Cognitive Daily

Archives for March, 2006

Casual Fridays: iPod edition

With legendary guitarist Pete Townshend’s recent public statement that studio headphones have caused deafness, there’s growing concern that iPods and other portable music devices might be destroying the ears of the children of the digital era. We thought this might be a good time to find out how significant an issue this is to our…

Last week we asked readers to answer some questions about how they managed their email. The results are in, and boy are they … confusing. We’re having trouble identifying any clear patterns at all in email management. First of all, let’s get a sense of the scale of the problem. Here’s how respondents’ email use…

The TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a bit of a guilty pleasure for our family. I’ve never been quite sure why we like it: the plot of the show is always the same. We’re introduced to a family which has undergone some terrible tragedy through no fault of their own: the father has…

Take a look at the QuickTime movie below. It will show a still image for 10 seconds, then a blank screen. Then it will show you the image again. Your job is to look for a detail that has been changed between the two images. Most people have difficulty with this task. Even when the…

The emotion of shapes

Take a look at these two shapes. Which appears more “joyful”? Which appears fearful? How about these shapes? Which is angrier? Which appears to be suffering more? If you’re like most people, the shapes that appear to be less stable (number 2 in the figures above) are also more fearful. Those that are rotated more…

One of my pet peeves is when I respond carefully to someone’s email and they don’t notice that I’ve addressed several points in one message. They seem to only read the first sentence or two and then move on. This has made me curious as to how others handle important email messages to make sure…

We received quite a few complaints about last week’s Casual Fridays study, most of them centered around our scientifically inaccurate eye exam. In our defense, the Snellen chart is only designed to be a rough measure of visual acuity. General practitioners use it as a first-pass to determine if patients should be referred to eye…

Unknown White Male

What’s it like to have all your memories erased? Well, not all your memories, because if that happened, you’d simply be like a newborn infant, and you’d have to relearn everything. The more interesting scenario is to lose only certain memories — the memories that most people think of as “true” memories: episodic memory. Memories…

What’s the best way to ensure that law enforcement officers don’t abuse their authority and coerce innocent suspects into confessing? Yesterday we discussed research suggesting that a side-view videotape of a confession was more likely than a head-on view to result in an accurate assessment of whether that confession was voluntary or coerced. But the…

College student Bradley Page dropped his girlfriend off in a park one evening, only to learn later that she had been murdered and buried in a shallow grave. Police investigating the death interviewed him about the incident, repeatedly asking him why he could have left her alone in that park. “It was the biggest mistake…