Thursday, January 31, 2013

Repressed memories don't exist

Attention all Freudian psychologists: give it up already! Research shows that repressed memories don't exist. Actually, we've know for some time that many of the more famous examples of "repressed memories" - especially those used in court cases - were due entirely to therapists encouraging the memories in their patients.

Exercise to increase cognitive function

I've posted about it before, but here it comes up again: exercise can increase cognitive function over the long term. It seems that consistent exercise is more or less one of the biggest keys in maintaining a good quality of life over the lifespan.

Misdiagnosing childhood disorders

There is most definitely a problem with misdiagnosing children with disorders like ADD or ADHD, but this article points to a rather huge number of misdiagnoses. The current zeitgeist in the world of psychological treatments tends to focus a lot on medication, and the current zeitgeist of our culture tends to be more tolerant if not downright eager to accept a diagnosis like ADD or ADHD. I'm not sure what root causes are (but I have my theories), nor am I sure what the fix is, but I do know that it is becoming more of a problem all the time.

Delayed gratification: the marshmallow test

If you haven't heard about Dr. Zimbardo's famous Marshmallow Test and the subsequent research on delayed gratification and the link to success, then you need to. This article will give you some really good background and some good analysis on the subject.

Ask God for improved hearing or vision!

This article on some research done with people that asked God to improve their vision or hearing is pretty darned good.

Initially the research appears to confirm that, yes, if you ask God it can, in fact, work for you. However, the article goes on to poke some holes in the research method and their findings, and that is the real value of the article. There are ways to find fault with just about every psychological study that has ever been done and certainly it it possible to find fault with the conclusions drawn from nearly every study. That doesn't invalidate every result, it just means that we should be thinking critically all the time. This article demonstrates several good ways of doing that.

The persistence of personality

How consistent are personality traits over the long term? For example, how consistent are personality traits between a child and when that same child is middle aged? Pretty darned consistent apparently!

Daydreaming and memory

Here is a great article on some research that suggests that how we choose to daydream about and how we go about daydreaming can affect how we remember recent events. That is pretty cool. I wonder if it would work for schoolwork?

Brain structure and culture

Do brain structures develop differently in children of different cultures? Here is an interesting article that points to some research on the subject.

Brain-melting personality test

I'm not a huge fan of personality tests. I recognize the research behind them and I also recognize that they have a certain utility. Unfortunately people often use them as a tool to predict future performance, and they just aren't meant for that nor are they even remotely accurate in that application.

All that being said, it is still fun to take them and see what they say. To that end I would like to present the single weirdest personality test I've ever run across:

The Pierley/Redford Dissasociative Affect Diagnostic

Seriously, describing it simply will not do it justice; you need to experience it to believe it. Even then you may not actually believe it. It is truly bizarre and strange in the truest sense of those words.

Just make sure you're not high on something when you take the test.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Your brain on hypnosis

We really understand very little about the mechanisms of hypnotism so it is very interesting that they are trying to do some imaging research on the mechanisms behind hypnotism. And, let's face it, brain imagery is sexy.

Think progress!

There are all kinds of little tricks to help motivate yourself into action, here is one more: the illusion of progress helps light a fire. In other words, you don't have to actually be making progress towards a goal, you just have to think that you are to motivate you to greater action.

I recently read a few people writing about goals in a way I hadn't seen before. Most of the time when you read what "experts" have to say about goals they give you a few criteria that need to be followed. A "good" goal should be one that is attainable (meaning realistically within the realm of your capabilities and situation) and measurable (meaning that you should be able to unequivocally be able to demonstrate progress to yourself or an observer). The new insight came when someone mentioned that sometimes a goal should be unattainable to give you something higher to aim for.

Motivational specialists all over the world just threw up wen I said that. However, I don't necessarily think that it is an unacceptable way to speak of goals. Certainly all of your goals shouldn't fit that mold, but it is an interesting idea to have some overarching goals that are simply something you have to strive for. I like the idea anyway. there anything it can't do?

Well, quite a lot actually, but it can help increase your attention span. This ought to make all you student's perk right up and pay attention.

Musicians are freaks

Speaking as a musician that statement is absolutely true, but this article about cognitive processes that are enhanced in musicians is pretty cool too if not necessarily "freaky."

Does tech rot your brain?

No. Next question?

For more on the subject Deric Bownds has a little more to say on the subject and also links to the same article written by Steven Pinker.

Steven Pinker may be a media hound and may not have had any true original ideas, but the man knows his stuff and is better at clarifying current issues in psychological science than anyone out there. He is always worth listening to.

Autism is complex

I know, right? Duh. However, this article on new genetic studies of autism is quite good as it explains both why a genetic understanding helps us and also why the complexity is such a problem. 

I am always heartened by the leaps in understanding we are making in the study of autism, but as it becomes more clear that this is a genetic condition I fear we may discover just how intractable the condition is. I hope I'm wrong.

Shout it out loud!

Well, shouting isn't required, but you should say it out lout to improve your memory. The article is excellent as it also describes the mechanism through which this practice works (always something I appreciate). You should totally give this a shot. My sister and I used to study together by doing "dramatic reading" to each other of some of the more difficult text we had to learn and we were always amazed by how much it helped us process what we were reading. Also, it was a total hoot.

Learning strategies

This is probably only an article that I would geek out on, but just in case you were wondering, different strategies for learning have distinct neural signatures. Not that this has any practical application for students right now, but, hey, it's cool.

Don't stress out man!

Stress isn't what you think it is and there are many misconceptions about stress. Understanding the source of stress and the effects can help you combat it more effectively.

Is your intelligence fixed or flexible?

Nice article referencing an even better article by Carol Dweck about how performance can be correlated with a belief in the flexibility of our intelligence. There are a number of very good studies that have shown this effect, it is more-or-less a truism in motivational research.

Creativity and mental health

History seems full of people that are linked with their creative output due to being linked with either a tortured mind or various types of mental disorders like bi-polarism, schizophrenia, various flavors of autism or other similar cognitive disorders, there is also good research that says they may be correct.

This isn't to say that you need to have a cognitive disorder in order to be creative, or that all creative people have cognitive disorders, the study merely says that there are similarities in neurotransmitter profiles between creativity and mental disorders.

Make colors disappear!

Check out this incredible illusion: make colors disappear and merge right before your eyes.

I have a few unusual vision problems so it only partially worked for me (the colors faded and partially disappeared), although with good concentration I was able to get the full effect for about a half second or so when the color completely disappeared.

Liars know a liar

Here is a fun tidbit: you can make it easier to identify when someone is lying if you know the most effective techniques for lying. takes one to know one?

Divorce is bad for kids

There are more studies than you could possibly link to in a short space that enumerate the various types of difficulties that children go through when their parents are involved in a divorce. Here is another study that shows that those children of divorce lag behind their peers in math and social skills.

Unfortunately, divorce is a reality that we must live with in our culture, so the key isn't just recognizing that the difficulties occur, but finding ways to mitigate the problems. That research is ongoing, but is much more difficult than identifying the problems.

Fire up your babies brain

Great article on how newborn babies are instinctively attuned to their mothers voice. Newborn and infant research is some of the coolest stuff out there. The more we learn about new brains, the more we discover just how complex and capable our brains are - even before we are born.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

All you need is love....or not....

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as love (according to science)

This is the result when you get a crossover between something that everyone feels on what could best be described as a metaphysical level, and the need for science to quantify any phenomenon that they think can be measured; and that result is very unsatisfying.

I like the science and I find it completely fascinating and cool to see how they have drilled down into the biology of it all, but it just feels that there is still something missing. But, that is what you get for siding on the "mysterianism" side of things.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Summary of the Free Will debate

I know that I post a lot about this subject, but it is just so fascinating to me to see the interplay of experimentation, theory, philosophy and culture all crashing together in one spectacular mess.

This article is one of the best summaries of the whole subject I've seen in a while.

The article tends to side with the "you don't have free will" side, or at least prefers the experimental evidence for that side to the mere criticism of the opposite view. But that's kind of the whole point - you can generate experimental evidence that can defined very narrowly, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they apply broadly. But to get experimental evidence on the broad scale you introduce too many variables and it becomes a nightmare for analysis. 

I have had discussions with people who have criticized me for making larger inferences based on similar states. For example, I have been harshly criticized for suggesting that there might be mechanisms in the brain that can create an addiction to pornography which might be similar to the addiction mechanisms identified for substance abuse. Their beef with me was something along the lines of "science doesn't work through supposition - only experimentation." My counter argument was that I wasn't suggesting it was a fact, merely asking the question so that it could be subjected to experimentation. But apparently I am an idiot for suggesting that people could be addicted to pornography. 

This is the same argument in reverse in regards to free will. People are seeing suggestions via data and applying it to a much broader field (cognition). I don't see how you can refuse to go from specific to general in one area, but then do the exact opposite for another area. I'm not saying that it can't possibly be true (that we don't have free will) - I'm just saying that the evidence has been gathered from far too narrow of a slice of the cognitive picture to really make any broad conclusions.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Online education for free - and for credit!

I have been fairly up-front in the past that I in no way predict an e-learning revolution or even the death of the "brick-and-mortar" class. Our infrastructure is simply too embedded and there is too much investment both physically and culturally in our physical institutions. However, as e-learning matures it will become a more prevalent and accepted part of our education panorama.

I think people forget sometimes just how new the internet is. There are a number of industries that are still trying to find their way through the maze of electronic delivery. Online shopping is probably the most mature of the current models, but even that isn't really up to speed yet. You still get a lot of people that will go and "shop" at a store and try things on, then go order it for cheaper online. This is an unsustainable model in the long run, but enough people are still invested in the physical act of shopping that it is still a viable model. Another example is modern media such as television and newsprint. They are both trying really hard to figure out how to use the technology to create good content while still generating profit. Some of their ideas have worked well, others have not. Education is no different. Some efforts work pretty well, others haven't. As with the other industries, predicting the "death" of an industry or a "revolution" is really more of a "call to arms" for the enthusiasts to keep pushing the envelope. Traditional services feel threatened by the new opponents and they circle the wagons and try to defend their position. Eventually the two sides learn how to play along, but it takes years and the eventual form of the system is far different from what you could have predicted early on. 

This is the template for all of human change.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mind over Perception

I recently posted about how perception may be influenced by culture, well, how about an article on how you may be able to override your physical limitations and see better by believing you can?

This is a serious thing, by the way. There are even websites devoted to re-training your brain so that you don't need glasses or contacts. There is some empirical evidence to suggest that it works quite well for some people.

I wish I was one of them.

Body motion and memory

If you don't doodle, then how about dancing? Learning through self-directed interpretive dance would probably work pretty darned well come to think of it. Anyway, body motion can affect memory and emotions as well.

Atheists are a smug bunch

Okay, get ready to read some serious baloney: Why atheists are more intelligent than the religious.

He's got a great graph there, but I'd be very interested to see how the sample was selected, the specific ages of those tested and what the IQ rate was once the individuals reached adulthood. There is also the question of what measure of IQ they used and how it was administered. That is a pretty serious gap that needs to be accounted for.

One other thing, the author bases all of his reasoning on evolutionary psychology - you couldn't think of any other mechanism for why the gap exists? And are you really correlating "not religious at all" with atheism? Not exactly the same thing.

"Common sense" isn't common at all

I could do this all day. 

I love posting articles that show how irrational our brains are. This fantastic article points to a trio of rather well known and experimentally proven cognitive bias and frames them in terms of our general weirdness with our decision making ability.

If I could just get people to understand that in reference to human judgement there simply isn't a right or a wrong answer. There is only an answer that you arrive at based on your personal criteria. That is it. A majority of people may agree with your criteria, that still doesn't make a thing right or wrong - it just makes it an agreed upon decision. 

How do you smell?

No commentary necessary, just a great video on how your sense of smell works.

This is your brain on music

Excellent article hitting the highlights of what happens to your brain when you listen to music. I've posted at least one other article on this if I remember correctly. That doesn't make the subject any less cool or fascinating.

I wonder if they have any studies on seeing your brain while you create art like painting, drawing or sculpting. I would also love to see a study on what goes on while dancing.

The classroom of the future

They are on the right track here as they discuss various items concerning the classroom of the future. The only problem I see with it is that they are trying to define the classroom of the future using the technology and the paradigms of today. I would say they are describing the classroom of the near future that they think would be cool, which is fine. Personally I don't see much change at all in the classrooms of 90% of America in the next 10 or even 20 years. There is too much embedded infrastructure that is too difficult and costly to bypass. Our schools are what they are and any change will occur at a glacial pace.

Want to learn faster? Start doodling!

This article on how doodling helps you learn faster is pretty good. It makes all kinds of sense as well as long as your doodling is related to what you are learning. You end up engaging more cognitive and physical resources so your are processing the information on more levels. That is a good thing.

Information vs. Ideas

For all you cognitive scientists out there, and all you linguists and semanticists: Information and Ideas are not the same thing

Jazz and Rap on the brain

I've posted about this previously, but here is another great article on how we are learning more about creativity by looking at the brains of Jazz and Rap musicians.

The Cingulate Cortex

Here is your brain anatomy lesson for the day: The Cingulate Cortex

Tips for adult learning

I work in education as an instructional designer, so I work with adult learning every day. I have learned this stuff a million times over, and yet....I'm still not sure that there is a reasonable distinction between adult learning and learning for any other age group. You still have to base the learning on the experience and development of the learner no matter what the age group. Still, these are handy tips:

10 Tips for adult learning

Monday, January 21, 2013

Color perception - is it cultural?

I find this endlessly fascinating. So, is color perception (or any perception for that matter) innate or is it enhanced or even determined by culture? If something as seemingly basic as color perception - which seems to be entirely in the realm of physics and not in the realm of mental skills - can be affected by cultural mores, what does that say for the rest of our perception? What about hearing, taste or smell? Can you even begin to think of experiments that could test that? When you begin to explore the implications it is pretty staggering, assuming this is a real phenomenon and not just an artifact of language that we're not quite able to define.

There is additional research that indicates that this effect occurs with at least one and possibly more tribes located in the Amazon basin, but, there again, there is debate over whether or not this is a true effect in our ability to perceive or just an artifact of language and the ability to translate concepts.

Do People Always See the Same Things When They Look At Colors?:

Weight loss without thinking?

Now this is an interesting line of research. All individuals interested in the "magic bullet" for losing weight, pay attention!

Mindless eating: Losing weight without thinking:

PS: There is no such thing as a magic bullet.

Boosting your willpower

Another interesting tidbit from the "tips and tricks" file

How You Can Boost Your Brain's Willpower with a Simple Working Memory Exercise:

Take a break when studying

I preach this to my students all the time. Take breaks - especially at the interval of your attention span, but certainly when you switch subjects. You have to give your brain time to cycle between subjects.

Take a 20 Minute Break Between Subjects for Better Memory Retention:

How to help your child pay attention

For all you parents of young kids out there:

8 Practical Pointers to Help Your Child Pay Attention | World of Psychology:

Your brain on hypnotism

A very misunderstood topic, primarily because it is so ridiculously misrepresented in the media and especially in TV series and movies.

BPS Research Digest: The hypnotised brain:

Punishing correct answers

This article has me recalling the opening scene in Ghostbusters when Bill Murray is shocking another student to try and enhance his psychic ability, and it appears to work, but Bill is only concerned about getting together with the hot student.

I'm sure that says something about me, but I'm not sure what.

BPS Research Digest: Improving people's memory by punishing their correct answers:

Priming - a curious case

Cognitive priming can be very effective - assuming it is used effectively.

Priming Revisited | Why We Reason:

Sleep for college students

Sleep is a good thing. Getting enough of it is a better thing.

Sleep can boost classroom performance of college students:

More here: College students sleep longer but drink more and get lower grades when classes start later:

Gaming and the brain

This site where this link is housed is devoted to "brain training" via games, which is not really supported very conclusively in the current research, but the benefits for training and learning in general (not of improving cognitive skills) is a pretty clear benefit and I'm always supportive of any initiative that is looking to find better ways to utilize new and better methods and tools for education.

Serious Games: Developing a Research Agenda for Educational Games and Simulations | SharpBrains:

Preventing mental decline

Here is some news you can use. Never stop learning and growing. Never stop being social and never stop moving. Even if cognitive decline and dementia are genetically inevitable, your quality of life will be improved.

USC: Active social, spiritual and physical life helps prevent health decline in seniors:

If You Feel Compelled to Act, Hesitate First

More from the "tips and tricks" file.

If You Feel Compelled to Act, Hesitate First:

How humans use language

This article speaks to a number of relevant issues in both psychology and computing. I have maintained for a very long time that true Artificial Intelligence is not likely in my lifetime, if ever. We simply lack the understanding of what intelligence actually is, much less how it is achieved - even in the simplest of organisms. Chomsky's comments and the analysis thereof in this article are both an excellent way to point out just one small aspect of how our minds work and how remarkably distant we are from achieving a true understanding of just that one aspect.

Conscious Entities » Blog Archive » Lies, damned lies, and statistics:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Humans are not rational

This ins't so much an article as a report on a talk by Peter Ditto. It is an excellent presentation of one of the core elements of being human - we are emotional. Emotion drives more of day to day behavior than we can possibly understand from a personal perspective. We are simply NOT rational or logical beings. It is not even clear that such a thing as logic can exist when it is created, governed and manipulated by human brains.

Just because it’s “moral” doesn’t mean it’s “right.” | PsySociety:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Disbelieving Free Will Makes Brain Less Free

I've pointed to articles similar to this in the past. I find it very interesting that by supposedly freeing us from the illusion of free will the proponents of that viewpoint actually restrict our perceived freedom. there are also other cognitive costs for a strong belief in a lack of free will, but, as I said, I've listed those articles previously.

Disbelieving Free Will Makes Brain Less Free | Wired Science |

Conquering Performance Anxiety

I could relate all the problems I've had in my life with performance anxiety, both humorous and tragic, I'd be writing here for a LONG time. Fortunately, I don't need to do that. I'll just point out this article that gives a few pointers for overcoming the problem:

Conquering Performance Anxiety: A Primer for All Phobias | World of Psychology:

Light this joint up!

My only wish would be for people to not engage in recreational drugs (which includes alcohol). It doesn't make sense to me on any level other than escapism - and that just seems like such a counterproductive reason. This is, however, a personal opinion.

What cannabis actually does to your brain:

Childhood music lessons may provide lifelong boost in brain functioning

As a musician this is extremely gratifying to hear. As a parent that invests in music education for my kids, this is even more gratifying.

Childhood music lessons may provide lifelong boost in brain functioning:

Know and Remember Everything, Always and Instantly

More on memory tricks. Well, some of them are sort of practical anyway....

Know and Remember Everything, Always and Instantly : Science Not Fiction:

6 Steps to Get Anyone (Yourself Included) to Do Anything

Don't let your powers be used for evil.

6 Steps to Get Anyone (Yourself Included) to Do Anything | World of Psychology:

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory Without Any Training

Tips and tricks indeed - and this one should be particularly valuable to all you students out there.

7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory Without Any Training — PsyBlog:

6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep Fast

Sleeping is awesome. We all love it. Now let's learn how to do it better:

6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep Fast — PsyBlog:

How Exercise Can Grow Your Brain

Today seems to be "tips and tricks" day. So, I'll keep them coming.

How Exercise Can Grow Your Brain « Promega Connections:

4 Fascinating Facts on Why You Are Easily Distracted

You've already stopped reading haven't you?

4 Fascinating Facts on Why You Are Easily Distracted (and not likely to read all of this) « Doctor Stu's Blog:

Improving your cognitive toolkit - VII

Once again, Deric Bownds gives you the straight poop:

Deric Bownds' MindBlog: Improving your cognitive toolkit - VII:

Top 10 Self-Control Strategies

You want more self-control, you NEED more self-control!

I give you: more self-control

Top 10 Self-Control Strategies — PsyBlog:

Mothers' hard work pays off with big brains for their babies

If you are a parent, spend time with your kids. Both quality and quantity (especially quantity) MATTER!

Mothers' hard work pays off with big brains for their babies:

Envy is a stronger motivator than admiration

It seems that negative emotions can be stronger than positive emotions for many short-term actions and can certainly be more evident in behavior over the short term.

BPS Research Digest: Envy is a stronger motivator than admiration:

The Trouble With Teens

Teens simply DO NOT think like adults (and some adults never get to that level of development either) - but we treat them like they do and give them responsibilities as though they can. Not a good idea overall.

Discover Magazine: The latest in science and technology news, blogs and articles - The Brain: The Trouble With Teens:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Managing Stress

If you want to relieve stress, find a way to exert some measure of control, no matter how small.

Managing Stress: What Rats Have To Teach Us | My Online Wellness:

10 Simple Postures That Boost Performance

Some more simple tools to boos your cognitive abilities:

10 Simple Postures That Boost Performance — PsyBlog:

Faced With Evidence, We Still Get It Wrong

We are always the product of our decisions, and our decisions are a product of how we choose to interpret the world around us. We may talk of using logic or reason to make decisions, but the reality is that for logic to be infallible it needs to have ALL the available and relevant information, and that is simply not what we work with as humans. We use heuristics to determine what information we feel is relevant and then we rely further on heuristic logic to make decisions that are based on our past experience (which is also a product of past choices and experience defined by the exact same heuristic parameters) - so, while this article definitely defines a significant problem, it also avoids the elephant in the room: we will never be able to know if the evidence we have is strong or weak. That is only determined in hind-sight after the consequences of our actions.

Faced With Evidence, We Still Get It Wrong - ABC News:

Cognitive Enhancers are Not "Cheating"

I continue to be fascinated by the debate over cognitive enhancing drug use. This is one more opinion on the subject. I haven't really picked a side of the debate yet. I can see how both sides (for and against CE usage) - but neither side has been able to convince me that the other side is either "right" or "wrong" - the whole subject still resides in a grey area of incertitude. 

Cognitive Enhancers are Not "Cheating" : Science Not Fiction:

Personally, I would actually like to see what the effects are on myself before I could determine if taking them would constitute "cheating" - but since I'm rather opposed to recreational drug use on a personal level, I'm not likely to try that experiment any time soon.

Improving your cognitive toolkit

Once more Deric Bownds comes through with a great link to a great article.

Deric Bownds' MindBlog: Improving your cognitive toolkit - VI:

'via Blog this'

12 Ways to Improve Concentration

Attention is EVERYTHING. So, here are a few tips to help you in regulating your ability to pay attention.

12 Ways to Improve Concentration | Psychology Today:

'via Blog this'

Bilingual Brains Are Dementia-Resistant

Case in point about the bi-lingual brain - I'd say that decreasing the chances of Alzheimer's disease is a pretty decent after-effect of learning a second language.

Alzheimer's Study: Bilingual Brains Are Dementia-Resistant : 80beats:

The bi-lingual brain

There was quite a bit of research last year on people with bi-lingual abilities. Apparently it is a good thing if you have stretched your cognitive capacity to include multiple languages:

Juggling languages can build better brains

Improve your mental health just by sitting at a computer

Good news for all of us computer geeks:

Forget therapy - you improve your mental health just by sitting at a computer:

Walking improves your memory.

There is always some research or article that addresses ways to either improve or maintain better memory abilities. Deric Bownds is always on the lookout for great information in this realm.

Deric Bownds' MindBlog: Walking improves your memory.:

'via Blog this'

Early childhood education program yields high economic returns

It has been a matter of considerable research, all of which has pointed to one inescapable conclusion: educate children as much and as early as you can. This is one example when the old trope "An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure" cannot be overemphasized. The benefits of early childhood education are too numerous and too cumulative to be ignored.

Early childhood education program yields high economic returns, U of Minnesota researchers find:

'via Blog this'

“Zapping” the Brain Affects Moral Judgments

Another example of the effects of brain stimulation:

“Zapping” the Brain Affects Moral Judgments | Psychology Today:

Facilitate Insight by Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation

There is quite a bit of very good and very intriguing research being done right now on the effects of brain stimulation, either through magnetic or electric stimulation. Some of the results are pretty astounding.

PLOS ONE: Facilitate Insight by Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation:

Magnetic Mind Control

A project of Pratt Institute's Cognitive Psychology Course: Magnetic Mind Control:

I have watched the some of the same series (I believe it is available on Netflix) and it was rather well done. They didn't explore any topics I wasn't already familiar with, but they still presented quite a lot of good information in a very understandable and interesting way.

Expectations speed up conscious perception

This makes a certain amount of sense. If we expect to see something then our brains are already searching for particular patterns so it makes a sort of intuitive sense that our brains would react more quickly based on expectations.

Expectations speed up conscious perception:

Of course...nearly everything involving the brain is counter-intuitive, so using "intuitive sense" when attempting to understand anything is very shaky ground.

Beginning again

The start of a new semester means that it is time to start the blog up again. The last year or so was a wash due to lack of motivation and time. But...hope springs eternal and I think it is time once again to begin writing.

Forward to victory! (he said pointing to the refrigerator)