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If Inuit have 100 words for snow, linguists must have many for this idea

Linguistic relativity is the idea that the language people use affects or even limits the way that they can think. This idea was developed in the early 20th century, and continues to be a matter of disagreement among linguists and cognitive scientists. The Cambridge and Oxford university presses are even publishing dueling upcoming books on the subject, The Bilingual Mind, which examines linguistic relativity in the context of people who speak more than one language, and The Language Hoax flatly denies that it exists.
posted by grouse on Mar 5, 2014 - 50 comments

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

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.
posted by cthuljew on Oct 27, 2013 - 134 comments

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government. "Why does public conflict over societal risks persist in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence? We conducted an experiment to probe two alternative answers: the “Science Comprehension Thesis” (SCT), which identifies defects in the public’s knowledge and reasoning capacities as the source of such controversies; and the “Identity-protective Cognition Thesis” (ICT) which treats cultural conflict as disabling the faculties that members of the public use to make sense of decision-relevant science. [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Sep 5, 2013 - 20 comments

Brain games are bogus

"Brain training games don't actually make you smarter." Looking at recent meta-analyses and replication attempts of studies showing increased cognitive abilities gained from brain-training games, the New Yorker article comes to the conclusion that the results are suspect and these games haven't been shown to improve cognitive abilities broadly. Currently, brain training is a multi-million-dollar business.
posted by tykky on Apr 9, 2013 - 61 comments

What's gonna happen outside the window next?

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong
posted by cthuljew on Nov 18, 2012 - 55 comments

Don't even Blink...

Your brain on pseudoscience: the rise of popular neurobollocks
posted by Artw on Sep 14, 2012 - 64 comments

Cog Sci video goodness at UQAM

When, where, how and why —since the origin of life on Earth about 4 billion years ago— did organisms' input/output functions become conscious input/output functions?

This week there's a who's who of cognitive science meeting at the The Evolution and Function of Consciousness conference at University de Québec à Montréal (scroll down a bit for the massive speaker list). The conference is in commemoration of the Turing Centenary (previously). And the best-of-the-web thing is: all of the videos (and discussion threads) are or will shortly be available on line! [more inside]
posted by mondo dentro on Jul 3, 2012 - 46 comments

All apes love their apps

Orangutans playing with iPads! It is well-known that our ape cousins are highly intelligent. When they are in captivity, it is critical to give them ways to enrich and entertain themselves. As it turns out, Orangutans love using iPads. [more inside]
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike on Dec 31, 2011 - 22 comments

The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning

Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed to help us win arguments. [more inside]
posted by AceRock on May 5, 2011 - 61 comments

John Haugeland, 1945-2010

American philosopher John Haugeland has died. In dramatic fashion, he suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of a conference dedicated to his work on the occasion of his retirement. He made enormous contributions to the philosophy of mind and introduced many undergraduates to the very idea of artificial intelligence. [more inside]
posted by el_lupino on Jun 23, 2010 - 42 comments

The Neurology of Morality

Researchers at MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences have identified two "morality centers" of the brain. In two separate experiments, they have shown a correlation between a particular part of the brain and the ability to make moral jusgments related to intent to commit a crime. In one experiment, patients with brain damage in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the brain don't consider hypothetical perpetrators to be morally responsible for their actions. In another experiment (noted on NPR today) the researchers showed that they could switch off the moral judgment function by applying a magnetic field to the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ) of the brain. The TPJ has also been implicated in "out of body experiences", both in cases of brain damage and by artificially stimulating the area.
posted by darkstar on Mar 29, 2010 - 32 comments

If keyboard lag is "discontinuity in our selves," what's a JRun error?

There is now empirical evidence for the Extended Mind hypothesis. (See also this related pdf)
posted by anotherpanacea on Mar 13, 2010 - 74 comments

Magic in Mind

How magicians control your mind. "Magic isn't just a bag of tricks - it's a finely-tuned technology for shaping what we see. Now researchers are extracting its lessons (PDF)." [Via BB and MH]
posted by homunculus on Aug 5, 2008 - 34 comments

Wei Wu Wei

Terence Gray was an English born aristocrat of an Irish family. He tried his hand at Egyptology, drama and theater, but gave it up to keep the family vineyards in the Monaco. He owned the winner of the 1957 Ascot Gold cup. He also became a mystic. [more inside]
posted by fcummins on Jul 1, 2008 - 9 comments

MettaFilter

"Attention regulation and monitoring in meditation" (PDF). A recent article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences on the neuroscience of meditation, focusing on how meditation alters and sharpens the brain's attention systems. The research is being done at the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior (previously), who have also recently published research on the "Regulation of the neural circuitry of emotion by compassion meditation" (PDF), which describes how meditation can cultivate compassion by physically affecting brain regions that play a role in empathy. They shared this research with the Dalai Lama at the recent Seeds of Compassion forum.
posted by homunculus on Apr 27, 2008 - 13 comments

Chick Sexing

"Over and over he scoops up a chick with his left hand, expels its droppings with a squeeze of his thumb, opens its vent with his fingers, peers through the magnifying lenses attached to his spectacles and determines its sex." It's a dirty job (YT). Sexing chicks early is important so that the cockerels can be separated and culled^ or fed to be broilers^. The obvious differences take weeks to develop, so when the vent sexing method was developed in Japan in the 1920s, professional chicken sexers became sought after. [more inside]
posted by parudox on Nov 19, 2007 - 37 comments

Nicod Lectures

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]
posted by painquale on Oct 29, 2007 - 2 comments

Jeff Hawkins unleashes his brain: Numenta's new AI platform

Jeff Hawkins, co-founder of Palm and Handspring, has started a new company, called Numenta, to test his controversial theory of intelligence. Whether you find his theory plausible or not, his book, "On Intelligence" is fascinating. Numenta is attempting to build A.I.s using Hawkins' theory as a backbone. They've developed a software engine and a Python-based API, which they've made public (as free downloads), so that hackers can start playing. They've also released manuals, a whitepaper (pdf) and videos [1] [2]. (At about 30:18 into the first video, Hawkins demonstrates, with screenshots, the first app which uses his system.)
posted by grumblebee on Apr 4, 2007 - 22 comments

9:34 AM: Now I am superlatively, actually awake.

Life without memory (multi-part YouTube): the extraordinary case of Clive Wearing.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jan 29, 2007 - 39 comments

Lakoff 1, Pinker 0

George Lakoff responds to Steven Pinker’s review of Whose Freedom?. Highlights include charges of deception and incompetence on both sides.
posted by anotherpanacea on Oct 27, 2006 - 27 comments

2003ReithLectures

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.
posted by srboisvert on May 24, 2003 - 10 comments

The Conceptual Metaphor Home Page at Berkeley offers a fascinating compilation of the metaphors underlying our everyday speech, such as Fear is Cold, Facts Are Points, Money is a Liquid, and Sexuality is an Offensive Weapon.
posted by oissubke on Nov 10, 2002 - 14 comments

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