muell720: October 2011 Archives

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.

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

False Memories

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Vote 0 Votes

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.

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

Animals and time.

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In lecture last week Dr. Gail Peterson showed us a video of a mouse demonstrating instrumental conditioning. This was not the video of Skinners work, but one that compared the mouse's behavior to that of someone gambling at the end of the video. I do not want to talk about the gambling comparison, instead I want to discuss how the mouse reacted when the reward was given due to different circumstances.
In the video the mouse hits the lever, that activates a light and a food piece gets dispensed. The experimenter than changes the rules for the food reward. Now instead of being controlled by the mouse's actions, the food tablet is on a timer of 30 seconds. The mouse is now uncertain why his actions do not lead to the reward of food. He frantically presses on the lever, still illuminating the little light, but no food is dispensed. The experimenter claims that the mouse could just sit back and wait for the reward with no work, but instead he just puts in a lot of work for little reward.
I think there is something else to the mouse not just sitting back for the predetermined time and waiting for food. Animals do not understand the concept of time that humans have made. The little mouse has no clue that if he sits back for 30 seconds another piece of food will come out because it is set on a release timer. Time, like many other things, is human created. Money, time, freedom, art, these are just a few things humans have come up with that animals do not share. The mouse just thinks that he is doing something incorrectly, and that is the reason he is not receiving a reward.
When Skinner demonstrated his experiment on a mouse, the light was separate from the lever. When the light lit up, the mouse was then able to use the lever to activate the food dispenser. If the light was off, the lever had no effect.


I am still trying to find a link to the video that I am talking about. When I have found it I will link it as a comment.

Train vs. Penny

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I was looking into urban legends and I found one that was amusing to me, both by the outrageous claim and the fact it brought back a very old memory. The tale was that of a penny, having been laid on a train track, derailed a train form its fixed course. This story was proven false and is very entertaining, the thought of a single penny vs. a train is quite humorous.
The claim is extraordinary, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Using that scientific thinking principal we can easily reject this claim. If a penny could really derail a train you would be hearing about the dangers of coins on the train tracks in the news, and these dangers would be common knowledge. I have laid many pennies on train tracks and was never told of any such news story or witness such an event.
Other things have been laid on train tracks, such as bricks, that have derailed trains. This leads to the ruling out of rival hypotheses principal of scientific thinking. When this myth started there was probably one occurrence of something that was on the train tracks. It could not have been a penny, but there may have been a penny on the track as well as a much more sizable obstacle on the tracks.

Source: http://www.snopes.com/science/train.asp

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