Vision



Does a hill feel steeper when you are already exhausted?  Does a hill appear steeper when you are afraid to roll down it?  Is it true that baseballs appear larger to players when they are hitting well? You may have some suspicions that your perception is greatly affected by your context and may not always be correct.  

If you're a print magazine, or in marketing consumer goods, you care about packaging.

The general science magazine "New Scientist" approached neuroscience marketing firm NeuroFocus to test three different cover designs for an August issue of the magazine.

Applying their EEG-based full brain measurements of test subjects' subconscious responses to the three covers, NeuroFocus identified one as clearly superior in terms of its overall neurological effectiveness, saying it scored exceptionally well in emotional engagement, one of their primary metrics, the others being attention and memory retention. 

This neuromarketing research was the first time that the publishing industry used EEG technology to determine the appeal of cover designs. 


There aren’t many cyclopses in nature, and those that exist don’t live up to expectation. They tend to be crustaceans like water fleas and another aptly named “cyclops” (see left photo below) or early invertebrate fish-like ancestors of ours like lancelets.

Getting these animals tipsy and stabbing them through the eye with a stake turns out to be much less impressive than when Odysseus did it.

Can neuroscience help a magazine sell more copies?   New Scientist wants to find out, so they teamed up with NeuroFocus, who bill themselves the world's largest neuromarketing company, to make a magazine cover. 

Using high density arrays of electroencephalographic (EEG) sensors to capture test subjects' brainwave activity, NeuroFocus measured and analyzed their responses to three different cover designs for the August 7 edition of New Scientist.


"All Americans look alike" is a common joke in Asia and a similar sentiment is expressed in virtually every other country populated by a race different than its tourists.   And to some degree it is true.  Most people find it much harder to recognize faces of people from different races than their own.

During a 15-month research project funded by the  Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Teesside University academic Dr. Kazuyo Nakabayashi will carry out experiments in Japan and the UK and collate behavioral and eye movement data.

The study will involve asking students from different races to look at Oriental and Caucasian faces in photographs and online and will examine the ‘recognition keys’ they use – their eye movement, for example.

I believe that music sounds like people, moving. Yes, the idea may sound a bit crazy, but it’s an old idea, much discussed in the 20th century, and going all the way back to the Greeks. There are lots of things going for the theory, including that it helps us explain (1) why our brains are so good at absorbing music (…because we evolved to possess human-movement-detecting auditory mechanisms), (2) why music emotionally moves us (…because human movement is often expressive of the mover’s mood or state), and (3) why music gets us moving (…because we’re a social species prone to social contagion).

Even if you know an unexpected event is likely to occur, you are no better, and may be even worse, than those who aren't expecting anything unexpected at all.   Did you expect that confusing opening sentence?   Now you get the point.

The study, from Daniel Simons, a professor of psychology and in the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, appears this month as the inaugural paper in the new open access journal i-Perception. (www.perceptionweb.com/i-perception)
The fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood has been interpreted in myriad ways, particularly as sexual awakening or sexual coming of age (either biologically or socially, depending on which bath-house you pray in). Perhaps if the crimson-caped interloper existed today, she'd wear fire-engine red circle lenses to accent her childlike, doe-eyed innocence.
We meet many of the same people every day but without the ability to recognize faces at first glance, our lives would be a confusing mess.    Imagine asking your boss for coffee or a waitress to place a phone call.

Monkeys also possess the ability to distinguish between faces of group members and to extract the relevant information about the individual directly from the face. With the help of the so-called 'Thatcher illusion', scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, have examined how people and macaque monkeys recognize faces and process the information in the brain.  They found out that both species perceive the faces of their kin immediately, while the faces of the other species are processed in a different way.
This is totally not my field-- medicine-- but totally up my alley-- electronic gaming.  So here goes.  Doctors prescribed playing Nintendo games to cure a boy's blindness in one eye.  And it worked.

The boy had severe lazy eye syndrome in right eye (amblyopia, to be technical), which basically means that eye doesn't track at all.  Says his mother, "he could not identify our faces with his weak eye".

The cure?  "two hours a day playing Mario Kart on a Nintendo DS [... with] a patch over his good eye to make his lazy one work harder."