larwa002: October 2011 Archives

Narcoleptic Poodle

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While discussing our consciousness in Psychology, we talked about sleep and the various disorders associated with sleep. These disorders consisted of insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, night terrors, and sleepwalking. The one that especially stuck out me was narcolepsy. As we learned, narcolepsy is a disorder in which people or animals experience episodes of sudden sleep lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Normally, people don't enter REM sleep, the stage of sleep where the brain is most active and dreaming often occurs, for more than an hour after they fall asleep. This is not the case for those who experience narcolepsy, who enter REM sleep as soon as they doze off.
Talking about this disorder in class reminded me of a video someone showed me a few years back of a narcoleptic dog. Although at first the video below may come off as funny, it shows how terrible this disorder can be. It appears the dog in the video, named Skeeter, is experiencing cataplexy, which is a complete loss of muscle control. According to the book, people and animals with narcolepsy can experience cataplexy when they become excited. This makes it extremely hard for Skeeter to enjoy the things every dog should, such as running, playing, and eating. It is also very dangerous, as dogs cannot be watched at all times, but an episode of narcolepsy can hit at any time.

I was left wondering how the dog could ever get the chance to experience a full day without being interfered by narcolepsy. After doing some research, I found that the answer is somewhere in between. While narcolepsy cannot completely be cured, there are ways to minimize its symptoms. This can be done with oral administration of tricyclic antidepressants. Although narcolepsy is not directly harmful to Sceeter, it is indirectly harming his life by taking away his excitement.

In the early twentieth century a school of thought arose in Germany that explored how people organize visual information into patterns and forms. This school of thought was known as Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychologists described several principles people use to make sense of what they see. These principles include figure and ground, proximity, closure, similarity, continuity, and simplicity.

Today, companies have mastered these principles and heavily incorporate them into their advertising. Gestalt principles keep the logos interesting and tend to catch peoples attention. Many of the logos and ads you see everyday consist at least one of the Gestalt principles. I will explore many of the principles and find real life examples of advertising applications that apply to each.

Figure and Ground: People often divide visual information into figure and ground. Figure is what stands out, while ground is the background. This effect is used in one of the Macintosh logos. As you see below, the logo can be viewed as a regular happy face and as a happy face in profile looking at a computer screen.

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Proximity: When people see objects that lie close together, they often perceive the objects as a group. In 2002 the MTV European Music Awards used an ad that demonstrated the law of proximity. We perceive the two logos in the top left as a group and the logos of the sponsors in the bottom right as a group. The white space and the proximity of the logos indicate that the logos are meant to be groups, without MTV needing to identify it.

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Closure: People tend to complete objects that are in fact incomplete by filling in gaps. The IBM logo is actually only blue lines of different length, but we perceive the letters I, B, and M.

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Similarity: People tend to group similar objects together. The company Lega-Lega used this principle in their website design. They use the orange color for all the icons at the top right of the webpage so that people group the icons together.

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Symmetry: When we perceive objects we tend to perceive them as symmetrical shapes that form around their center. When we see two unconnected objects that are symmetrical, we unconsciously see them as one object. Since the U's are symmetrical to one another, we automatically group each U with the one it is next to, leaving us with four objects rather than eight.

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