Features and Objects

How long is a piece of string? It’s as long as it makes the object appear big

How long is a piece of string? We all know this proverbial and largely rhetorical question. We also probably assume that it has no right answer—indeed, that’s the point of this rhetorical question in the first place, namely to indicate that the issue under consideration does not have a meaningful answer. Enter the venerable BBC. […]

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Racing Towards Another Race: Processing Faces One Feature at a Time

The own-race bias in face processing is a well-known effect that refers to the fact that people generally find it easier to identify faces of people of their own race. Although the general effect has been known for decades, the source of the bias is not well understood. There are a number of broad explanations […]

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2 eyes, 4 targets, and 8 moving disks: Lagging gazes in object tracking

We keep track of multiple objects every day. When we drive, we need to keep track of the cyclist near the curb, the dump truck bearing down on us from behind, and the lost tourist in front of us who is signaling turns at random. When we are on the beach on a family outing, […]

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The hazard (functions) of detecting the pounce on the prey

How many things can we attend to simultaneously? Imagine being an air traffic controller and you are monitoring O’Hare arrivals on the day before Thanksgiving. How many aircraft can you attend to simultaneously? Or imagine watching a flock of grazing impalas in Krueger National Park or the Serengeti while a pride of lions is casually […]

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When Wednesday is yellow and a blinking cursor ticks loudly: Synesthesia and associative learning

What color is Wednesday? If the answer is obvious to you, you might have a form of synesthesia in which sequences such as numbers, days of the week, and months of the year are perceived as having colors (or else you might be from Thailand). Initially, one may well be skeptical on being told that […]

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Creating rectangles on the fly: Attentional set and object-based effects

Attention guides human perception, memory, and action in intriguing ways. Some time ago on this blog we learned that visual search can be directed by conceptual information: Saying or reading a word such as “tomato” makes it easier to find red things. We also learned on this blog that looking at a tomato can help you touch […]

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