Often thought of in pop culture as a funny quirk (think: Cameron Diaz singing karaoke in My Best Friend’s Wedding), tone deafness is actually a brain disorder. Whereas most of us derive great pleasure from music, someone who is tone deaf may hear music as a noisy din and may even avoid situations where music is present. A new study has shed light on this condition, finding that people who are tone deaf have weakened sound processing in their brainstems, possibly the result of a lifetime of limited musical exposure.
It’s a hot summer day and you are crammed onto a commuter train. So you may take measures to cope with the uncomfortable closeness of strangers: Perhaps you put in earbuds or read a book, or perhaps you just avoid eye contact and turn away.
We all predict the future every time we listen to someone speak or read a book. If I say “barbed,” for example, what word comes next? How about “undivided”? (see answers below, along with other top word pairings) The ability to predict words helps us take mental shortcuts in language. And a new study finds that the frequency with which these words have occurred together in our past conversations is key to our predictive skills.
For one person, chocolate smells pinky and stripy, for another it was a hazy mist. These were not smell associations – the images are how some people actually experience the smell of chocolate. The people drawing the images have a rare form of synesthesia, in which a smell elicits a color. And in a new study on this form of synesthesia, researchers found that it’s not just about color but also patterns and shapes.
Guest Post by Kathryn Gigler, Northwestern University
“I believe that you believe something happened to you.” The young woman repeated the detective’s statement to me again. It had been the detective’s response to her question of whether he believed her account of the brutal sexual assault she had experienced the past weekend.
Put on your shoes and jacket, then grab your lunch bag and turn off the lights – sounds simple, right? But to a 5-year-old, this multi-step process could be tricky to follow, especially if the child is distracted. What’s at play here is working memory – holding things in your mind that you can’t see. A new study has found that children actually recruit similar brain areas as adults for working memory but have a lower capacity for remembering multiple things at once.
Just last week, a widely publicized study came out showing that more than one-third of children under the age of 1 have used a device like a smartphone or tablet and that most children have used mobile devices by age 2. With this increased usage has come an explosion in educational apps for young children. But how can parents and developers decide what an truly educational app looks like?
Guest Post by Nick Wan, Utah State University
Last year, college football player Kosta Karageorge committed suicide, with his last text sent to his mother was “Sorry if I am an embarrassment, but these concussions have my head all [messed] up.” Two years prior, NFL player Junior Seau committed suicide via chest wound, leaving his brain to be studied by the National Institutes of Health – and ultimately finding damage to his brain.
Two videos from CNS 2015 are now available:
1. From the origins of Max Factor to the evolutionary role of art, Anjan Chatterjee of the University of Pennsylvania delivered the CNS 2015 keynote address about the neuroscience of art and aesthetics. Watch the full talk here: