Category Archives: Neuroscience

Neurociência: Ansiedade na Prova

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How to Read a Scientific Paper

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How to Read a Scientific Paper

When reading a Science Paper, we have to focus on identifying some basic informations. Therefore, we have to first understand how to identify each of them:

Background: Every paper presents the scenario in the previous literature that left a door open, leading to the present study. Usually, the authors start talking about it in order to address their own question.

Question: What is the question that authors designed the study to answer? Usually, it is presented right after presenting the previous literature.

Logic: What is the rationale of the experiment? In other words, why does it make sense to do the experiment in the way it was done?

Method: First thing to do is to identify the name of the Method. If you don’t know anything about the Method, you should google it before reading more about the Method… and identify:

  • Stimulus: what was presented to the subject
  • Task: what was the subject asked to do
  • Independent variable (IV): the variable that affects the DV (*)
  • Dependent variable (DV): the variable being measured; what is varying in the experiment that is affected by IV or correlated to the IV(*).

It is worth noting that most of the time the IV and DV are included in the paper title.

Results: What are the results of the experiment? Usually, they present many results but always emphasizing the result that is the most important. The results are very specific, and most of the times expressed in numbers, percentages, and statistical results. If you don’t know how to interpret them, skip to the conclusion… but keep in mind that is necessary to understand statistics in order to evaluate the liability of the paper.

Conclusion: How do the authors interpret the results?  What conclusion do they make from them?

(*) More about IV and DV: http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/help/user_guide/graph/variables.asp

Are some celebrities eccentric or sick?

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Are some celebrities eccentric or sick?

If you ever felt that your uniqueness means that you are not like other people, and you do not have human limitation, you have entered the arena that Greek writers called “tragedy”.  In this arena, all Greek heroes often had the same flaws, excessive pride. It happens when people fail to accept human limitation, and when they believe they are not subjects to the same constrains as others. Also, the same happens to people who victimize (Carnes, 1997, pp. 84-85).

According to Dr. Patrick Carnes, here are some ways such entitlement can develop: all kind of people who were damaged or abused while growing up, and when not dealing with their issues, they end up believing that laws and rules don’t apply to themselves (e.g., sociopaths, narcissists, addicts).

Interesting is to note that people who grew up in families of extraordinary wealth, power or fame as well as people of great talent of hard work that rise to positions of great power, may share the same beliefs but with no apparent diagnosis. Often, they act in the same way, and laws and rules don’t apply to themselves. In other words, they believe they deserve privileges. They may see themselves as being better than others (e.g., smarter, tougher, etc.). Therefore, they believe that they are more deserving. Many of these famous or powerful figures died with no diagnosis… As a matter of fact, often they are just recognized as eccentrics (e.g, Steve Jobs, John F. Kennedy), and this is still a millenary heritage of our culture.

Perceptual Constancy and Audrey Heller’s Photography

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Perceptual constancy is an important aspect of our interaction with the world. The size constancy is the easiest one to understand. For example, two telephone poles look the same size when the first is viewed from 100 meters and when the second is viewed from 1 meter, even though the visual angle is very different. A person who appears to be 6 feet tall when he is nearby also appears to be 6 feet tall when he is standing across the room. Now, think of a penny… and you will understand the shape constancy in which the penny looks round both when viewed head on and when viewed from an acute angle. The color constancy is a little more difficult to grasp… think of the color of your car, for example… if you don’t have one, think of the one you are always taking a ride… you always perceive the color of the car as uniform, even under different light sources (sunlight, artificial light, shade). These are few examples of perceptual constancy that are essential to make our lives more stable, letting us freer to worry about other types of non-constancies (Goldstein, 2011; Cohen, forthcoming).

Here are some photos by Audrey Heller that plays with the phenomenon of size constancy:

Color is in the Brain

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Color is Mental Construction

Color is often thought to be a quality of light but this is not so. For example, the expression the ocean is blue uses a perceptual experience of blueness to describe the physical light. Color itself is not in the light. Color is a perceptual phenomenon determined by neural processes in the brain. The region of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to humans is from about 400 nm to 700 nm, but no wavelength is endowed with a color. Instead, a particular wavelength, say a wavelength near 470 nm or 580 nm, is perceived as blue or yellow, respectively, only because these wavelengths stimulate the photoreceptors in the human eye that are responsible for the transduction of physical light into neural responses. Those neural responses go through a series of processing stages in the brain. The experience of blue or yellow, as well as all other colors, is a mental construction. The experience of a color is like the understanding of language. There is no meaning in the physical sound (the brain must interpret it) just as there is no blue or yellow in the wavelengths of light. Color is a percept that humans are able to experience through sensory neural processes.

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