The use of cognitive science on the design of Microsoft fonts is intriguingly mentioned by Scobleizer in his post on a visit to MS's Cleartype team (and supports my post on the application of cognitive science to product R&D).
When talking about the team's cognitive scientist, Kevin Larson, Scoble says:
He sticks people inside an MRI machine and asks them to read two pages of text. One with fonts that are ugly and poorly designed. One with beautifully designed fonts and aesthetically laid out.
He says they can’t see much difference in reading speed, but there’s a massive difference in the part of the brain used on each kind of page. Also, they measure the various facial muscles used when reading text. Turns out people frown more when reading the poorly-laid-out text.
The comments on this post mention a fascinating blog by the Cleartype team which discusses the arcane science of font design. I not only learned a lot about the problems and solutions associated with fonts, but why people have a tendancy to (improperly) use two spaces after a period-ending sentence.
I wonder if any of this can be applied to selecting the optimal fonts for Powerpoint presentations that use the Wabi-Sabi philosophy.