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Evidence for Unconscious Math, Language Processing Abilities

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the latest-in-subliminal-edutainment dept.

Math 168

the_newsbeagle writes "It's hard to determine what the unconscious brain is doing since, after all, we're not aware of it. But in a neat set of experiments, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's consciousness lab found evidence that the unconscious brain can parse language and perform simple arithmetic. The researchers flashed colorful patterns at test subjects that took up all their attention and allowed for the subliminal presentation of sentences or equations. In the language processing experiment, researchers found that subjects became consciously aware of a sentence sooner if it was jarring and nonsensical (like, for example, the sentence 'I ironed coffee')."

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So, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965037)

They made your brain throw an exception
OFC it will come up a few layers

Re:So, (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41965827)

The abstract says "The results show that novel word combinations, in the form of expressions that contain semantic violations, become conscious before expressions that do not contain semantic violations".

Does anybody have access through the paywall, or suitable knowledge of what researchers in this field mean by 'semantic' to say what sorts of malformations they are talking about?

Do their results suggest that we can unconsciously recognize grammatically well-formed sentences that fail at actually meaning something; or do we flag grammatical trouble(This sentence no verb.) regardless of specific word meanings; or do we flag extreme novelty(as in the 'I ironed coffee' example, which is grammatically fine and something that you could actually do; but not a sentence that would come up very often)?

It (in my probably naive understanding) seems like significantly different unconscious capabilities would have to be at work depending on what sorts of 'semantic violations' we are capable of flagging, ranging from some unconscious grasp of grammar up to a fairly sophisticated access to the meanings of the words we know.

Re:So, (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41966245)

Most conversation is conversation by rote. How is this news?

Re: Not Really News (4, Interesting)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#41966401)

It seems to me that this is not really news. When I was studying Linguistics many, many years ago, it was pointed out to me that we shape entire sentences in our brain before we become aware of them and before we speak the words. This is how we can make unintentional errors when we speak - spoonerisms for example, where the initial sounds of one word are substituted with that of a subsequent word (Wikipedia gives this example: "Three cheers for our queer old dean!" (dear old queen, referring to Queen Victoria)).
Since we are unaware of these errors prior to speaking them, it seems only logical that the subconscious/unconscious mind has the ability to recognize grammatical mistakes, since it has the capacity to formulate them. The human mind seems to be *built* to absorb rules of grammar and vocabulary at a very low level. We learn the rules of whatever language(s) we grow up speaking subconsciously by hearing them applied by those around us. Sure, people correct pronunciation and grammar in the young from time to time but a lot of it is just seemingly absorbed at a young age. After age 8 or so, you need to really study to learn a language in most cases, before that you can learn up to 3 languages at the same time apparently - although usually only if you speak each one to an individual that uses that language exclusively with you.

So this seems interesting but not all that earth shattering to me at least. Although of course this is /. so I didn't RTFA :p

Re: Not Really News (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41966661)

That's why I'm curious to know what the authors mean by 'semantic violation'. I would also be fairly unsurprised to hear that we flag grammatical violations, at least in languages we speak fluently, unconsciously. Being able to flag grammatically perfect, but non-meaningful, sentences would imply unconscious access to grammar and vocabulary, and an unconscious understanding of category errors and the like. Certainly not impossible; but rather more notable than just flagging grammar.

Re:So, (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41966069)

I wonder if it's possible to "freeze" the brain like this? Take a program and sometimes if you feed it just the right nonsense, it might find an error it can't handle and freeze. Imagine if the brain had a similar flaw?

I mean maybe there is an incredibly complex series of inputs (perhaps spanning several days) that when presented to the human brain would cause it to "lock up" and the person would just stare blankly into space until they're "restarted". (I don't know how that would be done...).

In fact, in one of Asimov's novels he mentions this happening to a robot. An incredibly complicated series of inputs generated by a person who knew exactly what he was doing could (in theory) "freeze up" the AI program.

On the other hand, our brains have been tested to death in the real world. All those "bugs" have probably already been filtered out. But maybe a few remain uncaught. Interesting no? :D

Re:So, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966113)

I don't know man...the brain's Ignore command never ceases to amaze me. Then again there is epilepsy.

Re:So, (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41966253)

The brain has this block:

try{ } catch e { what("the fuck?"); }

Re:So, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966835)

Isnt that exactly what happens when people have epilepsy / seizures?

Re:So, (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#41967857)

I think those are more of hardware problems than software ones. Like a bad sector maybe.

Re:So, (2)

kryliss (72493) | about 2 years ago | (#41967693)

Yes it can. Go to McDonalds sometime and give the cashier more money than was requested and ask for them to count out the change. BAM!!! BSOD!!!

Re:So, (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41966313)

The human brain is OO?
That would explain a few peculiarities, for sure...

Most people... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965047)

are too dumb to do math, anyway. Anything complex, that is. They memorize equations but they don't understand shit.

Worthless ingrates. Take that!

Re:Most people... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965221)

By that logic most people are too dumb to play the violin. Doing anything to a high degree of proficiency requires frequent 'practice'.

Re:Most people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965813)

With language you really do want to drill yourself on things to the point where you don't think the correct phrase just pops out. Some people do that in a literal way, and others just do that by talking a lot and hopefully using the constructs enough to make it natural. But, in either case, one isn't truly fluent if they are thinking about individual word choice constantly and writing sentences in their head before they speak.

Re:Most people... (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#41965759)

If we're going to talk "worth" of people, I'd say character is orders of magnitude more important than intelligence or expertise in specific areas.. Guess who's projecting and the weakest link? Have a nice day.

Re:Most people... (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | about 2 years ago | (#41965787)

As an ex high school mathematics teacher and current tutor. I have consistently found that almost every student can improve there marks 30% (assuming there is room to do so) with the right tutor / attitude.

Re:Most people... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965937)

improve there marks 30%

Just mathematics or spelling too?

Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965049)

Doesn't everyone iron their coffee?

Re:Um... (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#41965177)

Not if you use permanent expresso

Re:Um... (1)

hughbar (579555) | about 2 years ago | (#41966535)

Yes, of course if when you say 'coffee' you mean 'shirt', they're pretty much the same.

Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (2, Interesting)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41965059)

I believe that the last three math quizzes and tests which I've passed (and one which I almost aced) provide more than enough anedcotal evidence for the processing abilities of the unconscious mind! I am certain that I was fully asleep as I took the test and I'm amazed that I came so close to acing that test after almost two nights with next to no sleep.

;>p

Now spelling for me correlates with awakeness (sleepy => many spelling misteaks [sic, for humor], awake => fewer spellin errors), but math seems to do fine even when I'm tired and barely conscious.

COMPELLED TO TELL !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965127)

If you must stop and point out humour, you have already blown it !! Get a monkey to go with that organ/grinder you think you have !! Call him, Mini-Me !!

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (2)

bungo (50628) | about 2 years ago | (#41965171)

Just the other night, before I went to bed, I was trying to work out the solution to a proof by induction involving a combination of Fibonacci numbers.

In my sleep, I worked though some math involving the Fibonacci numbers, taking the gcd(), multiplying sequences of them. I didn't solve the problem, but when I woke up, I had a better understanding of what I could try.

I find this happens a lot when I'm studying subjects like number theory. My best insights are when I'm asleep (or in the shower).

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (5, Interesting)

thephydes (727739) | about 2 years ago | (#41965299)

I agree. I'm now aged 55 but I remember regular occasions like this from my late teens/early 20's when a solution that I was pondering on in the evening was obvious the next morning after sleep. Was it rest or was it my pea-brain working at it while I "slept". I have no clue, but this was common for me in both Maths and Physics. Does it happen now? Don't know as I'm not in the game of trying to show someone what I know (undergraduate), so I have not for a number of years (decades), had to put it to the test.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965399)

From my ... 20s, not 20's. Plural, not possessive. And if you somehow meant precisely 20, and for some reason being possessive, okay. If you somehow meant 20 to 29.11.31.23.59.59.999, and possessive, then 20s' is correct. Also, MS's is correct, as in MS's bullshit RT thing. MS' is not correct (try saying it). It is rare that ...s' is correct, but it is used more often incorrectly than an is over a. Now check your catheter, and go back to watching Matlock. Leave the tech stuff to those can, pops.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (2)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#41965469)

Someone need's a nap.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

unholy1 (764019) | about 2 years ago | (#41965665)

Obligatory Oatmeal: How To Use An Apostrophe [theoatmeal.com]

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41967729)

It's is not, it isn't ain't, and it's it's, not its, if you mean it is. If you don't, it's its. Then too, it's hers. It isn't her's. It isn't our's either. It's ours, and likewise yours and theirs. -- Oxford University Press, Edpress News

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41965867)

Leave the tech stuff to those can, pops.

Ah, good, there's the ironic error I was hoping for.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#41966011)

I see no error there. Please elaborate.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966825)

Also, MS's is correct, as in MS's bullshit RT thing. MS' is not correct (try saying it).

I'm afraid YOU are not correct. MS's (try saying it) is wrong. Emessess? No.

For example, US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in a case involving one of Kansas' statutes, he left off the s, using only a final apostrophe, as "Kansas' statute". ...and he's a Supreme Court Justice, while you're some wanna-be grammar-NAZI dickhead trying to 'correct' others when you are yourself WRONG, making you look like a stupid asshole, and your mouth smells like your foot. Try to figure out why.

Also, "20's" is correct, since it's up to the writer, not YOU. There is no hard and fast rule for whether an apostrophe and an 's' are possessive or part of a contraction in the case of written or printed text that aren't strictly speaking "words", such as "20's". It's a matter of personal choice, since it's a number. An apostrophe is used to indicate possession, contraction, or to separate numbers and letters where they would be awkward together, like 20s. It looks like the number twenty, followed by the letter "s". The characters "20s" written just so could indicate twenty seconds, so it's ambiguous.

Written as "20's," however, makes it unambiguous.

Incidentally, about your last sentence:

Leave the tech stuff to those can, pops.

It's a strange thing for you to write, since you obviously are one of those can't, dick. See what I did there?

When you decide to chime-in, when no one asked for your uninformed fucking opinion, it pays to know what the fuck you're talking about, which you clearly don't. Otherwise you just look like a drooling, short-bus riding fucktarded moron. Calling someone old who is 55 also makes you look like a propeller-hat-wearing little baby-dick. Would you have put that same snide comment in if it turned out you were addressing Dennis Ritchie or Ken Thompson? You stupid little shit! These guys invented UNIX, (plus a whole bunch of other stuff). Without them, you probably wouldn't even have a computer, considering the influence that UNIX had on the world, not only as an OS, but as an ideal in software design. Without that there would be no Linux, and probably no CPM or DOS, each derivative (at least for inspiration, even if they don't actually share any code,) of their work. Without DOS, Microsoft would likely not exist. They were a tiny, two-bit company existing in rented office space with one production software package, a fucking database. No one would have cared about them. There'd probably have been no X, from which Apple ripped-off the Mac's interface, nor a BSD-OS for Apple to rip off to form the core of OS-X, so the entire Apple Lisa/Macintosh line of computers would most likely not exist. Obviously this means no Windows, and Apple would probably have gone out of business, (if not for Gates infusion of cash, that he wouldn't have been able to make if he hadn't gotten rich swindling the world with his wretched Microsoft shitware).

Likely today the most popular computer would be either the Apple VII, (a larger, slicker version of the VI, itself a larger, slicker version of the V, on down to the Apple II,) and the Commodore 4096, it a descendant of the venerable C64. IBM would never have gotten into the PC business, and about three-dozen major computer hardware and software companies wouldn't even exist.

So, in conclusion you're obviously one who can't, and you're not fooling anyone.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41967223)

Ass-burgers.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41965699)

Yup. But on the other hand, I remember dreams in the run up to my university exams that applied course material nonsensically. I woke up one morning and I was completely baffled about how to sit up, because I felt I needed to "instatiate it" (Prolog terminology) and I couldn't work out how to....

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | about 2 years ago | (#41967393)

My own terrifying experience: having to solve transistor circuits to decode the numbers on my alarm clock before the big final.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 2 years ago | (#41967255)

I've never had that after sleeping. I find that nothing makes a thought clearer than a long, hot shower. I often have epiphanies while in the shower (oh god please don't take this the wrong way). Sometimes walking works, so long as I put some music on or anything else to distract my mind. It seems to me like sometimes focusing on the problem blinds you to potential solutions. It's not until after the problem is in your peripheral vision that you see the big picture.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

indre1 (1422435) | about 2 years ago | (#41965423)

My insights often come when I sit down on the toilet.

Not sure what's up with that, but I'd suggest directing the next study towards test subjects in toilets.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965489)

My best insights are when I'm asleep (or in the shower).

So I conclude that you'd get even better insights if you slept in the shower.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

Yaotzin (827566) | about 2 years ago | (#41966337)

Yes, but drier skin. Is there a correlation between dry skin and good insights?

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41966755)

So I conclude that you'd get even better insights if you slept in the shower.

Yes, it's funny - I'm not out to ruin that, but I would like to point out that this is a common fallacy - if A or B is good, then A and B must be even better. That does not follow.
Even if having a blonde wife OR a redhead girlfriend might be good, having a blonde wife AND a redhead girlfriend might not be good at all.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41967781)

Seems very high brow to me. Let me wait to see if I understand this when I take a shower or tomorrow morning.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41967899)

Yes, it's funny - I'm not out to ruin that, but I would like to point out that this is a common fallacy - if A or B is good, then A and B must be even better. That does not follow. Even if having a blonde wife OR a redhead girlfriend might be good, having a blonde wife AND a redhead girlfriend might not be good at all.

That is what General David Petraeus found the hard way. Wife is good. Girlfriend is good. But Wife && girlfriend is !good.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (3, Interesting)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41965721)

I was more fascinated by my inability to translate the word "eye" from English to Gaelic.

Longer version: I was using a computer language package designed to teach Scottish Gaelic. I'd done a lot of Gaelic already by this point, and I knew that "eye" was "sùil". In theory. But when the word "eye" came up on the screen, I just couldn't find the word. I could feel a blockage in my head, and I became convinced that my subconcious had fixated on the sound. The same sound can be one of four words: "I", "eye", "aye" and "ay". The first three are all part of my daily language, and the third isn't unheard of in modern Scotland either.

Had I been processing language consciously, I reasoned, I would have been able to recognise the word consciously from the spelling of the word in front of me. The fact that I could not override the sound-based problem suggested very strongly that it was my subconscious that was reading the word.

Re:Anecdotal evidence from that last math test!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965917)

You shouldn't be doing that. You should be naming the item in Gaelic or English or whatever language. Or taking the French, German or whatever word and applying it back to the thing to which it refers. Going word to word just takes too much time in the long run.

telekenisis? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965109)

How is it my mind controls this site? Fascinating.

http://www.random.org/

God says Line: 89402

the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his
name.

15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of
David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof,
and I will set it up: 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after
the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the
Lord, who doeth all these things.

suduko v crossword puzzle (3, Interesting)

Forget4it (530598) | about 2 years ago | (#41965111)

Leave a crossword for half and hour come back and it seems your brain has been in action while you were away - revealing new clues No such faculty seems to assist sudoku - it's harder when you start up again - (YMMV) A basic Math/Language difference? Test material: http://www.guardian.co.uk/crosswords/quick/13265 [guardian.co.uk] http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/13/sudoku-2343-medium [guardian.co.uk] (hope these links link!)

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965233)

Eh, it would be surprising if that weren't the case. The human brain doesn't normally have to spend time on Sudoku like tasks unless you like doing them. However, the brain is regularly called upon to search for words. Further more, placing the numbers between 1 and 9 into a grid is something where you would have to memorize the entire grid in order to work on subconsciously, something which normal people seem to have little or no affinity.

The crossword OTOH, you just need to find synonyms and the name of a Russian seaport, which are much more easily chunked up and done without too much conscious effort.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (2, Informative)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about 2 years ago | (#41965535)

Sudoku is not Math. It's something that happens to have numbers in it (but they could be any other kind of symbols, and it would work in exactly the same way).

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965765)

math doesn't have to involve numbers...There are quite a few ways to approach sudoku mathematically (trees, graph coloring problem, group tables, exact cover problem):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics_of_Sudoku

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965819)

Math is not (only) about numbers. However, Sudoku is best written using integers.

This is how Sudoku could be described mathematically (taking advantage of the fact that the set of symbols may be anything; I'm taking pairs as symbols for simplicity, and at the same time being as general as possible):

Be X and Y two non-empty sets. Be S = X x Y. Be T = S u {*} where * is not in S x S. Be ex: S x S -> S x S the "exchange function" (x1,y1;x2,y2) -> (x1,y2;x2,y1).

Definition 1: A Sudoku function is a function f: S x S -> S with the property that for any x, y, z in S with x != y, all of the following conditions hold:
* f(x,z) != f(y,z)
* f(z,x) != f(z,y)
* f o ex(z,x) = f o ex(z,y)

Definition 2: A function f: S x S -> T is a refinement of g: S x S -> S if for all x in S x S, g(x) in { f(x), * }.

Definition 3: A Sudoku is a function s: S x S -> T so that there exists exactly one refinement that is a Sudoku function.

Definition 4: A proper Sudoku is a Sudoko which is not a refinement of another Sudoku.

Note that you recover the standard Sudoku representation the following way:

Be m, n positive integers, X the set of numbers below m, and Y the set of numbers below n. Define the row index function r: S -> N, r(x,y) = n*x+y+1 and the column index function c(x,y) = m*y+x+1. Define the symbol function z: T -> (0,...,m*n) as z(*)={}, z(x,y)=r(x,y). Then you can define a function g mapping a row index and a column index to a number as: g(row, col) = z o s(r^-1(row), c^-1(col)).

The usual 9x9 Sudoku is then recovered by setting m=n=3.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41967819)

Let me sleep over it. May be I will understand what you are talking about it.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41965873)

Sudoku is not Math. It's something that happens to have numbers in it (but they could be any other kind of symbols, and it would work in exactly the same way).

Debateable. The fact that it uses numbers, rather than arbitrary symbols or letters, certainly doesn't make it some kind of arithmetic workout; but Sudoku puzzles are special cases of Latin squares, and there is(as with most puzzles that anybody cares about) active mathematical futzing with algorithms for generating puzzles, algorithms for solving them, and proofs of various things about solution sets for various variants(NxN grids, more than two dimensions, etc.)

What I don't know is the degree to which the sudoku-solving population at large is consciously involved with this, unconsciously has latched on to some reasonably optimal algorithms but wouldn't recognize them if it saw them formalized, or is basically just plugging numbers into the Sunday paper...

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966463)

Bullshit. Mod this guy down, why this is +4 informative is beyond me. I am doing a PhD in pure math and I would say Sudoku is definately maths. Maths is nothing more than logic puzzles, the use of numbers of whatever symbols is irrelevant. Numbers are just one kind of placeholder for something abstract and there are obviously many other mathematical placeholders available. I have written papers where only one or two numbers are written per page. Maths is nothing more than the consistent and rigorous application of well-defined rules of logic to reach a conclusion, and its hard to see one single reason why Sudoku should fail to be math. This is more than just a philosophical statement. Maths is not a spectator sport but something actively done, and I am pretty sure that the exact same part of my brain that solves a pure math problem is the part used to solve Sudoku, because the same part gets tired from this kind of mental exercise.

OTOH applied math can be different, and doing it *feels* different and probably uses the brain in a slightly different way. I think what you meant to say is Sudoku is not engineering, which is a fairly trivial claim.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (2)

Legion303 (97901) | about 2 years ago | (#41966477)

Sudoku is absolutely math. Unless your definition of math is "addition, subtraction, multiplication, division." But that's not the whole of math, it's just arithmetic.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (2)

rohit krishnan (1153201) | about 2 years ago | (#41966719)

Sudoku is not Math. It's something that happens to have numbers in it (but they could be any other kind of symbols, and it would work in exactly the same way).

That could be said about any kind of math. Logical manipulation of symbols is absolutely math - some have numbers, some don't.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965693)

I did a math degree. I'd read my problems for the week and frequently have no idea how to solve them. Then I'd sleep on it and the next day I'd do them all easily. My subconscious can definitely do math.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | about 2 years ago | (#41966151)

I think the simple difference there is the difference between those questions "What's the capitol of x?" and "What number goes here in relation to all other fields?". The former does only need some thinking, the latter would require to memorize the whole grid.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (0)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 2 years ago | (#41966885)

Sudoku is not math related in any way. You could do a Sudoku puzzle with letters or pictures of flags if you wanted, they are just symbols.

Re:suduko v crossword puzzle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966959)

Sudoku is not math related in any way. You could do a Sudoku puzzle with letters or pictures of flags if you wanted, they are just symbols.

Numbers are just symbols also.

A square could represent the number 1 if you wanted and you would still get the same results. Square + square = Peanut (If in your head peanut really means 2).

What nonsense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965113)

I ironed coffee.

Yeah, I used to make coffee like that, in college.

Re:What nonsense? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#41965797)

It's how you make a flat white.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965149)

http://www.mopo.ca/hello/1907759/1024/spellingdoesntmatter-2005.06.26-08.55.22.jpg

Not surprised. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965153)

public education has proved people can learn in their sleep for over a century. this isn't news

Try BrainWorkShop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965155)

I feel when you get to around level 5 or higher in dual-n back you realize unconscious abilities because you just don't know why you know it's a match but you can feel it is a match. It really gets kind of weird like some sort of intuition.

Micro breaks to aid learning (4, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#41965405)

Students who learn piano are often taught to take breaks between practice sessions (or even just 2 half hour sessions per day instead of one single hour session). As a piano teacher myself, I've recently encouraged my own students to take 5 minutes breaks, and even 5-20 second breaks WITHIN a session to allow the subconscious mind to make more sense of a passage or scale etc. Not sure how popular this kind of technique across other teaching disciplines is.

Re:Micro breaks to aid learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965453)

Students who learn piano are often taught to take breaks between practice sessions (or even just 2 half hour sessions per day instead of one single hour session). As a piano teacher myself, I've recently encouraged my own students to take 5 minutes breaks, and even 5-20 second breaks WITHIN a session to allow the subconscious mind to make more sense of a passage or scale etc. Not sure how popular this kind of technique across other teaching disciplines is.

The most effective way of practising is to start with a break.

The Nature of Intelligence (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about 2 years ago | (#41965451)

This is just the nature of intelligence, it is just data compression. We parse the incoming data by fitting it to an internal model built up over time and try to optimize the compression by changing the model (learning) or changing the data (action). Small variations to the model (novelty) are inherently interesting as they provide the model-update mechanics something to work on. When the data is overly compressed we get artifacts like optical illusions, ghosts, cargo cult etc

Re:The Nature of Intelligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965629)

You forgot an important mechanism: Rejection of data which doesn't fit the model well (that is, cannot be efficiently compressed).

An Integrating Machine (5, Insightful)

srussia (884021) | about 2 years ago | (#41965455)

The sensory-brain system is actually an integrating machine in that it integrates time-variant functions (physical phenomena) into constants.

For example:
Pressure wave > sound of a certain pitch
EM wave in the visible spectrum > color
Heck, even an electric current > taste (We've all stuck a 9V battery on your tongue, right?)

Re:An Integrating Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965533)

Those tasty tasty batteries...

Re:An Integrating Machine (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41966349)

So the battery-like zing when your tongue is on a vagina is...wait, nm, nobody here will know what I'm talking about.

I iron coffee all the time (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41965515)

And also danube tulips and actualize green colorless radishes furiously.

What's so nonsensical about that?

But seriously (1)

Quakeulf (2650167) | about 2 years ago | (#41965641)

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Re:But seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966461)

Like, totally.

Re:I iron coffee all the time (2)

mrzaph0d (25646) | about 2 years ago | (#41966587)

actualize green colorless radishes

are you in management?

Re:I iron coffee all the time (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41967121)

If I were, do you think my phrases would be this coherent? I'd be all about methodologies for synergistically levering core competencies.

We do a lot unconsciously (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about 2 years ago | (#41965521)

Think about all you do during the day, and how many of those things you do without really thinking about them. Some of it is learned through practice, but all of it isn't.

Even something as simple (on the surface) as driving is really complex, and you're constantly doing advanced math in your head without doing it consciously. Next time you're in heavy traffic going 70 mph, try consciously thinking about every move you're making and the move every other vehicle is making or about to make. It will make your head explode.

Re:We do a lot unconsciously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965883)

Once, 25-30 years ago I think, I was about to cross a street when I saw a speeding car racing towards me. Was it safe to cross? I suddenly became aware that I looked at the situation as of I were taking a photograph, recorded the position of the car, looked again, recorded the position again and made a rough estimate of its movement relative to my intended movement, looked again, refined the estimate, etcetera. It seemed to go on for quite a number of iterations. Then suddenly the loop exited with the outcome that it was safe to cross. My immediate thought was that this had taken far too long for that conclusion to still be valid. Then I went back to normal awareness and saw that the speeding car had changed position so little that it was hardly noticable. The conclusion was still valid, and I crossed the road with a safe margin.

I have no idea what happend to make me conscious of my brain doing that, and it never happend again. But that moment made it perfectly clear to me that on a (normally) subconscious level a brain runs algoritms to perform certain tasks pretty much the same way a computer does.

Of course this has very little to do with consciously solving math equations. An athlete may have incredibly accurate built-in math of the type I described while being no good at math in the usual sense.

Re:We do a lot unconsciously (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about 2 years ago | (#41966327)

I have no idea what happend to make me conscious of my brain doing that, and it never happend again

That's interesting. One time and only once, I remember as an adult hearing the actual sounds of English speech for what they were without automatically interpreting the words or meanings. It was pretty cool, and sounded weird (weird because I was thinking I should recognize these sounds but at that moment I didn't).

Re:We do a lot unconsciously (4, Interesting)

unkiereamus (1061340) | about 2 years ago | (#41966213)

Next time you're in heavy traffic going 70 mph, try consciously thinking about every move you're making and the move every other vehicle is making or about to make. It will make your head explode.

I know that this really isn't your point, but you touched off a hobby horse of mine.

That's exactly how I drive, if you want to be really safe, it's the only way you can drive.

I'm a paramedic, I routinely drive a 12,000lb (~5,500kg, for those that prefer) vehicle at high rates of speed through maneuvers that are wholly unexpected by a majority of the other drivers on the road, that's the only way I can drive.

I assess every other vehicle on the road, every pedestrian walking along side, and every cardboard box sitting on the curb. I know where they are, how fast they're going, how well they're driving (well, I usually skip that for the boxes.), how likely they are to interfere with my lane space, and as an added bonus, how they're likely to respond to the sight of me in their rear view mirror. From the moment they come into my vision until the moment they leave it, I look at everything no less than once every 5 seconds.

At the same time, I'm also keeping a running evaluation of the degree of urgency I have as it relates to how fast I'm willing to go, how hard I'm willing to accelerate (in any of the three axises available to me), and when and where I have to do what in order to meet those constraints.

That being said, I also drive like that in my personal car (Though I do skip the whole running red lights thing). It's not easy by any means, it requires a great deal of focus, good observation skills and keen geospatial awareness, but it's doable, and it works.

I've driven over half a million miles in ambulances, and probably another half million in my personal car. I've been in two accidents, both of which occurred within a year of getting my license, and both of which I know (as much as you can know such things) that if I could go back and do it again with the skills I have now, I could avoid them. (Oh, and for the record, neither of them were ruled as being my fault at the time.).

Right, sorry.

</soapbox>

"the unconscious is structured like a language." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965559)

Lacan: "the unconscious is structured like a language."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Lacan

Nonsensical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965671)

I must object! I iron coffee all the time!

Aspies (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#41965891)

I once knew a guy who was strongly Aspergers'; couldn't make smalltalk to save his life, but was a MACHINE when it came to mental arithmetic.

He taught himself a load of number theory without ever reading a book on the subject, would do cube and fifth roots in his head, and multiply two ten digit numbers almost effortlessly. And it wasn't like he was sitting there cranking through the answers, -- he reckoned he could just 'see' the answers.

Best debugging location for me: (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41965959)

There is a coffee shop along the way from my office to my bus stop. 100 feet before to 100 feet after that coffee shop is the place very significant debugging has happened in my code.

A typical debugging session would be like, I will be banging by head against a wall "why the hell this stupid insertion to this std::set fails?" all day. At the end of the day, I would give up, pack my bag, and plan rest of the evening. "OK, Tuesday, so Karate class. Pick up dry-cleaning while the $kid is practicing chandan-up-chuggee. No mowing today. Clear couple of episodes of $episode from TiVo...". Just as I am in the vicinity of that coffee shop, suddenly I go, "Oh! Holycrap. I am cycling through the set in foo(), this calls goo() which inserted an element and changed the sorting order. foo() crashes at the start of next iteration through the loop!"

Next time, I am going to the coffee shop and stand nearby and think. I will tell my boss, "I am letting my subconscious do the debugging! I am working boss. You think I am sipping a latte and checking my facebook on free wifi. But it is work!"

When someone mentions your name (1)

Circlotron (764156) | about 2 years ago | (#41966177)

I often had the experience at work that someone was talking to someone else on the other side of a noisy room, and I was busy doing something and totally unaware of the conversation until my name was mentioned. Then it occurred to me that I also knew the last several words leading up to my name being spoken. Paying 100% attention unconsciously even though barely able to hear.

That sort of explains dreams (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41966233)

We have always been fascinated at the weird, wild and nearly random experiences we have in dreams. When weird sentences such as "I ironed coffee" are most noted, it seems to indicate something about the way our dreams are handled and why they are so damned weird at times. (For example, last night I saw old TRS-80 computers which I had never seen before... even a color version of the model 2... geek dream, but it stuck in my head where other dreams don't) Perhaps that is simply the most effective means by which the subconscious communicates with the conscious?

Re:That sort of explains dreams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966493)

Sleep experiences (dreams) seem to run without the constraints of physics.
    Which makes them fun. Who doesn't like to fly, etc.
    Sometimes there is a long term memory from one dream to the next.
        (Like where did I leave X.)

The only communications path between the dreams and awake experiences seems to happen for a fleeting time as you are waking up.
      (I guess if there is a reverse path when you are going to sleep, you would have to be asleep to know about it?)

Not sure if the dream state is the same as the 'unconcious' state in the article.
    That state seems to be more about sensory pre-processing and noise filtering.

The dream state seems more like a second brain function that gets control when the main brain rests.

While counting states, there is also the alert, but watchful detached meditative state.

IEEE's excuse for covering this news was that it was necessary for AI efforts.
    Brain scanners are new, but otherwise, folks have been studying this sort of stuff for a looong time.
      Seems like IEEE is stretching a bit to say that this will lead to any actual AI stuff.
        Maybe they covered a fun subject to get more reads.

     

Seriously? (2)

aeranvar (2589619) | about 2 years ago | (#41966325)

Shouldn't this read 'subconscious' rather than 'unconscious'? I doubt the students in these trials were hit in the head with baseball bats.

Re:Seriously? (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41966383)

Beyond complete brain shutoff, like with drugs during an operation, it's questionable whether there is much difference berwen unconscious sleep and subconscious while awake.

This study is more confirmation of an idea that's been shaping up for at least 30 years, that your conscious mind really doesn't do much proper thinking, with thoughts and sentences being formed subconsciously and then paraded through the conscious mind for some kind of review and storage.

Sub vs Un. (1)

plebeian (910665) | about 2 years ago | (#41966357)

I am sorry a thread but, honestly do we really need to replace the meaning of one word for the meaning of another. Subconscious has a pretty clear definition. Why do we have to start using that definition for the word unconscious. I wonder if it is because someone was to lazy to pick up a dictionary.

subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about 2 years ago | (#41966411)

"researchers found that subjects became consciously aware of a sentence sooner if it was jarring and nonsensical (like, for example, the sentence 'I ironed coffee')."

That's a perfectly cromulent sentence.

I think I can I think I can. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966487)

I have known this for years.. If given a large math problem, ( simple math not Calc), that as long as I dont actually do the math in my head I can pull the answer out of no where. Now I am not right all the time, as if I think too much about the problem or "try" to do it on purpose, it wont work. Its more like a quick guess, that turns out to be right, a most of the time, well at least enough times to raise one eye brow, and lower the other of the people who know the circumstances of the problem I just randomly solved.

Well, duh! (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41966589)

/. might as well run more articles along the lines of "Astronomical research finds evidence of stars."

Since when is redundant research into the very obvious news?

Hell, Carl Jung had this pretty much worked out decades ago.

Maybe some brilliant new detailed insights into the chemical workings of thought centers might be newsworthy, but this?

Come on, /.

Seems obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966591)

I'd say it's fairly obvious the sub-conscious mind can before higher math and language functions. In college i dreamed a couple of times of solutions to programming problems. Every so often I have dreams in which I've written things. Last week I had a dream in which I created a pun, which is a fairly complex language concept. I guess it's nice there is scientific evidence for these things, but I don't think anyone will be surprised by the findings.

Debugging code while sleeping... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966601)

That reminds me of something that happened to me once:

I was chasing a nasty bug in a piece of code I had written for some simulation in physics.
I could not find the bug for a long time, close to two weeks, but I had managed to narrow
it down to a function that was about 20 lines long. But still I could not find it, and this was
becoming pretty obsessive. At the end, I knew the code in this function by heart, to the point
that it was haunting my dreams.

And I found the bug while sleeping. When I woke up, I remembered enough of it, went
straight to my computer, changed a couple of lines, compiled. And it worked...

Jarring and nonsensical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41966689)

Like: Disney buys Star Wars?

Learning to juggle in your sleep (3, Interesting)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 2 years ago | (#41966907)

I remember when I decided to learn how to juggle over Christmas break. I got a juggling kit for Christmas that included some bean bags and a video, and one of the things they suggested was to practice before you went to bed at night, because they said your mind would work on how to juggle while you were sleeping. Sure enough, the next morning when I tried I found I was able to do a much better job than I did the night before. I don't know if it was due to my unconscious working on it, or if it was the power of suggestion, but there seems to be something to it.

Subconciousness is a myth. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41967179)

It's just as much a part of consciousness as consciousness itself. How silly these hairless apes are to make such strong dividing lines between consciousness and subconsciousness -- Why, do they think shifting a car's gears while driving is a conscious act? (For most it is not, though it was at first, it has migrated to a "subconscious" routine you label "muscle memory" -- like fools... muscles have no memory, only minds do). To hear them speak of "Sentience" instead of a scale of awareness, or "Sub-Conscious" instead of a scale of self-awareness is quaint. You first memorize your multiplication tables -- But today, must you consciously perform multiple additions or recall from a table the answer to, "What is 7 times 6?"

I have a high degree of synesthesia -- Strong audible signals cascade into my visual cortex, so I see loud or sudden noises. When my mind is under the influence of Delta Waves, near and during sleep, I experience sleep paralysis, hear an audible "wave-crashing" sound corresponding to the 0 to 4 hz wave, and also see seemingly random white flashes around my central field of vision in the shape of a neuron or tree like structure. Typically I'll watch them a few minuets before I allow myself to fall into sleep.

Other times I lay there actually in between asleep and awake, fully conscious yet paralyzed, unable to move or even scream (these result in twitches and murmurs); I'm then conscious of some of my "higher order sub-conscious" mind's activities (see, there is no boundary). Vivid momentary Auditory and Visual hallucinations are triggered of seemingly random real or unreal events occasionally related to the events in my short term memory. That's while I still have full control over my eye muscles. After a while the repetitive crashing / flashing pulses change and I lose motor control of my eyes. It's then I see, hear, and sometimes smell or taste or feel random unrelated hallucinations. I think what's happening is that since neurons become hyper active and sensitive if they don't recieve inputs and begin firing randomly, my mind is randomly firing off synapses triggering these experiences -- The random firing that triggers cascades and experiences strengthens those pathways, while scrubbing away the other non-important experiences of my short term memory (equalizing the day's fired and non fired neural pathways by firing them all at random).

Usually, I'd have succumbed to sleep and "dreaming" by then -- stitching the hallucinations into a connected series of experiences, filling in the gaps with imagination, but I can force my consciousness to persist even through this state. I can remain fully consciously aware in my mind during sleep, and use the time to come up with solutions to programming problems -- These are hard to remember unless I write them down immediately after I awake since they don't benefit from the "dream strengthening" of wakeful experiences. I sometimes accept the hallucinations and welcome them into a lucid dream state where I consciously interact with what I know not to be real. My imagination becomes mostly real to my senses, and I can command anything to happen in that place. I do not ever have nightmares, such primitive things are beneath me, I merely cancel them, or give myself ever more impressive weapons to combat the hordes of zombies, or giant alien space-brains, etc. (It the best damn video game there is).

There is no "subconsciousness" that I can not be aware of in some way -- Indeed, I can now even affect my heart rate and body temperature with my mind alone, it only took a few weeks or so of practice. I can halt unwanted badder and bowel contractions, and even calm hiccups by mere thought -- I am in control of my own mind and body, not it over me.

advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41967319)

Oh Shit, Quick, Hide this from the advertisers.

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