Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cognitive Science Blog on indefinite hiatus

As can be deduced by months that have passed since my last post, this blog is on indefinite hiatus. However, I will continue to post links to interesting cognitive science research and news via my Twitter feed, which is updated several times per week.

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Researchers find chimps exhibit personality traits not unlike those of humans

BBC News reports:

For years experts have debated whether great apes truly display human-like personalities – or if such behaviour is simply the anthropomorphic projections of human observers.

The research team used a statistical technique to “remove” any biases apparent in human observers of the apes’ behaviour, and they say their findings suggest man and ape really do share “personality dimensions”.

More details emerge on the Marc Hauser case

The Chronicle of Higher Education has published this article, which sheds more light on the alleged misconduct committed by Harvard’s Marc Hauser.

It was one experiment in particular that led members of Mr. Hauser’s lab to become suspicious of his research and, in the end, to report their concerns about the professor to Harvard administrators…

Researchers watched videotapes of the experiments and “coded” the results, meaning that they wrote down how the monkeys reacted. As was common practice, two researchers independently coded the results so that their findings could later be compared to eliminate errors or bias.

According to the document that was provided to The Chronicle, the experiment in question was coded by Mr. Hauser and a research assistant in his laboratory. A second research assistant was asked by Mr. Hauser to analyze the results. When the second research assistant analyzed the first research assistant’s codes, he found that the monkeys didn’t seem to notice the change in pattern. In fact, they looked at the speaker more often when the pattern was the same. In other words, the experiment was a bust.

But Mr. Hauser’s coding showed something else entirely: He found that the monkeys did notice the change in pattern—and, according to his numbers, the results were statistically significant. If his coding was right, the experiment was a big success.

The second research assistant was bothered by the discrepancy. How could two researchers watching the same videotapes arrive at such different conclusions?

Cognitive scientist Marc Hauser guilty of scientific misconduct, Harvard announces

USA Today reports:

Harvard researcher Marc Hauser committed research misconduct in his studies of primate behavior, the university said Friday.

Earlier this month, the Boston Globe reported that Hauser… a noted researcher in the roots of animal cognition, had been placed on leave following accusations by his students that he had purposely fabricated data in his research. His work relied on observing responses by tamarin monkeys to stimuli such as changes in sound patterns, claiming they possessed thinking skills often viewed as unique to humans and apes.

Inability to find one’s way has neurological roots, study finds

USA Today reports:

[A] woman described in the journal Neuropsychologia has an especially severe, lifelong history of getting lost. She, like Roseman, can get to work along a long-practiced path — but sometimes gets lost walking home from her bus stop, say researcher Giuseppe Iaria and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver General Hospital. She goes nowhere else alone. At 43, she lives with her father, does not drive and “does not have a nice social life,” Iaria says.

In a series of tests, the researchers found that the woman has an inability to create mental maps of the environment. When shown a simple virtual neighborhood on a computer, she can eventually learn a route — but what takes typical people one to five minutes takes her more than half an hour.

The root of her difficulties, Iaria says, most likely lies in a part of the brain called the hippocampus…

Like other kinds of violence, interpersonal aggression in visual media can cause increase aggression in viewers, study suggests

USA Today reports:

Researchers have long known that watching violence on TV or in movies ratchets up aggression, but what about watching people being mean to one another? Could watching Mean Girls make you as aggressive as watching Kill Bill?

A new study suggests the answer is yes.

New fMRI technology could lead to brain imaging advances

Science Daily reports on new developments in fMRI technology that may lead to higher resolution scans.