Episode 23: Everything About What The Brain Knows That We Don’t

Episode 23: Everything About What The Brain Knows That We Don’t

Enclothed Cognition:


  • {{PD-US}} – published in the U.S. before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

Source: Adam, Hajo, and Adam D. Galinsky. “Enclothed Cognition.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 48, no. 4 (2012): 918– 25.

2 factors:

  1. symbolic meaning of clothes
  2. the physical experience of wearing them
  • Influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes
  • A test was given to people that indicated that Dr. white lab coat is thought to indicate attentiveness and carefulness.
  • SO: Had people going into the test areas and handed them a lab coat while doing attention related tasks.
    • Increased selective attention…those in the lab coats did better
  • Then they had two groups wearing lab coats
    • One group told, these are Dr. coats
    • Second group told, these are painter’s coats.
    • DR coats STILL did better.
    • So you had to have meaning associated with the clothes AND wear them.

Phantom Vibration Syndrome:


DR. Robert Rosenberger at Georgia Tech says detecting a vibrating phone has become habit and the slightest muscle twitch or movement of fabric could be “felt” as phone vibration.

  • 90% of people in one study had felt these vibrations
  • What is it?
    • Relates to pareidolia: where the brain tries to fill in gaps in information it is processing to make sense of what’s going on. Like seeing faces in everyday objects.
    • We are so accustomed to the vibrations of phones that there’s a twitch and the brain says…oh yeah, that must be the phone.
    • some are likening it to anxiety or a lean towards obsession
      • the more you want/need the call or text to come in the more you “feel” the phone vibrate
  • Not to worry…in the 1990s people felt phantom pagers instead.


The Independent


You don’t have to see a yawn to want to yawn. Hearing someone yawn or reading about yawning can trigger a yawn. Even thinking about a yawn can make you feel the need to yawn. Haven’t yawned yet? You might be schizophrenic. Or really old.


  • Yawning is super primal
  • Thought to perhaps shake us up, get us moving. It may even re-engage the brain

There’s two kinds of Yawning

  1. Spontaneous – this happens when you are tired or bored
      1. yawning even happens in the womb. A human fetus yawns starting in the first trimester

Cool yawn fact:

  • Sir Francis Walshe, a British neurologist noticed in 1923 had patients who were paralyzed on one side of their bodies. When they yawned, they would spontaneously regain motor function on the paralyzed side for six or so seconds.
  • 2. Contagious yawning
  • A study from Duke university suggests that things like tiredness, energy levels or even empathy are not strongly related to yawning.
  • It was previously thought that less empathetic people respond less to the yawn that isn’t necessarily so but,
    • a 2010 University of Connecticut study found that most children aren’t susceptible to contagious yawning until they’re about 4 years old.
      • And that kids with Autism as less likely to yawn when others do

The only consistent factor with contagious yawning is that we are less likely “catch” the yawn the older we get.

The New Yorker

Psychology Today


Selective Attention


I don’t seem to have notes on this, which is weird, but the above is an informative article.



Pavlov’s Dogs Experiment and Pavlovian Conditioning Response


Who was he?

  • Ivan Petrovich Pavlov born September 14, 1849, in Ryazan, Russia.
    • The son of a priest, he attended a church school and theological seminary
    • inspired by the ideas of Charles Darwin and I.M. Sechenov, the father of Russian physiology, and
    • gave up his theological studies in favor of scientific pursuit.
  • His work
    • studied under cardiovascular physiologist and gastrointestinal physiologist
    • exteriorized “pouch” on a dog’s stomach and maintained nerve supply to properly study gastrointestinal secretions
    • researched cardiac physiology and the regulation of blood pressure.
    • secretory activity of digestion in dogs, implanting fistulas in their salivary ducts to record the uninterrupted effects of the nervous system on the digestive process.
      • Led to the saliva/food observation.
      • Unconditioned response: Things that don’t need to be learned. Things that are basically hard wired.
        • Unconditioned Stimulus: Dog food
        • Unconditioned response: Salivation
        • Neutral Stimulus: Bell
        • Pairing neutral stimulus with unconditioned stimulus you get conditioned stimulus.
        • Conditioned stimulus leads to conditioned response. Bell alone leads to salivation.

Pavlov classical conditioning diagram

Father of Behavioralism & Popular Culture:




***Although he was notably dismissive of psychology as a pseudo-science, his research helped lay the groundwork of several important concepts in the then-nascent discipline.

Operant conditioning – Reinforcements and punishments to encourage or extinguish behaviors. (BF Skinner)

Behaviorism – John B Watson. All organism, man and animal alike, adapt to their environment by two means: hereditary and habit. Certain stimuli lead the organisms to make response. With such a system of psychology, Watson believed that a stimulus could be predicted, given the response; or, given the stimulus, the response could be predicted (Spencer, K., 1991).

Big Bang Theory: Operant Conditioning in Action

Sheldon offers Penny a chocolate whenever she performs a desired behavior. Soon Penny sees Sheldon and modifies behavior w/o chocolate.