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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eyes betray numbers in our heads

Courtesy of the
University of Melbourne
and World Science staff
It may be harder to lie about your age, or your pok­er hand, af­ter new re­search has found that our eye po­si­tion be­trays the num­bers we’re think­ing about.

Par­ti­ci­pants in a Uni­vers­ity of Mel­bourne, Aus­tral­ia, study were asked to state a se­ries of ran­dom num­bers. By meas­ur­ing their eye po­si­tion, re­search­ers said they could re­liably pre­dict the next cho­sen num­ber—be­fore it was spo­ken.

A left­ward and down­ward change in eye po­si­tion an­nounced that the next num­ber would be smaller than the last, the sci­en­tists said. Cor­re­spond­ingly, up­ward and right­ward fore­cast a larg­er num­ber than the last. The de­gree of eye move­ment re­flected the size of the nu­mer­i­cal shift.

The pa­per was pub­lished March 23 on­line in the re­search jour­nal Cur­rent Bi­ol­o­gy.

“When we think of num­bers we au­to­mat­ic­ally code them in space, with smaller num­ber fall­ing to the left and larg­er num­bers to the right. That is, we think of them along a left-to-right ori­ented men­tal num­ber line—often with­out even no­tic­ing this num­ber-space as­socia­t­ion our­selves,” said re­searcher To­bi­as Loetscher of the uni­vers­ity, an au­thor of the stu­dy.

“This study shows that shifts along the men­tal num­ber line are ac­com­pa­nied by sys­tem­at­ic eye move­ments. We sug­gest that when we nav­i­gate through men­tal rep­re­senta­t­ions—as for ex­am­ple num­bers—we re-use brain pro­cesses that pri­marily evolved for in­ter­act­ing and nav­i­gat­ing in the out­side world.”

“This study will hope­fully pro­vide a tem­plate to in­ves­t­i­gate how the hu­man mind works via a con­nec­tion with the space and world around us,” added co-au­thor Mi­chael Nicholls.

The study in­volved ask­ing twelve right-hand­ed men to name 40 num­bers be­tween one and 30 in a se­quence as ran­dom as pos­si­ble, paced by a met­ro­nome. For each num­ber, the re­search­ers meas­ured the av­er­age eye po­si­tion dur­ing the half-sec­ond be­fore each num­bers was de­clared.

Friday, January 22, 2010

TNT picks up 3 new series

TNT has added three more shows to its lineup of originals, picking up a pair of cop shows for later this year and a Steven Spielberg-produced drama about an alien invasion for 2011.

The cable channel has picked up 10 episodes each of the untitled alien series, which stars Noah Wyle as the leader of a resistance group; "Delta Blues," featuring Jason Lee as a quirky Memphis cop; and "Rizzoli & Isles," about a Boston homicide detective (Angie Harmon) and medical examiner (Sasha Alexander) who work together on cases.

"Delta Blues" will star Lee ("My Name Is Earl") as Dwight Hendricks, a Memphis police officer with deep ties to the city who lives with his mom (Celia Weston). Alfre Woodard ("Three Rivers") plays his boss; the cast also includes Robyn Lively ("Savannah," "Saving Grace"), Sam Hennings, Abraham Benrubi ("ER"), DJ Qualls ("Hustle & Flow") and Leonard Earl Howze. George Clooney and Grant Heslov are executive producing the show with co-writer Liz Garcia ("Cold Case"); fellow scribe Joshua Harto is a producer.

"Rizzoli & Isles" is based on a series of novels by Tess Gerritsen. Harmon ("Law & Order," "Women's Murder Club") will play Detective Jane Rizzoli, who enlists the help of medical examiner Maura Isles (Alexander, "NCIS") to solve cases in Beantown. Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos") will have a recurring part as Jane's mom; the show also stars Bruce McGill ("W.," "Animal House"), Lee Thompson Young ("FlashForward"), Jordan Bridges ("Conviction") and Billy Burke ("Twilight").

"Bones" veteran Janet Tamaro wrote the pilot and will exec produce with "The Closer's" Michael Robin, who also directed, and Bill Haber.

The alien-invasion series will star Wyle ("ER," "The Librarian") as a man who becomes the leader of a resistance cell after aliens wipe out most of the planet's population. Moon Bloodgood ("Terminator Salvation"), Jessy Schram ("Life," "Veronica Mars"), Drew Roy, Maxim Knight and Seychelle Gabriel. Robert Rodat ("Saving Private Ryan") wrote the pilot, which Carl Franklin ("Devil in a Blue Dress") directed. Spielberg is an exec producer.