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Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Can a Sheep Say They Never Forget a Face?

December 4, 2015

Recycled Glass Sheep Night Light | UncommonGoods

It’s a refrain uttered at many a cocktail party: “Oh, sorry, buddy I’m terrible with names; great at faces, though!” This might make Jim? Bill? Bob? Steve? feel a little unappreciated, but it is technically true. Humans can recognize hundreds, if not thousands of individual faces. Sheep, however? They may not fare as well at a high school reunion.

Studies have shown that sheep can only recognize the individual faces of up to 50 sheep. While their facial recognition skills are rather sophisticated compared to other animals, what if a sheep wants to see the world? Go to college? Start a 51-sheep dance troupe? Could get tricky. A team of British scientists put sheep’s memory to the test by showing them 25 pairs of sheep faces, with one out of each pair being associated with a food reward. After about 30 trials, sheep were about to correctly recognize the food-related faces 80% of the time. In the following weeks, sheep were shown photos of the same sheep, only this time the photos were of their profiles, rather than head-on shots. Sheep were still able to recognize the food-related sheep, even though they’d never seen them from that perspective before. However, these memories eventually began to fade and after 600-800 days, their recognition levels began to decline.

So if you’re going to upset a sheep, maybe wait a solid 800 days to come around again.


Recycled Glass Sheep Night Light | $38.00

Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: What’s That Familiar Aroma?

November 17, 2015

Aromatherapy Deluxe Gift Set | UncommonGoods

You smell fresh popcorn, and somehow you’re transported back to that old movie house where you had your first date. Or you smell the signature odor of books, and you’re wandering the stacks of your hometown library in your mind…what is this wizardry? Oh, just your sense of smell tapping into the part of your brain responsible for memory and emotion. Our sense of smell is most closely tied to memory and emotion because the olfactory bulb—the organ that translates chemical content in the air to sensations of smell—has the most direct line to the amygdala and hippocampus, two parts of the brain that play a big role in processing memory and emotion. Our visual, auditory, and tactile senses don’t pass through these brain areas, so they don’t have such close ties to distant memories and powerful emotions. Evolutionarily speaking, the amygdala and hippocampus are primitive parts of the brain in that we share them with our earliest mammal ancestors. This helps explain why certain smells trigger powerful associations that you can’t quite put your finger on—they’re ancient associations with instinct as compelling as the call of the wild.

Aromatherapy Deluxe Gift Set | $55