Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Why Agile Minds Deploy Both Rational and Intuitive Problem-Solving

A rare aha moment in 2011 set me chas­ing new problem-solving research. The study Ratio­nal Ver­sus Intu­itive Problem-Solving: How Think­ing ‘Off the Beaten Path’ Can Stim­u­late Cre­ativ­ity pub­lished in Psy­chol­ogy of Aes­thet­ics, Cre­ativ­ity, and the Arts stung me out of a spot of intel­lec­tual arro­gance. From my per­spec­tive, John Dewey’s 19th cen­tury step-wise Read the rest of this entry »

Daniel Kahneman on the Need to Think Slow (at times)

So Much for Snap Deci­sions (The Wall Street Jour­nal):
– “How is it that so many peo­ple make deci­sions that, from their per­spec­tive, seem so right—and turn out so wrong? Blame it, in part, on think­ing “fast.”

- “On some occa­sions, when the stakes are high, exam­in­ing the evi­dence more systematically—especially the evi­dence that makes you uncomfortable—is likely to be worthwhile.”

- “This is how sci­en­tists often oper­ate in eval­u­at­ing their own ideas. They imag­ine a severe reviewer who will be search­ing for weak­nesses in their argument.”

To Learn More:

How cognitive illusions blind us to reason

Fun arti­cle by Daniel Kah­ne­man based on his new book,Think­ing, Fast and Slow.

How cog­ni­tive illu­sions blind us to rea­son (The Guardian):

Why do Wall Street traders have such faith in their pow­ers of pre­dic­tion, when their suc­cess is largely down to chance? Daniel Kah­ne­man explains.

- “Look­ing back, the most strik­ing part of the story is that our knowl­edge of the gen­eral rule that we could not pre­dict had no effect on our con­fi­dence in indi­vid­ual cases. We were reluc­tant to infer the par­tic­u­lar from the gen­eral. Sub­jec­tive con­fi­dence in a judg­ment is not a rea­soned eval­u­a­tion of the prob­a­bil­ity that this judg­ment is cor­rect. Con­fi­dence is a feel­ing, which reflects the coher­ence of the infor­ma­tion and the cog­ni­tive ease of pro­cess­ing it. It is wise to take admis­sions of uncer­tainty seri­ously, but dec­la­ra­tions of high con­fi­dence mainly tell you that an indi­vid­ual has con­structed a coher­ent story in his mind, not nec­es­sar­ily that the story is true.” …

- “The sub­jec­tive expe­ri­ence of traders is that they are mak­ing sen­si­ble edu­cated guesses in a sit­u­a­tion of great uncer­tainty. In highly effi­cient mar­kets, how­ever, edu­cated guesses are no more accu­rate than blind guesses.”

Related arti­cles:

Mind Teaser: Consider Linda

(I hope you enjoy this very reveal­ing mind teaser!)

Please con­sider Linda, a 31-year-old woman, sin­gle and bright. When she was a stu­dent, both in high school and col­lege, she was deeply con­cerned with dis­crim­i­na­tion and social jus­tice, and also par­tic­i­pated in anti-nuclear protests.

Which is more prob­a­ble about Linda’s occu­pa­tion today? (a) Linda is a bank teller; (b) Linda is a bank teller and active in the envi­ron­men­tal movement.

Quick, what’s your answer? (a) or (b)?

If you answered (b), you are wrong, and in good com­pany. That’s what most of my col­leagues and I answered the first time we saw this teaser in one of our Stan­ford Orga­ni­za­tional Behav­ior classes.

It is more prob­a­ble that Linda is a bank teller, which is a whole cat­e­gory, that she is both a bank teller AND also active in the envi­ron­men­tal move­ment, which is a sub­set of that whole category.

A recent Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle explains the phenomenon:

Free to Choose, But Often Wrong:

When psy­chol­o­gists Daniel Kah­ne­man and the late Amos Tver­sky con­ducted an exper­i­men­tal sur­vey in the early 1980s ask­ing peo­ple to answer this sim­ple ques­tion, they dis­cov­ered, to their sur­prise, that most respon­dents picked “b,” even though this was the nar­rower choice and hence the less likely one. It seems that saliency in this case, Linda’s pas­sion­ate polit­i­cal pro­file trumps logic.”

Related read­ing and teasers:

- Why Smart Brains Make Stu­pid Decisions

- 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity.

Brain Fitness @ Education, Training, Health events

Brain Fitness eventsIn what cat­e­gory does Brain Fit­ness fit? Edu­ca­tion, Pro­duc­tiv­ity and Train­ing, Health? Most of the inter­est so far has come from a Healthy Aging angle, but we are start­ing to see broader inter­est, as in the events below. After all, isn’t work­ing on our brains rel­e­vant to all those markets?.

2 busy weeks: I am attending/ speak­ing at a vari­ety of events. I will make sure to blog at least the take-aways from the main events daily, and Car­o­line will also add her per­spec­tive as much as possible.

A) Octo­ber 3-6th: The Aspen Health Forum at the Aspen Institute

B) Octo­ber 9th: First ses­sion of my class The Sci­ence of Brain Health and Brain Fit­ness at the UC-Berkeley Osher Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute (OLLI)

C) Octo­ber 10th: Teach­ing Brain Fit­ness in Your Com­mu­nity, work­shop at an Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging (ASA) con­fer­ence for health professionals

D) Octo­ber 10th: Sci­ence at Work, Inter­view at the event The Future of Work: Ampli­fied Indi­vid­u­als, Ampli­fied Orga­ni­za­tions, orga­nized by the Insti­tute for the Future


A) Octo­ber 3-6th: The Aspen Health Forum at the Aspen Insti­tute. This promises to be a fas­ci­nat­ing event. See below the pan­els I am attending-I will make sure to write some notes every day to keep you in the discussion.

Wednes­day Octo­ber 3rd:

Great Expec­ta­tions: Amer­i­can Atti­tudes toward Per­sonal Respon­si­bil­ity and Medicine

Health­care Re-Imagined: Learn­ing from Olympic Athletes

Thurs­day 4th:

The Dam­aged Brain: The Fight Against Neurodegeneration

The Human Ele­ment: A Can­did Con­ver­sa­tion about Pio­neers of Mod­ern Medicine

The Last Fron­tier: The Mind

Global Sci­en­tific Investment

Sci­ence Ver­sus the Bio­log­i­cal Clock Read the rest of this entry »


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