Whether or not they aced it in high school, human beings are physics masters when it comes to understanding and predicting how objects in the world will behave. A Johns Hopkins University cognitive scientist has found the source of that intuition, the brain’s “physics engine.”
Recent news from The Johns Hopkins University
This section contains regularly updated highlights of the news from around The Johns Hopkins University. Links to the complete news reports from the nine schools, the Applied Physics Laboratory and other centers and institutes are to the left, as are links to help news media contact the Johns Hopkins communications offices.
Although math skills are considered notoriously hard to improve, Johns Hopkins University researchers boosted kindergarteners’ arithmetic performance simply by exercising their intuitive number sense with a quick computer game.
People are intuitive physicists — knowing from birth how objects under the influence of gravity are likely to fall, topple or roll. In a new study, scientists have found the brain cells apparently responsible for this innate wisdom.
You’re at a crowded party, noisy with multiple conversations, music and clinking glasses. But when someone behind you says your name, you hear it and quickly turn in that direction. The same sort of thing happens with bats and Johns Hopkins University researchers have discovered how a bat’s brain determines what’s worth paying attention to. The findings, which have implications across animal systems, were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The human brain is wired to pay attention to previously pleasing things — a finding that could help explain why it’s hard to break bad habits or stick to New Year’s resolutions.
More than a century ago Pavlov figured out that dogs fed after hearing a bell eventually began to salivate when they heard the ring. A Johns Hopkins University-led research team has now figured out a key aspect of why.
You’re about to drive through an intersection when the light suddenly turns red. But you’re able to slam on the brakes, just in time.
Johns Hopkins University researchers, working with scientists at the National Institute on Aging, have revealed the precise nerve cells that allow the brain to make this type of split-second change of course. In the latest issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, the team shows that these feats of self control happen when neurons in the basal forebrain are silenced.
Science news tips for reporters, including a story suggestion from Johns Hopkins Magazine on JHU and ET and another on mistletoe and cancer.
It’s something we just accept: the fact that the older we get, the more difficulty we seem to have remembering things. We can leave our cars in the same parking lot each morning, but unless we park in the same space each and every day, it’s a challenge eight hours later to recall whether we left the SUV in the second or fifth row. Or, we can be introduced to new colleagues at a meeting and will have forgotten their names before the handshake is over. We shrug and nervously reassure ourselves that our brains’ “hard drives” are just too full to handle the barrage of new information that comes in daily. According to a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist, however, the real trouble is that our aging brains are unable to process this information as “new” because the brain pathways leading to the hippocampus-the area of the brain that stores memories-become degraded over time. As a result, our brains cannot accurately “file” new information (like where we left the car that particular morning), and confusion results. A study on the subject appeared in the May 9 Early Online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.