Cognitive Daily

Archives for January, 2009

Valentines’ Day is coming up in just a few weeks, so we thought we’d help our readers prepare by assessing the romance level of a few common gifts they might consider getting for their significant others. I’ve noticed that there’s often a fine line between a romantic gift and a disappointing downer. Does a box…

Some of the things psychologists ask their research subjects to do are really rather annoying. I’m not talking about Milgram-esque studies where people confront their inner demons, I’m talking about much more pedestrian stuff. This movie, for example, gives you a small taste of the Sustained Attention to Response Test (SART). A series of numbers…

Take a look at this graph showing population distribution by county in a fictional U.S. state: How do you read such a graph? Is this the ideal way to depict this sort of information? If you wanted to know which part of the state was most populous, how would you go about figuring it out?…

Two years ago, we linked to a post about an ABC news program that claimed to have replicated Stanley Milgram’s controversial experiments from the 1960s and 70s about obedience to authority. The original study tricked unwitting paid study participants into believing that they had administered potentially deadly shocks at the bidding of an experimenter. The…

Today’s Slashdot poll covers some of the same territory as this week’s Casual Fridays study. Their poll asks “How Many Hours Of Work Do You Do Per Workday?” We asked two questions that get at the same concept: How much time to you spend at work per day, and how much of that time do…

Last week’s Casual Fridays study was supposed to be about distractions and distractibility. Many of us struggle to keep our minds on work when the whole wide internet is available to entertain and inform us. So I wondered: Are people who are more easily distracted by the temptations of the internet actually better-informed? Do they…

What are we looking at when we recognize faces? The shapes of of the individual components of the face — eyes, nose, mouth? Or are we recognizing the larger patterns of how those parts relate to one another — the distance between the eyes, the position of the mouth relative to the nose? We’re actually…

There’s lots of evidence that most TV isn’t beneficial to toddlers, and it may even be harmful. But can’t kids learn from TV too? Isn’t that supposed to be what shows like Teletubbies, Barney, and Sesame street are all about? For older children, three and above, it does seem to be true that some learning…

One of my most difficult challenges as I work at home on Cognitive Daily and other projects is to keep focused on the task at hand. The internet, with its myriad distractions, is just a click away. It used to be that I could just head to a coffee shop with my laptop to get…

In 2007 I received a really cool Christmas present that I still haven’t used. It’s a kit to help identify the various components of the aroma in a glass of wine. I haven’t used it because I wanted to wait for the right occasion — say, a party with some of my wine-loving friends. But…