Flashbulb Memories: Vivid But Wrong

Logo for HumanTech podcastIn this podcast episode we talk about a type of memory called “flashbulb” — strong, vivid memories of emotionally charged events that are often inaccurate. And we discuss how collective memories might be changing as media technology changes.

(If you want to read more about memory, check out this blog post on the topic.)


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Revisiting ALL UPPERCASE LETTERS vs. Upper And Lower Case

Picture of a sad robot faceI’m sometimes surprised by which of my blog posts people get passionate about. Take, for example, my post on whether all uppercase letters are inherently harder to read than upper and lower case. I wrote the post back in 2009, yet someone posted a comment on it today, 8 years later. And last week someone said the post was “utter BS”.

Since the all uppercase topic seems to still be hotly debated, I thought I’d write a quick update. It appears there was a research study done in 2007 that I missed when I first wrote the post. The research confirms, as I said 8 years ago, that:

  • All uppercase letters are not inherently harder to read.
  • All uppercase letters don’t slow down reading speed.
  • In fact, in this study, done with both normal vision and low vision readers, people with low vision performed BETTER with all uppercase letters, presumably because they were larger.
  • This better performance effect with all uppercase disappeared when they increased the size of the font so that it was large even in upper and lower case.
  • All uppercase letters did  not slow down the normal vision people.

It’s a small sample size, but it was statistically significant, and so far as I know there is still no research showing the opposite, so, I’m sticking to the idea for now, that all uppercase letters are not inherently harder to read.

HERE’S THE RESEARCH REFERENCE:

Aries Arditi and Jianna Cho;. Letter case and text legibility in normal and low vision. Vision Res. 2007 Sep; 47(19): 2499–2505. Published online 2007 Aug 6. doi:  10.1016/j.visres.2007.06.010

Mental And Conceptual Models

Logo for HumanTech podcastI’ve been designing stuff for decades, and in my experience there is no more powerful design idea than that of mental models matching conceptual models.

In this podcast episode we talk about mental and conceptual models , what they are, and why they are important to design.

And if you want to read about them too, check out this blog post on the topic.


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

iPhone X? Yes or No? It Might Come Down To Which Part Of Your Brain Is Active.

Picture of iphone tenThis week Apple announced the iPhone X. Some of you have decided you are definitely NOT going to buy it, others have decided you definitely are, and others are on the fence. Whether you go for it or not at least partially depends on whether you are making a habit-based decision or a value based decision.

Two parts of the brain for decision-making –– It turns out that there are two different parts of the brain that make decisions. One area is in the basal ganglia, deep in the brain, and is based on habitual responses. The other is in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) which is behind your forehead. If you are making decisions in the OFC area those are value based decisions.

Habit decisions take over — Research by Christina Gremel shows that if the OFC is quiet, then habit-based decisions take over. If the OFC is busy, though, then the habit area is over-rided. What does this mean? If you are comparing features, thinking logically, reviewing data, then you can’t make a decision based purely on habit. But if you aren’t evaluating which product is best for you, then it is likely your habitual responses will kick in.

Always buy the latest iPhone? — So if you are someone who loves Apple products and you always buy the latest iPhone, then chances are you will buy the iPhone X.  The only thing that might stop you is if your Android-loving friend starts bombarding you with data comparing the new iPhone with his or her Android phone. As soon as you start doing a side-by-side comparison your OFC is engaged, making it impossible to make that quick habit-based decision.

So, which type of decision are you making?

Research citation: Christina M. Gremel, et, al, Endocannabinoid Modulation of Orbitostriatal Circuits Gates Habit Formation. Neuron May 2016.

How To Get People To Commit To Your Product Or Service

Logo for HumanTech podcastHow do you get people to commit to your product or service? If you provide a free trial are they more likely to purchase? In this podcast episode we talk about the science of commitment, including what works and what doesn’t about free trials, why making people work harder increases commitment, and the effect that ratings and reviews have on the person leaving the review, not just the person reading the review.

 


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Heuristics: The Unsung Heroes Of How People Think

Logo for HumanTech podcastWe talk a lot about “cognitive biases” — the tendencies we have to think and act in ways that are not always logical, and not always accurate, but we forget that many of these brain shortcuts are very adaptive and very successful.

In this podcast episode we dive into the positive side — Heuristics. What they are, why we use them, and how they are so successful that we may even want to program them into machines.


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

Mistakes People Make With Personas, And Why You Should Care

Logo for HumanTech podcastCreating personas before you design a product seems quaint and old-fashioned these days. In this Human Tech podcast episode we get UX-nerdy and talk about why we still think personas can be useful, how they help you design, and the mistakes that people make when they create personas.


Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

A Conversation With Damien Borba from Adobe XD

Logo for HumanTech podcastI think that AI and robots will be writing all the code and doing all the design of digital products before too long. But until then, we need good design tools. My favorite is Adobe XD. Have you tried it?

We met Demian Borba, Stategic Development Manager for the product when we were out in San Francisco earlier this year, and in this podcast episode we talk with Demian about Adobe XD, about design tools, and about his background.

Here are some links we mention in the podcast:

xd.adobe.com for information on the product in general

https://adobexd.uservoice.com/  if you want to leave a message or ask a question for the Adobe team

https://www.facebook.com/AdobeExperienceDesign for the Adobe XD facebook page and the place to go to watch Demian’s livestream events that happen every Wednesday at 10 Pacific time.


HumanTech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

The ROI of User Experience

Logo for HumanTech podcastHow do you know if the work you are doing to improve the user experience of your product is worth the time and the effort? One of our most popular webinar topics is how to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of User Experience. So we decided to talk about it on this latest episode of the Human Tech podcast


HumanTech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.

The Visual Cortex And Design

Logo for HumanTech podcastDid you know that here is a part of the visual cortex that is sensitive just to a tilted line? Or that some people see millions more colors than the rest of us do? On this episode of Human Tech we talk about the strange and interesting science of vision and how it affects visual design.


HumanTech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.