Cognitive Daily

Archives for February, 2005

How do we decide what we’re seeing?

One of the most famous perceptual demos is the ambiguous image or “bi-stable figure” of a duck – rabbit: (source: curiouser.co.uk) As presented, it looks like a duck, but rotated to the right, it suddenly “transforms” into a rabbit. There are also images that can transform simply based on how you look at them. Artists…

Making the world a continuous place

Aristotle wrote that drama must be guided by three principles, the Unities. All aspects of a good play must take place in the same location, within a short time period, and contribute to a single plot. Otherwise, forced to stretch their imagination, the audience wouldn’t be able to suspend disbelief, and the play would cease…

Literary theory is being influenced more and more by research in cognitive psychology, and as the previous article I discussed showed, psychology research is also influenced by theory. Today’s article, “Generating Predictive Inferences While Viewing a Movie” (Joseph P. Magliano, Northern Illinois University, and Katinka Dijkstra and Rolf A. Zwaan, Florida State University, in Discourse…

What are we doing when we watch a movie?

Most schools of literary criticism suggest that it’s fruitless to attempt to consider what the intentions of the author are; we can only examine the “text” itself: it is the only solid evidence we have. Similarly, critics toss up their hands when trying to comprehend the experience of the reader of a text. While the…

Marshall McLuhan redeemed—sort of

A couple weeks back on my personal blog, I posted a rant about Marshall McLuhan. Basically I was arguing that while the medium may be the message, the medium isn’t the only message. There was a fair bit of commentary on my post, both there at Word Munger and around the blogosphere. As expected, I…

Are artists vision experts?

Today’s reading is “Artists as Experts in Visual Cognition,” by Aaron Kozbelt of the University of Chicago (Visual Cognition, 2001). We need to incorporate many skills in order to make visual sense of the world. We must be able to discern objects even when we have incomplete visual information, pick out shapes from complex environments,…

What does the shadow know?

How do we tell where an object is in a three-dimensional world when our eye only gives us two dimensions worth of information? Today’s reading (“Moving Cast Shadows Induce Apparent Motion in Depth” by Daniel Kersten, Pascal Mamassian, and David Knill of the University of Minnesota [Perception, 1997]) explores one aspect of that question: the…

Where is the light coming from?

Today’s reading is “Prior Knowledge on the Illlumination Position” by Pascal Mamassian and Ross Goutcher of the University of Glasgow (Cognition, 2001 [PDF link]). When we see an embossed seal such as a notary stamp, how do we know which parts are convex (bumps) and which are concave (dimples)? When we look at such a…

More on sound and vision

Today’s reading is “When Sound Affects Vision: Effects of Auditory Grouping on Visual Motion Perception,” by Katsumi Watanabe and Shinsuke Shimojo of Caltech (Psychological Science, 2001). In 1997, Sekuler, Sekuler, and Lau discovered a fascinating effect that I’ve attempted to replicate using the crude resources available to me (iMovie). I’ve made two movies (quicktime required)…