Cognitive World

TED Talks Rebecca Saxe: “How we read each other’s minds”

Posted in Uncategorized by Ines on September 19, 2009
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What happens in our brains when we think about other people’s thoughts? At the Saxelab at MIT they use fMRI to identify brain regions which are activated when we consider the motives, passions and beliefs.

The temporoparietal junction (TPJ) is an area of the brain that play a  role in self-other distinction processes and theory of mind (TOM) and damage to this area has been implicated in producing out-of-body experiences (OBEs). OBEs may also be induced by electrically stimulating the TPJ.

How is this ability to understand the thoughts of others affected in people without a right TPI (due to injury or disease processes for example) ?
– hemi-spatial neglect (without visual field cuts)
– hyper-attention to local details of a scene and difficulty perceiving the global structure
– anosognosia (unaware they have a deficit)


Audio illusions

Posted in Perception by Ines on June 18, 2009

What neuroscience can tell us about consciousness – Christof Koch

Posted in Uncategorized by Ines on June 17, 2009

The core of this talk starts at about 8 mins 50 secs.

David Chalmers, The Extended Mind Revisited, 2009

Posted in Consciousness by Ines on June 15, 2009
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Capgras Syndrome, phantom limb pain and synesthesia

Posted in Brain structures,Emotions,Limbic System by Ines on August 9, 2008
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Left hemisphere damaged – right takes over language functions

Posted in Brain structures,Cognitive development,Language by Ines on August 8, 2008
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Which parts of the brain will be activated during comprehension of English sentences in people with damages in the left hemisphere? To answer this question a team of brain scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh close two “after – stroke” people in non-invasive fMRI machine.

Scans showed that brain function associated with language run away from the stroke-damaged area to the corresponding area on the opposite side of the brain.

The adjustment can begin within a day or two after the stroke, and can continue for many months.

More specific, the right sides of their brains (the right-hand homologue of Broca’s area or of Wernicke’s area) were activated during the sentence comprehension, at about the same time as the patients’ ability to process language which was coming back to them.

Notice that adult’s brains were examined.

No so far ago the fast recovery of the ability to use language network was attributed to the possibility of healing, like reduction of swelling in the brain.
But “healing” after a brain damage occurs at a high level of organization. It shows incredible brain’s plasticity even in adulthood.

People very often generalize that left hemisphere is responsible for language functions. But the true is that in healthy brains – both are, just one play a dominant role. The right hemisphere can also be the chief in some people (not only after left hemisphere damage). The subordinate side, usually play just understudy role and develop its own specializations.

Music is processed in different areas of the brain

Posted in Brain structures,Music by Ines on July 12, 2008

The negative impact of stress on our working memory can be the same as this after “physical” damages.

Posted in Attention,Brain structures,Stress,Working memory by Ines on July 7, 2008
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Life experiences change the length and complexity of our brain cells. Chronic daily stress affect neurons in two different areas of the rat brain.

What does the chronic stress cause?
Decreased performance in tasks that require attention.
Working memory is” angry”. Stressed rats need more time to catch on to a new pattern in an experimental task.

The prefrontal cortex is typically involved in working memory. And sure enough, neurons in the stressed rats in the medial prefrontal cortex were shorter and had less branching than those in the control rats.
As an effect – decreased performance of working memory has been observed after lesions, brain damages.

So, suppose we allow ourselves to be under prolonged stress. The negative impact of stress on our working memory can be the same as this after “physical” damages.

Is any other area of the brain affected by stress?
What is interesting, neurons in orbital frontal cortex in stressed rats were longer and more branched! This area of the brain is responsible for modifying behaviour.

Because of the negative impact on prefrontal cortex, prolonged stress can lead to impulsive,
even violent behaviour, increased anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse etc.

So, take it easy. We don't want impulsive, depressive or angry abusers :)

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Powerful reasons why children benefit from music education.

Posted in Cognitive development,Memory,Music by Ines on July 5, 2008

Playing music improve children’s reading and verbal skills.
Directly music increase level of concentration, memory and self-expression.

What else?
Socializing. Children learned to like each other. They become less stressed and enjoyed school more.

How about spacial learning, thinking?
Playing music builds or modifies neural pathways related to spatial reasoning tasks.
Notice that these are crucial for math, science, chess, etc.

There were studies comparing 4 groups of children.
Theses having: computer lessons, singing lessons, playing lessons (keyboard).
And the last group had nothing like these.
what really interesting the children who had had the MUSIC classes scored significantly higher – up to 35%  – than the children who did nothing additional  and what surprisingly also 35% higher than children who had computer classes o.[1]
(notice, that these studies were made before 1993).

[1] E W Weber, M Spychiger and J-L Patry, Musik macht Schule. Biografie und Ergebnisse eines Schulversuchs mit erweitertemMusikuntericcht. Padagogik in der Blauen Eule, Bd17. 1993.

Playing music

Playing music

Training can improve fluid inteligence.

Posted in Intelligence by Ines on July 4, 2008

Most IQ tests attempt to measure two types of intelligence–crystallized and fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence draws on existing skills, knowledge and experiences to solve problems by accessing information from long-term memory.

Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, draws on the ability to understand relationships between various concepts, independent of any previous knowledge or skills, to solve new problems. The research shows that this part of intelligence can be improved through memory training.

Why does the training can improve our fluid intelligence?
The authors find some features of fluid intelligence relevant to the ability to solve new tasks.
This ability includes ignoring irrelevant items, monitoring ongoing performance, managing two tasks simultaneously and connecting related items to one another in space and time. The more times you are faced with new problems the stronger the above aspects you have.

The authors don’t know how long the improvement will last after giving up training.

Read more:

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