Collective Intelligence Helps Medical Decision-Making

While collective intelligence (CI) is a powerful approach to increase decision accuracy, few attempts have been made to unlock its potential in medical decision-making. Here we investigated the performance of three well-known collective intelligence rules (“majority”, “quorum”, and “weighted quorum”) when applied to mammography screening. For any particular mammogram, these rules aggregate the independent assessments of multiple radiologists into a single decision (recall the patient for additional workup or not). We found that, compared to single radiologists, any of these CI-rules both increases true positives (i.e., recalls of patients with cancer) and decreases false positives (i.e., recalls of patients without cancer), thereby overcoming one of the fundamental limitations to decision accuracy that individual radiologists face. Importantly, we find that all CI-rules systematically outperform even the best-performing individual radiologist in the respective group. Our findings demonstrate that CI can be employed to improve mammography screening; similarly, CI may have the potential to improve medical decision-making in a much wider range of contexts, including many areas of diagnostic imaging and, more generally, diagnostic decisions that are based on the subjective interpretation of evidence.


Posted in Cognitive intelligence | Tagged

Adolescent’s collective intelligence

How effective groups are in making decisions is a long-standing question in studying human and animal behavior. Despite the limited social and cognitive abilities of younger people, skills which are often required for collective intelligence, studies of group performance have been limited to adults. Using a simple task of estimating the number of sweets in jars, we show in two experiments that adolescents at least as young as 11 years old improve their estimation accuracy after a period of group discussion, demonstrating collective intelligence. Although this effect was robust to the overall distribution of initial estimates, when the task generated positively skewed estimates, the geometric mean of initial estimates gave the best fit to the data compared to other tested aggregation rules. A geometric mean heuristic in consensus decision making is also likely to apply to adults, as it provides a robust and well-performing rule for aggregating different opinions. The geometric mean rule is likely to be based on an intuitive logarithmic-like number representation, and our study suggests that this mental number scaling may be beneficial in collective decisions.


Posted in Adolescent, Collective intelligence | Tagged ,

On the biological origins and social evolution of music and dance

The origins of music and musical emotions is still an enigma, here I propose a comprehensive hypothesis on the origins and evolution of music, dance, and speech from a biological and sociological perspective. I suggest that every pitch interval between neighboring notes in music represents corresponding movement pattern through interpreting the Doppler effect of sound, which not only provides a possible explanation for the transposition invariance of music, but also integrates music and dance into a common form—rhythmic movements. Accordingly, investigating the origins of music poses the question: why do humans appreciate rhythmic movements? I suggest that human appreciation of rhythmic movements and rhythmic events developed from the natural selection of organisms adapting to the internal and external rhythmic environments. The perception and production of, as well as synchronization with external and internal rhythms are so vital for an organism’s survival and reproduction, that animals have a rhythm-related reward and emotion (RRRE) system. The RRRE system enables the appreciation of rhythmic movements and events, and is integral to the origination of music, dance and speech. The first type of rewards and emotions (rhythm-related rewards and emotions, RRREs) are evoked by music and dance, and have biological and social functions, which in turn, promote the evolution of music, dance and speech. These functions also evoke a second type of rewards and emotions, which I name society-related rewards and emotions (SRREs). The neural circuits of RRREs and SRREs develop in species formation and personal growth, with congenital and acquired characteristics, respectively, namely music is the combination of nature and culture. This hypothesis provides probable selection pressures and outlines the evolution of music, dance, and speech. The links between the Doppler effect and the RRREs and SRREs can be empirically tested, making the current hypothesis scientifically concrete.


Posted in Dance, Evolution, Music | Tagged , ,

The relationship between music and language

Traditionally, music and language have been treated as different psychological faculties. This duality is reflected in older theories about the lateralization of speech and music in that speech functions were thought to be localized in the left and music functions in the right hemisphere of the brain. For example, the landmark paper of Bever and Chiarello (1974) emphasized the different roles of both hemispheres in processing music and language information, with the left hemisphere considered more specialized for propositional, analytic, and serial processing and the right-hemisphere more specialized for oppositional, holistic, and synthetic relations. This view has been challenged in recent years mainly because of the advent of modern brain imaging techniques and the improvement in neurophysiological measures to investigate brain functions. Using these innovative approaches, an entirely new view on the neural and psychological underpinnings of music and speech has evolved. The findings of these more recent studies show that music and speech functions have many aspects in common and that several neural modules are similarly involved in speech and music (Tallal and Gaab, 2006). There is also emerging evidence that speech functions can benefit from music functions and vice versa. This field of research has accumulated a lot of new information and it is, therefore, timely to bring together the work of those researchers who have been most visible, productive, and inspiring in this field.


Read also: Music, Language, and the Brain

Posted in Brains, Language, Music, Psychology | Tagged , , ,

Naturalistic Approaches to Social Construction

Social “construction,” “constructionism” and “constructivism” are terms in wide use in the humanities and social sciences, and are applied to a diverse range of objects including the emotions, gender, race, sex, homo- and hetero-sexuality, mental illness, technology, quarks, facts, reality, and truth. This sort of terminology plays a number of different roles in different discourses, only some of which are philosophically interesting, and fewer of which admit of a “naturalistic” approach—an approach that treats science as a central and successful (if sometimes fallible) source of knowledge about the world. If there is any core idea of social constructionism, it is that some object or objects are caused or controlled by social or cultural factors rather than natural factors, and if there is any core motivation of such research, it is the aim of showing that such objects are or were under our control: they could be, or might have been, otherwise.


Posted in Social constructivism | Tagged

Detecting Depression in Teens

There is a stigma surrounding emotional disorders, which prevents people from seeking help. And most people often don’t know that they or their friends or a family member are experiencing depressive symptoms.

Schools have several characteristics that make them an ideal place to promote the mental health of adolescents. Primary schooling is compulsory for Indonesian children. They spend six to eight hours a day at school, giving teachers an opportunity to recognize emotional and behavioral problems among them.


Read also: With teen mental health deteriorating, there’s a likely culprit

Posted in depression, Teenagers | Tagged ,

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong

For decades, the medical community has ignored mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perception and ruining millions of lives. It’s time for a new paradigm.

Which brings us to one of the largest gaps between science and practice in our own time. Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path.

I have never written a story where so many of my sources cried during interviews, where they shook with anger describing their interactions with doctors and strangers and their own families.


Posted in Obesity | Tagged

Para recordar Paulo Freire

O livro de Irène Pereira, pesquisadora e professora de filosofia da Escola Superior de Educação da Universidade de Paris-Créteil, tem o subtítulo “Uma introdução às pedagogias críticas” presente na apresentação, mas não na capa. A autora o escreveu com a intenção de tornar mais conhecido na França o pensamento politico-pedagógico de Paulo Freire, assim como as vertentes críticas da pedagogia contemporânea. Os argumentos que apresenta para atingir seus objetivos são louváveis e o trabalho, que se quer introdutório (portanto elementar), apresenta implícita e explicitamente os motivos pelos quais tanto Paulo Freire como as pedagogias críticas são vitais para resistir aos argumentos pedagógicos neoliberais que, também na França, são muito fortes (p. 109).


Posted in Critical pedagogy, Paulo Freire | Tagged ,

Teaching controversy to teach critical thinking

Creationism and intelligent design are terms used to describe supernatural explanations for the origin of life, and the diversity of species on this planet. Many scientists have argued that the science classroom is no place for discussion of creationism. When I began teaching I did not teach creationism, as I focused instead on my areas of expertise. Over time it became clear that students had questions about creationism, and did not understand the difference between a scientific approach to knowledge and non-scientific approaches. This led me to wonder whether ignoring supernatural views allowed them to remain as viable “alternatives” to scientific hypotheses, in the minds of students. Also, a psychology class is an ideal place to discuss not only the scientific method but also the cognitive errors associated with non-science views. I began to explain creationism in my classes, and to model the scientific thought process that leads to a rejection of creationism. My approach is consistent with research that demonstrates that teaching content alone is insufficient for students to develop critical thinking and my admittedly anecdotal experience leads me to conclude that “teaching the controversy” has benefits for science students.


Posted in controversy, Critical thinking | Tagged ,

The Positive Relationships of Playfulness With Indicators of Health, Activity, and Physical Fitness

Adult playfulness is a personality trait that enables people to frame or reframe everyday situations in such a way that they experience them as entertaining, intellectually stimulating, or personally interesting. Earlier research supports the notion that playfulness is associated with the pursuit of an active way of life. While playful children are typically described as being active, only limited knowledge exists on whether playfulness in adults is also associated with physical activity. Additionally, existing literature has not considered different facets of playfulness, but only global playfulness. Therefore, we employed a multifaceted model that allows distinguishing among Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual, and Whimsical playfulness. For narrowing this gap in the literature, we conducted two studies addressing the associations of playfulness with health, activity, and fitness. The main aim of Study 1 was a comparison of self-ratings (N = 529) and ratings from knowledgeable others (N = 141). We tested the association of self- and peer-reported playfulness with self- and peer-reported physical activity, fitness, and health behaviors. There was a good convergence of playfulness among self- and peer-ratings (between r = 0.46 and 0.55, all p < 0.001). Data show that both self- and peer-ratings are differentially associated with physical activity, fitness, and health behaviors. For example, self-rated playfulness shared 3% of the variance with self-rated physical fitness and 14% with the pursuit of an active way of life. Study 2 provides data on the association between self-rated playfulness and objective measures of physical fitness (i.e., hand and forearm strength, lower body muscular strength and endurance, cardio-respiratory fitness, back and leg flexibility, and hand and finger dexterity) using a sample of N = 67 adults. Self-rated playfulness was associated with lower baseline and activity (climbing stairs) heart rate and faster recovery heart rate (correlation coefficients were between −0.19 and −0.24 for global playfulness). Overall, Study 2 supported the findings of Study 1 by showing positive associations of playfulness with objective indicators of physical fitness (primarily cardio-respiratory fitness). The findings represent a starting point for future studies on the relationships between playfulness, and health, activity, and physical fitness.


Posted in Play, Playfulness | Tagged ,