Cognitive Daily

Archives for November, 2009

In celebration of Thanksgiving in the U.S., I’m reposting this piece, originally posted in April, 2008. How often do you take time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for? Once a month? Once a week, at church, perhaps? Maybe you say “grace” at mealtime every day. But even prayers that do express gratefulness, such…

Recently a woman had her sick leave benefits based on a diagnosis of clinical depression terminated because of a few pictures she posted on her Facebook page showing her smiling at a birthday party and enjoying a trip to the beach. Was this a fair assessment of her medical condition? Probably not–people with clinical depression…

We received an astonishing number of responses to last week’s Casual Fridays study, which claimed to be able to identify what makes a good writer in just a few minutes. Of course, I wasn’t actually very confident that a brief survey could actually identify the factors that make a good writer. But I did have…

How does our visual system decide if something is a face? Some automated face-detecting software uses color as one cue that something is a face. For example Apple’s iPhoto has no trouble determining that there are two faces in this color picture: That’s Nora in the back, and her cousin Ginger in front. In this…

Who’s more “sociable,” men or women? Common sense says it’s women, right? And many research studies back this impression up: Women are more interpersonal, more connected, more interdependent than men. Women are more likely to share intimate information with each other than men. But is that really the whole story? There is also research suggesting…

Some people just seem to be natural writers — they can write perfect, elegant sentences with a minimum of effort. Some popular fiction novelists crank out 6 or more novels per year. Some bloggers write 10 or more posts per day. Others labor over every word, or simply choose careers that don’t require a lot…

The long-term effects of day care

When we were getting ready to have our first child, I decided that I would quit my job, work out of home as a freelancer, and take care of our baby while Greta finished graduate school. That worked well for about two years, but by the time Nora was born, we decided to hire a…

This week on SEED, I’m writing about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a promising new way to treat clinical depression. Here’s a snippet: In DBS therapy, one or more electrodes the size of a spaghetti strand are precisely positioned in the patient’s brain, then connected by wire around the skull and through the neck to a…

Take a look at this video from last night’s episode of Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” If you’d like, you can skip past all the political snark to the 4:47 mark to watch Jon bring cognitive psychology into prime time (or at least latenight cable)! That’s right; you saw it: Jon Stewart mentioned the psychological…

Greta and I did our undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, or as a commonly-sold T-shirt on campus put it, “where fun goes to die.” To say that Chicago didn’t emphasize academics over a social life is to deny that people literally lived in the library (a full-scale campsite was found behind one of…