Tag Archives: Intelligence

Gendered Intelligence

When reading the textbook, I came across the passage talking about intelligence differences between genders, and I was immediately inspired to write this blog post. As a feminist, I of course would like to think that men and women are equal in all instances, but the fact remains that biologically, this is not the case. I appreciated that the text did amend its statement by saying that men and women are each better at certain ways of thinking, doing away with the assumption that one gender is simply inherently more intelligent than the other. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

One common assumption I seem to come across very often is that men are naturally better at mathematics and the sciences, while women are naturally more astute in the fine arts. This is essentially incorrect, but as this article states, there are “recognised, small but observable and replicable, sex differences at all stages at life” that seem to lend some credence to this assumption. Women are more emotionally and socially attuned to their surroundings with, on average, better hearing and a predilection to be more vocal. They are also better with words than males, being able to read more fluently and develop larger vocabularies. On the other hand, males are more interested in systems and physical stimuli; they show narrow interests and use language primarily to get what they want. Males also are less communicative and are more concerned with dominance than females are. As stated in this article, males are also better at mathematical reasoning, which lends a modicum of truth to the common assumption stated earlier. The author stresses that all these observable gendered traits are not true for all individuals, and that intelligence cannot be measured by such small differences. If it were, then only boys would become math majors in college! All these differences must be taken with a grain of salt. The age-old argument of nature vs. nurture thus comes up in this conversation, as it usually does with any other. Though males may be more naturally inclined to enjoy rough-and-tumble play while girls are more sedentary, this does not prove true for all girls and boys.

Additionally, as stated in this article, intelligence is not only judged by natural predilections – it’s determined by opportunities presented by the real world. Men and women may differ in these small ways simply because women are historically given worse educations and less opportunities to expand their minds and gain knowledge. Thus we can determine that intelligence has nothing to do with gender – it’s purely reliant on the individual’s ability to gain and retain information and the opportunities they have been given to do so. Yes, much of intelligence is biological, but as stated in the text and the article above, personal and societal expectations are what play into performances and advancements (or stunting) of intelligence. Intelligence itself has absolutely nothing to do with gender, other than the small observable differences that don’t even apply to every single human being in existence. Gender is on a spectrum, and so must be intelligence.

Google: helpful or misleading?


If you’ve never used Google before then I’m sorry don’t read my blog. Realistically, I know that everyone has used Google whether you use it everyday, every week, or every month we all use it for some purpose in our lives. We Google how to get from point a to point b, random facts about things like frogs average lifespan, capitals of countries, definitions of words we don’t know, images of cute puppies, biography’s of famous people, anything we want to know more about we Google.

As I was looking for an interesting article to talk about in our blog, I came across this article saying “Google makes people feel smarter than they really are.” I laughed and was automatically cued in to know more about this. The article mentioned a study that suggests instant, online access to information magnifies people’s sense of their own intelligence. So what does this mean? People think they’re smarter than they actually are.

In the study, Matthew Fisher, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University, had a team of hundreds of people engage in a series of experiments. In one experiment, people were divided into two groups and asked to answer random questions such as “How does a zipper work?” One group was told they could search out the answer on the Internet, but the other was not given that resource.Those who searched for information on the Internet believed they were smarter about topics unrelated to their online searches, compared to people in a “control” group who didn’t use the Internet in the experiment.

In another experiment, participants were shown images that supposedly showed samples of activity in brains — their brains and the brains of others — as tracked by MRI. Those who frequently used Internet searches typically chose the “smarter-looking,” more active brain images as being their own brains.

We learned something in cognitive psychology called overconfidence bias which says people tend to be overconfident in their knowledge. Overconfidence biases say it is at it’s greatest when accuracy is lowest and decreases as accuracy improves yet, confidence doesn’t change with accuracy. Linking this back to the article, it seems as if people are becoming overconfident with their own knowledge because of the easy access to the internet like Google. Therefore, humanity is increasing the overconfidence bias. So not only do we have an inflated sense of our intelligence, but we are confident about that it’s actually accurate.

Technology is a growing rapidly every day and if there is one thing I want anyone to take from this article/blog is that just because you can Google something in less than a minute to find an answer does not mean you know EVERYTHING. We don’t need humanity to think we are superheros or  brain geniuses because it will lead us to make poor decision on things we don’t know a lot about but THINK we know a great deal about it. Accurate personal knowledge is difficult to achieve, and the Internet may be making that task even harder because we think we are smart due to the internet.

I took the liberty of Googling, “What would life be like without Google?” Sure enough I got an answer and it led me to any interesting article (that includes pictures)  of “13 Things We Can’t Do Without Google.” It took me about a minute to go through so check it out!



Prove your mom wrong: Gaming is beneficial to cognitive development.

Do you remember when you were a child and your mom would limit your television watching time, or when she would take away your Nintendo DS, or not let you use the computer for those addicting games? As a normal child your response was always “WHY MOM?” but she always had a better answer and it almost always include something like “You could be spending this time reading, or playing outside, those video games are only making you dumber.” Do you remember? Well I am here to tell you that there is a possibility that your mom was wrong. Research has demonstrated that video games can be beneficial to cognitive development.

When people talk about video games they focus on the negative effects it has on gamers’ lives: social isolation, violence, and addiction; but very rarely do you hear anything about beneficence. As I scrolled through my twitter feed, I saw an article that Psychology Today called Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games. It automatically caught my attention, but the context was even more interesting.

The underlying theme of the article is to explain what aspects of the video games has a positive effect on our intelligence and why. When you engage in the activity to play video games, you are signing yourself up for a multitasking adventure, faced with obstacles that require you to overcome them in matters of second, while keeping in mind your goal and the best ways to achieve it. With this being said research has suggested that this process demonstrates long-lasting positive effects on: perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. It has demonstrated that gamers test higher on visual attention, executive function and cognitive flexibility.

When it comes to visual attention, research specifically focused on Sustained attention, impulsiveness and vigilance. This accounts for the amount of time you spend looking at a specific stimulus, while also improving your selective attention, in that sense that you are able to pay attention to many things at once. Impulsiveness accounts for ability in which you respond to the stimuli in a certain way without putting much thought into it, while also knowing that perhaps that was the best option. Also, when you play video games, and have this visual attention, and make a certain move, you need to keep an eye out for any new stimuli that may appear as a result of a past action. After all, your vision is being over stimulated in a way that games believe to be compensatory. Yet while your visual sense is being stimulated, Eichenbaum believes that gaming also has a positive effect on executive functioning, specifically in frontal lobe and the ability to make decisions, plan ahead, switch tasks, and multitasking.

I believe that a lot of these benefits can be traced to the very basic cognitive definition of elaborative rehearsal. I thought of this automatically primarily because it has been primed, but also because when I think about gaming, I think about the fact that these people are playing the same game over and over again. So they are repeating the information but in a way that is meaningful: learning what to do from previous experience. On another note, I thought about unintentional learning, the idea that they do not think they are learning, much less sitting in front of a book on how to successfully accomplish the goal of the game. Instead, they are thinking they are engaging in this activity for fun and not doing any precious research on how to accomplish the goal. In my perspective, gaming can help you to think faster on your toes, while taking into consideration the best available option.

If you are anything like me, you like to prove people wrong. So take advantage of this opportunity, call your mom, and tell her that she was wrong. Also keep this in mind, when you have kids of your own. Save yourself from that call from tem telling you that you were wrong.

If you want to read some more about this topic, here are the links.

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201502/cognitive-benefits-playing-video-games

Research: http://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/7-1-article-video-games.pdf

Deep thinking about Artificial Intelligence in the movie “Her”

Recently, I’ve been recommending one of my friends to watch the movie “Her“. The movie “Her” is one of my favorite movies. This is due to two things: it can be interpreted in many different ways and also because the Artificial Intelligence (AI) fell in love with the main character, Theodore Twombly, which was very new and impactive idea to me. While thinking something interesting to post on the blog, I thought of some key words, such as brain, computer, memory, and intelligence.

There are a lot of AI movies; robot movies, which talk about the future world. At first, it started as pointing out people’s alienation as technology began to become increasingly highly-skilled. The imagination in these sub-genre of movies made the audience consider the possibilities of a world riddled with new technology and also the problems that followed as a result. However, our current world is already high-tech. Researchers and inventors are already making a lot of devices that were influenced from movies.

An article written by Vlad Sejnoha mentioned Deep Neural Networks (DNN) and the high accuracy of Samantha ( the invisible woman played AI role in the movie). A deep neural network (DNN) is an artificial neural network with multiple hidden layers of units between the input and output layers.  DNNs depend on ‘learning from examples’, the networks are classified with the labeled training exemplars and learn relationships between the input datas and the desired classification. Like most of you, I have not heard of DNNs as well. However, this concept is already into our thinking naturally. According to the article, DNN’s topology mimics brain structures and it is easy to understand AI by interpreting its DNN. In the movie, the AI Samantha seemed different than most computer in terms of her processing. While a computer is processed by a serial processing system, AI is processed by a parallel processing system just like our brain. AI combines symbolic processing and a machine learning system to help it adapt to unexpected situations. AI can multi-task, tasks like speech recognition, natural language understanding, speech generation, dialog, reasoning, planning, and can even learn new things. The following is an example of a neural network pattern shown in Samantha’s speech in the movie. “Sorry, nothing’s available until 9pm. Would you like another Italian restaurant in the area at about 6:30pm?” How can an AI suggest a restaurant and take into account the time, location, availability of the attendees and the type of restaurant? This is what neural network matching does; it learns the connections of each possible chance and the desired next step from trial and error. I am not going to talk about DNN deeply, but anyone who wants to learn more about it than speech recognition, can watch this easy youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2IebCN9Ht4

AI interactions with humans is not a new concept, but this movie is new in that it’s based on emotional intelligence. In the movie “The Island”, the main characters are clones but have emotions and have the self-actualization that their existences are not real. “The Island” was released in 2005, and the movie “Her” was released in 2013. It’s been 8 years and a lot of things have changed. This movie is based on the emotion Samantha feels. She also gets confused about her feelings of love, worry, happiness, sadness, just like a human. This journal provides a good debatable issue, “Is it necessary for Artificial Intelligence to have emotions like a human?” I think it is unnecessary for AI to have emotions but they can be systemized to speak a right sentence in right situation in order to make a human to feel an emotion to them. To bring it in the real world, a current AI could be without emotions but if it could make its human user experience a plethora of emotions could be a more sophisticated machine. If you have a similar or different opinion, I want you to share with me and other readers.

  To close the post, in the future, I hope nowadays’ technique could deal with unstructured information such as pre-structuring of information sources, reasoning for not only superficial, but also introspection. In addition, as the author of this journal said, we should consider AI as not just an Artificial Intelligence, but also an Amplification Intelligence.

  Lastly, this youtube video shows ten high-tech movies so if you are interested in other good hi-tech movies, watch this.


Source: http://www.wired.com/2014/02/can-build-samantha-tells-us-future-ai/, wikipedia, youtube, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1798709/?ref_=nv_sr_2

Artificial Intelligence: Positive or Negative change?

The human brain is undeniably something extraordinary. Weighing at just an average of 3 pounds, the brain is the mastermind behind everything that humans do. Cognitive Psychology is the study of knowledge, its creation, and its uses. Understandably enough, the brain, which is the source of all knowledge, is the most essential part of this study. Now imagine an artificially man made brain that allows non-human, non-living things, to think and feel like just like humans.

Perhaps you have wondered and wanted to know more about the information behind popular Hollywood movies such as “iRobot” starring Will Smith or “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” starring Haley Joel Osment. These types of movies feature entities or beings that were artificially created by man to possess human-like qualities such as intelligence, emotions, and feelings. Could those actually translate into and happen in real life?

Artificial intelligence is defined as the attempt to artificially create cognitive beings that can think and feel very much like humans. As technology continues to advance more and more each day, it is undeniable that the idea of creating artificial intelligence has most likely crossed the minds of scientists and the general public at least once.

As one would predict, our knowledge of artificial intelligence and the questions that will arise as we acquire more knowledge about it are highly positively correlated. That is, as our knowledge of artificial intelligence increases so will the questions we have that are left unanswered. Is it possible, or even more, is it even a good idea in the first place to create such beings that possess such subjective qualities, which are universally known to differentiate humans from other living things? What happens in instances, such as in the movie “iRobot”, when these beings start to possess more and more intelligence, which then threatens the existence of humans? Do we, as the general public, have an incorrect perceived notion of what the effects of artificial intelligence could potentially bring to us because of Hollywood movies such as “iRobot” and “Terminator”? Yes and no.

This video clip highlights the opinion of Stephen Hawking, a well-known physicist, on the exponential development of artificial intelligence.


He mentions that although very useful, “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete.” This statement from a highly influential and respected physicist may confirm our fears of such movies. It IS possible for artificial intelligence to develop faster than the human brain ever could and for it to threaten the mere existence of the human population.

However, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, one could not deny the advantages that artificial intelligence has contributed to the human race to help us live much more convenient lives. This TED talk given by Andre LeBlanc mentions some fears associated with artificial intelligence but highlights more all the advantages that the advancement of artificial intelligence has contributed to the human race, as well as where it is headed in the future.


As part of the general public who is affected by technology everyday, personally, I don’t think it would end on the most drastic side of each spectrum. It is not something as simple as good or bad. Technology continues to advance everyday- yes. However, unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure whether artificial intelligence is headed in a positive or negative direction. Only time can tell.

Brain Training

Within the last couple years, people have become increasingly interested in self improvement of things such as memory, intelligence, reaction speed, and so on. To achieve this higher level of brain functioning, many people have turned to cognitive training, also known as brain training, games. Websites and apps such as Lumosity, Brain Age, and Brain Wars allow people to play games to practice mental skills and “exercise their brains”, do but these games actually do what they claim?

The video below is a commercial for one of the most popular brain training games, Brain Age, played on the Nintendo DS.

The commercial states that “cognitive exercises can stimulate your mind through increased blood flow to the brain.” Many studies have been conducted to test the validity of what these cognitive training games claim to do. The studies all boil down to the same conclusion: not enough evidence can be found as to whether brain games significantly increase mental functioning.  While many different researchers found results and had believed they had truly found a way to increase brain functioning, the studies were later found to have flaws.

There are two different types of intelligence to take into account when conducting studies like these: fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is defined as the ability to think rationally and solve unusual problems, and is difficult improve. Through meta-analysis of 23 separate studies, researchers Monica Melby-Lervåg and Charles Hulme found no significant evidence that brain training showed any increase in an individual’s fluid intelligence. Like any task that one does repeatedly, players of brain games will get better at the certain tasks they are asked to perform, but a boost in their overall intelligence is too broad of a conclusion to make. The tasks performed in brain training games do not necessarily carry over into real-life situations, and therefore, a rational conclusion cannot be made as to whether an individual’s “real-life” intelligence is improved.

Crystallized intelligence, on the other hand, can much more easily be improved and increased. Crystallized intelligence is defined as an individual’s acquired knowledge and skills. To improve crystallized intelligence, you could learn to play an instrument or play a new sport. You could teach yourself to solve a Rubik’s cube or study chemistry. Any task where you are acquiring new knowledge is going to increase your crystallized intelligence at a much faster rate than one can improve their fluid intelligence.

Overall, not enough information has been found to prove brain training can do exactly what it claims to be capable of doing. A flawless study has yet to be conducted in which the placebos and confounds are strictly monitored in a way that they won’t skew results. This is not to say that brain games should not be played. Some of the games can be carried into real life situations, such as simple math equations and pattern recognition practice, but if you really want to increase your intelligence, step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Expand your horizons to acquire new knowledge in all different areas of life! The time people are wasting playing brain training games to improve their mental functioning could be put to much better use by putting down the game and learning new material on their own.

The Mozart Effect

It is likely safe to assume that at one point or another, you have heard someone say something along the lines of “having your child listen to classical music will make them smarter.” Dubbed the “Mozart Effect,” the theory goes that children who are exposed to classical music at an early age will perform better than their peers on tests of cognition and intelligence. So prevalent is popular culture’s belief in this phenomenon that several states, including Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee set aside funding to ensure that all newborns and families with young children have access to classical music. Entire product lines toting CD’s and books that expose young children to the music of Mozart and other popular classical musicians have even been created and successfully sold across the country, and although the myth has now been debunked, article after article has been written praising the supposed cognitive benefits for children and many still accept the claims as absolute truth.

While the idea that listening to classical music increases intelligence may seem believable at first glance, there is no scientific evidence to support it. The acceptance of the myth in popular culture can be traced back to a study conducted at the University of California in 1993 that concluded students who were exposed to ten minutes of classical music prior to completing a spatial task performed better than students who listened to nothing before completing the same task. One look at the original article makes it obvious that the reported findings do not in any way support the claims that millions have made regarding this phenomenon and is an interesting example of how scientific findings are often misrepresented in media in order to make for a more interesting article.

To start, the original study recruited 36 college aged participants, not young children, to participate in their study. The students were asked to complete mental tasks on three separate occasions. Each time, they were either primed with ten minutes of silence, ten minutes of a relaxation tape, or ten minutes of Mozart. Of the tasks completed, those students who were primed with Mozart performed better overall on a task of spatial manipulation. The effect, however, was only found to last about 15 minutes. The paper did not once reference the term “The Mozart Effect” nor did it claim that classical music increased overall intelligence. Follow up research done exclusively on children also failed to yield any results that would suggest a lasting and significant impact of classical music on intelligence.

I found this topic really interesting primarily because such a widespread and popular belief was spread on such a shaky foundation. Anyone who bothered to look at the original research could have seen that the claims were unfounded, yet people chose to report the version of the findings they felt were most interesting and profitable. It’s obvious that a large group of people went on, and likely still are, to make enormous profits selling the public on an unsupported “quick fix” to making their children smarter, in turn perpetuating and spreading unsubstantiated myths regarding the nature of cognition and intelligence.