9.13 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

The Human Brain


Assignment 8

Article: Fischer, J., J.G. Mikhael, et al. “Functional Neuroanatomy of Intuitive Physical Inference.” PNAS 113, no. 34 (2016): E5072–E5081. DOI: /10.1073/pnas.1610344113

Assignment: Read the assigned article and think big about the problem it addresses. Think of this article as essentially a first baby step in a broader line of work. What questions does this article answer, and what do you want to know next?

For the next assignment you will have a significant written experimental design assignment (15% of your course grade) designing your own experiment (or two) to ask one of the next questions about intuitive physics in the brain, using any of the methods you have learned about in the course.

For now you are asked only to read this article and answer questions about it. But as you read it, start thinking about the broader space of questions this article opens up, and what you might propose for the larger experimental design assignment.

Provide short answers to the questions below. Be clear and concise—points will be taken off for unnecessary words.

  1. What is the main question addressed in this article?
  2. What is the main answer the article provides about that question?
  3. Briefly contrast the logic of Experiment 1 and Experiment 2. In what way are the two designs complementary?
  4. Scrutinize the data shown for regions P3R and P1R in Figure 3B. What do these data suggest to you?
  5. Are the frontal and parietal regions identified in this study highly specialized for intuitive physical reasoning per se?
  6. List three big questions you might want to answer next in this line of work, and for each one list a method that might be able to answer (or start to answer) that question.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019
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Written Assignments
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