Cognitive Daily

Archives for July, 2009

Implicit attitudes and associations can tell us a lot about a person. It’s a way to find out if they might have a racial or gender bias, and recently there has even been some work suggesting that an implicit association test can tell us whether someone is lying — it’s called the autobiographical Implicit Association…

How do we remember scenes?

Take a look at this quick movie. What you’ll see is two sets of three views of the same scene (our living room). For each group of three views, your job is to decide if the third view is taken from the same angle as one of the two previous views. After the first two…

[Originally posted in April 2007] Cognitive decline as we age is all over the news lately. “Brain fitness” products are available for cell phones, Game Boys, and Xboxes, all designed to prevent the natural decline in cognitive ability as we age. There’s even a significant body of work suggesting that this sort of product really…

[Originally posted in November 2006] The recent controversial shooting of an unarmed black man in New York has generated terrible grief and perhaps justifiable anger. But if officers honestly believed the man was armed and intended to harm them, weren’t they justified in shooting? Perhaps, but an important additional question is this: were they predisposed…

[Originally posted in January 2008] When we watch a movie, we’re usually not conscious of the cuts made by the editor. The camera angle may change dozens of times during a scene, and we follow along as if the flashing from one viewpoint to another wasn’t at all unusual. You might think this is just…

When school budgets are cut, programs in music and the arts are often the first to get axed. While this makes a certain amount of sense because music isn’t always considered “essential” to education, recently in the U.S. we’re starting to see another justification for cutting music out of schools. The No Child Left Behind…

The hollow-face illusion is one of the most dramatic and robust illusions I’ve ever come across. It’s been known for well over 200 years, but it never ceases to amaze me, as this video demonstrates: A three-dimensional hollow face mask held a few feet away will appear to be convex (turned “out” towards the viewer)…

[Originally posted in December, 2007] Do smells have an impact on how we judge people? Certainly if someone smells bad, we may have a negative impression of the person. But what if the smell is so subtle we don’t consciously notice it? Research results have been mixed, with some studies actually reporting that we like…

Is less always more?

My computer has over 5,000 songs on it — 16.2 days’ worth, according to my music-playing software. So how do I pick what song to listen to? More often than not, I just shuffle the whole list and play whatever album shows up on top. But if I’m in the car listening to the radio,…

How do we recognize scenes?

Take a look at this movie (you’ll need a video player like QuickTime or Windows Media Player installed in your browser to see it). You’ll see four different outdoor scenes flash by, one at a time. The scene itself will only be displayed for a fraction of a second, followed immediately by a distraction pattern…