Recently in #3 Category

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While reading, I thought the concept of Linguistic Relativity to be extremely interesting. The basic idea of linguistic relativity is that characteristics of language shape our thought processes. Lilienfeld ultimately decides that the theory isn't conclusive and that other aspects of perception play an important role in shaping how we think.
I, personally, was intrigued by the study that goes against the idea that language affects thinking: color categorization. Although people across the world that are part of different societies and cultures speak various languages that have different numbers of basic color terms, still all people can, for the most part, divide the same color categories. This study shows that people can still understand something, even if their language doesn't outright teach it to them.
For example, in a New York TImes article, the author uses the example that even though an English speaker has never heard the German word "Schadenfreude" doesn't mean that he or she cannot understand the meaning if given an explanation or that he or she is incapable of feeling the emotion. (Schadenfreude refers to the pleasure derived from another person's misfortune.) Just because a language prohibits a person from an initial understanding, it does not rule out the possibility of being able to comprehend it if given the chance. Given this view, it seems to suggest that people from different cultures and societies cannot learn about or understand other people in different countries with opposite ways of living.
However the article also discusses the ways in which giving directions through language can affect the way we think. For example, most people typically use egocentric directions which are dependent on our own bodies..."go left then walk straight until the house and then turn right." Versus geographic directions which are oriented on the earths axises..."head north then turn east." The different sets of directions would influence the way we think of getting to each place.
Still, I think that Linguistic Relativity can be a little far reaching, but definitely holds true to a point.

Observational Learning

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I recently stumbled upon a very interesting psychology experiment dealing with monkeys and observational learning.

After reading this i was rather taken back. I thought how ridiculous, humans could never be naive. The theory of observational learning begs to differ. Our book tells us that observational learning spares us the expense of having to learn everything first hand (Bandura, 1977). If you take a step back sometime observe large groups of people it can be easy to spot this. If you have ever tried to walk down a busy sidewalk on the left side you will find it to be very difficult and get an abundance of weird looks. There are no signs that ever say keep right, so why does everyone do so? People observe others and assume this to be correct behavior.

False Memories

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The reason false memories are easily implanted into our heads and tricks us begins to make more and more sense when you understand how we revive old memories. Jessica Snyder Sachs wrote an article for Popular Science about how our memories are like video tapes that are scattered around our head. As we look for a single video tape of a memory, we often cannot find it, but we have found pieces of the event. We cannot grasp every detail but we can try to guess what is missing. We take bit and pieces and try to weave them back into what we think happened, filling in blank spots with logical guesses. When more and more details are missing, the brain has to make even more guesses and As more details are missing from the memory, the more freedom the brain has to fill in what happened. This can stretch the truth further and further until the memory is barely a shell of its original self.
Now thinking about how the mind instinctively fills in blanks, we can see why we can be fooled by false memories. We do not want to think we forgot something so we use the tiny bit of information we have and fill in any detail we can imagine to form a logical recreation of what we think we have forgotten. Eventually the information begins to make sense with the details we fill in, we can easily believe that it did, in fact, happen.

A Spielberg in your own mind
By Jessica Snyder Sachs; Popular Science; July 25, 2003

False Memories

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The reason false memories are easily implanted into our heads and tricks us begins to make more and more sense when you understand how we revive old memories. Jessica Snyder Sachs wrote an article for Popular Science about how our memories are like video tapes that are scattered around our head. As we look for a single video tape of a memory, we often cannot find it, but we have found pieces of the event. We cannot grasp every detail but we can try to guess what is missing. We take bit and pieces and try to weave them back into what we think happened, filling in blank spots with logical guesses. When more and more details are missing, the brain has to make even more guesses and As more details are missing from the memory, the more freedom the brain has to fill in what happened. This can stretch the truth further and further until the memory is barely a shell of its original self.
Now thinking about how the mind instinctively fills in blanks, we can see why we can be fooled by false memories. We do not want to think we forgot something so we use the tiny bit of information we have and fill in any detail we can imagine to form a logical recreation of what we think we have forgotten. Eventually the information begins to make sense with the details we fill in, we can easily believe that it did, in fact, happen.

A Spielberg in your own mind
By Jessica Snyder Sachs; Popular Science; July 25, 2003

The Power of Advertisements

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As the Lilienfeld text says in chapter 6, "Few people grasp the principles of classical conditioning...better than advertisers". Since advertisements bombard us everyday on the radio, television, and billboards, I think classical conditioning is a very important concept for everyone to understand. It is a source of learning where an animal or human comes to respond to a previously neutral stimulus when it is paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. In layman's terms, classical conditioning is a type of association. In the commercial above, there is an unconditioned stimulus, the beautiful Amazonian women. Such women tend to elicit a natural or unconditioned response, arousal and other positive emotions. The women are paired with Axe Body Spray, the conditioned stimulus. This association then elicits the conditioned response, the desire to purchase Axe Body Spray. I chose to use the Axe Body Spray commercial as my example because it is one of the most shameless attempts at classical conditioning through advertisements that I could think of, because it elicits the idea that putting on Axe Body Spray will automatically cause thousands of beautiful women in bikinis will run like animals to get close to you.

By pairing products with upbeat music, A-list celebrities, and beautiful people, advertisers are conditioning viewers and listeners to buy their products. When I sat and thought about advertisements, I realized how susceptible I am to classical conditioning. I use Neutrogena face wash because I want flawless skin like Hayden Panettiere, an actress who probably spent hours in front of the mirror with a make-up artist, trying to achieve the "natural look". Furthermore, I am sure her skin was then airbrushed after the commercial was shot to make sure her face was blemish-free and smooth. I apply Lancome mascara because the advertisement makes me believe I will have eyes as sparkling as Julia Roberts. I also use hair products from Pantene because I believe it will make my hair as smooth and voluminous as Eva Mendes'. Since buyers like me are so susceptible to classical conditioning, advertisers are some of the most powerful people in the world.

50 First Dates.. For Real?

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50 first dates is a pretty popular movie which has a main story line about a girl who is suffering from memory loss due to a car accident. This clip is one which outlines the movie somewhat, giving the reader of this post an idea of Lucy's condition. I was really perplexed as to if this type of memory loss was even possible. Then i researched some and found this article Two-car-crashes-leave-Michelle-Philpots-24-hour-memory.html, which is surprisingly very similar to the plot of 50 first dates. Until now whenever i had watched 50 first dates I had though how impossible that memory loss would be not only physically but even to have to deal with that on a daily basis. Her husband and her wake up every day and he has to convince her that they are actually married and who her loved ones are. This article relates her story to the movie but it does not say that the movie was based on her story. In the movie everything ends up alright but by this article ends and no evidence is indicated that she can break the illusion and thought that it is 1994, she just has to go through a memory gauntlet barraging her brain every morning trying to convince her the current date and situation. I really feel for her situation because if I had to deal with this issue every single day either for me or for a loved one I don't know if I could put up with it day after day for months, years, or even decades on end.

Learning behavior as the core study area of behaviorism has high importance, and it does, may explain, how people are unique, as professor Briggs referred in first lecture.
There are two things I want to write in this blog. First is how I figure out that I could apply operant conditioning and classical conditioning into my daily life, or maybe, in the future, applying into education field. Second is that I am still wondering whether we could trying to explain learning behavior in an evolutionary respect, which may related to functional psychology. As well as I found a really interesting article about memory and our emotion from the web.

I think that most of our behavior is actually acquired through operant conditioning because there are not that much things which could cause an automatically unconditioned response. Most of the behaviors are result of conduction of our brain work and conducted of motor muscle. Like learning how to swim when I am quite young, a good move in water set me free from feeling suffocated and will not be chocked by water, which was a negative reinforcement. Also, more commonly behavior such as walking, getting what we want is a positive reinforcement which encourage our move another step and walk further and further. I think that this operant behavior is more involved after we have developed our sensation fully and have "kind of independent thinking ability". Because I think that compared with classical conditioning which requires an instinctive respond, operant conditioning requires more on logic thinking, which we have to actively connect two things together. When learning, we have to think the connection between two things.

Another topic is that whether we could using evolutionary respect to explain learning behavior. When reading the classical conditioning part, I was thinking that did at the beginning of learning, the UCR appeared are actually a result of learning through evolution? Millions of years of evolution left the creatures with ability to reflect these stimuli survive, and then those animals using these so called instincts to learn new behavior in order to survive and reproduce. Also, I believe, as far as I know about "feeling of safe", the conditioning responds should be the behavior should make the animal feel safe, could be safely survive. I am thinking whether fields of Maslow's safety theory and learning behavior as well as evolutionary respect of psychology could be combined together to understanding human behavior.

Here is an article I found on the internet about our emotion and memory from NYU, which I think are closely related to the learning behavior we learnt at the beginning of last week.

Remembering Everything

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I was intrigued when learning about the super-memories only a small fraction of the population is born with. Today, there are four known people with super-memories in America. The attached link is an interview with Bob Petrella. Petrella is one of the four Americans' who has a super-memory. He explains how the memory is truly a blessing and a curse.

Having an average memory capacity, I would love to vividly remember playing at the state tournament for basketball or playing with my cousins during Christmas gatherings. Being able to call upon these memories would truly be a blessing. In this sense, Petrella is lucky to have this gift. However, I am thankful that I can forget certain memories, such as embarrassing or sad events that took place in my past. Petrella is one of the few who cannot let go of these memories, even if he wanted to. Holding onto every life experience can be seen as the downside, or curse, of the gift.

Petrella explains how his memories actually are like videotapes, and can vividly report on every past occurrence; sports especially. It this sense, it would appear that every person who has a super-memory is more prone to recall a certain aspect of life. These four Americans do have a few things in common. For example, all three of the four expressed left-hand dominance, while the fourth has "...strong tendencies to be left-handed." However, we cannot say that this trait causes super-memories or visa-versa.

Reading this article, I was curious if people with super-memories would make better life choice or could more accurately guess future happenings. People can base decisions off of past experiences. Since there are people that can remember everything about their past, wouldn't they make the best choices? It would appear as this would be the case, but I could not find scientific research to back up this hypothesis. Hopefully someone else will have insight on this idea?

False Memories

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This weekend my roommate was watching a lifetime movie called "Committed." I got sucked in to watching the movie, which is the story of a woman psychologist who is freshly a widow. She decides to take a position offered to her at a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane, but soon after arriving she realizes that she has actually been tricked into coming and has been committed as a patient. The movie reminded me of something we touched on in lecture and discussion section because the woman in the movies "mentors" who we later find out are patients who have murdered their doctors work to implant false memories. First her "mentors" ask the woman over and over again to try to remember how her husband died. She insists that she remembers nothing. Finally they allude to the possibility that she found him. Yes, now she thinks she remembers finding his body and he was bloody. Then the therapists "reveal" to her that she had found his body after he committed suicide. They tell her what room in her house it happened in as well as what he used to hang himself. Later they tell her that first she had to accept that her husband was dead, but that he actually didn't die from committing suicide, apparently she killed him. She found out he was cheating on her with patients of his and she shot him. In the end we find out this is not true, and that the patients planted this in her head to convince her that she had killed before so that she would be more inclined to kill "again."
Our textbook goes into detail about how recalling events that never happened, such as those recalled by the victim in the movie are surprisingly easy to conjure up. The methods the criminals used to implant false memories in the victim are summarized in the textbook as suggestive memory techniques. These include providing misinformation, the misinformation they provided to the woman in the film was plausible and extremely detailed. By making the victim envision herself killing her husband over and over again it became more lucid. The criminals also created fake newspaper articles. Typically the newspaper is a source of truth, because of this the woman in the movie fell victim to bias, not questioning the newspaper because she never had before. The most annoying thing about the film was that the woman in it was supposed to be a psychologist, a person who is supposed to think scientifically. She didn't question the extraordinary claims her captors were presenting her with, she didn't try to falsify their claims, or question their legitimacy.

In Chapter 8 of Lilienfeld's book of Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, there are categories of special cases of language learning described from sign language to bilingualism. In reading about these less common ways of learning a language, I thought I'd look further into one of the perhaps greatest "miracles" in language learning; the case of the deaf and blind Helen Keller.

Around the time that young Helen turned 2 years old, she was stricken severely with a disease that left her both blind and deaf. At the age of 7 is when assistant Anne Sullivan came into aid and began teaching Helen everyday objects by complex combinations of taps to Helen's palm. After some time of teaching a huge breakthrough came about when Sullivan kept pouring water over Helen's hand and she eventually made out the sound of the word water with her voice. This was an exceptional feat considering her lack of vocal language her entire life. She also learned spoken language through the feelings of vibrations of those engaging in conversation. Here's an interesting interview with Anne Sullivan demonstrating this method of sensory teaching.

Following her education with Sullivan, she continued in her success in life and became very skilled at using Braille and sign language as well, giving her even more ways to communicate with others around her. She ended up earning a bachelor's degree and writing many novels as well.

Even after reading multiple articles in support of this "miracle", there are quite a few skeptics of the legitimacy of this case. Some claim that the amount of knowledge Helen gained before her deaf and blindness could be a huge factor in the way she relearned the world around her. Without measuring this at the time, it's uncertain to know if the way in which her particular brain adapted to this would be the same in any other case.

Even so, it has been scientifically proven that with the permanent damage of some of our senses, our other senses become stronger and more attentive in order to make up for this loss. This is where there is a thin line drawn, are the conditions that our brains adapt to to make up for one lost sense still possible when another is taken out as well, especially at such a young age were no legitimate verbal language has been built yet? Through the case of Helen Keller we can see there are extraordinary possibilities.

Suppressing Anger Shortens Life

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The Journal of Family Communication published an article concerning a study done at the University of Michigan on anger suppression and life span. This was a longitudinal study done over a 17 year period including 192 couples. Each couple was placed in one of four groups: both partners communicated their anger; one expressed while the other suppressed (and vice versa); and both suppressed their anger. The findings suggest that those who suppress their anger have a shorter life span than those who express their anger. The results of the study are as follows:

"Preliminary analysis shows that there had been 13 deaths among the group of 26 couples in which both suppressed their anger (one partner in 27 per cent and both in 23 per cent). There had been 41 deaths among the remaining 166 couples (one partner in 19 per cent and both in 6 per cent). Researchers adjusted for age, smoking, weight, blood pressure, bronchial problems, breathing, and cardiovascular risk. They are currently collecting 30-year follow-up data."

This claim is extraordinary! But, is the evidence just as extraordinary? The study included 192 couples but only 26 of them were placed in the group in which both suppressed their anger. In order for the results to be more representative of each category, each group should have had close to 48 couples (one-fourth of 192). Forty-one other deaths were recorded from the study. Although it is not listed as to which groups had a certain number of deaths, one-third of 41 is 13.67. This suggests that while the group in which each couple suppressed their anger may have had the most deaths and the highest percentage of deaths, in comparison to the other groups the data is not so impressive.

There are many factors that cause death. The suppression of anger would lead to a heightened stress level which would cause adverse health effects but cannot explain alone the cause of death. Were there any car accidents, severe illnesses, old age etc. that led to the death of anyone participating in this study? Many other possible explanations may exist for the deaths in these case studies not relating to anger suppression or expression.

False Memories

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Many people are fooled by false memories. We see it in movies, in books, and even our real lives. In the link I posted, Elizabeth Loftus experimented with a subject about false memories. He gave such a detailed description of what never happened. Loftus decepted him into believing that he really went to the mall and had those encounters which in reality, he did not. We experience this kind of false memory all the time in our lives. For example, I could probably tell exactly what I was doing on September 11, 2001, but it would probably not be right. I can only remember bits and pieces of what actually happened. I would probably add a few things that I though happened, but really did not. This part of psychology intrigues me. I want to know how and why our mind tricks us like that. It would be helpful if we did not have any false memories at all, especially for crimes and finding the suspect. If we did not have false memory, we would be able to confidently identify a criminal. I wish I was one of those people with the rare condition of always remembering exactly what happened at any given moment. It would be easier to describe a crucial moment in your life. It would be enjoyable to be able to look back and remember any moment and remember how fun it really was.

False Memories

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Many people are fooled by false memories. We see it in movies, in books, and even our real lives. In the link I posted, Elizabeth Loftus experimented with a subject about false memories. He gave such a detailed description of what never happened. Loftus decepted him into believing that he really went to the mall and had those encounters which in reality, he did not. We experience this kind of false memory all the time in our lives. For example, I could probably tell exactly what I was doing on September 11, 2001, but it would probably not be right. I can only remember bits and pieces of what actually happened. I would probably add a few things that I though happened, but really did not. This part of psychology intrigues me. I want to know how and why our mind tricks us like that. It would be helpful if we did not have any false memories at all, especially for crimes and finding the suspect. If we did not have false memory, we would be able to confidently identify a criminal. I wish I was one of those people with the rare condition of always remembering exactly what happened at any given moment. It would be easier to describe a crucial moment in your life. It would be enjoyable to be able to look back and remember any moment and remember how fun it really was.

Nursing homes and Memory

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On the days I'm not busy with school i work as a nursing assistant in Maple Plain. Many of my patients have suffered stokes and as a result have many difficulties they deal with on a daily basis. Many often forget who I am although they see me multiple times a shift. Certain patients have a harder time then others due to the location and severity of the stroke.
For example, Patients suffering a stroke in the right-hemisphere of their brain will be able to tell me all about fighting in World War II or how they met their husband, but will be unable to recall what they ate for dinner. ( In other words, Their retrieval of stored information is working properly but their ability to encode new information is flawed.
Some of my patients that have had strokes will also develop dementia. Dementia is "a loss of mental skills" and "can cause problems with your memory and how well you can think and plan." ( There are several different types of dementia and they affect different areas of the brain. For example Subcortical dementia effects emotions and movement as well as memory.
Patient's that have dementia could also have developed it due to alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's is actually a form of dementia. This disease is often the result of "When nerve cells (neurons) are destroyed, there is a decrease in the chemicals that help nerve cells send messages to one another (called neurotransmitters). As a result, areas of the brain that normally work together become disconnected." (
It's often hard to watch a patient that you've become close with slowly loose their grasp of what's going on. In my time working, I've seen several residents have a slow decline in cognitive ability. there are those, though, who have suffered some sort of stroke or other brain injury that through physical therapy have been able to relearn their basic living skills and be able to return home to their families.

False Memory

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Many people are fooled by false memories. We see it in movies, in books, and even our real lives. In the link I posted, Elizabeth Loftus experimented with a subject about false memories. He gave such a detailed description of what never happened. Loftus decepted him into believing that he really went to the mall and had those encounters which in reality, he did not. We experience this kind of false memory all the time in our lives. For example, I could probably tell exactly what I was doing on September 11, 2001, but it would probably not be right. I can only remember bits and pieces of what actually happened. I would probably add a few things that I though happened, but really did not. This part of psychology intrigues me. I want to know how and why our mind tricks us like that. It would be helpful if we did not have any false memories at all, especially for crimes and finding the suspect. If we did not have false memory, we would be able to confidently identify a criminal. I wish I was one of those people with the rare condition of always remembering exactly what happened at any given moment. It would be easier to describe a crucial moment in your life. It would be enjoyable to be able to look back and remember any moment and remember how fun it really was.

That Was Easy

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Russian scientist, Ivan Pavlov, researched digestion in dogs. In measuring the salivary response to meat powder, he observed that the dogs salivated to the neutral stimuli that was previously associated with it. They began salivating at the sound of the assistants' footsteps coming into the lab. We call the association of the meat power to the footsteps classical conditioning. Pavlov's classical conditioning is defined as a form of learning in which animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. This finding is very important in researching relationships between unconditional stimulus and unconditioned response, and the relationships between conditioned response and conditioned stimulus.
A boy at BGSU did a test on his roommate of this study. After hitting the button saying, "that was easy", he would shoot his roommate with an airsoft gun. The roommate soon associated the easy button noise with being shot with the gun. After the boy shot his roommate a couple times, he did a test where he pressed the easy button but did not shoot him. When the easy button was played, the roommate cringed as if he was going to get shot, however, he wasn't actually shot. The easy button was the conditioned stimulus, while the shooting of the gun was the unconditioned stimulus. The unconditioned response was the pain or flinching of the roommate, while the conditioned response was the flinching from hearing the easy button sound.

Near Death Experiences

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Do near death experiences really exist? Or are they just figments of our imaginations? There is no strong evidence to support this claim, as stated in our book, and maybe there are simpler explanations as to why we feel as if we have had NDEs. There a tons of stories from people who have said they had a near death experience, even my sister thinks she experienced one. Last year she had to have surgery to remove her cancerous thyroid, and due to complications with the removal, she had to undergo another surgery. During that second surgery, my sister believes she "died" because she was in a white room and said she saw my grandma, who passed away 2 years ago. She has vivid details and has described her experience to us multiple times. Could she really have had a near death experience?
In our Psychology text book it states that alternative explanations for NDEs could be based on the changes in the chemistry of the brain associated with cardiac arrest, anesthesia, and other physical traumas. Our brains could just be releasing different chemicals and neurotransmitters that make us believe that we are experiencing bright lights or seeing things/ people that we couldn't possibly truly be witnessing. People could think they are experiencing NDEs because of certain psychedelic drugs they are taking as well. There is no significant amount of evidence that can prove that NDEs are a real thing yet. Many scientists say that the characteristics of near death experiences could just be the effects of an oxygen deprived brain.

I found some of the information on this site interesting. It talks about interesting stories of near death experiences and tries to show the evidence that they are real.

Lucid Dreaming In Inception

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When I first read about lucid dreaming in chapter 5 of the Lilienfeld textbook, my mind immediately jumped to the concept behind one of my favorite films directed by Christopher Nolan, "Inception". I decided to look further into lucid dreaming because of how much it intrigued me.

The textbook describes lucid dreaming as the experience of becoming aware that one is dreaming. The book also says that a survey showed 72 percent of people who lucid dream are able to control what happens in their dream. After further investigating lucid dreaming, I found a website that acts as a "how to" guide.

The first steps are to start remembering dreams by waking up slowly and immediately recalling your dreams. You are then supposed to start recording your dreams in a journal. After you get better at recalling dreams, you must become increasingly familiar with the characteristics of your dreams. Most people have specific people, places, and situations that reoccur within their dreams, and recognizing these "dream signs" will further improve dream recall. After that, a person must pay attention to their surroundings in real life to become more aware, which will in turn make them more aware within their dreams.

When you finally do become consciously aware during a dream, there are certain ways you can check to make sure that you are actually in a dream. The "common sense" technique is the most useful, which consists of observing your surroundings and seeing if there is anything that could obviously not occur in real life. The "reading check" technique is another really easy check to do. To do it, you look at something with writing on it, look away, and then look back. If you are in a dream, the content of the writing will most likely be different when you look back the second time.

This somewhat crappy quality video shows how "Inception" describes the "memory check" method, where a person thinks back to see if there are any inconsistencies within their recent memory. Cobb explains that people often can't remember the beginning of their dreams, because they always wind up in the middle of the action. He then asks Ariadne if she remembers how they got to the cafe they are at during the scene.

to "How to Lucid Dream"


Ok, so as cheesy and random as that is, every time I think of long term and short term memory loss, I just can't help but think of "Amnesia" by Chumbawumba. This song is sure to bring back memories from my childhood.

I'm sure the majority of us have seen the movie "Finding Nemo". Do you recall Dory having short term memory loss? This was a reoccurring plot during the movie, that made the journey to find Nemo, even more difficult. Here is a clip of Dory's memory loss.

I can recall hearing the urban legend that goldfish have a memory span of 3 seconds. Is this really a fact? Do they not have short term memory, but long term, or vice versa?

Scientists at Plymouth University have successfully trained the fish to collect food at particular times of day, showing the popular notion of the three-second memory to be very fishy indeed. The findings of this study is just adding to the growing evidence that gold fish are more intelligent than have been assumed.

The research, led by Phil Gee of Plymouth University, had goldfish placed in a bowl. They were only fed if they pressed a level. The fish learned quickly that pressing the level would give them a food reward.

Once they had been trained in this way, the researchers set up the lever to work for just one hour a day. The fish soon became wise to this, and learnt to press the lever at the same time every day to feed. "The fish worked out that if they hit the lever around that time, they would get some food," Dr Gee said. "Their activity around the lever increased enormously just before the set hour when their food was dispensed.

"But then if no food came out, they stopped pressing the lever when the hour was up. It shows that they are probably able to adapt to changes in their circumstances, like any other small animals and birds."

Another study was put on by Mythbusters to test if goldfish were able to do a maze.

So this being said, when people compare someone's memory to a goldfish, you can say thank you and proceed on, because you know, that the goldfish myth is just an urban legend.

Sleepwalking Nightmare

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The textbook has a short section on sleepwalking and some of the crazy things that people have done while possibly sleepwalking. As another example I ran across this news video about a man stabbing his wife while sleeping.

I would like to know more about this case, but from what I find he has no memory of doing this, however his actions were analyzed by a doctor and he concluded that they were similar to that of an awake person. The man has had a past of sleepwalking, but the actions were different this time, and he had confronted his wife about an affair multiple times leading up to the attack.

This and the text lead me to ask the question: How do people continue to stay awake through such events". This man and others should become awaken through movements and noises it seems. Are these people dreaming and acting that out only some of the time. I wonder if there is something different biologically when people sleepwalk like the changes that occur through the different stages of sleep. Otherwise it would seem like sleepwalkers should always do it instead of just sometimes.

In cases like this it makes me wonder how we can determine if someone is asleep or awake during certain situations. The courts do their best to make sense of it, but in reality who knows? Testing is probably pretty difficult on these patients, which leads to just another innocence plea that people can use. Insanity pleas are well-known through movies and other cases, but for people to use psychology as an escape to freedom seems tough to grasp. I like the quote from the movie Case 39, "Do you remember when people were just bad".

There are so many psychological "problems" that affect people's behavior that it is almost impossible now to state a specific cause and effect. Sleepwalking is just another example of an altered state of mind that I believe requires more research and development.

According to the text, "Infantile amnesia is the inability of adults to retrieve accurate memories before an early age". I have this clear memory of a house we lived in when I was 0-1 years of age. I remember a pond in our backyard and these muskrats that occupied this pond. I told my parents about this and they said this was accurate. So according to infantile amnesia, this is not possible. So I am wondering where I got this memory. In the second paragraph on infantile amnesia, the text says, "it's almost certainly...a false memory". So according to the text, this memory of a pond in my backyard is a false memory. I do not remember when or where I got this memory. This is known as source monitoring confusion or as the Lilienfeld text says, "a lack of clarity about the origin of a memory". I may have seen a picture when I was younger of our old backyard and asked my parents about it, or my parents may have told me about this at a younger age. I am not sure. I wonder how many people have memories of before they were 2-3 and if they actually are trustworthy or not. Has anyone else experienced this, and what was the memory of? Are these types of memories usually episodic memories, explicit memories or implicit memories? My memory would be classified as an episodic memory I believe.

False Memories

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The most interesting topic so far to me has been the idea that we can implant false memories into someone else's head. I wonder if it is actually possible to implant a significant memory. There seems to be a lot of problems with the idea. I watched these video's where Elizabeth Loftus talks about the experiments she has done to try to prove her theory.
While i think these studies are really interesting i feel like they have a lot of problems. In the mall experiment for instance, they had the subject remember something that happened when he was 5. No one can remember that far back very well, its similar to your whole family telling you something that you did when you were a baby. They could be lying we just choose to think they're not. Also getting lost in a big place is a really common thing that happens to almost everyone at least once. Trying to remember that far back his memories probably just got all jumbled and he mixed up the feeling of being lost at one point in his life and being at a mall and with everyone telling him that it happened its not that surprising that he believed it. What i do find impressive is how the subject continually adds details to the story. He really has no idea what he's talking about but his brain fills in the blank spots with what seems logical to happen.

Sleep Disorders

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We've all experienced problems sleeping: not being able to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep, nightmares, some of us even walk or talk in our sleep, but these problems seem to come and go in phases. However, some of us just can't seem to ever get over these annoyances, which can last weeks, months, and even years.

The most common sleep disturbance is insomnia, which is described in our books as taking any of the following forms: having trouble falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning, and waking up during the night having trouble returning to sleep.

Other disorders of sleep in our books include narcolepsy (rapid and often unexpected onset of sleep), sleep apnea (blockage of the airway during sleep causing daytime fatigue), night terrors (sudden episodes of screaming, perspiring, and confusion followed by a return to deep sleep), and sleepwalking (walking while fully asleep). However, nearly all of us have already heard of these disorders before. So what about the disorders most of us haven't heard of? My interest in bizzare sleep disturbances will be sure to inform you of strange and rare sleep disorders that, believe it or not, affect people like you and me.

Sleeping Beauty Syndrome (Kleine-Levin Syndrome), although more common in males than females, is a strange sleep disorder in which sufferers sleep for unusual amounts of time. Most people with this disorder sleep for between 13 and 24 hours at a time, however, one 15 year old girl, Louisa Ball (see video below) reported to have slept for 13 days straight. People with this disorder typically have regular sleep patterns most of the time with random onsets of lengthy sleep periods that last from a few days to several weeks.

Exploding Head Syndrome, more common in elderly people but still experienced by those of all ages, is a strange disorder in which sufferers experience a loud sound one to two hours after falling asleep. These sounds are produced from in the brain and are not actually auditory, although people with this disorder seem to believe that the sound was actually something they heard. Most people experience a sense of anxiety or fear after experiencing the sound, yet the syndrome itself is harmless.

More sleep disorders involve sleep-eating, sleep-sex, and even sleep-murder, all of which the sufferer is unable to recollect any or recollects minimal amounts of what occured the prior night.

By now, you already know the concept of classical conditioning. But I'm going to tell it to you anyways. An unconditioned stimulus (US) causes and unconditioned response (UCR). By associating a conditioned stimulus (CS) with a (US), one can achieve a conditioned response (CR).

Most of us probably see this as a very simple concept that would only work to teach less intelligent species. This works with dogs (think Pavlov), other animals, and babies (think Baby Albert and his fear of white rats). Most people probably believe that they are "too smart" to fall for this or not to recognize when they are being classically conditioned.

However, classical conditioning is all around us; in advertisements, especially. Because of higher-order conditioning, companies can make us feel a certain way towards their product by associating it with something else.

This commercial advertises for Old Spice. It uses approval of attractive women as a conditioned stimulus in order to make the consumer want to buy their product. Although most of us don't think about how advertisements try to condition, consumers are affected daily.

Humans can apparently be classically conditioned on lower levels too. In this video from the office, Jim classically conditions his co-worker, Dwight.

Sorry for the bad video quality. I'm on a horse.

An Out of Body Experience (OBE) is defined as an experience that usually involves a sense of floating outside of one's own body, and in some cases, perceiving one's physical body from an outer location. This bizarre sensation that 25% of college students and 10% of adults have claimed to have had, springs up many questions for scientists and specialists. Can this actually happen? - And how would we even be able to test this phenomenon to validate it?

So what may cause this sensation? It is impossible to find good evidence to support that people actually experience this sensation. Scientific findings appear to falsify these claims. According to the Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding textbook, people who have unusual fantasies, such as vivid fantasies, lucid dreams, hallucinations, perceptual distortions, and strange body experiences on a regular basis. People may also experience them when they are under the influence of psychedelic drugs, experiencing headaches or seizures, or under great relaxation or stress. Can we actually believe that these people are experiencing a true OBE, or can there be another explanation? Unfortunately, it's a claim that we will never know to be true or not.

The following is a brief synopsis and video from an episode of CSI: Miami:

"A man, wanders through Miami covered in blood but claiming total amnesia, except that he had killed someone. The blood is from insider trading-accused Mitch Crawford, his wife and their daughter, who were seen leaving by car early that day by courier Walter Leeson, who 'borrowed' their luxury pool. The amnesiac's only memories allow Eric to guess the triple knife murder site. His bloody wallet identifies Doug Benson, whose hammer on site wasn't the murder weapon. Using victim shots as a memory stimulus links with Doug's youth trauma. Horatio finds and links two other suspects."

As we read and learned in Chapter 7 about Memory, amnesia does not mean that all memories are lost. Retrograde amnesia is a loss of past memories and anterograde amnesia is the loss of encoding abilities, meaning that we cannot remember new experiences. In reality, the amnesia that T.V. and movies portray is considered general amnesia and it is very rare that this type of amnesia occurs.
When I saw this episode of CSI the first time, I wasn't aware that amnesia could not usually result in complete loss of one's identity and complete loss of all memories. After learning this chapter, I realized that the way in which CSI depicts amnesia is incorrect. Complete memory loss only occurs in very rare situations. So the suspect would not forget his actions, in this case, the murder.
Unfortunately, the T.V. and filmmaking industry, give society an incorrect interpretation of what amnesia is. In some cases, individuals have tried to fake complete amnesia with the incorrect understanding that this frequently occurs. Before being taught that amnesia essentially comes in two main forms, I was also unaware that amnesia doesn't just automatically mean a complete loss of all memories, including one's own identity.
Society should be informed about the situations of H.M. and Clive Wearing because amnesia is a real problem that causes difficulties in the lives of everyday people. In Clive Wearing's case, he forgot the last time he saw his wife. Media outlets do a poor job of depicting the impacts amnesia has on people. Instead, it has turned it into a way to cause drama and interest.

How Prominent is the Past?

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As we have discussed in class it is very possible for a person to mend their memory into remembering something that had never occurred, what if the opposite was true too? There have been many documented cases where people have repressed memories of traumatic experiences in their lives.

Many psychologists believe that in some traumatic experiences the mind will repress any memory of the event into a deep place within the unconscious. These memories may not be lost forever though; some of the memories reveal themselves during therapy sessions or just during everyday life when some action triggers the release of the memory. Such was the case for Eileen Franklin.

Eileen Franklin witnessed the murder of her best friend at the age of 8. For many years her memories had gone untapped and unremembered, until one day when playing with her daughter it all began to come back to her. Small pieces at first but then larger portions of her memory came back as time went on. This allowed her to put her father George Franklin on trial for the murder of her best friend that had been committed nearly 20 years in the past.

The topic of suppressed memories is widely debated in the field of psychology. Many psychologists believe that there is no such thing as suppressed memory and no way to run experiments to find out the real truth. Most of the instances of suppressed memory are anecdotal and in no way a scientific study. This leads to a lack of good scientific evidence behind either side. With no hard evidence, the question behind suppressed memories may never be answered either way.


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As a bilingual and biliterate student, I found this passage particularly interesting. There are parts that I do and do not agree with. The authors state that "the best predictor of whether we'll become fluent is the age of acquisition: All things being equal, the earlier, the better(Johnson & Newport, 1989)" I completely agree with this statement. I began to learn Spanish when I was five years old. I attended a dual-immersion school, in which the curriculum was taught in both English and Spanish. We began our schooling on a 90-10 model. This means that for the first two years of schooling (kindergarten and 1st grade) I was taught 90% in Spanish and 10% in English. With every year, English curriculum increased by 10% and Spanish curriculum decreased by 10%, so that by the fifth grade we were taught on a 50-50 model. This method of schooling provided even amounts of both language curriculum for both native English and Spanish speakers. Native English speakers like myself developed rich Spanish accents by the third grade, and Native Spanish speakers developed clear English accents by the third grade. (I can demonstrate for you if you'd like) If you were to put myself and one of my native Spanish speaking friends behind a curtain and had us both speak in each language, you would not be able to decipher who was the native English speaker and who was the native Spanish speaker.
The book asks the question "How do bilingual persons fluent in two languages keep them straight, and how are these languages organized in their brains?" My answer to this is that we never even have to think about it, it basically just like a light switch. You can flip to whichever language you want to use, without any thought to it. I can hear or read something in Spanish and immediately start thinking and speaking in Spanish. Honestly I dream in Spanish, my Mom and friends have caught me sleep talking in Spanish multiple times. For bilingual individuals, we can read a book in Spanish, but then have a discussion about it in English. There have been multiple times where I have had to read a book in Spanish and write a book report on it in English, it truly is no struggle for us.
Another topic that the book discusses is delays in language, specifically with syntax. Although there is research to back it, I personally do not believe it to be true. I would like to know how exactly being bilingual would impare you to form sentences. In my view, we are able to form sentences in two languages and have a very wide vocabulary, therefore it is easier for us to form sentences. Again, this is my personal belief and if anyone has any specific information towards this, please let me know! I do agree, however, that with being bilingual comes a variety of long-term benefits and heightened mentalinguistic insight.
All in all, I believe that being bilingual will provide you with many benefits and opportunities in life. I highly advocate early learning dual-immersion programs and the teaching methods that go along with it.

Classical Conditioning

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The concept I chose to talk about is classical conditioning. Classical conditioning was first recognized in an experiment performed by Ivan Pavlov. In his famous experiment, he originally was researching digestion in dogs and was observing their salivary responses to the presence of meat powder. However, he also discovered that the dogs would start to salivate even before the meat was in front of them. Previous stimuli, such as footsteps of the assistant as he approached the dogs, caused the dogs to start salivating as well.

After accidentally stumbling upon this discovery, he took on a different experiment that was based specifically on classical conditioning. Once again, he used a dog but this time he had a metronome going off which he referred to as the neutral stimulus. Then he presented the meat powder to the dog and the dog would start to salivate. He repeated this process several times until finally the dog would start salivating to the sound of the metronome. This is the case because the dog was so used to receiving the meat powder at the sound of the metronome that he associated them with each other and therefore salivated without even having to see the meat powder.

I think that this concept is important because it shows how humans and animals become so used to a pattern that at some points they can hear or see or do one thing and then expect a certain thing to happen right after it because that's what they're used to. An example of how this is used is shown in an episode of the show, "The office". In this episode, Jim reboots his computer and after doing so asks Dwight if he wants an altoid. He repeats this process many times and finally one day doesn't offer him the altoid but Dwight sticks out his hand for one without even realizing. Here is a clip of the scene which does a great job of showing how classical conditioning works.

Parent Alienation Syndrome

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After reading in chapter 7 about how children are especially vulnerable to suggestibility and coercion, I became curious to know more about how this susceptibility may effect a child. I came across something called parent alienation syndrome which can be described as a parent conditioning his or her child to turn against or even become afraid of the other parent.
The controlling parent in this situation can be distinguished in many ways. The first thing a parent will do is try to discontinue contact with the child and the other parent. A child may be threatened with withdrawal of love, home, or support if he or she does not accept the views of the controlling parent. The controlling parent may also coerce the child to believe that the other parent has abused them. By continually repeating false stories of abuse a child eventually comes to accept them as true, consequently alienating the child from the innocent parent.
This syndrome is the result of a conditioned response. Imagine that a child sees his father who helps him with his homework and then takes him out for an ice cream. After this enjoyable day the child returns to his controlling mother who punishes him and treats him as if he was a possession as a result of the day he spent with his father. In this situation, the father would be the unconditioned stimulus, the enjoyable day would be the unconditioned response. Eventually, as the child continues to be abused by the mother as a result of seeing his father, the child will develop a conditioned response to the sight of his father and automatically become emotionally stressed.
This syndrome is a tragic example of how children can be controlled to become afraid of something that they would normally have no fearful response to. If a child can be coerced to become emotionally distressed at the sight of a parent, who is supposed to represent safety and love, what else can they be coerced to feel?

To begin, I'm allergic to cats. Specifically, the dander that cats shed, not the popular misconception of allergies to the fur. One of my cousin's family owned a cat for about 12 years, and whenever I'd visit I would need to bring my asthma inhaler because allergies to cats is a common irritant to asthma; the effects would be difficulty breathing, coughing etc. I visited many times before and after the cat passed away and had the same ashtmatic reaction everytime. Only after reading chapter 6 in the text book regarding negative reinforcement did I put a name to my finding. I wondered why the reactions didn't subside after the cat died, because the family cleaned the house everyday and without a constant source of cat dander, there'd be nothing to trigger my reactions.

The definition of negative reinforcement is, "removal of stimulus that strengthens the probability of behavior" (Lilienfeld, 213). I believe that the reason I continued to cough, etc, before I used the inhaler, is that just seeing the house maybe triggered a reaction within my body, of the cat, and the results was my regular asthma. Inhalers act immediately and one can't use an inhaler before hand as a preventative medicine, but only once you're feeling the effect of the asthma. My body perhaps experienced negative reinforcement, in that, every time I visited my cousins house, I'd use my inhaler at some point, right after I felt the effects of asthma.Below is what an inhaler looks like, and how it is used, for those who are curious.inhaler.jpg

By using my inhaler, I therefore removed the stimulus that was bothering me (the difficulty breathing due to cat dander, and resulting expanding of my airways) and reinforced the behavior that at my cousins house, I'd start feeling the effects of my asthma and use my inhaler to stop them. I find this really incredible, but Occam's razor could prove me wrong: maybe the cat dander simply hasn't all been cleaned, perhaps it's still stuck to the clothes, carpet, etc. There are many ways to falsify this claim, but I feel that it could be a possibility that the reason I continue to feel the effects of my asthma at my cousins house, without the cat, is that my body is enduring negative reinforcement. Perhaps after a couple years, I will even experience extinction of this response, without the stimulus.
And finally, some humor to end with.

In Chapter 7 of Lilienfeld's textbook, Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, there was a paragraph that talked about Alzheimer's disease, which also went on to describe a study of nuns and how their life expectancy ranged from 87 to over 100 years--much higher than average American life expectancy of 77 years. Alzheimer's is a disease characterized by memory and language impairments (Lilienfeld 268). It affects 42 % of people over the age of 85. The fact that nuns had a higher life expectancy interested me and so I looked up other "nun studies" on the Internet. I also found another article detailing the same findings...

It was cool to see that the findings could be replicated, but we already know that studies and surveys do not yield causation. Which makes me wonder what the contributing factors are to leading a long healthy life. In the article, the author referenced that cloistered nuns live a very routine life causing the brain to be more at ease. This could account for the slower deterioration of brain cells. It also stated that they rarely live their communities resulting in lower sickness rates. Pair those things with the "no smoking or drinking rules" and you've created a less stressful life.

Another possible cause I'd like to point out is the fact that nuns are very compassionate, loving and peaceful people. They don't go on roller coaster rides of emotion or take big physical or mental risks. They have positive outlooks and are very much content with their purpose in life. I feel that having a demeanor like this also plays a critical role in having a healthier brain later in life. The brain is very intricate and powerful. It dictates what we do and what our bodies do, so it would makes sense to assume that people who think healthier have healthier lives. I mean, do you ever see a mad and grumpy 100 year old? No. Because people like that don't live to be that old! Just kidding. But it would be interesting to see the studies done on people with positive and negative demeanors and their life expectancy...

Kim Peek

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Over the past few weeks we had briefly discussed Kim Peek who is known as "the real rain man" and how great his memory was. In this article "Kim Peek, Inspiration for 'Rain Man', Dies at 58" Published by the magazine "Times" discusses this phenomenon. As mentioned in class, Kim had such a great memory he was able to do calendar calculations which is when someone tells Kim a date and he is able to tell you what day of the week that date falls on. However, what I thought was interesting was that the article states that Kim had a damaged corpus callosum and cerebellum; which are important for connecting the two brain hemispheres, regulating attention and language, and coordinating body movements. Although, this area was damaged his memory was above average. This is a great mystery to many doctors and scientists. After reading more about the brain I am still unsure how exactly Kim was able to have such a miraculous memory. Another thing I have found interesting is that even though he was extremely smart, he was unable to pick up social cues. Interestingly, doctors speculate that his neurons made unusual connections due to the absence of the corpus callosum; which increased his memory capacity. These special connections are probably also responsible for his ability to retain information as early as from 16 to 20 months of age, while normally, we learned in class that individuals are able to remember information/memories from age 4 and up. This article was very interesting and left me amazed with the complexity of brain's function. It helped me recognize the brain's pluripotent abilities and emphasized, why even today brain's function is not fully understood.

Learning is the change in an organism's behavior or thought as a result of experience). Classical conditioning is a form of learning in which an organism comes to associate stimuli. There are four components of classical conditioning:
a) Unconditioned Stimulus: Stimulus that generates an automatic response
b) Unconditioned Response: Automatic response to a non- neutral stimulus.
c) Conditioned stimulus: Neutral stimulus that generates a learned response through repeated pairing of stimuli.
d) Conditioned Response: Learned response which was previously associated with the non-neutral stimulus.
In the case of Pavlov's dogs, the unconditioned stimulus was the meat powder, which stimulated the unconditioned response, salivation. The metronome, the conditioned stimulus, could generate a conditioned response, salivation, after being paired repeatedly with the unconditioned stimulus, meat. (Lilienfeld, 202).


Classical conditioning can be applied to the video found on the link above. The unconditioned stimulus (the non-neutral stimulus) is Jim asking Dwight if he wants a mint. The unconditioned response (the automatic response) is Dwight reaching out to get the mint. The conditioned stimulus (the neutral stimulus) is the beep on the computer which Jim paired repeatedly with asking Dwight if he wanted a mint. Finally (the conditioned response) the learned response, is Dwight reaching out for a mint after hearing the beep on the computer.

Learning is the change in an organism's behavior or thought as a result of experience). Classical conditioning is a form of learning in which an organism comes to associate stimuli. There are four components of classical conditioning:
a) Unconditioned Stimulus: Stimulus that generates an automatic response
b) Unconditioned Response: Automatic response to a non- neutral stimulus.
c) Conditioned stimulus: Neutral stimulus that generates a learned response through repeated pairing of stimuli.
d) Conditioned Response: Learned response which was previously associated with the non-neutral stimulus.
In the case of Pavlov's dogs, the unconditioned stimulus was the meat powder, which stimulated the unconditioned response, salivation. The metronome, the conditioned stimulus, could generate a conditioned response, salivation, after being paired repeatedly with the unconditioned stimulus, meat. (Lilienfeld, 202).


Classical conditioning can be applied to the video found on the link above. The unconditioned stimulus (the non-neutral stimulus) is Jim asking Dwight if he wants a mint. The unconditioned response (the automatic response) is Dwight reaching out to get the mint. The conditioned stimulus (the neutral stimulus) is the beep on the computer which Jim paired repeatedly with asking Dwight if he wanted a mint. Finally (the conditioned response) the learned response, is Dwight reaching out for a mint after hearing the beep on the computer.

Flashbulb Memory

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Flashbulb memories are highly detailed, exceptionally vivid 'snapshots' of the moment and circumstances in which a piece of surprising and emotionally arousing news was heard. Flashbulb memory is an appropriate name for this phenomenon in that it indicates it's a surprise. This name is actually inappropriate, however, in that an actual photograph the flash is indiscriminate and preserves everything within the scope. Flashbulb memories, in actuality, are only somewhat indiscriminate and far from being complete. These memories are highly resistant to extinction due to their vivid nature. Even though evidence has proven that although individuals are highly confident in their memories, the details are often the victims of forgetting.
Flashbulb memories are one type of autobiographical memory (memory system consisting of episodes recollected form and individual's life). There have been a growing number of studies; they are discussing whether flashbulb memories are inherently more accurate than other types of autobiographical memories.
Some researchers have argued that there is reason to distinguish these memories from other types of autobiographical memory. That is as long as there are elements of personal importance, consequentiality, emotion, and surprise.
Others however believe ordinary memories can be as accurate. That's if they are highly distinctive, personally significant, or repeatedly rehearsed.

The concept of false memories is an interesting one. It is possible for sources outside of the person to influence the way that one perceives an event, even if said event never occurred. With the strong influences of those around you and those that are close to you, false memories are a reality, as we learned in discussion this week.

Initially, I felt as if this concept was a hoax and could not be true, until the substantial evidence we reviewed and evaluated. The point that stood out most to me was the idea that if we are close friends or family with someone, we tend to take their word for things, especially if the effort of our family or friend is repeated by multiple members of this group.

Personally, I have experienced this scenario. A few months ago, a girlfriend (Sally) and I took a trip to visit the University of Minnesota Duluth campus to visit with some friends. During the trip, Sally and I did not leave each other's side, so anything that either of us did, the other one knew about.

A few weeks after returning from the trip, the rumor mill began to circulate in our hometown among friends, which I was unaware of. The rumor instigators, close friends of Sally, had told her that she had kissed a guy that she realistically had not, as I was present during the time the guy friend was with us. However, after hearing the same story from multiple parties within our social circle, Sally found herself creating a possible memory of the event. Once I was informed by Sally of the rumor, everything was set straight and she realized this memory was a created because of all the vivid stories she was told by our close friends. Luckily, Sally had me, a voice of reason, to stop her from totally believing the memory she created.


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Take a look at this guy:

This man, named Bradley Boyce, is looking right into the eyes of a life long sentence. For what you may ask? He raped a woman. On August 29, 2010, the victim, identified as Jane Doe, called the police a little after 4 a.m. to report the incident. The most important piece of evidence? He was confirmed by the DNA testing that was done at the crime scene. Boyce was there that night whether he was aware of it or not. The victim suffered "traumatic injuries", but made it through. Boyce claimed he was sleepwalking through the entire incident.

What happened after the defendants and the prosecution made their statements?

He was found guilty and sentenced to a life in prison. This is really interesting to me, because there have been a variety of cases around the world that have been excused on the basis of sleepwalking. I keep on wondering why some get away and some are sentenced. The answer, I think, is due to court precedence. The less the court has to worry about precedence, the more proactive the judge can be. In this case, there must not have been too much precedence for the judge to use. Also, in this case it is important to consider the fact that the doctor herself had very little to test. All she was able to do was to check whether Boyce was eligible for sleepwalking, something that occurs in 4%-5% of adults. Chances are Boyce doesn't sleepwalk. The most invalid part of the entire test is the fact that instead of a sleep study on Boyce, she relied on what information was given by the defense attorney.

According to Psychology, from Inquiring to Understanding a man killed his mother-in-law with a tire iron, and seriously injured his father-in-law. He claimed that he was sleepwalking and was not guilty or responsible. The judges agreed.

When we compare a case like this one to the Boyce case it is interesting to see how differently the decisions went.

Check out the article here:

Pavlov and His Cat?

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This is Emma:
Despite being less cute than any dog, she is okay for a roommate's pet. Emma is a fan of her treats and catnip, both which come in a crinkly, resealable container. Whenever she hears this crinkling, she is near you within seconds. Emma is a conditioned cat.

She has heard the crinkling of the bag so many times, a crinkling with normally follows a treat of some sort, that she is conditioned to react to it. The CS (conditioned stimulus) in this case is the crinkling noise of the treat and catnip bags. Emma's CR (conditioned response) to this stimulus is salivation, similar to Pavlov and his dogs. The UCS (unconditioned stimulus) is her treats or catnip, both of which she wants to eat, meaning the UCR (unconditioned response) is her salivation.

Emma also responds to stimulus generalization. When other's have food with a crinkly plastic bag, Emma will come running from her current napping spot to investigate. Things like chips, with louder plastic, illicit more of a response than a candy wrapper, which doesn't quite match the sound of her treats. This particular stimulus generalization can become quite annoying, especially when accompanied by several, whiny meows.

Memory and Amnesia

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Our textbook defines memory as our ability to retain information over time. Some of us have very good memories and can remember tons of the tiniest details. On the other hand, some of us have terrible memories. At any moment you can have your memory seriously damaged by being in an severe accident that can damage your brain and memory.

Amnesia is one of many conditions that could arise from such trauma to the brain. There are two types of amnesia, retrograde and anterograde (Psychology; From Inquiry to Understanding). Retro grade amnesia is where we lose memories from our past. Anterograde is where we lose the ability to form new memories. As stated in our textbook, one myth of amnesia is that most people with amnesia suffer from retrograde amnesia but, in reality, anterograde amnesia is much more common. Also, I believe it to be more difficult to deal with than retrograde amnesia. With that being said how does this type of amnesia affect the people with it and their family and friends?

I thought of this question when I was watching an episode of Private Practice last week. A couple came in for an appointment. As it turned out, the wife is pregnant AND she has anterograde amnesia. She can't form any new memories. She is always surprised by the fact that she is pregnant. Long story short, her husband finds this condition emotionally draining on himself and decides to leave her after they have the baby. He figures that she won't remember anything anyways.

This is just one example of the effects of amnesia on people. Is it morally right? Maybe not. But, regardless stories like this always leave me thinking...what would you do if someone you loved had anterograde amnesia? How would you deal with it?

There is much evidence of false memories being persuaded into people being put on trial for a crime that they have not committed. This evidence has been greatly discussed by Elizabeth Loftus who wrote an article entitled "The Memory of Things Unseen." For further information, I am going to provide you with a link to her article. (
One of these cases includes the McMartin Preshool Abuse Trial, which was the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. Ray Buckey was one of the principal defendants, having spent five years in jail awaiting the trial of a crime he never committed. The case that led to no convictions and the sufferers included hundreds of emotionally damaged children, ruined careers of the McMartin staff, and Buckey, who paid the biggest price.
The accusation started off with a boy claiming to have been sexually abused by Ray Buckey and whose mother filed a police report. But instead of handling it in the right manner, in my opinion, the police and other people considering the case handled it in the wrong manner.
First of all the police sent out a letter informing 200 McMartin Preschool parents of these accusations and asking for information. In this letter they listed many forms of sexually assault that could have been performed on their children. This letter should not have been sent out without the conviction of Ray Buckey at a trial for it can lead parents on.
Then, the children were sent to the Children's Institute International (CII) to be interviewed. These interviews were not done in the right manner either, for the children were given suggestive techniques to persuade them into giving the CII the "right" answer although their initial response to their questioning of having been sexually abused was "no."
Another portion of the case handled wrong included the medical examinations, in which the examiner didn't look for physical evidence but instead looked into the medical history of the children and found causation where no correlation existed. And on top of that, the preliminary hearing was not handled correctly. Instead of conducting a typical preliminary hearing, the court held one that mounted on an affirmative case and with aggressively cross-examining the witnesses.
Not only was the cased handled in an unfair manner, but there was much evidence that contradicted this extraordinary claim. This included the fact that the original boy was unable to identify Ray from photos and showed no sign of sexual abuse after medical examinations. But the searches of both the preschool and homes of the defendants showed no evidence that could potentially lead to conviction. Also there were no findings of secret tunnels, animal bones, or photographs of nude children. Lastly, there were many inconsistencies and contradictions among the children's stories.
Overall, the trial proved to be an expensive waste of time. But it taught people a valuable lesson regarding false memories and suggestive memory techniques. McMartin juror Brenda Williams said that the trial experience taught her to be more cautious: "I now realize how easily something can be said and misinterpreted and blown out of proportion."

Sensory Memory

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Sensory memory is the brief storage of perceptual information before it is passed to short-term memory. Sensory memory is first one of the 3-stage- memory-systems. The other two are short term memory and long term memory. The sensory memory is the raw perception of the outside world. It perceives the world totally based on the biological senses, without subjective effect from the person's mind.
Humans have five main senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Sensory memory allows individuals to retain impressions of sensory information after the original stimulus has ceased. It is considered to be outside of cognitive control and is instead an automatic response. The information, which is raw data and provides a snapshot of a person's overall sensory experience, is represented totally in the sensory memory. There are 3 types of the sensory memory: iconic memory, echoic memory and haptic memory. The formation of the visual perception (aka sight) of the visual sense is the iconic memory. The hearing is represented by the echoic memory. The touch sense and over body detect sensations are represented by the haptic memory. And I think it is reasonable to assume the different psychological sense has a special memory sense. The sensory memory is different the short memory and long term memory, which is not with any other cognitive functions, such as comparison of information, and logical thinking, etc. In real life, the sensory is with us all the time, it is a gateway that allows the information to flow in mind. With the sensory we perceive the world with what it is, then transfer it to short term memory and to long term memory, which complete as what we think is our own mind. And that is the reason why the sensory is the most basic system of the memory system and yet the most complicated and important system in our human species.

Clicker Training 101

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A very important concept that was discovered by Ivan Pavlov while he was doing research on the digestion of dogs is classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is a form of learning in which animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. This type of learning can be used to teach animals and humans to carry out a certain behavior or eliminate a certain behavior. Some everyday examples can be seen in advertising, fears and phobias, fetishes, disgust reactions, and training animals.

Clicker training was the way my family and I decided to train our new puppy Bella when we got her two years ago. Screen shot 2011-10-23 at 3.38.31 PM.png

I was hesitant at the idea of using a clicker to reinforce good behavior because I didn't understand how the noise of a clicker could tell the dog to continue a certain behavior. This became a lot clearer after learning about classical conditioning.

Training animals, and people for that matter, is not an easy task, but through classical conditioning it can be done. Training my dog simple things such as to sit when we told her to became a lot simpler using the clicker training. We conditioned our dog Bella to sit when she heard the noise of the clicker and then reinforced her with a treat. The clicker became the conditioned stimulus as it was now associated with a treat and then the conditioned response was her sitting. Eventually the treat was no longer needed to reinforce the behavior and then later on the clicker was able to be removed.

Here is an article that summarizes how to use clicker training and how the clicker becomes a conditioned stimulus:

Now the question is, does clicker training, a form of classical conditioning really work? In my experience yes! Eventually my dog continued to sit on command even without the clicker which is what we wanted the outcome to be!

Here is a youtube video that shows a dog being trained using a clicker:

Research has found that there are many benefits to clicker training. Besides having your pet trained to do simple commands and difficult tricks, your dog will actually continue to display these learned behaviors after the clicker has been removed. Some other benefits of clicker training is that...
1) it's a positive training method free of harsh corrections
2) you can train dogs of any age
3) it creates a deep bond between you and your dog because it's based on cooperation
4) proven by animal behaviorists and animal trainers for many years
5) accurately marks the end of the desired behavior, which means clearer communication with the dog
6) the clicker can take the place of the treats so you don't have to worry about overfeeding your dog and spending extra cash buying treats.

These findings overrule the other hypotheses that clicker training doesn't last or isn't an effective method of training animals. (Ruling out Rival Hypothesis) Not only does clicker training work effectively it can also be repeated with the same animals, different animals, in people and in different environments. (Replicability)

Overall, classical conditioning was a huge discovery by Pavlov and has proved its way in research and in my experiences to work very well on animals and people.

Three Stage Memory

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For some time I have wondered why humans have developed memory into a three-stage process; sensory memories, short-term memory, followed by long-term memory. Specifically, I am most fascinated by the difference in short-term and long-term memory.
Short-term memory is defined as the ability to hold 7 +/-2 pieces that only last about 15 seconds in our brains. Long-term memory seems to be essentially infinite in storage, and lasts seemingly forever. What is the evolutionary advantage to keeping these two processes separate? If the long-term memory has an infinite capacity, would it be harmful to us if we remembered everything that ever entered our short-term memory? I can think of all kinds of advantages this would have, but we can only hypothesize on what types of harm it would have.
If we remembered everything we ever moved from sensory memory to short term memory would no longer need address books, flash cards and studying, and no more embarrassing moments of forgetting a new persons name. However, there must be a reason that humans did not evolve this way. Perhaps the human memory works like an external hard drive. Right out of the box, a new hard drive can clock very impressive numbers on data transfer speeds, but as the drive gets used more and has more data placed on it, those data transfer speeds slow down. Its possible the human brain works like this. If this were true, this would be one possible explanation as to why the human brain has placed a limit on how much it cares to remember. Or another possibility may be that long-term memory is not nearly as expansive as it may appear. Perhaps it is much more limited than we believe.
Although we may never know the exact reason humans have not evolved to combining short term and long term memory, it is a fascinating topic to imagine what could be/could have been if everything we ever came across was easy to recall.

I was surprised by authors' idea that direct instruction is more effective and efficient than discovery learning, when I read chapter 6 in textbook. Because we always hear educational scholars advocate developing discovery learning in classes, instead of suggesting to improve direct instruction. Why do authors support opposite ideas as we heard, and what is the evidence shown?

What Is Discovery Learning and Direct Instruction?
First,we recall the conceptions of discovery learning and direct instruction. Discovery learning is a method that students find principles by themselves without teachers instructing. Direct instruction is the opposite idea, which refers to a rigorously developed, highly scripted method for teaching that is fast-paced and provides constant interaction between students and the teacher. It emphasizes the use of small-group, face-to-face instruction by teachers and aides using carefully articulated lessons in which cognitive skills are broken down into small units, sequenced deliberately, and taught explicitly.

Discovery Learning V.S Direct Instruction
It is a controversy between these two ideas. Proponents of discovery learning theory believe that discovery learning could encourages active engagement,promotes independence and most important,develops creativity and problem solving skills. However, Critics cites this method could create cognitive overload and potential misconceptions. And they suggest classical teaching method, direct instruction, is more effective and efficient than discovery learning. What does evidence show?
Studies of Learning Methods
One study is completed in the 1970s, about Project Follow Through, which was the largest educational study up to now. It examined a variety of programs and educational philosophies to learn how to improve education of disadvantaged children in grades K-3. The studies could be grounded into basic skills, cognitive skills ("higher order thinking") and self-esteem. Subjects were divided into two groups, that are receiving direct instruction and receiving discovery learning. The results showed Students receiving Direct Instruction did better than those in all other programs when tested in reading, arithmetic, spelling, and language.Also, direct instruction improved cognitive skills dramatically relative to the control groups and also showed the highest improvement in self-esteem scores compared to control groups. Therefore, direct instruction is better than discovery learning.
Yet, Another study shows direct instruction is insufficient and inappropriate in the long term by DAVID DEAN JR. and DEANNA KUHN.

In conclusion, both methods of learning have advantages. But, applying either one method alone in teaching is not a rational way. Therefore, we need consider to combine both methods during teaching.

How we trained our dog

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This is our dog, Ari. She is a four month old Labrador retriever. Thanks to B.F. Skinner, my husband and I were able to teach her to do some tricks such as sit, lie down, shake, drop, and stay.

This is how we trained her.
Step 1. Get her favorite food and the clicker ready
Step 2 Say some command words
Step 3 Click the clicker if she performs any similar behavior of the target behavior and give her food
Step 4 Repeat step 2 and 3. Keep reinforcing behaviors

We trained her by using shaping (also called shaping by successive approximations). Shaping was introduced by B.F Skinner, who was an American psychologist and one of the famous behaviorists. It is known that his work was influenced by Pavlov and Watson but do you know how he first knew about them?

The first time B.F Skinner encountered with Behavioral Science was after he graduated from Hamilton College. Actually he wanted to become a writer so he moved back home, Susquehanna, New York. He wrote little and worked as a bookstore clerk. While working at the bookstore he found the books written by Pavlov and Watson. He was impressed by them and wanted to learn more. So he enrolled in the Psychology Department of Harvard University at the age of 24 and studied more about it. Later on, he introduced the term shaping.

Shaping is a procedure that you reinforce behaviors although the behaviors are not target behaviors yet. By doing so, you can guide them to perform the target behavior. In other words, animals don't know why they get treats at first but as they get encouraged more times they eventually shape the target behavior.

We plan to teach Air to pick up her toys and put them in her toy box eventually by using chaining with shaping. Chaining is a technique to teach animals to perform longer series of tricks. For example, we will teach our dog to pick up a toy first. Later on we will reinforce her by giving her food, when she picks up a toy and goes to her toy box. Eventually we will teach her to pick up a toy and drop it in her toy box.

We have a long way to go but it will be fun. If she learns to clean up her toys, I'll post the video of her! Wish me luck!

As many well established dog trainers know, there are various different ways to teach your dog or puppy obedience and training. Two particular forms of training drew a lot of public attention and that is Positive and Negative Reinforcement. Negative Reinforcement in the dog world is defined as: A punishment that is given to your dog or puppy or something is taken away to increase the likelihood of the behavior being repeated more frequently. If any one is familiar with Cesar Millan we know that he is very much a fan of this particular approach, and his particular choice of training drew a lot of ethical questions. In the article I read it touched base with the correct way to train your dog with using negative reinforcement which drew a very thin line to punishment. In our text punishment is defined as an outcome or consequence of a behavior that weakens the probability of the behavior. In the article the trainer had stated you could use negative reinforcement when you are potty training your dog. The article has also stated, if your dog where to have an accident in the house to place him/her in their crate so they know they have to potty outside, is this really the proper use of negative reinforcement? It seems more like punishment because nothing has actually been taken away from the pooch, besides his freewill.
The other methods which were listed are the use of things such as, Shock Training Collars, Choke Collars, Bitter Apple and Cayenne Pepper spray, and water spray collars, or in Cesar Millan's case kicking the dog when unwanted behavior occurs. While all these methods seem more like punishment (in just scaring the dog out of the unwanted behavior) trainers nation wide are not using negative reinforcement correctly, making dog owners shun the idea of negative reinforcement, which if used properly could be a very effect method of dog training.
Trainers such as Cesar Millan have fell victim to being labeled as an animal abuser because of his particular methods in dog training. He claims that he is using negative reinforcement, when he's not actually removing a stimulus, but striking fear into a dog when an unwanted behavior occurs. He may run into less issues with the owners if he calls it as it is, and admits to using punishment whether the negative reinforcement to train his dogs.
More dog owners and trainers seem to be switching over to the less controversial training of positive reinforcement! Which in the dog world is defined as, A treat and lots of praise to increase the likelihood of the behavior being repeated more frequently. This method seems more beneficial to the owners and of course their dogs, I mean how can you go wrong with treats? I hope this particular article opens the eyes to our many dog trainers and owners out there, and helps them re-evaluate their method of training, and if they choose to stick with negative reinforcement make sure that it's done correctly, so you don't go from becoming a trainer to an abuser!

Over the past two weeks, we have learned about suggestive memory techniques in our textbook. Suggestive memory techniques are ways that encourage people to remember memories that were often impossible events. I believe this finding to be important because there are often many criminal cases that involve completely innocent people to be wrongfully imprisoned. Even when evidence does not confirm that the suspect is linked to the crime, eyewitnesses may incorrectly identify them at the scene of the crime.
One recent example is the case of Troy Davis. Troy Davis was a man wrongfully convicted of and executed for the murder of a police officer in Savannah, Georgia. He maintained his innocence until his execution.
Though Troy Davis was innocent, eyewitness identification said otherwise. The entire case against Troy Davis was based on eyewitness testimony, despite the fact that the eyewitnesses' testimonies were unreliable.
Eyewitness recall is not a good enough base to rely on when it comes to criminal cases, according to Elizabeth Loftus, of whom we learned about in our discussion sections. Variables that may affect a witness' ability to recall facts include how far away the witnesses were from the scene, what the light was like, whether they were afraid, or whether they are of a different race than the person they witnessed.
This relates to the case of Troy Davis because the eyewitnesses clearly mistook someone else for him, which occurs a lot more frequently than I would like to think. Innocent people are being sent to jail and possibly executed. Why should we have such little faith in our judicial system for finding the true criminals in cases like this? What can we do to increase our efficiency in convicting the correct person?
Here is a link to an article from TIME magazine that gives more details about the Troy Davis case:,8599,2095209-1,00.html

Your moment of Zen

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Meditation pose
Call it Zen or Transcendental meditation (TM) or Mindfulness meditation (MM), or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)...they all relate to different forms of contemplation as a means to calm the body and mind. Meditation is an ancient practice with origins in India and China that has, in the past few decades, experienced an explosion of popularity. Claims regarding its benefits include improvements in concentration, perceptual sensitivity, memory, reaction times, and relaxation. Since we have been studying the process of memory, I was curious to find out more about the links between meditation and memory.

There is a positive correlation between the practice of meditation and memory. In recent years, mindfulness-meditation (MM) and Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction (MBSR) have been studied by neuroscientists and the results show that MM results in an increase in the cerebral cortex thickness which is in turn achieved by an increase in the blood flow to the region. Remember the London taxi drivers' phenomenal memory and the increased activity in their hippocampuses? Meditation increases the volume of the hippocampus, according to studies done at UCLA.

There is one study that caught my eye that compares Magnetic Resonance (MR) images of participants before and after they underwent an 8-week program of MBSR. Results included increased gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction and the cerebellum. These areas are associated with learning, memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking. There were NO downsides mentioned in ANY study. In fact, since major depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder subjects have associated with them lower volumes of the hippocampuses, researchers are seriously considering the use of meditation in such situations.

Results of MBSR

The scientists acknowledge that there may be an element of selection bias since the participants were people who had voluntarily (or at the instruction of a medical practitioner) signed up for the MBSR program and the control group consisted of people on the said waiting list. Confounds of the study are that MBSR includes group social interaction, stress-reduction education as well as gentle stretching any of which might be the real reason for the highly favorable results.

Don't let that confound you however. Go ahead....take your moment(s) of Zen.


Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density
Britta K. Hölzel, James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging - 30 January 2011 (Vol. 191, Issue 1, Pages 36-43, DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2010.08.006)

Mindfulness training affects attention--or is it attentional effort?
Jensen, Christian Gaden; Vangkilde, Signe; Frokjaer, Vibe; Hasselbalch, Steen G.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Sep 12, 2011, No Pagination

Attending to the present: mindfulness meditation reveals distinct neural modes of self-reference
Norman A. S. Farb, Zindel V. Segal, Helen Mayberg, Jim Bean, Deborah McKeon, Zainab Fatima, and Adam K. Anderson
Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2007 December; 2(4): 313-322.
Prepublished online 2007 August 13.

Memory and Alzheimer's

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Memory is crucial to our lives because it allows us to apply our past experiences to our present lives. Memory allows us to function normally. Without memory we wouldn't know what to do when we got up in the morning or recognize the faces of those we love. It is normal not to remember every detail of our lives, but sometimes people begin forgetting too much. This is a disease and it is called Alzheimer's.


Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that gets worse over time and affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Alzheimer's accounts for 50 to 60 percent of the cases of dementia, and it occurs at alarming rates as people age. For those people aged 65 and older the risk for the disease is 13 percent, but once you hit age 85 and older the percent jumps up to 42 percent. Alzheimer's begins with the forgetting of newer memories, and ends with older memories being the last to go.


When you have Alzheimer's the brain contains many senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that contribute to the loss of synapses, and death of cells in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. It is not known what exactly causes Alzheimer's but it is thought to be partially genetic and partially environment and lifestyle based. For example, it has been shown that being physically active reduces your risk for Alzheimer's.

The disease of Alzheimer's is close to my heart because my grandfather had it. I personally experienced his decline and memory. He had to be moved from his house and to a nursing home because he could no longer take care of himself. I wonder if scientists will ever discover the exact cause of Alzheimer's and if there will be a treatment that works. What would our world be like if people no longer had memory loss? Would it increase life span? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing? I guess we will just have to give Alzheimer's research time and wait to see the outcome.

Psychology Textbook

In chapter 6 we learned a great deal about the processes and types of learning. There were several examples in the text that focused on how animals learn. When I read these sections about animals, I found it funny how the authors of the text made animals sound less intelligent than humans. An example is from page 228 when it states " a genius of an ape named Sultan, who easy especially adept at solving puzzles. (Lilienfield 2010) My point in this is we give animals less credit than they deserve sometimes. I mean, would we consider a human a "genius" for solving simple tasks? Most likely the answer is no.
In my opinion we give animals much less credit than they deserve. So I thought I would look for cases that display evidence that animals can be better learners and problem solvers than humans. In my search I found two good examples in which primates outsmarted a human, in one case the human was me.
The first video I found was of a chimp named Ayumu. Ayumu was able to learn Arabic numerals, and then outsmart, or outperform a human in a short term memory task. The task was this. Numbers would appear on a touch screen computer. The numbers would then disappear soon after being displayed, Ayumu than had to touch squares where the numbers appeared in ascending order of the numbers that were previously in that location. When watching the video you can see clearly that the human struggles far more than Ayumu in this task.
The second video was very simple. A chimp in given a peanut in a tube that is fixed to the ground. The tube is too long for the chimp to reach with its fingers. As I watched it I had no idea how this chimp would get the peanut out. I thought maybe breaking the tube would be an easy way to do it; but if the tube is to sturdy, and I couldn't break it, than I would have no way of getting the peanut. The chimp however, wasn't as stumped as me. The chimp thought to get water from its drinking supply, and spit the water in the tube, making the peanut float. This in my opinion is an excellent display of animals' intelligence.
So the point again is, I think animals are given much less credit than they deserve. For the most part, yes animals are less intelligent than humans, but there are many situations that primates can out smart us in.

When this home video of two young twins appearing to talk to each other in a language unfamiliar to any outsiders was released, it was an instant hit. People immediately posted comments claiming that this was proof that babies indeed have their own secret language, while others tried to guess what these babies were actually talking about. Before you come up with your own funny translation, however, let us look deeper into this issue where a simpler explanation awaits.

I'm sure there has been a time in everyone's life when they wished they were a twin. This is probably because people have the false idea that twins have a special way to communicate that nobody else can decipher. This idea is so well known that it even has its own name, cryptophasia. At first glance, this makes sense because you are likely to have a close bond with someone who you have spent your whole life with. However, this claim is no match for Occam's razor, one of the six principles of critical thinking, which proposes a simpler explanation. Since twins learn how to talk around the same time, it is likely that they make similar errors when speaking. As a result, the twins are able to recognize what the other one is trying to say while outsiders have no clue what the twins are talking about. Occam's razor has saved the day once again.

But is this babbling completely pointless? Absolutely not! Although it is true that babbling consists of intentional, yet meaningless sounds that come out of a baby's mouth, these noises are the first step in learning how to talk. The babbling allows babies to experiment with their vocal tracts and discover how to create different sounds.

By putting Occam's razor to use, we learned that it is unlikely that twins have a mysterious language that only they can comprehend. However, babbling should not be seen (or I guess heard) as an annoying, worthless noise because it plays an important part in helping an infant learn how to talk.


Video courtesy of:

Information courtesy of:
Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding Textbook, pages 290 and 297

Narcoleptic Poodle

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

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

Spinning top:

We have been learning about the psychology of dreams and the implantation of false memories. All this new information has made me reflect on the movie Inception, where a lot of these concepts play a significant role in the plot's premise and development- I think it would be interesting to examine the scientific plausibility of infiltrating a person's mind via his or her dreams. We should all recognize that in order to enjoy the film, it is necessary to suspend our belief and appreciate that the movie is a fictional tale that takes liberties with scientific facts.

In actual life, dreams only occur during the REM stage and only 25% of our entire night's worth of sleep is at the REM stage of the sleep cycle, if at all (Lilienfeld). It usually takes a while for normal humans to reach REM stage, with the majority of sleep being in stage 2. However, in the film, after attaching the necessary wires, people immediately fall asleep and being dreaming.

When we rest and go to sleep, our brains partially shut down and become inactive so that it can heal itself. REM sleep is characterized by active suppression of motor activity and presynaptic inhibition of sensory signals (Squire et al 2008). In the scene where DiCaprio introduces Ellen Page to the dream state, the dreamers display a highly advanced level of cognition, awareness, and memory that contradicts neuroscience. The wide-ranging inactivation of prefrontal brain regions during REM sleep would not allow for such a dream to occur.

The purpose of entering someone else's dreams is to implant an idea into the person's mind. Based on what we discussed in discussion, this could possible occur. Our memories are malleable and suggestible and we oftentimes believe things that never actually ever happened before (Loftus). The businessman may actually believe that his father told him to divide the company.

Alien Abduction

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The article I chose is about people being abducted by aliens. It talks about a couple that claimed to have been abducted while driving in their car. They couldn't remember anything for a two hour period and later when talking to a psychiatrist they seemed to remember details and both of their stories were the same in most details. The scientific thinking principal that I think this relates to is Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence. There were no witnesses or proof of the events that these people say occurred. This is a very unlikely thing to happen and with no proof it's hard to know if it is real or not. Another thinking principle that comes into play is Ruling out Rival Hypotheses. There could be other explanations then that they were abducted by aliens. They could have been making it all up for attention, their car could have been leaking exhaust fumes causing them to hallucinate, or perhaps it was a long ride and they were very tired causing either a dream or hallucination and one having told the other they both thought that id happened. They could only remember the details when they were hypnotized which is not an effective way to emerge memories. These could also be false memories planted be ideas from dreams. In a related article I read that the details they gave were similar to recent episode of "The Outer Limits" which is where they could have gotten the idea that planted the false memory. In this case we should consider Occam's Razor and go with what is much more probable, that they in some other way got the idea that they were abducted but really they were not.


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In psychology lecture we have been discussing memory. Memory is something we typically take for granted. Yet, it is possible to lose our memory. An example of a man that tragically lost his memory is Clive Wearing. Clive suffers from both anterograde and retrograde amnesia. As his wife says, he lives in the moment.

His case is very unfortunate. However, we have learned quite a deal from his case. (You can see Clive Wearing interacting with his wife in the link to the video below.)

Even though Clive's condition is relatively uncommon, memory problems afflict numerous people. For instance, Alzheimers condition is relatively widespread effecting approximately 4.5 million Americans today. In 2050 this number is expected to increase to a total of 16 million Americans. Alzheimers leads not only to "personal losses" and hardship, but provides economic hardship as well. Caring for people suffering from Alzheimers in the United States alone costs around $100 billion a year. Therefore, finding the cure/treatment to this disease will not only provide relief to those afflicted with this disease and their loved ones, but it could also eliminate a major financial burden.

After learning this, I decided to research what the University of Minnesota is doing to prevent this devastating condition. I learned that the University has a research lab led by Karen Hsia Ashe who has had made important discoveries in Alzheimers research. For example, in 1996 her lab was the birthplace of a transgenic mouse that mimicked the early stages of the disease. This mouse had both memory loss and amyloid-beta plaques , one of the hallmarks of the disease, and is now the most widely used mouse for Alzheimers research in the world.

Hopefully the research here at the University of Minnesota and around the world will help mankind tackle this terrible disease. I have seen a family member suffer from Alzheimers and hope this disease will be cured in the future. However, for now, we should learn that memories are never guranteed and that we should not take this amazing phenomenon for granted.

Mnemonic devices are a type of memory aid. They are a way of encoding information in an easy to remember construct. There are many different types of Mnemonic devices, and they can be used to remember anything. Some examples include: acronyms, acrostic, method of Loci, and the peg system. Acronyms are made up of taking the first letter of each word or phrase you are trying to remember and making a new word from those letters. An example of this would be, NEWS. NEWS is an acronym for the directions on a compass; north, east, west, south. Acrostics are created by making a full sentence using the first letter of each word as indicators for the words you are trying to remember. An example of an acrostic would be, "My very energetic mother just served us nine pizzas." This acrostic is used to remember the planets. The method of Loci uses visualization of places to recall information. An example of this would be linking something you want to remember with a location you know well. This place will later cue you what you needed to remember. The peg system is a mnemonic device used commonly to memorize lists of things. An example of this would be remembering 1 and gun, later associating the first thing on a list fired from a gun. Second, remembering 2 and zoo, associating the second thing on a list and a zoo. This can go on and on. As I said before, mnemonic devices can be used to remember anything.

I have personally used mnemonic devices as a short cut to recall things my entire life. One very recent example where I used a mnemonic device was in my psychology class in order to remember the six principles of scientific thinking. The sentence I used to remember them on the test was: "Rival causes falsify repeated claims (Mr.) Occam." I have found that mnemonic devices are a very important type of memory aid. They may not help you understand the material you are studying, but they do help you remember key words or phrases quickly and easily.

Here is an example of an acrostic mnemonic device used to remember the order in which to solve a multi step mathematical equation:


Does media violence cause real-world aggression? Although psychologists have differing opinions regarding correlation vs. causation, most can agree that media violence is a contributing factor.
(in case link above doesn't work:

Correlation vs. Causation: Through correlational designs, data has shown that children who watch violent TV shows are more aggressive than those who don't. However, this doesn't necessarily indicate a direct causation between the two. A third variable, like initial aggressiveness levels, could affect a kid's choice on whether or not to tune in to an aggressive TV show.

Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: Longitudinal designs have also shown a relationship between media violence and real-world aggression; kids who watch violent TV shows commit more crimes than kids who don't, even if their initial aggression levels are similar. But is it a direct causation? No, because longitudinal designs aren't really experiments. The kids aren't randomly selected or assigned to a particular TV show; instead, they choose which shows to watch. Also, there can be many confounding variables like lack of parental supervision and boredom with regular TV shows that might contribute to this correlation.

Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: In a field study conducted by David Phillips, it was discovered that homicide rates rose 12.5% after widely publicized boxing matches. This surprising information led people to believe that violent boxing matches caused a rise in homicide. However, psychologists realized that the relationship between these two occurrences could have been due to chance, because there are numerous other reasons why homicide rates increase.

Ruling Out Rival Hypotheses: In another field study, a town without TV access (A) was compared to a town with TV access (B). Initially, town A was less aggressive than town B. However, after enabling TV access to town A, the once media-free town became more aggressive. This shows a correlation between media violence and real-world aggression, but other factors could've influenced this relationship. For instance, after this field study began, the Canadian government constructed a highway that connected town A to town B. Because town A wasn't isolated anymore, town B could have negatively influenced kids by exposing them to things like crime.

Even though there are confounding variables in the relationship between media violence and real-world aggression, many psychologists agree that media violence contributes to aggression. However, psychologists can't confirm that there's a direct causation between the two.

This relates to college students, because so many shows we watch and video games we play depict violent acts of killing each other. Just look at the top video games sold in recent years: Gears of War 3, Dead Space 2, Twisted Medal, Halo Reach and many more. It's good to know that other factors affect the relationship between media violence and real-world aggression, because otherwise most people would become violent.

Lilienfeld textbook chapter 6

Sign Language

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American Sign Language is a vastly different language than most people think. The grammar rules, or syntax, are completely unlike speaking English. Though the syntax is different, sign languages are still considered languages because they follow specific rules just like speaking languages. Being a native speaker of English, it was hard for me to understand American Sign Language at first. I am currently in my second semester and I am still finding myself trying to translate the sentence I have in my head word-for-word in sign language. This is a no-no! A typical sentence in sign language isn't the English "subject-verb" norm. There aren't really any auxiliary verbs in ASL as well as any articles like "the" or "a". Going from English to sign language, this takes awhile to get used to.

When I walked into class of my first semester, two translators were present and I got to see them sign with the teacher. Besides watching their methodical hand gestures, I couldn't help but notice their general posture and facial expressions. These two elements play a crucial part in ASL grammar. My professor stresses how we have to show emotion in all of our sentences. We even have to do eyebrow exercises sometimes if we aren't focusing (eyebrows up, eyebrows down, eyebrows up, eyebrows down...)!!! These facial expressions in any speaking language could be thought of as over-dramatic but in ASL as well as any other sign language, these extralinguistic gestures are very important.

There are many myths about sign language. One of the main myths is when children are born deaf to hearing parents, people might think that they cannot acquire language like hearing children do. However, this is false. Deaf children can acquire language like anyone else. In fact, the parts of the brain that process spoken language are just used to process sign language. Also, children that are born deaf go to through the same developmental stages as hearing children do. For instance, when hearing children start babbling, deaf children babble with their hands. Here is a video of a deaf parent signing with her deaf child...very cute!

Eidetic it real?

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We learned in the Memory chapter about persons with exceptional memories, like those with eidetic memories or echoic memories.

One of my favorite shows, Psych, features a main character with an eidetic memory who uses this characteristic to his advantage in solving crimes. He claims to be a psychic and uses his memory to solve the crimes with his "psychic abilities". It's a very funny and clever show, if you haven't seen it, go watch it.

Another show that I love, Criminal Minds, also has a character with an eidetic memory. Fictional Dr. Spencer Reid uses his memory of things he's read or seen to help solve the crimes.

I'm really curious about the whole concept of eidetic memory. From Wikipedia and our textbook, it's defined as "the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with extreme precision and in abundant volume." With such an extraordinary claim, it really should be backed up.

I'm just baffled on how this is even possible. I think I have a pretty good memory, and I know that during tests I can recall whole pages in my notebook or textbook about the information being tested--it's not super precise, but does that mean that I can have a semi-eidetic memory? Or is my memory just really good? How is a person classified as having an eidetic memory?

I looked it up and found some interesting information. Wikipedia says, "there are distinct differences in the manner in which information is processed. People who have a generally capable memory often use mnemonic devices to retain information while those with eidetic memory remember very specific details, such as where a person was standing, what the person was wearing, etc. They may recall an event with greater detail while those with a different memory remember daily routines rather than specific details that may have interrupted a routine..." Interesting.

I read on and found that this topic is still a subject of skepticism. Many psychologists have conducted studies testing eidetic memory and have found different results. I don't know what to believe. Could good memories just be a result of rehearsal or repeated exposure? Strong attention to detail? There are many claims, and with every extraordinary claims there has to be sufficient evidence to back it up.

From what I've read, as of 2008, no one has been able to claim long-term eidetic memory in a scientific setting.

So until then, I'll just enjoy the antics of Shawn Spencer on Psych and the drama on Criminal Minds.

Source: Lilienfield textbook, Wikipedia

The Magic Number 7

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During the last lecture, we learned about memory and just how complex it is. I feel that as we have been learning about new things in class, we have been debunking myths surrounding these topics. This made me want to look up myths surrounding memory, and one of the ones that I found was mentioned in the last lecture. According to , the magic of 7 items (plus or minus 2) is a myth that came from a very good, but incorrect, theory by a famous psychologist named George A. Miller is just a myth.

The magic number 7 is one of the most highly cited papers in psychology. George A. Miller, of Princeton University's Department of Psychology published it in 1956 in Psychological Review. It theorizes that the number of objects that an average human can hold in their working memory is 7 +/- 2. More recent research has shown that the magic number 7 is not only based upon a misinterpretation of Miller's essay, but that the actual number of objects that can be held in the working memory is around three or four. The research revealed that span depends on the category of "chunks" used, and also features of these chunks within categories. For example, compare remembering a list of 7 things and a similar list split into categories. This could be 7 animals in one list and 2 birds, 2 cats, and 3 dogs in the other list. The second list is easier to remember.

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