Attention

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Category archives for Attention

I attended an unusual middle school. It was designed on an “open concept,” with the idea that there should be no walls between classrooms. Social pressure would keep the noise levels down, because if kids got too loud, then their peers in other classes would encourage them to hush up. This actually worked most of…

If you’re a regular reader of Cognitive Daily, you’re relatively accustomed to seeing surprising things. Indeed, it’s gotten to the point where you might even expect it. You’ve seen optical illusions and videos that baffle the imagination. Yet most participants in psychology research studies aren’t aware of the many ways the mind can be “tricked.”…

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…

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…

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…

The other day, our car wouldn’t start and Jim had to ask a neighbor over to help him jump-start it. There was much rushing in and out of the house looking for flashlights and other tools to help get the job done. After the neighbor left, Jim wanted to drive somewhere and couldn’t find the…

We’ve talked a lot on Cognitive Daily about change blindness: the inability to spot visual differences between images and even real people and objects right before our eyes. The most dramatic demonstration might be Daniel Simons’ “experiment” that took place before participants even knew they were being studied: More recently researchers have uncovered a similar…

Take a look at the following picture: Your job is to look for the one line that’s either perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical. It took me about 25 seconds to find it. Can you do better? How about now? A little easier, right? But the task can be made difficult again by randomly changing the…

We’ve discussed attentional blink several times on CogDaily. It’s a fascinating phenomenon: if you see a series of images flashing by rapidly, you can normally pick out one of the images (for example, a banana in series of pictures of familiar objects). But if a second such image (another piece of fruit, like an apple)…

[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…