As easy as Yī-Èr-Sān

If you have ever asked a stranger for directions, especially in a place where people speak in a wonderful Scottish accent, you may relate to the experience of the driver in this video: It may not be such a challenge to remember directions if your memory span—that is, the number of items you can recall […]

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Breaking slow: When good learning gets in the way of memory updating

Cogito ergo sum. Thus spake René Descartes, usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am.” Thinking is what makes us human—quite literally so because homo sapiens means “wise man”. So what does it mean to think, let alone to be wise? Much debate can be had about that question, but it seems safe […]

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Drinking Beck’s rather than Heineken? Perhaps it is the result of life-long associative learning

Asking your waiter what beers are on tap should come with a trigger warning, because the simple question may trigger a cognitive challenge. From Heineken to Becks and some other local boutique IPAs whose names you cannot even pronounce, the list can be so extensive that you are put into frantic rehearsal mode just to […]

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Drawn to remember: the benefits of artistic shopping lists

When you go grocery shopping, how do you remember what to buy?  Write down a list, of course.  That slip of paper, or your smartphone, will do the remembering for you (it’s an external memory, as we have noted on this blog before). But what if you lose the paper or your phone’s battery dies? […]

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Doubling down on consonant doubling: When sound and spelling both contribute to spelling

The spelling rules of English are by far the most challenging aspect of learning to read, of reading, and of writing. Anyone who has seen a child’s spontaneous writing has seen all kinds of creative misspellings. Adults, of course, are also not immune to spelling errors: Spelling is so strange in the English language that […]

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The uncompromising red of a Ferrari: Feature inferences in probabilistic categorization

The world around us is structured. Certain features of objects just go together. Imagine a muscular sports car in a 1950s black-and-white photograph, like this classic Ferrari 340: What do you think its color was? And what color was this 1950’s VW beetle? Chances are you did not think that the Ferrari was some mushy […]

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From Replication to Reproducible knowledge: A hybrid method to combine evidence across studies

Reproducibility is the hallmark of science. It has been argued that a finding needs to be repeatable to count as a scientific discovery and that replicability is a line of demarcation that separates science from pseudoscience. The fact that a recent large replication effort of 100 studies found that fewer than half of cognitive and social psychology […]

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When holistic isn’t a whole lot better: Eye-movements during face recognition reveal cognitive decline

There are certain truths in life that we may find difficult to accept. Some of these truths include admitting when we’re wrong, admitting when we’ve been beaten, and if you’re anything like me, admitting when you’ve gained a couple of pounds around the midsection (you know the ones that have inspired our New Year’s resolution […]

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