Cognitive Daily

Archives for October, 2009

Political opinion polls are very tricky. Answers to questions depend on the order they’re asked in, and on precisely how they are phrased. If you ask people whether they’re in favor of killing unborn children, you’ll get a much different response than if you ask if there’s any situation where women should be allowed to…

Take a look at this face: Does it look more angry or fearful? It may be rather difficult to tell: About fifty percent of adults say faces like this are angry and fifty percent say it’s fearful. However, for children, the story is different. Researchers have found that small children aren’t as good as adults…

Product placements in movies and TV shows are becoming so commonplace that my kids now cynically take note of them whenever they appear. It wasn’t always that way. In 1982 when I first saw E.T. I had no idea that Elliott’s use of Reeses’ Pieces to lure E.T. into his home was part of a…

Over at SEEDMAGAZINE.COM, my column discusses the recent flurry of blog posts and media reporting on the placebo effect. Here’s a snippet: This is the primary misconception about placebos: that the placebo itself is somehow “working” to treat a medical condition. You can see it even in the headline for an otherwise well-crafted article that…

Political opinion polls are funny things. A recent poll suggests that Americans are much less concerned about global warming than they were a couple years ago. What happened? The science hasn’t changed, and the world isn’t putting out any fewer greenhouse gases. It seems that respondents must simply be distracted by other things — the…

When Jim and Nora were in elementary school, both Greta and I worked challenging jobs, so we did whatever we could to save time. Instead of bringing lunches made by their parents, the kids bought hot meals at school. The school was proud of its cafeteria. Kids had credit accounts, which meant they didn’t have…

In case you missed them, here are my picks from ResearchBlogging.org’s Psychology and Neuroscience posts from the past week. Mice navigate a virtual-reality maze. Go for the amazingly cute video. Stay for the science! Brain imaging for lie-detection doesn’t live up to the hype. Remember all those stories about fMRI lie detectors a couple years…

Recently we took our hybrid car into the shop for its annual emissions test. In our state, the test is conducted while the car is idling. A hybrid doesn’t actually idle — it shuts the engine off completely. So our car’s emissions were tested at 0 RPM. It may be time to rethink our state’s…

Almost three years ago, we conducted our first-ever Casual Fridays study, where we asked who says “hi” to you while you’re outside exercising. The results confirmed my suspicions: Runners report that they say “hi” to walkers 57.1 percent of the time. But looking back at the other graph, walkers claim runners only say “hi” only…

I’ve just read an engrossing report about some very promising research in a an exciting field. The researchers combined fMRI research with genetic analysis to see if they could identify a genetic basis for anger. And they actually found something quite interesting. If I was writing for the New York Times, the headline might read…