Cognitive Daily

Archives for July, 2005

What are you looking at?

Imagine sitting in a coffee shop, having a nice conversation with your friend Dave. If Dave looks at something, your eyes will reflexively move to look at the same item. This is actually quite convenient, because it may help you figure out what Dave is talking about, or what he might comment on next. How…

With my high school reunion coming up, memories just seem to well up out of nowhere. One of the most powerful was that of my cross-country coach’s booming voice yelling “stride, Munger, stride!” across the track. I wasn’t the best runner on the team, but whenever I heard that voice, I’d always start running faster.…

I’ve created a quick animation of distorted pictures of my son Jim, together with some normal ones. Take a minute or so to watch the animation, then decide if the last picture you’re shown looks “normal” to you. Click on the normal (but pre-eyeglasses and braces) photo of Jim below to begin: I’ll let you…

Boundary extension and kids

We’ve posted on boundary extension before, here, here, and here, but we’ve never written about boundary extension and kids. Boundary extension is when we remember more of a picture than was actually shown to us, as if our mind is actively creating a portion of the image we didn’t see, beyond its boundaries. A 2002…

Learning to be thirsty

Baby rats, only 5 days old and still very much reliant on their mothers for food, can be artificially dehydrated by injecting them with a saline hypertonic solution. If a source of water is placed very close to the rat’s snout, it will drink. But 21-day-old rats who have just been weaned from their mothers…

We’ve reported on flashbulb memory before, with the Talarico and Rubin study and the MacKay and Ahmetzanov study. First observed in 1977 by Brown and Kulik, flashbulb memories—memories about shocking events—were supposed to be more vivid and long-lasting than normal memories. Jennifer Talarico and David Rubin seemed to have put a damper on the whole…

Boundary extension and emotion

Take a look at this picture I took last year when we went to Venice. Look at it fairly closely, because there will be a “test” at the end of this post. We have posted on boundary extension before: it’s a simple phenomenon where our memory for a picture is consistently different from the actual…

A boy and his dog

There’s something about kids and dogs. The phrase “A boy and his dog” brings up quite a range of images: from the sweetness of Norman Rockwell to what sounds like a truly bizarre movie from 1975. Despite not being a dog-person myself (okay, not being a pet-person at all), I find the results from a…

Do we remember a pretty face?

Are attractiveness and distinctiveness related? Are we more likely to remember a pretty face than an ordinary one? This data suggests not: When people are asked to rate faces for attractiveness and deviation from an average face, there’s a clear correlation: the more attractive the face, the less it deviates from average. Average faces are…

Today’s article is one of my all-time favorites. It was originally written by Katherine Kiechel, an undergraduate at Williams College as part of her honors thesis, and could serve as a model for others in its simplicity and ingenuity (the report I’m discussing here was revised and coauthored by her professor, Saul Kassin: “The Social…