Cognitive Daily

Archives for November, 2005

Mood and Memory

Do you ever wonder if your mood affects the way you think? I’m not talking about behaving more aggressively when you’re angry or more passively when you’re sad; I’m talking about the subtler impact on cognitive processing. Some recent research has indicated that we process things differently depending on whether we’re in a positive or…

Carmageddon 2 (source: Gamespot) is a gory racing game where players control drivers with names like “Max Damage” as they tear through city streets mowing down pedestrians and forcing competitors into bloody collisions. The game settings can be adjusted so that running down innocent bystanders actually increases a player’s point total. Surely, if there’s any…

Do new objects capture our attention?

The picture below will link you to a quick animation. The blue ring will gradually get smaller until it obscures the three “8″s, then continue to shrink until the figures are visible again. While they are obscured, the 8s will be transformed into letters (S, P, E, U, or H), and a new letter will…

Attentional blink researchers Christian Olivers and Sander Nieuwenhuis noticed something curious when they conducted their experiments. When they were testing their stimuli, they felt that they could do the task better when they were distracted. Their participants also reported that they tended to perform better when they were a little unfocused on the task. Attentional…

One of the gimmicks of the 1948 film Words and Music was the question of which is more important in a song—the words or the music. Source: SoundtrackCollector The movie, a fictionalization of the lives of the legendary team of Broadway writers Richard Rogers (music) and Lorenz Hart (words), only addresses its titular conflict obliquely.…

Meaning and distraction

Take a look at the following three animations. Each will flash very rapidly through a set of words (9 words per second!). Your job is to watch carefully and see if you notice a word that describes an occupation that a human performs for money. Such a word may or may not be in each…

Eric Durbrow pointed me to this article in the Globe and Mail. Its lead sentence offers a surprising claim: Parents take note: Reading to your preschoolers before bedtime doesn’t mean they are likely to learn much about letters, or even how to read words. But aren’t teachers and literacy advocates constantly urging parents to read…

In face to face conversation, we often look away from the person we’re speaking with. Somewhat paradoxically, the closer people sit to their conversation companions, the less often they look at them. But other factors influence how often we avert our gaze, too. When we are asked personal questions, or difficult questions, or possibly when…

What does it mean to have a gut feeling that you remember something? You see someone you recognize in a coffee shop. Do you remember her from high school? Or maybe you saw her on television. Could she be the manager of your local bank? Perhaps you don’t know her at all … but you’ve…

Just listening to music, despite the hype associated with the “Mozart Effect,” appears to have little influence on IQ or other abilities. It does seem to make us more aroused and put us in a better mood, which can improve performance on tests, but it doesn’t actually make us any smarter. But what about actual…