Tag Archives: cognition

a fancy lecture hall

Classroom Design

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This is a very disheartening article. Sapna Cheryan at the University of Washington has spent the past several years looking at the design of classrooms and has found them inadequate for learning. All the way from kindergarten to university. There are many different deficiencies to choose from, but many of them are related to human factors and ergonomics issues. She has a TEDx talk here

many 3.5" floppy disks displayed on a wall

Offloading Memory to External Information Storage

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A new study out of the University of California Santa Cruz by Benjamin Storm and Sean Stone has some important implications for human factors. Their research focuses on memory and how to enhance our ability to store and recall the growing amounts of information that we encounter in our daily lives. What they are primarily interested in are how our interaction with storage technologies can help or hurt our ability to keep track of it all.

The simple act of saving something, such as a file on a computer, may improve our memory for the information we encounter next…

two older adults sitting on a bench

Counterintuitive Findings on Aging: Cognitive Plasticity

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As far back as I can remember, the conventional wisdom about learning is that we lose cognitive plasticity as we age. Our mental schema become fixed and dominate our ability to learn new material. Anything that doesn’t fit what we already know is really hard to fit in and is often not remembered later.

But some recent findings (here and here) turn this assumption on its head.

children standing out in the rain

Performance and Climate Change?

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This article from the Boston Globe, citing a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, has some more bad news about climate change. The study looked at how candidates performed on college entrance exams on days when the weather was bad. Not only did students do worse on the exams, but this led to reduced matriculation in college and even lower lifetime wages…

a diagram of the brain

Metacognition System 3 Revisited

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Do you remember that mushroom metacognition thought experiment I described a few months ago? I added a metacognitive system 3 to the Kahneman Fast and Slow systems 1 and 2. At least I thought I did. But I just read this paper by Jonathan Evans and Keith Stanovich and it turns out they proposed something similar a year earlier.

Dual-process and dual-system theories in both cognitive and social psychology have been subjected to a number of recently published criticisms. However, they have been attacked as a category, incorrectly assuming there is a generic version that applies to all. We identify and respond to 5 main lines of argument made by such critics…

two boys playing video games

Games for Training Perceptual and Cognitive Functions

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An intriguing study out of Nanyang Technological University has implications for us in HF/E. They were interested in whether training people with video games could improve a variety of perceptual and cognitive skills. It turns out, as with most things in HF/E, the answer is that “it depends.”

Previous evidence points to a causal link between playing action video games and enhanced cognition and perception. However, benefits of playing other video games are under-investigated. We examined whether playing non-action games also improves cognition…

stephen colbert

The Real Science of Truthiness

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This piece has gone somewhat viral, and while the basic message is important, it gets some of the facts wrong. So I thought I would use this platform to share my concerns and see if you agree. Maybe it is me who is wrong.

Truthiness is “truth that comes from the gut, not books,” Colbert said in 2005. Scientists who study the phenomenon … use the term. It humorously captures how, as cognitive psychologist Eryn Newman put it, “smart, sophisticated people” can go awry on questions of fact.

a pile of books

Knowledge versus Skills in Training

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There was an article in the latest issue of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News that brings up an important distinction for all of our HF/E domains, particularly when it comes to training. The distinction is between what he refers to as skills versus knowledge, although I often use experience versus expertise. Whatever you call them, they have some fundamental differences.

Skill means a person can actually perform rather than knowing how to perform…

mushrooms in the grass

Metacognition and Decision Making

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Forgive me for having a little fun in today’s post, but I had an interesting metacognitive experience this morning coming to work that I wanted to share. It is directly relevant to my previous post on the debate between Gerd Gigerenzer and behavioral economists on the System 1 / System 2 model. So here goes…

a person holding a tile with a question mark on it

Gigerenzer-Kahneman Debate on Decision Making

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I have heard/seen/read several articles and interviews about the so-called debate between Gerd Gigerenzer and Daniel Kahneman (for example here) about what to do to help people make better decisions. I was so interested that I went out and read Gerd’s new book and re-read Kahneman’s.

A rival psychologist has published a book debunking the behavioural economics of Daniel Kahneman and the men behind Nudge, who, along with the authors of Freakonomics, were once the PM’s pet thinkers. So how do you choose between them?