Archive for June, 2011

Rational Intuition

When it comes to some problems, our logic and intuition alone aren’t enough to reach an accurate answer. Sometimes, we’ve got to train our logic to run through specific steps. I’ll explain what I mean by this in just a second – but first, a quick recap: in Part 1 of this little series, I talked about how […]

Misleading Intuition

It often pays to trust your instincts – but instincts aren’t always as trustworthy as they might seem. In yesterday’s Part 1, I talked about how aesthetic and intuitive leanings based on real-world experiences often help guide our abstract reasoning. But on the other hand, our best guesses about many such concepts can be easily misled by flaws […]

Rewarding Intuition

New research suggests that fast-paced feedback loops can help us improve our intuitive accuracy about logical reasoning. A major proponent of intuition-training research is psychologist Philip J. Kellman, who works at the University of California, Los Angeles. Much like math savant Daniel Tammet, Kellman says even the most rigorous problem-solving ultimately depends on our personal perceptions […]

Autism From the Inside

Have you ever wondered how reality feels to a mathematical savant? One person in particular would like to help you with that. Daniel Tammet is an unusual guy for several reasons: he’s a “high-functioning” autistic savant who can recite pi to more than 22,000 digits, he’s got a talent for translating his subjective experiences into words, and […]

Feedback Power

Organizations around the country are harnessing feedback loops to retrain human behavior. As this feature from Wired reports, providing people with real-time feedback about their actions, then rewarding them for changing those actions – even by just acknowledging that a positive change has been made – often leads to measurable behavioral changes. Feedback loops exist […]

Hidden Vision

Human eyes may contain a hidden talent – the ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field. Although – as far as anyone knows – humans lack the cerebral hardware to visually perceive magnetic fields, we do carry some of the necessary sensory equipment. And some recent experiments confirm that, in the right context, that equipment might be secretly […]


The connectome of the humble roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, is revealing intriguing clues about how neural networks analyze and act on information. The C. elegans connectome was officially mapped back in 1986. It contains only 302 neurons and about 8,000 synapses – compared to one hundred billion neurons and some seven hundred trillion synaptic connections in a human connectome. Even so, it’s […]

Spotless Minds

Neuroscientists have discovered a technique for turning memories on and off with the flip of a switch. So far, the system has only been tested on rats. A team led by Sam A. Deadwyler of the Wake Forest Department of Physiology and Pharmacology trained the animals to memorize a lever-pressing task, and used probes to record electrochemical changes that […]

Associated Memories

A new study has revealed that when we recall a piece of information, we also get better at recalling related info. Psychologists have known for decades that the act of recalling a specific fact – say, that the Spanish word for “turnip” is “nabo” (it is) – improves the speed and ease of subsequent attempts to […]

Sleepocalypse 2011

For the first time in history, scientists have recorded functional images of brain activity as humans shift from consciousness into unconsciousness. What they’ve learned is that the process of falling asleep involves a variety of areas within the brain. Some of these areas systematically inhibit others, until an entirely different type of functional network is created: The […]

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