February 3, 2012 by Cara Flanagan.
According to palaeontologists (scientists who study fossils), over the last 20,000 years the average volume has been decreasing – possibly losing as much as 150cc (a chunk the size of a tennis ball). One possible explanation is related to the fact that brain size is correlated with body size. Humans have become smaller over the millennia. Early humans were much brawnier for hunting and also for dealing with cold climates, but now we are smaller and therefore our brains have become correspondingly smaller.
Another possibility is that brain structure has become more efficient so that fewer cells and connections are needed. There is certainly evidence that brain size does not equate to intelligence and that what may be more significant is the organisation of the brain (see A2 Complete Companion page 131). This is the suggestion made by John Hawks, who argues that the brain consumes a lot of energy therefore individuals with intelligence and a smaller brain would be selected for.
On the other hand, cognitive psychologist David Geary proposes that our brains are getting smaller because we are becoming more stupid. The argument goes that brain size is related to social complexity but in a surprising way. Read the rest of this entry »
August 21, 2010 by Cara Flanagan.
Humans have exceptionally large brains; taking body size into account the human brain is seven times larger than those of other mammals. It has long been assumed that the benefit of this large brain is high intelligence A Brazilian, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, has recently challenged this. There are a number of small brained animals who are very intelligent, such as the capuchin monkey, and also large brained animals who are low on smarts. Herculano-Houzel wondered if it was a mistake to compare brains in terms of size (allowing for brain:body weight ratio). She thought brains from different groups of animals might be organised differently and this might matter more. To investigate this she calculated the number of neurons in each species’ brains – no one had done this before. Up to this point they had just estimated the number of neurons in a brain. She devised a fractionator method to do this and found human brains contain 86 billion neurons.
Comparing the neuron counts of different animals what she found was that human brains had more neurons per brain volume than say rodents – but not more than other primates. Herculano-Houzel says people have been overemphasising the importance of body weight in Read the rest of this entry »
May 19, 2010 by Adrian Frost.
Dreams, drugs, intelligence, memory, infant brains, psychoanalysis, human evolution and many more – Loads of online broadcasts from Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ Radio 4 series to be found here – all free – it makes one proud to be a licence payer….
July 15, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
The ideal kitchen accessory for all culinary psychologists….
July 8, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
Very nice little interactive diagram to be found here. You click on an activity such as ‘speech’ or ‘memory’ and the diagram indicates which part of the brain governs such activity.
May 15, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
A slice of human cerebrum freezes in dry ice, embedded in a stabilizing coat of blue carboxymethylcellulose.
(Creating An Atlas Of The Human Mind)
April 20, 2009 by Cara Flanagan.
Natalie Portman is best known for her acting, in films such as Star Wars and Cold Mountain. However, she isn’t just a pretty face and talented actress but also a keen student of Psychology, having studied for a degree in the subject at the prestigious Harvard University. While there she was the co-author of a journal article (using her real name of Natalie Hershlag). The research study concerned object permanence in young infants, a concept introduced by Jean Piaget to explain the ability to understand that objects continue to exist even when they are out of sight, such as a toy being hidden behind a pillow. Piaget regarded object permanence as one of the early milestones in developed, achieved around the age of 8 months. (Though, other researchers, such as Renée Baillargeon, have devised numerous ingenious experiments to demonstrate that infants may have this ability at a much younger age). The research by Natalie and her co-workers looked at the role of brain maturation in object permanence. Specifically they studied frontal lobe activity in infants using a new technique – near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Other brain scanning techniques don’t work with infants because they wriggle about too much, whereas NIRS involves wearing a kind of high-tech hat. In NIRS an infrared light to detect how much oxygenated blood is in target regions of the brain, which indicates what regions are most active. Using this technique the study showed that children who had not developed object permanence showed no activity in the frontal lobes, whereas in children who did look for a hidden object (i.e. had object permanence) the frontal lobes were active. This supports the view that frontal lobe activity underlies object permanence. The study was also important in developing a technique that could be used in studying the brain development of infants.
March 16, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
Brain decline begins at 27……
Professor Timothy Salthouse of Virginia University found reasoning, speed of thought and spatial visualisation all decline in our late 20s.
Therapies designed to stall or reverse the ageing process may need to start much earlier, he said
February 28, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
The Right Brain vs Left Brain test … do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?
If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.
Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.
|LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
words and language
present and past
math and science
knows object name
|RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
“big picture” oriented
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
knows object function
This is doing my head in… I’m genuinely perplexed by this….. it’s something to do with the shadow I think…
Comments here might help.
November 5, 2008 by Evie Bentley.
Several times it has been suggested that playing video/computer games trains the brain to become cognitively more skilled. This doesn’t refer to hand-eye coordination, but to memory, thinking, reasoning, decision-making skills. However this hypothesis has been challenged by researchers at the University of Illinois who had non-gamers as participants. These individuals played one of three video games and after more than 20 (non-consecutive!) hours gaming the participants took some psychological tests. Unfortunately they showed no increase in memory skills or multitasking ability as had previously been predicted, though it is still possible that this type of gaming could improve concentration even if other cognitive skills don’t benefit.
So is this doom and gloom for gamers’ self-worth? Not really, as we all know that one study proves nothing, and a few hours of gaming is unlikely to rewire the brain in any meaningful way. Of course, as the lead researcher Boot says, “Perhaps individuals with superior abilities are more likely to choose video gaming as an activity in the first place.”