Who wants to be a cognitive neuroscientist millionaire

A graduate student – named Ogi – studying Cognitive Neuroscience of memory (that the exact description of what I did in graduate school as well) decides to use his understanding of memory to gain an edge in “Who wants to be a millionaire”. The article written in first person explains how memory works in an easy to understand manner. It is also an interesting example of a scientist using their research on themselves and observing themselves in the process.

For his $16,000 question – “Which country first published the inflammatory cartoons of the prophet Mohammed?”, Ogi used priming (to activate memories of a conversation he had with a friend about the issue) and successfully recalled that the country was Denmark.

For his $250,00 question – “The department store Sears got its start by selling what specific product in its first catalog?”, he had an intuition that “watches” was the right answer. Memory research tells us that if you can trace where an intuition is coming from, then you can better decide whether to trust that intuition or not. In his case, he recalled that the “watches” choice brought up “railroads”. He reasoned that there maybe he had read somewhere about Sears sending watches by railroad and went with the answer.

To find out the rest, you will have to read the article. I really enjoyed reading this article because it reminded me of how all of us doing cognitive neuroscience tend to be overly analytical, always trying to identify the basis of our judgements. It can be a fun game (to look into the neurological basis of why do things), but it can also be tiring. I am glad to see it used by a gradute student to make some money!For his $250,00 question – “The department store Sears got its start by selling what specific product in its first catalog?”, he had an intuition that “watches” was the right answer. Memory research tells us that if you can trace where an intuition is coming from, then you can better decide whether to trust that intuition or not. In his case, he recalled that the “watches” choice brought up “railroads”. He reasoned that there maybe he had read somewhere about Sears sending watches by railroad and went with the answer.

To find out the rest, you will have to read the article. I really enjoyed reading this article because it reminded me of how all of us doing cognitive neuroscience tend to be overly analytical, always trying to identify the basis of our judgements. It can be a fun game (to look into the neurological basis of why do things), but it can also be tiring. I am glad to see it used by a graduate student to make some money!

One response to “Who wants to be a cognitive neuroscientist millionaire

  1. Dear Rashmi,
    How can I train my mind to recall all that I have learnt so far? Whatever effort it be, I can train my mind. But, ‘HOW?’ is the question.
    Thanking you in anticipation.

    Regards,
    Vinod Kumar