Monday, September 28, 2009
George Stratton was the first to address these concerns. In his 19th century experiment “Vision without inversion of the retinal image”, he built a set of goggles out of 2 double convex lenses. This would provide the retina with a previously inverted image. When the subject initially wears the glasses, he is disoriented. The world he sees is upside down. Physical movement is very difficult if the wearer relies solely on the visual image. If the wearer places his hands out in front of him, they seem to come from above. Stratton claimed that with time, the wearer adapted to the goggles and experienced the world in an upright state.
Some researchers dispute this claim. They believe that with adaptation, it is not that our vision appears upright again, but that because we’ve experienced the world in an upright manner and learned spatial clues over time, we can interpret the visual image we see while wearing the goggles. If this is so, it comes as a result of perceptual constancy. As in the dragon illusion I posted earlier, the impressions we receive from objects are what we assume them to be, and are not a direct representation of the stimulus presented. We maintain these constancies even when the stimuli is changing, which could explain why new researchers debate Stratton’s findings.
In the video below, the subjects vision isn’t inverted vertically, but the goggles reverse the left and right fields of vision. Notice how the subject struggles to make sense of this new world.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Studying art, as many of us do, judging what we each determine to be “good” or “bad” art seems like no small undertaking. Taking into account technical prowess, concept, style, context, personal taste, and any number of other variables, it becomes something we take several classes on, and spend hours of our lives discussing. Yet apparently pigeons can do it. A recent experiment by Shigeru Watanabe had trained pigeons judge art made by children to be good or bad. While the art these pigeons that were tested were exposed to was much less involved than (most) of the art that we are asked to form opinions on, their testing does expose interesting things about our own thought processes. Our ability, and the pigeon’s ability, to almost instantaneously categorize the objects in our surroundings (or in this case in pictures) makes us able to function. If we had to decide what every object was around us at all times we might not be able to leave one room over the course of our entire lives. Even thinking about how the study was conducted reveals an interesting insight to how we categorize things. It is interesting that what is deemed by the scientist conducting the study as “good” children’s art are the pictures that create recognizable things that can be easily categorized by people and pigeon alike.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Here's an article a lot of us can probably relate to. It describes a study that showed that doodling can help concentration on boring tasks. It may be because doodling can make it easier to avoid daydreaming. The study had participants listen to a boring phone message about a party and then tested their memory afterwards of the names of the guests who would be attending. One group was told to doodle by shading some pre-drawn shapes while listening to the message. The other group did not doodle. While both groups wrote down the names as they heard them, the doodling group was better at remembering the names in a surprise memory test. I found the paper from the actual study on another site, you have to click on the link to the PDF to read the whole thing, it's pretty short and easy to read, if you're interested. It also has the text of the boring phone message at the end. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122205124/abstract
The introduction of the article is interesting too, it's about Bill Gates's doodles during an economic forum and their interpretation by a graphologist. They were first thought to be Tony Blair's, but the interpretation was that the person who did them was "struggling to maintain control in a confusing world" and "is not rooted," and also "not a natural leader, but more of a spiritual person, like a vicar." I'm not sure about the scientific validity of this interpretation of the doodles, but it's pretty funny, and sounds like it fits Bill Gates to me. There's also a picture of some of Obama's doodles.
The study pretty much confirmed what I've always thought about doodling, that rather than being a distraction, it can make it easier to concentrate, especially when listening to someone speak. I know I see a lot of people at Pratt doodling during classes, does anyone else think it either helps or hurts?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Here's a small overview of the game. Winning 3 different outstanding awards in 2006, there's not a doubt as to why.
(you don't need to see all of it to get the idea, but it's all pretty sweet.)
The most intriguing part of the game is the players limitless ability to type in anything that your little heart desires. This does indeed include insulting Grace and Trip, flirting, and drinking an alcoholic beverage or two. Not only that, but you can interact with the environment, and that every game play is more or less unique.
This is quite the breakthrough in AI development, especially in 2006, and gives rise to the question: how close are we to mimicking the cognitive mind? Although psychology is an old art, cognitive psychology is a relatively new field, and psychology itself is still largely unexplored. While I believe that Facade relies heavily on keywords to communicate (sorry to ruin for the believers), how close are we exactly to Will Smith's I Am Robot? Or to the prophesied doomsday in which humans may be obsolete next to their mechanical counterparts?
Scary stuff if you ask me. For those still interested, Facades is absolutely FREE and downloadable from InteractiveStory.net so check it out kids.
According to German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.”
How do we perceive a lie? How do we interpret behavior to decide someone is lying?
I remember Serena saying something about making inferences from body language to improve business skills. This is one cue we use while judging. Smiling could indicate nerves, along with posture shifts, fidgeting, and avoidance of eye contact. Auditory clues can also reveal a fabricated statement. Perhaps a persons vocal inflections or the tone of their voice lead you to your decisions last week. It seems silly or obvious to mention these clues, because we’ve all used them at some point. But we don’t literally have the thought, “OK, now just how plausible is this information I’ve been given?” That’s exactly what’s super weird about detecting a lie. We don’t run through a set mental list of these factors to determine if something is true, and we don’t realize which moments from our past are guiding decisions of today.
After watching this video, I realized that, while playing this game the lie is usually announced last, because logically it makes sense when improvising to think of 2 truths first (which isn’t very difficult) and spend the most time conjuring up a lie. Also, the amount of detail in each answer can reveal its accuracy. If you notice, Jason unintentionally gives more specific info about being electrocuted on a fence with his sister, and this lets the viewer know that the story is most likely true.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
(Watch the video before you continue reading)
This video is part of a series by Richard Wiseman, which go under the name of Quirkology. His videos are mind tricks that play on human perception and response. As visual artist we like to assume that our visual acuity is somewhat above that of the general public. This video made me realize how easily we can all fall for certain “tricks”. I did not notice the color changes in the video until it was explained. Instead of using colors with similar hue and or saturation the colors changed into unexpected colors, for example the tablecloth going from black to tan. Was my mind able to make that leap because of the commonality of those colors or because I was intensely focused on something completely different. The concentration that the card trick is great, as you try and focus on one activity the other things in your periphery blur away. Is this blurring away easier for some more than others? (Did you guys notice the gorilla?)
Why does music make us feel emotion? Although this question has not been answered definitively yet, this article describes a study that shows just how much emotional music can effect us, and a possible reason for our reactions. The study, which involved showing subjects pictures of happy, sad, and neutral faces after they listened to happy or sad music, found that emotional music enhanced the emotions people saw in the faces. Those who saw a smiling face after listening to happy music thought the face looked happier, and those who saw a frown after the sad music thought it looked sadder. It's interesting that music actually influences our visual perceptions of emotions.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Each week you will need to post a reflective blog entry in which the class material is discussed. The blog entry is not a book report or summary- it is to be a reflection on the material. This can include questions, challenges, observations (either supportive or contrary), emotional reactions, or whatever else will reveal your active engagement with the course material. A log of your blog posts (just dates are fine) are due at the end of the semester.
Your blog entries will be graded on the following:
1. Basic comprehension (Do you understand the material or its purpose?);
2. Deep comprehension (Do you understand the significance of the concept in its historical context?);
3. Insight (Have you made connections between the psychological concepts and your own life or with something else, like movies, news, or literature?);
4. Curiosity (Do you raise puzzles or questions about the material?);
5. Critical thinking (Have you raised interesting challenges?);
6. Truth-seeking (Have you shown an effort to respond to the challenges you raised, and then tried to reach a balanced judgment that takes all relevant issues into account?).
Here's an interesting tidbit on how to enjoy your time in school.
According to this study, people appreciate and productively enjoy the good times when they are under the impression that time is running out. They used the old pastime of kids at camp to make a connecting analogy, and then moved onto the more currently relevant study of undergrads at school to prove the point even further.
Here, Jaime Kurtz tested 67 seniors at the University of Virginia, and after a bried "Subjective Happiness Scale" evaluation, all the happier campers where divided into 3 groups 6 weeks before the end of their college career.
The experimenter suggested to Group 1 that very little time was left in their school career:As you write, keep in mind that you only have a short amount of time left to spend at UVA. In fact, you have about 1,200 hours left before graduation.
Group 2 got the opposite message:As you write, keep in mind that you a significant amount of time left to spend at UVA. In fact, you have about 1/10 of a year left before graduation.
Group 3 received no such instructions, and was asked to write about a typical day, while Groups 1 and 2 wrote about their friends, the campus, their activities, and their overall college experience.
This evaluation was continued the following two weeks for a conclusive followup.
The students who had been reminded of how soon graduation was (Group 1) said they were significantly happier than at the start of the study, and their reported happiness had risen significantly more than either of the other two groups. Group 1 also reported participating in more activities over the course of the study than the other groups.
Kurts is unclear about how this effect would last over longer periods of time, for example the lifespan of a human being, but I believe it that perhaps it would effect those of the older variety, say retirement home age, or those that are terminally ill.
I'ld also be interesting in a study that involves bad or boring times seeming a great deal longer than they would if one was having fun. For example prison mates or a student trapped in a dull lecture. Also, if one was having only a mediocure time at college, would relizing an impending graduation improve their quality of college life and even make them more productive, or would it remain unchanged?
You may have heard of this guy called Leibniz, a 17th c. German philosopher who had some pretty kooky theories on metaphysics. Aside from that, in his writings of 1714 called “Monadology” he states this, “We see that animals when, they have the perception of something which they notice and. of which they have had a similar previous perception, are led by the representation of their memory to expect that which was associated in the preceding perception, and they come to have feelings like those which they had before.”
Because we associate this dragon form with a convex face, we assume that’s what we are looking at, even though our brain has received indications from our eyes ( e.g. depth perception from retinal disparity between the eyes) that it’s concave. It’s strange to think that these assumptions can outweigh the signals our eyes are sensing from the light that bounces off it. Seeing is deceiving.
I’ve also included a link to a site with games designed to improve memory and info processing. So far, word bubbles is my favorite. http://www.lumosity.com
Sunday, September 13, 2009
[We cognitive scientists now understand that emotion is a necessary part
of life, affecting how you feel, how you behave, and how you think.
Indeed, emotion makes you smart. That’s the lesson of my current
research. Without emotions, our decision-making ability would be
impaired. Emotion is always passing judgments, presenting you with
immediate information about the world: here is potential danger, there is
potential comfort. This is nice, that bad. One of the ways by which
emotions work is through neurochemicals that bathe particular brain
centers and modify perception, decision making, and behavior. These
neurochemicals change the parameters of thought.
The surprise is that we now have evidence that aesthetically pleasing
objects actually work better. As I shall demonstrate, products and
systems that make you feel good are easier to deal with and produce
more harmonious results. When you wash and polish your car, doesn’t it
seem to drive better? When you bathe and dress up in clean, fancy
clothes, don’t you feel better? And when you use a wonderful, well-
balanced, aesthetically pleasing garden or woodworking tool, tennis
racket or skis, don’t you perform better?]
(Though the entire article is great, I think that pages 7 and 8 would be of most interest/relevance to the class)
After reading the section in the Hunt article about memory, where he talks about George Miller's address "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two," I remembered something on a website I had seen a few days earlier. http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000U6 It's on Edward Tufte's site, he's an expert in information design. The page was a discussion about Miller's paper, and how it has been applied (or misapplied) to design. It seems that it has been used as scientific evidence for everything from the correct number of bullet points for powerpoint slides, and website navigation links, even to pass laws that restrict the amount of items on billboards. What I find most interesting is the fourth post down, an email from George Miller himself regarding the misuse of his findings by the billboard industry and, further down on the page, the email that prompted it. The point is basically that people have taken a study on memory and applied it to the quick comprehension of information. I guess it's important to actually read a study before basing advice or, especially, laws on it.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Chris ware animation for This American Life.
The man in the story appropriates his wife's memory. She told the story enough that he created his own memory of the event.
Is it enough t to believe that something happened like that man did? I think his memory of the event is just as valid as his wife's. The husband's experience is one that is so vivid and has some value in the ether of his consciousness. The man's memory must be categorized differently than his wife's because hers involves an altogether different event.
Then the issue because what we can "trust" as appropriated memory and physically experienced memory
The animations is also really well done in that visual elements go along with the narration and itself keeps getting revised as new twist and variables come into