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Can experience alter one's preferences for beauty?
@Jeff - Yes, this is a reference request for literature to support this...
Is variation in human brain size related to mental functioning?
This is a common misconception. While there are many variables to consider, the raw amount of brain matter available to use for processing does make a difference when it comes to general intelligence. Ratio has nothing to do with it (correlation != causation); Chimpanzees for example have a worse "ratio" than humans and can outperform college students on certain memory tasks. That said, brain size taken at the exclusion of the many other factors involved (neuronal wiring, experience, plastiticy, etc.) has relatively low predictive power, but in the end — size does matter.
Why is recognition easier than recall?
+1 Pattern matching is much faster than iterative searching, even though in principle they are the same kind of iterative search. The thing about recognition is that you store a piece of data with a fairly precise "tag" (a visual or auditory association, for example) and thus you more rapidly identify the memory because often only that stimulus is linked with that stored information. Recall involves the same search method but without the helpful associative tag narrowing down the options.