Psychology (category filter × )

Scientists find dopamine, serotonin have unexpectedly profound roles in the human brain

vtnews.vt.edu
  • Traditionally linked to reward processing, dopamine and serotonin might have far greater roles in the human nervous system than previously known.
  • For the first time, moment-to-moment activity of dopamine and serotonin transmitter systems was measured, indicating that they’re involved in perception and cognition.
  • Using an electrochemical method, with a small carbon fiber microelectrode, researchers recorded neurotransmitter changes in five patients during brain surgery.
  • Many psychiatric and neurological disorders change how we absorb information, interpret it, and make decisions - dopamine and serotonin are key suspects.

Daydreaming at Work Can Fuel Creativity

journals.aom.org
  • We spend nearly half of each day daydreaming, and usually think that it’s a bad thing, but it turns out that highly demanding tasks make us daydream more.
  • It allows us to turn off our surroundings, and can be a way of imagining solutions to the problem at hand.
  • To find this out, researchers did two studies of employees and managers in South America, including mainly surveys about daydreaming.
  • Daydreaming turned out to happen more when the tasks required a lot of focus - it can boost creative problem-solving as long as we’re personally invested in our work.
  • However, for people who don’t identify with their work, daydreaming was linked to worse performance.

Playing video games as a child can improve working memory years later

uoc.edu
  • Studies have shown that playing video games can lead to brain structure changes, but new study shows changes can happen even years after people stop playing.
  • The study lasted a month, and involved 27 people between 18 and 40 years old, with and without experience in gaming.
  • Those who played a lot before becoming adults performed better with working memory tasks, which require you to mentally hold and manipulate information.
  • They also did better at processing 3D objects, but after a period of video game training, non-gamers were able to catch up in this area.
  • Video games are great to strengthen mental skills, however these improvements have limited effect on activities not linked to gaming.

Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time

quantamagazine.org
  • Our perception of time changes all the time, and new study suggests that time perception is linked to our brain’s mechanism for learning through rewards.
  • Time perception is also linked to our brain’s ever-changing expectations about what will happen next, and dopamine plays a big role in how we experience time.
  • It happens in several brain regions, and it influences reinforcement learning, meaning that time perception is a part of how we learn things.
  • This study shows that when unexpected good things happen, they seem to last long, and when unexpected bad things happen, they seem to last less time.

We Learn Faster When We Aren’t Told What Choices to Make

scientificamerican.com
  • Study shows the choice-confirmation bias, which might be the root of all other biases like the confirmation bias (discounting information that doesn’t agree with our views).
  • Based on a series of decision-making experiments, researchers found that our brains learn differently from forced choices compared to free choices.
  • The findings suggest that our sense of control in a situation influences how we learn, and being in control of your choices makes the brain learn better.
  • It has implications for studying delusions, suggesting that an inflated sense of control around a false belief could make people unable to change that belief with new facts.
  • The main conclusion is that biased thinking is rooted deep in the human psyche, so it’s unclear whether we can behave rationally even in high-stakes situations.

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