Regular mental imagery exercises help preserve arm strength during 4 weeks of immobilization, researchers have found. Strength is controlled by a number of factors -- the most studied by far is skeletal muscle. However, the nervous system is also an important, though not fully understood, determinant of strength and weakness. In this study, researchers set out to test how the brain's cortex plays into strength development.
Researchers have shown how a single neuron can perform multiple functions in a model organism, illuminating for the first time this fundamental biological mechanism and shedding light on the human brain.
We can easily learn by seeking reward or avoiding punishment. But either way, we'd rather have any task be easy. A new study finds a direct behavioral and physiological linkage between those inclinations: When even subtle conflict made an experimental task harder, it affected the perception of reward and punishment, skewing how subjects learned the task.
A child's ability to distinguish musical rhythm is related to his or her capacity for understanding grammar, according to a recent study. The study is the first of its kind to show an association between musical rhythm and grammar.
In contemporary human brain mapping, it is commonly assumed that the “mind is what the brain does“. Based on that assumption, task-based imaging studies of the last three decades measured differences in brain activity that are thought to reflect the exercise of human mental capacities (e.g., perception, attention, memory). With the advancement of resting state studies, tractography and graph theory in the last decade, however, it became possible to study human brain connectivity without relying on cognitive tasks or constructs. It therefore is currently an open question whether the assumption that “the mind is what the brain does” is an indispensable working hypothesis in human brain mapping. This paper argues that the hypothesis is, in fact, dispensable. If it is dropped, researchers can “meet the brain on its own terms” by searching for new, more adequate concepts to describe human brain organization. Neuroscientists can establish such concepts by conducting exploratory experiments that do not test particular cognitive hypotheses. The paper provides a systematic account of exploratory neuroscientific research that would allow researchers to form new concepts and formulate general principles of brain connectivity, and to combine connectivity studies with manipulation methods to identify neural entities in the brain. These research strategies would be most fruitful if applied to the mesoscopic scale of neuronal assemblies, since the organizational principles at this scale are currently largely unknown. This could help researchers to link microscopic and macroscopic evidence to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the human brain. The paper concludes by comparing this account of exploratory neuroscientific experiments to recent proposals for large-scale, discovery-based studies of human brain connectivity.
For over a century, psychologists have investigated the mental processes of expert performers - people who display exceptional knowledge and/or skills in specific fields of human achievement. Since the 1960s, expertise researchers have made considerable progress in understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie such exceptional performance. Whereas the first modern studies of expertise were conducted in relatively formal knowledge domains such as chess, more recent investigations have explored elite performance in dynamic perceptual-motor activities such as sport. Unfortunately, although these studies have led to the identification of certain domain-free generalizations about expert-novice differences, they shed little light on an important issue: namely, experts’ metacognitive activities or their insights into, and regulation of, their own mental processes. In an effort to rectify this oversight, the present paper argues that metacognitive processes and inferences play an important if neglected role in expertise. In particular, we suggest that metacognition (including such processes as ‘meta-attention’, ‘meta-imagery’ and ‘meta-memory’, as well as social aspects of this construct) provides a window on the genesis of expert performance. Following a critique of the standard empirical approach to expertise, we explore some research on ‘metacognition’ and ‘metacognitive inference’ among experts in sport. After that, we provide a brief evaluation of the relationship between psychological skills training and metacognition and comment on the measurement of metacognitive processes. Finally, we summarize our conclusions and outline some potentially new directions for research on metacognition in action.
The chemical messenger dopamine – otherwise known as the happiness hormone – is important not only for motivation and motor skills. It seems it can also help neurons with difficult cognitive tasks. Torben Ott, Simon Jacob and Professor Andreas Nieder of Tübingen's Institute for Neurobiology have ...
The brain's plasticity and its adaptability to new situations do not function the way researchers previously thought, according to a new study. Earlier theories are based on laboratory animals, but now researchers have studied the human brain, and reached some new conclusions.
Everyone knows the scene: a basketball player at the free throw line, bouncing the ball as he concentrates on the basket. It’s a tight game, and his team needs this point. He regularly makes baskets from much farther away while avoiding defenders, but now, when all is calm, he chokes and misses the basket, and his team loses. Recent research suggests that in situations like this, performance depends on two factors: the framing of the incentive in terms of a loss or a gain, and a person’s aversio
The identification of neuroanatomical changes related to prematurity helps explain what brain structure and circuitry are affected, and may lead to designing effective prevention strategies and early interventional treatments for cognitive disabilities.
Critical-analytic thinking is typically conceived as a meta-construct that arises at the junction of a problem state (i.e., a situation that requires analysis that challenges previous assumptions) and an individual (i.e., an entity with the capacity to exercise critical-analytic thinking). With regard to the latter, there is a substantial body of research focusing on developmental and educational prerequisites for critical-analytic thinking. A less studied aspect of critical-analytic thinking pertains to individual differences, particularly in the set of foundational or componential cognitive skills that embody this construct. The bottom line here is whether, all else being equal (i.e., the same situation and the same developmental/educational stage), there is variation in whether, when, and how people think critically/analytically. We argue that there is unequivocal evidence for both the existence and importance of individual differences in critical-analytic thinking. This review focuses on theoretical and empirical evidence, identifying the cognitive processes that serve as the sources of these individual differences and capturing these processes’ differential contributions to both the critical and analytic components of this construct.
From our very first years, we are intrinsically motivated to learn new words and their meanings. First language acquisition occurs within a permanent emotional interaction between parents and children. However, the exact mechanism behind the human drive to acquire communicative linguistic skills is yet to be established.
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