Attention

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Attention

Imagine yourself walking on a treadmill that starts at a reasonable pace: say, two and a half miles per hour. Every two minutes, the treadmill increases its speed by 0.2 mph: 2.7 mph, 2.9 mph, 3.1 mph, and so on. If you’re in good physical condition, at some point — usually between about 3.0 and…

[This article was originally published in January of 2007] Many many studies have repeatedly shown the dangers of driving while using a cell phone. Yesterday, while discussing a new law in Britain imposing heavy penalties not only for driving using a handheld phone, but also while using phones with hands-free kits, commenter Jan claimed that…

It shouldn’t take you long to notice what’s wrong with this picture: Obviously Nora is defying gravity in this shot — you can’t help but notice it. But in your first glance at the photo, how quickly do you notice what’s wrong? Do you spot the oddity faster than you’d notice Nora in the original,…

Is responding to sudden cues automatic?

Take a look at this short video clip (QuickTime required). It’s called an RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation), meaning that it’s a quick sequence of still images. In this case, it’s a random sequence of letters. Your job is to look for a number among the letters. At some point during the clip, you should…

A particular source of dread for politicians is how to respond to negative campaigning or other information impugning their character. By responding, they might only bring attention to an issue that voters hadn’t even recognized: “Contrary to my opponent’s claims, I have stopped beating my wife, and I haven’t consumed more than a fifth of…

How “gut feelings” influence memory

[Originally posted on November 7, 2005] What does it mean to have a gut feeling that you remember something? You see someone you recognize in a coffee shop. Do you remember her from high school? Or maybe you saw her on television. Could she be the manager of your local bank? Perhaps you don’t know…

Memories, attention, and intention

The human perceptual system is able to enforce a large array of illusions on our conscious experience. Most importantly, we hold the illusion of a complete and vivid picture of our surroundings, while in fact we selectively ignore nearly everything we see. There’s a good reason for this, of course: focusing on the task at…

When we are trying to understand what someone is saying, we rely a lot on the movement of their face. We pay attention to how their faces move, and that informs our understanding of what is said. The classic example of this is the McGurk effect, where the same sound accompanied by different facial movements…

Does this ever happen to you? You’re preparing green beans to be cooked, putting the stems in the trash and the beans in a bowl. Suddenly you realize you’ve started putting the stems in the bowl. The dinner guests will be arriving soon, and now you have to search through the beans to pull out…

Countless change blindness studies have showed that we’re extremely bad at noticing when a scene has changed. We fail to notice objects moving, disappearing, or changing color, seemingly right before our eyes. But sometimes we do notice the change. What sorts of changes are we more likely to notice? I’ve created a simple demo that…