Cognitive Daily

Archives for July, 2008

[This post was originally published in March 2007] Earlier today I posted a poll [and I republished that poll yesterday] 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…

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. Last year I posted about this issue, and backed it up with a short quiz about error…

One of the key components of “normal” child development is social competence. We expect kids to become gradually better at behaving respectfully towards peers, to comply with requests made by others, to understand the thoughts of others, to play together with kids and adults, to sustain attention, and to be motivated to learn. But what…

I’m about to head out of town for three weeks. You may have noticed posting getting lighter the last couple weeks as I attempted to tie up loose ends before the trip. Posting will be getting even lighter for the next three weeks as I head west to visit family. Then, a week from now,…

Several recent large-scale studies have confirmed a curious finding: Asians are much more likely to have “perfect pitch” than non-Asians. Perfect pitch, more properly called “Absolute pitch,” is an extremely rare phenomenon, but it’s several times more likely to occur in Asians than in others. Studies have found that only 1 in 1,500 to 10,000…

A number of studies have found that older adults aren’t as good at certain visual tasks compared to younger adults. Mental rotation, for example, is both slower and less accurate. But other studies have found that for certain types of mental rotation, older adults do just as well as younger adults. The dividing line, these…

When we’re in a crowded space, making visual judgments becomes more difficult. But it doesn’t take much to trigger a crowding effect. Clicking on the picture below will take you to a quick movie (QuickTime required) that should demonstrate the effect. Focus on the cross to the left, then start the movie (it may start…

Bora’s hosting the first-ever edition of a new history of science carnival, “The Giant’s Shoulders,” which promises to focus attention on great research from years past, once a month. All participants review a journal article or other report of science from their field of expertise. The catch is that the science being reviewed must be…

Imagine yourself in a room surrounded by eleven objects arranged in a circle. You memorize the position of the objects, then you close your eyes, and rotate a third of the way around (120°). Keeping your eyes closed, can you point to the object that was behind you before? Most people can do this without…

In 2005, E. Ashby Plant and B. Michelle Peruche tested 48 Florida police officers and found that they were initially more likely to shoot unarmed Black “suspects” in a crime-fighting simulation than White people holding similar objects. Interestingly, however, as the test went on, the officers improved, and by the end of the session, any…