wojta013: October 2011 Archives

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:

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Narcolepsy

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Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder often identified by an excessive urge to sleep at inconvenient and inappropriate times. Work, school, while showering, and while driving are just a few examples of when this disease can click in and begin to affect the victim's life in a negative way (and others' lifes too). Not only can it be embarrassing for this to happen in the first place, but it often makes it even harder for the individual when the sleep lasts more than a couple seconds. Narcolepsy has been known to make the victim fall asleep for a few seconds, a few minutes, or even a few hours at a time.

While being affected by this disorder, one will often experience something called cataplexy which causes complete and total loss of muscle tone (causing them to fall to the ground). This is most common to happen for people with Narcolepsy when engaging in activities that cause strong emotions to emerge such as laughing or engaging in sexual intercourse. Cataplexy is a daily occurrence to most people on a daily basis while in REM sleep, however in those cases the person being affected is unconscious and also laying down for support, preventing them from falling to the ground. When a Narcoleptic patient is affected by cataplexy they often fall into REM sleep immediately.

Some of the common causes of Narcolepsy are genetic abnormalities, or a severe accident of some sort that results in brain damage. Within the brain there are certain cells that create a hormone called orexin, which is one of the main triggers for the sudden sleepiness. People affected by Narcolepsy are often treated with medications that either replace this hormone or mimic it in some way that has equal results that minimize the amounts of sleep attacks throughout daily life. These medications help victims live mostly normal lives again, resulting is happier patients overall.

Link to view the effects of Narcolepsy in a puppy:
http://youtu.be/wN1_yS6_5T4

Samantha Wojta

Optical Illusions

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In chapter 4, we learned about illusions and how the brain can be tricked in seeing something that is not actually there. An optical illusion is textbook-defined as an "image that differs from virtual reality". This is exactly what Julian Beever does for a living. He is a sidewalk chalk artist who has been working all over the world to draw breathtaking optical illusions for almost 20 years. He has worked in the UK, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Denmark, the USA and Australia. He uses a process called anamorphosis to create his drawings. Anamorphosis is basically another way of saying that his drawings are only recognizable from one exact angle. Take a look at this example:

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Now, here is a picture of that same drawing from the wrong angle:

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This type of sidewalk art is becoming more and more popular all over the world, even right on campus! A few days ago, I noticed a man drawing an optical illusion just like Beevers right outside of Coffman Memorial Union (seeing this drawing is what gave me the idea to write this blog post). He was drawing a picture of the Minneapolis skyline, but just by walking by you would have a hard time telling what the picture was of, unless you looked at it from just the right angle. Our brains are easily tricked by this phenomenon because, as we learned from our textbooks, our perception keeps our brain from seeing the reality of what is there. When we look at the above example, we see a swimming pool in the middle of the ground. Obviously, there is no swimming pool; it's just a drawing. We interpret what we see as a three dimensional image when in reality it is only two dimensional.

To find out more about Julius Beever and 3d sidewalk chalk drawings, simple google "sidewalk chalk optical illusion" or visit www.juliusbeever.net.

-Samantha Wojta

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by wojta013 in October 2011.

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