The Times has a nice piece on the science of face recognition. They do a nice job discussing the neuroscience behind the tendency to see faces in things. (if you’re interested, see my earlier post on a similar topic.)
Researchers know that we’re predisposed to recognize facial patterns for some obvious reasons, but those faces can become so convincing that many of us interpret them as a miracle. We often see what we want to see, but more often, we see what our brain thinks we should see–it’s working overtime to make sense of meaningless patterns.
It’s a good read, and I think articles like this can go a long way to help people think critically. It’s not that it means people have to abandon their religious beliefs or faith, but they also need to know what the science says might explain such phenomena. Might even be liberating!
Wow! A game from the ’60s determines what “gals” will be ready for what careers.
via BoingBoing (as usual)
All the fun research takes place in Scotland! Seems researchers there have explored the neuroscience of the effect that alcohol has on the perception of attractiveness in other people. Here’s the formula:
|(An)2 x d(S + 1)
√L x (Vo)2
- An is the number of servings of alcohol
- S is the smokiness of the area on a scale of 0 – 10
- L is the lighting level of the area, measured in candelas per square meter, in which 150 is normal room lightning
- Vo is Snellen visual acuity, in which 6/6 is normal and 6/12 is the lower limit at which someone is able to drive
- d is the distance between the observer and the observed, measured in meters
The formula works out a “beer goggle” score ranging from 1 to 100+. When β = 1, the observer is perceiving the same degree of beauty he or she would perceive in a sober state. At 100+, everybody in the room is a perfect 10.
h/t Billy, who asks how this works if you’re too drunk to do the math!
Interesting article here about some research suggesting that women look better–and put more effort into looking good–when they are ovulating.
A study of young college women showed they frequently wore more fashionable or flashier clothing and jewelery when they were ovulating, as assessed by a panel of men and women looking at their photographs.
Although the finding makes sense, it also says a lot about the continuing influence of evolutionary factors in human behavior, even though most of us aren’t consciously contemplating our reproductive viability when we get dressed in the morning!
Here‘s another article about predictors of cognitive deficits. Seems more weight is linked to poorer mental acumen. The headline is better than most, in that it doesn’t plead causality, but it still doesn’t clarify theory underlying the phenomenon, although some suggestions come up, and the author mentions a couple covariates that didn’t seem to explain what’s going on. Interesting stuff!
In general, the researchers found, people with a high body mass index (BMI) garnered lower test scores than those with a lower BMI. They also tended to show greater cognitive decline between the two test periods.
Factors such as age, education and general health did not seem to explain the link.
- Back after a long hiatus
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- “Fixation” Has Different Meanings to Different People
- The Myth of the Down Low
- The Psychology of the NCAA Tournament Office Pool
- Metacognition in Rats
- Familiar Smells and Sleep Aid Memory
- Face Recognition from Minimal Pixelation
- College Students More Narcissistic
- Risk Assessment and the NFL Draft
- Whither Stigma?