Cognitive Daily

Archives for February, 2006

A graph by any other name?

You can get a lot of information from a simple bar graph, but to what extent does the arrangement of the bars matter? You can find great commentary about good design, but what about a nice clean experiment? Martin H. Fischer led a team that asked participants to indicate if a given relationship was true…

This week’s survey was inspired by our efforts to get our middle-school-aged kids to behave appropriately when greeting adults. Both Jim and Nora tend to mumble, look away, hunch over, and give other anti-social cues when, say, an adult compliments them after a school band concert or a play. When we tell them to stand…

Casual Fridays: Moving dots!

Dave hasn’t finished analyzing the data from last week’s survey, but since this week’s survey is ready to go, we thought we’d go ahead and post it now. Click here to participate. As always, you’ll have until 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on Wednesday, March 1 to complete the survey, which should only take a…

Attention and emotion

Since yesterday’s post on attention grabbed so much, well, attention, let’s try another one. Only this time, instead of looking at what factors cause us to pay attention to something, we’ll consider an experiment that studied the emotional effects of attention. If you’re asked to look for people with blond hair, for example, you may…

I’m sure most Cognitive Daily readers are aware of the massive debate permeating the scientific world these days. No, not evolution versus creationism; I’m talking about object- versus space-based attention. Haven’t heard of this raging debate? Well, then, let me refer you to a fascinating pair of experiments conducted by Massimo Turatto, Veronica Mazza, and…

How babies build a picture of the world

Here’s a picture of our daughter Nora at about 3 months of age. She looks like she’s fairly aware of the events going on around her (arguably more aware than she sometimes appears now, at age 12). However, as our knowledge of how infants begin to perceive the world around them has increased, we’ve learned…

This week’s Casual Fridays survey studies the cues you use to decide if a new acquaintance is friendly or confident. Greta and I have a couple of ideas about how the responses might break down in America, but we’re especially interested in how customs differ in different parts of the world. Click here to participate…

Casual Fridays: Veiled illusions

Last week’s Casual Friday study was all about illusion. For example, you may have thought our goal was to see how well you could recognize an illusion. However, we really just wanted to know what kind of computers our readers use: Amazingly, Cognitive Daily readers use Macs at a rate (22.8 percent) about seven times…

How does the visual system learn?

Can you tell the difference between the images below? At first, they just look like fuzzy diagonal lines — there doesn’t appear to be a significant difference between them. But if you look at them closely, you begin to notice that the images at the top of the picture (category A) tend to have single…

An old college friend and accomplished writer, John Scalzi, recently posted a list of writing tips for nonprofessionals, which I’d highly recommend for professionals and nonprofessionals alike. One of his most unusual suggestions is to “speak what you write” — literally, to read your writing out loud before publishing, whether in a blog post or…