Call of Duty or Tetris? The cognitive payoff of some video games

Video games both challenge and entertain us.  We play them for fun, and the more we play the better we get.  But might the skills we develop while gaming transfer to other activities?  This has been an increasingly hot research question in recent years, with an industry of “brain training” games willing to race ahead of the science, as […]

Continue Reading

Not all minds that wander are lost: ADHD and the types of mind wandering

In order to read this text you are focusing your attention on this single task, and you are filtering out distractions from your surroundings.  People with ADHD, myself included, have difficulty doing this.  A radio playing in the next room can act like an unwanted magnet to attention.  But we also often struggle with distraction from […]

Continue Reading

The transcendental mind: Memory in your head and in your smartphone

When do you look something up, and when do you try to remember it?  One of the hallmarks of humans is our ability to store and access information in the environment around us as well as in our own central nervous systems. We have an external memory and an internal memory. Many tasks involve moment-to-moment trade-offs between the two. The “soft […]

Continue Reading

When opposites slow you down but don’t collide

When opposites slow you down but don’t collide: Negligible dual-task costs with stimulus incompatibility Doing two things at once is hard. But why?  Answering this question can give us key insights into how the human mind works. Everyday life in the 21st century is rife with attempts to multi-task (e.g., using a mobile device while doing […]

Continue Reading

High quality MTurk data

In 2005 Amazon launched the Mechanical Turk platform (MTurk), a marketplace where requesters can pay “workers” from all over the world to complete tasks over the internet.  MTurk is used to crowdsource many tasks that are still best completed by aggregate human intelligence (as opposed to machine intelligence), such as rating the relevance of search […]

Continue Reading

I know this guy. But wait, what was his name?

As self-aware beings, we humans seem to be in a constant dance between our information storage faculties and our own assessment of those faculties—I think I remember that familiar-looking person’s name, but how sure am I?  This dance guides our behavior.  Sometimes we act on what we remember (“go say hi!”).  Sometimes we don’t (“I’m […]

Continue Reading