Date Night: A Thin Slice of Reality

Out on the Town The 8minuteDating.com speed dating site says their speed dating events are fast, fun, and guaranteed.Speed dating is based on the premise that we can use our immediate intuition to judge a potential mate. In a study of people’s ability to judge romantic interest, Place and colleagues showed participants video clips of speed dates…

The Mind’s Eye

In 1967 Russian psychologist Alfred Yarbus published a ground-breaking text on visual perception. Yarbus had invented and adapted equipment to study the function of saccades as well as eye tracking during a wide variety of “looking” experiences. He noted that when examining complex objects, the eye tracks through and fixates on some but not all…

Dear Dr. Sacks: A Tribute to Creativity

I was sad to learn of the illness and death of Dr. Oliver Sacks, one of the world’s greatest minds. Dr. Sacks was inspiring for many reasons, but I was always struck by the sensitivity with which he bridged science and humanity. In this post I discuss Gute, et al., (2008) and relate the work…

Broca, Birds, and Books

Humans share 98.5% of our genome with animals. While my dog can howl a fair rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon”, I can talk and she can’t. Genetic switches control and regulate how our genes are expressed, and some scientists see this as the key to evolution. That may be so, but culture, language,…

What Does the Word “Disability” Mean?

In H.G Wells’ famous Country of the Blind, a man finds himself trapped in an isolated mountain valley where all of the inhabitants are blind. During the days that follow, the man’s ability to see manifests as a handicap among people who can hear anything and move and work in the dark. There are many…

The Mock Turtle Does Math

The Mock Turtle went on. ‘We had the best of educations … Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of Arithmetic: Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.’  Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass  Knowledge is context-bound. Zull  (2204) states: “Don’t explain”.  He reasons that because people’s brains are uniquely organized,…

Perception is Everything

The brain is shaped as much by the information it receives as it is by the processes that mediate those perceptions.  There are some interesting examples of how the interaction of body senses and perception have a powerful role in shaping cognition. The brain “becomes” the information it receives. A disturbance in hearing, vision, or…