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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Fortifying memory after encoding: Internal and external attention and visual short-term memory

You are in the cognitive laboratory and you focus on the screen in front of you. A few color patches are flashed for 1/10th of a second, and 2 seconds later another array of patches appears that stays on the screen until you respond. Your task is to decide whether any one of the patches […]

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Do not let a car drive you to distraction: In Vehicle Information Systems and attention

Maybe I’m a Luddite, but I was shocked to learn that my car can read me my text messages, switch to a song I want to hear, or navigate to my apartment. This is the natural progression of things—voice-based media systems in modern cars are becoming more and more common, especially in cars purchased by […]

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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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Don’t think about the pink elephant you are reaching for: automaticity of reading and arm movements

Imagine your daily commute. Think about 2+2. Don’t picture pink elephants. These examples illustrate the automaticity of cognition. On highly familiar routes, people habitually and automatically navigate, sometimes taking a familiar route absent-mindedly even when they needed to run an errand some place else. I’d be willing to bet that most people reading this couldn’t […]

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Opening the door to distraction: The open office effect

Better get those headphones: We can’t really ignore task-related noise Like many people, I work in an open office. Workers increasingly find themselves in open offices as companies (and universities) switch to these layouts in a bid to maximize space and reduce building costs. In my case, I work remotely but share a local co-working […]

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Zombie apocalypse? Or Zombie bigger bang for the cue?

One of the most hair-raising thought experiments in philosophy of mind is the philosophical zombie, a being that is physically and behaviorally identical to a normal human, but is not conscious of having any mental states, like the fellow on the right in the figure below.     The existence of such a being provides […]

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“My brain made me do it”: Reading our free will(usion)

The waiter asks whether you’d prefer potatoes or rice with your entrecote. Are you free to make that decision based on, well, free will? Or should you respond with “Look, I am a determinist. I will just wait and see what I order because I know that my order is determined”? At first glance, the […]

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