cognitive curiosities top 5 this week

Friday’s 5 cognitive curiosities journal club

1. Thinking Fast and Slow: 2 different networks

From eLife

University of Oxford researchers studied the speed/accuracy trade-off involved in making decisions. They explored the networks that determine how quickly we choose an option, and how much information we need to make that choice. These findings indicate that distinct neural mechanisms determine whether a decision will be made in haste or with caution. They found that participants made much faster decisions when the task was easier and when asked for a quick decision. As expected, study participants made significantly more errors during tests where they spent more time making a decision and were instructed to focus on accuracy.

2. Are some people born depressed?

From The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Alterations in the normal development of the functional connectivity within the amygdala have been associated with atypical emotional processes and psychopathology. This study examined term and preterm neonates who were then followed up at 2 years of age. Most interestingly, the researchers noted that various connection patterns between the amygdala and other structures – like the insula, involved in consciousness and emotion, and the medial prefrontal cortex, which plays roles in planning and decision making – affect the risk of early symptoms related to depression and anxiety.

3. AI to decode conversation tone to help people with social anxiety and ASD

From MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)

The system captures audio data and text transcripts to analyse the speaker’s tone, pitch, energy, and vocabulary. It’s not ready for widespread use, but the algorithms are training as this is written.

4. You pop that gum one more time…

From Current Biology

While nobody really likes repetitive sounds like chewing or pen clicking, some people are known to get particularly distressed by them. It’s called misophobia. This study reveals that this is due to a physical difference in the myelination of the grey matter of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).

5. A seminal paper on mindfulness in medicine


I am currently talking to one of the medical mindfulness pioneers, Prof Ronald Epstein. Now a professor, then a third-year Harvard medical student, he was moved by the experience of watching an surgeon fail to notice that his 18-year-old patient’s kidney had turned blue. This set Epstein on a path of studying what makes doctors present and how it benefits their practice. He argues that as a link between relationship-centered care and evidence-based medicine, mindfulness should be considered a characteristic of good clinical practice.

cognitive curiosities top 5 this week

3 thoughts on “Friday’s 5 cognitive curiosities journal club”

    1. In psychiatry, there is this key concept: “biopsychosocial”. Generally all three parts of the word have to go wrong for someone to get unwell, but I guess if any one is really bad, then that put the person in a v risky state.

      That’s interesting about the examples you’ve seen. I can’t actually think of anyone who I feel was born depressed. Some people are insistently melancholic, but they are still functional.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s