Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ultimate Playground: The Human Mind

I am mired in the middle of grading a class of 155 people. Ugh. This is truly the ugly part of education.

All the while, however, I never cease to be amazed by the human mind.

Yesterday I was watching television, and the cat walked by, dragging his tail against my foot.

And even though I wasn't looking at it, that touch localized my foot in space. That is, I felt it, and it made me aware of where my foot was.

Keep in mind that all of the cognitive processing was going on in my brain ... some 6 feet from my foot. These kinds of simple phenomena are amazing computational tasks.

How can you feel away from your brain? When you open your eyes, why does the world look as if it is out there instead of inside your head (Walter Lippmann notwithstanding)? Why should your heart slow down when the television changes a scene?

We're working on these questions. Some are full-time pursuits. Some are just fun to ponder.

But they're all reasons why it is more fun to go to work every day as a cognitive scientist.

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