Our paper, Sleep after practice reduces the attentional blink, has been featured on the Psychonomic Society website. In the paper, published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, we report that performance on a temporal attention task improves after a short daytime nap. The improvement seems to be linked to the amount of time spent in non-REM Stage 2 sleep, characterised by abrupt brain waves called sleep spindles. Stephan Lewandowsky wrote this blog post about it.
The results of Cellini and colleagues add the novel finding that sleep—and in particular N2 spindles—also benefits attentional selection in time: Participants in their experiment who exhibited a greater number of spindles during their nap showed a greater improvement in T2 detection performance after their nap.
Need to invent a light bulb? Take a nap to boost your attentional skills.
For the past few days, I’ve been at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. Tomorrow is the final day, and I’m presenting my poster in the session just before the closing keynote. It’s titled Cortical patterning genes are associated with individual differences in visual orientation perception [ PDF of session abstracts ]. I’ll be in Exhibit Hall SA from 10:45–11:45 am for the all posters session, then again from 12:00–1:45 pm.
Next week, I’m leaving to spend a few weeks in the U.S. My first stop is the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside—we collaborate with Sara Mednick‘s team of sleep researchers there. I’m going to give a brown bag lunch talk on Wednesday, April 30th at 12:10pm in the Goldman Library.
I’ve recently published a paper with my Cambridge collaborators in the journal Genes, Brain and Behavior. There is a lot of research currently looking into the genetics of psychological disorders. But we now know that most result from a very complex interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors, which makes traditional genetic approaches less useful than we might hope. One promising approach is to investigate the genetics of psychological endophenotypes—these are traits linked to a disorder, but which are likely to have a relatively simple relationship with genetic mechanisms. Basic visual functions seem to be ideal candidates for this sort of study, because in many cases we know a lot about the underlying physiology.
Alex and I wrote a review of the book Attention: Philosophical and Psychological Essays (Mole, Smithies, & Wu, eds.) for Philosophy in Review, an open access journal. It was published online today here.
Portraits of European Neuroscientists is a lovely new website from perceptual psychologist Nick Wade, visual neurophysiologist Marco Piccolino and web designer Adrian Simmons. The site pairs concise biographies with portraits that reflect a scientist’s contribution to the field. Some of my favourites—which also include this portrait of Pearson—are Wheatstone, Brücke and Panum. This is a particularly good resource for anyone teaching psychology or neuroscience, but it’s worth a good look in any case.
In a Smithsonian article currently doing the rounds (Teller reveals his secrets), magician Teller gives his ideas on how magicians manipulate the mind. This led me to another great article that appeared a couple of years ago in Wired on the same theme. And that led me to Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde‘s paper in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, which counts among its authors Teller, James Randi, Mac King, Apollo Robbins and Johnny Thompson. Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research can be found here.
Here’s Paul Root Wolpe‘s TED talk, It’s time to question bioengineering. Some important ideas to kick off the weekend.
Moran Cerf is a computational neuroscientist at Caltech. Some of his work is really interesting. Here, though, he describes his life before science—as a hacker and security tester. It’s easily one of the best stories I’ve heard in a while.
Via Boing Boing.