October 2011 Archives

One of my previous posts was a video from YouTube of an iPad-savvy infant puzzled by a magazine. Posting a video from YouTube on your entry is the easiest thing in the world.

SHARE.png1. On the video page, look for the SHARE button and click on that.

Copy-EMBED.png2. Then you'll need to click on the EMBED button. Copy the code.

PASTE.png3. Paste that code in your blog entry. You'll see the code, but your readers will see the video.

The study guide for exam 2 asks for the evidence that consciousness is a function of the speech centers of the brain, that we can do quite complex behaviors without being aware of the real reason and that we make up explanations after the fact. The lecture on Oct 5 provided the evidence to support those conclusions. But here is a different, 10 minute video of JM and Dr Michael Gazzaniga that also provides at the evidence:

Recent brain research (HERE and HERE) has found a fold in the brain (in the paracingulate sulcus) that affects how well we can discriminate between real events and imagined events.

F11-1019-brainforblog.pngParticipants were asked either to imagine the second name in a well-known duo (Laurel and ?) or to read the name pair read out loud (or listened as the experimenter read it) : "Laurel and Hardy." Then they were asked to recall whether they had imagined it or heard it. People with the PCS fold were significantly better at remembering.

"The researchers discovered that adults whose MRI scans indicated an absence of the PCS were significantly less accurate on memory tasks than people with a prominent PCS on at least one side of the brain. Interestingly, all participants believed that they had a good memory despite one group's memories being clearly less reliable."

It make me very curious about people who are very suggestible, such as Paul Ingram, and people who show the misinformation effect. The fold is one of the last parts of the brain to develop and is present in about 50% of the population. The 16% of participants in Elizabeth Loftus's research who remember seeing Bugs Bunny at Disney world...are they among the PS fold-free population?

This is a fascinating video. A one-year old baby interacts with an iPad and a magazine. Her behavior suggests that she thinks a magazine is just broken. Imagine the neural developments happening in her brain, associated with this. She is learning a way to interact with the world. How will this change the lives of this little child and all the other one-year old baby's like her?

Screen shot 2011-10-12 at 10.35.34 AM.png My older sister recently directed me to the "Color Sense Game", a series of images and words created by the marketing group at Pittsburgh Paints that are supposed to reveal the color palette that is "...all about you, your personality, your style, your senses....Now you have a starting point for designing your entire space around your personality, your style, and your own five senses." It sounded fun to me, and I was curious, too. You can take it yourself by clicking HERE.

So who are you? Are you the "eternally feminine" "Morning Rose?" fresh and outdoorsy "Al Fresco?" Perhaps, "Pop Art"? The color scheme of Pop Art is for those who are "lighthearted and daring, for those who don't always play by the rules, and for those who live to laugh out loud." My illustration here is from the Pop Art page; I chose it over others because its colors are so bright...and because I like the parrot. Parrots are cool. (All the categories are HERE).

And why would you care? Why would you want to know which palette you "feel"? Pittsburgh Paint assures us that this knowledge will simplify your life ! "The ColorSense Game 2.0 eliminates the feeling of having too many choices and offers you your own personal set of colors for all the design elements in your room or space."
So you, too, can "create beautiful and harmonious atmospheres for your home." It's a win-win. Your spaces are beautifully decorated. Your life is more simple. Pittsburgh Paints sells more product.

While I am confident that this game wouldn't meet UM standards of reliability and validity for personality measurement, I was interested professionally as well. I have thought for a long time that psychologists have not paid enough attention to aesthetics, the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and art. If you believe, as I do, that Art is of fundamental importance to human well-being, then you can appreciate why this question interests me. It seems to me, at least based on anecdotes, that what we find beautiful inspires us, pulls us out of our petty concerns; beauty leads us to contemplate the world with fresh eyes and to behave towards others more generously, more kindly, more justly.

But how would one study something as subjective as "beauty?" We find beauty in different things, and there are huge individual differences in the degree to which we are touched by beauty. Where would a psychologist start? The kinds of items that the Pittsburgh Paints marketing team put together seem to me to exactly the kind of visual and verbal stimuli that might work as variables to study "beauty." Not only fun, fun, fun, but potentially useful. We could start by trying to identify what people find beautiful and what the impact of that beauty is on their behavior.

What about you? What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? Do you think it had an impact on you?

In a previous semester, I noticed a student in Psy 1001 went from exam scores around 30 on the first two exams to some of the highest scores in the class on the 3rd exam and Final. I asked her what she did differently. Here's her response:

"I was not happy with my first exam performance so I studied more for it, only to be disappointed by exam 2 as well. For this exam, I went by a completely different plan of attack. I read the chapter once, highlighting the information I found useful and important, and of course took the online chapter quiz. I also went through the end of the chapter review in the book itself, which was very helpful. Then, to prepare for the exam itself, I read over the highlighted information and retook each chapter quiz until I could get a 5 on the quiz without using the book for reference. I also went through the study guide you posted, writing out each answer instead of simply looking over it. Finally, I took the practice exam twice, once looking up questions I didn't know and once trying to reason the questions without looking for the answer because thats what we have to do for the exam. I think it worked! I just hope it will pay off for the final as well. I guess my advice would be to study more than you would think, because I felt like I overstudied but then once I got to the exam I was much more confident."

I've just put up a post with several url links. Here's how to do that:

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 10.31.32 AM.png

First, you copy the url of the article you want to cite as indicated in the first image. Here I was on a blog called, The Frontal Cortex, and I wanted to comment on the "Why do some people learn faster" post.
Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 10.38.21 AM.png
Note, what you want to copy is called the permalink. The permalink includes the date and name of the post, and it will always take you back to the original post. Look for that option at the end of a post, though sometimes you can just click on the title of the post itself. If you copy just the blog url, over time, the post you want to highlight will be buried by more recent posts.

Then, as shown in the second screen, you click on the icon for inserting a link in the Create Entry screen. This produces the darkened screen with the active box for pasting your url. So you do that and click OK.

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 10.31.59 AM.png

Back on the Create Entry screen, there is one thing that you have to get right for this to work. This is illustrated in the third image. You need to add a few words between what are called the "carrots"--the >< --in the code in order to create the link that readers will click to access the original source. Just look for the carrots in the code and add words, any words, between the ><.

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 10.44.45 AM.png

The fourth screen shows what the previous screen looks like in Preview. In the Create Entry screen, I had two url links, one with and one without linking text. You can see in the Preview screen that the link without text is no longer visible. The text that I added is now highlighted in live link blue. When you save your post, this is what it will look like to your readers. If a reader clicks on the blue text, he or she will go to the article on which I was commenting.

So that's it. Very simple, really!

I was interested in this article on what helps people learn from the excellent blog, The Frontal Cortex, written by journalist and science writer, Jonah Lehrer.

"It turned out that those subjects with a growth mindset were significantly better at learning from their mistakes. As a result, they showed a spike in accuracy immediately following an error. Most interesting, though, was the EEG data, which demonstrated that those with a growth mindset generated a much larger Pe signal, indicating increased attention to their mistakes. (While those with an extremely fixed mindset generated a Pe amplitude around five, those with a growth mindset were closer to fifteen.) What's more, this increased Pe signal was nicely correlated with improvement after error, implying that the extra awareness was paying dividends in performance. Because the subjects were thinking about what they got wrong, they learned how to get it right."

Carole Dweck's research has a lot of appeal. Her recent research has looked at what she calls a "growth mindset" versus "a fixed one." A growth mindset believes that in learning effort counts most, that we make mistakes because we are still learning. A fixed mindset believes that our ability to learn is fixed. We make mistakes because we can't learn, not because we haven't tried hard enough or are still in the process of learning.

The study reported in The Frontal Cortex went one step further, to see what happened in the brain as one tried to learn. First, participants had to detect that they had made an error. Then, they had increased attention to avoid making the error again. The researchers found differences in brain activity between people in the "Growth Mindset" group and in the "Fixed Mindset" group.

But as I thought about this research in the context of Behavioral Psychology, I was struck by the level of theoretical buzz going on here. In class yesterday, Dr Peterson was describing the effectiveness of clicker training for animals and athletes. A radical behaviorist would say that you don't need to hypothesize the existence of mental states such as a "growth mindset" or a "fixed mindset." You just need to provide reinforcement (***CLICK!***) for successive approximations to the target behavior of correctly identifying the middle letter in a meaningless sequence of letters, such as "MMMMM" or "NNMNN." I wonder what the results of this study would look like if the researcher used clicker feedback to reward participants when they correctly identified the middle letter rather than waiting to see what happens when participants makes an error.


A student in section 24 has produced a fantastically useful post, the sort of thing that made me go, "D'Oh! I should have thought of that!!" If ever there was a demonstration that "One picture is worth 1000 words", this is it.

In the first round of posts, a frequent question had to do with where to post. By this time, I hope everyone has figured out that you need to start by googling "UThink." Then you click on "Start Blogging."

1001-Dashboard-view.png

After clicking on "start blogging", you will see something like the first image. This screen is the System overview Dashboard. To reach the blog view, you need to click on blog link in the body.

The second image shows the blog view (I've used the one for section 12 & 13, by the way). Note that now you see the name of the blog instead of Dashboard, and you have the option of a "Write Entry" tab (or you can use the Create scroll down option.)

1001-Blogview-1213.png

The third image shows the Create Entry screen of this post. Note that I have used the image icon to upload these images, and I have gotten the formidable html code that has alarmed some of you in the first posts. In order to see what my readers will see, I have to Preview, because the Create Entry screen is NOT WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get.).

1001-create entry screen.png

Tip #1: Preview is your friend. Use it often. While composing this post, I have used Preview at least 15 times.

The last image shows the Preview screen. This should look a lot like the actual entry you are reading right now! Note that you need to click on Re-Edit to return to the Create Entry screen.

Tip #2: When you have your blog finished to your satisfaction, return to the Create Entry screen before saving. Don't save from the Preview screen.

For reasons that are obscure to me, saving from the Preview screen requires you to enter a comment. Huh????

1001-Re-Edit.png

There are some additional subtleties involved if you want to add a link. I'll do a separate post on that.

Have you discovered the Nice Ride bike system yet, that fantastic commuting alternative? For a small fee, you can take a bike and cycle to the next station, not just for health and pleasure, but for the betterment of urban congestion and the environment.

I have been riding my bike to campus for years in nice weather; I have this this great Breezer bike--in ruby red, no less--and a route to campus that takes me along the lovely River Road bike path. What is not to like?

Screen shot 2011-10-07 at 8.34.10 PM.pngBut this morning, instead of taking my cheerful Breezer, I picked up a green bike from the Nice Ride station near my house. The convenience of being able to park the bike at the Elliott Hall station and just walk away made me choose to take a Nice Ride instead of my own ruby red bike. It seems HUGE; I feel like I have stepped into the future of commuting.

So, what does this have to do with Psychology?

This week, you will read about Bandura's experiments that gave rise to Social Learning Theory (with its useful concepts of self-efficacy and modeling.) Later in the semester, we will learn about social referencing in Child Development, and social norming in Social Psychology. These independent lines of research support something you already know: In novel or ambiguous situations, we look to the people around us to help us make sense of what we are experiencing. Leadership takes many forms. Ask yourself how did I get hooked into Nice Rides?

I knew there was a station at Elliott but had done nothing more until one afternoon in late August when my son--one of those amazing Minnesotans who commute by bike throughout the winter--proposed that he and I take a Nice Ride across campus. He provided a 24-hour guest pass so it was free, and he showed me how it worked. He even put the bike seat at the correct height for me. One Nice Ride later I was completely sold.

I purchased the annual pass the next day ($60, but sometimes available for $40), and I have been riding around campus on the Nice Ride bikes ever since. Riding to my house in Saint Paul was an experiment. Riding from my house to campus was a transformation.

Leadership. Sometimes leadership is as simple as helping someone take their first Nice Ride.

Things that made me laugh...

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A commercial for Ikea that uses surprise (which helps memory) and humor (which makes us bond together) to increase awareness for Ikea's delivery service:

"The Secret You"

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Mathematician Marcus de Sautoy becomes a human guinea pig and subjects himself to a series of experiments to test his Consciousness. 58 minutes of TV at its best.

How do I put up posts:

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Screen shot 2011-10-02 at 11.00.26 PM.png1) First I google UThink and click on the first hit (which is the right one.) Then I "start blogging."
2) That puts me in the system overview, the Dashboard, where I see links to the blogs on which I am listed as author.
3) I click on the blog link, which takes me to the blog.
3) To write a post, I just click on the WRITE ENTRY tab.
4) If I want to add photos, I click on the little photo icon (second from the right.) and upload new images. (What is pasted is this ominous code with a little place to add information: >< remember to add text between those symbols.)
5) I PREVIEW to check how what I have written will look.
6) Then I RE-EDIT (which is a tab at the top.) I don't save from the preview screen because it seems to be a little weird, I have to add a comment.
7) When I am satisfied, I SAVE.

Trying to post from Safari

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Screen shot 2011-10-02 at 11.01.14 PM.pngMinnesota Arboreum, Prairie Walk, 2 Oct 2011

A number of students have emailed that they could not upload their blog posts. That they have tried several times without success and sometimes even had to rewrite their posts (how very frustrating).

I think it may be a browser thing, so I'm troubleshooting by trying different browsers to put up some sample posts. This one is in Safari 5.1, on a mac. If it goes up, sweet, no problem. If not...(to be updated)

Update: ...and it uploaded without problem.


Usually, research on the brain goes from something presented to the brain--an image, for example--to brain activity in response to that image. However, in this line of research, the researchers are doing the opposite. They started with brain activity that was generated when participants viewed something and then tried to infer what that something was. Really cool stuff!

What you are seeing in this video is a compilation of the brain activity of three subjects. If you watch carefully, for each stimulus on the left, you will see three brief recreations of what the brain recorded on the right, one from each subject.

I was especially struck that the subjects "saw" scenes with Steve Martin but their brains didn't register the details of the set behind him. This is consistent with research on inattentional blindness; astonishingly, our sense of a unified and rich reality is an illusion. We actually attend to three or four things in our environment, and the rest is filled in by the brain. I find this very profound. Do you?

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2011 is the previous archive.

November 2011 is the next archive.

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