PsychNews: Sep. 19 – 25

1. The strange face-in-the-mirror illusion

    “An intriguing article has just been published in the journal Perception about a never-before-described visual illusion where your own reflection in the mirror seems to become distorted and shifts identity.

    To trigger the illusion you need to stare at your own reflection in a dimly lit room. The author, Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo, describes his set up which seems to reliably trigger the illusion: you need a room lit only by a dim lamp (he suggests a 25W bulb) that is placed behind the sitter, while the participant stares into a large mirror placed about 40 cm in front.

    The participant just has to gaze at his or her reflected face within the mirror and usually ‘after less than a minute, the observer began to perceive the strange-face illusion.'”

2. Could learning self-control be enjoyable?

    “When it comes to self-control, consumers in the United States are in trouble. But a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says there’s hope; we just need a little help to see self-regulation as fun. ‘Self-control failures depend on whether people see activities involving self-control (e.g., eating in moderate quantities) as an obligation to work or an opportunity to have fun,’ write authors Juliano Laran (University of Miami) and Chris Janiszewski (University of Florida, Gainesville).

3. Analogy as the Core of Cognition by Douglas Hofstadter

    “In this Presidential Lecture, cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter examines the role and contributions of analogy in cognition, using a variety of analogies to illustrate his points.”

4. Nude psychotherapy and the quest for inner peace

    “The first session of nude psychotherapy was held in 1967, at a nudist resort in California. It was the brainchild of radical therapist and ordained minister Paul Bindrim who made headlines around the world with events intended to enhance emotional connectedness and dismantle body-image hangups.

    Despite the massive interest at the time, ‘nude psychotherapy’ would have largely disappeared from the history of psychology if it weren’t for a truly amazing article by historian Ian Nicholson, published in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, which you can read in full as a pdf.”

5. Current decisions shape your future preference

    “Psychologists have known for a long time that after you make a choice, you adjust your opinion to think better of the thing you chose. Now a new study has found that this is true even if you don’t know the options that you’re choosing between.

    People change their minds about a choice after they make it. If you ask someone how he feels about Athens and Paris, he might rate them the same. But after you make him choose one as a vacation destination, he’ll rate that city higher. This is thought to be a way to reduce the psychological tension that is created by rejecting one perfectly reasonable alternative and picking another one.”

6. Emotional Cognition and Philosophy of Mind with Tim Maudlin

    “Nowadays; there’s a lot of interest in emotion. There was a focus on, as it were, pure cold, calculative reasoning because you can give a cleaner looking, formal account of that, but as soon as you start looking at how people actually reason, you find that they’re systematically affected by their emotional state. And I would say that the demonstration of that forces philosophers of mind to think much more clearly about to what extent emotion and affect play a role in our cognitive economy, and probably it’s easier to ignore that question if there aren’t a lot of cognitive scientists running experiments and pointing out that, in fact, emotions play a big role in how we think.”

7. Creativity, fulfillment and flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

8. Microelectrodes Convert Thought Into Speech

    “In what may be a huge step toward helping severely paralyzed people communicate, scientists were able to use non-penetrating microelectrode that sit on the brain to decode spoken words from brain signals. When they compared any two brain signals, they were able to distinguish brain signals for each word 76 percent to 90 percent of the time.”

9. Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization

    ” According to Gestalt psychology, the whole is different than the sum of its parts. Based upon this belief, Gestalt psychologists developed a set of principles to explain perceptual organization, or how smaller objects are grouped to form larger ones. These principles are often referred to as the “laws of perceptual organization.”

    However, it is important to note that while Gestalt psychologists call these phenomena “laws,” a more accurate term would be “principles of perceptual organization.” These principles are much like heuristics, which are mental shortcuts for solving problems.”

10. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

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