My holiday from posting is over (I did not get moved though – now end of March date). I did notice some interesting things in January and include five of them below. Also went through the million visits mark mid-Jan.
Deric Bownds (here) had this: Nakano and others, Blink-related momentary activation of the default mode network while viewing videos, in Jan 2013 PNAS.
It remains unknown why we generate spontaneous eyeblinks every few seconds, more often than necessary for ocular lubrication. Because eyeblinks tend to occur at implicit breakpoints while viewing videos, we hypothesized that eyeblinks are actively involved in the release of attention. We show that while viewing videos, cortical activity momentarily decreases in the dorsal attention network after blink onset but increases in the default-mode network implicated in internal processing. In contrast, physical blackouts of the video do not elicit such reciprocal changes in brain networks. The results suggest that eyeblinks are actively involved in the process of attentional disengagement during a cognitive behavior by momentarily activating the default-mode network while deactivating the dorsal attention network.
This fits with the idea that blinks mark the small divisions of memory, the bits which are strung together in chronological order to make a memory. It also fits with the finding that people blink in unison when watching a film. As blinks can be plainly seen and can also be recorded with electrodes, they could be useful in studies to mark the divisions of attention, thought and memory.
I have never been a fan of personality types since in first encountered them seriously over 50 years ago. They just never rang true for explaning me or people I knew well. There are schemes that have seemed true and basic that have turned out to be just surface similarities (for example the elements of air, water, fire and earth). I have noticed that there is not much evidence for personality types in physiology or genetics. There is still some disagreement among believers on how many and what archetypes to use. But, for some reason I cannot understand, they are still held to be important universal parameters by many. So I note – surprise, surprise – they may not be universal. ScienceDaily has an item (here) on a paper by M. Gurven and others, How Universal Is the Big Five? Testing the Five-Factor Model of Personality Variation Among Forager–Farmers in the Bolivian Amazon, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2012.
Deric Bownds had a post on intuition (here) from a paper: Wan and others; Developing Intuition: Neural Correlates of Cognitive-Skill Learning in Caudate Nucleus; The Journal of Neuroscience 2012 . It showed that the ability of experts to make decisions very quickly and accurately without consciously considering the situation is due to training the involves part of the basal ganglia, the caudate head. This part of unconscious cognition does not even appear to be primarily in the neocortex. Here is the abstract:
The superior capability of cognitive experts largely depends on automatic, quick information processing, which is often referred to as intuition. Intuition develops following extensive long-term training. There are many cognitive models on intuition development, but its neural basis is not known. Here we trained novices for 15 weeks to learn a simple board game and measured their brain activities in early and end phases of the training while they quickly generated the best next-move to a given board pattern. We found that the activation in the head of caudate nucleus developed over the course of training, in parallel to the development of the capability to quickly generate the best next-move, and the magnitude of the caudate activity was correlated with the subject’s performance. In contrast, cortical activations, which already appeared in the early phase of training, did not further change. Thus, neural activation in the caudate head, but not those in cortical areas, tracked the development of capability to quickly generate the best next-move, indicating that circuitries including the caudate head may automate cognitive computations.