helle217: October 2011 Archives

False Memory

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In our small lecture on Tuesday, we were read a list of similar objects. When told to recall, we would write down as many as we could remember. One of the lists consisted of words such as valley, hill and hiking. Many people recalled hearing mountain when it was not actually on the list. What is going on here is memory illusion. The Lilienfeld text describes memory illusion as "false but subjectively compelling memory" (Lilienfeld, 244). Basically, we created a false memory. All of the words on the list were associated with the word mountain so we assumed it was also on the list. Personally, I thought that word was for sure on the list. Since the other words sounded so similar, I guessed mountain was one of them. Before the experiment, many of us thought we had never experienced false memory. I, for one, thought it was crazy that people would remember things that did not occur. When I found out mountain was not actually on the list, I could not believe it. It made me think, how many other times have I remembered something incorrectly? False memory is important because everyone experiences it. As much as people like to think they are immune to it, but that is not the case. I fell into the "not-me fallacy" thinking I was a special case and never experienced such a thing as remembering incorrectly. It is good to be aware of false memory so we can accept it when it does occur.



In Lecture, we learned about Pavlov's Classical Conditioning. There are four parts to this; unconditioned stimulus, unconditioned response, conditioned stimulus, and conditioned response. The unconditioned stimulus can be something like food for example. The unconditioned response is how a person responds to the unconditioned stimulus. In class, we learned an example of this may be a dog salivating around food. The conditioned stimulus is something that is present every time the dog eats, like a sound made right before his food is served. The condition response is his response to the sound made; he salivates. Since he always hears the sound before he eats, he knows food is coming by the sound. The thought of the food causes him to salivate.
I went to camp one year, and before every meal a bell would ring. The bell always made me hungry, because I knew food was coming. Eventually, the bell started being used for other things, like when free time began or when we had a meeting. At first, I would always feel hungry and expect to eat. After a while, I grew accustomed to the bell being used for different things and no longer felt hunger after every ring.
We become familiar with certain sounds at certain points in are day. We begin to associate them with things like food or people. Classical conditioning is all about how we respond to our environment. It is natural to respond to food by salivating. The reason the dog salivated when he heard the metronome was because he associated it with the food. Just like he grew accustomed to the sound coming before a meal, when the meal stopped coming after the sound he eventually became accustomed to that too. So, if we associate something with something else, but they no longer are together, we can just as easily unassociated them.


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