Author Archives: mrice3

IQ and EI in Cognitive Control Processes

Intelligence quotient more commonly known as IQ has been studied time and time again. There are many studies that link IQ and cognitive control for example, inference and suppression. Now, researchers are looking more into the role of Emotional Intelligence known as EI. They are looking for a link between IQ, EI, and cognitive control tasks. Reasearchers are starting to find that not only is IQ essential to cognitive control but EI is as well.

IQ is typically divided into fluid intelligence which is the ability to think logically about new events or problems, and crystallized intelligence which is depended upon previous experiences and knowledge and the ability to use these factors. Fluid intelligence is typically measured using abstract reasoning tests such as the Matrices test. Crystalized intelligence is typically measured using vocabulary and verbal tests. The thought behind both types of IQ is that they work together to think logically but also use abstract reasoning.

EI is another form of intelligence that is mainly modeled throguh theoretical examples and mixed models with IQ. Examples of EI strengths would be optimism, motivation, and stress tolerance. It is the ability to express emotion, express and generate feelings, as well as understanding other peoples emotions. It is becoming more obvious that people that are emotionally intelligent are able to adapt to others emotions, and strategies in order to reach their goals. EI also helps solve problems, as well as generating positive moods in order to be successful.

Emotional intelligence is incredibly important in the ability to self regulate behavior which also includes impulse control. The researchers have also linked EI to aggressive behavior control, and negative behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.

This article was interesting to be because it talked about an aspect of intelligence that I was not aware of. My mom is a psychotherapist so I have always learned about individuals with mental illnesses all across the spectrum. I am aware that individuals with severe debilitating illnesses both physical and mental are not always able to be tested for IQ but I wonder if researchers would be able to test their EI through observations as well as reports from their loved ones and others around them. As a future kindergarten teacher I am also interested in how everyday life plays a role in my classroom and while 5 year olds might not be tested on their IQ I think their emotional intelligence is something that could be tested again through behavioral observation. The idea that I got from this article is that while IQ is an important thing that is commonly known about, EI is something that may be more generalized to a larger population and may be something that is tested more commonly in the future.

Can babies categorize?

I am a psychology major (obviously) and also in the College of Education. I am very interested in everything that involves child development. With that being said, I found an article talking about how babies as early as three months old can start to categorize objects as well as  tell the differences between categories. Northwestern University did a study involving infants around three months old. They showed half of the infants pairs of toys that were the same such as two Elmo dolls and the other half saw pairs of different toys such as an Elmo doll and a pink block. They measured the amount of time or “looking time” that the infants spent staring at the pairs of toys. The infants looked longer at the pair of toys that they had not already seen. This showed the researchers that they had made the connection for the pair of similar toys in as few as six trials. One of the researchers said that “this was the earliest evidence for abstract learning in humans.” The babies performed better when they were shown the pairs fewer times and given more chances to compare the pairs.  So to further expand on that…infants more easily and correctly categorized the toys when given AA vs EE rather than AA vs BB vs CC vs DD vs EE vs FF.  While repetition is a good thing when learning, the babies were able to differently categorize the toys with just one repetition and go above and beyond when given many repetitions. This research is also consistent with previous research in both children and adults showing that attention to individual objects can get in the way of relational learning. This shows that learning is a process throughout all of life starting in infancy all the way throughout adulthood. This is interesting to me because it is known that babies learn so much so fast but we didn’t realize that such complex processing happened so early in infants lives. If categorization occurs starting at three months, we build a foundation and the more we experience and learn the stronger our categorical connections are and the bigger the categories cognitive mapping becomes.

Exercise and Memory?

It is a common belief that stress negatively effects memory. This article suggests that not only does stress negatively effect memory, but exercise may actually assist memory both while stressed and while not stressed. A relatively new study has found that exercise has counteracted the negative effects of stress in mice.

Memories are coded and stored in the hippocampus allowing them to be recalled at later times. However, memories are very complex things that are stored in many different locations and across many brain cells. The stronger the connection between brain cells, the better and more permanent the memory is. Negative parts of our lives such as lack of sleep, alcohol use, and stress lessen the amount of communication between brain cells and weaken the memory.

However, exercise has been shown to improve both memory and learning abilities. Few to no studies before this one have looked at both the effects of stress and exercise on memory.

The study was run at Brigham Young University in Utah. The participants in the study were healthy male mice with the hopes to later look at the same effects on healthy female mice. The mice were divided into groups, one group continuing their normal lives, another group began to voluntarily run on their wheels running up to three miles a day!!! After the animals were around for about a month, some of the mice living their normal lives were put through three days of stressful activities. Some of the active mice were also put through three days of stressful activities. The three days of stressful activities were supposed to simulate chronic stress such as humans deal with commonly. The mice were then supposed to learn a maze with a treat in one of the corners. The researchers then looked at the synapses of the mice. They were able to stimulate isolated cells and see what type of and how many messages jumped between synapses.

The three days of stress weakened the synapses in the stressed out regular mice versus the control mice. The unstressed runners had the strongest synapses with the most activity suggesting that they were the most likely to learn and remember new things. Most importantly, the mice that were stressed and exercised has synapses that looked very similar to the mice from the normal unstressed control group. These mice synapses were not as strong as the exercising mice with no stress but much stronger than the animals that had not exercised and been stressed. The mice that exercised learned what corner the treat was in much faster and more consistently than the mice that had been stressed.

It is not completely known why or how exercise positively effects the strength of synapses but it is thought to be more activity in the proteins in the brain changing the synapses and allowing more buffering of the negative stress effects. It is also not known if different kinds of exercise would have the same effects. There is always a possibility that the same results would not be shown in humans.

Personally, I have had experience with this while training my service dog, Rotary. When he is active and has exercised he is much more likely to listen and learn new commands rather than if he has had a lazy day and not exercised. Again, I am not sure if the effects are the same on humans and it could be a coincidence with Rotary, but I believe exercise helps our bodies in many more ways than just one!

P.S. Not sure why the image is sideways and wont let me rotate it but you get the point 🙂

LSD’s impact on the brain

Addiction has always played a role in my family’s life. I find how drugs effect your brain to be very interesting. I found this article talking about the effects of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide otherwise known as LSD very interesting. LSD was first synthesized in 1938. The psychological properties weren’t clear until 1943 and the drug was banned in 1960. The things that this study found are said to be groundbreaking for the neuroscience field.

The study included 20 volunteers who were mentally and physically healthy and agreed to take LSD for science. The group was split up into two days. One day the volunteers received 75 mcg of LSD and the other day volunteers received a placebo. The volunteers were injected with LSD and put through three different imaging techniques. The volunteers reported a oneness with the universe as well as many visual hallucinations. They also experienced many different pictures that researchers were able to track from parts of the brain other than the visual cortex. Researchers also found that areas of the brain that are normally segregated, communicated with each other. As well as areas that normally communicate, were sometimes segregated. This is what is believed to create the feeling of oneness with the universe and the loss of personality known as “ego-dissolution.”

David Nutt, senior researcher on this study said “The findings of this study is to neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics.” He also stated that neuroscience as a field has waited for these findings for 50 years.

After being injected with the LSD or placebo, volunteers were put through three different kinds of brain imaging: arterial spin labelling, resting state MRI, and magnetoencephalography. The researchers also measured blood flow, connections within and between brain networks, and brain waves of all of the volunteers.

The volunteers on LSD were “seeing with their eyes shut,” which explains the hallucinations and the seeing images from different parts of the brain. The scans also showed a loss of connection between the parahippocampus and the retrosplenial cortex. The drug is also thought to reverse the restricted thinking we learn as early as childhood and throughout adulthood.

The drug is now being studied to see if it could possibly help patients with psychiatric disorders.