15 Styles of Distorted Thinking (Cognitive Distortions)
Based on a post by Neurolove - - Ashleigh's going through the 15 common styles of distorted thinking, also known as cog...

Based on a post by Neurolove - - Ashleigh’s going through the 15 common styles of distorted thinking, also known as cognitive distortions!

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Thanks for watching! :D 

P.S.: I wanted to use that whiteboard in the beginning of the video to number each point but the glare reflecting onto my whiteboard due to my laptop’s brightness level was insane. D:

Memory and Perception

Why we see what we want to see?

The best interpretation of what surrounds us, lies in the context of our perception. We understand concepts, meanings, and events based on our comprehension for such subjects. Our perception is very often, deluded and distorted by our surroundings, and most of all our Self. The self is one of the most influential factors in the forming of perception. The Self is (As freud would state it) everything that forms our inner persona. It is an accumulation of experiences, memories, environmental factors, thoughts/beliefs, events and behavioural traits. It is shapes who we are today. The self is very strict and not easily changed, your perception is submissive to it’s will. This means that your own perception can not accept something that contradicts, it’s own identity (generating the famous cognitive error, the Confirmation bias). To elaborate matters further, every subjective/objective information surrounding us is ‘mold’ in the eyes of our Self. This means that the Self will shape this information, in order to make it compatible to itself. Thus making the surrounding information selectively perceptional and not objectively perceptional. We do not perceive or comprehend things as they are, rather how the self perceives them to be. One other factor that  contributes in the process of comprehension is your psychological state or ‘mood’. Your judgement is gravely impacted by how you are feeling at the moment. An angry individual is more likely to take a decision fueled by adrenalin rather than structurally reasoned. It is utterly important to be aware of such delicate matter, as it aids in viewing matters in the most objective way possible. Then again, one can not say that they can perceive a matter entirely objectively, but never can a man hold his own Self from coloring the world around him to adapt to his ideologies. 


Memories are the stock, they were once perceived in the sense of the present moment. But once they have the information has been comprehended or perceived it turns into a memory. That is our memory tend to lack accuracy, no matter how strongly you recall something. It will still be subject to error. That is simply because your Self back then, is not the same Self you hold today. Every moment, we are prone to alter our thoughts and ideas as we go through experiences (Unless they are core beliefs, they are unlikely to change so easily). The Self is very dynamic in that sense, it accepts what is compatible with it and refuses any outer information that contradicts it. Perhaps if reasoned correctly, the Self may be persuaded by an upgrade to it’s traits. However, the Self makes sure that it stores any information that serves the survival mechanism (Such as food sources, beneficial/favourable behaviour or danger) whilst dismissing the irrelevant ones.

The Brain Attic

In this light, this is why I have adopted this theory to rearrange my memories, while selectively docking my perceptions. If you are familiar with the Sherlockian concept, you would know that Sherlock is the one who invented the method. As Sherock states:

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”

The concept revolves around the notion of selectivity, Holmes views the attic (Meaning the brain or mind) as a an empty Attic. This is attic as he states, should be stocked in a smart manner. One should only objectively perceive and memorise only what serves his profession. In this way, a man would be able to easily find any relevant data when he really needs it. Unlike the average man’s attic, would be full of all sorts of information both relevant and irrelevant. Which makes it harder to fine as  time goes on.


Don't Believe In Evolution? Try Thinking Harder

The theory of evolution by natural selection is among the best established in science, yet also among the most controversial for subsets of the American public.

For decades we’ve known that beliefs about evolution are well-predicted by demographic factors, such as religious upbringing and political affiliation. There’s also enormous variation in the acceptance of evolution across different countries, all of which suggests an important role for cultural input in driving beliefs about evolution. A child raised by Buddhists in California is much more likely to accept evolution than one raised by evangelical Protestants in Kansas.

But in the last 20 years or so, research in psychology and the cognitive science of religion has increasingly focused on another factor that contributes to evolutionary disbelief: the very cognitive mechanisms underlying human cognition.

Continue reading

Timid rats use the buddy system  by Nicholas Weiler 

Rats usually fear strange open spaces, but having a companion by their side makes the rodents more intrepid, scientists report in the current issue of Animal Cognition. Researchers tracked rats’ exploration of a large, unfamiliar room, first alone, then again 2 days later either alone or paired with a familiar cagemate. On their own, rats made short, hesitant forays into the open space before darting back to huddle by the door. Solitary rats’ anxiety in the room didn’t improve on their second visit. But adding a friend, even one who’d never seen the room before, gave the pair the confidence to actively explore, covering 50% more ground and running significantly faster than the control rats. And exploring with company seemed to boost the rats’ sense of security permanently. Placed in the room a third time, once more alone, the socialized rats boldly explored more new places than ever, while solo rats continued to cower. This illustrates that for communal animals like rats—and perhaps humans—friendship can be the best antidote to fear.

Awake within a dream: lucid dreamers show greater insight in waking life

People who are aware they are asleep when they are dreaming have better than average problem-solving abilities, new research has discovered.

Experts from the University of Lincoln, UK, say that those who experience ‘lucid dreaming’ – a phenomena where someone who is asleep can recognise that they are dreaming – can solve problems in the waking world better than those who remain unaware of the dream until they wake up.

The concept of lucid dreaming was explored in the 2010 film Inception, where the dreamers were able to spot incongruities within their dream. It is thought some people are able to do this because of a higher level of insight, meaning their brains detect they are in a dream because events would not make sense otherwise. This cognitive ability translates to the waking world when it comes to finding the solution to a problem by spotting hidden connections or inconsistencies, researchers say.

The research was carried out by Dr Patrick Bourke, Senior Lecturer at the Lincoln School of Psychology and his student Hannah Shaw. It is the first empirical study demonstrating the relationship between lucid dreaming and insight.

He said: “It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognise that they are dreaming.

“The same cognitive ability was found to be demonstrated while awake by a person’s ability to think in a different way when it comes to solving problems.”

The study examined 68 participants aged between 18 and 25 who had experienced different levels of lucid dreaming, from never to several times a month. They were asked to solve 30 problems designed to test insight. Each problem consisted of three words and a solution word.

Each of the three words could be combined with the solution word to create a new compound word.

For example with the words ‘sand’, ‘mile’ and ‘age’, the linking word would be ‘stone’.

Results showed that frequent lucid dreamers solved 25 per cent more of the insight problems than the non-lucid dreamers.

Miss Shaw, who conducted the research as part of her undergraduate dissertation, said the ability to experience lucid dreams is something that can be learned. “We aren’t entirely sure why some people are naturally better at lucid dreaming than others, although it is a skill which can be taught,” said Hannah.

“For example you can get into the habit of asking yourself “is this a dream?”. If you do this during the day when you are awake and make it a habit then it can transfer to when you are in a dream.”

Wherein Rick Berry discusses neurophysiological underpinnings of perception and cognition at MIT

or..What causes one image to grip the imagination as opposed to those that don’t?  This is a pragmatic talk by Rick on how to foment creative production for any enterprise requiring original vision. All are welcome. MIT Johnson Athletic Center / THIS SATURDAY, Sept 13  3:45pm  RM 2 Register @

LET ART THINK  Talk by Rick Berry at Boston Festival of Indie Games


How do birds build their nests?

Scientists have discovered that a bird’s choice of nest material is much more complex than first thought. 

There is a massive diversity of nests in the natural world. Some birds stitch leaves together, others create structural masterpieces. 

It  was originally believed that a bird’s choice of nest material was built into their genes. However scientists have discovered that birds learn to choose nest materials based on their physical properties, requiring a higher level of cognition.

By giving zebra finches stiff or floppy string, Dr Ida Bailey and team found that birds chose the best building material - stiff string allowing them to build strong nests in less time. 

This research funded by BBSRC helps to provide insight into how complex cognition evolved in animals.

Image credit: Dr Ida Bailey, University of St Andrews 

What Do Animals Think They See When They Look in the Mirror?

The six horses in a 2002 study were “known weavers.” When stabled alone, they swayed their heads, necks, forequarters, and sometimes their whole bodies from side to side. The behavior is thought to stem from the social frustration brought on by isolation. It can be seen in a small percentage of all stabled horses, and owners hate it—they think it causes fatigue, weight loss, and uneven muscle development, and it looks disturbing.

People had tried stopping the weaving by installing metal bars that limit a horse’s movement, but the study found that a different modification to the stable worked surprisingly well: a mirror. “Those horses with the mirror were rarely [observed] weaving,” the researchers reported. A later study even found that the mirror worked just as well as the presence of another horse.

Studies have shown that mirrors can improve the lives of a variety of laboratory, zoo, farm, and companion animals. Isolated cows and sheep have lower stress reactions when mirrors are around. With mirrors, monkeys alone or in groups show a healthy increase in social behaviors such as threats, grimaces, lip-smacking, and teeth chattering, and laboratory rabbits housed alone are also more active. Mirrors in birdcages reduce some birds’ fear.

[read more on Slate]

Cultural differences in cognitive perception.

Lisa Wade, PhD

It seems obvious that basic cognitive perceptions shouldn’t vary by society.  That is, that our eyes should see, and our brains should process, essentially the same no matter what we call ourselves, what language we speak, or what holidays we observe.  It turns out, however, that even basic cognitions vary across the world.

Most Americans, for example, perceive the two lines in the optical illusion above to be of different lengths, with line a shorter than line b.  In fact, they are the same length.

But, as argued by Joseph Henrich and colleagues in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, our susceptibility to this illusion varies by culture.  On average, line a needs to be another fifth longer than line b before the average American undergraduate evaluates the lines to be equal in length.  Most other societies that have been tested on this illusion, however, require substantially less manipulation.  The figure below compares how individuals in different societies perform on this test.  The measures are tricky, and you can read more about them here; what you need to know for now is that the societies on the right are more susceptible to the illusion and the societies on the left less.

Observing that individuals in more developed societies (e.g., Evanston, Illinois) tend to be more vulnerable to the illusion — indeed, that in some societies, such as the San foragers of the Kalahari, it doesn’t qualify as an illusion at all — Henrich and his co-authors argue that exposure to “modern environments” may be the culprit:

…visual exposure during ontogeny to factors such as the “carpentered corners” of modern environments may favor certain optical calibrations and visual habits that create and perpetuate this illusion.  That is, the visual system ontogenetically adapts to the presence of recurrent features in the local visual environment.

Even basic cognition, that is, varies across cultures.

As Henrich et al. argue, this calls into question all of the truisms of psychology based, primarily, on experimental research with Western subjects.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


The part of the brain that keeps you from walking in circles

Have you ever walked in circles trying to find where you parked your car?

Well, your ability to locate your car in a parking lot may heavily be dependent on the retrosplenial cortex (RSC), the part of the brain region found to be important in helping us navigate and map our position in space.

Spatial navigation, learning, and memory is encoded in several brain regions, but the RSC is the area where this information comes together and is organized. Douglas Nitz, associate professor of cognitive science at UC San Diego, explains that it is, “a kind of ‘conjunction junction,’ putting together all the necessary information for successful navigation.”

Damage to that area can impair ones ability to navigate within familiar environment and location. It produce problems with episodic memory and create “directional amnesia,” a situation where a person “knows where things are in the world, but won’t be able to place the route that they need to get between them,” said graduate student Andrew Alexander.

Read more about the significance of the finding

Crows are smarter than you think

Crows have long been heralded for their high intelligence—they can remember faces, use tools, and communicate in sophisticated ways.

But a newly published study finds crows also have the brain power to solve higher-order, relational-matching tasks, and they can do so spontaneously. That means crows join humans, apes, and monkeys in exhibiting advanced relational thinking, according to the research.

“What the crows have done is a phenomenal feat,” says Ed Wasserman, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa and corresponding author of the study. “That’s the marvel of the results. It’s been done before with apes and monkeys, but now we’re dealing with a bird; but not just any bird, a bird with a brain as special to birds as the brain of an apes is special to mammals.“

“Crows Spontaneously Exhibit Analogical Reasoning,” which was published Dec. 18 in Current Biology, was written by Wasserman and Anna Smirnova, Zoya Zorina and Tanya Obozova, researchers with the Department of Biology at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia, where the study was conducted.

Wasserman says the Russian researchers have studied bird species for decades and that a main theme of their work is cognition. He credits his counterparts with a thoughtful and well-planned study.

“This was a very artful experiment,” Wasserman says. “I was just bowled over by how innovative it was.”

The study involved two hooded crows that were at least 2 years old. First, the birds were trained and tested to identify items by color, shape, and number of single samples.

Here is how it worked: the birds were placed into a wire mesh cage into which a plastic tray containing three small cups was occasionally inserted. The sample cup in the middle was covered with a small card on which was pictured a color, shape or number of items. The other two cups were also covered with cards—one that matched the sample and one that did not. During this initial training period, the cup with the matching card contained two mealworms; the crows were rewarded with these food items when they chose the matching card, but they received no food when they chose the other card.

Once the crows have been trained on identity matching-to-sample, the researchers moved to the second phase of the experiment. This time, the birds were assessed with relational matching pairs of items. These relational matching trials were arranged in such a way that neither test pairs precisely matched the sample pair, thereby eliminating control by physical identity. For example, the crows might have to choose two same-sized circles rather than two different-sized circles when the sample card displayed two same-sized squares.

What surprised the researchers was not only that the crows could correctly perform the relational matches, but that they did so spontaneously—without explicit training.

“That is the crux of the discovery,” Wasserman says. “Honestly, if it was only by brute force that the crows showed this learning, then it would have been an impressive result. But this feat was spontaneous.”

Still the researchers acknowledge that the crows’ relational matching behavior did not come without some background knowledge.

“Indeed, we believe that their earlier IMTS (identity matching-to-sample) training is likely to have enabled them to grasp a broadly applicable concept of sameness that could apply to novel two-item samples and test stimuli involving only relational sameness,” the researchers wrote. “Just how that remarkable transfer is accomplished represents an intriguing matter for future study.”

Anthony Wright, neurobiology and anatomy professor at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School, says the discovery ranks on par with demonstrations of tool use by some birds, including crows.

“Analogical reasoning, matching relations to relations, has been considered to be among the more so-called ‘higher order’ abstract reasoning processes,” he says. “For decades such reasoning has been thought to be limited to humans and some great apes. The apparent spontaneity of this finding makes it all the more remarkable.”

Joel Fagot, director of research at the University of Aix-Marseille in France, agrees the results shatter the notion that “sophisticated forms of cognition can only be found in our ‘smart’ human species. Accumulated evidence suggests that animals can do more than expected.”

Wasserman concedes there will be skeptics and hopes the experiment will be repeated with more crows as well as other species. He suspects researchers will have more such surprises in store for science.

“We have always sold animals short,” he says. “That human arrogance still permeates contemporary cognitive science.”
You Don't Know What You're Saying - Scientific American

Our awareness of our own speech often comes after the words have left our mouth, not before.


If you think you know what you just said, think again. People can be tricked into believing they have just said something they did not, researchers report this week.The dominant model of how speech works is that it is planned in advance — speakers begin with a conscious idea of exactly what they are going to say. But some researchers think that speech is not entirely planned, and that people know what they are saying in part through hearing themselves speak. So cognitive scientist Andreas Lind and his colleagues at Lund University in Sweden wanted to see what would happen if someone said one word, but heard themselves saying another. “If we use auditory feedback to compare what we say with a well-specified intention, then any mismatch should be quickly detected,” he says. “But if the feedback is instead a powerful factor in a dynamic, interpretative process, then the manipulation could go undetected.” In Lind’s experiment, participants took a Stroop test — in which a person is shown, for example, the word ‘red’ printed in blue and is asked to name the colour of the type (in this case, blue). During the test, participants heard their responses through headphones. The responses were recorded so that Lind could occasionally play back the wrong word, giving participants auditory feedback of their own voice saying something different from what they had just said. Lind chose the words ‘grey’ and ‘green’ (grå and grön in Swedish) to switch, as they sound similar but have different meanings. After participants heard a manipulated word, a question popped up on the screen asking what they had just said, and they were also quizzed after the test to see whether they had detected the switch. When the voice-activated software got the timing just right — so that the wrong word began within 5–20 milliseconds of the participant starting to speak — the change went undetected more than two-thirds of the time. And in 85% of undetected substitutions, the participant accepted that they had said the wrong word, indicating that speakers listen to their own voices to help specify the meaning of what they are saying. The remaining 15% didn’t notice the manipulations, but also didn’t seem to notice that the word had changed, and Lind says it is unclear why. The results are published this week in Psychological Science.

Why do you believe you are an Individual?

Your brain is comprised of over one hundred billion neurons, and over one hundred trillion synapses.

Every biological system in your body is a conglomerate of several dozen trillion cells.

Each one of those cells contains over one hundred trillion atoms.                            

Where is this individual?

Crows count on ‘number neurons’

An old story says that crows have the ability to count. Three hunters go into a blind situated near a field where watchful crows roam. They wait, but the crows refuse to move into shooting range. One hunter leaves the blind, but the crows won’t appear. The second hunter leaves the blind, but the crows still won’t budge. Only when the third hunter leaves, the crows realize that the coast is clear and resume their normal feeding activity.

Helen Ditz and Professor Andreas Nieder of the University of Tübingen found the neuronal basis of this numerical ability in crows. They trained crows to discriminate groups of dots. During performance, the team recorded the responses of individual neurons in an integrative area of the crow endbrain. This area also receives inputs from the visual system. The neurons ignore the dots’ size, shape and arrangement and only extract their number. Each cell’s response peaks at its respective preferred number.

The study published in PNAS provides valuable insights into the biological roots of counting capabilities. “When a crow looks at three dots, grains or hunters, single neurons recognize the groups’ ‘threeness’ “, says Helen Ditz. “This discovery shows that the ability to deal with abstract numerical concepts can be traced back to individual nerve cells in corvids.” What makes this finding even more interesting is that a long evolutionary history separates us from birds. As a consequence, the brains of crows and humans are designed very differently. “Surprisingly, we find the very same representation for numbers as we have previously discovered in the primate cortex,” Prof. Andreas Nieder says. “It seems as if corvids and primates with independently und distinctively developed endbrains have found the same solution to process numbers.” Even abstract behavior which we think of as sophisticated mental feats ultimately has biological roots.

Elephants recognise human voices

Elephants are able to differentiate between ethnicities and genders, and can tell an adult from a child - all from the sound of a human voice. This is according to a study in which researchers played voice recordings to wild African elephants. The animals showed more fear when they heard the voices of adult Masai men. Livestock-herding Masai people do come into conflict with elephants, and this suggests that animals have adapted to specifically listen for and avoid them. The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Your brain on speed: Walking doesn’t impair thinking and multitasking

When we’re strolling down memory lane, our brains recall just as much information while walking as while standing still—findings that contradict the popular science notion that walking hinders one’s ability to think.

University of Michigan researchers at the School of Kinesiology and the College of Engineering examined how well study participants performed a very complex spatial cognitive task while walking versus standing still.

“We’re saying that at least for this task, which is fairly complicated, walking and thinking does not compromise your thinking ability at all,” said Julia Kline, a U-M doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering and first author on the study, which appears online in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The finding surprised researchers, who expected to see decreased thinking performance with increased walking speed, Kline said. The 2011 best-selling book “Thinking Fast and Slow” suggests that because walking requires mental effort, walking may hinder our ability to think when compared to standing still.

“Past studies that have compared mental performance at a slow walking speed and standing have not found any differences, but our study is the first to show that the walking speed doesn’t matter,” said Daniel Ferris, professor of kinesiology and biomedical engineering and senior author of the paper.

“Given the health benefits of walking, we should not discourage people from walking and thinking when they want.”

Ferris offered one caveat: previous research has shown that walking performance can be impaired in the elderly when they dual-task during gait.

Ferris, Kline and Katherine Poggensee of U-M’s Human Neuromechanics Laboratory measured the ability of young, healthy participants to memorize numbers and their placement on a grid, and then enter those numbers correctly with a keypad while walking different speeds and standing still.

“Think of filling numbers one through nine on a tic-tac-toe grid and then remembering where they all are,” Ferris said. “At every walking speed and standing still, participants entered about half the numbers correctly.”

While speed didn’t change task performance, people took wider steps when performing the task than when they were only walking, which may be to compensate and stay balanced while concentrating, Kline said.

All participants showed increased activity in areas of the brain associated with spatial relationships and short-term memory during the cognitive task. In keeping with the U-M findings, a recent Stanford study suggested that walking fueled creativity.

In addition to good news for treadmill-desk users or people who like to think on the move, the study provides a useful scientific tool by demonstrating that it’s possible to collect accurate EEG data on moving subjects, Kline said.

This is important to researchers who study the brain and are concerned about getting accurate results when the subjects aren’t perfectly still. U-M researchers achieved their EEG results by applying different signal-processing techniques to eliminate the movement “noise” from the EEG signal.