Archive for the ‘Blog Post’ Category

Daydreaming not a lost time

May 20th, 2009 No comments

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that activity in numerous brain regions increases when our minds wander. It also finds that brain areas associated with complex problem-solving – previously thought to go dormant when we daydream – are in fact highly active during these episodes.

“Mind wandering is typically associated with negative things like laziness or inattentiveness,” says lead author, Prof. Kalina Christoff, UBC Dept. of Psychology. “But this study shows our brains are very active when we daydream – much more active than when we focus on routine tasks.”

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Five heresies of Freeman Dyson

May 16th, 2009 No comments

Lecture from one of famous mind of our time Freeman Dyson. It is about not what waiting us in the Future but what we can begin looking at today.
Main themes of this lecture is Climat management, rains in Sahara , Home Biotech, Nuclear Weapons.

Best quote about a place of computers in our life.

For better or for worse, in sickness or in health, till death do us part, humans and computers are now joined together more durably than husbands and wives.

Также доступна версия лекции на русском.

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Positive stereotype win the battle

May 5th, 2009 No comments

In a new study led by Robert J. Rydell, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, focused on women and math ability.

Was shown that when aware of both a negative and positive stereotype related to performance, women will identify more closely with the positive stereotype, avoiding the harmful impact the negative stereotype unwittingly can have on their performance. Stereotype threat — where just the awareness of a stereotype can influence performance regardless of actual ability — has been demonstrated in many domains, from driving cars to cooking. In academics, high-stakes tests, such as college entrance exams, often ask test-takers to select demographic information, such as gender and level of education, before beginning the test.

Also interesting moment what words not the only way for people to become aware of stereotype situation.

Rydell said people become aware of stereotypes in different ways. For women, simply sitting between two men while taking a math test can activate the negative gender stereotype.

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Potential fifth force of nature, outcome of LHC

May 1st, 2009 No comments

The Large Hadron Collider is an huge particle accelerator whose 27 kilometres tunnel beneath the Franco-Swiss border. A group of physicists at the University of Nevada, Reno has analyzed data from the accelerator that could ultimately prove or disprove the possibility of a fifth force of nature. Their refined analysis sets new limits on a hypothesized particle, the extra Z-boson, carving out the lower-energy part of the discovery reach of the LHC.

Andrei Derevianko, from the College of Science’s Department of Physics, who has conducted groundbreaking research to improve the time-telling capabilities of the world’s most accurate atomic clocks, is one of the principals behind what is believed to be the most accurate to-date low-energy determination of the strength of the electroweak coupling between atomic electrons and quarks of the nucleus.

We carry out high-precision calculation of parity violation in cesium atom, reducing theoretical uncertainty by a factor of two compared to previous evaluations. We combine previous measurements with our calculations and extract the weak charge of the 133Cs nucleus, Q_W = -73.16(29)_exp(20)_th. The result is in agreement with the Standard Model (SM) of elementary particles. This is the most accurate to-date test of the low-energy electroweak sector of the SM. In combination with the results of high-energy collider experiments, we confirm the energy-dependence (or “running”) of the electroweak force over an energy range spanning four orders of magnitude (from ~10 MeV to ~100 GeV). Additionally, our result places constraints on a variety of new physics scenarios beyond the SM. In particular, we increase the lower limit on the masses of extra $Z$-bosons predicted by models of grand unification and string theories.

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To use a statistics you need to be reminded of it

April 27th, 2009 No comments

Overall, the researchers found that a predisposition to look at data statistically (either because of hint given by the experimenters, the nature of the data, or the nature of the individual’s experience) led to more statistical reasoning. In addition, people who had been trained in statistics — both formally and informally in very brief training sessions — were more likely to use statistical reasoning to solve problems.

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If Atheists Ruled the World

April 24th, 2009 No comments

Parody interview on Christians view about atheists. All text taken directly from online Christian fundamentalist forums.

Версия озвученная на русском.

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New study on stereotype about hormones and behavior

April 20th, 2009 No comments

Stereotype about effect of sex hormones estrogen and testosterone on a risk taken behavior was backed up by studies. But in most cases it was correlation studies. To check this hypothesis a new study has been done by Niklas Zethraeus “A randomized trial of the effect of estrogen and testosterone on economic behavior“. This study shows what it was correlation, not a causation in later studies. This was a double-blind randomized study with two-hundred participants what is large enough to take significant statistic results.

Participants were randomly allocated to 4 weeks of treatment with estrogen, testosterone, or placebo. At the end of the treatment period, the subjects participated in a series of economic experiments that measure altruism, reciprocal fairness, trust, trustworthiness, and risk attitudes. There was no significant effect of estrogen or testosterone on any of the studied behaviors.
Contrary to our hypotheses, there were no significant differences between the 3 treatment groups for any of the studied economic behaviors (Mann–Whitney U test, P > 0.05 for all pairwise comparisons, 2-sided).

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To control your self control

April 1st, 2009 No comments

Firstly, your self control be affected if you see or just imagining how other people are doing some exhausting.  In work done by Ackerman et al. It is known that imagining or actively perceiving other people’s actions can elicit many of the same neural and embodied responses that would occur if we performed those actions ourselves. In this work was shown that observing someone exerting self control sufficiently engages our empathetic mirroring of that process that it fatigues our own self control!

In a first study, participants who simulated the perspective of a person exercising self-control exhibited less restraint over spending on consumer products than did other participants.

In a second study, participants who took the perspective of a person using self-control exerted less willpower on an unrelated lexical generation task than did participants who took the perspective of a person who did not use self-control.

Conversely, participants who merely read about another person’s self-control exerted more willpower than did those who read about actions not requiring self-control. These findings suggest that the actions of other people may either deplete or boost one’s own self-control, depending on whether one mentally simulates those actions or merely perceives them.

But not all that bad. Second study done by Nidhi Agrawal (Northwestern University) and Echo Wen Wan (University of Hong Kong). It shows effect of focusing on long term goals gives you additional willpower to make right decision then you are tired. Read more…

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Do not think about your death

March 31st, 2009 No comments

What we think about our death and implications of that on our decision by Sheldon Solomon in The anatomy of human destructiveness.

He is known for something called Terror Management Theory which can be described as:

It looks at what researchers claim to be the implicit emotional reactions of people when confronted with the psychological terror of knowing we will eventually die (it is widely believed that our awareness of mortality is a trait that is unique to humans).

This wiki page is defenatly worth a reading.

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Why brain can switch off judgment

March 28th, 2009 No comments

“Most average people have this tendency to turn off their own capacity for making judgments when an expert comes into the picture,” says Gregory Berns, a neuroeconomist at Emory University in Atlanta.

His team ask 24 young volunteers to make a simple choice:  accept a sure payment or bet on a riskier, yet higher-paying lottery. While brain of volunteers was calculating a decision,  circuits known to calculate risk and reward was active.

“When advice is not there, when people are making these judgments on their own, you can make clear correlations with expected value in the lottery and areas associated with the dopamine system,” he says.

To see what changes if expert give advice on what to choice. Volunteers was told that Charles Noussair, an economics professor at Emory who advises the US Federal Reserve, would offer his opinion on whether they should accept the easy money or take a chance. After this new information volunteers usually took the expert’s advice blindly. Brain scans shows what the correlation between increased potential reward and brain activity disappeared.

Does this professor’s study fool you? Read full article at PLoS 1.

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