A good interview from Discover Magazine. They interview a researcher, Neil Cohn on his work on the neuroscience of reading comics.
“evidence suggests that we use the same cognitive process to make sense of comics as we do to read a sentence”
Or more interestingly vice versa. We read sentences as we read images linked into stories. We ‘visualise’ the meaning.
“I started making connections between what was going on in language and what was going on in comics,” Cohn says. A comic strip is a string of panels, just as a sentence is a string of words.”
This is really important for us designers and it shows the importance of how we integrate imagery and text to explain meaning.
Read the full article:
The Brain: The Charlie Brown Effect
Great in depth article on reading in the modern age.
There’s been a real lack of research over the last 10 years or so on the differences between reading on paper and reading online.
-We read like we perceive the world, in 3 dimensions. Paper offers more cues like position on a page within a book that aid recall and navigation of the text
-Screens cause reading fatigue due to the light they produce, eInk does not
-Comprehension of a written text is the same on paper and eInk but less on (LCD) screen (maybe due to fatigue)
Read the full article, it’s a good one.
The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens
You can put down that DS, brain training doesn’t work. Pretty definitive.
“The answer, however, now appears to be a pretty firm no—at least, not through brain training. A pair of scientists in Europe recently gathered all of the best research—twenty-three investigations of memory training by teams around the world—and employed a standard statistical technique (called meta-analysis) to settle this controversial issue. The conclusion: the games may yield improvements in the narrow task being trained, but this does not transfer to broader skills like the ability to read or do arithmetic, or to other measures of intelligence.”
BRAIN GAMES ARE BOGUS
I wrote last week about the problems with Myers Briggs personality tests, specifically when it comes to Extroversion and Introversion.
This study couldn’t be timely.
Move Over Extroverts, Here Come the Ambiverts
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Just some pretty brain pictures because I can. neuroimages:
You might have seen this on the news.
What does it mean for us designers? Well simply put we can associate brain activity with simply shapes. Previously this has only been done when someone is looking at shape or thinking about shape.
The key term in the abstract is ‘predict’. If you’ve read my book you’d know that being able to predict behaviour means we can design for behaviour.
Scientists can now look at a brain and predict what is being perceived. it’ll help us get valuable insights into our designs.
Neural Decoding of Visual Imagery During Sleep
I talk in Psychology for Designers about the tension between art and science in design and how 99% of the time the science backs up the art.
The poet Goethe described the psychology of colour two hundred years ago only for science to come to eventually come to the same conclusions hundreds of years later.
He describes Green as:
The eye experiences a distinctly grateful impression from this colour. If the two elementary colours are mixed in perfect equality so that neither predominates, the eye and the mind repose on the result of this junction as upon a simple colour. The beholder has neither the wish nor the power to imagine a state beyond it. Hence for rooms to live in constantly, the green colour is most generally selected.
Read more of his musings at Goethe on the Psychology of Colour and Emotion on the wonderful Brain Pickings.
Some great insights, particularly around folk psychology from the Guardian.
FOLK NEUROSCIENCE Popular misconceptions
■ The “left-brain” is rational, the “right-brain” is creative
The hemispheres have different specialisations (the left usually has key language areas, for example) but there is no clear rational-creative split and you need both hemispheres to be successful at either. You can no more do right-brain thinking than you can do rear-brain thinking.
■ Dopamine is a pleasure chemical
Dopamine has many functions in the brain, from supporting concentration to regulating the production of breast milk. Even in its most closely associated functioning it is usually considered to be involved in motivation (wanting) rather than the feeling of pleasure itself.
■ Low serotonin causes depression
A concept almost entirely promoted by pharmaceutical companies in the 1980s and 90s to sell serotonin-enhancing drugs like Prozac. No consistent evidence for it.
■ Video games, TV violence, porn or any other social spectre of the moment “rewires the brain”
Everything “rewires the brain” as the brain works by making and remaking connections. This is often used in a contradictory fashion to suggest that the brain is both particularly susceptible to change but once changed, can’t change back.
■ We have no control over our brain but we can control our mind
The mind and the brain are the same thing described in different ways and they make us who we are. Trying to suggest one causes the other is like saying wetness causes water.
I’ve written here about the left brain/right brain myth.
Psychologist Cliodhna O’Connor and her colleagues investigated how brain science was reported across 10 years of newspaper coverage. Rather than reporting on evidence that most challenged pre-existing opinions, of which there is a great deal, neuroscience was typically cited as a form of “biological proof” to support the biases of the author.
We should beware of these folk psychology truths. Read more from the Guardian article.
Popular neuroscience myths / or why we shouldn’t beleive everything we read about the brain
Make yourself a nice cup of tea and spend 15 minutes reading Learning to see by iA.