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Do You Remember?

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You have probably experienced a time where you were about to tell a funny story to your friend, but you stopped and asked, "I don't know if I told you this story already. Did I?" Or you were in the middle of telling a hilarious story and your friend suddenly said, "Yeah, you already told me this twice!"

We experience some kind of memory loss daily whether it be losing where we put our keys, forgetting if we locked our car doors, or suddenly failing to recall what we were about to say. This phenomenon is very strange considering that our memory can be extremely powerful in certain situations. For example, Rajan Mahadevan recalled up to more than 30,000th digits of pi. Then, only after several years, Hideaki Tomoyori of Japan recited about 40,000th digits of pi. These individuals exemplify that memory can be exceptionally potential.

Then why is it that we have the capability to remember so much, but we also forget about trivial activities like remembering a person's name or who we told the funny stories to? In order to find out an answer for this problem, we need to ask ourselves this question first: do we forget the things we tell people or do those memories don't even exist in the first place. In other words, are we actually losing the memory or do we even have that memory saved into our brain? For instance, when an individual is asked what time it is, he or she looks at the clock and is able to tell the exact time. However, when asked what the brand of the clock he or she just saw, he or she cannot answer. How come the person remembers the time, but not the brand when he or she just saw the clock? The key to this question is interest. The individual's interest was merely on what time it is, not what brand the clock is. Had the question been, what brand is the clock, he or she would have been able to answer the brand, but not the exact time. So perhaps, next time we tell a story to a friend, we should "remember" to "remember" the incident of telling the story because that is the only way to "remember" if we told the story to a friend or not.

Violent media

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One important finding for children is that media violence increases real world aggression. The research shows that the more often children are around violent T.V. or video games the more aggressive they become. If this is true we are creating more aggressive children and therefore adults which will make life more difficult in the future. This also means that we can make this a better place by censoring these forms of entertainment.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx0X61jT5dw
However this is much difficult to prove. Even though the studies have shown that more violent media make children more aggressive, there are many factors that affect what children view. Some factors are parents, location, and friends. All these factors affect what children see on T.V. and what they play in video games. It is interesting to note that although video games have gotten argueably more violent since 2005 the violent crime rate has gone down significantly. It has gone from about 750 violent crimes out of 100,000 to a little over 450 out of 100,000 in 2010. This rate has not been seen since the mid 70's.

Patrick Dougan

Searching your brain for that one perfect word and it seemingly being nowhere in sight has haunted most all of us at some point in time. Being able to fully describe the meaning but having ability to grasp the correct word is a common phenomenon. The "Tip-of-the-tongue Phenomenon" that we learned in chapter 7 occurs when we attempt to retrieve a piece of stored information, but just can't seem to access it. Many retain the full ability to describe the word, often even being able to say what it starts with. Oftentimes, the person will immediately be able to recognize the trapped word upon the event that someone says the word out loud. Upon coming up with the trapped word, a sense of relief is often felt due to the fact that the word being on the tip of their tongue provided much anguish. I personally often am touched by the "Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon" while attempting to tell a story. If often results in me talking in circles as I attempt to tell my friends what it sounds like and starts with hope of coming across my desired word. The frustration that is coupled with it can agonize me forever. In watching this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T36I8Coiz64 the professor explains that allowing a word to stay on the tip of your tongue can actually be detrimental. She says that it is much better to just look up the word than agonize over it for a while. This is due to the fact that the "tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon" can be a learned behavior, which results in it occurring more frequently in the future.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

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While reading Chapter 8 I was very interested in the research findings about speed-reading classes. I see these around campus all of the time! People hand out flyers that say "Improve your test scores and reading speed in just days!" But, as the article explains, scientists have found that the speed of your reading is inversely proportional to the amount of information you comprehend; the faster you read the more you miss. Your comprehension suffers enormously when you try and speed-read. At a college level, the average student reads 200-300 words per minutes, while these classes say they will improve your reading to 1000 or 2000 words per minute; a perfect example of an extraordinary claim.

Why do I think this is so important? I believe so because hundreds of students around campus spend their valuable money on useless classes that convince you to believe that they will teach you to effectively speed-read and improve your grades. Students tend to rely on anecdotal evidence rather than finding out what really happens when you speed-read. Students need to know that any speed over 400 words per minute is unhealthy for our comprehension and as a result, our ability to learn and maintain a solid GPA.
This applies to every one of us. Just recently I was crammed for a quiz in Biology and flew through my pre-lab readings before the quiz at a rate of well over 400 words per minutes. I was unaware that speed-reading was ineffective until reading chapter 8 in my psych book. My grade on the biology quiz suffered because of my inability to comprehend the information when I was speed-reading. It is extremely useless as I have found, and I think it is important for everyone else out there to know about it so that it saves him or her money and their grades in the long run. The time it takes to read something slowly is well worth it. I would really like to know more about the statistics and how much money students spend on these classes each and every year!


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The book defines flashbulb memory as an "emotional memory that is extraordinarily vivid and detailed." After doing some research about this certain type of memory I came across the above youtube video. This video shows how flashbulb memory explicitly works by using new brain imaging techniques. This specific study conducted at New York University interviewed people that were near ground zero during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. In using these new brain imaging techniques the team conducting this study found that the amygdala was only active in those who were nearest to ground zero on September 11. The amygdala is the part of the brain that sends us into "fight or flight mode" when we are threatened. This revealed that the people in which the amygdala was active not only retrieved the events that happened, but part of the emotional experience as well. This video argues that this mechanism in flashbulb memory is dependent on proximity to the event. These findings are important because it helps us to better understand how flashbulb memory works in the brain and what parts of the brain help us to store this memory and retrieve this memory. I too, vividly remember where I was and what I was doing on September 11, 2001 but I don't believe that my amygdala would be active when I recount the events of that day. What I do not understand is if these memories are emotional for everyone, why does proximity affect the activity in the amygdala? I do understand that flashbulb memories are basically vivid and detailed snapshots of events that trigger an emotional reaction but I do not understand how one's proximity to the event affects the amygdala in a different way if emotions are being invoked regardless. This study has given great insight to the way flashbulb memory works and does a good job explaining the process of how this type of memory is created.

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At a psychology discussion, we had made our own advertisement and had learned how it works. This activity and reading let me understand why there are hot women, funny stories, or colorfulness in advertisements. To attract consumers, most advertising companies use the classical conditioning. The classical conditioning is a form of learning in which paring two stimuli repeatedly ends up having similar or the same response unconsciously. In the case of advertisement, products are conditioned stimulus, and generally attractive things are unconditioned stimulus. By repeatedly watching the products with attractive things that bring arousal or excitement, we eventually feel the same excitement or arousal by solely seeing the products, leading us to buy it.

For example, in the Coca-Cola commercial, linked below, conditioned stimulus is the coke, and unconditioned stimulus is the view of beach and hot men and women. The view and hot people make us feel excitement and refreshment, which is unconditioned response. By repeatedly showing this ad on TV, they eventually make conditioned response, which is feeling of excitement and refreshment from solely seeing the coke at markets. The Coca-Cola advertisement is using the classical conditioning to make TV watcher more likely to buy their products.

However, do all advertisements use the classical conditioning? When I was looking for proper advertisement example, I found that some advertisements are descriptive to inform us more about them. Usually local advertisements use descriptive advertisement because most people don't even know where the store is. The second link below is an example that does not use the classical conditioning much.

http://youtu.be/bg_zxsxyKyM
http://youtu.be/vayEEMLMUN8

Did that really happen?

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How could someone persuade themselves into thinking their own father raped them, became part of a Satanic cult, or even ate babies? This is what psychologist Elizabeth Loftus was confused about when she began studying implanted false memories. The distorted memories aren't always as severe as the ones I before mentioned, for example changing the color of a car or adding a building into the memory. After multiple studies, Loftus concluded that when suggestively being interrogated or read media coverage on a memory we have, our memories become distorted. What gets even trickier is when a person plants an entirely new memory in their brain where no similar event ever happened. In one study Loftus and her associate Jaqueline Pickrell were successfully able to plant a memory in the minds of the participants of being lost in a shopping mall when they were a child. In reality this never happened, but 68% of the participants recalled a memory of the false memory. Imagination seems to be the key to creating false memories. If told of an event, your imagination takes the event into its own hands and creates a memory. As time passes the memory becomes more and more familiar until specific details are filled. The more familar it becomes, the more the imagination is transferred into childhood memories. When real memories meet suggestive events, false memories are constructed. The youtube video is on Elizabeth Loftus' false memory experiment with the shopping mall. You can see the participant recalling a memory that never happened to him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQr_IJvYzbA

Source:
Loftus, Elizabeth. "Creating False Memories." UW Faculty Web Server. Web. 23 Oct. 2011. .

Mnemonics

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The majority of things in a person's every day life are not stored in memory. The storage of memory is a process that can be broken down into three steps. First a memory is encoded, then it is stored, and the last process is retrieval. Encoding is the process of transferring something to memory. Because it is not possible for someone to encode every detail of every memory, how can someone focus on encoding specific details? The use of mnemonic devices can help encode things to memory. A mnemonic can help an individual recall information by using a strategy of some sort. I think this is an important concept because it helps people remember certain things they need to know easier. An example of a mnemonic could be remembering the word "HOMES" so encoding Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior as the Great Lakes is easier. A real life example I have used before is when I was first learning guitar, my instructor gave me a simple way of remembering the string names in order. The string order goes EBGDAE, so my instructor taught me the mnemonic "Eat Bacon Go Dancing And Exercise." Although today I know the names of the strings without using this mnemonic that I learned years ago, it is still something that I have encoded and I will always remember it.

Grace Eicher

Genuinely Mistaken

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DNA testing has saved almost seventy-five percent of prisoners from being falsely identified by eyewitnesses. Today 255 prisoners have been released from prison due to their DNA not matching that of the criminal. It is difficult for an eyewitness to give a proper description unless there were good lighting conditions, the perpetrator was not wearing a disguise, or little time had passed since the crime was committed. Additionally, eyewitness testimony is believed to be less accurate if they are describing a race other than their own, when they talk to other witnesses or if the crime put them at high stress. The eyewitness lineup is thought to be faulty as well considering the victim will usually pick the person who looks the most similar to the actual criminal.

In 1984 a man broke into Jennifer Thompson's apartment and raped her. While the rape was occurring, Jennifer promised herself she would stay alert and remember a detailed imagery of the man. She was able to get free and went to the police immediately where she gave them a description of the man. Not too long after, Jennifer was asked to look at a sequential line up of half a dozen men. During this line up she identified Ronald Cotton as the man who had raped her. She claimed there was absolutely no doubt in her mind he was the one. But there was just one problem, the man who had indeed raped her, was not in the line up at all. After spending eleven years in prison, Cotton was released after a DNA testing that proved Bobby Poole was the perpetrator. Thompson was not the only one who fell victim to the sequential line up, this was common in many of the cases of the 255 prisoners who were eventually released. Can the justice system not trust eyewitnesses at all? What does this information mean in terms of the death penalty? For more information on the Thompson case watch these videos:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5153451n&tag=contentBody;storyMediaBox
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5153459n&tag=contentBody;storyMediaBox

Michaela Doud

I found this article recently, and thought it was really interesting.

Researchers gave 33 individuals, ranging in age from 12 to 16, an IQ test in 2004. They then gave those same individuals an IQ test again 4 years later, when their ages ranged from 16 to 20. The results they found may change the way we view learning.

The IQ of the participants had changed. Some had increased their scores, and some had lower scores. Some scores changed by almost 20 points! And 20 points is a major change. If the participant had started with a score of 109 and as and ended with a score of 129, they would have changed from average intelligence, according to the Stanford-Binet scale, to a person of very superior intelligence. And that is a big change.

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The picture shows the curve of the intelligence scale.

Researchers aren't sure what the differences of the changes are quite yet, but they have some ideas. They believe it might have to do with what we learn, or it could have to do with some people being intellectual "late bloomers."

Whatever the case, this is big news because, before this study, people had thought that IQ remained almost constant throughout life. Now, with the findings of this study, and more research, we may find that this isn't the case. Of course one study isn't going to cause the entire psychological community to toss out the reigning idea that IQ is constant, but hopefully this can open up more research and help to see if we can really improve our IQ's.

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