Cognitive Daily

Archives for December, 2005

What is your mind doing when you think about something? For decades, the prevailing wisdom was that when you imagine, say, the scent of a flower or your lover’s perfume, your mind is doing something different from when you actually smell those things. The metaphor was a computer: The hardware for sensing things was distinct…

Toddlers learn new words at an astonishing rate—an average, according to Steven Pinker, of over a word every two hours. Yet attempts to drill children to improve vocabulary are often frustrating. Kids seem to learn words better through observing the environment than they do by rote. So what exactly are they observing? One possibility is…

What makes a beautiful body?

How do we know when we see a beautiful body? Is it some social standard such as thinness or proportion? Do we simply think that bodies that are closest to “normal” are also most beautiful? We know that to be the case with faces, where faces that closest to “average” are generally rated as more…

There is little doubt that the cognitive demands of conversation can affect our awareness of the world around us. Everyone has a story of a near-miss collision with some clueless airhead driving who was jabbering away on the cell phone. A co-worker once tearfully told me of the time she was in an argument with…

Video games: Are the myths true?

We learned from Alas, a Blog that Henry Jenkins has written an essay for PBS about video games, making the case that the public doesn’t understand what the games are all about. Normally articles here on Cognitive Daily only report on peer-reviewed research, but in this case, we felt it was important to make an…

We’ve written before about how stereotypes can impair performance on math tests: for example, when women are told they are taking a math test for a study about gender differences in math ability, they perform more poorly than men. However, if they are first taught about how stereotypes can impair performance, their scores rise to…

IQ has been the subject of hundreds, if not thousands of research studies. Scholars have studied the link between IQ and race, gender, socioeconomic status, even music. Discussions about the relationship between IQ and race and the heritability of IQ (perhaps most notably Steven Jay Gould’s Mismeasure of Man) often rise to a fever pitch.…

Last week we discussed two experiments in a report by Adam Anderson about how the phenomenon of attentional blink is modified when the task includes arousing words. Perhaps not surprisingly, we’re more likely to notice arousing words like “ejaculate” or “foreplay” in a rapidly presented sequence than neutral words like “plane” or “clock.” But Anderson…

A few months ago, Jon Stewart opened the eyes of his Daily Show audience when he interviewed the author of the book On Bullshit. Viewers accustomed to hearing the familiar bleep when Stewart enters foul-mouth mode were surprised to find that the word came through completely uncensored. Stewart himself reveled in his new freedom, repeating…

Take a look at these graphs: Most bloggers and web designers will find this sort of chart familiar—it’s a record of Cognitive Daily’s visitor statistics for the month of November. The first graph records the amount of traffic we received each day. Notice that the pink bars are shorter—these correspond to the weekends. You might…