking to avoid being killed - they don't give any thought at all that perhaps the act of survival would also give the same type of emotional reaction.

That, of course, assumes that there is actually an emotional reaction as they're stating. Just because a brain scan showed that areas of the brain associated with emotion doesn't in turn confirm that it was an emotional reaction.

What about competitiveness? Did the researchers first test the level of competitiveness that each game required? Was one more difficult to complete than another? Was it more exciting? I can tell you right now that when I have done gaming in the past there are games (both non-violent and violent) that engender a completely different level of competitiveness (sometimes based on difficulty, sometimes based on interest) from other games.

This story (and many like it) drive me crazy. There are so many aspects of gaming that are simply not considered that the conclusions drawn leave me scratching my head in bewilderment. Of course, if you came to the conclusion that "we really don't know what effect gaming has" - well, then that just ruins your newsworthiness. The sound bite that will grab everyone's attention and get you a headline is: "Gaming is BAD!" - it's what the hand-wringing crowd wants to believe, and this just confirms their fears.

Ain't it great when politics, agenda driven research, and the press collide in an tantric orgy of agreement?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

How to study

BPS RESEARCH DIGEST: How to study

Here are some good tips on studying based on empirical research with a foundation in neuroscience.

Very cool.

Implicit Understanding and Inference in Language

Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Language is so incredibly complex - it's amazing that we are able to communicate at all. I find it interesting that a lot of this research is done on the English language - and I'd really like to see if other languages have similar limitations, or if there are some languages that avoid problems like the ones mentioned in the post.

False trails in the pursuit of consciousness

Mind Hacks: False trails in the pursuit of consciousness

My interest in consciousness is readily apparent through reading this blog - and this is a great article. Asking the right question is certainly all important.

Kids' naps good for something besides maintaining parental sanity

Cognitive Daily: Kids' naps good for something besides maintaining parental sanity

While this is fun news to learn about, as a parent of 3 children, two of whom are quite young and still take naps - I really couldn't care about alternate reasons for naps. I NEED my sanity check every day. It is not optional.

But, hey, residual benefits are nice as well.

The Heat Death of Science

Cognition and Language Lab: The Heat Death of Science

I had an earlier post on the limits of reductionism, and I think that relates very closely to this post. Reductionism leads directly to exceptionally narrow specialization, and as that specialization increases the amount of knowledge in narrower and narrower areas - and further and further away from global understanding because nobody has enough ability to combine the esoteric knowledge of the different fields as they draw farther apart through their specialization.

Heat-death indeed.

Good mood= compromised working memory?

The Mouse Trap: googd mood= compromised working memory?

This is more about patterns of choice - but mood definitely relates.

Unanimous union: The mind and body together lean toward 'truthiness'

Unanimous union: The mind and body together lean toward 'truthiness'

So, if I give a positive but ambiguous answer, it will be perceived more readily as "true." How depressingly political - meaning that politicians are the perfect practitioners of this "art."

What you know, and how it's different from what you remember

Cognitive Daily: What you know, and how it's different from what you remember

It's a little bit of a semantic argument, but there is definitely something to think about here.

Cognition and Emotion are not Separate

Pure Pedantry : Cognition and Emotion are not Separate

Absolutely. Never have been. But it's nice to see research entering into the fray.

Is Modern Self-Help Just a Massive Money-Making Scam?

PsyBlog: Is Modern Self-Help Just a Massive Money-Making Scam?

My opinion? Yes. But it has it's utility. There is a lot to be said about the "placebo effect" - essentially if you think it, it can be true for you. So, if you read a self-help book and it does some good for you, congratulations.

However, on the whole, I'd say that most self-help books are garbage and in fact focus almost entirely on the same type of "placebo effect" to help people convince themselves that they're okay.

Learning Styles

Here are some links to a teaching presentation on learning styles.
Question 1 (Jan 22, 2008)

Question 2

Dimensions of learning PPT

More on Dimensions of learning

Reflections on Teaching Methods

Reflections on Teaching Methods format

The Limits of Reductionism

The Frontal Cortex : The Limits of Reductionism

Fabulous stuff here. It really speaks to the heart of science - do you focus on the minute (where you can be more accurate and definitive under a narrower set of circumstances) and if so, does that get you closer or further away from understanding things at a global level. Or do you study the larger sets of items that leave you with much more ambiguity but can lead to a better picture of global states?

The focus on the small (reductionism) can be rewarding in the way that it can provide discrete but measurable success - something palpable and "real" - it also makes for experiments that are easier to set up.

My greatest desires are to work on global applications. I'm much more eager to approach some way of combining aspects of neuroscience with some type of practical application in behavior science. But the difficulties involved make it nearly impossible without serious funding.

Oh, well. I still like his thoughts on the limits of reductionism.

More here.