March 2012 Archives

For a moment, please think back to everything you've ever learned in a biology course. The details may elude you, but if you're anything like me, there's one abstract idea that sticks out above the others. The theory of evolution is as close to unanimous acceptance as the worldwide community of biologists, ecologists, and psychologists will ever allow. With it comes the underlying notion that species change over time in such a way as to carry forth the traits that best enhance survival and reproduction.

This classic idea behind the origins of life as we know it came to mind as I read about attachment styles in Chapter 10. It stands to reason that rhesus monkeys, the subjects of Harry Harlow's experiments on reinforcement, might be biologically inclined to jump immediately to the surrogate mother with an available food source when a frightening stimulus comes along. Theoretically, the monkeys who could quickly reach and claim food sources would be in a better position to pass on their genes. However, as Harlow identified, the warmth and soft texture of the cloth-wrapped surrogate mother proved to be a much more appealing companion in frightening moments, even with a food-supplied mother nearby.


Harlow's discovery and coining of "contact comfort" was used as a contradiction to the single-minded focus on reinforcement that behaviorism trumpeted. However, I see his discovery as more of an affront to evolution itself. There's no evolutionary reason to believe that a rhesus monkey would favor the more comfortable surrogate mother over the wire mother with food. Therefore, I believe that "contact comfort" demonstrates the power of emotions in directing our behavior. As the rhesus monkeys show us, this phenomenon is even powerful enough to override our evolutionary coding. This makes me wonder how often the same rule applies to myself and other human beings. How often do we allow our emotions to rule over what our genes are pushing us to do? Does genetic influence even matter to mankind anymore? The most important question is whether we are influencing our own evolutionary trajectory, wherein the emotional decisions we make affect reproductive success and which genes are carried forth. How do the warm feelings and positive emotions that characterize "contact comfort" increase our survival or reproductive success?

(full disclaimer: I am a Biochemistry major with experience in evolutionary biology courses.)

Cool parents.png
After rereading the Pages 383 to 392 in the textbook, I thought about how my parents stack up to the different parenting styles. I thought my parents would fall in the strictest group of authoritarian because my whole life it seemed they would not let me do what I wanted to do. I just remember the times they said nowhere they said yes a lot and I just was expecting them to say yes and was not as emotional about the decision. They still had a give and take perspective and set limits but let me figure out stuff on my own. This would most resemble authoritative because it shows they had rules and allowed for me to be independent. This was very interesting for me to understand what parenting style my parents used with me and which parenting style I will try to use when the time comes. So there was not a definite answer to who has the best parents but through reading about the four different styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful, I found authoritative parenting would be the best parenting style. This style is a mix between authoritarian (very strict, teaching rule following) and permissive (few rules, allowing for freedom and independence) parenting.

Who has the best parents!

Vote 0 Votes

After rereading the Pages 383 to 392 in the textbook, I thought about how my parents stack up to the different parenting styles. I thought my parents would fall in the strictest group of authoritarian because my whole life it seemed they would not let me do what I wanted to do. I just remember the times they said nowhere they said yes a lot and I just was expecting them to say yes and was not as emotional about the decision. They still had a give and take perspective and set limits but let me figure out stuff on my own. This would most resemble authoritative because it shows they had rules and allowed for me to be independent. This was very interesting for me to understand what parenting style my parents used with me and which parenting style I will try to use when the time comes. So there was not a definite answer to who has the best parents but through reading about the four different styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful, I found authoritative parenting would be the best parenting style. This style is a mix between authoritarian (very strict, teaching rule following) and permissive (few rules, allowing for freedom and independence) parenting.Cool parents.png

Growing up, I never gave much thought to the fact that I knew how to fluently speak two languages. I was really quite convinced that it was totally normal and even expected for kids my age to know how to speak English AND their native language. This type of mindset never made me think twice about what it meant to be bilingual. That was until I read up on the different cognitive features of language in the psychology text.

Second Language Motivation Comic.jpg

As researched in the text, many kids (including I) who grow up actively learning two languages may experience syntax impairment, or confusion in the arrangement of words and sentences probably due to the blending of both languages together from time to time. But this is a very minor obstacle that always results into rewarding long-term benefits. Benefits that I notice in myself today, such as my metalinguistic skills, and abilities to understand more than one culture or ethnic group, let alone be a part of it. I have learned that language can really allow you to join and be a part of different communities whether raised bilingual or not.
But I do have to admit, being taught at a young age by my parents was what allowed me to absorb another language faster and more effectively, as it is proven, "the earlier, the better". But should that really hold anyone back from potentially also becoming bilingual? Even at an older age? For many older folks, age IS the factor holding them back.


When I was in high school, I was an active member of my schools student council. Now, like most student councils, we were in charge of organizing a lot of events: dances, pre-game parties, pep rallies, prom, senior banquet, state convention- you name it. As a council of 35 like-minded students, it was often difficult to arrange events that were unique from what had been done in the past. We faced this problem a lot. When it came to themes, we had 3 or 4 'cornerstone' themes that we almost always used; when it came to decorations, we had a closet full of decorations we used every year; and when it came to games, well, you can guess that it all got pretty old after a while.
Our biggest issue wasn't that we had such huge undertakings, but it was that we simply could not think of any new ideas, and because of it, school spirit suffered. I wish I could say that we got out of our funk of having too familiar of mental sets, but unfortunately, and apparently, we hadn't been studying up on our psychology.

However, it's important to note that despite how much hard work goes into large events, they can still fail regardless of the efforts of those involved. So for all of you who can think back to high school, and how boring some of your pep rallies were, remember: it's hard to please everyone and always keep ideas flowing!

Despite this, and now that we've all read up on our psychology, the best way to counter a mental set is to just take a step back and take a break. You'll find that when you return to whatever you're working on, you'll be able to think a lot clearer!


I'm sure many of you, even today, have run into a problem or were assigned a problem in which you had to find a solution. Last semester I took Calculus I, where I ran into numerous math problems where I got stuck and didn't know how to solve it. Sometimes I spent hours on one problem, repeatedly trying to solve it in different ways. I would try using different algorithms to help lead me to the correct solution. Once in awhile, I would find myself in a mental set, where I come across a math problem and assume to incorporate the most recently learned formula, when really I can solve the problem without it. Fully understanding the idea of the problem before solving it would have helped me avoid this barrier.


In an article I read, there was a study done on algebra students to see if there was a correlation between writing about a problem while solving it and the students overall performance in solving the problem. In the study, the students were asked to solve a difficult problem that required much more than a simple use of equations and formulas. The experimental group was told to write down the steps they took during the process of solving the problem. On the other hand, the control group was just simply told to solve the problem. The results in fact showed the scores of the experimental group to be significantly higher than the control group.

In the article, Kenneth Williams concludes that "writing about a mathematical concept helps students to organize their thought processes about that concept, focus on difficult points and more clearly understand the concept." The writing procedure helped the students' organization, as well as giving them guidance through more difficult problems. Overall, this research suggests students to write down the steps taken in the process of problem solving, as it has been evidenced to be advantageous to their learning.


I have a 2 and a half year old sister named Addison. She is very smart for her age because she has 5 older siblings, a mom, and dad who are always holding a conversation with her. Since Since she is two and half she is under the preoperational stage, which means the child has the ability to construct mental representations of experience- they are able to think beyond here and now, but egocentric and unable to perform mental transformations.

After watching the experiment of the water/cup experiment in lecture, I decided to do a conservation experiment with Addison, somewhat like that but using a small paper plate of ice cream and a regular bowl of ice cream. I measured out the amount of ice cream and put them on the plate and in the bowl. I asked Addison which one she watched and she said the bowl. I asked her why and she said, "Because it has more," and I replied are you sure. She still went for the bowl and kept saying she wanted the one with the most ice cream. Then I got another bowl (smaller size) and put the ice cream on the plate into the bowl. The ice cream filled up the bowl and Addison soon wanted that one, because she said more ice cream was in because it was over flowing; so she thought it there had to be more ice cream. After she took that bowl and was certain that had more I got another bowl (same size) and poured the ice cream in there and put the bowls side by side. She looked at both of them and wasn't sure what bowl had more ice cream. I then explained to her that all along there was the same amount of ice cream for her and me. She then grabbed one of the bowls and I asked her why she took it and she said, "Because I want the blue one."


I have always thought that divorce can have a very negative impact on children and cause emotional problems throughout their lives. I know people who grew up with divorced parents and were very angry and bitter about it. On the other hand, I also know people who are completely okay with having divorced parents. However, after reading the section of the textbook where it talks about the effects of divorce on children, I realized that, contrary to what I had previously thought, most children don't end up with long-term emotional damage from their parents' divorce.


Most people would think that the more the parents fought before the divorce, the more emotional problems would be present in their children. However, as stated in the textbook, less conflict leads to more emotional problems in the children than more fighting. This especially surprised me because I think it would upset children more than if the parents fought less. I think this might be because for children with parents who didn't argue very often, the divorce might be much more shocking than if the parents fought all the time. According to an article by the University of New Hampshire (found at this link:, other factors such as the child's age and gender may also influence how the divorce impacts them.

Learning more about the impact divorce can have on children left me wondering whether or not other aspects of the child's life, such as the number of children in the family, can influence the emotional impact the divorce has on them.

The reasoning behind why a baby bonds to their parents was often assumed to be related to the fact the mother is the one supplying food to the baby. So through reinforcement of food, the baby grows fond of the parents. Harry Harlow went forth in life to disprove this. By examining a baby monkey, he found it prefer ed going to a "comfortably" fake mother with no food, instead of a rigid and rough fake mother with food.
My god! What does this mean?
This shows that the comfort a baby has comes more from the physical touch than the knowledge of food or comfort of survival by affiliating with people. So next time you have a baby, wear a comfy sweater to hold it instead of that plate mail you normally dance around in. You will be more liked.

Does this apply to older people as well? When people have a bad day, full of tears and sad songs. Human contact is usually the best medicine, in the form of a hug. But people also indulge on things like snack treats to calm themselves. So what has a better effect?

Also as we get older, a random person touching us may seem weird. So do you not just randomly start touching strangers. First introduce yourself. Don't hide behind bushes.


728-naughty-children.jpg The minds of children are like sponges because they are constantly absorbing knowledge of the everyday world. This is a fascinating age, yet it can be very delicate. Children pay attention to every answer and every reaction a parent gives. So when a child makes a mistake or behaves badly, they naturally absorb the reaction of the adults around them. This absorption can affect the probability of the child behaving badly again. So as a parent or guardian, how do you react?
According to Piaget, children between 7 and 11 focus more on the amount of damage done, rather than the motives or intentions. This is due to moral development being inhibited by cognitive development. Although over time the children will focus more on the intentions, what do parents do in the meantime? Parents generally want to raise their children to be kind and gentle people, yet Piaget claims that during this certain age gap, children are cognitively unable to understand the severity of minimal yet intentional damage. This makes it extremely difficult to discipline bad behavior at this age. Should parents still try to instill these good morals in their children who are in this age group? Should they do this by setting good examples or by disciplining their children? If they choose the latter of the two methods, is this morally acceptable of the parents since understanding the punishment is beyond the child's cognitive development?

We all had that one person in High School we just could not stand, correct? No matter what they did, what they said, or how they acted, you always felt a little annoyed. But if it ever involved you, you made sure to put him/her in their place. I'm sure you all have someone in mind right now for various different reasons. My reason was because ever since high school, this kid would always just bully people whether it be about race, their friends, etc. Anyways, it was the final month of Senior Year and he had just gone on a rampage of bullying. I saw him talking to the girl I was going to Prom with, and decided this would be my chance for revenge. Me and a couple friends were always recording music, and when I arrived at the two of them talking, I heard him trying to impress her with his apparent knowledge about music. I intervened, saying: "Hey ____, did you hear that new Tupac and Biggie and Jay Z and Kanye West song they just remade?". For those who don't know a song like this never existed, but obviously he wasn't aware because after this he said something along the lines of "HELL YEAH. What do I look like? For real girl, you're going to Prom with this dude? I've known about that song for like a month". After that, I simply said "Dude, that song never happened. There is no Kanye, Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie song".
Now you might be wondering, how does this have to do anything with Psychology? Well, in the previous unit I learned it did! The suggestion of the song by me that ended up making this kid feel really awkard, turned out to be known as the Suggestive Memory Technique. Hey, I might have been a bully for just that instant, but it was worth it. So next time you have someone you dislike: have a "dude, that never happened" story, just please don't use it on me.

There is evidence of culture differences in the tendency toward bias or distortion in probability assessments.
On the one hand, Wright G.N, who wrote the article "Organizational, group and individual decision making in cross-cultural perspective", suggests that in making decisions under uncertainty, Westerners adopt a probabilistic set and make relatively fine discriminations or "calibrations" in assessment of probability of outcomes. However, Asians tend to adopt a non-probabilistic set that leads them to see outcomes as either certain or uncertain.
On the other hand, A group of scholars used the Melbourne Decision Making Questionnaire to test for similarities and differences between culture samples in self-reported tendencies to use the decision coping patterns and decision self-esteem. The subjects consisted of undergraduate university students in psychology/behavioral science courses in six countries: USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Student were told that the questionnaires measure the way people usually approach decision making and therefore the answer that is true for them is the correct answer. The result showed in Table 1 represents the means and standard deviations for decision self-esteem, vigilance, hyper-vigilance, buckpassing, and procrastination by country and gender. Take Decision self-esteem as an example, the score for Western countries is generally higher than that of Eastern countries. Also, across culture samples, males expressed greater confidence in their decision-making ability than females. However, after analyzing all the data in the table, you can see the difference are not very high. After more studies, the conclusion from the questionnaire is that despite cross-cultural differences in confidence in decision making and in buskpassing, procrastination, and hyper vigilance, Western and East Asian students are more alike in their self-reported decision styles than different.

While reading Chapter 10 in the psych textbook this week, one topic that really stuck with me and got me asking questions was Kohlberg's scheme of moral development. He came up with three levels that were to describe the reasoning process people took when arriving at an answer to a certain dilemma. Kohlberg came up with three levels--preconvential morality, conventional morality, and postconventional morality. I decided to look deeper into these levels and found an article that broke them down into two stages inside of each level. Following this link will provide you with a table to see this different sub stages, Not only did I find it interesting that there these sub stages existed, I was more fasicinated by the claim that once on a certain level, a person can only comprehend up to one stage ahead of their current stage.
I found this to be particularly interesting, because through my experience with people, it seems as if individuals think that they are on a higher moral ground than their reasoning process is in reality. This article states that "movement through these stages are not natural, that is people do not automatically move from one stage to the next as they mature". Kohlberg himself too thought that most adults never actually reach postconventional morality and are stuck in conventional morality. Contrary to this claim, I believe that most adults and young adults would classify themselves as reasoning at the postconventional morality level, even though Kohlberg's findings show that this is not the case. What do you think? What level of moral development do you think the majority of the population would classify themselves at versus where they are in reality?

Clean the dirty pot

Vote 0 Votes

During the spring break, I made a decision that I would cook for myself. Unfortunately, I failed in my first dish. I tried to fry some meat and vegetable, but they were burning finally. There were some dirty things stuck on the bottom of the pot. I had to clean them all.
I knew it's good to wash the oily pot by soaking it in the mixture of warm water and cleanser essence, therefore I believed this method still worked in this situation. However I got stuck in the mental set. I did not consider a lot and try to alter my thought. As a result, after 1 hour, I used sponge to clean the pot's bottom, but the dirty things were still hard to wash.

I felt really upset and decided to calm down. At the same time I started to look around to see if there were something helpful. Suddenly I noticed a steel scrubber, which is very often to find in Chinese kitchen to clean the dishes and pot. It was just next to me but I never noticed it when I was busy in washing. Because of my stubbornness, I ignored the environment around me and just stock on my own opinion.

Finally I use the steel scrubber to make the pot clean. The mental set made me become stubborn and couldn't notice the other things. To overcome the problem ,we need to get away the origin thought and find out new ways.

I am proud to say that I recently have overcome a serious case of functional fixedness and a mental set at the same time!


By now, the Zynga game "Words With Friends" has become extremely popular on facebook. It is a board game that involves scoring points by making words crossword-style while also using bonus spaces that boost the points, either for an individual letter or for an entire word. Rarely used letters are worth more points, but clever use of the bonus spaces can equally boost your score. So there are multiple options to solve the problem of scoring a whole load of points and beating your friends.

Here was my situation: My letters were arranged in front of me to form the word "vessel" in combination with letters already on the board. V is worth 5 points, and the word used up a lot of letters. However, I couldn't play this word with the V on a "double letter tile." I stared at the board for 10 minutes, trying to find a good word to use V in, since it scores so high. I scrambled the letters in front of me, and saw that I could make "saddles." Now this would score a lot less (the entire word is only worth 10 points), but I could play it over two "double word" tiles, which quadruples my score to 40 points!

In this example, the letter V was part of my mental set. I was convinced I had to use it. The functional fixedness was on the ordering of the letters. Because I had started thinking with words beginning with V, I never thought to start a word with S until I scrambled them up. I find that when coming up with words, whether for a board game, an essay, or a poem, the longer I have to think about it, the more problems I have with mental sets and functional fixedness.

What were they thinking?

Vote 0 Votes

I often wonder how people can make some of the decisions they make when the right moral decision seems so obvious. Lawrence Kohlberg attempts to answer this question by studying how people answer questions that do not have clear cut morally right or wrong answers. From his studies he came up with 3 levels of moral thinking, including preconventional, conventional, and postconventional morality. He believes that everyone passes through the three stages in the order listed, but at varying speeds, some never reaching the postconventional level. At the preconventional level, people decide that something is right if it will result in reward and wrong if it will result in punishment. The conventional level is when people think something is right if it's socially acceptable and wrong if not. At the last level, postconventional, people decide what's right or wrong based on internal moral principles. This gives a wide variety of ways that people might be making decisions. Then there's also the fact that we don't know what underlying reasons people are considering when making the decisions. An example given by Kohlberg is of a person stealing a jacket. From an outside view, this looks to most of us like someone who has poor moral judgement and just wants a new jacket. However, they could have a better reason for wanting to steal it. Maybe they're trying to keep their homeless family warm. It's a little harder to look down on their decision if this is the case.


Although Kohlberg's explanation may cover a wide range of bases, it doesn't account for everything, like emotional decision making. It seems easy to look at a scenario and say that you would react and feel a certain way, but being put in a situation may cause us to do things that we didn't think we would do because of how we feel emotionally. However, Kohlberg's theory still helps us to understand why people do the things that they do a little better. It's probably best to reserve judgement on other's actions since it's highly unlikely that we actually know what they are dealing with or considering when making their decisions.


Vote 0 Votes

In chapter 10, I read one concept which I think it's pretty attractive. It's Prematurity. My mother told me I was a preterm birth baby, so I have more interesting on this content. Premature infants are those born at fewer than 36 week's gestation. There is a positive correlation between infant survivability rate and gestation week, and it's negative between odds of fetal survival and the odds of developmental disorders. Unfortunately, babies who under 21 weeks are 0% survival rate now. According to the : An infant who could be the youngest surviving premature baby in the word...was born in early November at 21 weeks and five days into the mother's pregnancy, weighting just one pound ( NewsCore, published April 21,2011). I think It's amazing that this baby survived. Obviously, a preterm birth baby might have some problems of their cognitive and physical development because they have underdeveloped organs when they were born. In my opinion, we should avoid preterm birth baby as possible as we can. Pregnant women should visit doctors on time. In addition, it would be better to create a pleasure environment when you are pregnant, especially near your expected date of confinement (EDC).

After Tiger Woods had the scandal involving his sex addiction, car crash, and divorce his image was obviously suffering. As a fan of golf, especially American golf, I was devastated to see one of my idols name being dragged through the mud. I was, therefore hopeful that Tiger would be able to get his life back on the right track and return to golf. Therefore, when I saw this Nike commercial it probably affected me more than the average person, but I still think the commercial does an excellent job of trying to reconstruct Tiger's image.

The voice is of Tiger's father who died several years ago. He was Tiger's largest mentor, and Tiger was devastated when he died. This is meant to evoke a response of empathy for Tiger. Earl's appeal to Tiger is the US, and our empathy is the UCR. The conditioned stimulus is Nike and Tiger, and the CR then is feeling that Tiger has rehabilitated himself, and therefore people will continue to buy Nike. It appears that Nike's gargantuan advertising budget has avoided a crisis through classic conditioning.


We've all had those moments where we forget where we've just put our keys, or walk into a room just to forget why we went in there in the first place. These forgetful moments are a normal part of everyday life. But what if your brain constantly committed these memory "slip ups"? What if you could never remember where you put your keys? Or be unable to remember the face of a family member.

That is the reality for a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a form of dementia, and is characterized by memory loss, severe changes in emotional behavior or personality, changes to thinking and judgment, and eventual language loss.

AD is caused by the build up of plaques and tangles in the brain. These structures cause the brain cells to slowly die off. It is also believed that patients with AD have a deficiency in the levels of some vital brain chemicals which are involved with neurotransmitters.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for AD. Drugs do exist that are believe to help slow the progression of AD but the most common treatment is helping to cope with the effects of the disease. To prevent Alzheimer's disease, it is recommended that adults stay mentally and socially active, eat a low fat, high protein diet and have a healthy blood pressure.

My boyfriend's grandmother suffers from this disease, and I have seen how devastating it is for people who suffer from it and their families. Watching a loved one slowly lose mental function, the ability to speak, and there memory is a terrible experience. Our best hope is that one day a cure will be found, so that no one else will have to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

To steal or not to steal

Vote 0 Votes

We have all been taught that stealing something that is not yours is bad. But what if a loved ones life depended on it? This is a scenario that Lawrence Kohlberg presented on page 395 in the book. To sum it up a man couldn't afford a drug to save his wife's life, so as the last option he stole the drug. Is this acceptable? Should he get in trouble? It's interesting to hear what you all think but i think he should. Even though i believe that it is wrong to steal I would have stolen the drug, willing to face the consequences of the action. Maybe a reduced or minimal punishment due to the circumstances but there should be a punishment for doing something against the law but perhaps morally correct.


I was thinking of a few movies I have seen which involved memory and one in particular came in mind. I recently watched shutter island and those who have not seen it should watch it immediately. Anyways it got me thinking of the case of Paul Ingram who seemed to have memories almost placed into his head. Shutter island reminded me of almost the opposite of what happened to Paul Ingram. First Paul is an innocent man who is convinced to think he is evil and has done unspeakable things to his daughters. In shutter island Leonardo DiCaprio is a murderer who thinks he has done nothing wrong and in fact thinks he is trying to solve a case like he is a detective. The movie involves a lot of cinematic elements that are used to attract an audience and not portray accuracy. This is unlike Paul's case, which was not made up. However there are definite parallels in that both create false memories in order to mask the events that transpired. The main difference between the two is that Paul's false memories are a result of his trust in his kids and the opinions given by close friends. Whereas Leo DiCaprio is almost blinded by his actions since he killed his wife because she killed their daughters. The results of both the movie and Paul's trial had negative outcomes. Paul actually admitted to something he did not do and was given prison time. In shutter island Leo is almost forced to remember killing his wife before he is given a lobotomy. I know that this comparison is not spot on, but I felt like I could draw a lot of parallels between the movie and an actual case.

Twin Telepathy?

Vote 0 Votes

I came across the video below a bit ago, and thought it was relevant to languages of different animals, but rather in children too young to formulate true sentences.
Click here to get to the link for the video (The video itself was formatted to prevent embedding)

In the video, it features two twin brothers having what appears to be a conversation, but without any true words. They are merely speaking to each other in sounds, and it brings the question, are they really talking, and can they truly understand what the other is saying? From the video, it does appear that there is some sort of established communication going on between the two, and they are able to converse with one another about things that others cannot comprehend. As cute as it is to see, it's strange to think that they have something important to tell one another, and we have no idea what they could possibly be saying. Although some can deem it twin telepathy, as they do seem to have the ability to sense what the other is thinking more than other siblings would, it appears to just be some form of language that the two made up and are able to understand. There are plenty of other videos in which the same can be seen by other twins.
Comparable to the songs of birds or the other sounds that animals make, the incoherent noises that the twins are making are examples of language, and how the brain allows for different individuals and different species to come up with their own efficient way of communication, whether it be the low frequency noises of the elephants or the screeching of one twin boy attempting to tell the other something about the refrigerator. It can ultimately be seen as some sort of language.

Do You Know Who You Are?

Vote 0 Votes

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up one morning and forget everything about yourself? Pretty scary when you think about it, huh? But for some people, amnesia is very real and for those who suffer from it, it can have a huge impact on their life. Hollywood tends to use this condition and dramatize it to make compelling movies about people who forget who they are. One of my personal favorites is The Bourne Identity.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Jason Bourne is a CIA agent who was once a contract assassin who is found lost at sea with no recollection of who he is. The plot of the movie revolves around him trying to reclaim his memory and find out his true identity, with lots of action scenes mixed in. Bourne's amnesia would be classified as "general amnesia"; however, this is very rare. More common cases of amnesia are retrograde amnesia, losing memories from the past, and anterograde amnesia, being unable to form new memories. In these cases, people do not completely lose everything, as the case with Bourne, but it is quite difficult to recall or create memories.

So Hollywood may have embellished on the realities of amnesia, but in all honesty, who cares. It makes for an exciting movie and it is at least close enough to be somewhat realistic (his traumatizing past may play a role, increasing his chances for general amnesia). Below is one of my personal favorite scenes in the movie that illustrates Bourne's condition.


Memory is a placebo, controlled by our personal bias. We unconsciously implement certain aspects of a memory and manipulate it to make it interesting or memorable. Personally, I remember up to the age of twelve, a memory that made Mariah Carey my biological mother. The memory was simple; I was six and my mother and I were driving in a red Honda Civic singing along to a Mariah Carey song. My mother had a slight facial resemblance to Mariah Carey and this combined with the singing prompted me to begin remembering her as Mariah Carey. It was a comfortable haven that made my mother distinct and important to me, despite her abandoning me. My memory was false and my sister corrected it because she was present during that moment in time. We had never owned a red Honda Civic and my mother abandoned me at age four. I had created this memory due to my mother's absence during my childhood. Mariah Carey's presence, vocally, made it seem that my mother was present, even though she wasn't. Memories are expected to be true and genuine and this false memory proves that they are indeed malleable. So, do we create in order to understand? If and when we gain this understanding, do we solidify the memory as true and genuine, thus creating false memories?

Do they really work?

Vote 0 Votes


As a first year college student, I have been introduced to many new things that I had never really experienced before. You always here of athletes trying to better their performance through illegal substances such as steroids, but what about students? Is there such thing as a performance enhancing amphetamine? Surveys have shown that up to twenty-five percent of college students have used drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Concerta, with the expectation that they will increase their studying and retention capabilities. For those unaware of what these drugs are, Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta are all drugs that are commonly associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity Disorder and are thought to help one focus and concentrate while studying or taking an exam. However, are these drugs really considered "performance enhancing amphetamines"? Researchers did a study comparing students taking the SAT. Some students believed they were taking Ritalin and the others believed they were taking a dummy pill. The students who believed they were taking Ritalin reported having better mental functioning and attention; however, their SAT scores were no higher. Many researchers are saying that the pill is simply a placebo effect that makes the students feel like they are more focused. Similar to the controversy surrounding performance enhancing amphetamines is that of a product called Ginkgo, a supposed memory enhancing drug. Although Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on this product, studies have once again shown that when comparing the drug to a placebo, the increase in memory is minimal if not nonexistent. Yet, we will still go on to spend whatever it takes to get that extra edge on our competition.

About 10 years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It started out with little things, like her forgetting short term memory things such as where she put her keys or what she needed from the grocery store. But as the years progressed it has gotten worse and worse. It has gotten to the point where she still remembers the name of her kids names but she doesn't remember my name or any other of her grandchildren's names. That's why I am going to inform some of you on what and how Alzheimer's effects lives.
Alzheimer's begins to develop 20 years before before symptoms emerge. Alzheimer's affects many parts of the brain such as the Amygdala, the Brain Stem, the Frontal Lobe, the Hippocampus, the Parietal Lobe and the Temporal Lobe. It is a type of dementia that begins to slowly get worse over time beginning with short term memory and eventually affecting the individuals long term memory. Changes in the brain include expanding of the ventricles and also significant loss in the cortex areas. These areas manage language and memories. I have personally been a witness to the affects Alzheimer's disease and it's not a walk in the park. Alzheimer's is a serious condition and shouldn't be taken lightly.

We are required as college students to learn a second language during our short period of time here at the U and the choices are limitless. Many of us take the 4 required semesters and then we stop and our language skills fall out of use. But what about the ones who don't stop and keep learning another language and another and another. Meet the polyglot, a person who is able to speak multiple languages fluently. Take the extraordinary man known as Emil Krebs born in 1867 in Germany. By the end of his lifetime he could speak and write(supposedly) in 68 other languages. I don't know about you but I can't even name 68 languages. What makes Krebs interesting is that his brain was studied by German neuroscientists Karl Zilles and Katrin Amunts in 2002 and they found that his Broca's area was arranged differently than a monolingual man's. Which begs the question, are we born with this difference in the Broca's area or will training the brain in a certain way change the brain?

Now its your turn to see if you can become a polyglot, click here and see how many languages you can learn to say hello in.

One boring Saturday afternoon I was scrolling down the CNN page I ended up in their video gallery. Eventually, a video came up talking about Vladimir Putin and his bid for re-election in Russia this weekend and it featured this ad. Although psychological conditioning and its uses in marketing were covered over a week ago, I found this advertisement to be relevant to our age demographic this year. The political ad begins with a college age girl asking a fortune teller who it will be her first time. Then the fortune teller flips a card with Vladimir Putin's photograph on it and then ad concludes with the girl walking to a voting station.
The ad uses classical conditioning to form "affection" for Vladimir Putin and ultimately a vote. The ad plays on arousal, affection, and the nostalgia of the "first time." The ad also is geared towards our age demographic and poses the question if first time voters will be specifically targeted in the coming United States presidential election and what kind of advertisement techniques will be used. The original advertisement is provided below with english subtitles.

Dolphin Language

Vote 0 Votes

Have you ever wondered if animals can talk to each other? There is also the question of whether this communication can be considered language or not. An aquarium in Hawaii decided to see if they really can talk to each other. They put a mother dolphin and her baby in two separate tanks and used an audio device to see whether they would talk back and forth to each other. And they did! But exactly what they were saying, experts are not sure. Scientists do believe that the mother and her baby knew they were talking to each other since their responses were going back and forth pretty quickly. Dolphins seem to have their own secret language that scientists haven't been able to decode. Dolphins communicate by squawking, whistling, clicking, and squeaking. Scientists around the world have noticed that when one dolphin starts talking, other dolphins seem to answer whatever they are saying. Dolphins also seem to communicate through posture, jaw clapping, bubble blowing, and fin caresses. Dolphins also seem to be able to communicate with one another even when they are nowhere near one another. For instance, if one dolphin is in danger, they will call to other dolphins to come help them. For scientists that have studied dolphin language, they find it very difficult. This is because dolphins can stay underwater for up to 10 minutes, so locating the dolphins once they have been underwater for a long time can be very tricky. Dolphin language is also difficult to study because it changes depending on what they are doing. They could be feeding, fighting, or playing and different calls can mean different things at different times. So, when asked the question if the communication among animals can be described as language, I think that it can. I think that animal language is very similar to other groups of people speaking different languages. Just because we do not know what animals are saying does not mean that what they are saying is not considered language.

stressed-student.jpgWith the stress of midterms setting in, do you find yourself forgetting some of the most basic things? Things like meeting times or plans for the week can be harder to remember as more and more things get put on our academic plate and increase our levels of stress. For a while now, researchers have known that severe stress lasting months can have harmful effects on our cell's communication with themselves. A study from the University of California, Irvine however shows that short term stress can have similar effects on our body. Researchers found that short term acute stress activated selective molecules called corticotropin releasing hormones, which disrupted the process by which the brain collects and stores memories. Learning and memory take place at synapses in our brain. Through rat and mouse studies, it was found that an increase in corticotropin led to the rapid disintegration of dendritic spines, which then in turn, led to a decrease in the ability of the synapses to collect information. The news isn't all bad however, once the corticotropin was removed, the spines seemed to grow back as if nothing happened. So while short term stress does harm your short term memory, the damage doesn't seem to be permanent.


Are you one of the many in our world that speaks two languages, better known as bilingualism, or furthermore are you a polygot and speak multiple languages? It turns out that over 75 percent of Americans claim to be fairly good at or they are fluent in Spanish, so chances are that many of us in Psych 1001 are bilingual, or atleast working towards it. I'm not saying that Spanish is the only language that people master as a first or second language, especially considering that Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. It's just becoming more common for people to be bilingual in our world today with all the opportunities a second language entails, though there are some negatives to bilingualism as well.
First, we will begin with the positives, learning a second language is a plus in one's life. It's best to learn at a younger age, as stated our text book that "the earlier, the better", for children have an easier time grasping a second language than do adults. The drop off for older teens or adults learning a second language is gradual, so one shouldn't lose all hope when it comes to learning a second language. Once one was mastered or close to mastered a second language they will most likely encounter numerous advantages in their life, such as being able to communicate with people of multiple cultures and ethnicites. They will be able to translate information between the two cultures of the languages they know. They can showoff their bilingualism when traveling abroad or maybe even trick their friends into saying some sort of phrase in their other language without their friends knowing what they are saying. Also more job offers would be open to hiring those who are bilingual, especially in business affairs internationally. The list goes on and on, but there are also some not so positive aspects to bilingualism. Learning a second language can be quite costly, especially if children start out at a young age in immersion school. Many minority-language speakers feel they will lose their identities with another language, usually English, and fear the thought of assimilation. Bilingualism in one could also be difficult if they have a speech impediment, for the speech impediment will need to be treated separately in both languages, which could get tricky.
I think overall though, that bilingualism has more advantages than disadvantages, especially in our society where it's almost more common for one to speak two or more languages than not to. I'm actually working towards my fluency in a second language, Spanish that is. I hope to minor in it, like many of the students here at the University, for I see the job oppotunities that a second language could give me as well as just the fact of speaking another language. I really wish I attended an immersion school for Spanish, for I have some friends who did and they are fairly well English and Spanish speakers. I have improved my Spanish speaking skills from, well the obvious, speaking it, but really trying to grasp the language as I speak it and learn from those who are native Spanish speakers. I actually had two Colombian exchange students stay with me during highschool and that really accelerated my Spanish speaking. I plan on traveling abroad to Spain as well, which I have heard from Spanish majors and minors that it really expands one's vocabulary and gets us that much closer, if not already, to fluency. The opportunities with bilingualism are endless, having the motivation to keep at will only further our success in the world.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2012 is the previous archive.

April 2012 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.