Super Stimulation

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Super Stimulation is an an exagerated 'hard wired' response to a stimulus.

  • Super-stimulation has been studied in birds, where fledglings will open their beaks and make loud noises when they see the beak of their parent bringing food to the nest. In one study it was found that the fledglings were responding to markings on the bill, in the form of a dark line with a dot on either side. By experiment the scientists were able to find a stylised pattern which the fledglings responded to even more strongly than the parent's actual bill.
  • Stylised drawing in cartoons consciously (or unconsciously) uses visual cues that people respond to. The shape of faces in Mickey mouse have been shown to be closer to a baby's head proportions, and these proportions are generally used for 'cute and lovable' faces in cartoons.

This subfield within cognoscience is likely to be further developed in virtual reality and in advertising. It is likely to affect product design.


There was a Scientific American article on it many years ago. TODO: find link

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