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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