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Synesthesia and the McGurk effect

We’ve discussed synesthesia many times before on Cognitive Daily — it’s the seemingly bizarre phenomenon when one stimulus (e.g. a sight or a sound) is experienced in multiple modalities (e.g. taste, vision, or colors). For example, a person might experience a particular smell whenever a given word or letter is seen or heard. Sometimes particular…

[Originally published in January, 2006] Clicking on the image below will take you to a short Quicktime movie. Make sure you have your sound turned up, because I’ve recorded a few sentences that play along with the movie. Your job is to determine, as quickly as possible, if each sentence is grammatically correct — while…

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…

Classical Indian dancing is a tradition that extends back 2,000 years. Unlike much Western dance, it is intended to express specific emotions and tell detailed stories. The Natyasastra, a text from the first or second century A.D., offers instructions for how to depict nine primary emotions, and these rules continue to be followed in Indian…

One of the most exciting moments of my junior-high-school career was stepping into my first-ever foreign-language classroom. While foreign language studies had a reputation for being tedious, I was nonetheless thrilled at the idea of being able to communicate with people from a different, seemingly more exotic part of the world. We were allowed to…

I’ve always been amazed by people who are truly bilingual. While I’ve studied languages in school, I’ve never been able to seamlessly switch between languages, and even my best non-English language, French, is choppy at best. Compare this to the people I see in restaurants or on the subway, who can have conversations in two…

Take a look at this video. Your job: decide which person speaks first: Click to view Video 1 (QuickTime required) Let’s make this a poll: Which person in Video 1 speaks first?(web poll) Now, try another one. Once again, decide which person speaks first: Click to view Video 2 (QuickTime required) Make your response here:…

If, like me, you grew up in the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s, you probably remember the game show Name That Tune, where contestants heard brief snippets from popular songs and had to name them as quickly as possible. Even though I didn’t know most of the music, which was primarily American Standards from…

The SNARC effect is a fascinating phenomenon (and no, it has nothing to do with cheeky one-off blog posts). When asked to recognize numbers, people react faster with their left hand for low numbers, and faster with their right hand for high numbers. Take a look at this graph: This shows the results of an…

I was a member of my high school debate team, and I did fairly well, but my partner, Glenn, always got better marks from the judges. Most often, they praised his hand gestures, which were proclaimed to be “expressive” and “informative.” One year our topic was arms control, and our opponents were arguing that “NATO…