2015 Archive

What ‘drives’ curiosity research?

November 5, 2015

Crouching Child

Scientists have been studying curiosity since the 19th century, but combining techniques from several fields now makes it possible for the first time to study it with full scientific rigor, according to the authors of a new paper.

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Neuroscientists decipher brain’s noisy code

July 15, 2015

By analyzing the signals of individual neurons, neuroscientists have deciphered the code the brain uses to make the most of its inherently "noisy" neuronal circuits. These green and purple hills represent the average activity for many neurons in two different brain regions. These neuronal activity patterns will differ from time to time, even in response to exactly the same sensory stimulus, and those differences set the limit for how well the brain can sense things. CREDIT: X Pitkow/Rice University

HOUSTON — By analyzing the signals of individual neurons in animals undergoing behavioral tests, neuroscientists at Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Geneva and the University of Rochester have deciphered the code the brain uses to make the most of its inherently “noisy” neuronal circuits.

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How understanding GPS can help you hit a curveball

June 22, 2015


Our brains track moving objects by applying one of the algorithms your phone’s GPS uses, according to researchers at the University of Rochester. This same algorithm also explains why we are fooled by several motion-related optical illusions, including the sudden “break” of baseball’s well known “curveball illusion.”

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Quantity counts for baboons

May 20, 2015


Monkeys can’t count. But they can mentally keep track of and compare approximate quantities that increase one item at a time. That shows that monkeys use a kind of reasoning that also underlies human counting, researchers report May 7 in Psychological Science.

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Thinking alike changes how we speak

May 20, 2015

Speech balloons

As social creatures, we tend to mimic each other’s posture, laughter, and other behaviors, including how we speak. Now a new study shows that people with similar views tend to more closely mirror, or align, each other’s speech patterns. In addition, people who are better at compromising align more closely.

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Curious monkeys share our thirst for knowledge

February 12, 2015


Monkeys are notoriously curious, and new research has quantified just how eager they are to gain new information, even if there are not immediate benefits. The findings offer insights into how a certain part of the brain shared by monkeys and humans plays a role in decision making, and perhaps even in some disorders and addictions in humans.

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Professor named to Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30’ in science

January 23, 2015

Elika Bergelson

Each year, Forbes Magazine lists the top 30 people under the age of 30 who have reached notable success in their chosen field. Elika Bergelson, a research assistant professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) at the University of Rochester, was selected for the 2015 list of “30 Under 30” in Science in the Jan. 19 issue of Forbes.

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