# All Questions

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### 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 ...
9k 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. ...
6k 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 ...
7k 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 ...
3k 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, ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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?
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### 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 ...
8k 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 ...
1k 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 ...
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### 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 ...
3k 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). ...
183k 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: ...
513 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 ...
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 ...
18k 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 ...
1k 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 ...
1k views

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 ...
582 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 ...
2k 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 ...
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 ...
1k 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 ...
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 ...
2k 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 ...
3k 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 ...
353 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 ...
904 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 ...
3k views

### How is intelligence correlated to beauty?

Recently, I read several interesting questions on the web about the relationship between IQ and general intelligence and physiological symmetry. But more importantly, what explains the correlation? Or ...
2k 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, ...
1k 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 ...
942 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 ...
452 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 ...
3k 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 ...
648 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 ...
4k views

### How to reliably measure working memory capacity?

The capacity of human working memory is subject to individual differences. The number of items or chunks a person can retain in their memory may, have profound effects on a variety of other cognitive ...
1k 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 ...
1k views

### What color is this dress? — And why do some see it as white and gold and others see it as black and blue?

Here's the dress (and keep reading, this is actually a serious question): This question about this image has apparently become quite a rapidly spreading meme on the internet. And after conducting ...
591 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 ...
2k 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 ...
412 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 ...
570 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 ...
680 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 ...
529 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 ...
390 views

### Evolutionary game theory in the cognitive sciences

Game theory models something very relevant to psychologists (in particular social psychologists): conflict and cooperation between decision-makers. Unfortunately, classical game theory demands that ...
300 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, ...
3k views

### What is the most effective maximum work duration per day?

A related question asks about the best work-break schedule for an effective eight hour work day. This question presupposes that eight hours of work per day is a good duration and that all you need is ...
3k 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 ...
803 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 ...