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On the Couch... with Dick Cavett | Psychology Today

Cavett: I remember being alone in Montauk by the sea one time, feeling very, very depressed. My late wife was away doing a play in Chicago. It took all that I had to just get the dog to come upstairs and turn on the television. Well, on came an old "Saturday Night Live" episode that I happened to be hosting. I saw myself smiling, cheerful - happy as a clam. I was sparkling. I was funny. And watching that was like a tonic. Had I not watched it, I think I might have stayed in that drowning darkness for more days. Perhaps it can be an area researched more in psychology. You know, seeing yourself in happier times. Maybe there's something to that.

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently: Even when playing the same piece of music -- ScienceDaily

One crucial distinction between the two groups of musicians is the way in which they plan movements while playing the piano. Regardless of the style, pianists, in principle, first have to know what they are going to play -- meaning the keys they have to press -- and, subsequently, how to play -- meaning the fingers they should use. It is the weighting of both planning steps, which is influenced by the genre of the music. According to this, classical pianists focus their playing on the second step, the "How." For them it is about playing pieces perfectly regarding their technique and adding personal expression. Therefore, the choice of fingering is crucial. Jazz pianists, on the other hand, concentrate on the "What." They are always prepared to improvise and adapt their playing to create unexpected harmonies. "Indeed, in the jazz pianists we found neural evidence for this flexibility in planning harmonies when playing the piano," states Roberta Bianco, first author of the study. "When we asked them to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, their brains started to replan the actions faster than classical pianists. Accordingly, they were better able to react and continue their performance." Interestingly, the classical pianists performed better than the others when it came to following unusual fingering. In these cases their brains showed stronger awareness of the fingering, and consequently they made fewer errors while imitating the chord sequence.

Musical mystery: Researchers examine science behind performer movements -- ScienceDaily

While some assumed the role as leaders, and others followers, researchers found the leaders were far more influential in the ensemble. They also found the degree of body sway communication among the musicians was connected to their perceptions of how well they performed together. "Although we are often not consciously aware of it, non-verbal communications between people is common in many situations and influences who we like and who we don't like," explains Dan Bosnyak, a researcher and technical director at McMaster's LIVELab, where the work was conducted. "The methodology developed in this study could be useful for understanding many different types of group behaviour, such as understanding communication problems in autistic children or determining the best crowd control procedures for an emergency evacuation," he says.

Humans rely more on 'inferred' visual objects than 'real' ones -- ScienceDaily

To make sense of the world, humans and animals need to combine information from multiple sources. This is usually done according to how reliable each piece of information is. For example, to know when to cross the street, we usually rely more on what we see than what we hear -- but this can change on a foggy day. "In such situations with the blind spot, the brain 'fills in' the missing information from its surroundings, resulting in no apparent difference in what we see," says senior author Professor Peter König, from the University of Osnabrück's Institute of Cognitive Science. "While this fill-in is normally accurate enough, it is mostly unreliable because no actual information from the real world ever reaches the brain. We wanted to find out if we typically handle this filled-in information differently to real, direct sensory information, or whether we treat it as equal." To do this, König and his team asked study participants to choose between two striped visual images, both of which were displayed to them using shutter glasses. Each image was displayed either partially inside or completely outside the visual blind spot. Both were perceived as identical and 'continuous' due to the filling-in effect, and participants were asked to select the image they thought represented the real, continuous stimulus. "We thought people would either make their choice without preference, or with a preference towards the real stimulus, but exactly the opposite happened -- there was in fact a strong bias towards the filled-in stimulus inside the blind spot," says first author Benedikt Ehinger, researcher at the University of Osnabrück. "Additionally, in an explorative analysis of how long the participants took to make their choice, we saw that they were slightly quicker to choose this stimulus than the one outside the blind spot." So, why are subjects so keen on the blind-spot information when it is essentially the least reliable? The team's interpretation is that subjects compare the internal representation (or 'template') of a continuous stimulus against the incoming sensory input, resulting in an error signal which represents the mismatch. In the absence of real information, no deviation and therefore no error or a smaller signal occurs, ultimately leading to a higher credibility at the decision-making stage. This indicates that perceptual decision-making can rely more on inferred rather than real information, even when there is some knowledge about the reduced reliability of the inferred image available in the brain. "In other words, the implicit knowledge that a filled-in stimulus is less reliable than an external one does not seem to be taken into account for perceptual decision-making," Ehinger explains.

Blind people have differentiated brain map for 'visual' observations too

"We found that blind individuals also use the map in the visual brain," Professor Hans Op de Beeck from the KU Leuven Laboratory of Biological Psychology explains. "Their visual brain responds in a different way to each category. This means that blind people, too, use this part of the brain to differentiate between categories, even though they've never had any visual input. And the layout of their map is largely the same as that of sighted people. This means that visual experience is not required to develop category selectivity in the visual brain."

Huh as the universal grammar

In a large-scale study of 200 conversations recorded in a dozen different countries, from Ghana and Laos to Italy, Iceland, Russia and Japan, we found that a word that sounds like “Huh?” occurs in every language we examined. And it always serves the same purpose: it temporarily halts the conversation and prompts the speaker to repeat or rephrase what was just said. “Huh?” may sound like a random grunt, but our study indicates that it qualifies as a word.

4 kinds of playful :)

The psychologist has identified four basic types of playful adults: "There are people who like to fool around with friends and acquaintances. We describe this as other-directed playfulness. By contrast, light-heartedly playful people regard their whole life as a type of game," says Proyer. Another category includes people who like to play with thoughts and ideas - this describes intellectual playfulness. These people are able to turn monotonous tasks into something interesting. The psychologist describes the final group as being whimsically playful. "These people tend to be interested in strange and unusual things and are amused by small day-to-day observations."

George Saunders Explains How to Tell a Good Story (watch it)

“A bad story is one where you know what the story is and you're sure of it," he says in this short film, George Saunders: On Story. For Saunders, storytelling is a stand-in for day-to-day life—and the same considerations you take when approaching how to tell a story mirror the freedom to self-determined identity that you give your loved ones.

The Lives and Lies of a Professional Impostor

He strolled into the police station in Chelsea on Jan. 4 wearing a Harvard sweatshirt, a “Wounded Warrior” cap and military dog tags dangling from his neck. He said he was Jeremiah Asimov-Beckingham, a veteran of Afghanistan, wounded in combat, now working as an executive for an airline. He had come to the station to pick up his car. His new BMW had been impounded, he believed, as evidence in a random crime. But it was a ploy. The police were hoping to lure a man suspected of forging checks in Cambridge, Mass., to steal $70,000 and the BMW, which they had tracked to a Manhattan garage. They put Mr. Asimov-Beckingham in handcuffs and charged him with larceny. Investigators soon learned that the man’s name was not Asimov-Beckingham. He had never been wounded in combat, nor had he ever served in the military. New York detectives and Homeland Security agents found an Indiana birth certificate in his immigration file showing his name as Jeremy Wilson, born in Indianapolis in July 1973. It was the oldest document in the file, so they charged him under that name.
Essentially, I’m using these Renaissance paintings as a palette to draw upon or cut open. So I’ll take a head from a Lucas Cranach the Elder painting, and hand from a Hans Memling painting and put those things together. Mostly, I’m inspired by the idea of what happens to these types of paintings after a museum closes. I like the idea that the people in the paintings then get on the bus, go home, do the dishes, go to a restaurant. I like to think I’m creating a world for them outside of the museums where you would normally view these pieces of art. I like to think about what the life of these subjects might be away from the painting they are in.
“Side projects are great because you don’t need to know anything. You get to be a beginner because no one is watching you and there are no expectations,” he says. “If you don’t have an idea, don’t stress about it, just go do something else. It’s this attitude that it doesn’t matter that allows us to be inspired and to work on only the things we truly want to work on.”