97
votes
6answers
5k views

How is it that taking a break from a problem sometimes allows you to figure out the answer?

As a computer programmer, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon: If I am stuck on a particular problem in my work, often if I stop thinking about the problem and do something else, the answer will ...
50
votes
5answers
7k views

Why do humans have sex in private?

Human couples usually have sex in private, hidden not only from predators, but also - other humans. It is unlike behavior of most species, including our relatives: bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas. ...
42
votes
3answers
5k views

Does writing something down help memorize it?

This is a question inspired by this recent question on the Chinese Language & Usage website. Someone asked why they needed to learn how to write Chinese characters, since today we mostly use ...
37
votes
1answer
6k views

Is leg jiggling a focus aid?

This is slightly left-field, but I am interested in the Cognitive Science implications of this question: Many people, myself included, are "leg jigglers", meaning we often sit jiggling or bouncing a ...
35
votes
3answers
2k views

What makes people easily subscribe to pseudoscientific theories?

There are many theories/disciplines that have been categorized as pseudoscience in the scientific community. The list includes many things that are regularly even quoted in media like graphology, ...
35
votes
1answer
2k views

By learning to read and write upside down, what did I do to myself?

If you've ever read Encyclopedia Brown books, you'll be familiar with the backwards writing in the back of the book that explains the solution to the case. When I was in my mid-late teens (I don't ...
32
votes
4answers
4k views

Is Golden Ratio's association with perceived beauty a myth?

Many people advocate using the Golden Ratio in design (e.g. logo design). Is the Golden Ratio's purported aesthetic appeal supported by scientific evidence?
29
votes
6answers
759 views

Online data repository of research in the cognitive sciences

Sharing data is an important part of science (e.g., see APA discussion). It's also often useful to be able to have access to datasets when teaching students how to analyse data in the cognitive ...
29
votes
3answers
999 views

Can critical thinking be taught?

Critical thinking is central to the scientific method and believed to be essential to a successful democracy. Recently, the 2012 Texas Republican platform voiced the party's opposition to the teaching ...
29
votes
1answer
1k views

Does caffeine improve performance for habituated consumers?

I've seen a fair few studies over the while that suggest caffeine increases arousal in the short term and that for some tasks, this will also increase performance (there's a few citations here). ...
28
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the Myer Briggs Type indicator (MBTI) a reasonable scientific theory?

Background: MBTI stands for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It's a theory that suggests that people can be divided into 16 types, based on the way they percieve and analyse information (whether they make ...
27
votes
4answers
1k views

Is The magical number 7 still valid?

George A. Miller published "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" in 1956 and is one of the most highly cited papers in psychology. It ...
27
votes
4answers
6k views

Does evidence support Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs (shown below) is a popular concept and is often taught in basic psychology courses, and often less objectively taught in Business and Marketing courses. A common problem ...
27
votes
2answers
444 views

Do students exhibit rational behavior in determining study time?

While I teach some economics classes, I must admit to near complete ignorance on the optimization processes students undertake when studying. We often say that the "best" students are those who earn ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Is multitasking a myth?

Often, the term 'multitasking' is applied to very busy and 'wired' people. There is an adage that women multitask better than men. My question is, do we actually multitask? If so, what are the ...
24
votes
4answers
984 views

What are good examples of applying dynamical systems in cognitive science?

I'm a mathematics and physics student very much interested in cognitive science. Recently I've been hearing about "a new approach" in cognitive science via dynamical system theory. What are some ...
23
votes
5answers
1k views

Why do higher incentives lead to lower performance for non-rudimentary tasks?

I have watched a number of times this excellent video where Dan Pink discusses the science of motivation. The video states that the higher incentives, the lower performance for non-rudimentary (not ...
23
votes
3answers
1k views

What are some of the drawbacks to probabilistic models of cognition?

Probabilistic approaches to modelling cognition are increasing in popularity and being encouraged within the field (Chater, Tanenbaum, & Yuille, 2006). What are some of the arguments against or ...
23
votes
1answer
166k views

How valid is Lumosity's Brain Performance Index and what normative information is available?

Background There is a test called Lumosity's Brain Performance Index. A sample profile of scores might be: ...
23
votes
1answer
444 views

The effects of bilingualism on colour perception

Peltola et al. (2012) showed that there are two types of bilinguals. Balanced bilinguals mix their two languages and are effected by linguistic categories from both. Dominant bilinguals seem to ...
22
votes
3answers
11k views

Why would the brain flip the images perceived by your eyes?

The following is a common scientific statement, which you don't have to google long for to find: The eye views images upside-down in the manner of a camera lens, but our brains reinterpret this ...
22
votes
3answers
296 views

Why does the human visual system produce a bright patch after staring at a bright light source and looking away?

If a person looks at a bright light source, such as a light bulb or perhaps the sun for a period of time, and then looks away and closes their eyes, they typically see a bright patch in the shape of ...
22
votes
2answers
667 views

What is an effective metric of complexity for an Artificial Neural Network?

After asking the question What is the most complex neural network... I realized I don't really have a good metric of "complexity" in a general sense. The simplest measure would likely be count of ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Neural networks with biologically plausible accounts of neurogenesis

One of the reasons artificial neural net algorithms like cascade correlation (pdf) have been generating interest is because they start with a minimal topology (just input and output unit) and recruit ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the psychology behind trolling?

For those new to the internet, trolling is an activity where one person intentionally tries to upset other members of the same community, presumably for entertainment. This has been informally ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there evidence that listening to music can aid/hinder concentration or performance?

I, like many computer programmers, love to listen to music while I work. I have always believed that music helps me stay focused and motivated, and improves my performance on many types of tasks, ...
20
votes
8answers
2k views

How can I create computer based psychology experiments using OS X?

I've used E-prime to create computer based psychology experiments (you know, the kind where you for example show a number of pictures to the participant and record their responses to them, for example ...
20
votes
5answers
600 views

Does learning one discipline improve performance in another discipline?

I have come across a lot of articles that suggest learning across disciplines would improve cognitive abilities. This is more often referred to as Integrative Learning. Also, nowadayas a lot of ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the current “accepted” science behind dream interpretation?

I'm doing some casual reading about dream interpretation (meaning I'm reading the wikipedia entry) and the article mentions that there are several ways of thinking about dreams from a psychological ...
20
votes
2answers
353 views

Have ideas of “gamification” been applied to education?

Wikipedia defines Gamification as "the use of game design techniques and mechanics to solve problems and engage audiences." Khan Academy has received attention (e.g., see this post) for incorporating ...
20
votes
2answers
508 views

Performance of a group solving a cognitive task: How does it scale?

Some intellectual, cognitive and perceptual tasks can be solved collaboratively. It is common knowledge that group performance is better than that of each single individual due to exchange of ...
20
votes
1answer
281 views

How do emotions influence the language structures we use?

What are the verbal signs of subjectivity? I am doing research about the linguistic content of media (debates, talk-show, sport comments). It occurs that once the participant gets nervous or excited, ...
19
votes
5answers
478 views

Why do we prefer visually aligned objects?

We all know visual alignment is one of the foundations of design. Everything must be aligned with everything else. We also know that when things are aligned it is easier to process information. My ...
19
votes
1answer
903 views

Is there experimental support for John Perry's “Theory of Structured Procrastination”?

John Perry's theory of structured procrastination can be summed up as follows: Some people are inherently predisposed to be procrastinators across a wide range of domains Such procrastinators are ...
19
votes
1answer
473 views

Why is white on black considered higher contrast than black on white?

While researching to answer Why are "Inverted Colors" considered an accessibility feature? I noticed the puzzling claim that "White text on a black background is a higher contrast to the opposite, so ...
19
votes
1answer
682 views

Have the abilities of John Lorber's patients with limited cortical mass been further evaluated in adulthood?

Short of minor lesions or infarcts, most high-functioning adults have an intact cerebral cortex. Yet, a surprising result published anecdotally in Science in 1980 caused a lot of scientists to take ...
19
votes
2answers
838 views

Are autonomy, mastery, and purpose the most important motivators?

I've watched the amazing TED talk where Daniel Pink lays out the contrarian notion that greater extrinsic motivators are unimportant (and sometimes detrimental) in comparison to three intrinsic ...
18
votes
5answers
621 views

Can response time be incorporated into signal detection theory?

In signal detection theory, one typically uses "signal" and "no signal" responses to analyze the data (that is, the analysis is based on a discrete choice for each trial, effectively generating the ...
18
votes
4answers
791 views

Perception of time as a function of age

For many people time seems to run faster as they get older. That is, for an old person an hour, a day or a year seems to be shorter than for a young person. Is there any hard data for such ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a term for individuals who can “visualize” numbers and advanced mathematics?

I recently saw an episode of 60 Minutes about Jacob Barnett, a 13 year old boy who is currently attending advanced physics classes at a local university and was portrayed by the show as being a child ...
18
votes
3answers
870 views

What are current neuronal explanations and models of 'consciousness'?

I would like to understand more about consciousness from a neuroscientific perspective. I have a limited understanding of it in the philosophical/psychological sense through lectures. Although it is ...
18
votes
5answers
515 views

How long does it take to read a sentence with X number of characters?

How does the time needed to read a sentence scale with the number of characters? Or does this time scaling depend on something more than just character count? For example, let $X$ be the number of ...
18
votes
2answers
695 views

Does language and/or culture affect an individual's cognitive capacity?

Some languages have multiple expressions to identify, address, comprehend, and interpret a single concept and/or experience. Are limits placed on understanding and describing aspects of cognition due ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

Why do you sometimes write down one word while actually intending to write another?

I've caught myself writing (typing) "possible" instead of "possibly" a few times over the past few days, while I do intend to write "possibly". Only upon rereading the sentence I notice my mistake. ...
18
votes
1answer
155 views

Is there a range in time on which the mind detects correlation between events?

I've been searching for info on this but I'm usually finding unrelated information. My question is whether there is a time range in which our mind suspects that two events are correlated. For ...
18
votes
1answer
444 views

Medium-term effects of polyphasic sleep on performance

Typical sleep patterns of one big block of 6 to 9 hours with no naps is usually referred to as monophasic sleep. A second natural sleep pattern is biphasic sleep which breaks up your sleep into two ...
18
votes
2answers
303 views

Is there a causal connection between repressive sexual morality and antisocial behavior?

Wilhelm Reich believed that certain forms of deviant behavior result mostly or in part from the repressive sexual morality of a society (Reich, 1930). Reich believes that the majority of antisocial ...
17
votes
3answers
10k views

Is extreme empathy and compassion considered a disorder?

Can extreme empathy and compassion get to a point where it is considered a disorder? For example, if someone is so empathetic, when feeling someones pain it negatively affects their life to the same ...
17
votes
2answers
401 views

How to classify and understand emotions of people using chat and text messaging lingo and emoticons?

I am looking for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles that discuss natural language processing (NLP) involving chat or text messaging lingo/acronyms and the affect of chat participants based on language ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a term for trying to remember a word, but only remembering its first letter?

This happens to me frequently. I'll say, "Oh you know that guy... uhh... I can't remember his name. But he starts with a 'Z'." You can remember part of the word but not the whole word. Is there a ...

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