Cognitive Daily

Archives for March, 2007

This week’s Casual Friday study attempted to get to the bottom of the age-old thermostat battle. In every office, classroom, and home, it seems, no one can agree on the proper temperature to set the thermostat. While one person is shivering like a wet poodle, their office-mate is sweating like fountain. I’ve talked with a…

Earlier today I posted a poll challenging Cognitive Daily readers to show me that they understand error bars — those little I-shaped indicators of statistical power you sometimes see on graphs. I was quite confident that they wouldn’t succeed. Why was I so sure? Because in 2005, a team led by Sarah Belia conducted a…

Cognitive Daily gets a lot of complaints about graphs, mostly from readers who say the graphs are useless without error bars. My response is that error bars are confusing to most readers. But perhaps I’m wrong about that. Now I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. Take a look at this graph.…

Computers have become such an integral part of life that it’s often tempting to believe that they work just like the human brain (or that the brain works just like a computer). However, those of us who’ve spent time programming computers know that we don’t “think” like computers: if we did, a single misplaced semicolon…

John Tierney wonders whether doctors should be prosecuted for prescribing too much pain medication. Tierney makes some good points. One “warning sign” that a patient may be abusing drugs is that they come back for a refill early because their medicine has run out. Couldn’t this also be a sign that the patient is in…

When we see a familiar face, or even a photo of a favorite car or pet, we’re often flooded with memories from our past. Sometimes just seeing a person or object that’s similar to the ones in our memory will trigger recollections we never knew we had. Maybe you’ve had a memory triggered by a…

CogDaily’s blogroll; Encephalon

This week’s edition of Encephalon and an email from the Neurophilosopher has reminded me that I’ve been rather negligent of my blogroll lately. I believe a blogroll should represent the sites a blogger visits frequently; it’s an invitation into that blogger’s community. Surely you’d get a sense of that by reading a couple months’ worth…

Modeling a real brain

A rat’s brain has millions of neurons, each with up to 10,000 connections to other neurons. This “simple” animal’s neural network is mind-bogglingly complex. Yet a Swiss laboratory has achieved remarkable success duplicating a vast region of a rat’s brain using a supercomputer. They still have a ways to go, however. The computer currently has…

Last weekend Greta and I had a joint party celebrating our fortieth birthdays (my birthday was in January, Greta’s is in May, so we split the difference). Naturally, the conversation turned to the changes that occur as we get older. I said that I thought I felt cold more often than when I was younger,…

Greta has a jar of candy in her office, and she eats exactly one piece of candy per day (as well as offering it to her students whenever they visit). By contrast, if I have candy within 50 yards of my office, it will disappear within a day or two at the most (which is…