comparative cognition

i usually dislike those “uwu humans are special, look how weird we’d be to aliens” posts because you know what? buddy idk how to tell you this but if anything were out there that could build a vehicle capable of taking them all the way out here, they’ve probably got plenty of courage and curiosity of their own and i doubt they’d be surprised by a microwave or ice cream

you know what would be kind of interesting? what i’d be curious if, compared to some other sentient thing would turn out to be uniquely human among sentient races?

how damn social we are

now, sure, if you’re an evolutionary psychologist or biologist you might be thinking, hold up yo! there’s overwhelming evidence that our highly social natures drove our evolution. and i’d say, yeah. that’s exactly right. a fascinating combination of competition and cooperation resulting from our social structure led us to becoming as intelligent as we are. and we are, after all, the smartest things on the planet–in light of recent political events, it might seem questionable, but I assure you it’s true.

but my question is: what if that isn’t a pre-req for intelligence? what if there are other paths to sentience? if you think i’m purely speculating, let me tell you something: there are things that live in the depths of the ocean, and they are deadly hunters, largely asocial, and terrifyingly intelligent, yet very alien to us.

yeah, i’m talking about the octopus. octopus are mollusks. they have few hard parts in their bodies (to the point they can squeeze themselves through nearly anything they can fit their beak through), they have, in effect, tiny “brains” that control each tentacle–their arms truly are semi-autonomous in a way that our arms are not, because we do not have such complicated reflexes; our limbs are limited to largely “avoid-pain” while their limbs aid in hunting and feeding. Many species can control the texture and color of their skin and are speculated to use this as a form of communication. they live in the depths of the ocean, in darkness and water. in short, it’s hard to imagine a creature more alien to us.

and yet they are incredibly intelligent. anecdotally, while i work in human cognition, i have colleagues who study animal cognition. one worked in an octopus lab. i was asking about what it was like, and she told me that honestly, it was a huge pain–anyone who has worked in an animal lab knows that this is not unique, but her reasons were. “they could be kind of unnerving,” she told me. “sometimes during feeding it just felt like they were watching me. i mean they were, but it felt very intentional,” and then she laughed. “but they were very smart, even outside of the research. we had difficulty keeping them contained or getting them to do things they don’t want to. they were scary good at escaping, and they seemed to have memorized our schedules to time their escapes that way.”

while at a conference in chicago two years ago, my colleagues and i decided to visit the aquarium. i was able to speak briefly to a trainer about the octopus there: when i saw the exhibit, i was surprised at first to see this enormous grayish thing in the water, tentacles flowing like smoke, carefully manipulating colorful shapes in its tank. it had several of them, along with what appeared to be foam blocks, and something that might have been a puzzle. they looked like baby toys, or the kind of enrichment i’d expect with apes, but i’d been surprised to see that they gave them to an octopus.

it seems that the best theory as to why octopuses evolved such intelligence has to do with the difficulty of their native environments. they are hunters, but they must be effective at catching a variety of different prey types in order to survive, and so they must be able to come up with a variety of different strategies–and have nearly as many strategies to evade any predators of their own. these are very different reasons from our ancestors’ social pressures. yet they are intelligent, and effective (check out the mimic octopus sometime, a particularly clever animal with some particularly clever strategies) hunters, and anecdotally, i hear they seem to be curious about the world around them sometimes.

imagine then if alien life resembled them more than us. what would they be like? intelligent enough to get here, and able to at least tolerate each other’s presence and cooperate for a common goal. but they’d probably see us, and our intensely social nature, and maybe find that a little strange. because sure, talking to other people can be interesting, but then we go home…and like to live around other people? to keep in contact with our families as often as humans do, and not just that, but work for the good of the family unit? to not just tolerate, but enjoy each others’ presence? and the degree to which we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for others–now that would just be beyond their understanding, that would be a weird alien mindset (there’s evidence, by the way, that even on earth, in reality, our degree of altruism may be unique to us. while altruism commonly varies as a degree of relatedness in social animals–in essence, the more related, the more of your own genes are in that other being, and so you’re more likely to help them, which is ultimately helping your genes survive–even our closest simian relatives don’t seem to take altruism as far as we do).

so if you were looking for something uniquely human, regardless of hypothetical aliens, something really beautiful about us, the fact is that humans love each other a whole lot. we have such strong affiliative bonds that we seek each others’ company all the damn time and unlike crows and dogs and bonobos and every other social animal on the planet, we alone really know what we’re doing. we make sacrifices that we understand for one another because that is the depth of our love for humans. we find meaning in each others’ existence.

and just think: people use the term “humanity” as a synonym for compassion for other people. is that interesting or what?

12 Intriguing Facts About How The Human Brain Functions

Originally posted by ogicepun

Here’s a list of 12 golden nuggets of information about the human brain and how it functions. John Medina’s book Brain Rules gives incredible insight and intrigue on how our strongest survival organ operates and its uniqueness to each human body. Consider the wisdom below, survival tips for your brain!

Keep reading

You know, a lot of people don’t realize this but….

The animals at the zoo represent so many opportunities for biologists around the world to learn basic information about, well, animals! We get research proposals all the time from researchers, both among our own staff and globally, seeking permission to include the animals in their research. We approve the proposals that are of the greatest scientific value, that have potential to help us even further improve our qualities of animal care, and that are certain to cause no harm of any form to the animals. Recently two papers were published in major academic journals by scientists from regional universities that contribute some fascinating information to the global body of knowledge about animals.

Dr. Bonnie M. Perdue (Department of Psychology, Agnes Scott College) published: Perdue, B.M. 2016. The effect of computerized testing on Sun Bear behavior and enrichment preferences.            Behavioral Sciences 6, 19; doi:10.3390/bs6040019

The field of comparative cognition investigates species’ differences and similarities in cognitive abilities, and sheds light on the evolutionary origins of such capacities. Dr. Perdue realized that, while cognitive studies commonly are conducted with animals such as dogs, elephants, primates, and even giant pandas, many animals have never been studied. So, she applied some standard methods, using an ingenious rugged computerized touchscreen apparatus, to our sun bears. Bears typically use their tongues to explore and manipulate their environment and, she found that the bears actively engaged the touchscreen menus with their tongues.

The screens had dabs of honey on them in the earlier trials, to draw the bears’ attention to these novel objects. Once familiarized with the screens, the bears proceeded to learn to interact with specific color- or shape-targets on the screen in exchange for treats. Soon, the bears were preferring to interact with the computer screens more than any of the other enrichment items available to them. This study discovered a new method by which bears can be studied and showed that the experiments were preferred by the bears who actively involved themselves at every opportunity. This is fascinating stuff!

Alexis Noel (a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech) and her colleagues published: Noel, A.C., Guo, H-Y., Mandica, M., Hu, D.L. 2017 Frogs use a viscoelastic tongue and non-Newtonian saliva to catch prey.           Journal of the Royal Society Interface 14: 20160764. 

Frogs can capture insects, mice and even birds using only their tongue, with a speed and versatility unmatched in the world of synthetic materials. How can the frog tongue be so sticky? In this multi-faceted study that included some frogs here, used high-speed films of frog feeding to understand the behaviors involved in tongue-feeding. Then they used high-tech measurements and characterizations of frog tongues at Georgia Tech to investigate the structural properties of frog tongues and saliva.

They found that the tongue’s unique stickiness results from a combination of an incredibly soft and stretchable anatomy soft and a saliva that simply does not follow the normal rules of how liquids respond to pressure. The tongue acts like a car’s shock absorber during insect capture, absorbing energy and so preventing separation from the insect. The unique saliva spreads over the insect during impact, grips it firmly to the tongue, and yet it slides off easily once it is back in the mouth. This combination of properties gives the tongue 50 times greater work of adhesion than known synthetic material (such as everyone’s favorite, the sticky-hand toy). These insights offer many new ideas and models for applications in industry and engineering. Yet more proof that frogs are the coolest animals on Earth!
To learn more things people dont realize about zoos here ~>  Zoos Queues

allaboutmbti  asked:

Would you compare the cognitive functions from the motivation standpoint instead of the action standpoint? The difference between why people do what they do instead of what they do?

Enneagram is going to play into it as well. This is pure speculation. Might be rubbish.

TeSi: impact and affect material reality through logical organization, centered in time-honored experiences and common sense.

SiTe: use personal knowledge and experience to gather facts, with which one can then impact the external world through careful application.

FeSi: impact and affect the world through emotional strength of character, and awareness of others’ immediate physical and mental needs.

SiFe: use personal knowledge and experience to form bonds with others, in the hope of fostering greater emotional awareness and impacting the external world through shared values and beliefs.

TeNi: impact and affect material reality through logical organization, centered in a specific individualized vision I feel compelled to make real.

NiTe: use personal visions and impressions to feed information to my desire to collect useful facts in order to impact and affect the external world.

FeNi: impact and affect the world through emotional strength of character, and awareness of other’s individual motives, perceptions, and ideas, while recruiting others to help implement my personal vision.

NiFe: let my personal visions and impressions guide me toward building my understanding of human nature / the cosmos, and in building meaningful, deep, and insightful relationships to keep me motivated toward actualizing my ideal.

SeTi: to experience all the world has to offer and gain personal understanding of the frameworks of reality through hands-on analysis and physical engagement.

TiSe: to let pure logic guide me in hands on experiences and in accumulating objective knowledge and awareness of the external world.

SeFi: to experience all the world has to offer and gain personal understanding of myself and rich emotional dynamics through hands on challenges and physical engagement.

FiSe: to let my strong ethics guide me in collecting hands on experiences and in engaging with physical reality that help me come to greater self-awareness.

NeTi: to experience all the ideas and perspectives reality has to offer, while gaining personal understanding of the frameworks of reality through the sharing of ideas and continually changing abstract dynamics.

TiNe: to let pure logic guide me in experiencing all the ideas and perspectives reality has to offer, and to seek precision and clarity of internal thought.

NeFi: to experience and ponder all the ideas and perspectives reality has to offer, while gaining a personal understanding of my central motives, and the impersonal emotional dynamics of the world.

FiNe: to let my strong ethics guide me in collecting all the perspectives and ideas reality has to offer, and that help me come to greater self-awareness. 

- ENFP Mod

Stress-induced changes in maternal gut could negatively impact offspring for life

Prenatal exposure to a mother’s stress contributes to anxiety and cognitive problems that persist into adulthood, a phenomenon that could be explained by lasting – and potentially damaging – changes in the microbiome, according to new research in mice.

When pregnant mice were exposed to stress in the study, it appeared to change the makeup of the bacteria in both their guts and placentas, as well as in the intestinal tracts of their female offspring, researchers at The Ohio State University found. And those microbial changes lasted into adulthood.

On top of that, the mice with stressed mothers struggled in tests aimed at gauging anxiety and cognitive health compared with female offspring of mice that were not stressed during pregnancy. And markers of inflammation increased in the placenta, the fetal brain and the adult brain of the offspring while a supportive protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) decreased.

“More and more, doctors and researchers are understanding that naturally occurring bacteria are not just a silent presence in our body, but that they contribute to our health,” said Tamar Gur, the lead researcher and assistant professor of psychiatry & behavioral health, neuroscience and obstetrics & gynecology at Ohio State.

“These mice were more anxious, they spent more time in dark, closed spaces and they had a harder time learning cognitive tasks even though they were never stressed after birth.” Gur presented the study on Nov. 14 in San Diego at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Previous studies have found associations between maternal stress in both animals and people to later mental health and behavioral problems in their offspring. This study could begin to explain what’s at play in that relationship.

“We already understand that prenatal stress can be bad for offspring, but the mystery is how,” said Gur, a psychiatrist who is a member of Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Gur said microbes from a mother’s gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts are the first to colonize in a developing fetus (and in newborns). That makes the bacteria an interesting potential explanation of why and how stress before an animal or person is born could prompt mental illness that can last a lifetime.

This study is pointing to alterations in the microbes that live in the placenta and outlines changes found in the placentas of fetal mice that had stressed mothers.

Gur and her colleagues found significant microbial changes to the placentas of the female offspring of stressed mice. They also found alterations in inflammation and growth factors in the placenta, pointing to changes in how the microbes were influencing important dynamics before birth.

And in the female offspring of the stressed mice, the researchers found a lower ability to learn and higher anxiety-like behavior compared to the offspring of non-stressed mother mice. Gur said the team found interesting changes in the male offspring as well, but the details of that part of the study are still in the works.

Gur said she wants to know more about the links between the brain and the bacteria that live in the gut, and she and her colleagues have plans to expand their investigation to pregnant women and their babies. Perhaps one day the work will lead to knowledge about how probiotics could help mitigate the effects of stress and the downstream repercussions, but it’s too soon now to say if they would have any impact, she said.

The stressed mother mice underwent two hours per day for seven days of restraint meant to induce stress. For comparison, the researchers left another group of pregnant mice undisturbed during gestation. Gut bacteria were assessed using fecal samples from the mice.

Gur stressed that the message here is not that mothers are to blame should their children suffer mental illness later in life. Rather, she said, this scientific development presents an opportunity to talk more about the importance of mental health in general and during pregnancy.

“As a psychiatrist who treats pregnant women, if you’re stressed, anxious or depressed, I think pregnancy is a prime time for intervention,” Gur said. “And what’s good for mom is good for the baby.”

anonymous asked:

INFP vs INFJ? This is a stereotypical question to ask you to answer, I understand that. However, I have researched relentlessly and keep on being suspicious of my MBTI Type. Even when I compare the cognitive functions too! Moreover, how is their logic, emotion, and love different from each other? Thank you s'much!

I’m so sorry about the hella late reply! This week’s been a beast;;

ANYWAY, from what I’ve noticed, INFP’s are more easygoing and sociable which is probably caused by their combo of Feeling and Perceiving traits. INFJ’s on the other hand are, yes, easygoing too but are more critical. They’re sociable but are much better with written words than actually speaking. That’s pretty much all I can think of right now and I think those really are the main points, so yeah

If you’re still having trouble figuring out if you’re an INFP or an INFJ, pay attention to how you do your work. Are you constantly checking for mistakes (INFJ) or do you have a tendency to wing things (INFP)? Do you go all out on projects (INFJ) or make your project good enough for yourself (INFP)?

Don’t mark my words on this because, unfortunately, I’m not 100% fluent in MBTI. Thanks for dropping by!

ELI5: What happens to your body when you stay up for more that 24 hours?

24 Hour Mark

The consequences of sleep deprivation at 24 hours is comparable to the cognitive impairment of someone with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent, according to a 2010 study in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health.

36 Hours

Now your health begins to be at risk. High levels of inflammatory markers are in the bloodstream, said Cralle, which can eventually lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, hormones are affected — your emotions can be all over the place.

48 Hours

After two days of no sleep the body begins compensating by shutting down for microsleeps, episodes that last from half a second to half a minute and are usually followed by a period of disorientation. “The person experiencing a microsleep falls asleep regardless of the activity they are engaged in,” she said. Microsleeps are similar to blackouts, and a person experiencing them is not consciously aware that they’re occurring.

72 Hours

Expect significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception, and other higher mental processes after many sleepless hours, Cralle said. “Even simple conversations can be a chore,” noted Kelley. This is when the mind is ripe for hallucinations. Kelley recalled a time he was on guard duty and repeatedly saw someone standing with a rifle in the woods, ready to sneak into camp. Upon closer inspection, he determined he was actually looking at a branch and shadows.

Explain Like I`m Five: good questions, best answers.
Can reading make you smarter?

In part to answer that question, I spent three years interviewing psychologists and neuroscientists around the world, reviewing their studies and testing new methods they claim can increase intelligence. And while nobody would ever call reading a “new” method for improving the mind, recent scientific studies have confirmed that reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic.

That goes for all three meanings of the word “intelligence” widely recognised by psychologist. First, there is “crystallised intelligence” – the potpourri of knowledge that fills your brain. When you learn how to ride a bicycle, or the name of a new friend, you are gaining not just information but potentially useful knowledge that, in aggregate, forms the backbone of your ability to navigate and thrive in the world. By adding to that storehouse, reading increases your crystallised intelligence. That explains why some IQ tests include vocabulary words, which generally serve as a reliable proxy of how clever you are.

But all of us know people with little “book knowledge” who are nonetheless sharp and insightful. “Fluid intelligence” is that ability to solve problems, understand things and detect meaningful patterns. Of course, you can read little or nothing at all and still be brilliant at “reading between the lines” of a conversation. But in today’s world, fluid intelligence and reading generally go hand in hand. In fact, the increased emphasis on critical reading and writing skills in schools may partly explain why students perform, on average, about 20 points higher on IQ tests than in the early 20th century. The so-called Flynn effect is named after James Flynn, a New Zealand professor who has devoted much of his career to studying the worldwide phenomena of increasing IQ scores. But if reading can increase fluid intelligence, the converse is also true: increased fluid intelligence also improves reading comprehension, according to studies by Jason Chein of Temple University in Philadelphia. He used “working memory” tasks that train people’s ability to juggle and continually update multiple items of attention – to keep track of a moving dot, for instance, and recognise when it lands on a spot it occupied two, three or more moves ago. In papers published in scientific journals in 2010 and 2011, he showed that as both younger and older adults improved their performance on working-memory tasks, they were better able to comprehend reading materials.

A third type of intelligence has gained widespread interest of late: “emotional intelligence”, the ability to accurately read and respond to your own and others’ feelings. It may seem odd to imagine that reading can improve your emotional intelligence. But in October, the journal Science published an extraordinary study showing that reading literary fiction can improve people’s theory of mind (ToM) – their ability to understand others’ mental states. David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, both of the New School for Social Research in New York, enlisted hundreds of participants online to read examples of either non-fiction, popular fiction or literary fiction, and then to take tests measuring the accuracy of their ToM. In five experiments, they showed that reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of both emotional and cognitive ToM compared with reading non-fiction, popular fiction or nothing at all.