Looking at Toto or Kansas: The Tyranny of Film versus Top-Down Cognition

What are your favorite, best-ever movie quotes? Is it “I’ll have what she’s having”? Or “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”? What about “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”? If you are unsure, here is a list of the best 100 movie quotes of all time according to Hollywood. But […]

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Open but not rugged: The awe-inspiring vastness of the Nullarbor

Have you ever experienced “vastness”? Have you driven across a vast expanse of space that stretches from horizon to horizon seemingly without limit? If not, then I can recommend the Australian Nullarbor (pronounced “null-ah-bore”), the treeless arid expanse of red soil and scrubs in between Eucla in Western Australia and Ceduna in South Australia. It […]

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When too much inhibition freezes ducks and bunnies into their perceptual place

Our perception of the world is flexible and depends on our expectations, our experience, and on cues around us. Ambiguous images, whose identity can change depending on our interpretation, offer a striking illustration of this flexibility. Perhaps the best-known and best-studied ambiguous image is the rabbit-duck, first brought to psychologists’ attention by Jastrow in 1899. […]

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From scatter (plot) to statistical perception: you can see a lot by looking

Yogi Berra once famously said that “You can observe a lot by watching”. Yogi Berra observed and said a lot of things, but this line has a lot going for it. The idea that information can be gathered by “just looking” entered statistics many decades ago. For example, John Tukey, one of the 20th century’s […]

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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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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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