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How Did Humans Learn to Count? Baboons May Offer Clues

This is a photo of an olive baboon in the wild.

Learning to count comes early in life for humans. Most kids know how to count before they enter formal schooling and the ability to understand basic quantities is fundamental to everyday life. Researchers at the University of Rochester wanted to know whether the cognitive underpinnings for this important ability might be found in some of our close cousins: baboons.

“Nonhuman animals do not use words like one, two, and three, or numerals like 1, 2, and 3, to “count” in the way that humans do. Nonetheless, it is well established that monkeys and other animals can approximate quantities without these symbolic labels,” researcher Jessica Cantlon and colleagues write.

While research had shown that monkeys possess a sense of numerical quantity, it wasn’t clear whether they could track and compare changing quanities…


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Intuition and Cooperative Decision Making Focus of APS Registered Replication Report Project

Editors of Perspectives on Psychological Science are now accepting proposals from researchers who would like to participate in a new Registered Replication Report (RRR) designed to replicate a 2012 experiment on cooperation and selfishness in economic decision making. The experiment, conducted by David G. Rand, Joshua D. Greene, and Martin A. Nowak, explored the hypothesis that people will be more likely to cooperate when they have to make quick, intuitive decisions.

In a one-shot, anonymous economic decision like that used in the original study, “rational” decision makers should not cooperate, because there are no personal benefits to cooperation and other players will have no opportunity to retaliate. According to the “social heuristic hypothesis,” though, when people have to make quick, intuitive decisions, they may rely on their more typical daily experience with non-anonymous interactions as the basis for their decision, leading them…


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CSBBCS Honors Two APS Members

The Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS) will honor APS Fellow Daphne Maurer and Evan Risko at its 25th Annual Meeting at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

This is a photo of Daphne Maurer.Daphne Maurer is the recipient of the 2015 Donald O. Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award honoring an individual who “has made a significant contribution to the study of brain, behaviour, and cognitive science.”

Maurer is a Distinguished University Professor and the director of the Visual Development Lab at McMaster University, Canada, where she studies the development of visual perception in children with normal eyes and those with cataracts. Her work has contributed to bettering the understanding of infant sensory experience.

Maurer will give her 2015 Donald O. Hebb Award Talk, “How the Baby Learns to See,” on Saturday, June 6, 2015, at the 2015 CSBBCS meeting.…


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Walter Mischel and Collaborators Receive 2015 Golden Goose Award

Mischel_250Walter Mischel’s classic studies in childhood self-control, known popularly as the marshmallow tests, are among the most famous and impactful experiments in psychological science. Now, this research is earning special recognition from scientific, academic, and business organizations and federal lawmakers for having survived initial doubts to spawn major scientific breakthroughs.

Nearly 50 years after he employed the sugar candies to study children’s ability to delay gratification, Mischel, an APS Past President and Williams James Fellow, along with his colleagues, APS Fellow Yuichi Shoda (University of Washington) and Philip Peake (Smith College), have been selected to receive the first of the 2015 Golden Goose Awards in recognition of their extensive contributions to the understanding of the lifelong benefits of self-discipline.

Past recipients have included pioneers in other fields such as microbiology, marine geology, economics, computer science, mathematics, and biochemistry.

The congressionally endorsed Golden…


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Broadening the Reach of Mental Health Care Through Online Interventions

Effective, evidence-based interventions have been developed to treat various mental disorders — but that doesn’t mean the treatments always reach the people who need them. Researcher Ricardo F. Muñoz of the University of California San Francisco and colleagues wanted to see if making treatments available online might be one way to bring mental health care to a much broader range of people.

This is a photo of a cigarette on a calendar.In a new study published in Clinical Psychological Science, Muñoz and colleagues present data from an online smoking cessation intervention that was offered in both English and Spanish. Participants were recruited through a Google campaign that targeted people looking for help quitting smoking.

People who visited the intervention website had access to a free stop-smoking guide and a nicotine replacement therapy guide, even if they didn’t enroll in the…


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