To start, a couple from John Hawks. First, there's this post on a paper by Daniel Oppenheimer from Applied Cognitive Psychology titled "Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly."
Then there's this post discussing a paper on the distinction between short-term and long-term memory, and the distinction between memory for features (objects and attributes, in my language) and memory for relations between features. Omni Brain also posted on the paper, here (with a link to a pdf of the paper, too). Here's a bit from the press release:
For over 40 years, the chief paradigm has been that the hippocampus was important for creating long-term memory but not short-term or working memory," said Ingrid Olson, a member of Penn's Department of Psychology and researcher at Penn's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. "However, our data show that one type of working memory, working memory for the relationship between bits of information, is dependent on the hippocampus.Which leads Olson to claim:
While 'long-term' memory and 'short-term' memory have been useful distinctions for us, they may not exist in the same way for the brain.I'll have more to say about this article in a full post, but for now let me say this: the reason I think this finding is so interesting is not that it undermines the short-term/working memory vs. long-term memory distinction, because I don't think it does. Instead, I think it's interesting because it actually confirms some things that some people have been saying about working memory for a while, now, namely that relations are processed differently, that relations take up more processing capacity, etc.
Next up, a great post at Cognitive Daily on research purporting to show that sex and violence don't sell.
Then this post at Neurocritic (a great blog, by the way!) on neurogenesis and depression is a must read. The connection between neurogenesis and depression has been all the rage for the last few years, and the Neurocritic does a nice job of summarizing what we actually know. He concludes:
SUMMARY FROM THE NEUROCRITIC: Although it's all very trendy to consider neurogenesis as "The Reinvention of the Self" (see article in SEED), at this stage of the game, it's all very hyberbolic.
Finally, this post by Adam Roberts at The Valve titled "Why are the greatest composers all German?" While Roberts claims:
I’ve also little time for the Dawkins school of ‘memes’, ideas, concepts and beliefs that ‘infect’ human minds, such that ‘religion’ is thought of existing in a quasi-living manner like a virus, and subject to Darwinian constraints. I don’t think I’m talking about memes.Anytime someone writes something like this:
Think instead of texts as animals, he says, living in an environment of readers, viewers and listeners. These texts compete with one another not for food and sexual partners, but for our attention. In this environment, the most successful pieces of music (for example) will win many listeners, and those listeners will ‘keep the music alive’ by playing it, buying copies of it, re-recording and replicating it. It is as simple as that. Mozart’s music has prospered because it is best ‘fitted’ to its particular environment (us, or more specifically our taste in music). Salieri’s music failed because it was less well fitted. It is not that Salieri’s music is in any sense intrinsically ‘worse’ than Mozart’s, any more than a dodo was intrinsically worse than a seagull. It is simply that one was adapted to its environment better than the other.I can't help but feel they're talking like a memeticist. In fact, because he doesn't really mention an analogy to genes, it sounds an awful lot like the "meme as virus" metaphor that he explicitly rejects. And it suffers from many of the problems that plague memetics. As such, it's a nice lead up to my post on memes (which, to those of you who requested it, is coming... I promise).