Cognitive Daily

Archives for July, 2007

Take a look at this movie (QuickTime Required): The moving object is exactly the same in each picture, but the background is different. If you’re like most people, you’ll see one object as an ice skater, and the other as a spinning top. This puts the objects in two different classes — animate (something that…

Here’s an interesting question: If we shipwrecked a boatload of babies on the Galapagos Islands–assuming they had all the food, water, and shelter they needed to survive–would they produce language in any form when they grew up? It comes from Christine Kenneally, who posed the question to a group of experts in the field. It’s…

You might think the best way to make a robot seem more “human” is to reproduce human features as precisely as possible, like in this YouTube video: But most people are creeped out by robots this “real.” We’re actually more comfortable interacting with less realistic robots that exhibit some human traits, like this adorable robot…

CBS News has a pretty good video describing the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace. Perhaps most shocking is the statistic depicted in this info-graphic: Our friend Suzanne Greenlee is the benefits director for the food service company Sodhexo USA, and CBS interviewed her for the story. Her company offers free anonymous…

When I was in college, Ronald Reagan was president, and his wife Nancy Reagan gained a lot of media attention with her project to end drug abuse. Here campaign followed the mantra “just say no,” suggesting that kids should be able to resist pressure to use drugs simply by refusing to give in to peer…

Fox News has a very detailed review of the so-called $100 laptop, officially called the XO. The technology sounds quite impressive: Even though bright sunshine is beating down upon the laptop screen, you’re having no trouble reading the display. But the sunlight is OK, since it’s powering your system through a small, low-cost solar cell.…

Imagine you’re taking a test–just for fun–to see how fast you can add numbers and alphabetize letters. Would it help you complete the test faster if you had a warning before each item indicating whether you’d be adding or alphabetizing? Now imagine you’re taking the same test–only this time the test will be used to…

The incredible, adaptable brain

Greta and I have been back from Europe for about 36 hours now, and we’re slowly adapting to life back in the US. Sure, the olive oil’s not as good, and wine costs a fortune, but amazingly we’re finding that we’re able to accommodate to these problems, as well as the 7-hour time shift from…

Euro-update 8: Leaving Europe

I’m sitting in an Athens hotel with a cup of coffee pondering my last few hours in Europe. We’ve had a fabulous vacation, the longest I’ve ever taken in my life. At the same time, I’m looking forward to getting home. I’ve tried to keep you abreast of the psychology-related events that occurred while we…

[originally posted January 26, 2006] Kids in America grow up in a society that overwhelmingly believes in life after death. At the same time, these same kids grow up learning more and more about the nature of living organisms, and what makes something living or dead. At some point, these two belief systems inevitably collide:…