October 2011 Archives

Defensive pessimism: Only the worst makes the best?

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"I'm so going to fail this test!" How many of you say this to yourself before you took the Psychology exam last week? Odds are high that many of you did say it and probably did not fail or even did pretty well on the exam. This disparaging-oneself strategy is called 'defensive pessimism'. Defensive pessimists only anticipate failure and then they compensate for this expectation by mentally overpreparing for negative outcomes. Many people think that this strategy helps people to improve their performance. But does this really improve people's performances?

I grew up under both optimist and defensive pessimist parents. My father, who is typical defensive pessimist, always anticipates negative results, whereas my mom, who is optimist, always thinks positively. It is certain that both of them are doing their jobs pretty well and I can't say which one is better. In most of the time, they work hard, and before the last minute of getting outcomes, my mom tends to anticipate positive outcomes, when my dad does the just opposite.

In many cases, defensive pessimists know themselves that they are well prepared, and still disparage themselves. It may make them mentally prepared for the negative outcomes, but it doesn't necessarily encourage them work harder beforehand. If someone is not really prepared and he/she uses defensive pessimism, it is very unlikely him/her to get improved outcome. Then why do people think defensive pessimism improves their performances?

Because only those people (like my parents), who worked hard, tend to express their anticipations before the outcomes, whereas, people who didn't prepare at all, tend to not express their anticipations whether they are optimist or pessimist, because they know innermostly that they are not prepared and expressing either their pessimism or optimism are ineffective at that point.

My point is that people's thinking of defensive pessimism is the way of improving performance could be an illusion, because they can only hear the anticipations from those people who are well prepared. Since Individuals are different, we can't say one way of thinking is better than the other. However, thinking negatively doesn't necessarily encourage one to work harder.

Dumber by the Dozen

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Do Larger Families Produce Less Intelligent Children?


If you've ever seen 19 Kids and Counting, you come to wonder, "how do these parents spend any individual time with their kids?". It's part of our parent's duties to educate us and shape us into respectable adults who are able to leave the nest and prosper in the real world. How can two parents actually parent 19 children, are they crazy? Stupid? Maybe. I mean all 20 kid's names start with a 'J'. Come on, that's a little of both.
When Robert Zajonc started his research in determining whether birth order affected intelligence, the conclusion came to be of a third variable: that children of larger families tend to have slightly lower IQs than children from smaller families (Lilienfield). In addition to that, the parents of large families tended to have lower IQs in comparison to parents of smaller families.
This may be caused by a theory credited to two psychologists, Blake and Downey, called The Resource Dillution Model. It states that parental resources are finite, such as personal attention, money and cultural objects. This also shows why Zajonc hypothesized that first born children were the most successful; partly due to they had access to more of their parent's resources before other children were born like parent's attention and nourishment. Intensity of interaction with parents is positively correlated with the academic success of a child, and therefore overall intelligence (Kunz, Peterson, Peterson). In my opinion, these parents clearly don't have enough time to help their children flourish adequately, besides the numerous restrictions of their ultra-conservative religion. Besides helping population control, having a smaller amount of children really could benefit society in the long run by producing a more intelligent and goal-oriented future generation.



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Something that I found very interesting that we talked about was the idea that one could be taught to do or fear something at a young age. In the text book, I read about Little Albert and how he was taught to fear white fluffy things because when he was younger, every time his white mouse was by him, someone would strike a gong behind him, startling him and causing him to cry. Little Albert then began to cry whenever he even saw the white mouse without even hearing the gong. I guess I just am fascinated with how we can be taught to learn things without even knowing it. I know this is a different sort of thing than Little Albert's situation but one time a few years ago, I was drinking a soda and kept choking on it. As a joke, I twisted the little metal guy all the way around so that it was covering the opening of the soda can a little bit. I realized that this allowed less soda to flow through the can at once and ever since, I have been twisting my soda cap around. Today I will open a soda and will automatically just turn the cap around without even realizing it and I can't drink soda any other way. This kind of relates to the story of Little Albert, although it is a different scenario and doesn't involve fear of any sort, but I just found it interesting that even at an older age, I could still be taught to do things without even knowing!

(i tried uploading a picture but it didn't work)

Baby Signing

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One of the most interesting topics that came about after listening to the lectures from class and reading chapter 8 of our textbooks was the concept of language. Obviously language has many aspects and can be rather arbitrary. But the concept that peaked my interest was the part that touched on sign language. The reasoning behind my interest is because of two reasons, the first is because my uncle is deaf and second is because I watched my cousin use sign language before he could produce words.

Baby sign language touches on two very important topics we learned about. One is the ability to communicate through hand gestures. The other topic demonstrates how babies are able to communicate before they are verbal. At first when I heard of this I was somewhat skeptical. How can a baby tell me it wants more food, or is too hot? But I witnessed it first hand when I lived with my Aunt and Uncle. When baby Zachary was eating he finished his food and then my uncle pressed both of his hands fingers and thumbs together to signal "more". Zachary did the same hand motion; he was given more food and ate it all.

When researching however there seems to be a lot of websites that offer DVD's and strategies for baby signing. If I were in a position to teach a child baby sign language I would have to do an extensive amount of research to find a good technique. But the ability to communicate with your baby before it is able speak is pretty incredible. Not to mention that you could potentially prevent crying tantrums by understanding what your baby wants or needs. Here are several websites that have information about baby sign language.


Hot Hand: Reality or Illusion

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Many athletes like to believe that a "hot hand" exists in sports. A hot hand is a term used to describe an athlete who is on a role and cannot be stopped. The term hot hand is popularly referred to in basketball. Once a player has made a few shots, they are "hot" and they will keep on asking for the ball, thinking they are on a streak. Many basketball players believe that this is true. I play basketball to and I believe that the hot hand exists in some way, but after reading a report I have come to the conclusion that the "hot hand" is actually an illusion.
Player Shooting Percentage

Player Shooting % Total Shots 3 misses 2 misses 1miss 1hit 2hit 3hits
Lionel .46 371 .11 .25 .54 .46 .18 .07
Andrew .46 406 .08 .22 .53 .47 .19 .07
Caldwell .47 225 .09 .21 .52 .48 .16 .05
Clint .50 206 .06 .16 .49 .51 .22 .10
Julius .52 836 .11 .23 .49 .51 .25 .12
Bobby .52 310 .06 .17 .47 .53 .25 .11
Steve .54 386 .06 .17 .46 .54 .25 .09
Maurice .56 292 .04 .13 .43 .57 .26 .11
Daryl .62 358 .02 .09 .38 .62 .31 .15
Correlation with shooting percentage -.804 -.874 -.993 -.993 -.954 -.899

This table clearly shows us that there is no such thing as a "hot hand." This table shows us a correlation between shooting percentages and proportions of shots that were a part of that. The correlation at the bottom shows that misses are negatively correlated with the shooting percentage and hits are positively correlated. This illustrates that there is no "hot hand" because previous shots have no affect on them, thus making the "hot hand" not exist.

I can relate to this phenomenon in my life because I play basketball. During games I feel like I have a hot hand and my team tells me I am hot. When I am hot, I make a couple of shots in a row and then miss a bunch. An example of this would be when I was at the gym playing basketball with my friends. I made seven three-pointers in a pick up game, but missed most of my shots after that. So, the feeling of a hot hand is really just an illusion because the effect of it is very temporary. When I thought I was on a streak, the effects lasted for only about three to four minutes. Later on after this my shooting percentage went down and I was not making as many shots.

Sources used
Lilienfeld, Scott. Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2011.

Patience with puppy

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When I got my German Shepherd puppy, Bean, I researched training methods for basic behavioral skills and for tricks. Virtually all the sources I read emphasized the importance of rewarding good behaviors and either ignoring or reprimanding bad behaviors. I didn't realize it at the time, but these very common training methods that have yielded great progress in all kinds of domestic animals, are prime examples of the same operant conditioning that applies to people.

Even at only several weeks, my dog's defensive instincts became apparent. She barked loudly and ran excitedly from window to window whenever pedestrians walked by the house with their own dogs. So I made it one of my first priorities to teach her to be quiet when she saw dogs outside. To do this, I thought of methods involving both positive reinforcement and negative punishment.

I intentionally walked by Bean very often when she was lying on her rug by the window at the front of the house. Every time I passed her and she was lying quietly, said, "Good girl! Good quiet," and rubbed her head or dropped a treat. I noticed she sometimes started to walk over and lie down on her rug even when I simply looked at her near the front door. I thus used positive reinforcement to increase her good behavior.

Often she'd be playing with or chewing on a toy by a window when a dog would pass, and when she would start barking, I would take away the toy and make sure she saw me put it away. Here I used negative punishment to decrease her poor behavior.

I found both methods quite helpful and simple. I also got ideas from Cesar Milan, the "Dog Whisperer," at this site:


A Ramble on Babbling

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At nearly 8 months old, my niece (the cute redhead above) is at the babbling age. She's been vocal for a long time but only recently have the actually phonemes of language started to occur in her sounds. She's been cooing for many months, and screaming (in excitement) for a few but now we can tell that some words won't be that far behind. It is interesting (not to mention fun!) to see this process in real time up close. I've had many little cousins that I have seen go through parts of the process but growing up far away from them, I saw their growth only in chunks and spurts, never as the gradual and amazing process that it really is. And what surprises me the most? How quickly they pick everything up!
So in the book, we learned a lot about how babies and children learn language. I've heard that a correlational relationship exists between musical ability and language acquisition skills. As far as I know, it applies to older children and adults, but could this also apply to babies learning languages for the first time? I've looked online for research or articles without luck. I know from two pregnant sister-in-laws that fetuses of a certain age react to music. I also know that by about 4 months, my little niece was already matching tones if you held them for long enough. Is this something that is innate in some children? How is it that some adults can't hold a tune while this tiny baby can match what you sing? Is music (enjoyment, ability, etc.) something people can be born with?

50 First Dates

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When it comes to movies, I am an Adam Sandler enthusiast. Give me a quote from Adam Sandler I will be able to name the movie instantly. So when I read the chapter on memory impairments, I immediately related it to Adam Sandler's movie, 50 First Dates. Since watching this movie, I have been intrigued with Drew Barrymore's character's memory impairment, "Goldfield Syndrome".

In the movie, Lucy (Barrymore) has Goldfield Syndrome, which they strongly correlate to anterograde amensia. Lucy was in a car accident that damaged her ability to transfer short-term memory to long term memory. As this is true for anterograde amnesia, there were also symptoms in Lucy that did not hold true.

One example, the most obvious example, is that Lucy is unable to store any new memories since she was in the accident. Where the movie goes wrong though, is that she can store memories throughout the day until she goes to sleep. When she wakes up she has no recollection of the day before. Realistically, people with anterograde amnesia can't even store memories for longer than 5 or 10 minutes. Sleeping has no relation with anterograde amnesia.


This clip from YouTube shows Lucy's doctor describing her syndrome to her. He also shows her other people with other impairments such as "Ten Second Tom".

Overall, the Goldfield Syndrome in 50 First Dates in fictional.

Mneumonic Devices

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"What is a mnemonic device," I asked myself as I was preparing myself for the upcoming test on Monday. This obviously wasn't a good sign for me, as I didn't know and meant that I had to study even more. I had heard the term before in Biology this year, but was too busy breaking the rule of the "levels of processing" (taking down my notes word for word instead of listening and writing down my ow interpretations) that the term did not make it far enough for me to register what the professor was actually saying about it. So, after going back and looking in my textbook, I found that a mnemonic device was another helpful learning aid used for getting information into our memory banks. We encode these memories so that it is easier to recall them later. Then, after reading the examples, I immediately remembered using this throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years (my retrieval from long-term memory), when I had to remember the Linnaeus' classification system: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

It went a little like this:
Kings Play Chess On Fine Glass Surfaces

Well, this tool for learning was always extremely annoying to me, yet it was very useful. As a future teacher, I decided to do a little more research on the benefits of these devices. I will be teaching younger students, and as we know that they will not learn and recall information as easily as older students will, these devices are not only helpful, but a fun tool for learning. "Mnemonics can be used in language arts (i.e., vocabulary, spelling, and letter recognition), mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language, and other academic subjects," the article states. Who knew that so many subjects could be used?? I am amazed my the learning I am doing now. These uses will help me in my future, as well as help others with their learning!

Article Link:


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I found it interesting that our memories change or sometimes they have never even occurred. Phenomenon's such as impossible events and misinformation effects almost leave me in great puzzlement. If you think about it, it is incredible how our brain can make us feel as though we have lived an event that has been replicated by someone else's words. Eventually if we are told something enough our brain will make us feel as though we have ventured through such an event, such as in impossible events.


Another is misinformation effect which can produce interesting responses. Depending upon how you describe a certain situation it can cause it to mislead people into an exaggeration or an over simplification of the event that had occurred.


I think it is interesting that, potentially, we could perceive the world and it could be entirely incorrect. All of our knowledge and understanding of events that had occurred in our life could possibly be implanted or misinformed pieces of information about the world. This is a troubling concept because this could make us question almost every piece of history and religion. They are all perceived events that are written down but it came from an individual who could have interpreted it differently then someone else. But could it be possible that a mass number of people witness the same incorrect phenomenon? Unless the event was written down as it was occurring, it could be possible that many of the "facts" of history could be incorrect because their memory may have changed certain parts in the event or have made it more positive or negative to the reader.

It makes me wonder if the world truly is as it seems or could it potentially a fabrication?

Office Conditioning

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Being a very dedicated The Office fan for many years, I couldn't help but think of this hilarious scene from the famous TV show while reading about conditioning in chapter 6.

The kind of conditioning shown in this scene between Dwight and Jim is known as classical or Pavlovian conditioning. As we learned in chapter 6, classical conditioning is a form of learning in which animals (or in this case, Dwight) come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. In this case, the unconditioned stimulus is the mint, the unconditioned response is Dwight reaching for the mint, the conditioned stimulus is the re-boot sound on Jim's computer, and the conditioned response is Dwight still reaching for the mint even though Jim didn't offer and having a bad taste in his mouth without it.

As you can see from the video, this scene is very hilarious. But even though Jim conducted this experiment to prank Dwight, it got me thinking if other situations involving classical conditioning could be used within the workplace. Could companies and offices use classical conditioning to their advantage? Or do we already?
An example of classical conditioning that I can think of would be the practice of smoking breaks. Most employees that smoke plan their "smoking schedule" around their smoking breaks. When they go on break, it is very unlikely that they will refuse a cigarette even if their cravings are not that intense.
This is just one example of how classical conditioning can influence the workplace, but many people have other theories of how this conditioning can improve efficiency in their companies and offices. Although this purposeful conditioning can seem a touch barbaric, it is an interesting concept nonetheless.

Silent Communication

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If you have been asked one of the infamous "would you rather" questions would you rather be blind or deaf, then you have had a chance to wonder and think what it would be like to deaf. A very tough question to think about, but for me it is easy to answer. I would rather be deaf than blind for one main reason: my mother is fluent in American Sign Language.
Sign language involves the use of hand shapes, movement of the hands, arms or body and facial expression to express the speaker's thoughts and messages. My mother is not hearing impaired at all, but she learned it in college and uses it everyday at work for her career as a deaf and hard of hearing tutor. She works in many school districts around the metro, helping children of all ages with hearing loss with their studies. Other than having my mom coming in to my kindergarten class to teach my classmates and I the alphabet in sign language, and showing me simple words like yes and no, I have not seen my mom sign very much. But there was one neat time when I did see my mom sign out of the blue to a stranger. We were in Target about 5 or so years ago trying to find a few last minute school supplies for me and we were not having much luck finding a where they were. We decided to ask a worker that was adding some new inventory to shelves. When we approached her to ask where the items were, she put her hand to her head and cupped her hand over her ear. That is a sign for telling others that one is deaf. So my mom quickly made the hand signs for school supplies and then the worker pointed us in the right direction and we were on our way. It happened really fast but I never forgot it because I thought it was so awesome how my mom was able to communicate with the hearing impaired person where as many other people would be forced to find another work to get directions from. I started to really appreciate my mom's knowledge of sign language then.
Learning about language and communication in the Psychology course has also got me to appreciate communication that gets taken for granted everyday. I was also amazed to learn that areas in the brain work the same for someone that communicates with sign language as using oral speech. Deaf and hard of hearing infants even have babbling with their hands!
ASL alpabet:

Language and math abilities

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I am currently reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

In one of the chapters, he offers an explanation for why Chinese are so much better at math than Americans. He attributes the difference not to differences in Chinese and American mental capabilities, but to differences in language.Pronouncing Chinese numbers takes significantly less time than in English. Most Chinese numbers can be pronounced in under 1/4 of a second. However, the same numbers in English take about 1/3 of a second to pronounce.

In the book, Gladwell mentioned an example from The Number Sense by Stanislas Dehaene, a cognitive neurosurgeon. He gave a group of English speakers the following list of numbers: 4,8,5,3,9,7,6. He then gave them 20 seconds to memorize the list, and then asked them to repeat it. The English speakers had about a 50% chance of remembering the numbers correctly. However, when he tested it with Chinese speakers, nearly all of them were able to remember the numbers. Studies from Lloyd and Margaret Peterson have shown us that short-term memory is surprisingly short. Because the list of numbers took less time to say, the Chinese speakers had a much easier time memorizing the numbers.

Taking this one step further, the difference in pronunciation time, along with differences in the number-naming system (see link for more details), and construction of fractions means that Chinese speakers learn to count much more quickly than English speakers. The average Chinese four year old can count to forty, while the average American four year old can only count to fifteen.

Perhaps there could be some operant conditioning at play here as well. If Chinese children can remember more numbers at once and do calculations in their head more easily because of the language differences, they are less likely to get frustrated by math and more likely to enjoy it. The satisfaction from being able to solve a math problem could be seen as positive reinforcement for studying math. While at the same time, an American child who couldn't solve the same problem because they must take more time to remember numbers and do calculations, would get frustrated. This frustration could be a negative punishment, decreasing the target behavior of studying.


Cosmo learns some tricks!

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Over the summer I adopted an American Eskimo puppy and was very excited to teach him tricks. When I started training my puppy, he learned how to sit very quickly. All I had to do was repeat the command sit, followed by a hand gesturing him to sit down. Also I gave him a treat for a specific number of responses that he gave me, with the number varying randomly. This worked and Cosmo kept sitting on command. The amount of treats I gave Cosmo followed a variable ratio schedule. In this schedule the reinforcement is provided after a specific number of responses on average, with the number changing. This method was the most effective because it made my dog continue to do tricks, so that he could receive a treat. So far, this method has been very successful and my dog is continuing to sit on command.

However, the other trick that I taught my dog was not as successful. This trick was the shake command. The schedule of reinforcement that I used here was very different from the first schedule. In this trial I used a fixed interval schedule on my dog and gave him a treat every two minutes. This cycle was successful for a few trails; however towards the end I noticed that my dog was very unresponsive. He did not respond that well until he saw that I had a treat in my hand or when it was time to give him a treat. Over time he has completely ignored my commands and only responds when I am going to give him a treat or when the time interval is up. This method has proved to be the most unsuccessful for me, when training my dog. The method earlier on was more successful because it allowed for my dog to keep on doing an action in order to get a treat after a varying number of responses. However in this trial my dog suspected their was some time limit, so he responded the most right before it was time to give him a treat.

Source used
Lilienfeld, Scott. Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2011.

Superstitious Behavior

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How many of you try avoid stepping on the cracks of the sidewalk, carry a luck charm, or avoid an 'unlucky' number? I know I do! These are indications that you are at least partially superstitious. Superstition, the belief in the significance of a particular object, occurrence, situation, etc. without any reason or knowledge. The question is, how do we acquire these superstitions?

Skinner tested how these superstitious behaviors could be developed with pigeons. After feeding them consistently independent of what their behaviors were, they each developed their own 'superstitions.' He described some of the pigeons actions to get food, which seem ridiculous like bobbing their head or spinning a certain number of times. The behavior is developed based off of reinforcement. Not all studies have been able to replicate this outcome, but it is likely that some superstitions are developed in this fashion. Another interesting item to note is the prevalence of superstitions is higher when there is only partial reinforcement. This is would explain why there are many more hitting related superstitious behaviors in baseball than fielding related. Only about a third of at bats result in a hit and over 90% of fielding attempts are successful.

In our own lives, it is important to understand how we develop superstitions in order to keep things in perspective. By understanding them, we will not rely on superstitions to help us succeed or have a good day. Instead rely on real knowledge and facts. Below are references to some common superstitions were hear about in our lives and in media.

Here is a commercial that references some common superstitions:


Here are two comics related to superstition:

Superstition 1.gifSuperstition 2.gif

Left Behind: Religion, Cults & the Rapture

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Something that sparked my interest over the last few assignments was the idea of religion and cults. The discussion homework for the week of October 17th required us to read the case of the Ingram family and how false memory played a role in the confession of his case. A major role that contributed to Paul Ingram's confession was his religious influence. Something interesting I've discovered on youtube is watching videos of Westboro Baptist Church. They're known for picketing funeral of fallen gay soldiers and making outlandish signs in hopes for people to repent to a raging, mad god.

Westboro representative and her daughters interviewed on the Tyra show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1Ck4m9EXeo

But because talk of supernatural or religious deities cannot be falsified, it reaches outside the bounds of our six critical thinking skills and psychological scrutiny. But how far is too far? Even for those people who are not terribly sympathetic of non-religious affiliating citizens, the common citizen can feel the hatred and animosity from reading of the group's ideas and values, or watching their videos on youtube. The following article accounts for the group's picketing history http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/westboro-pickets-dunn_n_882299.html

How far is too far? We've learned from the Paul Ingram case that religions, cults, and the mind are very powerful things. Paul Ingram was told to pray over his actions regarding the physical abuse case, and would perceive stories and ideas to be true, even when they were of complete absurdity. The mind, especially, is something not yet fully understood as far as long term ramifications for extremely oppressive or unusual thoughts. Is this normal? Is it human nature to express so much disgust for certain minority groups? Is thinking like this too extreme? A psychotherapist on the Tyra show, while the Westboro Baptist representatives were there explained that some people feel an innate need to discriminate against other people in order to satisfy an internal desire to feel better at one's self. It's interesting.

Just in case, your rapture ready notes (:

50 First Dates... Wait, what was that?

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Hollywood has been well known for portraying different trauma events and their "effects" for the people who experience them. One of these disorders that is commonly recognized is amnesia. Some cartoons show a character hitting their head on a rock, and forgetting past memories of who they are or where they're at.


Other times like in the movie, "50 First Dates," the characters experience short term memory loss.


Lucy was in a car accident and can't remember any short-term memories from right before the incident. At the time, she was dating Henry, who decided he loved her but he is a total stranger to her. The doctor said she may never recover the memories and Henry then decides he has to make her fall back in love with him everyday. So he makes a video for her to watch every morning.


Lucy's symptoms shown in the movie seem to be very similar to the case of "H.M." described in our class books. He underwent a surgery to try to stop the seizures that he was experiencing by taking out large pieces out of his brain. A surgery like this probably never be performed now. As a result, he lost his ability to remember short-term events. This was described as anterograde amnesia, which inhibits the ability to recall new information. For the 55 years that he suffered from this, he gained very few new memories, although, he could still remember memories from the first 15 years of his life.

So I guess this has to show that you should cherish your memories, because even though you may think that they are the one thing you can have forever, that isn't always the case.

Memory can be defined as the "retention of information over time." So how can we say that we can literally exercise our memory? Well, it can be taken literally or not. There are ways that we can "exercise" or brain so that, over time, we can retain more information. We can improve our memory by "exercising" or practicing memory skills, not by just trying to memorize various information. Although there aren't any scientific research findings that say our memory is a muscle, we can still use memory techniques to improve our overall memory. Stimulating the muscles of our memory, or brain, through mental activity continually creates new neurons throughout our entire life! Not only will exercising your memory help you in school, it might actually help your physical health. Just like exercising you body makes you feel good, exercising your mind will too, up to ¾ of people who go to see their doctor for physical ailments can be linked due to psychological reasons. Also, eating well can help improve your mind and memory. One study showed that students who eat an organic lunch did up to 14% better on an IQ test. For exercising your memory, repetition is best. New mental connections are created every time you remember something or you create a new thought, the more connections there are the easier it is to remember. Remember, no pun intended, there are particular techniques to exercise your memory. For example, using the technique of chunking, which organizes information into meaningful groupings, allowing us to extend the span of short-term memory. Memories are not stored in one specific location in the brain, so be sure to workout every part! But just like exercising your abdominal muscles, you need time for muscles to heal and be replenished. Sleep helps our brain store all the memories of the day while allowing us to relax and dream, which with 12% of people is always in black and white. Everything in the blog is factual and everyone who reads this should use the key concepts to improve and exercise their mind and memory. I don't know about you but I want to prolong dementia as long as possible

Night Terrors

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In my own words, a night terror is almost like a combination of a nightmare and sleep walking. It's a sort of nightmare that someone, most often, a child, will act out during their sleep. I chose this particular concept because I experienced these multiple times as a child around the age 9 or so. I don't recall what exactly I did during these events, only what my parents have told me, but I do recall remembering things after they occurred such as my parents holding me or telling me everything was going to be alright. I had about four of them and they were all different in what occurred during them. One I feel asleep watching America's Craziest Police chases and during my night terror, I thought I was within one of these cars being chased by the police frantically screaming to slow the car down, another that I was at school and desperately needed my backpack, another where the radio I often listened to to help me fall sleep began talking and screaming at me, and lastly one where I supposedly slammed my door shut and began jumping on my bed. My dad said he has never seeing anything like, saying I was nearly hitting my head on our 10 foot ceilings. Although scary to think these things happened and I don't remember them other than what I've heard, I think it's important as a scientific concept that they are actually harmless and are almost just a phase in sleeping while growing up as a child. Although especially scary for my parents, I think it's important for them to know that they're harmless unless of course you get a case of a kid jumping on their bed as if it's a trampoline like myself. I ended up taking medication for a couple weeks after those and haven't experienced one since. ailmentPhotoNightTerrors.jpg

Procrastination at it's finest

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Procrastination is one way operant conditioning plays a role in our lives. Operant conditioning is a way we learn through the consequences of our own, and others, behavior. Procrastination, putting of a task until the last moment, plagues many and can often be the reason why those who are victim to it are so stressed.

When I was younger, I was always good at getting assignments done fairly early, maybe due to the fact that I had my parents to hold me accountable. However, once I reached 4th or 5th grades and my parents had my brothers and sister's school work to assist with, I started to learn from their behavior of letting other things take the place of finishing school work and started pushing off homework to play on the computer or watch a television show. I am now horrible at completing a task until right before it is due (as I am finishing this blog late Sunday night...) and often find myself stressed out, hurrying to finish my project/studying so that I can get a little sleep before the next day barges through the door. I have tried many tactics to curb my procrastination by making detailed lists or not allowing myself to hang out with friends or watch a movie, but always seem to put the assignment off anyway, telling myself I have plenty of time to finish the task.

After reading about procrastination and how to try to reverse the habit by positive reinforcement, I am going to try, starting after the completion of this blog, to hold myself accountable, and curb this nasty little thing we call procrastination.

Babies Babbling!

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I have to disagree with our textbook on the concept that babies babbling is just non sense. I think that babies do engage in their own little "language". Our textbook A huge reason why I think this is because of a youtube video of babbling twin babies engaging in their own conversation in their personalized "baby speak". I think its phenomenal! And quite adorable!

(click to view)

I think that these babies are engaging in a conversation that we can't interpret because we don't know what they are really thinking. The conversation may be silly, but it's a conversation between babies nonetheless. I think any a baby makes a babbling sound, that they are trying to communicate something with us. Whether it be something relevant or not. It's simply the only means of language that they can really communicate with others at this point! If they are babbling, they are thinking, and if they are thinking, they probably have something good to say :)

Although, I do disagree with the fact that babbling is nonsense, I do agree that it contributes largely to a child's native language development and their vocalization skills as well. I thought it was extremely interesting that as they develop their vocal skills on their own, that they are also tuning their ears. Learning any type of language requires a fine tuning of the ear to adapt to new sounds, and deciding on what is a relevant sound. This is what most babies do for a lengthy period of their toddler years.
The learning process that babies engage in is amazing to me, because it's hard for myself to learn spanish over the course of 4 years, even being around it all the time and a baby can pick up on the concepts of their native languages and phonemes so quickly!
A baby's mind is never meaningless! :)

Goldfield Syndrome?

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In 50 first dates one of the main characters, Lucy Whitmore, suffers from a fictional disease called Goldfield Syndrome, which is short term amnesia. Every time she goes to sleep her memory for that day is wiped clean. When Lucy meets Adam Sandler's character, Henry Roth, he asks for a date. It's not until after Henry talks to Lucy for a while that Henry learns about her condition and all that goes into helping Lucy.

To see what Lucy's family goes through day after day wouldn't be too easy to do. Her family sets out a news paper of that day and pretends it's Lucy's fathers birthday every day. The constant support they give Lucy is inspiring, hoping someday she'll remember. But at the same time they are implanting a false memory in her. Hiding the truth from Lucy is hiding the real world from her.

Several times they try to explain to Lucy her disease and each time she doesn't handle it well. To make it worse she'll learn of her mother's death which devastates her more each time she learns the truth. But how could in not, learning that years of your life have gone by and you can't even remember any part of it. That would take a toll on anyone.

Towards the end of the movie we see signs of Lucy getting better; she watches a video everyday and writes in her diary. She learns more and more about herself each day because of these constant reminders. Any eventually several years later her Goldfield Syndrome disappears and her memory clicks and she remembers everything when she is on a boat with her father, Henry and their child. It could have been triggered by the sight of her father, husband and child after being around them so long.


Myth of Memory

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Everything we experience on a day to day basis is believed by many to be recorded in our brain and we aren't able to remember some of these events because we can't relocate them in our brain. This is most likely a myth. It says in the textbook that we don't "encode" most daily events. In the textbook they did a study involving a picture of six different pennies while only one was a correct picture of a penny. Less than half of the 203 Americans in the study picked the wrong penny. We see pennies all the time yet we cant remember what they specifically look like. Our brains take short cuts. They don't need to remember what specific details are located where on a penny and so they don't. We remember or recognize pennies from the characteristics like color shape size Abraham Lincoln and the Lincoln memorial. The minor details are left out of our encoding system.

And here I thought my memory was great...

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The concept of false memories from the Lilienfield text blew me away. I was excited that it was the topic of our discussion section last week. The memory illusion activity made me disappointed that I was unable to control myself even though I knew that the likely outcome was for me to add the word that wasn't in the list.

When false memories are implanted in someone, the event must be plausible so that it can fit in nicely with events in which we know have happened because if it were an outrageous event the subject would know that it did not happen. However, people are likely to believe in planted false memories if the event is something that seems like it could have been possible even though it was not.

I had an experience with my mom planting a false memory in me. Oddly enough, she still believes it. But that is a whole other subject. She asked me if I remember when my grandparents took me up to Newfoundland, Canada to visit my relatives. I did not remember and she told me that I was very young and she missed me terribly. Years later I spoke to my dad and my grandmother about it after my grandfather passed away because I was going to say something about it in my eulogy at the funeral. My dad proceeded to tell me that I never went with them to Canada. It was a little unsettling but not life-changing since I knew that sometimes my mom creates her own memories based on things that were a possibility. Apparently, they were going to take me up there but she was too upset by the fact and so I never got to go. Today, in order to cope with my mom's stories I just don't take her reminiscent stories to heart since many of them are false memories that she has planted in herself.

A game of Charades

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As a future speech pathologist, learning sign language has been an amazing part of my education. I volunteer at Fraser school of special needs and have been able to use my signing skills every single day I'm there. I found it interesting in the book that the author was so opinionated that sign language is not anything like charades or acting. In my opinion, a lot of sign language does have to do with acting out and playing charades. For example, when telling a story in sign, it is important that the story teller acts things out very clearly. In order to switch points of view in a story, the signer has to switch body positioning to signify a different person in the story. Facial expressions are also one of the most important parts of sign language. Most of the grammar in sign language comes from facial expressions, especially when asking WH- questions (who, what, where, when, why) and yes/no questions. Not being an actress myself, I found myself struggling with these facial expressions because it feels silly. Even some signs are like charades. Take fishing for example: http://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/FISHING. This link shows how much the sign for fishing is just like charades. Another sign that is "charade-like" is to drink. Here is the link for the sign "drink": http://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/DRINK/119/1. There are SO many more signs that like fishing and drink. I am left wondering why the author said that the fact that people think sign language is gesturing or like charades is so wrong. I believe that sign language is so effective for children, even if they are not deaf, just to acquire language skills. Part of the reason I believe it is so effective is because of how visual it is and how some of the words go along with the action in real life. I suppose I will have to be in disagreement with the author on this one.


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The subject of memory from this section of the course is of particular interest to me. My late grandmother, Jean, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a decade ago and passes away a few years ago. I was old enough during her disease that I could understand the aspects of the disease and new what was going on scientifically in her physical body as well as perceive what she was experiencing emotionally. Professor Randy Fletcher discussed the concept of memory in the previous lectures. He described three different phases of memory: sensory, short-term, and long-term. Looking back on the experiences I've had with my grandmother when she was siick, I can now understand which of these types of memory she was most commonly retaining and which she was more susceptible to lose.

Since sensory memory storage is relatively short: sustenance of information available just long enough to be transferred to short-term memory. It can also be thought of as functional memory: information used to perform tasks. My grandmother was entirely able to pick up on sensory information and could hold on to it long enough to react to it. However, she was unable to retain this sensory information long enough to be able to transfer it to a short-term memory. For example, she was perfectly able to get herself something to drink and set it on the table, but within a few minutes, she would be completely unaware of which glass on that table was hers and would pick up another person's drink. On the other hand, she exhibited a strong hold on her long-term memory storage. Something she experienced a lot that I noticed was she would bring up an event from her younger years when she was a 20-something newlywed and think it was the present. I understood this enough to know that she had brought up stored information from her long-term memory that she conjured from a form of sensory information.


I want to share this clip from The Simpson's television show because it touches on one or more of the metaphors of memory discussed by Professor Fletcher. In this episode, Homer thinks he is "slow" and refuses to take an adult education course because he thinks that every time he learns something new something else gets "pushed" out of his brain. Current neurological and psychological science now tells us that this idea is virtually untrue, but this idea relates to Plato's metaphor of a "cage full of birds" where maybe the cage is too full for Homer and every time he wants to add more information (or an additional bird) some information (or another bird) needs to physically leave his brain.

Belief Perseverance in writing this blog

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So I originally wanted to write about classical conditioning because I had this perfect example of positive reinforcement from FRIENDS. When we discussed the concept of Conditioned Stimulus and Unconditioned stimulus I immediately thought of an episode in which Chandler discovers why he becomes "excited" every time he brushes his teeth. The premise behind this scene is that Monica will only sleep with Chandler if he brushes his teeth. So, the UCS=Sleeping with Monica, the UCR=Excitement, the CS=Brushing his teeth, the CR=Excitement. I thought this would be a very fun topic to write about and I really wanted to find the scene on Youtube to show my example. Well, after searching for over 3 hours (yes, I am serious; I started this blog at 6:00pm) I realized I proved another psychological concept in the process.
I proved that belief perseverance, an aspect of confirmation bias, is prevalent in every day situations. Belief perseverance is the refusal to stop believing in something even though all the evidence suggests otherwise. Well, after reading the synopsis of every episode from season 5-10 (my girlfriend owns every season and somehow we were able to narrow it down to those), I continued my search on Google trying every possible combination of Monica+Chandler+Teeth+conditioning, and watching highlight reels on Youtube. I have still not found it, and until I sit down and re-watch all the episodes I probably never will. The funny thing is, during my search I did find a perfect example of operant conditioning in The Big Bang Theory (which I'll include since I have nothing else). After finding this perfect example, I sat down to write my topic on operant conditioning instead and after about 15 minutes I erased it all and went back to searching for FRIENDS determined to find the example even though my 3 hours spent previous suggested I probably wouldn't. If anyone else out there is a FRIENDS fan, I hope you know what scene I am talking about and will be able to point me in the right direction. Otherwise, I know what I'm doing next weekend.

Although it's not what I wanted, I still found it entertaining:


Don't Even Mention Avocados!

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This past June, I went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant and brought home leftovers. I decided to eat them later with an avocado that I had previously bought from the store. Avocado, at this point, was one of my favorite foods, because it reminded me of Honduras. Well later on that night, I got very ill. From that point forward, I have not been able to touch avocado. This, I recently found out, was me developing a conditioned taste aversion. Conditioned taste aversions are interesting, because they break many rules of classical conditioning. There does not need to be repeated pairings of the CS and UCS, there is quite a delay between the two and they are very specific in that they display very little evidence of stimulus generalization. All of these differences, though, are necessary. They are part of adaptation and help to keep us safe from potentially dangerous food. The thing that confused me was how do I know it was that the avocado did it? I also ate a few other things from the restaurant, but the blame, for some reason, went to the avocado. Maybe it is because I picked it out and it is much easier to blame myself than a restaurant I really like or maybe it is due to the very distinct taste the avocado has. To me, it is very interesting how much disgust conditioned taste aversions can make one have. Just writing this I am feeling nauseous and ill. But does it really go on forever? Do I have to avoid my favorite dip for the rest of my life for one bad time? How does one get past a conditioned taste aversion? I tried once, and I felt sick for the rest of the day. And does it work the other way too? Can one develop a liking for a food over time through conditioning? Because I have a lot of problem with tamales and it seems the more I TRY to eat them, the stronger the aversion I have towards them. How come when we tell our brain that the food is okay, it still reacts so badly? I guess, in the end, all I want is my avocado back. avocado.jpg

Classical Conditioning-Used For Good?

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Classical conditioning is a very important topic in psychology and our everyday lives; you witness some form of it everyday, whether you are watching TV and a commercial comes on or you are driving down the highway and observe a billboard. It has several aspects that contribute to its effectiveness: the conditioned stimulus and response, and the unconditioned stimulus and response. Mainly, its overall goal is to produce a sense of desire, or even sometimes disgust.


This video showcases an example of this conditioning in a public service announcement geared towards smokers. This is from Australia and obviously has the very clear goal of trying to get their citizens to quit smoking due to the large risk of mouth cancer. As a result, here are the corresponding aspects when discussing this particular advertisement:
CS-Stop Smoking
UCS-Mouth Cancer
UCR-Feeling of Disgust
CR-Desire to Stop Smoking.

Here is one of the reasons why classical conditioning is so important: it can get people to stop and think about their actions or ways of life, and see what should either be changed or added to it. I wish I could show this to some of my relatives because they do not seem to understand the risks smoking presents into their lives. I hope that classical conditioning will continue to be used to do some good in people's lives as opposed to mindlessly trying to sell a product.

Operant Conditioning on more than just lab animals

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Above is a picture of my brother, James Michael Allen Jr. He was diagnosed with Autism at age three in 1997, but my mom swears she knew from the womb. With nonexistent speech, abnormal toy play, rejection of adults, and key behavioral traits, my brother fit the stereotype of a severely-Autistic child. Autism, a spectral disease, has quite the range of severities. Having an Autistic brother within fourteen months of age sparked my interest to watch the Behavioral Treatment of Autism video provided by Psych1001 (not able to link, but is found on the Psy1001 Webvista page).
The Young Autism Project, starting in 1970, formed an experiment on Autistic children to measure the outcomes of consistent therapy, starting at a young age. Two groups: Experimental and Control, were used to validate the experiment and provide accurate means to conclude on whether or not Autism could be cured through Operant Conditioning. This conditioning employed the idea of praise and using positive and negative reinforcers to influence progressive learning and regressing tantrums. Results from the experiment are as follows:

Experimental Group

Control Group

9 indistinguishable/Normal

0 indistinguishable/Normal

2 "retarded"
11 "retarded"

8 language delayed
8 language delayed

This experimental study was especially interesting to me due to the fact that I, myself, have a now-seventeen year old brother who has severe Autism. The study was remarkable to me with the extent of amazing results. The study also saddened me, due to the fact that my brother never underwent any intensive therapy sessions, and has therefore not progressed in the amount of many of these experimental group children. Through my own family's experimental means, we have succeeded in having my brother potty-trained, able to use key vocabulary to express needs, and have dramatically lowered the number of temper tantrums. However, this study should be more looked into and spread throughout the country. Recent numbers show that as many as one in 80 children are diagnosed with having an ASD (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html). This wave throughout the world and throughout the United States should motivate schools and universities to provide this extensive therapy to Autistic children everywhere.


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On Wednesday we talked about memory in discussion. This is a very interesting topic to me because I have experienced a false memory. When I was younger, I would go up to Duluth every other weekend to spend time with my grand parents. One time I went to a party with my grandma and grandpa and my mom told me that I danced with my grandpa. She told me i stood on his feet and twirled me around. I did not remember right away but I remember how he looked when I was younger and I created the memory in my head. If she would have never talked to me about it I would never have thought about being in Duluth dancing with him. There is a book titled "The Science of False Memory". I was researching this topic and this was the first thing that came up. In the background section of the book it talks about a preschool teacher that was convicted of 115 sexual abuse counts on 20 students. It wasn't until later on in the trials that they found that false memory could have been the problem. When one student imagines something and then talks to other students, they will start to imagine things themselves that may not have actually happened.

Brainerd, Charles J., and Valerie F. Reyna. The Science of False Memory. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

Suggestive memories technique- positive

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Have you ever lie in order to make some one feel better? As bad as it sounds I did and I am pretty positive that most of us done it as well. For Americans it's not even considered a lie to complement someone just to make them feel better like "you always look good" or "good job". The coaches do it all the time to boost confidence in athletes "you are the best, you can do it, you were born to win". Amazingly enough all of this lies makes us feel better, makes us perform better and most of the time improve our self confidence. So, to lie is not always a bad thing.
There are also many other ways to boost our self confidence. We often recall the moments of success or victory in the passed, over and over again. This feeling give us a confidence that if we've done it in the passed we will can do it again.So it's like we building chances for our next victory by recalling our passed victories. Because more games I win in the passed more confident I get or more tests I succeed in the past more calm or confident I will be on my next one.
Well, what if we use suggestive memory technics to create a good memories to boost self confidence. I am not sure exactly how, but from reading on "Implanting Memories in the Lab" I assume that if we can create negative memories then we must be able to create positive memories too. Using power of suggestion of events of victory or happy moment. By adding positive memories to someone who can benefit from it , we can possible change the direction of many mental problems.
P.S. I also want to highlight the array of ethical issues will arise from this technic but that's the theme of another blog.

Entry 3 ... sleepy time!

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So reading the textbook's chapter on sleep has been very interesting for me, especially the part about sleep paralysis - someone I'm living with right now has this condition. I've been tempted to ask him if he thinks that he's been abducted by aliens, because the books mentions that many patients suffering from this condition believe this, and because I think it would be an excellent conversation starter! Anyways, I have always been interested in the topic of sleep because like so many others, I rarely feel rested when I wake, or throughout the day. I've been trying to reset my sleep schedule on and off to something that would work better for me. I've had little to no success for two reason: 1) I live with a bunch of night owls and 2) classes don't start 'til 11 for me, so I have no motivation to get out bed before 9am. Unfortunately all of this often means I miss I'm barely awake for my favorite part of the day, noon! (And I have classes over that time, which puts a damper on that too). One of the things that I've done to try and coax me out of bed when my alarm actually goes off is to have that alarm be music that I really like, or even music just for waking up. This worked for years for me throughout high school and into my freshman year of college, but now that I don't absolutely have to get out of bed, music doesn't cut it. I will even return to my bed once I've made and had my breakfast! What's wrong with me? I plan on taking the earliest classes available to me next semester. One thing that the textbook mentioned was that psychotherapy often worked better than any sort of sleeping drug. I've done things like this before, where I keep a journal just before I go to bed, and it's helped me get to sleep and sleep really well, but under conditions much less stressful than school. I used to right things like, "hey I'm going to go running in the morning! Yay!" Now that school is in full bloom it's more like, "so-and-so is a jerk. I have a test tomorrow, and I don't have a boyfriend. ☹". So I don't' know how useful that would actually be. Any suggestions teach?



Memory is a very complex and strange feature that organisms have. We may not know everything about it, but we do know that is extremely important. If we didn't have memory, our whole lives would be different. I can't imagine how difficult, and bad life would be if I didn't have memory. I get frustrated when I can't remember certain events in the past, or even just what I did a few hours ago. Imagine not remembering anything? Of course there are some cases where people can remember everything, and even that has its negatives. In lecture we watched the video on the man who had his long term memory, but not his short. In the book we read about the woman who could remember everything in her life. The latter is not nearly as bad, but it still has its negatives. Imagine if you could remember every single thing, and a traumatic event happened to you in your past? Depending on what that event was, you might want to try and forget it and move on with your life. She would not be able to do that, and that could torment her for the rest of her life. I looked around on the internet and I couldn't really find any successful methods to cure something like memory loss. I still want to know what kinds of methods they are trying to stop memory loss, or what methods are already available. It would be a remarkable breakthrough if they could find a successful method. People who have been living in the dark would finally be able to get some light, and people would not have to worry about forgetting their lives.

Twins' secret language?

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This is a video of cute twins:

Last summer, my friend showed this video to me and it captured my eyes. I watched this video over and over, not only because they are super cute but also because this video is pretty interesting. It seems like twins are talking in their own language. They are laughing, making cute and funny gestures, and having conversation. They seem like they are understanding and communicating each other with few words. After I watched this video, I thought twins have a special bond between two people, so they can create the special way to communicate in their own way.

According to the text book, twins are not developing their own language but are instead displaying very similar sounding speech production disorders. But in the video above, twins are communicating only with few words such as "da da da."-What I guessed was that words, "da da da", have the morpheme- Their language-if we can count it as language-also have the accent. It can not be explained all only through the explanation about phoneme and phonological errors. Even though the text book is telling that the truth is that twins are understanding each other better with their phonological errors, because they make similar kinds of phonological errors.

No one knows what twins talking about in this video. We don't even know that they were actually communicating. People only can guess. People are making translation of twins' conversation which is very interesting. I still am curious about the secret languages for twins.

Biligualism: Got Mi?

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gotmi.jpg A Hmong milk ad. Mi is pronounced as Me in English. Mi means milk.

I can speak, read, and write in Hmong and English fluently. I am now a mother and now I am currently making an important decision in my life about what language should be his first language. I understand that my husband and I originated from a Hmong culture but to me it seems like our generation now days don't even speak Hmong to each other. Most kids these days don't even know how to count from one through ten. They don't even know how to say zero in Hmong. If Hmong is being used less and less in the future generation then what's the point of teaching my son Hmong right?

Having the ability to speak and comprehend two languages is difficult growing up for me. I remember growing up, I would get picked on because I couldn't speak English properly. It lowered my self-esteem and I felt stupid even though I knew that I was a smart kid for my age. I remember how I hated to read out loud because I took so long pronouncing words. I also hated English class because it was hard for me to write complete sentences in present, future, or past tense. To this day I still have a problem with writing in English.

Typically, the first language learned is the one that is heard most often as a child. Children exposed to two languages typically learn their first language at home and then learn their second language going to school. Children learning two languages develop their language skills similar to stages that monolingual children go through as well. Bilingual children tend to develop some delay in each languages relative to monolingual children. Vocabulary development in bilingual children is usually not impaired. However, understanding the syntax is more affected when it comes to being bilingual.

I speak both English and Hmong to him. I'm just afraid that he might struggle with school. I don't want him to go through what I went through. If it wasn't for spell check, I don't know how I would have ever survive being in high school and college this far.

Despite claims that states that bilingual children develop cognitively slower, the delay only occurs in the development of language.

My 4 month old son being playful in the morning.

Last week, I took my 4 month old son for his 4 month check up. His doctor saw that he was developing faster mentally and physically than an average 4 month old. He is able to hold his own bottle when he eats and he's able to already sit by himself without having my husband and I support him. She was so amazed. My doctor asked if I was speaking both language to him and I told her that I was. She encourage me to keep on doing it because it might be the reason why he's so smart for his age. She also explained that being exposed to two languages requires him to use his brain more. Knowing that has encourage me everyday to speak to him in both English and Hmong.

Not only can bilingual individuals converse in two language communities rather than one, but the process of figuring out how two languages works gives bilingual people an ability called metalinguistic insight, awareness of how language is structured and used. This is very true for me because I can pick up and learn other languages easily. It came to me naturally. I picked up French and Spanish in High School and Korean and Japanese in college easily. I could relate to remembering and structuring words and sentences in different languages with the help of having Hmong and English as my foundation. For example would be when you say I love you in french which is Je t'aime, direct translation in English would be I you love. French sentence structure is similar to Korean where the verb occurs at the end. 당신을 사랑합니다 (dangshin uhl saranghabnida) which is I love you in Korean. Dangshin uhl means you and saranghabnida means love, again here the verb occurs at the end.

You could say that I'm technically more multilingual than bilingual. :) I would love to teach him all the languages that I know but I think right now I am only going to focus on teaching him both Hmong and English. I understand that there might be some ups and down on teaching him both languages but in the long run, he's Hmong and he has to be able to speak it or at least count in Hmong so that in the future he could ask a Hmong girl for her number. :)


Biligualism: Got Mi?

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gotmi.jpg A Hmong milk ad. Mi is pronounced as Me in English. Mi means milk.

I can speak, read, and write in Hmong and English fluently. I am now a mother and now I am currently making an important decision in my life about what language should be his first language. I understand that my husband and I originated from a Hmong culture but to me it seems like our generation now days don't even speak Hmong to each other. Most kids these days don't even know how to count from one through ten. They don't even know how to say zero in Hmong. If Hmong is being used less and less in the future generation then what's the point of teaching my son Hmong right?

Having the ability to speak and comprehend two languages is difficult growing up for me. I remember growing up, I would get picked on because I couldn't speak English properly. It lowered my self-esteem and I felt stupid even though I knew that I was a smart kid for my age. I remember how I hated to read out loud because I took so long pronouncing words. I also hated English class because it was hard for me to write complete sentences in present, future, or past tense. To this day I still have a problem with writing in English.

Typically, the first language learned is the one that is heard most often as a child. Children exposed to two languages typically learn their first language at home and then learn their second language going to school. Children learning two languages develop their language skills similar to stages that monolingual children go through as well. Bilingual children tend to develop some delay in each languages relative to monolingual children. Vocabulary development in bilingual children is usually not impaired. However, understanding the syntax is more affected when it comes to being bilingual.

I speak both English and Hmong to him. I'm just afraid that he might struggle with school. I don't want him to go through what I went through. If it wasn't for spell check, I don't know how I would have ever survive being in high school and college this far.

Despite claims that states that bilingual children develop cognitively slower, the delay only occurs in the development of language.

My 4 month old son being playful in the morning.

Last week, I took my 4 month old son for his 4 month check up. His doctor saw that he was developing faster mentally and physically than an average 4 month old. He is able to hold his own bottle when he eats and he's able to already sit by himself without having my husband and I support him. She was so amazed. My doctor asked if I was speaking both language to him and I told her that I was. She encourage me to keep on doing it because it might be the reason why he's so smart for his age. She also explained that being exposed to two languages requires him to use his brain more. Knowing that has encourage me everyday to speak to him in both English and Hmong.

Not only can bilingual individuals converse in two language communities rather than one, but the process of figuring out how two languages works gives bilingual people an ability called metalinguistic insight, awareness of how language is structured and used. This is very true for me because I can pick up and learn other languages easily. It came to me naturally. I picked up French and Spanish in High School and Korean and Japanese in college easily. I could relate to remembering and structuring words and sentences in different languages with the help of having Hmong and English as my foundation. For example would be when you say I love you in french which is Je t'aime, direct translation in English would be I you love. French sentence structure is similar to Korean where the verb occurs at the end. 당신을 사랑합니다 (dangshin uhl saranghabnida) which is I love you in Korean. Dangshin uhl means you and saranghabnida means love, again here the verb occurs at the end.

You could say that I'm technically more multilingual than bilingual. :) I would love to teach him all the languages that I know but I think right now I am only going to focus on teaching him both Hmong and English. I understand that there might be some ups and down on teaching him both languages but in the long run, he's Hmong and he has to be able to speak it or at least count in Hmong so that in the future he could ask a Hmong girl for her number. :)


Classical Conditioning in Everyday Life


I was able to apply the concept of classical conditioning to experiences in my own life. After reading about the steps of classical conditioning I started to recognize how important classical conditioning is in everyday life, because it's everywhere. The concept of classical conditioning involves conditioning animals to respond a certain way to a stimulus that was previously unlinked to the response. After reading about it I was able to recognize it in a very simplistic example. I feed my fish every day when I wake up, so relatively around the same time every day. After learning about classical conditioning I noticed that when I open the lid of the tank my fish comes to the surface before I even feed him. He has been conditioned to expect food to come when the lid is opened and he responds by swimming to the surface. I have also begun to notice in almost every advertisement some form of classical conditioning. This includes pairing products with attractive women, showing a product being used in a high intensity action setting, or just with anything that is usually associated with something that is supposed to make the viewer happy. This is an attempt to associate the viewers good and happy feelings with the manufacturers product. This is evident in many settings whether it be Alex Ovechkin using a certain hockey stick, a group of people enjoying Miller Lite at a party, or showing Jessica Alba drink a Coca Cola, classical conditioning is present in most of the advertisements we see.

50, first dates?


50 first dates is one of my favorite drew barrymore/adam sandler movies! I never really thought that I would be able to learn from it but alas I was wrong 50 first dates is not just a fun romantic comedy to watch it's also something that people can use to try and understand short term memory loss.

When Lucy gets into a car accident and loses her short term memory she has to deal with the fact that her "slate gets wiped cleaned every night when she sleeps" according to the barista at the cafe that she goes to everyday, at 6:15 in the following clip.

For her family to do what they do for her like making it her father' birthday everyday or taping the vikings/packers game or washing her clothes everynight. I know i would not be able to do all of that stuff.

Short term memory loss is difficult more so for the family of the person who lost their memory because they have to pretty much live the same day or something like that to make sure everything doesn't get messed up. I can't imagine how difficult it would be for the family, even though Lucy doesn't remember what her family does for her everyday, example at 4:10 in the next clip

when she finds out she doesn't believe it, it must be so difficult to hear that she has memory loss and doesn't remember that. She has to ask so many questions when she finds out and apparently it's not the first time. It's pretty much this entire clip that she finds out. Before this clip she freaked out because she woke up next to adam sandler's character and didn't remember who he was and how come he was in her bed. That would freak me out too.

Lucy still has all her memories of before the accident because that is another part of the brain, it is just that her short term memory area was the part that was damaged so her brain can't put the memories from that days event and convert them into long term memories. It is a sad story with her life but adam sandler's character was able to find out a way to get past all the memory problems by making her a video that she watches every morning when she wakes up to try and fill her in with everything that had happened since the accident. That is commitment if i every heard/saw it right there! I love this movie and now that I have actually been able to learn things from it I love it even more!

Is Punishment A Good Technique for Child Upbringing?

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Operant conditioning is a very important form of psychological learning that can modify a person's behavior. One very important aspect of operant conditioning is punishment where the likelihood of a behavior is decreased. There are two types of punishment, positive (something is added to increase a desired response) and negative (something is taken away to increase a desired response).

In my childhood I can remember getting grounded or getting my prized possessions taken away. I knew that if I did something bad that a punishment was coming. After behaving badly or doing something unfavorable I would freak out at the thought of not being able to talk on the phone, use the computer, or even watch TV. But for some strange reason I always seemed to get myself into situations where my parents felt that I needed some sort of punishment.

Is negative/positive punishment a bad technique to use on children? I like many people my age hope to get married and have children one day. What techniques would be best for a child upbringing? I think we must really understand the difference between the two before we can apply it to our everyday lives. The biggest question we can ask ourselves is if punishment whether it be positive or negative worth it. I would say that positive punishment is worth it and would bring a more favorable outcome then negative punishment. Now we can always use our scientific principles to figure out which one is best for raising our children but that decision is solely up to the parents.

Here is short Youtube clip of negative punishment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv2qKhzgu2w

Is reinforcement better than punishment?

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Is punishment acceptable? It's been a question I've heard people debate about for years. Most people assume punishment means physical punishment, but that is not always the case. Punishment is any outcome or consequence of a behavior that weakens the probability of the behavior (Lilienfeld, 2010). The debate about punishment continues on and it seems that reinforcement may be the better option.
I was never punished physically, but I would get toys taken away if I misbehaved or wouldn't be allowed to do things if I did something bad. These were forms of punishment, but they did not always work out as well as my teachers or parents had planned. Instead I would be careful about when I did something to make sure I did not get caught. This example is one of the four disadvantages of punishment recognized by Skinner and other psychologists.
For many kids I know and me reinforcement was a better solution than punishment. Reinforcement encourages good habits rather than just discouraging bad ones. I would be more likely to behave well in church if I knew I was going to get a treat afterwards than if I knew they would take away one of my toys if I misbehaved. Although reinforcement seems to work better than punishment it is important for parents to reinforce their kids appropriately because reinforcement can cause kids to act out more if they are positively reinforced for a negative behavior as in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxdtMVww2q0&feature=player_detailpage

Why you should study

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According to past lectures professors have touched on the fact that to retain memory in the long term, there are various steps and procedures that must be done. The four main actions are: attention, rehearsal, encoding, and retrieval. The article provided below reports that when studying for a test the student should study "for recall rather than recognition." Even though tests may be all multiple choice students should not study for recognition because professors provide options that look or sound similar to the correct answer. How can this be prevented? Recall. http://psychology.kenyon.edu/shpungin/102/Tips.htm
This article does provide insight on how to take a psychology exam, so it is convenient that an exam is coming up. Memory and learning work off of each other and that is why I decided to tie these two topics together. After reviewing the study guide provided, the "Three-Stage Model" came up. This made me aware of the fact that just reading something over one time does not mean I am studying or retaining that information. In order to recall new information it needs to be "encoded". What does this mean? We need to analyze each concept and understand how it is related to other concepts and ideas. This will help to keep that information in long-term memory.
I have always known that studying for an exam is more than just reading, but this has given me new insight (pun intended). However, to retain memory in the short term 15 to 20 seconds are needed, so how much is needed to retain something in the long-term? If everyone learns at different speeds should other people be given more time to study?

Thanks Mom for your Constant Nagging.

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While reading chapter eight from the textbook I came across the story of a girl named Genie. According to the textbook, Genie had been "chained to a potty seat in a back bedroom for much of the first 13 years of her life and deprived almost entirely of social interaction or language input" (Lilienfeld 294, Curtiss 1977).

Because Genie had not been exposed to language, upon her rescue she had a difficult time communicating with others. Genie was not fluent in any language.

After reading about Genie my immediate response was: Thanks mom for your constant nagging (hence the title). I reflected on how when I was younger it seemed like all my mom ever did was nag at me. She would constantly ask me questions about school and ask favors of me, and I couldn't stand it, but at least she was talking to me. Even if I didn't always like the things that my mother said to me at least she was helping me develop language skills. For every question she asked me I of course had a response. Had my mother never talked to me then where and when would I have gotten my language skills? Having to wait until starting school would have been terrible. Have you ever been in a kindergarten classroom? Those kids can talk up a storm, therefore being a five year old who can hardly speak would have been awful.

What Influences Your Decision?

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The way a question or statement is worded can influence your decision. Framing is used frequently in the media and advertisements. Before reading about framing in the textbook, I didn't think much about how framing a statement can influence your thinking and decision making. Now I realize that framing is common in magazine ads, commercials, on product packaging, and throughout the media.

pop tart.jpg

Advertisers know the importance of framing. They know that the words "less sugar" or "low fat" are more appealing to consumers. The advertisement for pop-tarts includes the phrase "less sugar," rather than framing it as "12g of sugar per pastry." I know that framing in advertisements influences my decision to buy the product. At the grocery store, I may pick the "improved" product or the one with "less sodium," often without comparing the nutrition label to other brands, because I think that the product must be better.

In the media, political issues are often framed. The textbook gives an example that many people would agree to a question about supporting an initiative to provide health care to 95% of Americans, but if the question was framed a different way it would include failure to cover over 15 million Americans, which many people, including myself, would find unfavorable. The media can influence the public's opinion on an issue by drawing attention to features of an issue, and ignoring other aspects of the issue. The wording "global warming" versus "climate change" can influence people's opinions, even though they refer to the same issue. It is important for viewers to recognize what aspects of an issue the media is considering so they can decide for themselves what their viewpoint is on the issue.

In my public speaking class, I learned that the words try, not, and don't should be avoided in speeches. The professor said that good publicists need to consider how to frame a statement. For example, if there are rumors of a public figure cheating, the person should not go on television and say "I did not have sexual relations with this person" because the words the public will focus on are sexual relations. Instead, they should say "I am in a monogamous relationship with my wife." I have learned that framing can definitely affect peoples' interpretations and decisions, including my own.

Dove Image: http://www.stanford.edu/class/linguist34/Unit_15/framing.htm
Pop-Tarts Image: http://fedupwithlunch.com/2010/08/ad-critique-pop-tarts/
Nutrition Facts: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition-facts-calories/kellogs-ice-cream-shoppe-pop-tarts
Article: It's All in a Name: 'Global Warming' Vs. 'Climate Change' http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110308173242.htm
Textbook: Lilienfeld S, Namy L, Woolf N. 2011. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding.
Video on media framing: Zoe Oxley on Media Framing (complete interview) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AnxW7k6-38
Video with more information on framing: How Framing Changes your Decisions http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ng9V2JneJ68

Boxed In

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Every single time I write a blog for Psychology, I always seem to have a shortage of enthralling ideas. Though there are copious amounts of concepts that we have learned about that have applied at some point in my life, these experiences never surface in my mind. As a result, the planning process consumes much more time than the entire writing process. And I'll be honest, that becomes cumbersome. My first instinct is to look back at the topic we had in discussion. Next, I look at the blog dashboard for insight - titles that may lead to an epitome, experiences of others that I may relate to. I become boxed in.
This is classified as the problem solving obstacle of mental sets. Within this issue, one is unable to generate creative ideas due to their aptitude to think of the solutions that worked before. In my case, I was unable to think of any appealing ideas because they were all used at some point in time. For this week, my first ideas instantly derived from memory - the false memories that arise from suggestibility or their pliability. Of course this idea popped into my head first because we discussed the Imgram family and their false memories thoroughly this week. Throwing that aside, I referenced others' blog posts. There were ideas ranging from sleep to amnesia. Again, I noticed that by viewing others' successful blog posts, I was boxing myself in within this range of topics. All I would think of would be within this range of topics because these people referenced it and they were able to create a blog post out of it: they had a successful means to an end. That is the outcome I am looking for so it is hard to break from that mold. Fortunately, I did.


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What is the true meaning of a dream? Are our dreams meant to be something to be taken lightly or are they something to be thought of seriously? Dreams can mean all kinds of things and often times the meaning of a dream is not quite what you would expect. According to Frued, dreams are expressions of unconscious themes that are a large influence a person's life. Many times they are a symbolic significance to a situation the person is going through in real life. There can be both observable and hidden content in people's dreams. Different representations of a person's life situations can be portrayed in a dream in either of these ways depending on how subconscious the real life situation is as well as upon how much the person wants to admit to the situation. For an example a fear or developed hatred towards a sibling or a family member may be represented in a dream in a hidden form because it is a problem that the person does not want to admit to themselves. While something a person does everyday such as taking their beloved dog for a walk would be observable content. The reason that I began to consider the significance of dreams is because I have been having a reoccurring dream for many years of my house or the structure I was currently in being torn down by a huge storm. I still cannot fully understand the significance of this dream but it keeps coming back. This encouraged my blog topic for this week and here is an example of what my dream may be interpreted as according to dreammoods.com, Storm
To see a storm in your dream signifies some overwhelming struggle, shock, loss or catastrophe in your waking life. The storm also represents unexpressed fears or emotions, such as anger, rage, turmoil, etc. On a more positive note, the storm symbolizes your rising spirituality. I do not know how reputable this site is to be honest but it is the best I was able to find.

When Our Memories Fail Us

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When some people hear the term memory illusion, they often ponder how someone can be a victim of such a concept; I was one of those people. Memory illusion is the brain leading us astray and creating false but subjectively compelling memory. It allows for us to be fooled by our use of representativeness heuristics. It is important to learn about memory illusions because we must realize that sometimes our memories do fail on us. We need to realize that our brain is programmed to make sense of this world and that every once in a while, it may cause for false memories.
A real life example of memory illusions happened to me not too long ago. In discussion section, we were asked to listen to a series of words and then write down as many words as we could remember after the word recall. Before performing the experiment, I knew that we were testing to see if we would fall victim to memory illusion, so I figured my brain would save me from being fooled. After the experiment was over, I was able to realize how wrong I was about my hypothesis. I only had one section where I did not say the illusionary word. I was utterly shocked. Coming into the experiment feeling as if I was immune to memory illusions, my perception on the whole topic shifted from an highly unlikely to completely true happening.
One aspect I am still curious about regarding memory illusions is the relationship between how likely we are able to respond to memory illusions compared to how familiar we are with the topic. For instance, I fell for the memory illusion regarding the taste buds/sweets topic, but I did not fall for the needle category.

Photo Link: http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lbes64IPf01qeuci6o1_400.gif

Video Link providing further information on memory illusions...from a gorilla:

Ahhhhhhh... May You Give Me a Hint, Please?

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Don't you just hate when you're taking a "fill in the blank" portion of a test and just cannot seem to come up with the answer? Don't worry, me and everyone else has felt your pain before.
We all feel your pain of the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, sir.

What you're experiencing is the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, which is when you are unable to retrieve something (word, phrase, concept, etc.) from your memory even though you believe that you know it. This concept is important because it is unfortunately very relevant in everyone's daily lives, and because it is an interesting way of looking at memory storage in comparisons to memory retrieval. I can apply this phenomenon to my life many times, notably on tests or when talking to an attractive girl (just being honest).
Above shows a very unfortunate answer to an obvious question due to the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (especially if you live in New York City)

One example of this phenomenon is when a cute girl and I were talking after school. She happened to ask for my phone number, in which I could not quite retrieve from my memory even though I knew it. This was obviously an embarrassing and frustrating moment to say the least. No matter how hard I tried to retrieve the data, I still failed to remember my phone number. I have plenty more of examples, as I'm sure that you all have examples as well.
After reflecting on this concept, I still have more questions: how can you minimize this phenomenon? Can vitamins or more sleep decrease the phenomenon? Also, I am still wondering about what situations trigger the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, such as stress, anxiety, or happiness. Overall, even though this phenomenon is unfortunate to experience, it is fascinating to learn about it.

Photo links:


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The hoax that twins develop entirely fabricated secret languages that only they use and only they can understand has long been a source of fascination for many people. This is known as twin language, or cryptophasia. In most cases, however, what the twins are speaking is not an entirely new or separate language. It's actually a matter of delayed or poor speech development in either one twin or both.
Here's an example: My cousin Tim has difficulty communicating certain sounds and there in certain words. Although my cousins' twin brother Peter is better able to articulate these sounds and words, he chooses to mimic or repeat the manner in which Tim speaks. So, the two continue to talk this way, understanding what the other is saying but meanwhile it sounds like gibberish or some concocted language to me. Also, both of my parents are have a twin sibling and it seems that they can communicate to each other without letting the rest of us be aware.


One theory about this is that delayed speech in general is related to low birth weight and premature births. Statistics indicate that nearly 60 percent of twins are born premature. Reportedly, the length of pregnancy decreases with each additional baby. An average single-birth pregnancy lasts 39 weeks. For twins that number drops, on average, to 36 weeks. Other factors include restricted one-on-one communication time with parents and twins' ability for non-verbal communication skills. Sometimes twins have more one-on-one communication time with each other, rather than with a parent or guardian. So, it seems reasonable that they would continue to foster close communication with each other - even if it entails using incoherent modifications of real speech.
Research does indicate that the phenomenon most people think of as a secret twin language isn't what it seems, but that doesn't mean there aren't twins and other siblings out there making up their own private words or codes created from spending so much time with one another.

Lillenfeld Text

Infantile amnesia and the office

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I have always wondered why I had so much trouble remembering events early in my life. I always thought I could remember some things from before the age of three but these memories may have been from later in life or maybe seen in a family video. In this chapter I learned about Infantile amnesia. This is the concept of adults to being unable retrieve memories from an early age. Barely any people, if any, can remember events from before the age of three. I did not know this was an actually studied phenomenon, I thought maybe I just had a worse memory than most people. This leads me to the main point of this blog, remembering ones own birth. Even though I knew the idea of remembering your own birth is ridiculous I felt like maybe it was possible. Now I definitely believe that it is impossible but in one of my favorite clips of "The Office", Dwight Shrute seems to remember his own birth quite well. He is describing to Jim his favorite birthday and he describes his own birth. This is a very funny moment but it is not possible to remember ones birth due to infantile amnesia and the fact that the brain is not developed enough. Even though Dwight is probably the "smartest" in the office, he does not surpass these rules of development for humans. Is there any way to tell scientifically when a memory in the brain was formed? Has anyone been able to remember there own birth? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3P03B_rD5Y

Movies with Memory Disorders

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50firstdates11.jpg I love movies. When reading the chapter about memory, it got me to thinking about characters in movies. There have been many movies throughout the years that have displayed characters with many memory disorders or autism.

50 First Dates:
Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore): Lucy suffers from anterograde amnesia. This is when you lose the abilities to create new memories. Lucy looses her memory after a night. She does keep a journal so she can remember event that happen days prior.

Rain Man:
Ray Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman): Ray suffers from autism. Autism is a "disorder marked by serve deficits in language, social bonding, and imagination, usually accompanied by mental retardation." (Lilienfeld, G-1) Ray is an excellent driver. He has great abilities in accounting and memorization. He tends to remembers every detail he has ever seen. He also can predict statistics.

The Notebook:
Allie Calhoun (Gena Rowlands): Allie suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for this disease. Alzheimer's becomes worse as it progresses.In most case, it leads to death. In the Notebook, Noah (Allie's husband) reads to her everyday to try to get her to remember. Doctors say his theory will never work but on one night she remembers for a few minutes. After the night she remembers, the end up passing away together.

Video Clip from The Notebook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th0gZzAovn4&feature=related

Superior Autobiographical Memory

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Lillenfield's Chapter 7 on Memory describes Hyperthymestic Syndrome as a rare condition where people remember every detail about every day of their lives. I recently saw a segment on 60 minutes regarding the same topic which they call Superior Autobiographical Memory. I was completely fascinated at the time and would like share the second part of the two part segment. You'll see Leslie Stahl interviewing five of the 20 known subjects who have the condition as well as neurologists who describe their findings in their initial scans of the brain.

What I found particularly interesting is what the neurologist found in the MRI images. The scans were taken in order to examine possible correlations between their condition and what is happening inside their brain. They compared their MRI's to those of control subjects of matched ages and genders. The neurologist found that the temporal lobe, where we store new memories, to be significantly larger than the control subjects. Further, their caudate nucleus located within the basil ganglia, which we use for habit and skill learning, is also much bigger than in those of the control subjects.

The questions were posed by the neurologist, is it simply that the brain portions of the subjects with the rare condition larger than normal. Or, is it that the subjects are exercising those areas more than normal. How does genetics play a role? How does the neurotransmitter adrenaline fit? I wonder if anyone in their families shows similar traits. I also wonder about people who don't have superior autobiographical memory, but have memory recall ability that is clearly above average. We all know of people that wait until the last day to cram for a test and do extremely well and then the information never seems to leave them. Do they have a larger then normal temporal lobe and caudate nucleus? How does intelligence fit?

The phenomenon is a recent find and clearly requires more research. It will be exciting to see what more the neurologists will find and how they will answer these questions and more.

Ramen Noodle Soup No More

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I am a poor college student, but I haven't eaten ramen noodles since my junior year of high school. And why shouldn't I be eating ramen? It's cheap, fills me up easily, super easy and fast to make, and it's easy to find. After reading the Lilienfield text I made the connection that I have developed a conditioned taste aversion to ramen noodles. My one bad experience with them has turned me off from ever eating ramen again. It's been almost 3 years since my last bowl of ramen, a food I used to consume with regularity.

Martin Seligman and I share something in common. We both had a bad experience after eating a meal that caused us both to lose our love of a food which we were once quite fond of. In the 1970s Seligman discovered conditioned taste aversions after the sauce béarnaise made him quite sick. The Lilienfield text says, "classical conditioning can lead us to develop avoidance reactions to the taste of food" (229). The textbook notes at least 3 differences between conditioned taste aversions and the classically conditioning exemplified in Pavlov's experiments:
1. Conditioned taste aversions require just one trial pairing between the CS and the UCS to occur. I can attest to this because it only took one bad experience with ramen to keep my away from it forever. Before I vomited after eating the ramen noodles, all the other numerous times I ate ramen proved to be nothing but satisfying.
2. The delay between CS and UCS in conditioned taste aversions can be as long as 6-8 hours. This makes sense because it took a bit for the ramen noodles to (not) digest accordingly within my body. I ate the ramen noodles for an early dinner and didn't realize how little I enjoyed them until the middle of the night.
3. Conditioned taste aversions are incredibly specific and display little evidence of stimulus generalization. In my mind it's hard to get any more specific than ramen noodles. Because the only really bad experience I've had with food is with ramen noodles, ramen noodles and only ramen noodles are extremely unappetizing to me. To touch on the lack of stimulus generalization, I still greatly enjoyed chicken-flavored broth, soups, soups with noodles in them, and plain noodles. That being said, however, I will never eat another package of ramen noodles ever again.

My conditioned taste aversion is interesting because although it ruined a once tasty dish, it also reminds me of the "dangers" of ramen noodles. Granted they are not actually dangerous, but it's pretty neat that my body is aware enough to raise a red flag every time the possibility of eating ramen comes up. I just hope I don't fall prey to more bad experiences with foods I love!

Boyfriend False Memories/ Big Bang Theory

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I found the our recent lesson on false memory and planting them pretty interesting. I could not help but to laugh to myself and think I did that all the time. Well my experience may not be to the extent of the Ingram's family or people believing they met Bugs Bunny at Disney Land, it has been a big factor in my relationship.
The scenario would begin with me realizing that I forgot to tell my boyfriend to get something that I really needed or an important date to remember. To avoid being faulted, the conversation usually starts off "What happened to you getting me _____?" or "Make sure you're on time so we can be at ______ on time.". His response is usually "I don't remember you asking me for that." or 'What's going on today?" At this point, this is where I begin to switch the faults to him by having him believe he did not listen to me.
The fact that I talk a lot definitely does help me in this situation.My trick is t use a conversation that I know he remembers us having. So I am always quick to say something like, " Remember when we were sitting there talking about _________, and then after that we talked about _______, and you said ________, then we both laughed and then we started talking abut ________ and after that I told you, speaking of __________, we are going there this weekend, and you were like okay, and I said really wanted to go so that I can __________, and you you said okay okay so we're going________ this weekend. Now do you remember?". My plan is complete when he says, "Oh yeah you're right, my bad I forgot." That's not enough for me because I usually finish him off by saying "See you never listen to me, it's like talking to a brick wall.
Operation:Planting False Memories, Completed!!

I was watching The Big Bang Theory and it was funny seeing Sheldon use positive reinforcement to train Penny. It is positive because Penny is being giving something (chocolate) and not getting anything taken away. It is reinforcement because Penny's behavior is more likely to continue or increase in the future, and not punishment because it is not likely to change or decrease in the future.


(may need to copy and paste link, since I couldn't embed the video or make it a hyperlink)

Can an old dog really learn new tricks?

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Spike is his name and fetching rocks is his game. I have a golden lab back at home who is currently 8 years old, and he has always been an energetic and extremely friendly dog. At a young age I was always swimming in the lake that I lived on and Spike would join me almost every single time. I would always wrestle with him and play around while in the water. One day when swimming, I went over to Spike and playfully pushed his head underwater, it amazed me that he actually seemed to like it! While swimming he would occasionally start to dip his own head underwater as if he were just checking things out. I started to see this trend and then thought to myself, "well maybe he would retrieve things underwater too." So I began throwing sinkable dog toys in the lake in an attempt for him to retrieve them, at first he was hesitant but then finally he went for it. Spike would dive off the dock into the water and hold his breath for lengths of time up to 20 seconds, and after a few trials he was a pro! Next step was getting him to get back onto the dock without wasting the time of going all the way back to shore and up and around. So i started to bring him over to the ladder we had off the side of the dock and he began to use it as if he was a person. Since that summer, Spike has perfected the routine to a T. People who come to visit are amazed the first time they see him do this series of tricks that most other dogs wouldn't even attempt.
I didn't know it at the time I was actually using a shaping technique with Spike which was reinforcing his behavior. It was a slow and gradual process to get him to do the series of tricks that he now performs. I didn't realize that what I was doing was the exact same approach many professional animal trainers take when attempting to teach their animals new tricks as well. It has gotten to the point where Spike takes his own toys, throws them in and will dive under to retrieve them even when no one is around to reinforce his behavior. I found it extremely interesting that with a few repeated trials, he was able to learn these series of tricks in no time, and seems to love doing so. Diving for him has become second nature and it all started with one head dunk!spike.jpg

The Devil is in the Boots

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He who was dust, or so he thought; swept back by the terror of childhood abuse. His suppressed childhood memories were back and tore away at his mind. Jonathan Ulrike was his name, a drafted American soldier headed towards France.


The date was June 6th, 1944. World War II seemed omnipresent and compared to a dream figure, a spindle that does not stop for a second. Monotonous seemed to be applicable in the given situation, as each day his beloved friends ceased to exists right before his eyes.


This was hell on earth he thought, yet Jonathan assured himself he would be an outlier, a survivor who would return to nothing. Jonathon fought with all of his will, as he had no past and present. An early procedure to aide his seizures had gone wrong, and trying to recover unsuppressed memory within him seemed to degenerate the state of affairs, and John who had been abused and neglected as a child, a lab rat per se, was left with nothing. His mates called him fearless Johnny during combat training, as this poor soul who once suffered from seizures, now suffered from Amnesia. Unlike other cases, Johnny was at war and alone.

Ulrike had minimal recollection of the past and mostly present, yet he fought with all will. He fought for his country and his soldiers like a Spartan, fearless as can be, and as strong as an ox; he seemed to be always aware. Johnny was first battalion, and constantly promoted to higher ranking. Other soldiers and medical were unaware of his condition due to his ruthlessness, always avoiding needed medical assistance. Unlike others on this special date, Johnny came fresh off the boat ready to fight, only to see more soldiers killed by Nazi Germany on the beaches of France right in front of his eyes. He seemed empty and dull only for seconds before continuing on to take on the field. Gun in hand, he crept passed the first quarter mile and into the trenches and then...


Johnny was awoken everyday at 7 A.M to take his medicine, followed by a brisk walk in the park. Ulrike was diagnosed with a rare case of Amnesia called Synthoplex-Catarospic-Duelplexony. This condition was rare. The year was 1984, and Johnny was 67. Although he had recalled all of this detail, he was never abused as a child, and never neglected.

Johnny was indeed drafted into World War II; however he was a Medical doctor on the field, and never experienced battle. Due to his condition, hypnotists persuaded him to recall his past. Although Johnny could have done no such thing scientifically possible, Dr. Sung, a dedicated Medical Doctor and specialized hypnotists, believed Amnesia was suppressed memory.

Therefore, as Dr. Sung attempted to recall Johnny's past, he ended up altering it. Johnny died a proud war vet, with an implemented corrupted past. Soldiers died in front of him in his nightmares, and he saw wounds and slaughters as lifelike in his night terrors. Dr. Sung apologized for his work in the field at his funeral, and retired his specialty. This is a great example of implemented memory, and should not be taken into consideration in court or any affirmative justice. Here ends the reading.

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The Devil is in the Boots

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He who was dust, or so he thought; swept back by the terror of childhood abuse. His suppressed childhood memories were back and tore away at his mind. Jonathan Ulrike was his name, a drafted American soldier headed towards France.


The date was June 6th, 1944. World War II seemed omnipresent and compared to a dream figure, a spindle that does not stop for a second. Monotonous seemed to be applicable in the given situation, as each day his beloved friends ceased to exists right before his eyes.


This was hell on earth he thought, yet Jonathan assured himself he would be an outlier, a survivor who would return to nothing. Jonathon fought with all of his will, as he had no past and present. An early procedure to aide his seizures had gone wrong, and trying to recover unsuppressed memory within him seemed to degenerate the state of affairs, and John who had been abused and neglected as a child, a lab rat per se, was left with nothing. His mates called him fearless Johnny during combat training, as this poor soul who once suffered from seizures, now suffered from Amnesia. Unlike other cases, Johnny was at war and alone.

Ulrike had minimal recollection of the past and mostly present, yet he fought with all will. He fought for his country and his soldiers like a Spartan, fearless as can be, and as strong as an ox; he seemed to be always aware. Johnny was first battalion, and constantly promoted to higher ranking. Other soldiers and medical were unaware of his condition due to his ruthlessness, always avoiding needed medical assistance. Unlike others on this special date, Johnny came fresh off the boat ready to fight, only to see more soldiers killed by Nazi Germany on the beaches of France right in front of his eyes. He seemed empty and dull only for seconds before continuing on to take on the field. Gun in hand, he crept passed the first quarter mile and into the trenches and then...


Johnny was awoken everyday at 7 A.M to take his medicine, followed by a brisk walk in the park. Ulrike was diagnosed with a rare case of Amnesia called Synthoplex-Catarospic-Duelplexony. This condition was rare. The year was 1984, and Johnny was 67. Although he had recalled all of this detail, he was never abused as a child, and never neglected.

Johnny was indeed drafted into World War II; however he was a Medical doctor on the field, and never experienced battle. Due to his condition, hypnotists persuaded him to recall his past. Although Johnny could have done no such thing scientifically possible, Dr. Sung, a dedicated Medical Doctor and specialized hypnotists, believed Amnesia was suppressed memory.

Therefore, as Dr. Sung attempted to recall Johnny's past, he ended up altering it. Johnny died a proud war vet, with an implemented corrupted past. Soldiers died in front of him in his nightmares, and he saw wounds and slaughters as lifelike in his night terrors. Dr. Sung apologized for his work in the field at his funeral, and retired his specialty. This is a great example of implemented memory, and should not be taken into consideration in court or any affirmative justice. Here ends the reading.

Sam Cooke.jpg

It's on the tip of my tongue!

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The other day my friend and I were trying to remember a name to this song we both used to listen to a lot. Neither of us could remember the name of it we could only remeber a few words to the song, but we both felt like it was on the tip of our tongues (TOT). That is when I remembered how in our Psychology textbook it talked about the tip of the tongue phenomenon. After going back and re-reading this section I started to wonder if there were things that I could do to help me remember these things that I feel are on the tip of my tongue.
After looking on the internet I found an article that talks about how to transform the tip of the tongue experiences to easier memory recall. The researchers found evidence that TOT experiences have to do with weak connections among word sounds represented in memory. An experiement was conducted to see if remembering a word has to do with both the meaning of the word and the sound that it makes, the phonology. They found through experiement results that processing the phonology of a TOT target word strengthens this weak connection and improves memory recall with both young and old adults.
So next time I am trying to remember a word that I feel is on the tip of my tongue I am going to remember this article and try to think of words that may sound the same as the word I am trying to think of.


Insight Learning

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Insight Learning is the ability to suddenly understand the solution to a problem. The subject most likely experiences some sort of "aha reaction." This type of learning has been difficult to prove, because the experimental produces done by Wolfgang Kohler on chimpanzees did not rule out the possibility that some of the chimps engaged in the much more common trial and error method of learning. Another problem with his experiment was that some of the chimpanzees were housed together, so they may have observed the solution from their companion before solving the puzzle themselves.
Nevertheless, they is some evidence that insight learning is possible, Kohler had a star chimpanzee named Sultan that was particularly adept at multiple forms of puzzle solving.

insight.jpg Also later experiments have shown that both chimpanzees and perhaps some pigeons are capable of insight learning. The first video shows a chimp solving a problem of how to obtain a peanut from the bottom of the tube, and the second clip is an example of insight learning in pigeons.

Overall, while I believe insight learning is possible in certain species, I think it is important to remember that most learning occurs through a trial and error method.

Babies & Bilingualism

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The Lilienfeld textbook states that "language is among the few documented cases in which children are more efficient learners than adults" so why not utilize this advantage! Research on raising infants and children in bilingual homes is becoming increasingly popular. An article from The New York Times (link below) discusses this idea of bilingualism in the early stage of life. In the past there was a belief that teaching young infants and children two languages right away would cause language confusion and therefore delay their abilities. Research has now shown that the exact opposite is true. Infants even while still in the womb are able to distinguish the difference between languages. Babies have a unique ability in which they can discriminate between any and all languages, the unfortunate aspect is that they lose this ability by 10-12 months when they "commit" to their native or environmental language with which they are being raised with. Bilingual babies are viewed as more cognitively flexible altogether in comparison to monolingual babies. This research is fascinating to me and is slowly starting to really make an impact on our society. I'm double majoring in Spanish and Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences and therefore I'm bilingual. I plan on being a bilingual Speech Pathologist and therefore would get to work with infants or children with speech and language problems. I'm very interested in this research and think it is such an advantage to teach young babies and children more than one language. An example of this in society is the number of immersion schools growing in popularity. This is a unique advantage for kids as they start school so they don't lose their bilingual skills.



Circadian Rhythm Disorders

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Circadian rhythms and alternating work schedules

As discussed in chapter 5 of Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding (Lilienfeld) a circadian rhythm is a variety of human physiological processes that occur on roughly a 24-hour cycle. Also known as our "biological clock," this phenomenon includes regulation of sleep, hormones, body temperature, etc. Individuals who work alternating work schedules or predominately night shifts are known to have health issues because of the interference of circadian rhythms.

One factor in particular are light/dark cues that tell our subconscious when it is "bedtime" or "time to wake up." This process is partly regulated by the hormone melatonin; levels of melatonin are greater after dark and bring about a sense of sleepiness. This regulatory process is altered for people who work night shifts and therefore need to sleep during the daytime. This article discusses sleep disorders associated with circadian rhythms and shift work.


As I am sure many people have experienced, jet lag is a real issue, not just a myth to explain tiredness after a vacation. Individuals who travel a lot for work need to re-train their bodies to ignore certain bodily cues that tell them when to sleep, etc. As discussed in the article, there are various therapies used to treat these types of disorders. Most are based on training the body to get tired at a particular point by using bright lights during the work shift and pitch black environments during times of sleep.

I have concluded that there must also be a circadian rhythm associated Friday and Saturday nights that cues college students to not get sleepy and instead have the desire to party...

Have you ever been on 50 first dates?

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Have you ever seen the movie 50 First Dates with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler? Well, I have seen it multiple times and it's probably one of my favorite movies. The story is about how Adam Sandler theoretically goes on a bunch of first dates with Drew Barrymore because she can't remember him. She got in a very bad car accident and lost her short-term memory. She could remember her family and life before the car accident, but that was all she could remember. Every morning she would wake up and forget all about what had happened the day before.

I also saw an example of this while I watched the lecture on memory. A man had gotten very sick and lost his short-term memory as well. Approximately every two minutes he would forget what he was just doing. He would write down something in his diary but two minutes later he believed that what he wrote down in his diary was wrong. He was convinced he had just woken up every two minutes.

Memory, which is the retention of information overtime, has three stages: sensory store, short-term store, and long-term store. Short-term memory, which I mentioned above, holds onto information for only a couple seconds so we can think about if it is important or not. If it is important, we rehearse the information and encode it into our long-term memory. In the case of the man from the lecture video and Drew Barrymore, they couldn't get the information from short-term memory to long-term memory. That is why they could never remember anything.

I'm very interested in the topic of memory because it is so hard to imagine what life would be like if I lost my short-term memory, or any type of memory for that matter. Would I remember my family and my friends? Would I even remember who I am as a person: what my morals and beliefs are, etc.? We shouldn't take every day life for granted because if we lose our short-memory, we will never be able to fully appreciate the small things in life.


Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding (Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf)

Amnesia in the Movies

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Amnesia in the Movies


Most of us have seen movies that portray Hollywood's version of the serious mental disability: amnesia. Although forgetting who you are can be a turn out to be a great drama-filled storyline, how accurate are the movies, really? It's important to distinguish real-world amnesia, and the film industry's spin on memory loss, so we don't skew the severity and seriousness of this disability.

Amnesia is split into two subgroups, which defines the type of memory that lost. Anterograde amnesia, meaning one is unable to form new memories, is displayed in movies like Memento (featured in the textbook) and 50 First Dates. Retrograde amnesia means to lose memories (but not necessarily all) from our past. This tends to be more popular in cinema with films like The Bourne Identity, Dory in Finding Nemo, and the Disney classic Anastasia.

Another topic discussed in the textbook, erasing painful memories, is also featured in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In this movie, Jim Carrey tries to erase his memories of an ex-girlfriend to cure his heartbreak. In reality, Dr. Cahill and McGaugh tried to perform such a study in 2002. After a drug trial of propranolol to a placebo and a control group, the result showed that the pill merely decreased the effect of the traumatic effect, not erasing it.

Dissociative fugue, not covered in the text, is a different mental disorder that is often confused with being a symptom of amnesia because it entails dramatic personality changes and/or loss of identity. A person suffering from this disease often packs up, leaves home and assumes a new identity. These symptoms are actually typical of further neurological damage, not amnesia. Another term the book didn't mention is psychogenic amnesia, which is caused by severe psychological stress, like in the film, Marnie.

It's safe to say that Hollywood rarely gets the facts straight on anything, and psychology is no exception. Using the principles of scientific thinking and little research, we can see that amnesia in the Hollywood is typically played up to be funnier, more romantic, or more dramatic than it is in reality.

Parlez-vous français?


As stated in chapter seven of the Lillenfield text, "the retention of a foreign language remains remarkably constant for spans of almost 50 years after an initial drop."
This research in how long term memory works really caught my eye - although I have seen this in practice many times in my life, I had never stopped to think about what it actually meant. My first thought went to my parents - both have studied languages, (French and Korean) and although both of them traveled abroad and spoke these languages for a few years, their memory for them now, approximately 30 years later, is minimal. But, as was found in the study, they are still able to form the same simple sentences and use some of the vocabulary that they could 10 or even 20 years ago. For me, I see this principle on a smaller scale each year; after a nice, long, relaxing summer vacation, I come back to my French classes, take the initial pre-test, and feel like I am back at the start. Through this alone I have noticed that the initial drop in memory after time away is always the biggest - but I have also observed that it is always easier to pick up again a second time. thank-u-languages.jpg
One interesting article I found while looking at Harry Bahrick's research was titled "Interpreting Harry Bahrick's Discovery: What Confers Immunity Against Forgetting?" This article, written by Ulric Neisser from Emory University I believe is a great example of the concept of ruling out rival hypotheses. His premise for his research was that a simple response on a memory test doesn't necessarily mean that the item was once learned and preserved in "permastore" but that they may have an "overall schema for Spanish from which a few correct responses can be generated." While his discussion was fairly inconclusive on the subject, I think it is an interesting second hypothesis.

Babbling or Something More?

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I like the section about children learning a language, (I may be a little biased, considering I nanny in the summer, and have a large family so I am always around kids), but it was great to see the steps laid out, one by one. I can totally recall each step of learning a language while I nannied a little boy. First he started with babbling, recognizing and interpreting words but still a little confused, one word stage (easy words), and then finally sentences, after that, there was no turning back. He never stopped talking. :) Connecting this section of the chapter with my past experiences, I recalled the ever so famous YouTube video of the two twins "talking" to each other, when they are in your babbling stages. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmA2ClUvUY&NR=1&feature=fvwp. It totally seems like they are having a full on conversation that only the two of them can understand. But as the books says, children, especially that young in age, have limited processes of info, fewer analytic skills, and less specific knowledge about how languages work. This being said, does this mean that they should not be able to have a conversation at that age? Or are we unaware that they could actually communicating to each other, in the step stage of babbling. To me it looks like a pretty engaging conversation, but then again they could just having fun with each other.

I know each step of learning a language as a child is very important in their own ways. But is each stage just stepping stones until they can actually put words together or is each stage a different form of communication to others in that stage as well? I kind of found an answer to my question, I found that babies use different vocals to communicate, but it still doesn't answer my question of whether or not babies know what others are saying in that stage.

State-Dependent Learning, "I know how that feels like..."

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Last Saturday, I had a terrible experience. On the afternoon, I was at the gym and doing some sit-ups as I normally did in regular basis. When I got to the third set, I felt sudden pain in my back. It was extremely painful that I had to stop immediately. Because I used to have disc problem in my lower back and I've been feeling slight pains even after I got over it, I didn't take it seriously. But this time was different; I should have thought it is something serious.

It took me three times longer to walk back to my room because of the severe pain. I just sat down and took some rest. After few hours, I realized something's not going right in my back. I couldn't even stand up myself. So I called the ambulance, and went to ER. Doctor told me that there's a chance of relapse of disc problem, and if it doesn't get better, I will need a surgery.

It was so frustrating and desperate, and I still am. I just feel like the moment when I first had a disc problem. At that time, I wasn't having a great time. Nothing was going well, socially, academically, and physically. (Maybe I'm distorting the memories, see the next paragraph.) Everything got a whole lot better now compared to that time, but why would I feel same now and then?

Interestingly, I found a good reason from my textbook. The State-Dependent learning, that is superior retrieval of memories when the organism is in the same physiological or psychological state as it was during encoding. I am in the same physiological state as I was having a first disc problem. Just because of the back pain, I am so depressed. My impaired body state is interfering my psychological state by helping me retrieving bad memories. Some memories could've been distorted, but only thing I can do now is hoping to get well soon.

Psychology and Medication Advertising

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Psychology plays a major role in the marketing prescription medication, more than you may realize.

Example 1) Celebrex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvJlZtFlYZ0
The entire commercial is shown in the color blue. The color blue plays on our subconsious and conveys a sense of peace, tranquility, harmony, trust and confidence. The colors paired with a narrator that is using a calm and collective voice, helps to create the illusion to the viewer that their product is safe even if it is not. For example, the following statement by the FDA was used in order to create trust in their product, "In fact, prescription Celebrex has never been taken off the market" This statement plays into people's "natural tendency to defer to the conclusions of an expert or someone with experience and expertise, in order to save us time and energy by not thinking things through."
Even though the statment about the FDA not taking the medicaiton off the market, the FDA has urged people to take an alternative to this medication as a result of the serious side effects and long term consequences (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6727955/ns/health-arthritis/t/fda-urges-alternatives-celebrex/)
The marketers also use alleged scientific findings in order to convince you their product is great for you "In clinical studies, a lower percentage of patients on Celebrex reported indigestion, abdominal pain, and nausea versus prescription Ibuprofen and naproxen."

Example 2) Cymbalta http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jcn3JF9YRcw&feature=related
This commericial starts out with bland colors along with depressing music. All the people appear depressed and bored. The entire opening of the commercial create a sad feeling for the viewer. This feeling helps to persuade the viewer they themselves may possibly be depressed. This is when it is mentioned that their medication can help. Once the medications name has been stated, the music becomes more upbeat, the colors become more vivid, and the people begin smiling. All this stimulus comes together for the viewer in order to the illusion that they may feel depressed and the medication can help them.

Example 3)Celebrex: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrqEb2dxbiw&feature=related
The entire commercial depicts a couple being outdoors enjoying themselves. Notice the entire commericial lists off generic activities that many people like to participate in while pairing these nice activities with picturesque scenery. This commercial create a sense of well-being for the viewer. Then after all this postivie visuals have been shown, you are told the name of the name medication. The name of the medication is paired with a positive statement syaing that the company, "Wishes you a happy season" to create a sense of friendliness and personalization.


Sleep: Too Much of a Good Thing?

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When we took the Sleep Survey in class, I found that many of my answers to the questions were "true". I had 8 total trues, while only 3 meant that you were sleep deprived. This confused me because I felt like I got a lot of sleep at night. I would stay up late, until about one or two in the morning, but I could sleep until two in the afternoon if I wanted to. I would also take hour long naps throughout the day. How could I be sleep deprived if I was sleeping so much?
After doing some research, I found that oversleeping is actually a health disorder called hypersomnia. Hypersomnia causes people to suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day, which is not usually relieved by napping. It also causes them to sleep for unusually long periods of time at night. Many people with hypersomnia experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy, and memory problems as a result of their almost constant need for sleep. It can also lead to more serious health issues such as diabetes, obesity, headaches, back pain, depression, heart disease, and even death.
However, not everyone that oversleeps has these problems. The recommended amount of sleep for the average person is 7-8 hours a night. Experts recommend keeping the same bedtimes and wake times every day. They also recommend avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. Exercising regularly and making your bedroom a comfortable environment that's conducive to sleep will help you get the amount of sleep you need.


Why We Dream?


I think that the section about dreaming was very interesting and wanted to know more about why we dream. I found an article titled In the Literary Mind, in the Psychology Today, about dreams, why we dream, and theories of dreaming.

Dreaming is defined as a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person's mind. But why do we have these different thoughts rolling around in our mind as we sleep. From the article there were 5 different theories of why we dream. (I renamed and used my wording of the theories to save space)

Theory 1: Fight or flight
During our dreams we are actually "rehearing" fight and flight situations, without moving of course. We dream to practice self defense behaviors.
Theory 2: Memory
This theory is about dreaming about the important things that happen in our awake lives. Matt Wilson, a man that studied this theory says "sleep is the process through which we separate the memories worth encoding in long term memory from those worth losing."
Theory 3: Hard Drive
As we dream it allows us to loosen or make new pathways so we can keep important connections, create new connections, or get rid of old connections in the brain.
Theory 4: Psychotherapy
Dreams are a way to think about emotional stuff, without double guessing ourselves or being defensive about it. It's a safe place to deal with emotions.
Theory 5: Nothing To It
Dreams are simply nothing. It is just our conscious that wants to think that there is certain meaning behind what we dream about.

Reading and analyzing these different theories, there was not really one theory that stood out to me and answered the question of why we dream. I think depending on the situation and what the dream was about, a different theory could be used. I am usually am never the one to be "in the middle" of a decision or unable to pick sides, but dealing with why we dream, I have to go against that. With what I read in our book and with this article and others I researched, I would have to say that all of these theories at some time and point could be true. Some do seem a little strange but as your read the article, they are all supported by labs and people with credibility. As much as I believe these theories are truly reasons why we dream, are there more? I find it hard, that these five simple theories of why we have thoughts, images, and sensations going around our minds while we sleep are the only reasons. Are there other reasons? If so, are they more reliable then theses sources? Should more theories be added to this list?

Depth Perception

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Depth perception is the ability to perceive the location of objects in relation to each other. There are both monocular depth cues, which use on eye, and binocular depth cues, which use both eyes. We use things such as relative size, interposition, height in plane, and binocular disparity to detect the depth of an object.

Without these cues we might not be able to detect whether something is 25 or 5 feet away from us. This would cause serious problems for anyone. It would not be easy to perform everyday tasks. You would knock over a glass of water instead of being able to pick it up. You also would not be able to drive because you would not be able to tell where pedestrians or other cars are. People who have problems with their depth perception usually do not have this dramatic of problems though. People usually just have problems with little details not drastic differences in depth.

I have had an experience with my depth perception being off when I began using contacts. Even though my vision was better I would run into things or misjudge things because my depth perception was off. I eventually got used to my contacts and was able to have my sense of depth perception back as well, but it was a challenge while I was making the transition.

I still wonder what issues people have when dealing with depth perception because with my research I found some people do not even notice he or she has a problem until he or she has to take a depth perception test and fails. Maybe these people can only pick up certain cues, so they don't have as many issues as someone who was not able to pick up any of the cues.

ESP and Its Play on Human Behavior

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I thought it was very interesting while reading about extrasensory perception, or ESP, from chapter four in the textbook. I thought the most interesting aspect was when they addressed why ESP might be such a prevalent topic today, even though there has yet to be any real hard evidence that would suggest that it exists. They discussed how humans often remember something such as a coincidence coming true, but rarely remember the, usually far more times, that it does not. The example that they gave was the one time that you were thinking about a long ago friend, and you then ran into them or saw them shortly after. Many people see this as coincidence, but oftentimes fail to remember all the times that they have thought about long ago friends in the past and have not seen them soon after. This is a similar concept that can help explain why the suggestion of ESP still remains today. To show the prevalence of the idea of ESP even today, surveys indicate that 41 percent of American adults still believe in some form of ESP. I also liked how many psychic predictions can be "predicted" because the methods many psychics use are very similar, and play off of typical human behaviors. They explain that psychics will exploit people's enjoyment of being flattered and complimented. An example would be predicting an "amazing romance" in the foreseeable future. People like to hear what they want to hear, so by saying that things in their life will go well in the future, they are more likely to believe it. It was interesting to see how the text was able to "generalize" psychics generalizations.

My computer froze as I was trying to submit the blog, so that is why it is 8 min late. I have a Word Doc that has it postmarked at 11:52 if you would like to see it

Deja Vu

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Deja vu is a weird, unnatural occurrence that happens when a person feels that something is happening and has a feeling of this event already occurring. I have had many feelings of deja vu, and every time I play out the events in my head and predict what people are saying. It has happened so much to me, that I have now resorted to doing/saying things that will alter what I thought would happen.

I feel this is an important concept because it is a strange occurrence that not everyone shares and I find it very fascinating that you feel that you have been somewhere before, but in reality you have not. Finding this theory to be true, or finding the key behind it, could help the human race out because we might be able to unlock a part of communication or a bond between humans that can help us predict each others' reaction. I, for one, would like to know just to keep my sanity (it happens to me multiple times per week, and I often feel I live the same week over and over).

This humorous Monty Python skit is a comedic satire on what people, like myself, experience when they enter the state of deja vu. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWKdokcvM7A

All in all, deja vu intrigues me because it seems so unnatural that I can have a sense of familiarity with a certain setting that I have not been in before. I often wonder if it is a connection between the people around me that I share a similar feeling with. I also wonder if two people have the feeling of deja vu simultaneously, if the have the same thoughts? Food for thought...

The Proper Way to Fall Asleep


Over the summer, my mom had the brilliant idea to read a book on the "Proper Way to Fall Asleep." Not sure if that's the actual title, but that's how she referred to it. After she found something she deemed interesting in aforementioned book, about every two pages for her, she would of course come and find me to tell me all about it. If she couldn't find me, say if I was avoiding these constant sleep updates, she would write the interesting tid bits down and tape the sheet of paper to my door. So. after two and a half months of this behavior, I have quite a lot of seemingly useless techniques for falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping properly, and all that jazz. And you, my new friend, are about to be enlightened with the best of them. I thought it was appropriate considering the majority of us are sleep deprived according to our in class experiments.

So, this one seems silly to say but you all know its true... your room being messy can keep you awake. My mom loved this one with an unacceptable enthusiasm. "Clean your room! You'll sleep better!" (Don't get me wrong, I love my mother very much!) Mainly, its just a huge distraction, and of course this distraction is literally surrounding you. It's a pretty obvious problem, but a lot of people ignore it anyways. On that note, avoid other distractions, such as the eternal procrastination enabling device AKA your lovely laptop. It's great, it's so handy, and it's SO distracting... Get rid of pointless lights, obnoxious sounds, all that stuff. Pretty common sense there.

Next, you need to be comfortable. Usually this means finding a delightful place to pillow your head, and wearing possibly ridiculous looking clothing. But who cares, not as if you'll be interacting much with people as you sleep. In my mother's holy book of sleep, it mentioned that temperature is a huge factor here. That each and every one of us can personally attest to. We've all done the whole "blanket on, blanket off, stick one leg out of the blanket" thing to attain the proper personal sleeping temperature. To piggy-back off this, if you're in an unfamiliar place, or your surroundings make you uncomfortable, you're going to have more troubles falling asleep and potentially staying asleep. So avoid all that if at all possible.

Finally, if you're having continual problems getting to sleep, a good way is to train your body to sleep. The easiest way is to just get in a schedule. GO to sleep at near the same time every night, and wake up around the same time as well. even on weekdays. And yeah, that sucks. If the problem persists, see a doctor who might be able to help if your problem is more serious, like a sleeping disorder or something like that.

correlation and causation

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Correlation and causation
Correlation and causation and be easily mistaken for each other. Many things are correlated and many people would mistakenly assume that one causes the other. Some would say that studying causes good grades and although these two are correlated it would be incorrect to say that studying causes the grades. Some would think eating junk food causes obesity. This would also be an example of a correlation and not causation. It is very important not to jump to conclusions and assume that everything that seems to have a logical connection and is correlated is causation. It used to be believed that ulcers were caused by stress and spicy food. These two are correlated but spicy food does not cause ulcers even though they are correlated. Spicy food is entirely safe. The assumption is incorrect and shows that assumptions should be avoided.

Teen Sleep Loss May Impact Brain Growth

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According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to brain damage. Researchers used teenage mice, and either allowed them to sleep for 8-10 hours, or kept them awake for the 8-10 hours, and then studied the effects. In this study, the control was the group of mice that were allowed to sleep, and the experimental group was the group of mice that were kept awake. They found that short term sleep deprivation can prevent balanced growth and depletion of synapses--which can have long term effects.

"These results using acute manipulations of just eight to 10 hours show that the time spent asleep or awake affects how many synapses are being formed or removed in the adolescent brain," Cirelli says.

While this experiment provides stark evidence that sleep loss can negatively impact our brains, there is still research to be done. This study only looked at short term sleep deprivation. The researchers' next study will be on chronic sleep deprivation, and the implications of that will be much more important because of the number of college students that are experiencing frequent sleep deprivation.

"It could be that the changes are benign, temporary and reversible," she says, "or there could be lasting consequences for brain maturation and functioning."

Firing and wetness


I watched the whole BBC report and find every part fascinating, but one of the questions that intrigues me most is how exactly a person's inner world comes to be. Can we prove that the firing of neurons alone can create a person's consciousness?

Marcus de Sautoy seeks the answers from Professor Koch. Through advances in brain surgery, Koch has looked deep inside a living brain and has seen what happens when a conscious patient sees different images. Today, experimenters have the technology to detect the unthinkably small electric signals from individual nerve cells. The signals can be amplified, visualized, even heard over audio speakers. Experimenters have found that the brain has specialized neurons that give specific responses only to very specific, familiar images/individuals. This is not to say that only a single neuron fires for each familiar image. Many neurons respond, but the question of how many is another that remains unanswered yet.

In one of the experiments that give us this evidence, certain neurons in a person's brain responded to Halle Berry. These neurons gave the same strong response not only to all different photos of the actress but also to the text, "Halle Berry." Since the text bears no visual resemblance to any of the images, this proves that the neurons represent the concept of Halle Berry. Scientists thus call them "concept neurons." Recognizing concepts in this way is a capability of human brains alone. Neither animals nor modern computers could relate the photos of a certain woman to the text of her name.
This recognition of concepts is key to human consciousness, which, we have seen, comes into being through the firing of individual neurons. Koch makes clear that the many neurons together are what make consciousness. Like the wetness of water emerging from the vast collection of water molecules, consciousness emerges out of a collection of neurons. A single neuron isn't itself conscious, just as a single water molecule isn't itself wet.

This 2008 article from Science Daily provides more information about the experiments done that give evidence that single neurons are involved in consciousness.

Adrenal Glands and Adrenaline

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In my own words, Adrenal Glands are a tissue located on the kidney that releases an "adrenaline rush" that typically helps us when our emotions are heightened. These adrenaline rushes at times help us to perform unordinary tasks that we would not normally be able to make in normal situations. The book uses as example of a woman lifting a car to save her infant. Although an event like this doesn't take place everyday for the normal person I believe adrenaline kicks in more often than we think it might. When I used to play hockey, although nervous my adrenaline would kick in during big games or during pressure situations to help me perform at a higher level than normal. For others they might occur during other activities such as race car driving or skydiving as referred to in the book. For others this may occur during a simple speech in front of a class or other event. During my senior year I had to do a speech in front of our entire school. I do not like public speaking but my adrenaline took over as I hit the stage and I was able to get through it successfully and at ease. I think it is common for people do experience this on an almost daily occurrence although it may not be as big as lifting a car to save a loved one. I think it's important that this adrenaline occurs, one because as we've seen it could actually save a life, but also because it helps us get through stressful and critical situations when in dire need. After reading and learning about this aspect, I would like to know how are nerves know how to trigger these sensations even though we don't purposely try to. If I were to try and engage this adrenaline to help me write this blog, I would obviously fail. It's crazy to me how it just works when we need it to without even really knowing how we did other than being emotionally aroused. 50348_story__liftedcarstory.png

Left is Right

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Recently there has been advertising that utilizes the theory of left brain/right brain intelligence, such as these very beautiful and artistic ads made by Mercedes Benz:



According to this theory, "...left-brained people are scholarly, logical, and analytical, and right-brained people are artistic, creative, and emotional." (Lilienfeld) Some even claim that being left-brained or right-brained can determine what political party you are most likely to belong to. Left-brained people are thought to belong to the more conservative side of politics, while right-brained people are thought to be on the more liberal side of politics.

But does this theory of right and left brain intelligence actually exist? According to the Liliedfeld text, it most certainly does not.

This is because research has shown that we use both sides of our brain in a complementary way, and the corpus callosum among other things make sure that both hemispheres are in continual communication. (Lilienfeld) This extraordinary claim is a result of useless propaganda such as self-help books and right-brain education programs for young children.

But what if this myth were actually a fact? Would the world as we know it be different? Perhaps to apply for certain jobs you would have to list yourself as "right-brained" or "left-brained". There might even be designated schools for left-brained or right-brained children. This kind of thinking would most likely cause a divide between the two groups of people, and no doubt many heated argument to which side of the brain was more useful.

Fortunately, we do not need to worry about such things happening in our society because nobody is completely left or right-brained. The corpus callosum allows for well-balanced human beings that are able to solve a difficult math equation, and dance in a ballet directly after.

Sleepwalking: Fact and Fiction

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Sleepwalking is a concept we are all exposed to a great deal from a young age. In the movies, people are shown as zombies or acting out their dreams. Here are a couple scenes from Step Brothers the movie. It shows some of these misconceptions.



In day to day life we hear crazy stories of sleepwalking, the misconceptions created cause many problems. It may result in people fearing sleepwalkers or being afraid to wake a sleepwalker. In reality, sleepwalking involves relatively little activity and do act like a fully awake person. Sleepwalkers have done everything from driving a car to even having intercourse while asleep. However, sleepwalking is quite rare with only 4 to 5 percent of adults and 15 to 30 of children experiencing it on occasion. Sleepwalkers are not acting out their dreams as some people believe and for the most part it is not a dangerous activity. Some people in rare cases may have to wire doors or windows shut to keep themselves safe. It is important to understand fact from fiction when it comes to sleepwalking! Here are ten unbelievable sleepwalking incidents to check out! (These type of incidents are rare)


All over again: Déjà vu

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It's the feeling of having already seen or done something, even if you know it is something completely new to you. It's called déjà vu. Often times, it comes as a "flash" to a person (a 10-30 second illusion). It is especially common for people who remember their dreams, travel often, are younger, have a college education, and a higher income. Which makes me wonder why these factors make you more likely to have one of these experiences.

I have personally felt like this on a few different occasions. A couple of years ago on a family trip to Duluth (which we hardly ever do), we drove to a new shore area and there was another family there and I could have sworn I had seen the exact scene before, the family and all. It's one of the weirdest feelings and it bugged me because I kept trying to figure out why I had imagined this situation before, but I couldn't. I don't think it would be possible to have unconsciously recognized the park because I know we have never driven to that location before in all of my life.

The more I think about my personal "déjà vu" experiences, the more I believe I must have experienced a similar scenario and my mind just makes a random connection which makes me believe it has happened before. There are a few theories discussed in the book, but I would be interested to learn more about exactly what happens in the brain that causes this sensation. Or if they have found a correlation between these things and what happens in the brain at all.

Below is an interesting video link that shows how even Hollywood has a hand in portraying the sensation of déjà vu :


Alcohol and Marijuana

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I found the section on "Drugs and Consciousness" to be extremely interesting because drugs are so prevalent in our culture today. I found the section on alcohol to be interesting because alcohol has and always will be part of the human society. It is one of societies most socially accepted drugs, yet it seems to carry so many detrimental effects to not only our bodies but society as well. Yes, alcohol when responsibly enjoyed can be used as an effective socializing tool but more often then not it is abused as indicated in our book that "almost two-thirds of adult men in our society report using alcohol in the past month"(Centers for Disease Control,2009). Alcohol has been associated with many negative actions in society such as domestic abuse, poverty, and many other social disasters.


Those are only the negative effects on society. Alcohol abuse can lead to liver damage, depression, "hang overs", comas, and even death. Alcohol can affect coordination even 10 to 12 hours after drinking, which has potential to result in traffic accidents(Marczinski,Harrison,& Fillmore,2008). Alcohol is one of the most debilitating drugs that is legally available in the United States.


But Marijuana on the other hand, has little negative effects on the human system and has yet to result from any deaths unlike alcohol.Marijuana does cause memory impairment and can be more harmful to the lungs then tobacco, but people usually smoke only one marijuana cigarette when compared to people who smoke countless amounts of cigarettes a day. But marijuana, even though it has resulted in zero deaths and has minimal negative effects on the human body, is illegal in the United States.


I feel that it would make more sense to legalize marijuana and outlaw alcohol, but that is a task that is much easier said then done. The only real reasons that Marijuana is not legal is because of the political pull that the alcohol and tobacco industries have in Congress. Also, if marijuana were to be legalized across the United States, it would put many of the pharamaceutical companies out of business because they would have to compete with a drug that does not cause liver damage and is able to relieve pain.


What do you guys think? Should marijuana be legal? Or is it really as bad as people say it is and continue to stay on our course of alcohol and tobacco?

Narcolepsy: How dangerous is it?


For a year and a half I experienced the symptoms of narcolepsy and the difficulties it caused. I felt sleepy wherever I was. At the library, school, a coffee shop, or even on the street. Also, it was hard to be awake during activities and the daytime. I doubted that it was the early stages of narcolepsy. I was too scared to visit the hospital but fortunately I recovered on my own; now I am able to control the sleepiness enough not to fall asleep during activities. These symptoms appeared when I was very stressed and depressed. That's why I was looking for a relationship between narcolepsy and stress. Because of my experiences, I realized that it can be really dangerous if you have a sleeping disorder such as narcolepsy; so I got interested in the symptoms and causes of narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is a type of sleeping disorder. It is known as a chronic disorder and it is not able to be cured completely; but it can be controlled with medications. People who are suffering from narcolepsy can fall asleep suddenly at any time no matter what they are doing. Because of this sleeping disorder, tragic accidents can happen.

I was wondering which mental illness and psychological reasons were the causes of narcolepsy; but according to research done at the University of Maryland Medical Center, narcolepsy is not caused by a mental illness and it isn't psychological. Through this research, correlation has been found between stress and narcolepsy, but it is not a cause of the sleeping disorder.

Support: http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/what_causes_narcolepsy_000098_2.htm

Below is an article about a man who is suffering from narcolepsy: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/man-jailed-after-falling-asleep-at-the-wheel-20110913-1k6yu.html

It is extremely tragic what happened to this man due to his sleeping disorder. His sleeping disorder, narcolepsy, caused him to kill his fiancée and landed him in jail. According to the article, he made the absurd mistake of driving after his doctor said he shouldn't, but we can see that he and his fiancée were definitely the victims of narcolepsy.

Becoming Aware of One's Self

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I was very interested to learn that individuals become self-aware between 18 and 24 months old. The concept has been intriguing to me most recently because, before I became an aunt six months ago, I had never been very close to any babies, or children, since I was a child myself. Now, when I babysit, I am always wondering what is going on inside my niece's head. To entertain her one day, I brought her over to the mirror hanging on my door. She laughed so hard. I wondered if she knew what she was looking at or she just found the baby in the mirror to be a funny sight.

Now I know that she did not realize that she was seeing herself and will not realize this for another year or so. I do plan on conducting the test that was performed in the video, for fun. In the video, The Secret You, Marcus de Sautoy explains that the experimenters had parents place dots on their child's face while pretending to wipe their nose. Children younger than 18 to 24 months would clearly see their reflections in the mirror but would not recognize that something was different about their face. This was evidence enough that they were not yet self-aware. On the contrary, those children who were at least 18 to 24 months old would recognize that the face they were seeing in their reflection was their own and that something was different about it. When the child whom we saw in the video saw the dot on her face in her reflection, she immediately reached for the dot on her own face to remove it.

I was surprised to find that individuals become self-aware at such a young age. I wonder if there are other tests that can be done to test this concept in a different way. It could be possible that rather than self-awareness, this test only conveyed at what age children become aware of what they look like. I'd like to think our awareness is more than looks. Infants younger than 18 months are surely aware of discomfort, (diaper changes, hunger, temperature, etc), but self-awareness of one's identity could have many levels which increase over time.

Authority and Health

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I was thinking about my Public Health class that I took last semester, Public Health 3100: Making Sense of Health Studies, and I found myself exploring the question of authority. In the class we talked a lot about how health studies that are done can be misleading and maybe even false. We also talked abut the sources in which people rely on to deliver these reports and how we tend to believe these reports without little to no rebellion or questioning.

This makes me think about the power of authority. We as humans, once we have established in our minds who controls a certain area in our life means that whatever case may be presented will automatically be taken in. For example, we go to the doctor and they tell us that we may need a vaccine often times we will not refuse or ask why. With the technology that we have today that makes it easier to research things, you could almost be sure that people we be more questioning of authority.

It is almost apparent that people question the authority of government more than ever before, but what is it about health that disregards this trend. Most professions require higher education but the health field has a special authority that tends to be more trusted than others. As we continue to go forth in this course I will definitely look for themes surrounding authority and power and how or why we assert them in the decisions we make. Is it something with fear or lack of confidence in the field, what comes to mind when we think of professions and their influence over our lives are questions that come to mind when thinking about the psychology of authority.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea


Grandparents are notorious for many things but one thing in particular sticks out from the rest, especially when you are trying to sleep during camping and family get togethers. Snoring. But this snoring from the grandparents can come at any time during the day. You are watching the game on Sunday afternoon with your family members. It is a really intense game; your team is the underdog and getting really close to the lead. A commercial rolls around. And what do you know... snoring comes from grandpa sitting on the lazy boy chair. But this is not just your average snoring. This is the kind where you think he must have been chewing a mouthful of potato chips and been half swallowed them when he nodded off. It sounds like he is having a very hard time breathing. This is something I am very used to when it comes to being around my grandpa. He has sleep apnea. That is a disorder that is caused by blockages in airway during sleep.
This can happen over 100 times during the night and cause day time fatigue. It is pretty obvious to me that it could cause tiredness the next day. But something that I did not know until I read in our psychology textbook, is that sleep apnea raises the risk of death, especially in older men. This is a scary thought for me because I would be more than devastated to lose my grandpa. It is very interesting though that these wake ups and lack of sleeping is linked to a death rate. I also found it interesting that scientists are still unsure on why we need sleep. It obviously is important that we need it, since the amount of sleep and how well we sleep is linked to how long we live. It seems odd that we are not sure of it because we are asleep for about a third of our life. Learning about sleep and its benefits are very useful to know, especially since we live in a society that expects us to be so awake and productive all the time. Luckily, my grandpa has a face mask to wear when he sleeps at night. I am glad to know that at least he can find some good sleep at night and he is not struggling for air every time he falls asleep with his random afternoon naps.

So much for a white light at the end of the tunnel...

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white light.jpg
One of the concepts I found most interesting while reading chapter 4 was the concept of Near Death Experiences. The text describes a Near Death Experience as an out of body experience reported by people who have nearly died or thought they were dying. The text continues to talk about how the most common themes of a Near Death Experience include traveling down a tunnel towards a white light, seeing family members who have passed, meeting God or some other spirit, and seeing your life flash before your eyes. In my opinion, a Near Death Experience like this doesn't seem to bad as it is quite comforting and peaceful.
However, the text also explains that Near Death Experiences can differ between people and cultures as they are a product of the larger cultural beliefs and expectations of the afterlife. This makes sense to me that our understanding of the afterlife is a product of our surroundings and beliefs but what the text doesn't talk about is whether or not a Near Death Experience can be terrifying. This got me thinking if Near Death Experiences can also include a glimpse of Hell or an afterlife filled with pain and misery; or if instead of seeing our life pass before our eyes, we see the mistakes and regrets we've made. I'm not trying to be pessimistic but simply posing the question that if our Near Death Experiences are influenced by our surroundings, can't a negative situation influence a Near Death Experience as well?

Sleep Walking

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I have witnessed sleep walking. I have even slept walked myself. But why do we do it? Sleep walking is a sleeping disorder that causes people to walk around while fully asleep, doing little activity, or sometimes, a lot of activity, like walking outside to move the garbage. Sleep walking is most common in children and those who do sleep walk cannot usually recall any of the activity of the night before. Though it is popular belief that you should not awaken a sleep walker, it is perfectly safe to wake one so that they do not harm themselves or others.

When I was younger, I had a cousin who stayed the weekend with me at my grandparents. She woke up in the middle of the night, rearranged the blankets I was using, went down the stairs, turned on some lights, then fell asleep on the couch. When we replayed the night for her the next morning, she could not recall any of it. I, also, have been a victim of sleep walking, though it was not as severe as my cousin. I just got out of bed, walked down the stairs, without falling (which was challenging enough to do in the dark when I was awake), and laid down on the couch. The next thing I remembered was my father carrying me back up the stairs to put me back in bed. In both instances, my cousin and I were around the ages of 7 to 10. Also, we both have not had any reoccurring incidents, which leads me to question what it is that makes us sleep walk and what affects the degree of our actions.

Adrenaline and Guns

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My husband and brother-in-law took a carrying license class today and it got me thinking about adrenaline and the effects it has on your body and reasoning. Many know that adrenaline pumping through your system is part of what gives you the fight or flight feeling in high-stress situations. Though this is of high evolutionary benefit, given that it seems to give you 'super powers' (you seem stronger, faster, and more immune to pain for longer), there are negative bodily reactions to high adrenaline levels that can lead to situations involving guns to end poorly. Because adrenaline is kicking into high gear the parts of you that are more essential to being able to fight or flee (such as opening up your bronchioles so you can get more oxygen with each breathe and contracting your heart to get more blood circulating), other functions fall to the wayside. Fine motors skills and certain muscle coordinations are some of those skills, logical reasoning, another.
In many cases of accidental shootings by police officers and even laymen, on could easily hypothesize that the adrenaline in their systems helped to affect the negative outcome. In this class, they were shown a video of a police officer apprehending someone after a chase. The officer had a gun in one hand and when she reached over to grab something on her other side, the gun went off. The adrenaline she'd built up from the chase seemed to have resulted in degradation of motor skills in her extremities, causing her to accidentally shoot the gun when her attention shifted. There have been many other cases over the years of accidental shootings and killings that seem easily ascribed to an overabundance of this neurotransmitter, as well.
So when we were talking after his class was done, I was glad to learn they were taught about how adrenaline affects their bodies and brains. In any situation involving a gun (not including hunting - though even that might be questionable) you will not be their normally functioning self. Not through any fault of our own, but because our bodies react to stress in ways that aren't on par with the modern needs. Running away from predators, sure, but being able to accurately and coolly hit a mark without possibility of error or malfunction? Maybe give us a couple million years.

Article on Adrenaline

How do we make decisions

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Free will is our ability to be able to voluntarily choose or make a decision, which all people have. But an experiment is questioning the fact if we even have free will or are neurons controlling our decisions. The experiment is easy, have someone randomly pick a button on the left or right and record the brain activity. It showed that his subconscious was making the decision 6 seconds before he even pressed the button, which would prove that our neuron activity in the brain is what actually is making out decisions. I myself find that hard to believe, how could my neurons be choosing what I am going to be typing next, is my conscious self not deciding what to say?

Instead I think our neurons are deciding what to do next but take our conscious self under consideration. Our brain isn't going to decided to force us to do something we don't want to do. I think it's more our brain is faster than our decision making. The neuron activity will result in what we decided to do even though it starts before we even make our choice, the same result is inevitable. So even though our brain was already deciding what to do, the out come will be the same as what we would have chosen with free will, which hints our free will and neurons may be connected in some way.


Stages of Sleep

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It really interested me when Lilienfeld started talking about the stages of sleep. Sleeping is very important to each persons day to day life. We need sleep for our body's to survive.

There are five stages of sleep. The stages focus on two types of sleeps: REM sleep and NREM sleep. REM sleep is what we consirded as a quiet sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement. It is the "darting of the eyes underneath closed eyelidsduring sleep."(pg. 169) REM sleep occurs in the fifth stage. NREM is said to be like active sleeping. "Stages 1 through 4 of the sleep cycle, during which rapid eye movements do not occur and dreaming is less frequent and vivid."(pg. 169)

Stage 1: Beta waves, Alpha waves, Theta waves. You are still awake. If you were not positive if you were sleeping, you are in stage one.

Stage 2: Sleep spindles. You are in a calm wakefulness. According to Lilienfeld, "as our brain activity decelerates, our heart rate slows, our body temperture decreases, our muscles relax even more, and our eye movement cease." (pg.169)

Stage 3 and 4: The Delta waves. This is the transtition from a light sleep to a deep, deep sleep. Lilienfeld refers people in theses stages to look "dead to the world".

Stage 5: REM sleep. This is the "stage of sleep during which the brain is most active and during which vivid dreaming is most often occurs."(pg. 169) The REM sleep increase within each cycle. The REM cycle occurs about five or six times.

This link provides information on the five stages of sleep:

It's only just a dream

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What is this? Am I dreaming? Why do I feel like everything is real though? Why can't I move? Will this ever go away? Sleep paralysis is a very common thing. I have never experienced it, but some of my friends have told me they have and one of my friends says this happens to him at least once a week. Sleep paralysis is just that. It is the experience of being unable to move just after falling asleep, or immediately when you wake up. Because it happens when people wake up, a big question that people want to know is if this is a conscious or a sub-conscious experience. It is said to be caused by a disruption in the sleep cycle. There are many different descriptions of what happens to people. A couple of them are menacing demons sitting on their chest while staring down at them, a ghost holding them down that they can't see, or in Newfoundland people say it's a witch holding them down. The few people that I know that have experienced this phenomenon say that exact thing; somebody is holding them down and they can't do anything about it. It also associated with anxiety, terror, feelings of vibrations, and humming noises. Some people claim that this is caused by aliens when they are trying to perform medical experiments on them. Now, there hasn't been a way to prove that this is true, but many people experience it. Personally, I would really enjoy having this happen to me just so I can experience how it is. I think it is a crazy phenomenon that nobody will ever completely understand.

When do we become aware of self?

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When I think of my early childhood, I can only remember short clips of memories. I don't know how far back I can remember but I like to think that I became self-aware at the time of my first memory. So, it was probably around 2 years old but I'm not sure. According to BBC Horizon's The Secret You, we become aware of ourselves at 18-24 months old. Like learning how to talk and walk, I believe that children progress at different rates. Some may become self-aware at 18 months and some at 24. And this brings me to my question, what factors come into effect that makes children aware of themselves sooner. If a child has a dramatic experience like seeing a parent die at an early age, I think this could trigger something in the brain to make the child self-aware sooner. I think this because even though children younger than 18 months may not be self-aware, they are aware of their parents, the source of food, comfort and the only person that matters in a baby's life. If a child were to lose that relationship early on, I feel that it could trigger self-awareness sooner. Kind of like their first learning experience, like that was my Mother and I am Me. Or self-awareness could have something to do with a child's level of intelligence. Or it may be how fast an individual child's brain develops and at one point of development, the self-awareness is intact. I do know that I thought the mirror test was very clever and it was cool to see if the kids noticed the difference on their cheek. It was like at that point, the kid cares about himself and wants to look normal and feel comfortable.

Why do young people join the military?

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Why do young people join the military in the United States? This is a question that that is pertinent to me as well as I have joined the United States Army. There are several reasons why young people such as myself join the military.For some, the fact that the military will pay for higher education is quite enticing, for others the fact that serving the country they love is the highest act of patriotism. The public and politicians have their own views towards why we do what we do. Senator John Kerry, the same democrat who ran for president, was quoted saying to a group of college students, "You can either work hard in school or get stuck in Iraq." Such a statement like this is quite ignorant. The fact that some chose to serve our country and get the benefit of higher education does not mean that young people chose to join because they can't do anything else. The public have deemed our armed forces as the "poor man's force", believing that only the poorer population make up our military. The American Forces Press Service said that our military is almost completely middle class and those from poorer families are underrepresented in our military. So why does the public and our politicians make such extraordinary claims with no extraordinary evidence? The fact that majority of our troops are from rural areas of america, where many are near the poverty line, does not mean that they are uneducated or are serving for monetary reasons. In our now 100% volunteer force, our public should believe that all who join our armed forces do so to keep your way of life and freedom alive. We should be able to take advantage of benefits when we make such a decision and put our lives on the line for America.


Lucid Dreaming


Lucid dreaming captures my interest on the topics of dreams and consciousness. I have personally never been able to experience this phenomena, so are people born with this ability? Is it an ability? Do genetics cause this? Can anyone experience this or are there various attributes that coincide with it? What captivates me most of all is that this is such a hard topic to study. It can't be observed and it cannot really be tested. Scientists have to rely on people's accounts and there is no way to determine if what they dreamt really happened or if they just put fragments together. In the article provided below Rebecca talks about how people feel tired after they experience lucid dreaming. She explains that there could be alternative factors causing this to happen. This is an example of ruling out rival hypotheses.
Are people conscious during these lucid dreams? Rebecca "theorizes that perma-lucid dreamers may even maintain more brainwave activity when they should be in deep sleep." This can be tested, but would it answer this question? If someone is conscious and could possibly generate more brainwaves than they should during sleep then it would seem logical that they would be more tired because their brain is not resting, as it should. However, many tests would need to given and replicated to come closer to an answer.
Lucid dreaming can help to divert the outcome of a nightmare, but are there really any other benefits to it? Some scientists, according to the textbook, that hypothesize that this can help to overcome depression or anxiety, but there is no valid evidence.

"Identical Strangers" Exploring Nature vs. Nurture

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I consider Nature vs. Nurture to be a very interesting topic. I have heard about it in several places, but never had to opportunity to explore it as much as I have in PSY 1001. I now know that the big debate is about if either our DNA or our life experiences make up who we are as individuals. The debate might have generally agreed that both factors influence the uniqueness of each person, but it is far from over. This is especially true when you find sources like, "Identical Strangers." I knew that Nature vs. Nurture was a topic that I wanted to research more on, and this source popped up in my search. I immediately clicked on it and was interested throughout the whole article (which can be difficult nowadays). The article is about two identical twins, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein, who were separated as infants and adopted by two different families that had no clue another sibling was out there upon adoption. Paula received a phone call from the adoption agency she was adopted through saying that there was a person looking for her... and that person was her twin. Now, as crazy as that already is, the story is even more perplexing. The way that these two were separated was by no means ethical, or at least in my opinion. It seems great that the two found each other and now admit that they love each other, but the way that they were separated for for 35 years is appalling to me. The sisters found out that they were in a specific study for Nature vs. Nurture. The article states that, "Neither parents nor children knew the real subject of the study -- or that the children had been separated from their identical twin." This takes me directly back to what we learned in lecture and if we wanted to participate in additional studies to get extra credit points. In all studies, we would know before partaking in the study, we would know what we were about to do. In no circumstances would we be unaware, and if we felt uncomfortable, we could back out at any time. Apparently, these two sisters did not have that opportunity, or if there was a parent in the picture, they didn't either. Unfortunately, I was a little confused on the role of the biological mother, which may have been a bigger factor in the decision making process behind why these two were chosen for the study. Were they abandoned and then separated at adoption after the study? Or, was the parent participating the study unaware that her/his children would be separated? Nevertheless, the fact that the doctor, Peter Neubauer refused to apologize is interesting. He might think that the results are useful, and maybe they are, but the processes taken to get the results not changed the lives of two sisters, but the families that they have also. I read that in some cases, people are not told about things so the outcome of the study won't be skewed. These babies obviously had no say in the outcome, but could they have if they were 10, 15, 20, and so on? Now this is an illegal thing to do, separate siblings at adoption agencies. I presume that more ethical decisions have been made in the Psychological world too since this study was given, but this goes back to the idea of what is ethical and what is not. For the most part, Psychological practices seem to have changes for the better since the past. However, we always make mistakes. Just because we did it then, doesn't mean that more unethical decisions wont be made now. My question is, how do we avoid these kinds of situations for the future?

If you are interested in reading the article (which I suggest), here is the link:


Deja Vu all over again..


Deja Vu is something I am very familiar with. At least once or twice a week I feel like I'm reliving a bus ride, or a shift at work, or even just doing homework at home. The feeling is really hard to explain but some of my experiences have really shaken me up. When my parents told me grandpa passed away, I already kind of... knew. I felt like they had already told me that a few days ago or something. It's a hard feeling to explain, but it's like your accidentally reminiscing!
I wasn't surprised to read that deja vu originates in the temporal lobe because when I refer to deja vu I automatically think of memory, because a lot of the time when people have deja vu, they try to think back, where have I done this before, which refers to your memory. It was however, surprising to read that excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine is in the temporal lobes, because typically dopamine is supposed to make you feel happy and rewarded after motor function and when people typically experience deja vu, they feel confused, trying to figure out why they feel like they've done whatever they are doing before.
The concept of deja vu became clear to me when the textbook mentioned that when deja vu occurs we don't recognize that our present experience resembles a lot of a previous one, perhaps something in our early childhood that we unconsciously didn't really pay attention too. My latest deja vu was on the campus connector to St.Paul campus and during my deja vu, I didn't really recognize the fact that I take the campus connector almost everyday, at the same time. So really, I was having almost the experience, just a different day, weather, dress, ect. 
Personally I've never experienced deja vu from a past life, and that is probably because I don't believe in past life, which is why that type of explanation in and outside the boundaries of science.

( I was unable to add a picture, the link on the blog page wouldn't let me, refer to picture on pg. 180)

Writing Assignment #2 category

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I watched the "When do we become aware of self?" portion of the BBC video. One of the things that I got stuff on in that video was that I think my cat might have passed the mirror test, but when I think a little more into it, maybe not. My evidence for my cat possibly passing the test is based on 1) we have a giant mirror in our hall, which she saw all of the time and 2) she flipped out whenever there was another cat even only outside the house. If she were completely unaware of what the mirror could do, she would have flipped out every time she walked pass that mirror, and of course she didn't. I don't remember how she first reacted to the mirror as a kitten, but I do remember seeing her stare at herself in the mirror for extended periods of time once or twice - my dog will still bark and growl at himself in the mirror occasionally. A better explanation for why she didn't flipped out when she encountered the mirror was probably just that she had gotten used to seeing something weird in mirror (I remember her seeing me through the mirror, and then turning around to look at me), and that she was more aware of the function of the mirror as opposed to being self aware.
All of this makes me wonder... my mom thinks that my dog is depressed (because the cat died, according to her), but my dog seems to be very self unaware (I make this claim based on the fact that he will bark at himself in the mirror... maybe he was have an off day, or more than a few off days...) If my dog has little to no sense of self-awareness, can he actually be depressed? If he has no consciousness as we think of it, is a better explanation for is lethargic ways a physical one that we haven't noticed, or simply a lack of stimulus? I will have to conduct a few experiments and get back to you on that one. Hope you enjoyed reading about my pets!


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When reading about narcolepsy in our textbook I cam eacross the term cataplexy. Cataplexy is "a sudden weakness of the muscles of the body, especially the legs but also the face and neck, that is brought on by strong emotion, especially laughing." (http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/ask-the-expert/narcolepsy-and-cataplexy, 10-9-11) After doing some more investigation I found out that these two disorders are maybe be correlated but only about 70% of narcoleptics have cataplexy. Additionally, cataplexy occurs in healthy people while they are in REM sleep. One of the most interesting findings I had about cataplexy while reading our textbook is that the person suffering from the condition remains alert however they are unable to move their body. This led me to find some examples of people who have cataplexy but not narcolepsy.

After reading several peoples accounts it seems that there are different triggers that bring on cataplexy. I stumbled across a blog that contained posts from people whose triggers of cataplexy seemed to be because of food. One person had bouts of it while eating meals however the size of the meal was positively correlated with the longevity of the episode. Another person started to not have as many episodes when they started a gluten free diet. The person who had bouts after each meal began to stop eating meals in public because they were afraid that they would have an episode in public. There are several drugs that seem to help are Xyrem and Protriptyin. Obviously this disorder can be very debilitating physically as well as mentally. If you want to read more accounts of these people please go to: http://narcolepsynetwork.org/forums/index.php?/topic/2847-cataplexy-without-narcolepsy/

Preparedness of Phobias, and Wasps.

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When reading chapter six I discovered a very interesting fact involving preparedness and phobias. This is the idea that we have been evolutionarily formed to fear certain stimuli more than others. Common predisposed phobias are things such as heights, spiders and snakes. This may be because our early ancestors feared things like steep cliffs and poisonous animals because they were a threat to their everyday culture and life. Evidence for this preparedness isn't completely consistent but it is still a very interesting idea that I want to hear more about. I always thought that phobias could only come from previous bad experiences. Although many phobias probably do come this way it is interesting to think that people only fear snakes because our ancestors did. I believe my own phobia derived from bad experiences rather than preparedness but I never really thought about it much. I have a phobia of wasps. I have been stung over 30 times by them including two run ins with nests. I guess its not a good idea to hit a wasp's nest with a baseball bat. All of these bad experiences make me very frightful whenever I see a wasp although I do not avoid outdoors or anything like that. I am just glad I am not allergic or bad experiences could have been much, much worse. Although this phobia is most likely due to bad experiences, my fear of heights may be from preparedness. This information from chapter six about learning was very interesting to me and relevant to my life. I will be interested to see where research goes with this topic. I am interested in genetics and it seems what is being said may have something to do with our genes. Maybe someday I will be the one who finds a gene that is directly correlated to phobias.

The Narcoleptic Dog

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When I think about narcolepsy, the vivid memories of my grandfather at Christmas dinner come to mind. My grandfather had narcolepsy for the last ten years of his life. At Christmas dinner, he would be talking and eating his food and all of a sudden, he would be asleep with his food spilling all over his plate. Narcolepsy is an unfortunate disorder where the person falls into an episode of immediate sleep that can last a matter of minutes all the way up to an hour. Not only is the person asleep, but he/she experiences the REM cycle instantly during an onset of this sudden sleep. The hormone orexin is the trigger for narcolepsy to occur. This disorder is so interesting to me because my grandfather suffered from it for so long. After researching some facts about narcolepsy, I ran across this youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0h2nleWTwI. In this video, it appears that animals can be narcoleptic, too! This poor dog can barely function because he is constantly in spells of narcolepsy. It seems as though narcolepsy in a dog is much more severe than a human, but that could just be the case of this dog. If this sparked your interest in narcoleptic animals like it did mine, here's another youtube clip of some more narcoleptic animals. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnIwJXnnUFc. Maybe someday in the future we will be able to find a cure for this disease so it can stop inhibiting the lives of puppies and grandfathers at the dinner table.

Sleep Paralysis?

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As we read in Chapter 5 of From Inquiry to Understanding, our bodies are relaxed and practically paralyzed during certain stages of sleep. So why is it that some people can sleepwalk or act out their dreams.

Sleeping walking generally occurs around the third and fourth stages of sleep, which involves deep non-REM sleep. Because sleep paralysis only occurs during REM sleep, the body is still able to move. This explains how sleepwalkers can act like they are conscious. They can walk, do activities, and even drive cars. Sleepwalking can turn out to be very dangerous. In the case that dangerous sleepwalking activities occur, it is okay to wake a sleepwalker. This common misconception to never wake a sleepwalker can be seen in many movies, such as Step Brothers.


Another misconception is that sleepwalkers are acting out their dreams, but this is not true. Sleepingwalking occurs during the non-REM cycles, which do not include vivid dreams. To my surprise though, there is a condition that occurs during the REM cycle that does involve acting out dreams.

The REM behavior disorder (RBD) is a very rare disorder in which a person acts out their dreams. RBD is very similar to sleepwalking. People with RBD can walk, talk, run, etc. It becomes extremely dangerous during violent dreams though, as shouting, screaming, punching, and much more can occur.

In this disorder, the brain stem region called the locus coeruleus, which prevents us from moving during REM sleep, doesn't function properly. Michel Jouvet showed this through a study with cats. Cats with a lesion in the locus coeruleus would often be found reenacting their play behavior in their dreams.

Many people have seen the video of a sleepwalking dog. Jouvet's study got me thinking if this sleeping disorders can occur in dogs as well. They could possibly act out their dreams of running and playing.


Do you think this dog has RBD?

It was all a dream, or was it?

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What could it mean to be conscious in your dreams? For most of us, dreaming is something quite different from normal life. When we wake up from being chased by a blood-thirsty bear, or being seduced by our dream girl, or guy, we realize with relief or disappointment that it was "only a dream." Yet there are some dreams that aren't like this at all. Lucid dreams are dreams in which you know at the time that you are dreaming. The experience is something like waking up in your dream, almost like you "come to" and find you are dreaming.
I first became interested in lucid dreaming after I experienced one on my own. I remember the experience well because of how vivid and different it was to me. I became aware I was dreaming when I noticed that time was standing still in my dream, and I was then able to recognize this is a sign of a fake reality and instantly became aware of the dream state I was in. After becoming aware of the dream I was able to control and manipulate the dream in whatever way I seemed fit. Meeting my idols or the girl of my dreams was only a mere thought away. I have had experiences of dream control before, but never to this extent. The dream became extremely vivd and detailed after the fact and I was able to control almost every aspect within the dream, which was exciting in itself. It was one of the most bizarre experiences I have had because it was hard at times to stay aware of the dream state. It was odd having this false sense of reality, but was exciting at the same time. I feel that lucid dreaming can help people to experience things they would otherwise deem impossible.
After I had this experience I researched the idea and found out that I had experienced a lucid dream. I have since then tried to mimik this awareness in my dreams and have had little success. Being able to lucid dream at will is a gift that few people are able to do. Research has shown that although we are paralyzed while asleep, lucid dreaming often stimulates many chemical and electrical responses that are typically seen when we are awake. Lucid dreaming is fascinating because it may be the only tool we have in having some sort of control over our own minds.
The link I provided here is a website with testimonials from many people who have experienced lucid dreams. It was interesting to read their stories and get a sense for what other lucid dreamers were experiencing. I will continue to recreate my lucid dreams I have had in the past and hope to learn and grow from these magnificent experiences.

You are getting very sleepy...

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swinging watch.jpg

"I need to find someone who has an open, free mind. Someone who is willing to fall into a deep, deep sleep..".
I am pretty sure we have all had some type of interaction with a hypnotist. Whether it was at your high school senior year graduation party (that would be me), a childhood birthday party, or even a paid show you were able to attend. Each time, they always look for those few brave individuals who are willing to get under their trance and look foolish in front of their peers. I know I never had the guts to do it, but I have always been fascinated with how it is done.
Hypnosis to me is a method that supplies the people affected with new ideas for which their perception, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors can change. Hypnosis is so important because it can be used for many purposes: obesity, anxiety, treating pain, smoking addiction, and my personal favorite, entertainment (Lilienfeld, 2011). For the entertainment aspect, although in such popular movies such as Shallow Hal, The Garden Murders, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I still prefer the traditional stage hypnosis.
shallow hal.jpg
At my class graduation party, it was great to see some of my classmates quack like a duck, act like they are on Mars, or even just watch them fall asleep with a simple SNAP of the finger. I always was curious how it worked, or even what it was like to be under hypnosis. After reading chapter five in the textbook, it was interesting to see that it is rare for people to forget what happens during hypnosis. This came to a surprise to me since a good friend of mine did it and said he had no memory at all of what happened during his whole time under hypnosis. Either my friend was trying to make up an excuse for acting the way he did up on stage, or he may have had spontaneous amnesia, which is a rare case when the people does not actually remember anything during hypnosis. Another interesting aspect of hypnosis that I read about it that hypnosis does not bring the individual into a sleeplike state. This was shocking to me because I always recalled all of the participants "falling asleep" at the beginning of the performance, so I figured they were just sleeping throughout the whole show. Evidence does show though that the brain does not have similar patterns during sleep and hypnosis (Lilienfeld 2011).
Overall, I find hypnosis to be a fascinating topic and one I hope to further learn about. I am curious,however, on what qualities makes for the most capable person to be hypnotized. I know an open mind is always asked for, but I am curious what the hypnotist looks for while selecting his panel to perform on. Also, I am interested in how the hypnotist selects their main prop to perform the initial hypnosis. I have seen spinning black and white circles and swinging watches before, but I wonder if one works better than the other, or if it is just personal preference.

Photo Link: http://www.cyranoworks.com/Assets/Watch.jpg
Photo Link: http://thecia.com.au/reviews/s/images/shallow-hal-poster-0.jpg
Link to a stage hypnosis performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noXaXipdqBI

Sleep Paralysis- or was it a Ghostly Encounter?

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When I was younger, my family and I moved to an old Wisconsin home. Since I was the only girl, I got a room of my own. I remember it was a hot summer night and I was very thirsty so I got up to go get a drink of water. I came back to my bed and I started to fall back to sleep again. Tiredly, I looked at the clock and the clock read 3:00 a.m. All of a sudden the my bedroom door opened slowly by itself. I noticed that there was a black figure walking into my room. Next thing I knew, the black figure jumped on top of me and held me down. I started to breath heavy and I tried to move my legs and arms but I couldn't. I screamed for my mother and father to help me. I screamed so loud that I swore I could have woken up my whole family but no one came to help me. I started to cry. I felt the black figure breathing on me. It then smiled and I saw its teeth. They were pointy and sharp. The black figure started to move its face closer to mine. It opened its mouth wide and it was trying to eat me. All of sudden, I remembered my mother telling me that if I ever experienced anything scary in my life I should pray to God and ask God to help me. So I prayed. I remember praying "Heavenly father, oh lord almighty, please give me strength to defeat this demon lord. Help me God. In the name of your holy son, Jesus Christ, Amen." After saying the prayer in my head, the black figure jumped off and disappeared. I gain control of my body again and I got up and ran to my parents room.

I told my parents what happened that night. I asked them if they heard me screaming for help and they both said that they didn't hear anything. They explained to me that it was nothing to be scared about. They told me that I was only dreaming and that I experienced sleep paralysis which is a strange experience of being unable to move just after falling asleep or right before waking up. I finally convinced myself that I was only dreaming and that I should let it go. The strange thing is that a few months later, my brothers and I decided to trade rooms. On the first night of sleeping in my old room, both of my brother experienced the same exact phenomenon. I then thought to myself that it couldn't have been sleep paralysis if more than two people saw the same thing. Was it a ghostly encounter? Or was it sleep paralysis?


Newfoundland legend has it that an old hag visits us when we sleep at night. The hag sits on top of the sleeping person to draw out their energy life force. The picture above ,The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, is the artist's interpretation of what an old hag might look like.

Sleep paralysis has existed in the history of mankind for centuries. Throughout history, there have been reports of people who have awakened to a paralysis sensation throughout the whole body and having a sense of weight upon them. People who have experienced this phenomena also describe the event as being in fear even after the paralysis of the body has faded. There are cultural difference on how people interpret sleep paralysis.

Thumbnail image for sleep-paralysis-pic.jpg

In Thailand, people believe that sleep paralysis is caused by ghost. Thailand people refer to being Phi um (ghost covered) and phi kau (ghost possessed), and these experiences include a feeling of pressure, paralysis, and something black covering the body. In the Hmong culture, we also interpret sleep paralysis as a ghostly encounter. Mag tsuam (Mhah Chu-ah) is the word that we use to name this phenomenon. The direct translation of the Hmong word Mag tsuam to English is to be suffocated. Usually when we tell ghost stories in our culture they are often associated to symptoms of sleep paralysis. When it comes to telling ghost stories, most of the stories are quiet similar, they occur while their asleep, waking up, or falling asleep.

According to Susan Blackmore (2004), the latest sleep paralysis myth may be alien abduction.

The physiological explanation of sleep paralysis is that as a person wakes up from the deeper sleep cycle, specific hormone will take a few moments to wear off and release the muscles tension of the arms and legs, which causing a brief period where the paralysis of the limbs still lingers. In general, it only takes a few seconds for this to period fade, but even this brief period can cause fear and panic in many people. Being scared or being dreadful accompanies this sensation. One of the major reason that give rise to sleep paralysis is extreme stress in one's life.

Logically, I would say that I experienced sleep paralysis that night, but the fact that both of my brothers experienced the ghostly encounter makes me think otherwise. So could it have been a ghostly encounter or sleep paralysis? The answer to that question may still be unknown.




You Are Getting Very Sleepy...Or Are You?

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When I was 13 years old I went to a birthday party that had a hypnotist at it. I was very excited and anxious to see whether or not hypnotism could actually work for me so I readily volunteered to participate. As my understanding of hypnosis has recently increased as a result of the Lilienfel text, I now want to go through the six myths about hypnotism to help analyze the experience I had with it over six years ago.

First, let me clarify what hypnosis is. Hypnosis is a means to change perceptions, behaviors, emotions, and thoughts within individuals. Hypnotists generally begin by relaxing their subjects and bringing them into a state of calm. Our consciousness has fascinated us for many years and hypnotism is an important idea because it is one that allows us to play with and stretch out this intangible thing.

Myth 1: Hypnosis Produces a Trance State in Which "Amazing" Things Happen
I vividly remember sitting up front in a chair with the group of volunteers and the hypnotist who began relaxing us. He spoke calmly and slowly and I paid careful attention to his every word. He took careful time to ensure that all of us who were up there were falling into the right state of mind in order to effectively respond to the hypnosis. My experience supports this myth in a couple ways. Firstly, I definitely did not experience any state even remotely similar to trance and secondly nothing "amazing" happened to anybody. Granted this was a hypnotist at a 13 year olds birthday part, but nevertheless we were all given simple tasks/feelings to carry out and nobody's life was changed for better or worse as a result of the procedure.

Myth 2: Hypnotic Phenomena Are Unique
This myth essentially says that the things experience under hypnosis can just as easily be experienced in every day circumstances. The things I did when "under hypnosis", which I will explain a bit later, are nothing unique. They are things that I could have just as easily done in a classroom, in one of my theater classes, or just for fun when being silly with my friends.

Myth 3: Hypnosis is a Sleeplike State
While I felt very relaxed during this hypnosis process, I didn't ever feel drowsy, sleepy, or tired. I can recall the emotions, actions, and feelings I felt during this process and I cannot generally do these things in a sleeplike state, at least not consciously. Like the book says, if we had been hypnotized while doing something active as opposed to just sitting in a chair, the same responses could have just as likely occurred.

Myth 4: Hypnotized People Are Unaware of Their Surroundings
I can guarantee that I was aware of my surroundings when I went through this process. The birthday party took place in a party room at the zoo, the floor was stone and gray, and there were several rows of chairs lined up with my friends and other party guests filling them. I remember walking around the perimeter of the chairs and then coming up back through the middle aisle. I can even recall the people I came into close contact with. In reviewing that, I think it is quote clear that I was very much aware of the surroundings during this process.

Myth 5: Hypnotized People Forget What Happened during Hypnosis
It's been six years and I still remember exactly what I was told to do so clearly, as a "hypnotized" person I have not forgotten what happened during my hypnosis. I previously recalled some details of the place I was in when I was being hypnotized so not only do I remember the process and the actions, but I can also recall the physical space. The hypnotist instructed me to walk around and sell popcorn, cotton candy, and other treats as if I was a circus vendor. I remember him giving me these instructions and I remember carrying them out. Furthermore, I remember being self-conscious about what I was asked to do and therefore held back from being totally over the top. At the end of the session one of my friends came up to me informing me how ridiculous and funny I was as if I had no idea myself what happened. I appreciated that she was amused and entertained by my hypnotic performance, but I remember just as well as she does, if not more so, of what happened and what I did.

Myth 6: Hypnosis Enhances Memory
I certainly don't have any evidence of my memory being any better today than it was six years ago as a result of being hypnotized. At the same time, however I haven't taken the time or steps necessary to measure my memory from then until now. Memory is enhanced by a number of factors, but hypnotism is simply not one of them.

Now that I have gone through these myths and supported all of them through my own experience I wonder if other people who have been hypnotized can also go through the myths just as easily as I did. What I'm really wondering about was whether my own very casual and brief experience with hypnotism was even remotely effective. I also really want to know more about real cases/testimonies of those who felt a stronger connection to the hypnosis process than I did. What are the limitations of hypnotism? When, if ever, can the applications of hypnotism be effective?

Been There; Done That.

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Been there? Done that? I know how you feel. Déjà vu, which is a new experience that oneself imaginably has relived is important because it is so prevalent in our culture; it is said that more than two-thirds of us have gone through déjà vu at least once. That means that over 200 million people in America have presumably experienced déjà vu (Lilienfeld, 180)! Déjà vu is definitely one the strangest phenomenon of the human mind and being able to study the cause and effects of déjà vu is another reason why it is very important.
How many concepts get a movie based on it...? WITH DENZEL WASHINGTON!
...And a roller coaster in Six Flags is named after it?!

I have had déjà vu numerous times; none of being climatic or story-tale quality, though. Mine always occur when I least expect it. For example, I will drive past a kid swooshing a basketball in his driveway when I've never met the kid or even his neighbors; however, for some reason, I seem to know him or at least be able to identify him. Just moments like these make me wonder what déjà vu is all about.
When it comes to déjà vu, I still have questions: can déjà vu ever be converted into a future telling technique in the distant future? This question obviously comes across as far-fetched, but I think the idea is there. Remember that I am talking out of our lifetime. But maybe there is a way to use déjà vu for good? Déjà vu is still an ambiguous subject in terms of benefits to mankind, but hopefully scientists will be able to be able to get in depth on this interesting subject.
Also, are there side effects or problems with déjà vu? In the psychology textbook, they were mentioning seizures with déjà vu (Lilienfeld, 180), so that somewhat scares me. I would like to learn more about that!

Photos from:

Q: Which is the correct answer? A: a.. b.. c.. or wait..

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This week, I was especially interested in the video Kate posted, called, "BBC Horizon: The Secret You" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Biv_8xjj8E). As I read through the possible questions, the last one intrigued me: Who is in charge of your decisions, your conscious self or? As a human being, I think this question stumps us all and brings us into a state of deep thinking. At first glance, the answer to this question is, "Of course I consciously make my own decisions!" and then you begin to think more about it. Is that actually true? I watched the last fifteen minutes of this documentary to help me answer this question.

Professor Marcus du Sautoy, the main subject of this video, ponders the same question as I had: Who is really in charge of your decisions? Du Sautoy begins with a simple analogy of what consciousness is- a single H20 molecule (water) is not wet by itself; it becomes wet from a collection of water molecules. In Madison, sleep is used to study consciousness. Consciousness is about a network of communication between areas of the brain. During sleep state, the communication channels temporally shuts down, leaving the response to stimuli being localized. In Berlin, he goes through an experiment to see how he makes decisions: the conscious him, or a collection of gray matter that he has no control over. In his results, it shows that his conscious response is secondary to unconscious response. In the experiment, in a small region of the brain, an answer is produced 6 seconds before he actually made the decision. This leaves us to believe that the unconscious can be in control of the answer provided 6 seconds later. fMRI scanners allows us to look inside the human brain just as telescopes can look into space. This evidence leads me to answer my previous question: Who or what is in control of my decisions?

Based on this evidence, it's hard to say. It's obvious that a conscious decision is made far before an actual answer is provided by a person. Whether the answer given is the prior conscious decision is unknown, but it's clear that an answer is made by all parts of the brain, making it a threshold of answers. I believe that all parts- logical, conscious, subconscious, and the actual Me- make up my decisions. Based on my feelings and response to stimuli at the time, my answers can differ from what my conscious self believes. While this question is an awkward one to answer, I truly believe that there are many different variations of what I really am and based on that, I can say that the answer I give may not be actually mine at all.

Near-Death Experiences--What Comes Next?

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I find the concept of near-death experience (NDE) thought-provoking. While science can explain many things in the natural world, it cannot explain what will happen after death--what comes next? In the scientific field, NDEs are often considered an extraordinary claim, there are rival hypotheses, and Occam's razor has a simpler explanation. Sometimes I wonder what happens after death, or on the verge of death. I think that some of it may be what you expect to see when you die, but I also think there may be some truth to the stories even though we could never prove them. Scientists believe how a person consciously interprets their experience is often what affects them the most.

Kevin Nelson, M.D. believes in the REM intrusion theory where blood pressure drops and the vagus nerve (which connects to the heart) "tilts consciousness toward REM sleep." He has observed that many people who have reported NDEs tend to blend the states of consciousness of wakefulness and sleep, so they "simultaneously exhibit features of both" (Lickerman). A mechanism in their brain does not completely switch from one to the other. When people say they saw a tunnel it may be caused by the drop in blood pressure, which decreases blood flow to the eye, especially to the periphery of the retina, causing tunnel vision. The out-of-body experience reported by many is often an illusion, and has been observed by people awakening from sleep, waking after surgery that used anesthesia, during migraines or seizures, and at high altitudes, so scientific evidence says it is not the soul leaving the body. Often when people say they saw themselves lying in their bed or at the scene of the accident, it is a partial reconstruction from their memory. There are many scientific explanations for what occurs during near-death experiences.

Although what people interpret from their near-death experience may not have scientific evidence, I think books recounting NDEs give encouragement to people who have been in tragic accidents, and help people who have lost a loved one. My neighbor was the first person to arrive at an accident a few miles from my house about two years ago. The person died and it was very tough on the family. The family gave my neighbor the book "90 Minutes In Heaven" by Don Piper, a story about the author's near-death experience when he was in an awful accident and was pronounced dead at the scene. Miraculously he regained consciousness, and the book recounts his experience. I have read most of the story. Although the scientist in me knows there is insufficient evidence to support the claim, I still find the story intriguing. I wonder how consciousness can "come back" when people recover even though they were be pronounced dead.

While there are people who have NDEs when they nearly die, there are also those who don't. It is estimated that about 6-33% of people who have been close to death report a NDE (Lilienfeld). My grandpa says that he saw nothing. In 1963, he was shot by another hunter while hunting in Northern Minnesota. The bullet went in his right hip and came out the other side. He recovered from the injury, but afterwards he said that he thought he would have seen the light, or a tunnel, but he didn't. Everyone is different, and I think we hear more in the media and books about the people who saw or felt something more than we hear about those who did not have a NDE.

Lickerman A. 2011. The Neurology of Near-Death Experiences. Psychology Today. .

Lilienfeld S, Namy L, Woolf N. 2011. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding.

90 Minutes In Heaven http://www.90minutesinheaven.com/Book_Info.htm

JUDE ANTHONY TIMES: Premonition & The Medium

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Hindsight bias does exist, and oftentimes humanity perceives certain events to be foreshadowed by their "brilliant minds." Any psychologists or researcher could offset the claim that certain people, oftentimes regarded as the "Mediums," claim to have fluid and vivid dreams about both present and past. Sure, they may be impossible to falsify completely as to if these dreams are happening. Let's take a look at each other, and think of how many times our dreams have actually come true. When they do, is it coincidence? "Somehow, dreams have access to information above and beyond the physical senses, both in terms of geography and time." (DreamsCA)


Scientists from my knowledge still cannot nor will ever be able to falsify certain dreams and nightmares that give warning to the future; this does not mean that dreams and nightmares that prove to be real actually exist. In my opinion the mind may even have the ability to dream of things outside the realm of human knowledge, such as life on other planets. Perhaps children and toddlers dream of life on other planets before being exposed to any information that may guide them to think this way. In fact certain ideas do come to certain humans at different times. Leonardo Da Vinci for example, did dream of many things and note them thousands of years before invented.


Leonardo's flying machines, designs of rocketry, and dramatic war scenes depicted of future fights were certainly brilliant. When regarding historical brilliance such as Da Vinci's innovations, one could argue that maybe these historical figures were influenced outside the realms of humanity. After all, information that we pull from our dreams night after night is sometimes unexplainable and oftentimes can come true, even metaphorically.

"Dreams - Practical Dream Analysis & Waking Life Meaning." Dreams Foundation: Dream Interpretation, Psychology & Research, Nightmares & Alternative Medicine. Web. 09 Oct. 2011. .

Narcolepsy: Nature vs Nuture

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Is Narcolepsy Caused by Environmental Factors or Genetics?
Sure, narcolepsy can be a humorous disease. Passing out when amused, emotionally distraught or even sexually aroused can be a little more than inopportune. Take this YouTube video above for example, a small dog that falls asleep when excited? Dogs spend half their life getting excited over nearly everything from a treat to someone petting it. On the surface it may seem funny, but then we can think of a man who can't hold a job because he may fall asleep doing something dangerous, or a woman who can't drive (let me finish) because she may fall asleep at the wheel.
According to the Lilienfield text, narcolepsy is a "dramatic disorder in which people experience sudden sleep lasting anywhere from few seconds to several minutes, and less frequently as long as an hour". Also in the text, genetic abnormalities causing narcolepsy are discussed; it says the hormone orexin is part of the reason that triggers the "sudden attacks of sleepiness", but what if genetics had nothing to do with it? This is exactly what Dr. Will Longstreth Jr is trying to prove. If you look at the article below, you'll see that Dr. Longstreth using both correlation vs. causation and ruling out rival hypothesizes, but the one scientific theory he still has to overcome in order to prove that environmental factors cause narcolepsy is replicability. More research is needed in order to give credibility to the theory particularly in the first two decades of a person's life. In the article, we can find parallels to the text in that common symptoms are sleep paralysis and cataplexy, but the article also describes symptoms such as hallucinations and dreaming while awake.
The article is fairly short, leaving me with several questions and loose ends. I was shocked to see that narcolepsy was so common (1 out of 2,000 people). The article leaves the reader hanging saying that there seems to be a genetic link to narcolepsy and that men and women are affected equally. It seems more likely that it would be caused by genetic factors, but the book describes more of the hormones that cause the symptoms, and not the genetic factors causing it. This disease has a long way to go before a cure, and much less causation is determined.

Do you remember what you dreamt about last night?

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When I first started reading about night terrors in chapter 5 of Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, I thought night terrors and nightmares were the same thing. Everybody has had at least one nightmare in his or her lives, and we all know that nightmares are harmless. I was so shocked when I actually looked into night terrors a little bit more. First, I watched some videos about night terrors on YouTube, and then I went back to the text to figure out what the difference was between nightmares and night terrors. You can find a link to a video about night terrors right below.


Night terrors are a type of disorder of sleep. Usually harmless, night terrors are sudden waking episodes characterized by screaming, perspiring, and confusion followed by a return to a deep sleep only minutes later. What's even more nerve wracking is that the sleepers have no recollection of what has happened. Night terrors are typically more disturbing to the viewer than to the sleepers, which are usually children, but can also be adults. Children usually "grow out of" night terrors by adolescence.

So what is the problem with night terrors and how do we fix it? Well, night terrors aren't that big of a problem and there actually isn't much we can do. There is no treatment for night terrors. A child will just need comfort and support from loved ones. A psychological evaluation can be sought out if night terrors are severe or prolonged, but that usually isn't the case. Trying to reduce stress in the environment may also help with reducing the occurrence of them. Night terrors may seem quite scary, but as said before, are very harmless.


Medline Plus http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000809.htm

Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding (Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf)

Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/night-terrors/DS01016

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...


One of my favorite times of day, is when I wake up after having complete a good dream.Sleep.jpg Moreover, most nights I fall asleep, and enjoy my head filled with blissful dream. I have often wondered what the overall purpose or effect that dreaming has on a person's mind. Our Lilienfeld text says that there is still no clear definition for why we dream, however they do list off several sources that may be involved.

They suggest that dreams are involved in:

(a). processing of emotional memories.
(b). integrating new experiences with established memories in order to make sense of and create a virtual reality model of the world.
(c). learning new strategies, or ways of doing things.
(d). simulating threatening events so that we can cope with them better in reality.
(e). reorganizing and consolidating memories

In my experience most of these scenarios coincide with my own dreaming experiences. However, suggestion (c). learning new strategies, or ways of doing things seems a little strange to me. I don't ever really recall learning how to do anything in my dreams. They gave the example of learning to swing a golf club. I just find it odd that I would be able to learn how to do something physical, completely inside my head, well asleep. The concept in and of itself sounds really cool, but I'm just not sure that I believe such a triumph is possible.

Perception of Media

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For the past couple of weeks, I've been reading a book called The Post-American World. This nonfiction book describes the flow of power in the world over the course time. The initial power surge began in the West; next came the rise of America; now is the rise of the rest. In one of the chapters, the author, Fareed Zakaria, makes a claim that ordinary citizens believe the world to be chaos but in reality, it is in its most peaceful state. That is due to the influence of technological advancements. The "revolution in information technology...now brings us news from around the world instantly, vividly, and continuously" (Zakaria 9). Therefore, the populace receives news about every weather disturbance to every bomb that explodes today; conversely "we didn't get daily footage on the roughly two million who died in the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1970s or the million who perished in teh sands of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s" (Zakaria 9).

Zakaria's notion of perception brings up at interesting topic that parallels to some of the fundamentals of psychology. As aforementioned, many believe that violence is on the rise but fail to note extraneous factors that form that perspective. It may be because of the technological advancements; it may be because of the political perspective of the news channel one watches the most; it may even be true! (That is most likely not the case from the number of wars waged and lives lost in comparison to the past wars. Conversely, violence may be worse but because of advancements in military technology, countries are not sacrificing as many soldiers.) They are victims to the correlation vs. causation principle. In regards to the mediums that we receive news, that may account for our perspectives of the world. Through televised or computer-based news, we are receiving information but it is biased on the basis of the staff. The news channels decide what they want to air and present it in a way that accommodates their perspective. From there, it trickles down to the people, and the people will decide which news channel(s) they prefer. In that situation, the news is placing their perspective on us.

Number of casualties over the course of American history:

Sleep Paralysis & Astroplaning (OBE)

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According to the class text, sleep paralysis is not considered to be a serious health problem, and is relatively common among most Americans. Similarly interesting and not discussed in the text is the phenomenon known as astroplaning (could also be considered an OEB, which is discussed within the chapter). Typically, astroplaning is when one meditates for a significant amount of time and claims to be able to leave their physical body behind with their spirit free to move about. The film industry capitalized on this idea with a horror film that came out last spring titled Insidious. The film revolves around a young boy who is capable of leaving his body at night to travel around anywhere he pleases, including other dimensions.


http://www.therichblog.com/insidious (Insidious brief outline and still frames from the movie).

It's interesting to note that astroplaning is described to be self-induced. That is, people meditate or focus on obtaining a goal of being able to astroplane. When I was volunteering overseas last year, I encountered a girl who practiced meditation regularly. When I inquired as to what she receives out of meditating, she said that when she 'finally' experienced the sensation of leaving her body from meditating, the feeling was unparalleled. Whether or not she belonged to a specific religious denomination, I'm not quite sure. This idea of leaving her body due to meditation was strange to me, and chapter five of the textbook reminded me of this conversation of astroplaning and meditation.

Moreover, it's interesting that my first time experiencing sleep paralysis was after I had seen the aforementioned movie Insidious. So, of course after seeing the horror film, I was under the impression that I was now part of this elite group of people who would be able to travel through space and dimensions. In any regard, I woke up shortly after this and was able to function normally.

"The Ultimate Experience

Learn How to Have Your First Astral Projection Experience...


(above: tips for successful astroplaning)

Hypnosis Might Help You Pass Your Next Exam!

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It is every college students' dream to pass all their exams with flying colors. Most college students' are sleep deprived, have a bad diet plan, and most of the time bit off more than they can chew. I myself have been a victim of taking too many credits in one semester and almost pulling my hair out. What if there was something that could help with midterms and final week? What if you could study a week before your exam and pass with amazing results? It is being said that hypnosis can help recall all of those memories your brain has stored while you were studying for that very difficult exam. I could only imagine how difficult the Psy 1001 final exam will be and I would love to try out anything that could possible enhance my chances of getting an exceptional grade.

We must also use our scientific principles when reading such claims. It is a well-known phenomenon that hypnosis can cause the "False Memory Syndrome". This syndrome can cause people under hypnosis to recall false memories. Thinking about this I wonder if it will be useful to actually use hypnosis to recall material that one has been studying for on an upcoming exam. I mean what if a person experiences the "False Memory Syndrome" during hypnosis and recalls incorrect information but believing it is the right information and fails their exam. I would love to see more studies done on this topic to find it more credible and believable. I think I would be prone to trying it out if there was more scientific evidence to back up the claim. But check it out yourself and see what you think!


Why do we sleep walk?

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While reading the Lilienfeld text on the sleeping walking I began thinking of when I was younger and how I used to sleep walk about once a month for almost 2 years. My parents never knew why I would sleep walk and the book did not give any specific reasons to while children may sleep walk so I began to search about why we sleep walk.
It is said that sleep walking does not occur during REM sleep but occurs in stages 3 and 4 when the brain waves are very slow. An article by Katie Lambert talks about how most sleepwalkers are children but they are still not completely sure on what causes children to sleep walk. Some theories they do have are that children's brains are just to immature to completely understand the cycles of waking and thinking while others propose that since a child's brain develop's so quickly, some areas of the brain out space others in development or certain aspects of development take precedence. But, for whatever reason sleep walking does take place in children most children do outgrow it. Usually when sleep walking happens in adults its because they were sleep walking as children and can be caused by fatigue, anxiety or alcohol. But sleepwalking in adults has been known to be linked to seizures, REM sleep disorders, and brain disorders such as Parkinson's. So if you are still sleep walking as an adult it may be a good idea to see a doctor.
The last time my parents said they knew of me sleep walking was when I was almost eight and I have not walked in my sleep since then. So I did grow out of sleep walking as they say most children do.

Lambert, K. (2011) How Sleep Walking Works. http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/human-biology/sleepwalking2.htm

Lilienfeld, S., Lynn, S., Namy, L., & Woolf, N. (2010). Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions.


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"You are all walking on the beach, go find somebody to talk to. [One minute later] Oh no, somebody has stolen all of your clothes and you are now nude!" I was at a hypnotist show, and this was one of the acts he did with the volunteers on stage. When they were told to go find somebody to talk to, they all walked off the stage and started making conversation with the audience members. Next, when he shouted that their clothes had been stolen, every participant ran away to hide (because they thought they were naked), except for one girl; she proceeded to model her body as if everybody wanted to see what she looked like naked! Many would say that this kind of show would truly demonstrate what kind of a person the participants' pictured themselves as in their minds.
Defined by the authors of our textbook, hypnosis is defined as "a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors." In other words, it occurs, normally in front of an audience, when a man is telling "volunteers" that they are getting very sleepy. When these volunteers have fallen asleep, the man, or "hypnotist," tells them to do things that may be unusual, especially to the spectators. This is an important topic to discuss because it is so popular in our culture, now-a-days. There are so many who practice this type for both entertainment and clinical purposes.
After speaking with my friends who were a part of the volunteer group from the first paragraph, they kept describing how rested they felt afterward; as a result, I began to wonder if hypnosis could be used by those who have trouble sleeping on a nightly basis? However, our book talks about how hypnosis is not a sleep-like state. Does this mean that it simply gives you that feeling of sleep, or simply relaxes you? I do not think any person can really describe hypnosis until they have experienced it.

Sleep Paralysis

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One sunny afternoon, I awoke from a nap to sense a presence in my room. Feeling alarmed, I tried to turn to look but couldn't move. Not knowing who or what it was, I tried to reach for something to protect myself or to hide, but I was completely paralyzed. All I could do was lay there defenseless; I was terrified and frustrated. After a few minutes, I think I drifted back to sleep! When I awoke later, I shrugged the experience off as just a creepy dream.
header.gifThat used to happen to me quite a bit when I was younger. It's called sleep paralysis. Lillenfield's Chapter 5 on Consciousness defines the term as a "state of being unable to move just after falling asleep or right before waking up." According to Lillenfield, some people believed they were visited by a demon or an extraterrestrial. I found the notion of demons so fascinating, I did a little research.

One website, http://www.sleeping-with-a-sleeping-disorder.com/causes-of-sleep-paralysis.html, defines sleep paralysis as a sleep disorder common in younger adults caused by a disruption in the REM part of the sleep cycle in those who might experience insomnia, jetlag, or stress.

Another website offered an alternative explanation which completely shocked me. This site, http://www.sleepparalysis.org.uk/, explains sleep paralysis as "demonic activity". He states various reasons for the occurrences, such as, people are in some way involved in occult practices or have a demonized object in their room. Although he lists many possible reasons, his extraordinary claims do not have extraordinary evidence. They are all of the same nature and from his own point of view, a good example of belief perseverance. His explanations lack self-correction and peer review. There is plenty of valid scientific information on sleep paralysis to contradict his explanations which place his ranting in the category of pseudoscience.

There are many sites explaining sleep paralysis as demonic activity but I prefer to believe the parsimonious explanation given by Lillenfield and the scientific points of the sleeping-with-a sleeping-disorder website.

Psychology, From Inquiry to Understanding Lillenfeld, Namy, Woolf,

Why do young people join the military?

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Why do young people join the military in the United States? This is a question that that is pertinent to me as well as I have joined the United States Army. There are several reasons why young people such as myself join the military.For some, the fact that the military will pay for higher education is quite enticing, for others the fact that serving the country they love is the highest act of patriotism. The public and politicians have their own views towards why we do what we do. Senator John Kerry, the same democrat who ran for president, was quoted saying to a group of college students, "You can either work hard in school or get stuck in Iraq." Such a statement like this is quite ignorant. The fact that some chose to serve our country and get the benefit of higher education does not mean that young people chose to join because they can't do anything else. The public have deemed our armed forces as the "poor man's force", believing that only the poorer population make up our military. The American Forces Press Service said that our military is almost completely middle class and those from poorer families are underrepresented in our military. So why does the public and our politicians make such extraordinary claims with no extraordinary evidence? The fact that majority of our troops are from rural areas of america, where many are near the poverty line, does not mean that they are uneducated or are serving for monetary reasons. In our now 100% volunteer force, our public should believe that all who join our armed forces do so to keep your way of life and freedom alive. We should be able to take advantage of benefits when we make such a decision and put our lives on the line for America.


Sleep Apnea

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Imagine waking up and feeling your throat closed off and you are unable to breath through your mouth and it is difficult to even breath through your nose. This is what happened to me last year in the fall. I woke up and my airway was mostly closed off and could barely breathe. I went to the doctors office and they told me that it was a mild form of sleep apnea brought about by an enflammed uvula in the back of my throat. I had always had a problem with a little snoring here and there but this time it was from pausing in my breathing from blockages in my airway.

Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder caused by a blockage of the airway during sleep. This problem causes people with apnea to snore loudly, gasp, and sometimes stop breathing for more than 20 seconds. (Lillenfeld, 172)


There are actually three types of sleep apnea. These are complex sleep apnea (CompSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Central Sleep Apnea is the incapacity of the brain to control or regulate the breathing pattern during sleep. Different symptoms associated involve pauses in breathing, sudden waking and shortness of breath, insomnia, and hypersomnia. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is obviously caused by the obstruction of the airway. Some symptoms here are pauses in breathing caused by obstruction, loud snoring, and choking while sleeping. Complex Sleep Apnea is the combination of both Central and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Out of all the three, obstructive sleep apnea symptoms affect the majority of the condition's cases. It is the most common, compared to the other two. CSA affects a small portion of cases, and CompSA is the rarest of the three.

Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized mainly by others witnessing the individual during incidents or is suspected because of its effects on the body. Symptoms may be present for years (or even decades) without identification which is exactly what happened to me, even though I do not have a serious case of the disorder.

Psychology, From Inquiry to Understanding Lillenfeld, Namy, Woolf

Hypnosis- The Amazing State!

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What does it mean to be hypnotized? Is hypnosis really as amazing as viewers of the events are led to believe? The answer is no. Unfortunately hypnosis is nearly a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions and behaviors.

When a hypnotist of a show asks his or her audience for volunteers they do so by choosing the volunteers that they can see are compelled to do outlandish things by choosing the volunteers with their arms raised more outstretched or by merely asking the entire audience to stare into a bulb while dimming the lights to create the hypnotic state and then asking the people that have been hypnotized by this procedure to come to the stage. The reason for hypnotists to use so many volunteers in a showing is because of the fact that the hypnotist actually does not have a great of an impact on suggestibility as he or she makes it seem. It is proven that people can resist and even oppose hypnotic suggestions at will.

Another popular idea is that people under hypnosis will loose touch with their surroundings. This is also a myth. In reality people under hypnosis are fully aware of their surroundings. They are even able to recall things such as a telephone conversation they had overheard during their hypnotic state.

To conclude this blog, hypnosis is unfortunately not as wonderfully amazing as we would like to believe it is. In fact, it is hardly amazing at all. It is merely a technique that is dressed up to be made to look like something it certainly is not.

Here is an example of an episode of Derren Brown hypnotizing a man in a photo booth and transporting him to Morocco without the man having any recollection of it.

Don't Wake Me, I'm dREaMing

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According to the psychology textbook REM (rapid eye movement) dreams "are emotional, illogical, and prone to sudden shifts in 'plot'" (Lilienfeld p. 170). I couldn't agree more with this statement.

I've been told that whether we are aware of it or not, we have dreams every night. If this is a fact or not I'm not sure, but I can say that since starting the new school year, my dream count has gone way up.

The content in chapter 5 has inspired me to focus this post on my most recent dream. My friend Molly was the focus of my dream. In the dream I was with a group of friends on campus, the only one missing was Molly. One of the friends that I'm with mentions that Molly has been missing for some time now but we all decide to go get pizza without her. Suddenly, my dream changes location. I am no longer on campus, in fact I'm no longer even in my dream. The only person I can see in my dream is Molly and in this scene she is sitting all alone in her car in an empty parking lot eating a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. In the dream all appeared to be going well for her until without warning I see her beginning to choke on a meatball. This is the point where my dream goes from being REM to lucid. Even though I'm not visually present in my dream anymore, it's as if my thoughts were. While seeing her choke I vividly remember thinking that someone needed to help her and then my thoughts switched to me not worrying because I had somehow come to realize that I was dreaming and Molly really wasn't choking on a meatball somewhere.

This dream followed the description of a REM dream.
It was emotional in the sense that I watched a friend choke but couldn't help them though I wanted to.
It was illogical in how could I see Molly choking without actually being present at the scene.
And lastly the plot shifted when I went from going to get pizza with some friends to seeing Molly choke.

My dream could also count as lucid dreaming. Though it didn't occur until later in the dream, once Molly started choking, I realized I was dreaming and that everything was actually okay because Molly wasn't in any real trouble.


Jet Lag: Circadian Rhythms & Exhaustion

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Last semester, I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain and I can distinctly remember the first few days being absolutely exhausting...I'd like to blame the concept of jet lag. We boarded a plane on a Wednesday night from Minnesota and arrived in Madrid, Spain on Thursday morning. I remember trying to stay awake that whole day seemed nearly impossible. We were exhausted, nauseas and despite the time of day when we landed, our bodies were ready for sleep. It took almost a full week for my body to "reset" and adjust to the new time zone.
In chapter 5, there is a paragraph discussing this concept of jet lag. This idea can be defined as the result of disruption of our body's circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythm is the cyclical changes that occur on a roughly 24-hour basis in many biological processes. In other words, it is what tells our body when it is time to sleep and when we should be alert and awake. As we travel across time zones our circadian rhythms need time to adjust and this adjustment time is when we experience the symptoms of jet lag.
According to an article by the National Sleep Foundation (the link is below), for years jet lag was considered a "state of mind" but now studies and research have proven otherwise. In this article, the foundation outlines treatment options or suggestions, sleep environments and factors that affect our sleep, and coping strategies for traveler's who are concerned with jet lag. By being aware of jet lag and using the article to prepare yourself for what your body may experience, you can take some of the recommendations and hopefully you won't end up wasting much time during your trip exhausted and trying to adjust!




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As I was reading the section "The Biology of Sleep" from Lilienfeld text, I was hoping to discover why I talk in my sleep. According to my friends and roommates, I often have very loud conversations with people, usually within the first two hours after going to bed, while completely asleep. Most of the instances where I was extremely coherent occurred when I was staying with friends or when I was sick as a child. But they do happen fairly often, especially after a very busy week. Because it wasn't mentioned in the text, I decided to do some of my own research to see what causes people to talk in their sleep.
I found that it is similar to sleepwalking in that it is a non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) parasomnia. According to Dr. Dennis Rosen, as our brain is changing sleep stages, there can be strong pulls to both wakefulness and deep sleep, which results in part of the brain continuing to be in slow wave sleep, while another part is simultaneously in a state of wakefulness; this causes a parasomnia. Similar to my experiences, he states that most parasomnias occur during the first third of the night, when the most slow wave stages occur. What interested me the most were what he said were the most frequent causes: sleep deprivation, sleeping in a strange location, and being sick. Considering my score of 12 on the sleep inventory in discussion, I think that sleep deprivation is most likely causing me to talk in my sleep so often.


Rosen, Dennis, M.D. "Why Do People Sleep Talk?" Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 24 May 2009. Web. 6 Oct. 2011. .

An Extraordinary Thing: Stars!

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Growing up in Africa we always sat outside watched the stars and listened to folktales. I would lie down on the bare ground and watch the stars and wonder what they were. Some of the neighbors would say they were our ancestors looking down on us and some would say they are the windows of heaven. I would giggle and act as if I could reach them. This was my favorite thing to do at night, I would lay there until I fell asleep and my parents would carry me inside. Even today I sit outside during the hot summer nights and lie on my back and watch the stars like I did so many years ago. I always wondered could there be another explanation other than; stars are big exploding balls of gas. When it comes to things such as Astronomy I think people need more proof about the actual origin of things, which is frankly quite difficult in this field.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!


This website describes all of the flaws wrong with the current theories on the origin of stars. I think it's fascinating that people are using scientific principles to take on theories and there relevance. This kind of phenomena of having a theory over the universe and then not having extraordinary evidence to back it up makes a topic filled with flaws. Stars are a fascinating part of the universe that we are not able to explain completely, but hopefully this extraordinary subject will be able to be enlightened more thoroughly in the near future with new high technology.

Gender: Baby, Were We Born This Way?

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Storm (in red) with older brother, Jazz

It's long been debated to what extent gender is a social construct. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker of Toronto decided to take matters into their own hands by attempting to take nurture out of the equation. By not revealing their child (Storm)'s gender to anyone, they hope to eradicate the nurture side of gender and let Storm decide who Storm is and what Storm's interests are. They also hope to decrease the likelihood that people will treat Storm according to his/her gender.
To my mind, parents raising gender-free children raise questions as to how effective their efforts will be. While most agree that gender is, to a certain extent, a social construct, research has been done to prove that there are aspects of gender present even in early infancy. Research has shown that babies as young as three months prefer to look at gender consistent toys (Alexander et al., 2009). With information such as that, how can these parents expect their child not to conform, to a certain extent, to its gender stereotype?
While it's nice to think that eradicating gender would lead to people becoming more truly themselves, it seems unlikely that in cases like these, the experiments can tell us to what extent that's possible. For one thing, the parents know their own child's gender; the family experiment is not double-blind. They could unconsciously affect what their child's identify by giving unintentional signals that they should follow one gender stereotype or another. Also, people could guess the gender of the child based on cues other than dress and hairstyle. Studies have shown that as early as age three, children prefer to be with other children of the same gender (LaFreniere, Strayer, & Gauthier, 1984; Whiting & Edwards, 1988). The third potential problem seems to be that people will treat the child whatever gender they think it is. If Storm decided to wear girlish clothing one day and very boyish clothing the next, people would treat him/her according to what role he/she seems to fit that day. They won't take away people's ingrained reactions to boys or girls, they'll just ensure that he gets both at different times.
Would you keep your own child's gender secret to protect them from societal expectations? Or does it seem ineffective? Worse yet, do you think that it will only lead them to being a bullied outsider? Give me your thoughts because I am actually curious what people think of this. While I'd love if all societal assumptions of gender were stripped away, I don't know if I think raising genderless children is the way to go.

Storm (Canadian gender-free child)

Pop (Swedish gender-free child)

Lucid Dreaming

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Whilst searching for an interesting blog prompt, I first stumbled across the idea of 'lucid dreaming' on a website called omg-facts.com (if you haven't heard of it, it's part of the Spartz Network, a site which contains a few interesting or mostly comical sub-sites). Anyways, upon further investigation, I learned that it's a pretty interesting concept, to me at least. The idea is that through training yourself mentally, you can be completely aware of your dream-self, and thus control your dreams to your heart's content. From a personal perspective, I am unable to master this concept. I wish I could though! Who wouldn't like to turn a night mare into a simply lovely dream instead? Sounds pretty good to me... The idea isn't new, by any means, however it has gained public interest in the last several decades due to increased experiments pertaining to the idea, and several books written on the subject by trusted scientists, including Cecelia Green who wrote the first book on the subject in 1969- Lucid Dreams. Basically, lucid dreaming can be split into two different categories: dream-initiated lucid dreams (DILD) and wake-initiated lucid dreams (WILD). DILD is defined as a person entering sleep normally, and eventually coming to the conclusion that he or she is dreaming, thus enabling them to extend some mental power and imagination and create their own dreams. WILD, however, I find more interesting. In this state, a person is perfectly awake and the next moment is in a full-on dream state, with no transition to be seen. This just seems so unnatural to me. I've heard stories of people sleeping with their eyes open, or suddenly awaking from a snooze they weren't aware they were in (guilty on that account) but this is something else entirely. Both forms of lucid dreams have the control factor in common though. One can be trained through mental exercises and of course, as with any skill, lots of practice. The main problem reported, after having mastered the whole realizing you're dreaming thing, is waking up too soon before being able to control anything in the dream. Not to say that once you realize it's all a dream that you have to control it, sometimes a person can choose to just enjoy the images and scenarios the brain invents for itself. Anyways, I think it's an interesting idea, even if it seems rather beyond my personal ability.

Q-Ray Bracelet Pseudoscience

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So I was out of town this weekend with my extended family and I found my aunt wearing a fairly goofy looking bracelet that she later intensely tells me without a doubt improves her body's natural chi and makes her life apparently "200% better". This sounded like pseudoscience to me, so I did some research. Above are a three links that talk about the Q-Ray bracelet.

The first site is the official Q-Ray Brand website and they boast some pretty heavy claims. Especially if you look at the videos on the right hand side. Their company tagline itself is lie:
"Q-Ray Is A Trusted Name In Wellness-Lifestyle Bracelets. Q-Ray Bracelets are Wellness-Lifestyle Bracelets that work to balance your own negative and postive energy forces, optimizing your Bio-Energy. A simple solution to feeling better and living better." However the company doesn't seem to tell you about how the $150 bracelet is made of simply steel and two magnets, and that not one single bit of admissible scientific evidence exists to support these claims. The only thing they use to verify the function of this bracelet are testimonials, and a very sad scientific attempt with the 'TCM Theory' (Traditional Chinese Medicine) of ying and yang.

If now you go to the second link you can see how these huge claims stand up when tested under legitimate experimental circumstances. Consisting of actual random selection and assignment as well as an established experimental and control groups, this Mayo conducted study quickly showed just how much a placebo this product truly was.

The Q-Ray marketing strategy is essentially to create an illusion of effectiveness by taking the absolutely low percentage of people who believe they feel extreme differences because of this bracelet and use them as fact as to the effectiveness of the product. If you check the third link you'll find that even despite the extremely liberal laws regarding what a company can claim a product might do the people over at Q-Ray are now handing over an impressive $11,800,000 back to consumers who were misled directly because of these extremely disprovable claims. In my opinion Q-Ray was doomed from the get go, if you want to make money based on something that doesn't offer any real benefits, only those of the psyche, you need to chose a product/service that falls into the realm of not being falsifiable.

Is it a "Big" Story? Or Just a Big Hoax

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Living in rural Minnesota, as a kid we always had campfires. And where you have campfires, you better expect to have roasted smores and scary stories. I can vividly remember all the the times that our parents would ramble on about monsters in the woods or creatures of the deep, and we never really thought anything of it. We were kids and would do anything to give each other an unsuspecting scare from the bushes later in the night.

But what if the stories were true?

It is common in rural areas to have an "old wive's tale" floating around as a part of the town's history, but sometimes you have to wonder how much of it is honestly true. It has become an almost regular occurrence to have someone make an extraordinary claim that has us questioning if things in our lives are real or false.

The link below is one example of an extraordinary claim:


The man claims to have seen "Big Foot," but does anyone actually have evidence to prove they have truly witnessed or found the creature? Let alone does anyone actually know (if it does exsist) what Big Foot looks like? There seem to be a lot of different encounters and they all vary to different degrees. Many have said they have photos (mostly of blurry objects in a wooded setting), molds of footprints, a few tuffs of hair, or other physical evidence besides their own words of the encounter. So we are all expected to believe it's true because we trust people, right?

That isn't the case. Psychologist use many different theories to evaluate different situations and for this example, the principle that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" comes to mind. It means exactly what it says. If you have something astonishing to tell the world, you better have some pretty strong evidence to back it up.

If nothing else, claims like this seem to catch interest for television stories. They may make us laugh (I know I laughed at the man carrying the stick in the video) because it more than likely isn't true... Or isn't it? I guess we will have to continue to rely on the facts and knowledge base that we already have for resources in order to handle crazy claims like this in the future.

Just Noticeable Difference

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The Just Noticeable Difference (JND) concept/theory is the smallest change in stimulus intensity or surge that humans can actually detect. This allows us to be able to tell the difference between two similar stimuluses. The Just Noticeable Difference is comparing to very similar intensities in stimuluses that are just a slight change. Whether the change be the slight movement of an object, the softness of music, or any other sense that a person is capable of in life. Since this concept involves senses it is limited to how accurate the humans senses are. I think this is very important because it shows us how accurate we can be when it comes to our senses of hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell. This is important to when it comes to finding differences and sometimes making key decisions in life. It is also just interesting to know the capability of a human and knowing our limits when it comes to identifying differences amongst our senses. Examples of this are something like when I go to the store I try to distinguish between the weight of bananas that I am thinking about purchasing because I want to pay less. My touch sense is trying to determine the differences but it has to be a noticeable difference because I can only identify the difference in weight so much because the stimulus can't tell the difference in intensity. This is a very interesting concept to learn about and the only questions I have are what are the smallest amounts of intensity in stimulus that we can identify when it comes to all five of our main senses. That would be very interesting to me.

Trichromatic Theory

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The trichromatic theory is a theory that believes three special cones in your eyes that are sensitive to red, blue, or green light. It is believed that in some people, one or more of the "special" cones do not work or are less sensitive to the colored waves. It is believed that this is the reason from which colorblindness stems from. For a nice, visual explanation of the theory, this Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-KzJ7_BuXM video sums it up quite nice.

I have seen evidence of this theory many times in my life. I have an uncle that is red-green colorblind and I have a close friend who is blue-yellow colorblind. It is odd sometimes when I am out with either one of them and I ask them to look at something and they ask me what is going on. But I wonder sometimes if it is a perception issue, because my friend told me that he used to be able to see blue and yellow (however, I have been susceptible to his lies before.)

I have also wondered if the illusions, such as this picture http://www.moillusions.com/wp-content/uploads/photos1.blogger.com/blogger/5639/2020/400/usa-flag.0.jpg, would work on people with colorblindness. Maybe if one could trick the cones/rods into seeing different colors that it would cause a reaction to the "dormant" ones and "reactivate" them. Its just something that I've been pondering for a while, and it is cool to see it pop up in my learnings. Plus, I used to make fun of my uncle for that when I was a kid. Little did I know that he was born with it. :/

The Loch Ness Monster. Is it real?

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As stated in the article from the link above, the Loch Ness Monster of England is supposedly a large, snake-like monster that has terrified tourists and natives alike. Though there have been sightings and even a few pictures, there is still the question of whether the monster really exists. For years, we have heard the tales of the Loch Ness Monster, how few have had the chance to see it, but when the time comes, many scramble to the shore, afraid of what might happen if Nessy would get close enough to actually make out it's features. However, as stated in one of the six principles of critical thinking, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Yes, there have been photos, such as the one in the article, but what is to say that it isn't a misshapen log? There is no way to be able to make out actual features, such as a mouth, eyes, or scales. And though the stories have been circulating for years, there has been no actually evidence that the Loch Ness Monster does, in fact, exist. There have been numerous studies done to find out if, in fact, there is a monster in the Loch Ness. However, these studies have done little to support the stories. The most recent study, done in 2003, proved to find no animal of any size within the lake. There have also been several "explanations" of what the photos and sightings could have possibly been, including eels, an elephant, or dead trees. These explanations seem slightly more accurate, though there are still recent sightings. Until some actual evidence is put in front of us, we will have to come up with our own explanations, or believe those that are given to us.

Binocular depth perception- artwork by M.C. Escher

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A topic that greatly interests me is a part of Chapter 4: Sensation and Perception of the Lilienfeld textbook. Due to my love of art, I have a lot of experience dealing with images that are meant to "fool the eye" into believing and/or seeing a setting that cannot exist by the very laws of nature. M.C. Escher is a very famous artist who experimented with techniques involving binocular cues and the effect that art can have with depth perception.

The key element in all of Escher's work was to include multiple vanishing points: points on a landscape that lead to the horizon and give the viewer a sense of depth and direction. Normally, images are created with one or two vanishing points that give a realistic sense to the viewer, yet Escher would use two or more points throughout his work and not keep these points consistent with all aspects of his art. I have included one of his most famous pieces, "Drawing Hands" was a lithograph created in 1948 (http://www.mcescher.com/Gallery/back-bmp/LW355.jpg). This piece represents a different stylistic perception tool that Escher used to confuse the viewer. This image has details that look three dimensional and some that are two dimensional. The viewer is constantly following the details of the drawing with his/her eyes and trying to make sense of the picture.

Tools such as these have interested me for years with my experience in drawing and painting. The artist is able to assert some level of control over the viewer by simple details within a piece of art. This power can be used to fool, confuse, persuade, and create interest in otherwise ordinary images.

CERN practices good science by not jumping to conclusions

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I'm sure everyone has heard about the neutrinos that scientists at CERN discovered that traveled faster than the speed of light--something that Einstein's special theory of relativity says is impossible. While there is no shortage of people trying to come up with explanations, the scientists at CERN have been very cautious. According to the team, "Despite the large significance of the measurement reported here and the stability of the analysis, the potential great impact of the results motivates the continuation of our studies in order to investigate possible still unknown systematic effects that could explain the observed anomaly. We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of the results." They are exercising very disciplined scientific skepticism by not saying that they PROVED Einstein's theory wrong.

Because extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, they will continue doing research before they make any interpretations of the data. They are also asking other researchers to verify their findings independently, which will help cover falsifiability and replicability, two principles of scientific thinking. Unfortunately, this may take years before we have a solid answer, but good science takes time.

common sense can be misleading

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More people die annually from donkeys than from plane crashes. That is a fact. It may come as a surprise to most of you because donkeys are not known as violent animals and plane crashes are such traumatic events that rarely leave survivors. Plane crashes create waves through the media when they occur and are also featured in fictional media much more than death do to donkeys. They may be more of a regular story in the media and therefore may be talked about more but that has to do with the fact that it is more news worthy and not because it is more common or likely to happen. Millions of people are some what scared when flying in a plane and i would say very few would be scared for their lives being around a donkey. The fact of the matter is both situations are extremely safe. Common sense has people thinking that a plane crashing is some what of a possibility, and no one would think of dying from a donkey as one. Both are beyond rare but it is clear that the media has a large influence in our judgment of what we consider possible threats. That is why this is an example of why common sense can be misleading.

common sense can be misleading

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Base rate fallacy

Limitless or another magic pill story

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I just finished watching Limitless on Netflix. What a great idea? You can take a pill and access 100% of your brain and the ability to quickly recall every event in your life down to the smallest detail. You can learn new languages in a flash, and harness the untapped power of complex mathematical equations. It all sounds too good to be true, but is it possible?
With the technology progressing at a cosmic speed, we're coming up with the new commercial pills every day. The most common and most profitable is the weight loss pill. It promises big results in no time, all you have to do is take one pill a day. It promises to give you better heath, good looks and more confidence. Sounds like a good deal, just like the one promised in Limitless. The one tablet magic pill will help you solve all of your problems.
Why does the concept of a magic pill sell? Is it an American thing that we want it fast and we want it now? That can't be an answer, because fast and convenient got us in trouble in the first place. We have been told that we must work hard and be patient, but when we grow up it all changes. Now, we don't want to work hard and have absolutely no patients. Who would want to work out two hours a day, do those crunches and yoga, eat salads and sacrifice the portion size, when you can take the magic pill and look good without sacrificing your time and pleasure?
Perhaps we are not to blame, but the child within us who still believes in magic wand, quick fixes for all our trouble.


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A topic in the reading that I found particularly interesting was when the authors were talking about extrasensory perception (ESP). ESP doesn't have an exact definition, but it can be broken down into three major groups. The first is precognition. This is where people predict events before they happen. The second and third ones are telepathy and clairvoyance; when people read other people's minds and detecting objects that are hidden from view, respectively. To me it seems that this is a topic that combines a lot of different aspects of psychology, such as different types of biases and critical thinking, into one single topic. Research on ESP has been done many times and they all have generally come back with mixed results. Most of the time though researchers can't come up with enough evidence to prove that ESP is a real thing, but sometimes they get results that show that maybe there is some sort of extrasensory perception. A lot of the studies are not replicable, because they tend to get different results every time.
Although most of the scientific researches on ESP have come back with negative results, an astonishing 41 percent of American adults believe there is ESP. People underestimate a lot of coincidences that happen and think that they experienced some sort of ESP. It builds up the confirmation bias that people have about extrasensory perception and it drives them to buy into the hype about it. For now no one really will know if ESP exists, but so far research with results that disproves it has been more prominent.

Breast Cancer Research and Confirmation Bias

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I enjoyed reading about the concept of a confirmation bias. The concept of confirmation bias addresses the sometimes unconscious bias we have as researchers for our projects and for our hypotheses. With a confirmation bias, researchers will see what they want to see and manipulate the evidence in a way that seemingly supports their ideas when, in reality, it may not. This concept goes further by coincidently ignoring evidence that may actually support in disfavor of the researchers hypothesis.
This concept has been very relevant during my time at the University of Minnesota, as I have worked in a breast cancer research lab for two years, and I know firsthand how easy it is to get attached to your hypothesis, especially considering the time and effort that goes into experiments to test it. That being said, when experiments didn't go the way I wanted them to, I often found myself attempting to seek evidence that would backup my hypothesis and attempt to ignore the evidence that went against it, wishing and hoping that my results would reflect my efforts. It took me a while to accept that things wouldn't always (and seemingly never) go the way you want them to in research, and that failure was a commonplace mainstay. It is this firsthand experience that made reading about confirmation bias so interesting for me.
I think it is also interesting that I was fully aware and cognizant of what I was doing; I knew that I was ignoring data and only seeing the evidence that I wanted to see. This realization did help me control my emotional desire to seek out the evidence that would support my hypotheses, but the confirmation bias was still present. This makes me wonder how much worse it would have been, or how much worse it is for people who are unaware that they are being biased, and gives me a new appreciation for the scientific methods of cross-examination and peer reviews.

What I thought I knew

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I think or at least what I have been witness to with friends, is that everyone has a fascination with psychology. The reason I think being is that when we see what are supposedly accounts of what psychologists do, there appears to be this sense that you can read people and therefor have control over the relationships that you have with people. Everyone wants to feel in control and know that they have a complete idea of who they choose to engage with. The fact being that that is simply not what psychology is about. I quickly and surely learned that there is so much to the science. This is a difficult subject studying the difficulty of the human mind and behavior. One area that has really surprised me over the course so far is the study of the eye. We all know that we use the eye to see, but the way perception and sensation through the eyes plays a significant role in the way we think is really kind of amazing to learn.

I have also kind of looked at psychology without the importance of research and that is why I think that many people fall so easily to the ideas of pseudoscience. These phenomenons make them believe that they have this kind of control over the relationships they have with people and things in life, as well as control over knowing how to explain the unknown as addressed in the book.

Over time I know this course is going to keep getting difficult and I am excited to learn more and more.

"Bat Boy"

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As many people know, bats emit high pitch sounds and then listen for the echos that return. This process, echolocation, is common in various animals. Could you imagine if humans used echolocation?

As I read through Chapter 4 on Sensation and Perception, I became very fascinated with the visual system. I couldn't imagine life without vision! So what fascinated me the most was the different visual problems. In the chapter, the author describes how the blind cope with their vision loss by relying more on other senses. I assume what comes first to most peoples minds is touch, but I thought back to a video I saw a few years ago about a blind 7 year old who uses echolocation to navigate through life.


Lucas Murray, a blind 7 year old, struggled through life dealing with his inability to see. He rarely left his parents side and lived in fear. That is, until Daniel Kish, a blind psychologist, taught him a practice called echolocation. Kish's practice of echolocation consists of clicking the tongue on the roof of the mouth and listening for the echos. Not only does this practice help blind people depict objects, locations, and even materials, but it also gives them more independence. Many blind people have grown accustomed to using a cane or a guide dog for means of navigation. One thing I find great about echolocation is that people do not need to rely on anything besides themselves. What I find the most fascinating is that the human brain is able to overcome one sensory deficiency with the reliance on other senses.

I found this practice to be very interesting and it left me wondering what cortex processed the echoes from echolocation. Would the auditory cortex or the visual cortex perceive this information?


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Out of all of the 6 scientific principals, replicability is the one that stands out the most. This principal stands out the most because if one cannot repeat an experiment and get the same results, then the original findings were not correct. There must have been something wrong with the original experiment that caused the results to be different. There are a lot of experiments going on and some researchers will go with their first findings and stick with the results and say they are done. For example, when I was a freshman I did a speech on the positive affects of drinking caffeine regularly. Studies had shown that drinking caffeine helped prevent cardiovascular disease, when drank moderately. When I was reading the peer reviewed articles about this, each one had multiple tests that were used to prove that these results were correct. I would have not used these articles if there was not enough evidence in them about my topic. This is just one example that I had on this topic. We have talked about this is a majority of my classes, which proves that this principal is pretty important. Being a Kinesiology student I would not have expected that kin and psyc were connected, and this is one of the many principals/concepts that connects them.

A 7ft 7 Year Old?!

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When learning about sensation and perception we investigated several different illusions and it reminded me of my childhood. I always loved optical illusions as a kid and vividly remember looking at an example of the Ames room illusion. I understood that what I was seeing was not exactly right however I just couldn't put my finger on it. There was a giant child on one side of the room and on the other there was a miniature adult.

Here is an example of the Ames Room illusion.


Basically I think this illusion is a good example of how things are not always what they seem. It is important in all aspects of our life to analyze what we perceive is going on in our surroundings. For example we see that something is wrong in this picture but what is it? (Maybe the huge child?) Our brains try to put visual cues together however our brain can be tricked.

The actual schematics of the Ames Room are particularly interesting. It is a trapezoid with the height of the ceiling changing. This is the reason why it looks as if the child is huge and it plays off several visual cues our brain pieces together. First we think that the two individuala are the same distance from us, however the adult is farther back additionally, the ceiling is much lower by the child, giving off the effect that she is much taller than the adult. Basically, I love this illusion and am very happy that I learned how it works.

"It's only a game- isn't it?"

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Everybody has heard of this game. The Ouija Board. This rectangular board with a triangular pointer, is said to allow you to communicate with the dead. All you need to do is place your fingers delicately on top of the pointer, ask a question, and let the spirits do the rest. To many this may sound ridiculous, but Parker Brothers sold 20-25 million of these boards, so there was at least some interest involved. I admit it. When I was younger I thought that it could really work and there are some people out there who truly believe it is possible to speak to people in the "other world". The problem with this, though, is it is nearly impossible to prove that speaking with the dead is possible.

According to the falsifiability principle of critical thinking, since the claim of contacting the dead is incapable of being disproved, it is not a claim that is supportable. With ouija boards it is especially difficult, because they are usually done with at least two people and one can never be entirely sure if the other person is being honest and not moving the piece. This also goes along with the principle of ruling out rival hypotheses, since one can never prove if the piece is really moving on it's own or not. Simply put, ouija boards cannot be supported by the critical thinker. Finally, speaking with the dead is often associated with people who have a "gift" Everyone does not have this "gift" further adding to the falsifiability principle. In order for a claim to be proven as true, everyone needs to be able to experience it. I've tried a Ouija Board and nothing happened... Just saying. If everyone, but me could do it, it would still not be able to be proven true.

Source :http://www.allabouttheoccult.org/ouija-board.htm

Confirmation Bias Coach

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One important concept that stood out to me was Confirmation Bias. I feel like this happens very often, as often as every day although we may not know or even notice it. From my understanding confirmation bias is when an individual or possibly even a group look for evidence to support their thoughts but when confronted with evidence against it, completely ignore and shut down this evidence. Confirmation is just one bias that affects our thought and mindset that we have to be careful to watch for. Take a scientist for example, one performing a test. They need to make sure they purposely don't make it so they get the results they want or it could completely ruin the test or come out with answers not necessarily true. It also affects various other concepts, not just those in experiments but ones in daily lives whether important such as political candidates or not as important such as sports teams.
The main reason I chose this this concept is because I dealt with a coach last year in hockey that met confirmation bias perfectly. He would often give me reasons, excuses as to why I would not be playing. I would go out and correct these mistakes which were keeping me from playing. After making these corrections and still not playing I would go to him with this evidence. When confronted by my evidence he would often push it to the side and ignore it all together or just create new excuses to as I was not playing. He may not have been performing a scientific test or coming up with his own scientific theories but when provided with evidence against his reasons for not playing me, he did just as anyone else with confirmation bias would do, deny, dismiss, and distort this evidence provided to him. Why couldn't he just admit he was wrong and move on? I think it was just one of those things where power is so important to people, that when proven wrong, they just feel the need to deny deny deny to make them feel better about the situation.

Mind Over Matter - From Magician to Perception

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Perception is the way our brain interprets how we detect the things around us. In most cases, it seemingly ties in visually because for most of us as human beings, "seeing is believing." However, it is not through our eyes that make us believe what we see. Instead, it is through the complex thinking of our brains that enable us to look past the missing pieces in an effort to create the big picture of what we may later deem "believable."

Our minds can play tricks on us, whether we are simply being ignorant, or whether we are left amazed by the unthinkable. When "mind over matter" is put into play, we're in for a surprise, especially when we become victims to illusion and the deceitfulness it leaves behind to spellbind us with awe.

Magicians are remarkably talented, leaving us perplexed with their performances. One well-known magician is Criss Angel, an illusionist and stunt performer that has devoted most of his life to the world of the unattainable and the unbelievable. Manipulating our minds and daring us to believe what we see, Criss Angel has gone to the extremes to bring our thoughts to a mind-stopping halt by making the impossible, possible. Or... So it may seem.

In one of his most astonishing "feats," Criss Angel successfully walks over water, propelling viewers into a shocking realization that perhaps he undeniably has magical powers.


However, Criss Angel, like many other magicians have secrets that make the unrealistic a reality, and the secret to his "Walking Over Water" performance is perfected with the concept of illusion and the way it tricks us into believing what we are seeing.


"Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see."

Apophenia: What should I believe?

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Society seems taken by the idea of pseudoscience: a set of claims that seem scientific but really aren't. One major section of pseudoscience is the idea of apophenia. Apophenia, the tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena, is possibly one reason why society is so drawn to pseudoscience. Statistics, paranormal paranoia, religion, gambling, and conspiracy theories all are examples of apophenia. Because apophenia is a part of pseudoscience, many people are skeptical about the idea.
A well-known example of apophenia is the commonalities chart between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. For example, it is a fact that both Lincoln and Kennedy were assassinated on a Friday while sitting next to their wives, they were both succeeded by men named Johnson, and both of their last names have seven letters total. I think it is more than a coincidence that there are so many commonalities between Lincoln and Kennedy, but unfortunately it cannot be proven.


Why can't the commonalities between Lincoln and Kennedy be proven to be more than a coincidence? Patterns such as this cannot be proven because they are not considered a part of traditional science. We may sometimes fall victim to confirmation bias and neglect evidence saying something is only random. As a society, we always seem to try to find meaningful connections or patterns between random or unrelated things. This is what leads us to experience apophenia. I, as a part of society, want to believe that things are more "special" than they really are, but evidence usually shows that things are too good to be true.
So what are we supposed to think about commonalities and apophenia? Until we can prove that things such as these are real and true, the world may never know what to think.

Sources: Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, Nancy Woolf

Russian the question

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As a multiple myself, I've been especially intrigued not only by the talk of twin studies, but also by that of family and adoption studies. When I was 11, a couple down the block adopted a baby named Samantha from Russia. I started babysitting her before she was a year old, and I still look after her sometimes; she's 8 now. When they first brought her home, I was curious about the adoption and how her parents would explain it to her. Even before her personality emerged noticeably and before she was capable of understanding much language, I noticed she always seemed happy and comfortable. If I hadn't known better, I never would have doubted that her parents here were hers biologically. Even her face seemed to resemble theirs.

As soon as Sam became capable of understanding, her parents made her aware of her history and how she was different from most children in this way. I think she viewed it simply as something that made her special. She liked to tell me basic things she had learned about her biological mother, and she cherished her little book of Russian translations. Though Sam knew about and was interested in her biological background, she displayed no unsettlement or longing for anything she did not already have. Her parents showered her with affection and attentive care, and she returned all the hugs and smiles just as lovingly. I can't imagine Sam in any environment different from her suburban home and Catholic school, surrounded by friendly neighbors and pets.

Soon after we learned about nature vs. nurture and adoption studies, I started thinking about whether Sam was placed into her adoptive family selectively and whether her traits came more from nature or nurture. I suspected her placement was selective, and then I contacted Sam's mother to discuss. Sure enough, Sam was indeed placed with her adoptive parents intentionally because their personalities and lifestyle compared closely to those of Sam's biological parents. In my mind it strengthens the idea that adopted children will feel more content and natural if their new families and environments prove similar to those in which they were born. It definitely makes it harder to decide whether the children's traits result from nature more than nurture or vice versa, though. I'd hesitate even to venture a guess in cases like Sam's.

We'd all agree that our families and environments of our childhood are important and shape the kind of people we become through adolescence and adulthood. If psychologists continue to study the effects of selective placement, especially as compared to random placement, then adoption agencies may be able to find better matches for more children. Children may be set up for the most natural and successful lives they could have. We know that genetics differentiate babies and continue to distinguish them as they grow. But their family backgrounds may play off these inherited traits more than we know. Even if we can never find a concrete answer, the search will prove worthwhile for the sake of the adopted children.

a photo to illustrate Sam's happiness with her mom:

I browsed this site for a while and was shocked not to have found anything about selective placement:
It's still a good resource for further information on adoption and its effects, and it's interesting to theorize and compare it to international adoptions for Americans.

Baby in a Box

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Sometimes headlines can be misleading. That was the case for B. F. Skinner. Skinner was a well know psychiatrist who lived in Minnesota and was trying to create a place his daughter could sleep comfortably in winters without having to wear so many layers and blankets to bed.

The result was the "baby tender," as Skinner called it. It was roughly the size as any normal crib but resembled more of a hospital incubator. The baby could sleep in a bed in cased with insulated walls and on one side there was glass that could be opened like a window. Inside the temperature could be set to keep the baby at a perfect temperature.

The baby tender seemed like it could be a success until an article headline read, "Baby in a Box," was a picture of a baby in a smaller portable baby tender. Right away people assumed the article was negative and harmful to the baby and accused Skinner of during experiments with his daughter. But if people wouldn't have been too quick to rule out rival hypothesizes and actually read the article they would realized Skinner was doing more of a "happiness through health," experiment. Instead the people who only read the headline or heard it from someone else automatically started questioning Skinner. It didn't stop there, years latter when his daughter grew up rumors started that she sued her father for psychological damage growing up and committed suicide.
Once again they ruled out rival hypothesizes too quickly. As Skinners daughter later did an interview saying how she grew up perfectly happy and still was.

In the end, people can't only read the headline, which can lead to misinterpreting the actual article. It goes both ways for the newspaper editors for putting Skinner in a bad light. None of this was Skinner's fault at all, he was just the target once people misread the article as a whole.


I taste colors; my life now makes "sense"

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So far, my favorite topic covered in class is Sensation and Perception. In my understanding, sensing is simply becoming aware of some sort of stimulus from the outside world. The stimulus is then transferred to the brain where it is interpreted based on past experiences with that object. Sensation is important because it allows us to experience and become aware of our surroundings but perception is what actually determines what we are sensing and how we should react. As the book explains, sight relates to sight, sound to sound, and so on but one concept really fascinated me: Synethesia.
From my understanding, synesthesia is simply the phenomenon when our senses cross paths with each other and so our perceptions of those senses begin to relate to something otherwise unrelated. This phenomenon relates personally to me. As a child, I remember I would explain that I could taste colors, that certain food tasted like some shade of black (my most memorable experience is when my Dad got upset because he thought I implied that he burned the steak). My senses are correct that I am only tasting food, but my perception of that experience becomes entangled with another completely unrelated sensory stimulus, experiencing color.
I have since grown out of this and can't honestly remember the last time I tasted a color, but another quirk of mine relates to this as well. When I read, I sometimes personify letters and words. More often than not, I notice that certain letters are becoming angry and I myself respond by becoming anxious. At first I thought this was simply due to the plot or tone of the writing but even a textbook can get emotional once in a while. The main question I still have is if synethesia is a temporary condition, permanent or if it can link to other crosses. Like I said, I haven't tasted colors in quite some time but is it possible that my color tasting ability transformed into my perceiving the emotions of letters?
Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KApieSGlyBk

Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

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A phenomenon that has caught my interest during these first few weeks is no doubt one that nearly all of us have been guilty of, whether we like to admit it or not. One should not be ashamed to have fallen victim to this occurrence because we are usually not even aware that it is happening. The halo effect is the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area, and it has the power to heavily influence the relationships we have with other people.

While doing some introspective thinking on the topic, I decided to delve into previous memories where I might have let the halo effect influence the impression I've had on people I've met. It didn't take long for me to come to the conclusion that I was almost always more likely to buy something from an attractive salesperson than an unattractive salesperson. Especially in the event of purchasing clothes, I think it is safe to say that people are more reassured in their purchases when an attractive and well-dressed salesperson is holding their hand along the way. This hypothesis follows Occam's Razor because it is the simplest explanation for the phenomenon, as opposed to a hypothesis that one would attribute to the salesperson's talent love of their job and ability to relate to customers on a deeply personal level (which we all know is a very unlikely situation). If you are in need of further proof for this hypothesis, compare the men and women you see employed at Abercrombie & Fitch, Burberry, and Sax Fifth Avenue to the ones employed at Walmart. Harsh? (If you are reading this and currently employed at Walmart, I'm sure you are the exception).

Not only does the halo effect occur in situations that have to do with physical appearance, but it is also important when evaluating another's personality traits. For example, the video below involves a study where two different groups of women are asked to watch a dating video made by a man for a dating website. Little did they know, while the script given to the man was the same for both groups, one group saw the man perform the script with an "upbeat" tone, while the others saw it performed with a "downbeat tone". Even though both groups witnessed the man saying the exact same thing, the group that heard it with an upbeat tone had a much higher opinion of the man than the second group who heard the downbeat tone. The halo effect did not stop there, even at the end of the study where both groups saw the opposing video, they were not willing to change their original point of view. This is the staple of the halo effect; having one characteristic influence most of the others you observe about a person.

The replicability of this is excellent because you could duplicate the same study and most likely get the same results every time.

One of the most dangerous situations caused by the halo effect is unhealthy relationships. People will often stay in relationships that hurt them physically or emotionally because of a few positive characteristics of the person that blinds their proper judgement. However, the halo effect can be a very useful tool in the business world. A technology that we're all familiar with, the iPod, has had a positive effect on all of Apple's products since its release.

As you can see, the halo effect has a huge impact on our lives because it influences the way we perceive people and interpret their actions toward us. Therefore, because we are never aware that it is happening, it is impossible for us to prevent it from happening. Only in retrospect can we evaluate the way we originally evaluate people and decide whether that evaluation was accurate or not. Until then, attractive salesmen everywhere will continue to drain my bank account.


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I love the concept of placebo's. I think it has the potential to be very effective, but it's also pretty funny. Something that drew me into this concept was an episode of Boy Meets World (my favorite show). I also think this is really funny because my dad has been put on placebo's without knowing it! My dad is also someone I'd refer to as a hypochondriac!
(start the clip at 2:55)


Taken from the text, I think it's amazing that even though people are taking pills that are supposed to be "curing" them, they are really just curing themselves with their own self confidence and training their brains to believe that their health in fact is improving. The fact that expectations can create reality really reinforces the power the human brain does have.

However the only way a new drug can prove effectiveness is if the patients do not know whether they are receiving the actual drug or the "dummy pill". It's critical to an experiments that the participants and patients are "blind". Expectations really waiver when a patient finds out that they are taking a placebo, simply because our brains now know that nothing is happening, therefore our expectations for effectiveness are ruined.

We all know that one person that just wants something to be wrong with them, and is constantly going to the doctor. Like that one person on Facebook that is constantly whining about how they're sick... again... We should probably give that person a placebo pills one of these days, just to see if their making it up in their head just to get attention, or if they're genuinely sick!

Another very similar concept is the nocebo effect. This refers to the expectation of harm. An example of this is when you think someone is going to hit you but they don't, and you flinch anyway. You expect harm and even when it doesn't, you react to that harm. Another example is when a baby falls down, laughs about it, but than see's blood and begins to cry!

Breast Cancer Research and Confirmation Bias

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I enjoyed reading about the concept of a confirmation bias. The concept of confirmation bias addresses the sometimes unconscious bias we have as researchers for our projects and for our hypotheses. With a confirmation bias, researchers will see what they want to see and manipulate the evidence in a way that seemingly supports their ideas when, in reality, it may not. This concept goes further by coincidently ignoring evidence that may actually support in disfavor of the researchers hypothesis.
This concept has been very relevant during my time at the University of Minnesota, as I have worked in a breast cancer research lab for two years, and I know firsthand how easy it is to get attached to your hypothesis, especially considering the time and effort that goes into experiments to test it. That being said, when experiments didn't go the way I wanted them to, I often found myself attempting to seek evidence that would backup my hypothesis and attempt to ignore the evidence that went against it, wishing and hoping that my results would reflect my efforts. It took me a while to accept that things wouldn't always (and seemingly never) go the way you want them to in research, and that failure was a commonplace mainstay. It is this firsthand experience that made reading about confirmation bias so interesting for me.
I think it is also interesting that I was fully aware and cognizant of what I was doing; I knew that I was ignoring data and only seeing the evidence that I wanted to see. This realization did help me control my emotional desire to seek out the evidence that would support my hypotheses, but the confirmation bias was still present. This makes me wonder how much worse it would have been, or how much worse it is for people who are unaware that they are being biased, and gives me a new appreciation for the scientific methods of cross-examination and peer reviews.

The Logical Left and the Creative Right

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Hemispheres in our Brain: Do They Have An Effect on our Personality?
In previous psychology classes, we were taught the differences between 'left brained people' and 'right brained people'. Left brained people were supposedly more analytical and logical, more 'type A' people if you will, and those who relied on their right side of their brain more were more creative and spontaneous. In the Lilienfield textbook, it describes 'lateralization' or "cognitive function that relies more on one side of the brain than the other". Since I took my first psychology class in high school, I'd thought of myself as more of a right-brained person, but since enrolling in this class and learning about all the different regions of the brain and it's functions, I wondered--is there any truth behind the theory?

If you look above, you'll see a YouTube video containing a spinning image of a woman. Supposedly, it is suppose to be a test if you are rely more on the right side of your brain or your left. When in actuality, it's an optical illusion (another term in our book) that has to do with our vision, not our personality. And let's, be honest, when you say it like that, the whole concept of being more right brained just sounds ridiculous. Scienceblogs.com comments there are functional asymmetries in the brain and that certain hemispheres are "specialized for particular functions" but the notion of the illusion having to do with our human characteristics is "absolute nonsense". Perhaps I see the woman spinning clockwise because I want to be a more 'right brained person', more creative; I am an art major after all.

In fact, the 'left brain/right brain' theory derived from phrenology, another term in our textbook, saying that the physical shape of our brain has to do with our characteristics and personality. As the field of psychology grew, this was of course disproved, as has the left brain/right brain theory. Both theories have since been disproved by the extraordinary claim principle; the evidence to support the hypothesis was not nearly strong enough as the claim. So in conclusion, the hemispheres in our brain don't control our personality traits. It just takes a little scientific thinking to rule out the connection between an optical illusion and how our brains will perceive it, to human characteristics.

Eye Respect Perception

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Accommodation is when the lenses of the eyes change shape to help us focus light on the back of the eyes, specifically the retinas. This especially comes in handy because we are looking at objects ranging from distances of two inches to ten miles or more in our everyday lives. Accommodation can cause the eye to be elongated in order to see farther objects, or flattened in order to see closer objects. Unfortunately, our eye's ability to do this becomes worse as worse as we get older because our eyes become less flexible. We could find ourselves squinting sometimes to try and consciously elongate our eye to see a far away object. Squinting may help us heighten sensation so our rod and cone cells of the retina can transduce the light and send it through our optic nerve to the brain were it can be perceived, but what if a misshaped eye is not the problem for the final perception?
As a child, I found myself thinking that squinting was a normal thing for adults and then I found myself starting to squint too. It was a slow process, probably over the course of two years, becoming nearsighted. The objects that I needed to squint at were became closer and closer. So, in fifth grade I got glasses because my eyes were just too misshaped my doctor told me. I did not care, because it sure solved my squinting problem.
In eighth grade, my brother (who was in fourth grade at the time) were arch rivals in our favorite game, Halo 2. We were actually a good match for each other. But then one day, I noticed Nicholas squinting at the TV when we were playing. I thought it was no big deal; I got glasses around that age too so I thought his eyes must be becoming misshaped. Squinting means you need glasses for a misshaped eye so he will need glasses one day. I wish I would have known about correlation and causation back then...
Over the course of two months, Nicholas went from beating me in Halo 2 about a third of the time, to almost never. I thought it was because I was just becoming so much better. But then Nicholas failed a school eye exam. Terribly. And only for one eye. My mom took him to the eye doctor and they told us his optic nerve was slowly detaching from his retina. Now that I learned about the parts of the eye in psychology, I know that his brain had a lack of perception because his brain could not even receive the sensation signal that was transduced by the retina.
Luckily, Nicholas got surgery to keep his optic nerve attached but some eye damage was already done. He could have been blind in one eye so I guess we are lucky to have him have vision in both eyes. Knowing how the objects and visual sensations can go from light wavelengths to electrical signals in the brain is very important, especially to me. Sensation, transduction, and perception are important concepts, and so are the parts of the body that contribute to these complicated processes. We should know how they all work together to give us the full awareness of our world, because it is then that we can learn to respect and appreciate our bodies and minds. Are there any senses that you appreciate more now that you know about sensation, perception and transduction, and the parts of the body that are required for those processes?

Confirmation bias and being a sports fan.

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The section of the reading that stood out to me during was about cognitive biases especially the concept of confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is the tendency of people to argue for their hypothesis by looking for only evidence that supports their argument, while at the same time ignoring or changing counter evidence. Cognitive biases are important because they determine how humans argue and demonstrate a way that arguments can be disproved. These natural behaviors are very common and are not good tendencies to have during arguments. Confirmation bias is definitely a common cognitive bias which I have seen many friends use during arguments and that I definitely use very often especially when it comes to my favorite sports teams and players. Especially my absolute favorite basketball player, Lebron James. I am pretty much the only one of my friends and family that loves this athlete. I will argue until I lose my voice about how he is the best player in the world and all other players are nothing in comparison. When I read about confirmation bias, even though it was hard to admit, I realized that this is what I do. I only look for evidence and explanations that support my theory about Lebron and anything else that is said I ignore or come up with a way to make it not matter. For example when the Miami Heat (my favorite team) lost the NBA finals to the Dallas Mavericks, I constantly came up with reasons why Dallas should not have won, and defended Lebron's below par performance. This is a definite example of confirmation bias. I feel like this bias is very common for all passionate sports fans. If you care enough about a team or an athlete, you will defend them no matter what it takes. This is a common bias that I don't see myself stopping anytime soon, however I will be aware of this and other cognitive biases while I am making arguments. The only question that comes to mind about this subject is, can these biases be avoided or are they too built into human nature?

Sources: Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, Second Edition. 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. Allyn and Bacon Boston, Massachusetts

Kiss Lipstick Lies Goodbye

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The average woman swallows 6 lbs. of lipstick during her lifetime.
Link: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/lipstick.asp

Looking at this statement, I thought to my own lipsticking habits. And to my mother's make-up regime, and then to routines of all the other women I know. And based off of my previous make-up experiences, I decided to evaluate this claim using the "extraordinary claims" principle of critical thinking. Considering how little lipstick one puts on with every swipe, I decided that it would take quite a bit of evidence to convince me that a person could actually swallow six pounds of it, even over a lifetime. And, as I suspected, there is very little to no evidence that backs up this report. Based on the weight of one tube of lipstick (approximately 3 grams) about 151 tubes of lipstick weigh one pound. That means a woman would have to swallow around 906 tubes of lipstick during her life. This claim assumes that the average woman applies lipstick anywhere from 9 to 31 times a day and swallows all of it, for 55 years of her life.


There is not really an alternative explanation that would make this claim seem plausible; the average woman just does not wear enough lipstick to make this realistic. However, I believe that an alternate explanation could be provided, perhaps, for how this number came to be. It is possible that if the researcher only looked at say, models, or another nonrandom group of women, that the number of lipstick applications could be higher, possibly closer to the range necessary to swallow six pounds.

Lynn, Steven, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf. "Psychology and Scientific Thinking." Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. By Scott Lilienfeld. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. 1-36. Print.

Mikkelson, Barbara, and David Mikkelson. "Snopes.com: Swallowed Lipstick." Snopes.com: Urban Legends Reference Pages. 14 May 2010. Web. 02 Oct. 2011. .

How Eye See Things

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Early one morning while I was on my way to school I noticed a strange scary fog to my right. As I was driving, for some strange reason it kept moving further right every time I tried looking at it. I started to think that it was a ghost following me. Then I finally realized my glasses were just foggy. It's so amazing how our eye can trick us. I've always wondered how the eyes perceive the world. Let's travel inside our eyes, our window to the world, and learn how they allow us to see our surroundings.

Now let's get into more details of how the eye works. Just to warn you, there's a grip load of information coming up so prepare yourself. First off, let there be light. In order to see, we must have light. Light reflects off an object enters the eye. The light then travels through the front window of the eye, the cornea. The cornea helps us focus the light. The light then continues to the pupil. The pupil and the iris is the circular colored part of the eye which contains a reflex response to light. Depending on how much light that enter the eye, the iris may either contract or dilate to decrease or increase the amount of light that goes farther into the eye. This light now travels through the center of the eyeball and reaches the final destination, the photo receptors of the retina. This inner lining of the back of the eye, the retina, has many working parts to it. There are blood vessels, fovea, photo receptors, retinal pigment epithelium, choroid, and the sclera. The photo receptors then sends signals to a set of nerve bundle call the optic nerve. The optic nerve sends the visual signals to the back of our brain, the occipital lobe, where vision occurs. This is where light reflected from an object is finally seen as an image.

Phew! That was a lot of information. In other words seeing is like having light reflected from an object, entering the eye, been focused, converted into signals, sent to the brain and interpreted as an image. So that's how eye see things. If you still don't get it, just let Bill explain it to you. Bill Nye the science guy. Bill! Bill! Bill!

Placebos: A legitimate substitute to regular medications?

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Throughout history we have always sought out remedies for everyday illnesses we experience, medicine being the solution to those problems. New discoveries in chemistry has led to the creation of the thousands of pharmaceuticals that are given today to treat the seemingly endless amount of sicknesses people experience. But what if we were able to fight these illnesses without the use of a chemically engineered pill, but instead a single capsule filled with nothing more than sugar and water along with the expectation of getting better. We see this idea in the concept of the placebo effect, where improvement is seen from the mere expectation of improvement. An article from science daily describes the effects of the placebo on one of the most common daily medical conditions, headaches. Headaches are usually caused by tension in the head or neck that create a throbbing pain and can interfere with most daily activities. A study done by a group of Dutch researchers took a group of 119 patients who reported chronic headaches, giving real treatment to half and used a placebo on the other half. The group that received the placebo actually had a higher percentage of pain relief. Why does this happen? Is it true that our beliefs can sometimes create reality? There are few theories behind why the placebo effect works. The first is known as the subject-expectancy effect, where people already know what the outcome of taking the pill is supposed to be, so even if the pill is a placebo they might unconsciously change their reaction to bring about that result. Another theory is that we have become classically conditioned to expect relief when a medication is taken. Although both of these theories are subjective, relying on the report of the patient alone, they seem to be good explanations for the placebo phenomenon. The idea behind the placebo effect is very important in understanding how the human brain works. It goes to show that we have more control over our bodies by use of our brain than we may think. Being able to change the way you feel without the aid of pharmaceuticals and by brain power alone is a remarkable feat. The placebo effect will continue to be studied and applied to patients in hopes of understanding its underlying effects.

The Princess and the Frog

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Growing up in a Disney movie era, I am sure that most individuals have come to know that if you stumble upon a forlorn good-looking frog whilst on your evening walk along the pond, kissing it would not conjure up a long sought after prince charming. But if you're desperate enough to try it anyway could your sour desperation and that frog curse you with violently rampant warts?

Toad.jpgWell, if you have ever kissed a frog you may be relieved to know that frogs do not actually cause warts. This old wife's tale most likely comes from the correlation between frogs and witches. Frogs and toads have often been characterized as witch's familiars and, as the stories go, are used as poisons and other mysterious functions within their potion brews. In the past it was thought frogs were evil because they would live in dark, damp, swampy places. These locations tend to be correlated with the abodes of the dark and devious witches. The bumps on a toad's back, looking similar to the warts that would protrude from the witches noses most likely led to the belief that frogs and toads cause the warts. Some stories even go as far as to depict the witches green as well as warty. The important thing to remember here is that correlation doesn't equal causation. To this day there has been no evidence that frogs or toads cause warts for humans. Human warts actually come from a virus that is passed through touch from person to person. So, if you're out strolling through a swamp looking for prince charming, feel free to kiss away.


wiggle room?

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So I don't know exactly what to say just that when i was watching the lecture about gewirtz i had a question come up that maybe someone can answer. So like if someone can wiggle their ears do they have a special neuron in their cerebral cortex just for that, because it would be considered a fine motor skill? I'm asking because I know only some people can and most people can't. It runs in my family and there are about 30 people in my family and only 5 of us can wiggle our ears.
Like i said this question just popped into my head when i was watching the lecture. I only know of one other person that can wiggle their ears that's not a member of my family. Can anyone else wiggle their ears? I know this is more of a biological question instead of psychology question.

Also I know someone who has the prosopagnosia. I haven't asked her but what causes prosopagnosia? Is it like a birth defect or something that develops over time?

Terror Management Theory

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Terror Management Theory is used by humans to avoid the thoughts of death by embracing worldly cultures and belief systems to find a purpose or sense of being in their life. It is used everyday by individuals across the world to cope with their ultimate fear of death. It is important to humans to have this ability to give them a sense that their life matters in the end. People find comfort in various things such as religion, astrology, pseudoscience, and activities that give them a sense of purpose. If human didn't have this fear of death I believe there would be a failure of ambition in this world. There would be no need to accomplish any task or believe in a high being because there would be no thought of death thus no fear of what happens after life. This I believe separates the species of human from the rest of the animal population. By searching for comfort we invest in people, beliefs, material objects, and many other things that help us to cope with existence. I use terror management theory to give me a sense of worth by achieving in various aspects in my life and trying to be the best I can be in hopes of leaving behind some mark for the world to know I had existed and been influential upon it and its people.


The article examined how college students reacted after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. They measured TMT and discovered that many students immediately had a difficulty understanding the circumstance and then wanted to withdraw from society. Many others felt they needed to be more involved with their community. We can use reliability/converging lines of evidence to evaluate this claim by looking at other large-scale terroristic attacks that had occurred in history and how general populations reacted to them. We can look at the terroristic attack in Norway and how the people reacted to that. Many in a sense of disbelief and a feeling of being lost because they cannot comprehend the magnitude of what just occurred. I believe that they feel this way because it is a dreadful reminder that we are not invincible and eventually we too will see the grave.


One of my questions would be do people with suicidal tendencies lack this sensation? Also at what age do we understand that we will eventually die?


Is advertising becoming subconscious?

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While watching an intense sporting event or your favorite drama series, commercial breaks in between scenes can be an annoyance. As we've become more exposed to these commercials, we have an automatic defense up against them. We know that their purpose is to persuade us to buying their product and by knowing that, we don't fully pay attention to their tactics or messages. What if these commercial makers had a different approach to subconsciously persuade us to buy their product? Research has shown that the use of subliminal messaging affect viewers more dominantly than actual advertising. In the Lilienfeld text, subliminal messaging is defined as a perception below the limen or threshold of conscious awareness, which translates as a logo or short message hidden in a different message or event (130). This theory is important because the effect that advertising has on viewers is changing. Subliminal messaging is very interesting because a subconscious message can be more effective than a conscious one. As I reflect on this theory and research, I want to know the actual data behind the claim. I hear the conclusion of the theory, but I'm unsure of the steps taken to get there.

I watched a YouTube video by Duke University, researching the effect of subliminal messaging. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iJWyiaXLLw) They constructed an experiment to test the effect of subliminal messaging. They assigned people into two groups: one viewed a video with subliminal messaging, one did not. The subliminal video included an Apple® visual mixed in with a visual of a box. To further complicate the viewers and to assure the Apple® is subliminal, the viewers had the task of summing up a series of numbers shown in between showing a box on the left or right side of the screen. It is claimed that the Apple® logo is associated with a sense of creativity and innovativeness. They hypothesized that those viewing the subliminal Apple® would be more creative. To test this, they asked the viewers to think of creative ways to use a brick. They found that those that viewed the subliminal Apple® advertisement found more creative ways to use a brick. By using Occam's Razor, I wonder if a simpler explanation can be used to fit the theory just as well. Those who were supposedly more creative after the subliminal message could be more creative people normally. They didn't say they previously tested the viewers' creative abilities. By using this scientific thinking principle, we can perhaps assume that these viewers who proved to be more creative are naturally more creative than those who weren't exposed to subliminal perception.

Although this experiment and theory is interesting, I would be interested in more research. Also, I question the claim of Apple® being a symbol of creativity and innovativeness. As a PC user, I view Apple® as a more expensive, less quality computer. Assuming that all people view Apple® being more innovative is another questionable claim Duke has.

An Extraordinary Thing: Stars!

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On Tap

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When I was younger, I was told that to prevent a soda from fizzing over when you opened the can, you should tap the top of your can a few times. Ever since then, I've tapped the top of my soda can every single time I've opened one; it has become a habit. After doing some research for this blog post, I found this entry stating that the entire thing is a myth, and that tapping your soda can before you open it actually makes no difference in the amount of fizz that comes out. Because fizz is created by forcing carbon dioxide and water together under pressure, an un-opened can of soda is nearly fizz-free because the high pressure inside the can forces the carbon dioxide to stay within the liquid in the can. The pressure is reduced when the can is opened, and it is this event that creates the fizz in the can.

Shaking a can of soda creates bubbles within the liquid and breaks the bond between the carbon dioxide from the liquid in the can; therefore, there is more pressure and more carbon dioxide looking to separate from the liquid which causes an explosion of fizz when you open a can. After hearing that tapping the can does nothing to prevent fizz, and seeing the experiment that the people from the website did to prove this. I decided to try it for myself. I took three cans of Diet Coke, shook each one vigorously for 5 seconds, and then opened each one differently. For the first can, I opened it immediately after shaking it; the soda sprayed out of the can and fizzed over the top. For the second can, I let it sit for ten seconds and then opened the can. Rather than spraying into the air, the fizz simply just came up and overflowed out of the can. For the third can, I tapped the top of the can for ten seconds and then opened it, obtaining the same results as I had for the second trial: the fizz came up and overflowed out of the can the same way it had after letting it sit for ten seconds.

After doing the experiment for myself, I have to admit that I was slightly surprised that tapping the can really did have no effect on the fizz within the can; I have been doing it for as long as I can remember! As with many things, the fizz dies down with time, so next time I grab a can of soda, I'll just have to let it sit for a few seconds before trying to open it.

On Tap

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When I was younger, I was told that to prevent a soda from fizzing over when you opened the can, you should tap the top of your can a few times. Ever since then, I've tapped the top of my soda can every single time I've opened one; it has become a habit. After doing some research for this blog post, I found this entry stating that the entire thing is a myth, and that tapping your soda can before you open it actually makes no difference in the amount of fizz that comes out. Because fizz is created by forcing carbon dioxide and water together under pressure, an un-opened can of soda is nearly fizz-free because the high pressure inside the can forces the carbon dioxide to stay within the liquid in the can. The pressure is reduced when the can is opened, and it is this event that creates the fizz in the can.

Shaking a can of soda creates bubbles within the liquid and breaks the bond between the carbon dioxide from the liquid in the can; therefore, there is more pressure and more carbon dioxide looking to separate from the liquid which causes an explosion of fizz when you open a can. After hearing that tapping the can does nothing to prevent fizz, and seeing the experiment that the people from the website did to prove this. I decided to try it for myself. I took three cans of Diet Coke, shook each one vigorously for 5 seconds, and then opened each one differently. For the first can, I opened it immediately after shaking it; the soda sprayed out of the can and fizzed over the top. For the second can, I let it sit for ten seconds and then opened the can. Rather than spraying into the air, the fizz simply just came up and overflowed out of the can. For the third can, I tapped the top of the can for ten seconds and then opened it, obtaining the same results as I had for the second trial: the fizz came up and overflowed out of the can the same way it had after letting it sit for ten seconds.

After doing the experiment for myself, I have to admit that I was slightly surprised that tapping the can really did have no effect on the fizz within the can; I have been doing it for as long as I can remember! As with many things, the fizz dies down with time, so next time I grab a can of soda, I'll just have to let it sit for a few seconds before trying to open it.

Can Your Cell Phone...?

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Have you heard the claim that you can use your cell phone and a spare remote key to open your car door? Have you heard that cell phones can pop popcorn? Or even cook an egg? These are all claims that revolve around an object that almost everyone has: a cell phone. There are many hoaxes, claims, and falsities all around us. We can use some of the six principles to scientific thinking to evaluate these claims.

First, the claim that person A can push the unlock button on a remote keyless device while pointing it at their phone, and simultaneously person B holds their cell phone near the car door. The car door will unlock, or NOT? Using the scientific principle of correlation versus causation, was person B holding the cell phone near the car door while person A pushed the unlock button into another cell phone causing the car door to unlock, or was there a different cause? Occam's razor says the simplest explanation is usually the most likely. Snopes.com reveals that in cases where the claim "worked" the keyless remote was still within range of the vehicle, so it transmitted the signal the usual way (through the air) rather than through a cell phone connection. The claim is falsifiable because people can try unlocking a car door through a cell phone. I tried it when my mom locked her keys in the car. It didn't work. This claim does not work because keyless remote signals use radio frequencies, and are not sound-based, so the signal cannot be transmitted through cell phones. The "old-fashioned" methods of someone driving the keys to the locked car, or getting a locksmith, still appear to be the best.

Second, the claim that activated ("ringing") cell phones can pop popcorn kernels can also be evaluated using scientific principles. Regarding the principle of correlation versus causation, does having cell phones ringing next to popcorn kernels cause the kernels to pop, or is there a different cause? The situation has been repeated numerous times, with videos all over YouTube displaying attempts to get the kernels to pop. The popping is not able to be repeated (using just cell phones and popcorn), so the claim is falsifiable. Abraham Glezerman, CEO of Cardo Systems, Inc. (a Bluetooth company), went on CNN and revealed that it was false, a case of viral advertising. Finally, we need to consider Occam's razor. Are cell phones popping popcorn kernels the simplest explanation? It was actually a camera trick. The popcorn was cooked the conventional way and digital editing was used to add in popped kernels and take out unpopped kernels.

Finally, the claim that cell phones can cook an egg is an extraordinary claim that does not have extraordinary evidence supporting it.

CNN video

Jesus & I: The Metaphysical Claims of Religion


One would have to concur without question that metaphysical claims are quite appealing in terms of God. Indeed, they may not be scientifically established nor tested in a laboratory setting whatsoever, but they are persuasive and can oftentimes prolong international incentive for love or even for hate (war). I do not have knowledge of any extensive scientific or archaeological evidence of biblical artifact for that matter.


However, my research has led me to believe that God is more of an idea or theory rather than an actual. "God," from a Christian standpoint, is an omnipresent power, an almighty power; he who cannot be wrong. One cannot praise any other artifact nor worship anything other than God according to Christian belief. I was raised in a Christian family and must admit to belief of God, but do not have belief in much more due to anti-metaphysics. Metaphysics came across quite interesting; like many other things in our psychology textbook (No goody-two shoes intended) I found this to be quite truthful and applicable to human nature.

Since the early ages of philosophy, humans have been wondering the question of why we are here among many other things. Similar to our brains filling in pieces of an obstacle illusion, religion filled in the gaps of confusion thousands of years ago, and since then nobody has successfully done anything about it. After all, it isn't hurting anyone right? This is debatable of course and really cannot be answered right or wrong, but religion is not the only metaphysical claim in existence. "The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world, e.g., existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility.


Certainly one would think and dream of possibilities of life on other planets. If science has persuaded metaphysics in anyway, it would have to be stating the fact that humanity will never travel outside the galaxy. I am not saying this is impossible, but extremely unlikely. I have thought about traveling faster than light, but it is more of a dream than an actual thought per se. Metaphysics has applied to my life through all of the ways mentioned, I do not dissuade the notion of metaphysicalogy. In a way metaphysics is another simple way of explaining our existence; perhaps, metaphysics will be proven correct one day. Like most religious people I have met in my life say, it is not about the proof, it is about the belief. Such a claim has led me to investigate internet article videos such as


and also

& http://www.godandscience.org/

Tony OUT!

Human Blindspots

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In discussion on Wednesday, September 28th, Section 22 discussed the concept of blindspots, the part of the visual field we can't see because of an absence of rods and cones. Sarah discussed how when she was taking her first driver's test, she automatically failed taking a left turn, not realizing there was a person in the street. This was interesting to me, as I failed my first driver's test for almost the exact same reason.... except that I would have been hit in the driver's side of the car by another car. Despite my disappointment and tears after hearing that I had failed, I learned my lesson. Now, when I am driving (especially in that intersection), I make sure to realize to focus in as close as possible.

So, this led me to find some more research on the idea of blindspots in Psychology. When I typed "Blindspots" into Youtube, of course dozens and dozens of "How To" driving tutorials popped up on my screen (maybe I should have watched them before my test). With a little more digging, I came upon the article, "Blindspots: A revealing view of vision correction" by Shelagh Robinson, Ph.D on the Psychology Today website. This entry sparked some interest within me, as I could only could picture a blindspot in terms of not seeing a person, whether it be in a car, on a bike, skateboard, etc. Maybe because that is all I had ever experienced with what I have known of blindspots.

What I find the most interesting about the article is the idea of blindspots in emotion and social situations, when your eyes have looked without REALLY looking and you have misjudged someone and suffer the consequences later by the stares or glances you can give. "Mindfulness of our negative visual habits can be useful in lots of social situations. Particularly when we feel uncomfortable - stressed, angry, hungry, frustrated, nervous, confused - our REMs can educate us. Acting as signposts (look here!), our unplanned reactions reveal flashes of inner motivations, emotions and judgments of others not otherwise visible. Suddenly, under duress, our true colors show: hidden prejudices, denied anger, concealed envy, desires for revenge - in our plain sight" (Robinson). The question is, how do we prevent these instances?

I didn't even really realize I was doing this until I read the article. Do you need to seek help or can it be changed personally? If you check out the article, the last two sentences say it all, "Exploring our social visual blindspots is a powerfully personal journey - no experts needed. Just the will to look into yourself for something you may not yet see." Now that I am aware this is something that I am doing, I will try to make proper changes in how I see.

Check this article out, it's fairly interesting! You may have impaired vision, but it can easily be corrected!


The Effects of Concussions on the Human Brain

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Our brain is a very vital organ in our body as it controls and allows us to function in our everyday life. There are many different areas in the human brain and if there is any kind of damage to any parts of the brain it could affect who we are (Lilienfeld, 2010). We learned in lecture that our brain does not fully develop until your mid 20's and this means that we should try to protect it from anything that could damage the development of our brain.
I have learned a lot about concussions over the years and how much damage concussions can cause to the human brain. I wonder then why does our society allow high school sports to be so rough? Sports such as football and hockey especially have lots of hitting that could cause athletes to get a concussion over even multiple concussions over the years of playing sports. Having multiple concussions or even one bad concussion can make you that much more susceptible to depression, Alzheimer's, or dementia (Encina, 2010) which all stem from different areas in your brain. Professional athletes are even dying from concussions at a very young age because their brain has so much damage from all the hitting (Smith, 2009).
Our society does not think about the long term damage that concussions can cause, they just want the entertainment value that sports provide. But, concussions are a very serious situation as more and more athletes are getting concussion and causing damage to their brains without even realizing it. Concussions can go unreported because athletes do not want to sit out of the game and some do not even realize that they have a concussion. So do we need to teach people at a younger age about what a concussion is and what to do if you get one? Maybe then we would not have the problem of people dying at a young age from brain damage.

Psychology from Inquiry to Understanding: Lilienfeld, Lynn, Namy, and Woolf (2010)

"Do we construct our own worlds?"

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The debate between nature and nurture continues to be a heated topic in our society today. Is it really someone's fault for committing a crime when it runs in his genetics? Does it really run in his DNA? Does he have a choice? I have been raised to believe that your actions are your actions. You can blame people for what you did, and why you did it, but in the long run, you were still the one to commit the action. However, studies have been done to try and shed some light on the nature vs. nurture debate. The link below provides some though-provoking material on twin studies along with adoption studies.


There are three main studies that can be used to provide some information for this debate: family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies. Adoption studies give a better depiction of how strong our genetics or environment shape who we are compared to the other two studies. In the article they talk about various studies that have taken place among twins who have been separated and the differences or similarities that they may have. This could provide even stronger evidence to figure out how much of an influence our DNA has over our life. Gruber, the author of the article, wrote that, "In good measure, the person chooses and constructs his or her own world." I thought this was brilliant. Looking back at the Bogle family tree although most of the siblings followed in the same ways as their parents, brothers, sisters, and other family members, there was one woman who was born of the same family, raised in the same household, and decided that she was not going to continue to live that way. She "constructed her own world."

Society today is very oblivious to various topics, but we need to educate ourselves on how to help our society as a whole. For children who come from abusive homes we should not let them get away with anything just because of how they were brought up. From an early age we should teach children that they have a choice in life to make the right decisions.

Common Proverbs Contradicting Common Sense

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Many people have heard of proverbs, whether it be on someone's 'Favorite Quotes' on Facebook or from a fortune cookie (nowadays, they're usually sayings rather than fortunes). They're also used to support specific situations. When someone criticizes your aptitude to double check your answers in a test, you may retort with: "Better safe than sorry"; When trying to be inclusive, you may say, "The more, the merrier". However, our common sense overlooks the contradictions in proverbs to cater to our circumstances. An example being: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" versus "Out of sight, out of mind". That doesn't mean that they're both false; they're just situational. I've thought about the aforementioned set of proverbs very much as I moved out of my home and into the dorms: Would my family miss my presence at home or would they move on and adapt? In the beginning of my stay, I barely ever called my parents; they would call me. They wanted to know the ins and outs of my lifestyle and made sure I was situated. Lately, I've been calling more than I've been receiving. I could easily use both sayings to generalize the situation.
Why do proverbs make sweeping generalizations, and why are they made from dual perspectives? Perhaps they are due to a tendency to vindicate one's actions or beliefs. What do you think is considered common sense?
List of common proverbs and their contradictions:

Basketball Belly

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It was an average day where a woman went out to peruse the aisles of a sporting goods store. Imagine the surprise when a woman with an 8 month old fetus in her belly was accused of stealing a basketball from a sporting goods store. She was required to shake out her clothing in front of multiple employees to prove that she, in fact, was pregnant. Employees at this sporting good store maybe should have taken a better look at possible rival hypotheses before making this woman strip down to prove she had a baby in her stomach, not a basketball. These employees probably fell under the trap of confirmation bias because they were wanting to believe that the woman was shop lifting. The fact that her rotund stomach was protruding through her maternity dress led them to believe even further that there was a basketball in her stomach and not a growing fetus.

The attention the woman brought to the subject was a little dramatic, but the claim that an innocent pregnant woman was forced to "disrobe" at a sporting good store for "stealing a basketball" is an attention grabber. Perhaps the employees at the sporting goods store should have been a little more rational in ruling out rival hypotheses before accusing a clearly pregnant woman of stealing a basketball. On the other hand, maybe the woman shouldn't have taken quite as much offense to the fact that she was accused of stealing a basketball in a sporting good store with a protruding basketball-like figure in her stomach.

In the end, shoplifting occurs quite frequently. Stores can't rule out pregnant women completely as shoplifters, so they should be able to follow proper regulations when they suspect a shoplifter in their store. Maybe a moral of the story is that pregnant women should wear layers instead of a dress in case a potential "disrobing" is necessary when they head over to the sporting goods store.

Moon Illusion

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Something that really caught my attention when reading the Lilienfeld text was the Moon Illusion. I am the type of person who loves to stare at the sky. I love watching the sunset, the starry night, and of course, the moon. According to the textbook, "the moon illusion causes us to perceive the moon larger near the horizon than high in the sky."(Lilienfeld, pg. 145) This means that when we look into the sky the moon looks big. It does not look like the little dot of brightness that we usually see. When compared to an object, such as a building, it looks bigger than or just as big as the building. Many astronomers and psychologists have tried to explain this crazy illusion but none can seem to have a logical explanation. I have experienced the moon illusion. I have heard about the "Super Moon" that was predicted to happen on March 19. I was on a walk with my a good friend. We were walking on the Stone Arch Bridge on that day as the sun was setting. As we stood on the bridge we saw the moon peek out. It was bigger than I have ever seen it. The moon look like it was low as the tops of the downtown buildings. As I stood there starring at this optical illusion, I wondered how the moon was so big. On most nights the moon is small and you can barely notice it. How come on particular nights the moon can be huge? I guess that is the important question we are still trying to figure out. To explain the "Super Moon" here is a link from NASA that briefly describes it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1yalg_Apdw

What's Missing In This Picture?

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Psych photo.jpg As I rode the bus home from school today, I dug through my backpack to find my sunglasses to shield my eyes from the sun. After putting them on, I found some good tunes on my IPod and leaned back to enjoy the ride. When the bus stopped, someone new would enter, look at me, then quickly look away and go sit down. I didn't realize anything out of the ordinary except the wierd glances.

Suddenly, I noticed a slight breeze on my right eye and immediately sensed something was missing! I took off my sunglasses and sure enough, once again, a lens was missing! I was mortified! See, about 12 years earlier, I experienced the same thing walking though a crowded parking lot. That day, I thought to myself, why is everyone looking me. Sure enough, when I got into my car and saw my reflection, there it was, a missing lens! How embarrassing! At the time, I thought I was completely scatterbrained, or maybe losing my vision in my right eye. Why wouldn't I notice such a thing?

Lillenfields Chapter 4's Sensation and Perception and binocular cues immediately came to my mind. In binocular disparity our eyes are like the lenses of binoculars, our left and right eyes transmit different information for nearby objects. So my eyes were not able to focus on the rim or lens that was a half an inch from each eye. Using binocular convergence, I could cross my eyes, work my eye muscles to focus, or I could simply cover each eye one at a time to notice the difference in the lighting, and why would I do that.

I wondered if this seemed plausible. When I got home, I went directly outside to take a picture of myself with my missing lens. And sure enough, it was obvious then; however, I was outside and it was much lighter, and I already knew I was missing a lens. Was there another explanation working in tandem? Perhaps I was experiencing "inattentional blindness". My mental distractions and external stimuli were causing my brain to ignore what was right before my eyes; after all, my perception was that both lenses were intact.

While it still seems obvious that I should have noticed such a thing, I'm feeling better about my explanations. My brain can only do so much.

Psychology, From Inquiry to Understanding Lillenfeld, Namy, Woolf

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