Category Archive: Reber’s Randomness

Not so much news as random connections from things in the real world to the kinds of things we actively study in the lab.

Jan 05

Models

I ran across this link to Paul Krugman being insightful and thoughtful about the general question of ‘What is a Model” and “What do we use them for in Science?” It’s about economics and specifically models of development economics, but the general questions of methodology apply to social sciences more broadly. It is in a …

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Oct 12

Does technology make you smarter or dumber?

I got another request to comment on yet another media claim that technology is bad for our brains.  It’s actually also a good example of really poor science reporting in the media, so I won’t link it, but the topic seems generally of interest and it appears to be based on a curious underlying (folk) …

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Jan 29

Questions from a middle schooler about videogames

I was asked to answer some questions from a middle school student doing a research project on video games.  Since I am interested in the topic generally, I should probably figure out how to answer these kinds of questions at an age-appropriate level.  My attempt: Jose asks: 1. Do video games affect the human brain? …

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Aug 14

Forgetting names

For some reason, I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately to explain why we are bad at remembering people’s names lately.  An email exchange on this with an Atlantic reporter got summarized online here: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/08/why-do-we-forget-names-as-soon-as-we-meet-people/375815/ Curiously, it then also got picked up on another site, Lifehacker: http://lifehacker.com/why-its-so-hard-to-remember-peoples-names-1620881563 And then I was contacted earlier this …

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Jul 29

Cognition at high speed

I’m a big fan of Jerry, who posts to YouTube as ChessNetwork his videos of playing chess online.  One of the things he does regularly is playing online speed chess — ultra-rapid, “bullet” chess where each player has ~1m for the whole game. Chess is a different game when you have 60 seconds to make …

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Nov 26

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

Good article on Cognitive Science versus Artificial Intelligence in the Atlantic from a few weeks ago. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/the-man-who-would-teach-machines-to-think/309529/ Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, thinks we’ve lost sight of what artificial intelligence really means. His stubborn quest to replicate the human mind. This is the key point, in my opinion: “I don’t …

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Sep 16

Neuroscience and video game skill learning

I wrote a short piece for a gaming-oriented online magazine, GLHF (Good Luck, Have Fun!) talking about the neuroscience of skill learning and how it applies to getting better at even things like video games.  The magazine is generally focused on Starcraft2 and the professional e-sports scene around Starcraft (although I think they want to …

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Sep 16

Brain training by Starcraft

Can’t believe I didn’t Randomness this one already… Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait Brian D. Glass, W. Todd Maddox, & Bradley C. Love http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0070350 The main finding: increased cognitive flexibility after 40 hours of playing Starcraft.  Of note, the assessment of cognitive flexibility was done by meta-analytic Bayes factor across …

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Jul 15

Brain Training by BrainAge

Brain Training in PLoS One: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055518 Brain Training Game Boosts Executive Functions, Working Memory and Processing Speed in the Young Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial Rui Nouchi, Yasuyuki Taki, Hikaru Takeuchi, Hiroshi Hashizume,Takayuki Nozawa, Toshimune Kambara, Atsushi Sekiguchi, Carlos Makoto Miyauchi, Yuka Kotozaki, Haruka Nouchi, Ryuta Kawashima The title seems to accurately tell the results …

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Apr 03

Learning a short, timed, motor sequence

I stumbled across the “cup song” by Anna Kendrick (from the movie Pitch Perfect, also performed by her on Letterman and originally learned from a “viral video” which sources to a homemade youtube video by Lulu and the Lampshades).  The trick is singing a short song while tapping out a short percussion sequence using a …

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