macm0042: October 2011 Archives

A subject that the Lilienfeld text touched on in chapter seven was memory pills. Apparently there is a huge market for "smart pills" with dozens of brands and different remedies. One of the most popular brands of memory pills is Ginko. The "secret ingredient" in Ginko is an exract of the leaves of the Ginko tree. The Chinese have used ginko trees for centuries as a medicine. Various studies done on the effects of ginko show that it is no more effective in helping improve our memory than drinking a glass of ice cold lemonade. Ginko can also become harmful becuase it can interfere with the effects of blood thinning medicines and cause you to bleed excessively. So why do Americans spend several hundred million dollars per year on this stuff? I believe that it is due to a concept described in previous chapters known as the "placebo effect". People buy these magic memory improving pills and because it says "memory enhancer" on the bottle, they think they're memory will improve. They could begin going out of their way to look for the effects of the drug. For example, they could have a retrieval cue on something and remember some odd, quirky piece of information and since they are already assuming that their memory will improve, they could accredit this finding to the drug.

A subject that the Lilienfeld text touched on in chapter seven were memory pills.

Split brains

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A topic covered in lecture and also in the Lilienfeld text this past week was the Split brain subject test. This test is performed on someone who has had a procedure done to their corpus callosum in which the fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the brain are split. This procedure typically offers relief from epileptic seizures. The studies done on these individuals offer an interesting insight into how the human brain works. Basically, the left side of our brain is responsible in forming the words around what we are seeing. This is validated in a test performed, where a subject with a split-brain is instructed to focus on a dot in the center of a projection screen. Then for a split-second an image is flashed onto both sides of the screen. The subject is then instructed to choose from a group of cards what best represented the image they saw. In the test that was demonstrated in class, an image of a snowy scene was flashed on the left side of the screen while a picture of a chicken was flashed on the right. When the subject was instructed to select a card from the group it selected a shovel while saying the word "chicken". Although the subject was unaware of why they made this choice, they still tried to rationalize their choice by saying that you need a shovel to clean out a chicken coop. This test confirms that the left side of the brain is used for speech because it was the subjects left hemisphere that would process the image of the chicken on the right side of the screen.

Source: Lilienfeld text, Lecture

Only ten percent?

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Human beings only use ten percent of their brains has been a very popular psychological claim. It is a myth that has been passed around for years, most often used to explain psychic activity. Psychics will often claim that we only use ten percent of our brain so the other ninety percent must be used for psychic abilities. This argument for this is a logical fallacy of ignorance. In the text of our book it says that scientists have performed many brain scans and have never discovered any "dead spots" or unused areas in our brains. Even if human beings did not completely use 100% of their brains doesn't mean that the other areas are used for psychic abilities. To state this is to use a sort of correlation equals causation style of thinking that isn't actually based on any correlations. Another point to be made is that just because something can't be explained, doesn't mean that you should try to come up with a crazy explanation. As the text teaches us, "extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof." There is absolutely no proof to support this claim, so it becomes fairly easy to see that this is not a truthful claim. Also if we only use ten percent of our brains head injuries would be much less serious because you'd be able to damage over half of your brain and, according to this claim, would still be able to function without noticing any difference. The main reason that this myth is so popular is the idea that human might be able to develop psychic abilities or perhaps become smarter than others around you if you discover how to utilize the extra 90 percent. Snopes.com makes an excellent point that when someone states this myth to you, you should respond, "Oh? What part don't you use?"

http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by macm0042 in October 2011.

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