pitz0041: October 2011 Archives

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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.


During one of my favorite shows, Criminal Minds, one of the FBI agents, Spencer, tries to remember a crime taking place during his childhood. He has reoccurring dreams about this murder that he may or may not have encountered when he was a young child. To try and get him to remember these vivid dreams, he goes to a hypnotist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-XGNbo-uYA

Hypnosis is a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. So in other words, a person is put under a sleep like sort of state, and this ensures that the mind is relaxed and will respond to commands that the hypnotist says to do. When I first saw this episode of criminal minds, I wanted to know if it was actually possible to recover memories. If that was possible, then why aren't criminal investigators able to do it more often? Mythbusters did an episode to find out if this actually can happen in real life.

Below is a link from a scholarly journal from 1983 that investigates whether or not hypnotics is able to enhance the memory of witnesses.
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/94/3/387.pdf

"Despite the publication of a large number
of case studies in which hypnosis has apparently
been invaluable in the solving of a crime,
experimental attempts to demonstrate improved
memory under hypnosis have thus far
not been successful. It has been suggested that
the failure of laboratory studies to demonstrate
hypnotic memory enhancement may result
from the absence of certain essential features
present in the crime situation, such as meaningful,
dynamic stimulus materials, high emotional
arousal, and the realization that a human
life may depend on what is recalled. Furthermore,
the study of stimulus events in the
crime situation is rarely done intentionally, as
it is in the laboratory. However, several recent
laboratory studies that have attempted to include
these very characteristics nonetheless
persist in failing to demonstrate hypnotic
memory enhancement. One exception worth
pursuing is the suggestion of improved recall
under hypnosis for incidentally learned materials.
What these studies do demonstrate
quite clearly, however, is that when witnesses
are interrogated under hypnosis they are more
suggestible, showing a greater tendency to agree
with the interrogator. Because of this problem,
and an apparent trend for the courts to reject
the testimony of witnesses who have undergone
hypnosis, a search for nonhypnotic procedures
of memory enhancement appears warranted.
Three factors that may be responsible for the
improved memory under hypnosis reported
in so many anecdotes were suggested: (a) encouraging
witnesses to lower their criterion
level during memory retrieval; (b) contextual
reinstatement via a guided memory procedure;
and (c) repeated testing sessions that allow for
the occurrence of experimental hypermnesia.
If witnesses to a crime may be helped to remember
the details of the crime through the
application of these procedures without hypnosis,
the benefits of memory enhancement
could be achieved without the problematic effects
of bias inherent in hypnosis. Future research
to investigate these factors is required."

Woah. So the studies couldn't be taken in for account because they need more research. This needs replicability. I worked in Mythbusters, and in Criminal Minds, however, in an actual research setting, the experiments were not able to provide complete information. So, sorry criminal case solvers, but your job may have just gotten harder.

Twins Separated at Birth

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One important concept from Psychology 1001 text is the study of Nature vs. Nurture. Gregor Medel was the first to suggest heredity. By studying a series of pea plants and how they carried different characteristics through generation to generation. Now we understand that chromosomes are responsible for carrying out this process. Genes are accountable for telling how tall one will be, your hair color, eye color, and personality types; or are they? The age-old question nature vs. nurture comes into play while talking about genetics and heritability, meaning what is one able to inherit from your genes? Nature vs. nurture seeks to find out this question using family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies. Scientists use these three measures to track the presences or absences among certain trait in different relatives. Family studies measure what traits are passed along in families. Twin studies are the easiest to determine because of some sets of twins being dizygotic. Since these sets of twins are identical in genes, one is able to figure out whether genes are passed on through genes, or simply by environmental factors. Adoption studies examine how many traits are passed on using environmental factors. If the adopted child still contains personality genes from their parents and not from their new environments.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yTCShemS_0

This is an important concept to me because it makes me wonder if the way I act is actually genetic or just in part due to whom I have grown up and lived with all my life. Being away at college it makes me wonder if I will adapt to my new environment and change who I am just because I am not around the same people anymore.

Correlation vs. Causation: Does A really cause B? With these twins separated at birth, is the reason they have similar interests in many things due to the fact that they have the same genes or simply just a coincidence?

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