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Mind: An Overview of the Exhibition

For Immediate Release:
November 01, 2007

Media Available
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

Mind: An Overview of the Exhibition

A number of broad themes make up the structure of Mind:
Attention, emotion, and judgment -- discrete but overlapping areas of research in the cognitive sciences -- are basic activities of the human mind.

-- Attention is the set of mechanisms by which a nervous system directs awareness to particular objects, events, or ideas among the myriad stimuli to which it is possible to attend. In other words, our minds select what we pay attention to and what we ignore, a process that unfolds largely unconsciously, and often outside of our control.

-- Emotions (feelings) are appraisals of complex situations, and they affect our perception and interpretation of the world around us -- often in surprising ways.

-- Judgment, on the other hand, is a more deliberative, sequential system for assessing and interpreting information and rendering decisions consistent with both values and circumstances.

The interactions between these three types of processes are at the heart of modern cognitive science research and create the foundation for the experiences developed for Mind.

Descriptions of Selected Mind Exhibits

A Sip of Conflict
Play with the tension between logic and emotion as you drink from a water fountain fashioned from an actual (but unused!) toilet.

Center of Attention
This exhibit simulates the experience of standing in front of a lively crowd. The crowd's changing responses allow you to experience and examine your own emotional and cognitive reactions to being in the limelight.

Be Here Now
This meditative spot challenges you to empty your mind and observe the gentle flow and direction of your own uncontrolled thoughts.

Mood Lighting
This exhibit bathes you in colored light, initiating a surprisingly powerful emotional experience and suggesting the importance of visual stimuli in provoking feelings.

The Eyes Have ItHere, you'll infer the emotional states of others from their eyes alone, highlighting the way we decode faces to interpret their owners' inner states.

Masks In a counterpoint to The Eyes Have It, Masks challenges you to communicate feelings without facial expressions -- instead, you must use your body to send emotional messages to others.

Startle Response
Startle Response offers you a chance to see the subtle movements and changes that play out across your own face in a moment of extreme surprise.

See Yourself Sweat
This exhibit magnifies a small patch of your skin as you think about emotionally arousing ideas or images. Your thoughts trigger immediate secretion of sweat, and the sudden appearance of these glistening globules shows a concrete physiological reaction to an amorphous cognitive event.

True Mirrors
Normal and reversed mirrors let you see yourself as you normally do and compare that image with something you rarely encounter -- your own face as others see it. The unsettling result illustrates what happens when expectations are subtly violated.

Personality Portrait
Mix and match descriptions to create an individual personality portrait of yourself or a friend, and bring to light your theories of how traits and behaviors fit together -- or don't.

Animal Cam
These film loops from artist Sam Easterson were created by temporarily fixing tiny cameras to animals -- a wolf, bison, scorpion, tarantula, and others. The resulting mini-movies vividly illustrate how perspective affects our perception of the world around us.

Divided Attention
Forcing you to pay attention to numerous stimuli at once highlights the limits of the human mind's attentional capacity.

Theater of the Mind
This semi-enclosed area will provide a venue for films highlighting a range of perspectives on thoughts, feelings, and the human condition.

Poker Face
At Poker Face, you'll lie to a friend about the contents of a poker hand -- or try to detect your friend's lie. This two-person exhibit lets you experiment with trying to conceal your thoughts and with using facial cues to interpret hidden motivations.

A computer program designed to mimic human verbal communication lets you have a "conversation" with a machine and explore your ideas about consciousness, meaning, and intelligence.

Color Your Judgment
An exhibit highlighting the power of expectations, Color Your Judgment pairs familiar scents with liquids of various colors, showing how knowledge of what something "should" look like can affect our perceptions.

Stretching Your Attention
Experiment with identifying simultaneous events and see how practice can improve your attentional abilities.

The Cute Room
These exhibits let you manipulate familiar objects and experiment with the things that make them seem cute -- or not. Is cuteness in the eye of the beholder?

A state-of-the-art mechanical head designed and built by roboticist David Hanson, this exhibit lets you explore the mechanics of emotional expressions -- and the unsettling experience of interacting with a lifelike machine.

Fast Faces
You probably recognize most of these people, but waiting for a specific image may impede your ability to name them.

Polite Smile, Delight Smile
Can you tell the difference between the planned and spontaneous smiles at this exhibit?

AHA Moment
Insight often comes in a flash…with the right hint.

Time To ThinkModeled on a fundamental experimental technique for studying cognitive activity, this exhibit illustrates how increasingly complex mental tasks dramatically affect your reaction time.

Hours of Operation & New Evening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm;  every Thursday evening adults only (ages 18 and up) 6pm-10pm.

$29 for adults, with lower rates for SF Bay Area residents, youth, seniors, students, teachers and the disabled. Tickets available at the door and advance tickets available online at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tickets.

Getting Here
The Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transit. Convenient parking is available nearby. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit/location-directions

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium opened at Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco's Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit.

Pier 15
San Francisco
California 94111
(415) 528-4444 telephone

Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367