The two aspects of empathy, cognitive and affective, as described succinctly and clearly by neuroscientist Simon Baron Cohen. Ever wondered how chronically abusive people seem to have X-ray vision knowing just what cruel thing to say to hurt most? It's because they have greater cognitive empathy and less - or very little - affective empathy. Psychologist, Daniel Goleman adds another aspect of empathy into the picture, compassionate empathy.
Why Smart People Are Stupid (The New Yorker.) A new study suggests that the smarter people are, the more susceptible they are to cognitive bias.
"Here’s a paper we’re working on, which argues that we should (for some purposes at least), think of markets, hierarchy and democracy in terms of their capacity to solve complex collective problems [and] makes the case that democracy will on average do the job a lot better than the other two ways..." Henry Farrell and Cosma Shalizi on a cognitive approach to democracy (pdf). [via]
Psychologists are now theorizing that humans have a depletable reservoir of self-control, and that this is why poor people remain poor.
Slime Molds Show Surprising Degree of Intelligence - A creature with no brain can learn from and even anticipate events. (via)
Why Minds are Not Like Computers: an in-depth analysis.
levelHead is a spacial memory game by artist Julian Oliver, using a hand-held solid-plastic cube as its only interface. On-screen each face of the cube contains a little room, each of which are logically connected by doors through which you guide your character. Take a look at a demonstration or build your own levelHead setup.
Since 1993, the Institut Jean Nicod has awarded the annual Jean Nicod Prize to a leading philosopher or cognitive scientist for his or her work in the interdisciplinary study of the mind. The recipient is expected to deliver a series of lectures. The lecture series of this past year's winner, philosopher Stephen Stich, is entitled "Moral Theory Meets Cognitive Science: How Cognitive Science Can Transform Traditional Debates", and is now available online in video form. Also available is the lecture series of the previous year's winner, evolutionary anthropologist Michael Tomasello: "Origins of Human Communication". [more inside]
High BMI Now Means Cognitive Difficulties Later? A study published in Neurology attempts to discover if there is a link between cognitive function, cognitive decline and BMI (body mass index) over time. Yes, I am aware that BMI is a flawed metric.
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Test your knowledge of philosophy with the 2006 IAP Philosophy Trivia Quiz! This quiz is extremely hard, so you might want to take a break at the Cognitive Science Cafe [pdf].
Bongard problems are a benchmark of sorts for visual pattern recognition; they're also just fun puzzles, and this guy has got the definitive collection.
Nootropics ("smart" drugs) - all wish to be smarter, correct ? And - while exercise, nutrition, learning, travel, and social interaction (the last 3 via release of neurotrophins) effectively do this, Nootropic drugs have been researched since the 1950's and have been shown to cause at least short term cognitive function enhancement. Piracetam, the first of this drugs, shows promise in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Attention deficit Disorder. Alas, as with poor little Algernon, the effect seems temporary. Nootropics can be a little difficult to acquire in the US. Beer is not a nootropic, but sex on the other hand.....
2003 Reith Lectures. Neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, Director of the Centre for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, talks about a number of fascinating neurological disorders and the insights they provide into mental functioning.
Marijuana's effects on the brain are reversible "It appears that cognitive impairment from marijuana use is temporary and related to the amount of marijuana that has been recently smoked rather than permanent and related to an entire lifetime consumption." Hmm, I suppose it's good to know I can go back to being smart after being stupid for a little while.