cognitive science

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Kissing the 'Right' Way: Most of Us Don't Go Left

New research suggests this tendency might be innate

(Newser) - Dig if you will the picture: two people engaged in a kiss. Prince sang about "curious poses," but new research suggests that most of us may strike similar poses, leaning to the right instead of the left when kissing the lips of our partners. Researchers at the University... More »

Your Life May Indeed Flash Before Your Eyes at Death

But not chronologically, more of a jumble, say researchers

(Newser) - The idea that our lives flash before our eyes in the moments before we die may sound close to mystical, but neurologists at Hadassah University in Jerusalem say the phenomenon—or at least some version of it—appears to be quite common. They found, however, that "life review experiences,... More »

Hate it When People Get Your Name Wrong? You Shouldn't

Scientists say almost everyone does it, even with dogs

(Newser) - Almost everyone has done it one time or another: mix up the names of family members or friends. And so a cognitive scientist whose mother would often call her by her siblings' and even the family dog's name set out to learn why. Reporting in the journal Memory &... More »

App to Improve Attention May Help People With Depression

Novel approach targets related issues instead of the symptoms of depression

(Newser) - Video games have become so pervasive that clinicians have moved from simply studying how they affect our bodies and brains to designing them with specific outcomes in mind. Such is the case with an app called Project: Evo, an app-based game that was designed ostensibly to improve attention. Science Daily... More »

Military May Boost Soldier Performance With Brain Stimulation

Seen as safer alternative to prescription drugs

(Newser) - Air crew, drone operators, and other personnel serving in the military's most demanding roles may soon get a non-pharmacological boost: brain stimulation. Devices that use five electrodes to shoot weak currents into very specific targets in the cortex have performed very well in studies investigating performance under pressure, boosting... More »

Smoke Pot When You're Young and Your IQ May Suffer

'It makes them feel better momentarily,' but issues like depression don't improve

(Newser) - Over the years, Dr. Elizabeth Osuch, a researcher in Canada studying mood and anxiety disorders and the impact of marijuana, has seen "many youth" smoke pot "heavily." And despite previous research suggesting those who start at a young age are at a higher risk of psychiatric issues... More »

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect When It Comes to Chess

Study suggests that you need to be naturally smart, too

(Newser) - If you were hoping to become a chess master by practicing 10,000 hours, think again. Contrary to the theory that expertise at chess is based on intensive training, researchers at the University of Michigan have concluded based on a meta-analysis of 19 studies that hard work is important but... More »

Scientists Create Stoner Rats

THC reduces their 'willingness to exert cognitive effort,' even for a larger reward

(Newser) - Scientists, apparently bored with pert, productive rats, added a little marijuana to the equation and found that, as many a teenager can tell you, laziness ensued. So report researchers at the University of British Columbia in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience after concluding that male lab rats given TCH... More »

Scientists: We May Be Able to Alter Human Intelligence

There are 2 gene networks perhaps controlled by master 'switches': researchers

(Newser) - Researchers from London's Imperial College think they've found two networks of genes, possibly controlled by a master system, that control cognitive functions—a find that may allow them to modify human intelligence down the line, the Guardian reports. In a study published in Nature Neuroscience , scientists say these... More »

Some People Are Born Without a 'Mind's Eye'

Aphantasia impairs one's ability to visualize

(Newser) - When science journalist Carl Zimmer wrote a 2010 article in Discover magazine about English neurologist Adam Zeman's case study of a man who couldn't visualize people or things, the professor was approached by 21 people who saw themselves in the article and wanted to learn more. Now Zeman... More »

Why Parents Should Put a Toy Chicken on Their Heads

Kids can learn the difference between joking and pretending by 16 months

(Newser) - Parents who joke and pretend with their toddlers are doing more than just play, they're teaching them important life skills, researchers from the University of Sheffield report in a new study in Cognitive Science . In fact kids as young as 16 months use cues from their parents to pick... More »

How Scientists Know What Music You Like

Cognitive style is a major predictor of musical taste

(Newser) - Are you an empathizer, preferring to focus on the emotions of those around you, or a systemizer, interested in the patterns and rules of the world? How you answer that question predicts what style of music you like, report University of Cambridge psychologists in the journal PLoS ONE . In fact,... More »

Toddlers' Sense of Justice Surprises Researchers

They're more interested in making things right than punishing wrongdoers

(Newser) - Preschool justice may be more developed than previously thought. So finds new research published in the journal Current Biology , where 3- and 5-year-olds observed two of four different scenes involving puppets, toys, and cookies. It turns out that not only did the kids sort out pretty quickly whether the "... More »

Older Adults Think Better in the Morning

People 60 to 82 did best on cognitive tasks before 10:30am

(Newser) - Older adults who want to take a crack at the Sunday Times crossword or try a Food Network recipe may want to do it first thing in the morning. A small study by Canadian researchers and published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that adults between the ages of... More »

Why Overheard Calls Are So Annoying

Our brains hate hearing 'halfalogues'

(Newser) - Does hearing people blab away on their cell phones make you want to scream? You're not alone—and now scientists know why. Hearing someone talk on his phone is, in fact, more annoying than overhearing a conversation, according to new study published in Psychological Science . Turns out our brains can't... More »

Older Women's Memory Better Than Men's

50-year old women trump men at verbal recall, research shows

(Newser) - A middle-aged woman may have a better memory than a middle-aged man, a new study suggests. UK researchers asked men and women aged 50 to remember 10 words and to recall them two minutes and five minutes later. Women scored 5% higher than men, on average, in the first test... More »

Real 'Thinking Cap' May Not Be So Far Off

Magnetic pulse boosts learning, study shows; headgear next?

(Newser) - A magnetic pulse directed at a certain area of the brain may enhance learning and memory, the Telegraph reports. Canadian researchers subjected volunteers to a test that required they track a dot moving on a computer screen with a joystick, and volunteers who received stimulation fared much better. More »

Poor Kids' Stress Harms the Brain, Chance of Success

Elevated stress hormones early can lead to lack of working memory later

(Newser) - Chronic stress caused by growing up poor appears to impair a developing child’s working memory, the Washington Post reports, pointing to another link between childhood poverty and lessened long-term success. While environmental and experiential factors—such as having fewer toys and more exposure to lead—likely affect the achievement... More »

Study Links Video Games to Improved Vision

Action games improve optics and brain's response

(Newser) - Adults can apparently improve their eyesight by playing action video games, a treatment less painful—for some, at least—than corrective lenses or eye surgery, according to researchers. Scientists compared study subjects who played the action games Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament 2004 to a group who played the... More »

Long Work Hours Weaken Mental Skills

Putting in 55 or more hours per week hurts memory, reasoning

(Newser) - Working long hours may weaken mental skills, the BBC reports. Researchers administered a series of reasoning and memory tests to 2,214 British civil servants and found that those working more than 55 hours a week did significantly worse than those who worked around 40. The effect was cumulative, meaning... More »

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