Monday, December 30, 2013

Figure-Ground and Art

English: A white cup or two black faces?
English: A white cup or two black faces? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The gestalt notion "figure-ground phenomenon" refers to the characteristic organization of perception into a figure that 'stands out' against an undifferentiated background. What is figural at any one moment depends on patterns of sensory stimulation and on the momentary interests of the perceiver. Figure-ground relationship is an important element of the way we organise reality in our awareness, including works of art. Poets may rely on our habitual figure-ground organisations in extra-linguistic reality to exploit our flexibility in shifting attention from one aspect to another so as to achieve certain poetic effects by inducing us to reverse the habitual figure-ground relationships. This flexibility has precedent in music and the visual arts. Works by Escher, Mozart, Beethoven, Dickinson, Sidney, Shelley and Beckett are examined.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Andy Rutledge - Gestalt Principles of Perception - 1: Figure Ground Relationships

English: Gestalt psychology - perception Magya...
English: Gestalt psychology - perception Magyar: Gestalt-pszichol├│gia alapelvei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gestalt principles of perception help to take the guesswork out of design. For instance, once the page content is defined and the communicative objectives are known, Gestalt principles make clear how to distribute elements on the page, when and why to use line delineation, background shading, a gradient, or when and why to group things in an enclosure (or not). Once you understand Gestalt principles, design becomes much simpler and your creative ideas will enjoy a far more effective articulation.

These principles are:

  • Figure Ground Relationship:  Elements are perceived as either figures (distinct elements of focus) or ground (the background or landscape on which the figures rest).
  • Law of Pr├Ągnanz:  Humans tend to interpret ambiguous or complex images as simple and complete.
  • Uniform Connectedness:  Elements that share uniform visual characteristics are perceived as being more related than elements with disparate visual characteristics.
  • Good Continuation:  Elements arranged on a line or curve are perceived to be more related than elements not on the line or curve.
  • Closure:  When looking at a complex arrangement of individual elements, humans tend to first look for a single, recognizable pattern.
  • Common Fate:  Humans tend to perceive elements moving in the same direction as being more related than elements that are stationary or that move in different directions.
  • Proximity:  Things that are close to one another are perceived to be more related than things that are spaced farther apart.
  • Similarity:  Things that are similar are perceived to be more related than things that are dissimilar.

Figure ground in Art

Intersting slide presentation on figure ground imagery in art.  Lots of interesting slides.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Poverty: The Cognition of Scarcity

Poverty impacts decision making a lot more than you'd think.

When we think about poverty, we make certain assumptions about people and how they make decisions, especially such assumptions about people's motives and abilities.  Basically, they fall into two categories:  Rational vs empirical.  And they presuppose a certain amount of agency.  In a rational approach we look at people making logical decisions trying for a certain optimum.  However, empirical evidence points otherwise.

Problems in Poverty include:

  • Adherence:   Low income: one of the most consistent correlates of low adherence. Behavioral economic alternative: not always rational, not always folk. Context of poverty imposes a psychology of not having enough leads to certain Behavior.  Situational psychology. Context is very important

  • Weeding

Losses due to uncontrolled weed growth
Poor less likely to weed

  • Parenting

Attention, consistency, engagement
Consistent finding: poor are worse parents

Short term high interest loans

Understanding behavior in poverty
Psychology of scarcity
Conditions of scarcity produce their own psychology.
Lot of cognitive work

Tunneling -- focus on right now and don't see periphery. (Attentional tunnel)

Heritage foundation: poor have ac, cable tv, and other modern amenities
Poverty is a subjective effect
As society develops, ideas of necessities change.
Poor is not affording minimally acceptable life .

Scarcity is a source of cognitive demand
Scarcity also leads to loneliness

Effects of starvTion
Dreaming constantly about food
Cognitive capacity (a limited resource) is captured by scarcity (we focus on it)
Automatically (our mind has a life of its own)

Poor in
Money/ time trade offs and temptations and indulgences
More consequences, when there's lack of slack, every error is more consequential

Scarcity is on top of your mind and scarcity is distracting .
Cognitive control studies .
Fluid intelligence (ravens matrices). See mani mullainathan, shafir 2013
Poverty distracting and affect intelligence
Harvest study in chennai India shows change in intelligence before and after harvest

Think of timing of message to comport with changes in poor peoples performance

If you google payday loans, impatience is a key driver

Less cognitive space for good parenting

Poor must make higher quality decisions
Greater packing challenges under scarcity
Greater attention consumed under scarcity
More temptations under scarcity

Policy makers need to care about bandwidth
Scarcity causes scarcity in bandwidth
Scarcity function of ones environment : buffer savings, insurance, , cheap loans, friends and family
Affects policy choices

FAFSA (for poor students) take up is not high . Very complicated and a turn off to poor.
By giving support for filling out a form, you increase compliance.

Retirement savings
Opt out programs have higher compliance.
$12 capsule glows, beeps, and emails when not opened. May have 2decade increase in life expectancy

Design life's cockpits to help people cope with scarcity and bandwidth

Policy makers need to care about bandwidth
Lifetime limit on TANF is outside tunnel;failed to motivate and penalize
Recertificztion SNAP, long forms
Financial literacy shows very little effect on people's behavior
Poor can't survive being thrown into storm after education.
Need to think about time , resource , finance constraints
Copyright © 2009-2013 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tummy Troubled by Gluten

French Fries
French Fries (Photo credit: fritish)
Gluten crept into my life a lot this week and has been wreaking havoc with my system.

One time was deliberate.  Who could refuse freshly baked rolls and a seafood pot pie?  Not me.  Went home and took some benedryl to counter the itching (antihistamine because I think itching is an allergic reaction) and took some PB8 and VSL probiotics and semethicone to ease the tummy ache.

That was the weekend.

On Tuesday, went to the hospital to visit my husband and wanted something more substantial than a salad.  Got to the cafeteria and it was closing.  The only thing they had were wheat based.  So I said the hell with it and got two pieces of pizza.  Ouch.  Redosed myself as above.

On Thursday, I had French Fries as a snack  because I thought they would be gluten free.  I don't think so.   I think that they had wheat in them somewhere as they didn't look like normal fries.   A week ago, I had an Octoberfest special with some lovely sausage and Bratwurst.  That didn't go well either.  There is gluten where you don't think it should be.

This really upsets my sleep schedule as well. I wake up with a bloated tummy and gas.  It seems like the bacteria in my stomach reacts badly as I am not upright to get the gas out by gravity!

Ah gee.  Poor tummy.

Thanksgiving is coming up and that's going to be a hard day as we are going to the relatives.
Copyright © 2009-2013 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Update on Neurofeedback Nov 22

English: An EEG (electroencephalograph) 1 seco...
English: An EEG (electroencephalograph) 1 second sample. The signal is filterd to present only the alpha waves. The signal was acquired in the Oz position processed with scipy and saved with matplolib. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As my Gentle Readers know, I have been doing alpha training in neurofeedback for a while using the Open Focus technique of paying attention to space within various parts of the body.  My therapist wants to change the training slightly so I get more control over it.  So along with gently being aware of various parts of my body as the recording cues, I will try and make longer alpha waves.  We shall see how it goes.

The technique we are using is listening to a recording and having a light flash on and off and a beeper gently beep as I am in an alpha state.

I am finding I like being in alpha.  When I finish neurofeedback, I feel relaxed and refreshed ready to do something else.

I am becoming more aware of my body
Copyright © 2009-2013 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Out of Dot Hell in Cogmed

I have been flogging away for some 80 days on one exercise in Cogmed where you follow the dots on a grid.  I had been stuck consistently with being able to track 6 dots for weeks.  Today I could track 8 dots. Hurray for me!

I wonder if I could post this on my resume.
Copyright © 2009-2013 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Number Games

Addition, division, subtraction and multiplica...
Addition, division, subtraction and multiplication symbols (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Is that anything like Hunger Games?

Unfortunately, I did not do so well on the Math portion of the Cogmed assessment.  I had improved a bit in two areas of working memory but not on adding a few simple numbers.  I could only add three in my head.

So not so good.

However, did that stop me from minoring in math at an Ivy League School?  Nope.  I just soldiered on and got through calculus, differential equations, statistics, econometrics, and linear algebra.  With the exception of the semester of probability, I passed my classes.

However, I do leave balancing the checkbook to my husband  who is a mathematician.

At some point, I should address this problem, however.   I found an article on dyscalculia, problems with math on the web.  Dr Butterworth over at Institute of Education in London has come up with a series of games, Number Sense,

to help out. Unfortunately, the game has not been clinically tested, unlike the other computer based training, it has not been clinically tested so I don't know for sure if it really will work. Not saying it won't but unlike Brain Fitness, now Brain HQ, it has been poked at by lots of folks and blessed as being a good thing.

I am going to look around and see if there is anything else.
Copyright © 2009-2013 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting Lost and Getting Found with Posit Science

Posit Science
Posit Science (Photo credit: jurvetson)
Well, I have been very timely in my ruminations about getting lost (Gives herself a pat on the back!).

Posit Science has just added a module about navigation on their Brain HQ suite of exercises.  These exercises help improve visual spatial skills needed for navigation so, hopefully, I won't get lost as much!

Apparently, there is a lot to navigation.  It relies on higher level cognitive skills such as attention, memory, and perception.  Brain HQ helps navigation by through exercises designed to create and mentally manipulate spatial representations of a scene, remember relative locations of landmarks, and avoid potential hazards on the route.

Improving navigation also has the interesting affect on other skills.  Learning to manipulate information mentally not only improves navigation, it has also been shown to improve mental arithmetic.  If my Gentle Readers remember my results from Cogmed, I was having trouble remembering how to add more than 3 easy numbers in my head.  So, we shall see if this improves my math skills.  I am hoping that by working on visual spatial skills, I will also improve the visual spatial memory exercises in Cogmed that I am having trouble with.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

IBMT Release Set For Next Year

IBMT,  Integrated Body Mind Therapy, is set to be released in the summer of 2014.   IBMT is a joint project with University and Dr. Yi-Yuan Tang, Dalian University in China, that uses body relaxation, mental imagery, and mindfulness training to induce positive structural changes in brain connectivity by boosting efficiency in a part of the brain that helps a person regulate behavior in accordance with their goals.  There is a lot of interest in it but not much has come out on it for quite some time.
Copyright © 2010-2013 Traveller Journey Through The Cortex
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Memory training with Cogmed -- Update

English: Baddeley's model of working memory in...
English: Baddeley's model of working memory in English (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Trudging along with Cogmed, a computer based training program designed to improve memory.

I have some scores in the high range-- especially those that I can use verbal cues with.

I have some scores in the low range-- those that involve visual spatial memory.   I think that the problem is encoding.   I am not just registering visual spatial pictures.

One thing that seems to help is remembering pathways and not spots.  Men do better than women with visual spatial memory for just this reason.

However, after training a bit with the navigation module of Brain HQ, I have improved the tests that involve rotation.    Also Brain HQ's tests involving rotating dots have improved some of the tests that involve moving dots.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Take Two and Tango

Research has shown that learning how to tango dance improves cognition, balance, and multi-tasking. The complex series of dance steps, rhythm, and coordination with a partner work many brain areas simultaneously, and the benefits translate to activities off the dance floor.
learn more at:
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