Brain's Idea

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I post about science, the brain and the mind. Find me on twitter: @rikunert

Richard Kunert
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  • July 29, 2013
  • 04:31 PM
  • 1,862 views

How blind people see

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Blind people have revolutionised our view on vision. Biology text books still teach us that vision functions roughly as light hitting the eyes where special cells – rods and cones – turn it into neural signals. These travel to the back of the head, the visual cortex, for brain processing leading to something we experience […]... Read more »

Czeisler CA, Shanahan TL, Klerman EB, Martens H, Brotman DJ, Emens JS, Klein T, & Rizzo JF 3rd. (1995) Suppression of melatonin secretion in some blind patients by exposure to bright light. The New England journal of medicine, 332(1), 6-11. PMID: 7990870  

Trevethan CT, Sahraie A, & Weiskrantz L. (2007) Can blindsight be superior to 'sighted-sight'?. Cognition, 103(3), 491-501. PMID: 16764848  

Vandewalle G, Collignon O, Hull JT, Daneault V, Albouy G, Lepore F, Phillips C, Doyon J, Czeisler CA, Dumont M.... (2013) Blue Light Stimulates Cognitive Brain Activity in Visually Blind Individuals. Journal of cognitive neuroscience. PMID: 23859643  

Weiskrantz L, Warrington EK, Sanders MD, & Marshall J. (1974) Visual capacity in the hemianopic field following a restricted occipital ablation. Brain : a journal of neurology, 97(4), 709-28. PMID: 4434190  

  • November 19, 2014
  • 03:10 PM
  • 1,687 views

The real reason why new pop music is so incredibly bad

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

You have probably heard that Pink Floyd recently published their new album Endless River. Will this bring back the wonderful world of good music after the endless awfulness of the popular music scene in the last 20 years or so? Is good music, as we know it from the 60s and 70s, back for good? […]... Read more »

  • October 16, 2012
  • 05:47 PM
  • 1,466 views

The mysterious appeal of too loud music

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

At 39km above planet earth, would you have made Felix Baumgartner’s step off the platform? It was very dangerous, no doubt. But is this the reason why you wouldn’t have? People engage in many dangerous things. And I am not talking about skydiving. I mean the ordinary, every day kind of danger. Surely, some dangers can hardly be avoided, say road traffic (which is the leading cause of death for people in my age group). For others there is no obvious non-dangerous equivalent. But what if there........ Read more »

  • October 6, 2014
  • 03:33 AM
  • 1,456 views

Old people are immune against the cocktail party effect

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Imagine standing at a cocktail party and somewhere your name gets mentioned. Your attention is immediately grabbed by the sound of your name. It is a classic psychological effect with a new twist: old people are immune. The so-called cocktail party effect has fascinated researchers for a long time. Even though you do not consciously […]... Read more »

Naveh-Benjamin M, Kilb A, Maddox GB, Thomas J, Fine HC, Chen T, & Cowan N. (2014) Older adults do not notice their names: A new twist to a classic attention task. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition. PMID: 24820668  

  • March 28, 2013
  • 05:36 PM
  • 1,408 views

The biological basis of orchestra seating

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Many cultural conventions appear like the result of historical accidents. The QUERTY – keyboard is a typical example: the technical requirements of early typewriters still determine the computer keyboard that I write this text on, even though by now technical advances would allow for a far more efficient design. Some culturally accepted oddities, however, appear [...]... Read more »

Deutsch, D. (1999) Grouping Mechanisms in Music. The Psychology of Music, Second Edition, 299-348. DOI: 10.1016/B978-012213564-4/50010-X  

  • July 1, 2013
  • 04:22 AM
  • 1,256 views

Music training boosts IQ

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

There are more and more brain training companies popping up which promise the same deal: improved intelligence. While there are doubts about their results, another sort of brain training has existed since the beginning of humanity: music. The evidence for its effectiveness is surprisingly strong. . . Over the years, researchers have noticed that people […]... Read more »

Bialystok E, & Depape AM. (2009) Musical expertise, bilingualism, and executive functioning. Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance, 35(2), 565-74. PMID: 19331508  

Corrigall KA, Schellenberg EG, & Misura NM. (2013) Music training, cognition, and personality. Frontiers in psychology, 222. PMID: 23641225  

Schellenberg EG. (2004) Music lessons enhance IQ. Psychological science, 15(8), 511-4. PMID: 15270994  

  • September 16, 2012
  • 01:23 PM
  • 1,236 views

Risk vs. Opportunity across the life-span: Risky choices decline with age

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Risk taking is somewhat enigmatic. On the one hand, risky choices in every day life – like drug abuse or drink driving – peak in adolescence. Never again in life is the threat to die from easily preventable causes as great. On the other hand, in laboratory experiments this risky choice peak in adolescence is absent. Instead, the readiness to take a gamble simply goes down the older you are. How can we explain this paradox? Perhaps, we should look at a tribe in the Amazon rain forest for answ........ Read more »

Everett, D. (2008) Don't sleep, there are snakes. London: Profile Books. info:/

  • October 2, 2012
  • 01:07 PM
  • 1,203 views

Is ADHD different around the globe? The role of research cultures

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

An illness is an illness wherever you are. Perhaps this is true for organic diseases but the cultural background can play a tremendous role in the progression and even diagnosis of mental disorders. However, what has been neglected is an appreciation of how culture affects the research underlying the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. As a consequence, our view on the disorder can change.... Read more »

Hodgkins P, Arnold LE, Shaw M, Caci H, Kahle J, Woods AG, & Young S. (2011) A systematic review of global publication trends regarding long-term outcomes of ADHD. Frontiers in psychiatry / Frontiers Research Foundation, 84. PMID: 22279437  

Polanczyk G, de Lima MS, Horta BL, Biederman J, & Rohde LA. (2007) The worldwide prevalence of ADHD: a systematic review and metaregression analysis. The American journal of psychiatry, 164(6), 942-8. PMID: 17541055  

  • June 6, 2013
  • 07:16 AM
  • 1,186 views

Did genes shape my mother tongue?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Intuitively, one is inclined to answer with a resounding ‘no’. Of course not, had I been adopted by Thai parents, I would speak Thai. But I was not. My parents and my mother tongue are German. Still, there is a growing opinion that genes do nonetheless play a role. Before looking at this opinion, it […]... Read more »

  • November 6, 2014
  • 04:25 AM
  • 1,185 views

Memory training boosts IQ

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Is the IQ set in stone once we hit adulthood? ‘Yes it is’ used to be the received wisdom. A new meta-analysis challenges this view and gives hope to all of us who feel that mother nature should have endowed us with more IQ points. But is the training worth it? Intelligence increases in adults […]... Read more »

  • October 25, 2012
  • 05:10 AM
  • 1,140 views

Obama should pray for sun – Psycho-meteorological effects on government approval

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Romney should pray for rain because rain improves a conservative’s chances of getting elected. Having covered this ‘Republican rain advantage’ in my last post, I will turn to a second reason why the presidential candidates should monitor the election day weather in this post. It turns out that the weather influences how well the government is perceived. Could this be exploited by the candidates?... Read more »

Mutz, M., & Kämpfer, S. (2011) …und nun zum Wetter: Beeinflusst die Wetterlage die Einschätzung von politischen und wirtschaftlichen Sachverhalten?. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 40(4), 208-226. info:/

  • November 6, 2015
  • 06:47 AM
  • 1,139 views

Broca’s area processes both music and language at the same time

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

When you read a book and listen to music, the brain doesn’t keep these two tasks nicely separated. In a new article just out, I show that there is a brain area which is busy with both tasks at the same time (Kunert et al., 2015). This brain area might tell us a lot about […]... Read more »

  • May 28, 2013
  • 02:53 AM
  • 1,130 views

Feeling someone else’s sensation of touch – the neural background, the examples, and you

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Touch is the only sensation which we cannot share with another person. The immediacy of touch differentiates it from the distant impressions which sight and audition can give us. However, modern neuroscience is currently revising this picture: you can touch at a distance. One just doesn’t notice it. Can we find people who do? A […]... Read more »

  • September 5, 2015
  • 06:21 AM
  • 1,130 views

Are internal replications the solution to the replication crisis in Psychology? No.

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Most Psychology findings are not replicable. What can be done? Stanford psychologist Michael Frank has an idea : Cumulative study sets with internal replication. ‘If I had to advocate for a single change to practice, this would be it.’ I took a look whether this makes any difference. A recent paper in the journal Science […]... Read more »

  • May 28, 2015
  • 05:01 PM
  • 1,103 views

Why does humanity get smarter and smarter?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Intelligence tests have to be adjusted all the time because people score higher and higher. If the average human of today went 105 years back in time, s/he would score 130, be considered as gifted, and join clubs for highly intelligent people. How can that be? The IQ growth The picture above shows the development […]... Read more »

Pietschnig J, & Voracek M. (2015) One Century of Global IQ Gains: A Formal Meta-Analysis of the Flynn Effect (1909-2013). Perspectives on psychological science : a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 10(3), 282-306. PMID: 25987509  

  • December 18, 2012
  • 07:02 AM
  • 1,095 views

How Long Should a Scientific Publication be?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

In one word: short. In two words: it depends. A neuroscience expert faces the challenge of 100 new neuroscience articles being published on a daily basis. S/he will never be able to read all that. So, what can be done to get your own publication known to the community? . 1) Know the reader and [...]... Read more »

  • August 18, 2014
  • 05:14 PM
  • 1,075 views

The 10,000-Hour rule is nonsense

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Have you heard of Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule? The key to success in any field is practice, and not just a little. A new publication in the journal Psychological Science had a good look at all the evidence and concludes that this rule is nonsense. No Einstein in you, I am afraid. The authors of […]... Read more »

  • July 16, 2012
  • 05:35 AM
  • 1,038 views

Psychological principles as guidelines for effective PowerPoint presentations

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

You probably wouldn’t have much difficulty if I asked you to imagine a bad PowerPoint presentation. Nowadays one sits through so many of them that confusing, boring or annoying slide shows are sometimes perceived as the norm rather than the exception. A research team from the universities of Stanford, Amsterdam and Harvard headed by Stephen [...]... Read more »

  • June 3, 2015
  • 04:31 AM
  • 1,009 views

Do music and language share brain resources?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

When you listen to some music and when you read a book, does your brain use the same resources? This question goes to the heart of how the brain is organised – does it make a difference between cognitive domains like music and language? In a new commentary I highlight a successfull approach which helps […]... Read more »

Kunert, R., & Slevc, L.R. (2015) A commentary on “Neural overlap in processing music and speech” (Peretz et al., 2015) . Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. info:/doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00330

Peretz I, Vuvan D, Lagrois MÉ, & Armony JL. (2015) Neural overlap in processing music and speech. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1664), 20140090. PMID: 25646513  

  • September 3, 2015
  • 06:23 AM
  • 987 views

Why are Psychological findings mostly unreplicable?

by Richard Kunert in Brain's Idea

Take 97 psychological effects from top journals which are claimed to be robust. How many will replicate? Brian Nosek and his huge team tried it out and the results were sobering, to say the least. How did we get here? The data give some clues. Sometimes the title of a paper just sounds incredible. Estimating […]... Read more »

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