The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 January 2008

Ur atenshun plz

Well, this seems innocuous enough:

Visual attention mechanisms are known to select information to process based on current goals, personal relevance, and lower-level features. Here we present evidence that human visual attention also includes a high-level category-specialized system that monitors animals in an ongoing manner. Exposed to alternations between complex natural scenes and duplicates with a single change (a change-detection paradigm), subjects are substantially faster and more accurate at detecting changes in animals relative to changes in all tested categories of inanimate objects, even vehicles, which they have been trained for years to monitor for sudden life-or-death changes in trajectory.

And that "single change" might be something as simple as a caption in Impact font:

If you're distracted by lolcats at work all day, new evidence from evolutionary biology suggests it's not your fault. Human visual attention evolved thousands of years ago to track the movements of animals, and even today people are far more distracted by images involving changes in animals than they are by images of inert Mac laptops or moving cars. This research, conducted by psychologists at Yale, goes a long way towards explaining the bizarrely mesmerizing effect of lolcats.

What's great about this research is that it inadvertently targeted exactly what's happening in lolcat images: the animal has been changed from being just a regular cute kitty, to being a cute kitty with special attributes created by the caption. So a lolcat is an animal image with "a single change."

It can even be a negative change: consider all the "invisible" images, or the walrus without his bukkit.

Evaluator cat is impressed.

Posted at 2:42 PM to Almost Yogurt

I can haz evulutionary sykology?

Posted by: fillyjonk at 4:16 PM on 22 January 2008

Why haz teh walrus no flourz?

Posted by: McGehee at 4:26 PM on 22 January 2008

(Think hyacinths...)

Posted by: McGehee at 4:30 PM on 22 January 2008

I thought she pronounced that as though it were "bouquet."

Posted by: CGHill at 5:10 PM on 22 January 2008

Hence teh joke.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:09 PM on 22 January 2008