kochi005: October 2011 Archives

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.


The article "Teenage Mind: First Time Evidence Links Over Interpretation of Social Situations to Personality Disorder" published by Science Daily discusses a relationship between borderline personality disorder traits and hypermentalizing in adolescents. This is an example of behaviorism the school of psychology that focuses on uncovering the general laws of learning by looking at observable traits. The goal of the study was to answer: "why does someone with borderline personality disorder do certain things" for example why they might key a car if doing so will lead to bad consequences? Focusing on what happens in the brain of these patients. The study consisted of 111 adolescent inpatients between the ages of 12 to 17 they were asked to watch some movie scenes and report what the character was feeling based on four options. Based on this information I am still unsure which part of the brain is responsible for personality disorder. And this correlation between the responses to the movie are not very persuading for me are their MRI scans that demonstrate similar findings? This is an example of using scientific skepticism it does not look though the articles author used scientific skepticism in writing this. Also as mentioned in class the right hemisphere is responsible for social behaviors but how do these disorders come to be? In addition it stated that there is a relationship between the answers the participants had chosen but not why they believe there is a correlation. In my opinion I think this article needs to be replicated and further explained to be persuasive. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928142454.htm

Free Will

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One important idea discussed in the Lilienfeld text is free will and whether it is an illusion. Free will is the ability to make decisions without any outside influence and it is not externally determined. This is debated in the free will-determinism debate, which asks the question: To what extent are our behaviors freely selected rather than caused by factors outside of our control. Which brings up the idea of free will as an illusion, meaning people do not really make their own choices because the choices are pre determined. Behaviorist B.F. Skinner argued "free will stems from the fact that we aren't consciously aware of the thousands of subtle environmental influences impinging on our behavior at any given moment" (Lilienfeld 35). This idea is important because it discusses how people form decisions and that everyone is making decisions that they might not necessarily want but the decisions that society has engraved upon us, which is why I find this idea very interesting. This in my opinion demonstrates how nature has a huge impact on our daily lives. Our environment, the people around us and what we have been grown up to believe to be the right decision influence our decisions which in turn makes us not really have free will. Even though people do have the power to go against all of this it is not as easy to do and people do not tend to they instead settle for these "premade choices." In the youtube video "The illusion of Free Will" discusses whether a conscious person or the brain makes the decision. From the experiment in the video it becomes clear that the brain makes the decision before the conscious person does in other words the unconscious mind makes the decision first. After viewing this video and reading more in depth about free will I believe that free will is made by our unconscious. I also began to wonder whether since the unconscious mind already makes a decision whether the conscious mind is able to change that decision. Also it has made me wonder if nature (the environment and people surrounding me) are really the ones that have influenced my unconscious or if it is pre-wired.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by kochi005 in October 2011.

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