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CogNation is a podcast by Rolf Nelson and Joe Hardy, two cognitive psychologists interested in the future of brain science and technology. We explore relevant topics in the areas of cognitive science, technology, AI, and philosophy. Although we dabble with dystopian implications of new technologies (such as the impending robopocalypse), we are led by our curiosity and try to keep it light and fun. https://www.facebook.com/CognationPodcast/ email: cognationpodcast@gmail.com
 
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show series
 
In Annie Murphy Paul's new book, "The Extended Mind", the philosophical idea of our minds extending beyond the physical boundaries of the body are explored. Rolf and Joe talk to Annie about the implications of this idea, and how it might be used to improve the way we think in a number of contexts. Special Guest: Annie Murphy Paul.…
 
The NIH Toolbox is the result of an ambitious project supported by the National Institutes of Health to develop a comprehensive, standardized, and highly accessible test battery to be used in research. Dr. Julie Hook is the Product Manager for the project and is in large part responsible for the development of the Toolkit. Rolf and Joe discuss with…
 
Bestselling author known for making complex topics accessible to readers, Tom Vanderbilt's recent book is Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning. Rather than buying into the idea that learning is for kids, Tom takes the "beginner's mind" to challenging new skills, such as singing, juggling, and jewelery making, where he st…
 
David Rosen and Scott Miles of Secret Chord Laboratories (secretchordlaboratories.com) talk to Joe and Rolf about musical preference, the role of surprise in these preferences, what's going on in the brain, and how COVID is affecting the way we listen to music. Discussion paper: "A Statistical Analysis of the Relationship between Harmonic Surprise …
 
An update on Episode 4, where we first discussed the phenomenon of the "Frey Effect" in which sounds are heard as a result of pulsed microwave radiation. The Frey Effect was proposed to be involved in attacks on the US embassy in Cuba. Could this also be going on in the US embassy in China? Rolf and Joe discuss further, and give a call out for any …
 
In this half-hour episode, Rolf and Joe discuss research by Jennifer Mitchell and colleagues ("Dopamine, time perception, and future time perspective") showing that the drug tolcapone, which selectively increases dopamine in frontal cortical regions, has the effect of reducing the error in estimating how much time has passed. Individuals tend to sy…
 
Since 1999, National Novel Writing Month has exploded in popularity, becoming one of the most creatively productive events in the world every November. Participants buckle down and write a 50,000-word novel in a month, many enjoying the social support from the NaNoWriMo community. Founder Chris Baty joins us to talk about what he's been up to latel…
 
30 min episode A connectome is a representation of every connection between neurons in the brain. Recent brain-slicing technology, in addition to image recognition tools, has begun to make this science-fiction idea become a reality. Rolf and Joe discuss the recent publication of the largest completed connectome to date, that of the fruit fly drosop…
 
Season 2 premiere! How do people behave in a pandemic? Joshua Ackerman of the University of Michigan talks about how we alter our behavior in the face of pathogens. A repertoire of responses (such as avoidance) referred to as the "behavioral immune system" is a way for humans to avoid pathogens BEFORE our biochemical immune system encounters them. …
 
Chris Mattman, Principal Data Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, talks about bridging the gap between lab scientists and data scientists, his work with DARPA unearthing the dark web, machine learning in autonomous planetary rovers, and other cool stuff he's been doing. Chris Mattman's page at NASA More information about the Memex progra…
 
David Sobel, a developmental psychologist from Brown University, talks to us about the importance of play in learning. He has recently been collaborating with researchers around the country to investigate how children interact with exhibits in childrens' museums. One recent finding we discuss is that parent-child interaction styles can have a stron…
 
Guest Dr. Aaron Schurger talks to us about his research on the meaning of the "readiness potential", which has been referred to as "the brain signature of the will". Although this neural signal was already famous from research in the 1960s, it was Benjamin Libet's infamous experiments in the 1980s that proportedly showed that the readiness potentia…
 
Guest Dr. Michael Trujillo of Karuna Labs talks to us about pain perception and recent research on the management of pain. We discuss a recent article (Hird et al.) exploring the degree to which expectation can alter the perception of pain, as well as Trujillo's work in using Virtual Reality in pain management. Boundary effects of expectation in hu…
 
Dr. Erick Gallun joins us today to talk about the latest in audiology research, and how it can be applied to help those with a range of hearing problems. His research has focused on rehabilitation with Veteran's Association (VA) patients. Rapid-response medical care and an understanding of how hearing is affected by brain damage are critical areas …
 
Evidence has mounted that high-impact sports like boxing and football can lead to later cognitive problems, and there is increasing awareness that concussions should be taken seriously. So how does this all happen, and should you be worried? We take a look at some recent studies that shed some light on the topic. Articles: https://jamanetwork.com/j…
 
David Wulff, author of the comprehensive "Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary", talks with us today about some of the issues that psychologists grapple with in studying religion. How can a researcher take a fair and unbiased approach to a topic so fraught with issues of personal belief and faith? How important is belief anyway -- must …
 
In the 1960s, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram performed some of the most famous experiments in psychology history, demonstrating that ordinary people could do terrible things in certain circumstances. Joe and Rolf look into the meaning of these experiments from a contemporary view. How are they holding up over 50 years later, and what else …
 
Joe and Rolf discuss recent research finding that recordings from the brain can be used to reconstruct the speech that is being thought about. Getting into the prospects of mind-reading and other futuristic possibilities, they discuss some of the limitations of research in the area and what makes progress so difficult. Source material: Speech Synth…
 
Our guest is Karen Schloss, who studies the way in which color is imbued with meaning through a lifetime of associations with objects (like bananas and fire trucks) and concepts (like love and politics). We discuss her research, including topics such as: What color should recycling bins be? A tool that can help designers use color-concept associati…
 
We examine a paper that finds sleep disruption from using tablet computers (as compared to reading a book in dim light). How much should we be worried about the effects of screens on a good night's sleep? There's good reason to believe that blue light is the main culprit -- recently discovered receptors in the eye that respond to blue light directl…
 
Joe and Rolf talk with Brent Stansfield, who is currently the director of medical education at Wayne State University, about the future of health care and the kinds of value that doctors can provide as artificial intelligence and robotic surgery come of age. We frame the discussion around the article "Medical Education Must Move From the Informatio…
 
Can we create life artificially? What would that even mean? Rolf and Joe talk about the field of Artificial Life, or "A-Life", which has worked toward the goal from a number of academic disciplines for the past thirty or so years. They think about different approaches, such as software, hardware, and biological artificial life, and consider what it…
 
Dr. Stephanie Preston is our guest for this great conversation about the neural and evolutionary underpinnings of heroic behaviors. She proposes that heroism can be found across the phylogenetic spectrum, and acts of human heroism may have significant roots in conserved behavior patterns -- for example, the instinct for mother rats to retrieve and …
 
The psychologist Dan Wegner (1948-2013) had a lot of influential work. One of his most popular (and controversial) claims was that conscious will is an illusion. He wanted to sidestep the issue of whether or not "free will" in a metaphysical sense exists, and get to the more psychological issue of why human beings have such a strong feeling that th…
 
We talk with Adrian Nestor, a professor and researcher at the University of Toronto, Scarsborough, about his recent research, the state of current brain imaging technology, and some speculations about where the field is headed. Can mental images and thoughts be captured, decoded, and understood by a combination of electroencephalography and machine…
 
Dr. Beatrice Golomb describes her paper, "Diplomats’ Mystery Illness and Pulsed Radiofrequency/ Microwave Radiation" which details the evidence for the theory that the Frey Effect is responsible for the Cuban embassy incident in 2016. She also details the (mis)handling of the New York Times story that popularized this claim as a leading theory of t…
 
Rolf and Joe tackle an interesting perceptual phenomenon called the Frey Effect. In the Frey Effect, first discovered in the 1960s, pulsed microwave beams can cause the perception of a high-pitched sound. This has come up in the news recently as an explanation of possible "attacks" on the American embassy in Cuba. How exactly does this work? Should…
 
In this second part on brain-computer interfaces, discussion goes toward the more speculative. Joe and Rolf talk about Elon Musk's Neuralink project, which aims to fully connect brains with computers. Would this be possible? Could any system really read our thoughts in the way portrayed in science fiction? Should we even want this to happen? And mo…
 
In the inaugural episode of CogNation, Joe and Rolf talk about artificial intelligence that mimics the way people think. Along the way, they also talk about pneumatic tubes, uploading consciousness, and how we'll spend our time when robots do all the work. They touch on how this all inevetiably leads to robots taking over the world. The discussion …
 
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