If you've seen the board-breaking power of a professional martial artist and thought it looked superhuman, don't worry: for a while now science couldn't fully explain it, either. The punches delivered by a top-notch fighter are so tough that muscle strength alone can't account for them. But researchers from Imperial College London and University College London have discovered that a unique brain structure could be what gives experts fists of fury.
There are a lot of hurdles to accurately predicting intelligence, from the difficulty of defining exactly what it is to accurately understanding the complexities of the human brain. Some techniques are surprisingly simple, like measuring the size of the brain. But others, like a new study that suggests brain imaging could crack the IQ code, require a little more finesse.
Here's a true story: a few years ago, given an Xbox 360 for testing purposes, I went to the Gamestop to get a new game. I like games, but I don't like games with guns or sports, because I don't particularly like guns or sports in real life, either. The guy at the Gamestop was absolutely flummoxed by my request for an Xbox game with neither. He ended up recommending the game version of the movie G-Force, which is a movie for children featuring talking CGI guinea pigs.
Violence in games is widespread, largely because violence triggers certain pleasure points in our brains. But what if we could study the brain to figure out exactly where and why--and what else could produce the same reaction?
You are not a bastion of self-control. Everyone has a set amount of the stuff, and when life saps it, people can break. Now fMRIs from a University of Iowa study show exactly what it looks like when that happens.
Despite plenty of advances in neuroscience, often what we know about the brain comes with gaps, and anything close to a full piece of knowledge always ends up lacking something — whether it's for the human brain or a mouse's.
In his book The Most Human Human, Brian Christian looks at the artificial intelligences we've built, and what they say about us
By Brian ChristianPosted 05.02.2012 at 4:05 pm 13 Comments
Brian Christian's book The Most Human Human, newly out in paperback, tells the story of how the author, "a young poet with degrees in computer science and philosophy," set out to win the "Most Human Human" prize in a Turing test weighing natural against artificial intelligence. Along the way, as he prepares to prove to a panel of judges (via an anonymous teletype interface) that he is not a machine, the book provides a sharply reasoned investigation into the nature of thinking. Are we setting ourselves up for failure by competing with machines in their analytical, logical areas of prowess rather than nurturing our own human strengths?
The Turing test attempts to discern whether computers are, to put it most simply, "like us" or "unlike us": humans have always been preoccupied with their place among the rest of creation. The development of the computer in the twentieth century may represent the first time that this place has changed.
The story of the Turing test, of the speculation and enthusiasm and unease over artificial intelligence in general, is, then, the story of our speculation and enthusiasm and unease over ourselves. What are our abilities? What are we good at? What makes us special? A look at the history of computing technology, then, is only half of the picture. The other half is the history of mankind's thoughts about itself.
DNA extracted from canned human brains could help researchers studying mental health disorders, if scientists can figure out how to mine it. Preserved brains taken from autopsied patients — some dating to the 1890s — could serve as a new archive of old data related to mental health.
Unlike here in New York, where telling a cabbie to take you to even some of the most common intersections often result in a response of "Okay, how do I get there?", London cabdriver tests are notoriously difficult and complete. You don't just pass the test--you earn "The Knowledge," or the ins and outs of a massive and complex city from end to end. And, it turns out, the level of training needed to pass the test actually changes the structure of the brain, according to a new study.
Staring into the brains of fruit flies could clarify the connection between genes and behaviors
By Mara GrunbaumPosted 10.17.2011 at 11:02 am 3 Comments
Gaby Maimon, of Rockefeller University, can read fruit flies’ minds. As their wings buzz under his microscope, he watches the neurons fire in their poppy-seed-size brains. By doing so, he is able to discern how the firing of certain neurons corresponds to certain behaviors. His goal is to untangle precisely how genes and neuron activation trigger behavioral disorders like autism and ADHD.