Writing 3: October 2011 Archives

As recently portrayed in the movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" many scientists and people have experimented with teaching animals different forms of language and communication. Since it has been proved that our closes relatives the bono primate was unable to learn the specific nuances of a signing language that all hope is lost, but is that definitive? Some argue that learning small parts of sign languages are similar to the evolution of humans and that their language could have pushed forward genetic adaptations and evolution. Through proven experiments monkeys can master certain words, but many or their errors come from syntax, but if all of the monkeys in an environment communicated through a sign language, would that lead to further mastering of the language and possibly evolution?

Early Onset Dementia

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The world of women's basketball took a large blow late this summer. It had nothing to do with lockouts or injured players, but that of the diagnosis of one of the games most influential figures. The Tennessee Lady Volunteers head basketball coach, Pat Summitt , was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Summitt went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where she underwent a series of tests and received the stunning answer of what disease she had. Many people know anything related with Alzheimer's is not good but what really is dementia?

Dementia is defined as a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Most types of dementia are nonreversible. Nonreversible means the changes in the brain that are causing the dementia cannot be stopped or turned back. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. Lewy body disease is a leading cause of dementia in elderly adults. People with this condition have abnormal protein structures in certain areas of the brain. Dementia also can be due to many small strokes. This is called vascular dementia. Dementia symptoms include many areas of mental functioning such as language, memory, perception, personality, and many cognitive skills.

Pat strongly believes that she can continue coaching, "I feel better just knowing what I'm dealing with. And as far as I'm concerned it's not going to keep me from living my life, not going to keep me from coaching." said Summitt. Although Summitt maintains her positive attitude, she now knows her time as a coach, over three decades, is nearing its end. If the symptoms worsen, she simply will not be in a position to be under the national spotlight of women's basketball. Her highly intelligent mind for basketball is now under duress and sadly, the decrease her cognitive skills will affect every aspect of her life, including coaching the game she loves.

Pavlov's Discoveries

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Classical conditioning, also referred to as Pavlovian conditions is a way of learning in with animals/organisms incur stimuli that illicit an automated response, which they were previously neutral to. Key elements involved in this are, Unconditioned stimulus, Unconditioned response, Conditioned stimulus, Conditioned response. To give some background information, and explain further on how this process works, you should check out this video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo7jcI8fAuI&NR=1&feature=fvwp

I myself have had direct experience with classical conditioning. When we got one of my dogs, Brandie, we took her to puppy school. We trained her to sit, shake, 'watch', and other basic behaviors by using the "clicker method". This method involved rewarding the dog with correct behavior with a treat, and by clicking a clicker. Eventually,
Brandie would ween the dog off of the treats and she would respond to the clicker. This tactic initially uses classical conditioning, but eventually uses operant conditioning. It is a practical and useful way to apply Pavlov's discoveries to real life!

For a more fun example, here is a video that a student made for his Intro to Psych class! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo7jcI8fAuI&NR=1&feature=fvwp
I personally don't think my roommate would appreciate me using classical conditioning on her!

I wonder what other real life ways classical condition is realistically used? Do you have an examples from your life?

The 10% Myth

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The myth that people only use 10% of their brains has spread like wildfire. It is mainly used by ad's and psychics to get your attention.

This myth states that we really only use 10% of our brains and the rest just sits there, doing nothing. This can easily be refuted by using extraordinary claims. Using brain imaging techniques like PET scans and fMRI, people are able to see that the whole brain, in fact, is still functioning and sending neurons across the brain. Using these brain scanners, you can create an alternate explanation to this myth. The principle of replicability was ignored and that is why this was taken as fact.

Super Bowl a Stock Market Indicator?
It has been observed that of the past 41 Super Bowl games, 33 have successfully predicted how the stock market with perform over the following year.
How is this done?

If a team from the American Football Conference (AFC) wins the super bowl, then the market is supposed to be a bear market. This is a general decline in stock prices across the market. However, if a team from the National Football Conference (NFC) wins the super bowl, then the market is supposed to be a bull market, meaning high gains are expected.
This is a classic example of causation versus correlation mix-up. Instead of a popular football game actually affecting how the stock market performs, it is probably due to some third variable. This third variable could be such things as investor confidence or doubt, swings in the overall economy, and many other economic factors.
This myth can also be looked at through the extraordinary claims perspective. This says that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Supporters of myth try to answer this statement with facts. 33 of the last 41 super bowls were successfully predicted, including 28 out of 31 from 1967 to 1997. This correctly shows a correlation between the super bowl champion and the performance of the stock market, but it does not mean that it is the cause. Because this hypothesis can only be observed through naturalistic observation and cannot be manipulated in a laboratory, there is no way to prove a cause between the two factors.


The "Tip of the tongue", which is also called (TOT) phenomenon refers to the inability to pull a word from your memory despite belief that the word is there. It is a psychological state that produces pronounced and easily recognizable physiological reactions. TOT have happened all over the world, people have reported the phenomenon in the native languages of France, Portugal, Vietnamese, and Romania and also all other countries. It is also age-dependent, with seniors reporting the experience about twice as often as college age students. The person experiencing TOT can often name the first letter of the word and can recall words similar in meaning. About half the time, the individually eventually succeeds and voices the word.

The tip-of-the-tongue experience (TOT) is characterized by being able to retrieve quite a lot of information about the target word without being able to retrieve the word itself. You know the meaning of the word, you may know how many syllables the word has, or its initial sound or letter. But you can't retrieve it all. The experience is coupled with a strong feeling (this is the frustrating part) that you know the word, and that it is hovering on the edges of your thought.

It has been thought that these interfering words cause the TOT, but some researchers now believe they're a consequence rather than a cause. Because you have part of the sounds of the word you're searching for, your hard-working brain, searching for words that have those sounds, keeps coming up with the same, wrong, words. A recent study by Dr Lori James of the University of California and Dr Deborah Burke of Pomona College suggests a different cause. Interestingly, this ability to transmit phonological relatives of the word being recalled is lost in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's and dementia involve memory retrieval failure in specific brain areas, which may be the case with this more common phenomenon as well. In their study using functional magnetic resonance imaging, Maril and colleagues found that activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and the prefrontal cortex of the brain was higher during TOT experiences than when the subject remembered the word.

Another prediction is that as a result of this representational "tightening," subjects may be less likely to notice unexpected or infrequent events in their environment - for example, if subjects are completing the same task but are required to stomp their foot whenever a three-syllable word occurs, they may be less successful at this when engaged in a task that involves the retrieval of low-frequency or non dominant information relative to that involving more dominant or high-frequency information.

More Facts and Information can be found at:

Through the class lectures and videos, and keeping up with the book, I have become interested in the split-brain procedure. The split brain procedure involves severing the corpus callosum and separating the right and left sides of the brain. This procedure was done a long time ago without knowledge of the affects, and it would not be completely in present day solely for research purposes. Roger Sperry

After reading the Lilienfeld on False Memories, I wondered what kind of implications this would have for myself. Did this mean that my textbook was telling me that many of my important memories could all be wrong? This thought greatly disturbed me. I realized however I was overanalyzing the book though. According to the Lilienfeld most false memories occur from some the "7 deadly sins of memory". Mainly suggestibility, misattribution, and bias. People can acquire false memories in a variety of ways and although it is possible I feel that they aren't something I should worry about too much. For most of the lab implanting of false memories, the trick was done by suggesting something that happened or a direct feeding of misinformation to people like in the Bugs Bunny at Disney World false memory. The memory must also be a plausible one to begin with for it to become a true false memory. This means I can't have someone suggest utter nonsense that my mind will take in and create a powerful false memory out of. This is one of the most relieving things to me because at first glance the false memory research appears to say the opposite. So although it is true that we can misremember things or create memories that never occurred it is very unlikely this will affect us more than on a small scale. When it does happen on a large scale however, the consequences can be dire as was the case for the Thompson rape case. I wonder if in the future there will be developed a way to accurately sift through memories and test for accuracy. I would hate to see the future littered with more cases of falsely accused people paying for other people's crimes.

How fast can you read?

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Many advertisements explicate that they are capable of increasing your rate of reading by 15,000-30,000 words per minute in order for you to succeed on any test, such as the A.C.T or any college exam. But can they actually do it? The answer to this question is no. In reality, the average reading rate is 200-300 words per minute and through tons of research, scientists have proven that speed-reading is one of the largest hoax claims that the media attempts to sell. This extraordinary claim explains how most "speed-reading" derives from skimming: which is a process of searching for key information to gain clues about the meaning. This underlines the idea that skimming is not actual reading, thus you cannot improve your reading rates because it weakens your comprehension levels significantly. Ironically, the faster you are able to read, the less information you are likely to take in, which results in a decline in your learning. According to the controlled studies by Cunningham, Stan Ovich, and Wilson, reading faster than 400 words per minute leads to less than half of your overall comprehension. I believe this is an important hoax claim to eliminate because people are wasting their time and money on something that our mind is physically not proficient in. Also, In the long run, speed-reading has a negative consequence on our comprehension. I went to some expensive tutoring in preparation for the A.C.T, in hope of improving my reading skills. The pricing was ridiculous and in the end, it did not increase my reading score in any shape or form, it actually decreased it. Ultimately, speed-reading has more negative effects than positive ones, thus, our society should attempt to avoid these hoax claims at all cause.


http://www.rocketreader.com/ LILIENFELD TEXT. (Second edition)

The Crucible

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In our discussion section we discussed the case of Paul Ingram, a man of high standing in society with a family that was devotedly religious. Paul's two daughters went to bible camp where they were convinced that their father had molested them. Paul had never actually molested the daughters, but he was charged and held in jail. In jail he was in solitary confinement and harassed numerous times by the investigators. Paul reached the point where he actually believed that he had molested his daughters, and even began conjuring up false stories that he believed to be true. The Paul Ingram case reminded me of the play "The Crucible." In "The Crucible" a bunch of teenage girls make up false stories of being bewitched by fellow townspeople. The girls continue to accuse numerous townspeople of being witches, to avoid being punished for conjuring spirits themselves. Those that are accused such as the black slave Tituba, confess to witchcraft and even tell stories of what the have done as witches. If they confessed to witchcraft, they would have to carry that title with them for the rest of their lives, but if they did not confess, they were hanged. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-R3KL3x9oI
It does not take much to create a false memory, in one such case a man was reading through his journals from when he was younger and came across an entry that was inserted by a group of researchers. This entry stated that he had been lost in a shopping mall when he was five, and when asked about this, the man was able to go into such detail about the ordeal that one would believe that he actually was lost in a shopping mall at the age of 5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQr_IJvYzbA&feature=player_detailpage

Apps for Autism

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Today, 60 minutes aired a segment on learning and autism. The recently discovered that kids respond positively when using an Ipad. A man named Josh, who has autism, has communicated by pointing out letters or acting things out for most of his life. Using a new app on the Ipad Josh is able to communicate everything he is thinking; proving that a deeper thought process is active in kids with autism. In a way these apps use positive reinforcement with the kids. When it asks the kids a question and they get it right a fun noise goes off and the kids light up. They also provided kids with positive reinforcement such as opera music when the actively engaged in the Ipad activities.

Autistic individuals crave consistency in their lives. Applications on the iPad further improve their learning and comfort by using constant voices, tempo, and sounds. There is a positive correlation between the Ipad apps and autistics kids willingness to socialize and an increase in attention span. Further studies are under way to prove if this is causation.

Finally a professor at University of Pittsburg is currently looking at the brains of those with autism. He believes that there is a connection between autistic language problems and the connections of the brain. He compared the brain of an average individual to that of someone who had Asperger's Syndrome and a problem with speaking. He found that the wiring is very disorganized in the person with Asperger's. Although we cannot use this information because of its lack of replicability, it shows a lot of promise.

Catfish Eats Basketball

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Catfish Eats Basketball:
In this scenario the Hoax is: Catfish eats basketball (stuck in its mouth).
Though catfish can grow to be huge, even gigantic fish with extremely wide mouths, it's not everyday that we see a catfish was an enlarged basketball stuck in its mouth while on the deck of your lakefront home/cabin. In this experience a man and wife were on the lake when they saw a basketball gliding across the water (looking odd). When they got close to the basketball they noticed it was gulped inside of a large mouthed catfish.

Using the Scientific Thinking Principle #3 Falsifiability; that is, (capable of being disproved) I believe my self that a catfish of the right size (gigantic) could produce the ability to hold an 8 inch basketball within the grasp of his mouth. But without trying this experiment on a (gigantic) catfish ourselves we have no information to make us believe this isn't photoshopped in this day and age.

Using the Scientific Thinking Principle #2 Correlation vs. Causation:
(variable a=b, Variable b=a, or variable c=a/variable c=b)
Aside from the ability of others to use the newest of technologies to make an image of such sort, I believe people would do such a thing to a catfish as to gain a few laughs. Putting an 8 inch basketball in a catfish's mouth, can seem to be funny to some people I would assume. In this scenario Variable C (people/person) equating variable A (the basketball in the catfish's mouth). Here's how I believe the basketball was placed in the catfishes mouth. After catching a (gigantic) catfish someone could have opened the catfish's mouth put a basketball right inside and drop the fish back into the water and left, making the next person to see it next think instantly that the catfish grasped with its mouth as if it though it was food. Not only could a person have done this and left the catfish for others to see, but the person who took these photos and made them viral on the internet could have done this him/herself for public humor, self humor etc. Not only is this a sick and disgusting thought, but the basketball that was inside the catfish's mouth was not allowing the catfish to dive back down into the water. So the man and wife who came across this catfish has to pop the basketball to deflate it so the gigantic catfish could dive back into the deep water where he hopefully lives to this day.


I Know it! but.....

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Have you ever experience the following scenario?
You know the answer to a question, but you just can't come up with it. Well, if this ever happened to you, you have certainly experienced the Tip- of-the-Tongue Phenomenon. This very commonly occurring phenomenon demonstrates the concept of knowing, that we know something but unable to access it at the moment. This concept applies to what we experience very often. I was really fascinated by this phenomenon and I attempted to replicate this finding by questioning five of my friends same questions. The questions were related to a topic they were all very familiar with which is related to their favorite soccer team. I was pretty certain that they knew the answer to this question at some point in the past.

I asked who was the first player from African Nation to become Europe's top scorer?
I asked each of them separately and two of them easily answered and three of my friends (participants) experience the Tip-Of-The-Tongue phenomenon. They each said "oh umm... I know his name....the guy who played for Barcelona right? What's his name?" I then provided a rehearsal cues; a player from Cameroon. Of course, all three remembered the name and the answer was Samuel Eto'o one of the best African players in Europe. This finding demonstrated effect of the concept Tip-Of-The-Tongue phenomenon. Does our answer to these concept come from our Long-term memory, if so, why do we have hard time retrieving it?



Positive punishment sounds contradicting. Provided a stimulus, it can diminish the behavior and the likelihood that it will occur again. The question is if it is healthy for humans to be positively punished? The answer isn't very clear, the general answer is, it depends.
Barbra has a fear of sitting in a room with 400 students for an hour for lecture so she decides to skip her lectures. Every time she skips lecture she has to watch the lecture online and fill out an extra 10 pages of worksheets. The extra worksheets are positive punishment for skipping lecture. The extra worksheets are helpful in getting her to do extra work and comprehending the material.
Thomas at the age of 17 likes to poop in his pants. His pants contain sensors that detect poop. So now, every time he poops his pants electrocute him to get him to learn to stop pooping in his pants. The electrocution is a positive punishment. This is not healthy because it can cause him stress and physical pain.Although punishment sounds negative, the effects of punishment just depends on what type of stimulus is being presented.

Punishment works but there are a few problems to it such as creating anxiety, or changing the behavior, Thomas takes off his pants and poops on the floor so he avoids the electrocution, and it may cause a child to develop with aggressive personalities. One must remember that because children are punished, it does not mean that it will cause them to be aggressive in the future, correlation doe not equal causation.
According to this article a boy was punished under harsh Sharia law by having his arm crushed under a truck as a punishment for stealing bread. Is this punishment valid? What punishments are actually good for children in the long run, or for anyone?

Here are some articles on positive punishment


Many of us today can still recall where we were the day first heard of the 9/11 attacks. But we still are fuzzy on exact details or even what the event looked like. The folks closest to ground zero have been known to accurately and vividly recall what the attacks looked like in detail. This is a demonstration of the "Flashbulb memory phenomenon." this article-> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3350048/911-Study-Reveals-How-Flashbulb-Memories-Form.html is the summary of a study conducted post-event on how those closest to the world trade center remembered the act. This flashbulb effect is the quantification of how well people exposed to a stressful event could remember details with accuracy, as compared to a normal memory. The hypothesis relates that the amygdala in a person's brain secretes a compound that acts in the hippocampus resulting in a person being mre accurate, detailed, and confident in the recollection of events. Though this is not the first study of this phenomenon, it is the first to use modern brain scanning technology. This first study of flashbulb memory occurred after the shooting of JFK. Where the nation was violently shocked in unison. Psychologist s took mention in how people could recall the JFK shooting much better than what they had for dinner, say tuesday last week. Because of the stress of the 9/11 inflicted on those close to ground zero, psychologist unfortunatly had the oppurtunity to study this same style of encoding but with the use of modern brain imaging technology. In this video a patient constents to an MRI and "Neuroscientist Elizabeth Phelps" discusses the results. Pretty Neat!

Optimism: A Flaw?

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You know how it is said that we should be optimistic or to keep our chin up when we are pursuing a goal? Well according to a new study collaboration between University College London, the Free University in Berlin, and the Humboldt University in Berlin, optimism may actually be a flaw in the human mind.


According to the article provided by PopSci.com, the research establishments carried out a study where volunteers were to rate the likelihood of a list of negative events happening to them. The volunteers would have their brain activity tracked while answering these questions in order to see which parts of the brain were active during optimistic answers (which comprised the majority of answers.)

According to the research, the areas of the brain in charge of estimation (located in the prefrontal cortices) would have a spike of activity directly correlated to how optimistic the given answers were. The main premise of these outcomes can be seen with the saying, "it-can't-happen-to-me."

From looking through this article, it seems that it was a well constructed experiment, with a high sense of internal validity and replicabilty, especially since it was done between three research institutions. However, I do think that other research pursuits could be constructed to test the falsifiability of this particular finding, such as if optimism is only a flaw in certain scenarios and a strength in others. Also, i think that a study on how pessimistic thinking plays into usefulness would be a nice parallel study to see if it too could be considered a flaw or not.


Dispelling Urban Legends

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It is common to believe in all sorts of "urban legends" because of a human tendency to use availability and representative heuristics: what seems the easiest and quickest to remember is usually the logic we settle on.

However, there are literally thousands of pieces of misinformation; such as the piece found on www.snapes.com entitled "Spiders Inside Her" .
The article describes how people are so gullible and easily fooled into believing something, and the entire myth had openly-satirical goals.
The reason for this piece of information sticks in many people's heads is because the the common phobia (or at least discomfort) of spiders is quite common.
According to THIS articled about "Half of women and 10 per cent of men have, to some degree, a fear of spiders."
This fear causes people to remember this "fact" more, because their emotions aid in the storage of LTM's. According to the Three-Stage Model, this is a very legitimate way to turn STM into LTM in Stage 2 via the "7 +/- 2 items" to remember.

Of course, there are other factors at play, but the main ones may be that it evokes such a strong emotion in people; thus, it evokes such a strong memory. And the urban legend continues...

Unforgettable Memory

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Our memories and our ability to retrieve them from our minds play a large role in daily life, working to shape our past thoughts and experiences into individual personalities that make us each unique. In the opening paragraph of Chapter 7: Memory in our Lilienfeld textbook, the authors tell a story of a woman known as A.J. who has hyperthymestic syndrome. This rare condition allows her to retrieve memories of past experiences from any moment in her life with incredible detail, such as what she did and what she was wearing. Although many of us think we would like to have this condition, A.J. sees it as both a curse and a blessing to be able to remember every part of your past experiences. However, hyperthymestic syndrome differs from other memory altering conditions such as autism in that individuals who suffer from it are able to carry on mostly normal lives. A good example of this is the case of Marilu Henner, a television actress who also suffers from hyperthymestic syndrome. Living with her condition, she has had a very successful career, including her role in the show Taxi. Her remarkable memory capabilities are very intriguing and even led to the new show Unforgettable on CBS this fall. Henner currently works as a consultant for the show in which the main character plays a gifted detective with the same syndrome.
Conditions of incredible memory are very rare and are often the result of a certain genetic trait expressed throughout the brain. But how much of it is actually genetic is still unknown. Gianni Golfera is a man with an incredible memory, most likely the result of some genetic condition. But Gianni also spends much of his time studying and learning how to improve his memory capabilities. In the video linked below, Gianni shows his remarkable ability to recall a long list of random numbers with ease. He explains that anyone can improve their memory with practice and has developed his own memory improvement techniques. So how much of our capability to remember genetic and how much of it is learned through practice? Each of us may not be able to recall every day of our past, but how much can we improve our memory?

National Geographic Link

Gianni Golfera's Website

What Kind of Learner Are You?

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learning_styles.jpg We've spent the majority of our education being told everyone learns differently (which is true to a certain extent, as no two people think exactly alike) and that everyone has a different learning style. The three most common broad learning style categories are:

Visual, in which one prefers to learn through the use of cues they can see - for example, presentations with charts, colors and pictures as opposed to just text; these learners have the generalized reputation of sitting at the front of classrooms and benefiting from an instructor's body movement and hand gestures.

Auditory, in which one learns almost strictly by hearing; according to the common generalizations, their classroom seat doesn't matter so long as they can hear what's happening, and these learners benefit from reading aloud to themselves.

Tactile (or Kinesthetic), in which one learns through touch - these learners learn best by "doing," that is, participating in hands-on activities.

Though these are the most common categories, many "studies" have developed countless other learning style groupings with narrower definitions. This website (where you can also take a quiz to find out what kind of learner you are) suggests seven fundamental learning types.

But how reliable are the studies that provide evidence for these categories? As the Lilenfield text and this article suggest, little to no scientific evidence exists to support the claims that people are either entirely one type of learner or another, and studies have found that teaching to a student's specific learning style didn't result in any sort of enhanced learning. Furthermore, many studies conducted that yielded evidence for these supposed learning styles were not nearly controlled enough to be called scientific. Most of the tests are not reliable either, that is, they aren't consistent from study to study, and the fact that no one agrees 100% on the types of categories for learning styles is pretty suspicious if we're looking at this scientifically. The above article suggets also a method in which the studies would have had to be carried out to provide scientific evidence.

The learning styles myth is still prevalent today, despite having been debunked by several scientific studies. This website even suggests teachers of English as second language in foreign countries should be sure to cater to their students' unique learning styles by using a variety of teaching methods.

I know I've spent most of my life assuming I was a "visual learner" as they call it, though strangely enough, I've always benefited from hands-on learning as well, and in fact, I sometimes read aloud to myself just to emphasize what I'm reading. So really, I just have my own way of learning things, just like everyone else has theirs. Hopefully, learning styles will eventually become a thing of the past, just another silly popular psychology fad that everyone will laugh about years from now.

Two-Process Theory of Phobias

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Many people have irrational phobias. Anyone who has seen daytime talk shows is sure to have seen at least one episode where a guest is bombarded with their phobia of things like balloons, dolphins, and even cotton balls.cnZcMbgEykx7xmvvkst8sOUdo1_500.jpeg
It is hard for many people to understand how these odd phobias exist and why they stick around for the entire lives of those inflicted with this fright. In order to understand why these phobias occur and how they continue to afflict people, we must examine the Two-Process Theory.
The first part of the Two-Process Theory is classical conditioning. Like in the Little Albert study, people may become frightened of an object that they usually would not be afraid of after some event that was cause for alarm. In Little Albert's case, he was playing with fluffy white animals only to have a large noise alarm and startle him. This caused Albert to be afraid of fluffy white animals and even inanimate objects resembling them. Albert was classically conditioned to be afraid of these objects.
The second part in the Two-Process Theory is operant conditioning. In operant conditioning, reinforcers increase the chances of an action to be repeated. If a person is afraid of black cats, when they see a black cat on one side of a road, they may cross the road to be farther away from it. This is a negative reinforcer for the person, as they have reduced their anxiety by removing something (their proximity to the cat) in their situation. This negative reinforcer makes it more likely that they will repeat this process in the future, and is only reinforcing their fear.

In the following video, we can see that even after years and years of fear, operant conditioning can be used to aid phobia reduction. With each step closer to the puppy, the man in the video has increased anxiety and fear, which would usually make him move away from the animal, but this time he has someone giving him reinforcement by means of positive verbal reinforcement. Another positive reinforcement is the puppy not actually attacking and causing harm to the man as he expected it would.

In the end, this is what we need to remember about the Two-process Theory: Phobias are gained through classical conditioning, and phobias are maintained through operant conditioning and reinforcement.


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Spiders, social settings, flying, not being able to escape, and small spaces. These are currently the top five phobias. A phobia is an extreme irrational fear that interferes with your daily life. Even just the thought of your phobia can cause an anxiety that becomes a burden to your everyday living. These go beyond being nervous to take a test or giving a speech, a true phobia will lead you to do everything in your power to avoid that specific object or situation. There are no specific causes as to why people obtain phobias either, and the reason for creating them varies from person to person. For example, a child witnessing her parent's phobias as he or she grows up may obtain that phobia as well. Also, many people develop their phobias before the age of 25. Social phobias develop in children as young as five years old. A traumatic event can lead to a phobia, and your gender can also predetermine what type of phobia you will have. Females are more apt to have social phobias than males. Males are more suspect to drinking alcohol which masks their anxiety levels lower but can lead to depression.
In this Youtube video I posted the guy is confessing all forty of his phobias. It is obviously unheard of to have this many phobias, but it is not uncommon to have more than one phobia. He goes through and describes each phobia while the doctor tells him the scientific name. Going to therapy is one of the ways to overcome a phobia, and it can be extremely helpful. In the end of the video, he expresses that he's afraid of going to the doctor's, and it shows how a phobia can run your life. People who have a specific fear like doctors, dentists, hospitals neglect receiving the help that they really need.


Memory Aids

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Memory aids that many of us learned throughout school include mnemonics. A mnemonic is a learning aid, strategy, or device that enhances a recall. We use them to help remember certain things. An example used in the Lilienfeld text is "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally". Chances are while in elementary school that you learned this to help remember the order in which to do mathematical problems, and it has stuck with you ever since. Mnemonics are important because it is proven that people are able to remember better when they have some sort of reference to it. Re-reading a list of random letters is much more difficult to do when they are not grouped in a special fashion. Chances are when you were learning the alphabet there was a letter line around the classroom that also showed pictures of objects or animals starting with that letter.Thumbnail image for M.gifIt's interesting to learn about this aspect of one's memory because I have been using devices such as these my whole life and never really noticed it. Here is a link to a website that generates mnemonic devices for you:


Something that I found to be important from discussion was the misinformation effect. The misinformation effect is where someone creates a memory because they are given misleading information about an event. I found it especially interesting and shocking that one can create false memories and truly believe that they happened.
http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/sciam.htm In this article by Elizabeth Loftus, she talks about cases where people are made to believe, by their psychiatrist, that they have multiple personalities and have been involved in satanic cults. The psychiatrist was then sued. There have been multiple cases similar to this and it makes me question, how is one supposed to know what really happened and what didn't? It's frightening to know that someone can create a memory and basically implant it into your head. This was definitely an important discovery in the world of psychology because it needs to be taken into account when looking at cases where eyewitnesses are interviewed as well. (http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/~glwells/wellsandloftus.pdf) Eyewitnesses can be lead to think something else happened during a crime or event while being interviewed because of the way that the questions are worded. Police need to make sure that they word their questions in a way that would not suggest something else has happened, giving them false information.
False memory and the Misinformation Effect are important discoveries in psychology because they really change how criminal cases can be dealt with.

Memory Illusions

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I found this link off of the internet. It talks about why humans use memory illusions or go through memory illusions in our everyday lives. The article does a pretty good job of explaining what memory illusions are and why we experience them without realizing it. Some memory illusions could be the fact that you thought or heard something that wasn't actually there. Psychologists have been able to trick people into thinking things that never happened to them, but the people they trick actually believe these events happened to them. Some people claim that they remember seeing Bugs Bunny at Walt Disney World. This would never be true because Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros. character and not a Disney characterbugs bunny.jpg. Memories can be tricked and that is what memory illusions are. When a group of words are related to one specific item, odds are that someone listening to the group of words will claim that the related item about the group was part of the group when is actually wasn't. The reason why our brains go through this process is because it is trying to make the best sense of the world. Without this process, we would be totally clueless of what is going on and what we need to do. It would be very difficult to live our everyday lives. So some may find memory illusions to be tricky and often unfair, but without them, we would live a confusing and difficult life.

Computer Vs. The Brain

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Computers vs. the human brain has been a worrisome topic, every since digital computers were being used over 60 years ago. This topic has been heavily depicted in movies like 2001 Space Odyssey, Terminator, and I, Robot. This topic raises a lot of thought-provoking ideas on the comparison of the human brain and modern computers, which has a higher "Intelligence". The link I have provided and the book also go into some detail on this question. The main thing I think that should be focused on is, what do we describe as intelligence. There are some things like according to our book that we do flawlessly and make it seem easy like depth perception, while a computer can do something that we find incredibly extraordinary like beating the world's greatest chess player in chess with relative ease. I define natural intelligence on a human beings survival IQ, because that is what our intellect was naturally created for. Small things that we find simplistic, like reading someones body language or mood, is almost impossible for a computer to comprehend. These subtle inferences our what I deem more intelligent, because they help us survive. In our current society these adaptive qualities rarely come into use. Today's intelligence has been redefined by our societies in a matter of factual recognition and number crunching. These are the categories in which computers are superior. Our invention of these so called "Electric Brains" have capabilities that aren't even fathomable with a human brain. The amount of knowledge today's computer can access in matters of seconds is extraordinarily sophisticated when compared with our brains. This though is not what I deem to be the higher intelligence. I go back to the primal nature of intelligence. The reason that we have intelligence, is for methods of survival. Our intelligence models for us a organized manner in which we can reason, think, and problem solve in seconds fact, which in turn increases our survival rates. Computers have not reached even close to the level of sophistication that our brains are at.

Did that really happen?

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As we learned from the Lilienfeld text, researchers have come up with existence proofs, demonstrating that it's possibly to create memories in someones mind that actually never happened. Before starting the experiment, they ask the family members about an event that never actually happened during the subjects life, so that they know this event is made up. Then, they sometimes make fake evidence (a fake photograph of them as a child on a hot- air balloon ride) and they show it to the participant. In this experiment, over 50 percent of subjects recalled at least some of this hot-air balloon ride that never occurred. Some even went into elaborate details about what they saw, smelt, felt and who they were with. In another study they showed subjects an ad with Bugs Bunny promoting Disneyland. When they were asked about their childhood Disneyland experience and who they saw, 16 percent of subjects said they saw Bugs Bunny there. The experimenters knew from this that they could implant false memories into their brains because bugs bunny isn't a disney cartoon. These findings demonstrate that suggestive memory procedures can affect not only our recollections, but our behaviors. After reading about this I always wondered how these people could just believe that this event actually happened and start to "remember" and tell stories about these events. It just seems crazy to me how they make up a memory, because someone told them it was true.
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When you can remember a lot of detail from a certain moment or incident which occurred in the past, then one tends to assume that the memory is accurate. There are many possible trains of thought which might lead to this assumption. It is possible that one thinks "I remember this happening so clearly, therefore it must have happened exactly as I see it in my mind." It has been assumed that flashbulb memories stay the same over time; that these memories cannot be falsified.
However, researchers have proved that these assumptions are false by studying the details which people recall regarding an incident very soon after it occurred, and then after a considerable amount of time has passed. Our textbook provides several examples of such studies. Here is an article about a study conducted on students from Duke University after the terrorist attacks during 9/11; this study was conducted to determine the accuracy of these memories.
Another much debated issue surrounding flashbulb memories is the claim that flashbulb memories are not a different kind of memories. We cannot argue that a memory is accurate by virtue of the fact that it is a flashbulb memory. It seems more likely that flashbulb memories are different from others only in the vividness and intensity of the memory- accuracy is not affected in the least by whether a memory is a flashbulb memory or not. Here is an article that further expounds this hypothesis.

Suggestive memory techniques

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Mouakoon Yang
Writing 3

Suggestive memory techniques is an important and most interesting concept we have learned too me. The suggestive memory technique is a type of technique that people use to enforce false information into someone else's memories. This technique forces the victim to think he or she has really done what they have said he or she has done. I believe learning this concept is important because of what these false memories can change a person. For example we have read the story of Paul Ingram who confessed to raping his two daughters when he really had not. In the article we have read it talks about how Paul is a good person who is also a law-enforcement officer. He was accused of rape because his two daughter have told the police he have raped them for several years. But truth he have not done any of this to his daughters, but because he was isolated for interrogation by the police and they have made him confess and have planted false memories into his mind by interrogating him and forcing him to remember the events of the rapes on his daughters. We have found out that all this was a lie because there where no evidence show to prove he was guilty but because of the suggestive memory techniques used on him he had confessed to the charges. That's why this concept is important to help us understand and stop ourselves if possible to fall into these situations or to put people in these situations, like I have done before to my dad by forcing fake ideas into his memories to make him believe he was the one who left his socks in the laundry room sink which caused it to flood.

Source - psy 1001 text, and article Imagining Satan: How invented memories and a modern-day witch hunt landed one Spokane man in prison.

In today's society, there are many different products that people put out in order to help people get over their addiction to tobacco. However, a great deal of the time, many of these products can be ineffective. That brings up the question: what makes some products more ineffective than others? Can hypnosis be used to help cure one's need for a cigarette?

Hypnosis can be used to treat many different kinds of problems, ranging from asthma to weight loss. It works by making the hypnotized person more suggestible, and then in turn changing their perceptions on different things. One must keep in mind however that the person who is hypnotized still has free will over what they think/do. If a person truly wanted to quit smoking cigarettes, and used hypnosis to do so, that person would be more succeptible to the idea of quitting. That would greatly increase the chance that he or she would stop smoking. I believe that one's will power plays a huge role not only in the use of hypnosis, but for all kinds of treatments. If someone really wants a change and believe the treatment they are getting will help them, they will have a greater success rate of it actually working.

It is possible that you have a friend or relative who has an irrational fear, or phobia. Common phobias include mysophobia (fear of germs), arachnophobia (fear of spiders), and cynophobia (fear of dogs). You may be able to see how classical conditioning would play a role in developing those phobias. For instance, an individual might have been bit by a dog and developed the conditioned response to fear all dogs because of the fear instilled by the first dog bite. Classical conditioning explains how many phobias develop, but remember that there are other examples that seem to have started from childhood instead of classical conditioning.


In the following video, a woman claims to have been deathly afraid of clowns ever since she can remember. She suffers from coulrophobia and her anxiety causes severe panic attacks.


This woman admits that she will not go to the circus and avoids any interactions with her fear. This is an example of negative reinforcement, in which she removes the stimulus of anxiety, which makes her more likely to avoid being in the presence of a clown. By using negative reinforcement, this woman was, and many other people who suffer from phobias are operantly conditioning themselves to enable their phobias to continue and influence their daily life. By facing fears and attending therapy sessions, one may be able to eliminate their phobia, but many people continue to enable their life of fear through negative reinforcement.

Scientists have found that age acquisition influence language learning. The critical period for language learning is between the ages of one to seven. This means that children are better at learning new language than adults. However, an article written by Mary Schleppegrell present contradicting results from current theory. In "The Older Language Learner" Schleppegrell wrote, "there is no decline in the ability to learn as people get older". The article went on to cites researches done by Krashen in 1979 to indicated that adult may have an easier and rapider time than children when It come to communicating a new foreign language (Krashen, Long, and Scarcella, 1979). Schleppegrell also incorporate Walsh claims that, "in important respects adults have superior language learning capabilities"(Walsh and Diller, 1978), which stated that the neural cell responsible for linguistic process develop with ages. Thus adults can make "higher order association" to the stuff that they had already acquired. This means that adult have a larger resource center for reference which contribute to ability to rapidly learn new information. In essence, adult can learn a new language at the same rate as children given the right condition. There may be some true to this, but the article fails to take into account the proactive interference in the processes of acquiring new information. As shown in the example of a tennis player who is trying to learn to play racket ball. The similarity between the two sports may cause the player to utilize their tennis skill rather than the new rules just as a new language may inference with the old.


Scientists have found that age acquisition influence language learning. The critical period for language learning is between the ages of one to seven. This means that children are better at learning new language than adults. However, an article written by Mary Schleppegrell present contradicting results from current theory. In "The Older Language Learner" Schleppegrell wrote, "there is no decline in the ability to learn as people get older". The article went on to cites researches done by Krashen in 1979 to indicated that adult may have an easier and rapider time than children when It come to communicating a new foreign language (Krashen, Long, and Scarcella, 1979). Schleppegrell also incorporate Walsh claims that, "in important respects adults have superior language learning capabilities"(Walsh and Diller, 1978), which stated that the neural cell responsible for linguistic process develop with ages. Thus adults can make "higher order association" to the stuff that they had already acquired. This means that adult have a larger resource center for reference which contribute to ability to rapidly learn new information. In essence, adult can learn a new language at the same rate as children given the right condition. There may be some true to this, but the article fails to take into account the proactive interference in the processes of acquiring new information. As shown in the example of a tennis player who is trying to learn to play racket ball. The similarity between the two sports may cause the player to utilize their tennis skill rather than the new rules just as a new language may inference with the old.


Implanting False Memories

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It's not hard to make someone believe something is true if you were to manipulate a memory in the distant past or something that could be true. If you were to reinforce to your roommate that when you moved in she said you could have the TV on whenever you want, it would be pretty hard for her to disagree with you and pretty soon she will believe that it is true. It's not kind to manipulate your friends just so you can watch the reruns of the Jersey Shore every week but it is defiantly possible.
Providing people with misleading information can cause the subject to feel as though this could be possible. They recall a memory of something however they forget that it was only suggested to them previously rather than the event actually occurring. Case Study of False Memories Looking at this link, In these instances the first two girls were led to believe brutal and terrible things because they trusted their psychiatrists. Trusted sources can often lead us to be fooled. Once a misleading piece of information has been reinforced it is more difficult for the subjects to believe that it was false.
In a research done by Ira Hyman, Hyman researched childhood memories that happened to subjects. During a series of interviews she questioned her subjects whether or not the instances happened. In the first interview Hyman asked her subjects about something that did happen and that did not happen. 84 percent of the true events in the first interview and 88 percent in the second interview were remember by the subjects. None of the participants recalled the false event during the first interview, but 20 percent said they remembered something about the false event in the second interview. By implanting the false memory, the subjects remembered the subject but could not remember the source and thus believed that it was true.


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Dawit Wage
Psychology writing # 3
Date- 10/20/2011
Memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experience. Individual attention is necessary to store memory in the first place. Failure to retain the information can result failure to retrieve the information later. The content of the information can also determine the individual's ability to recall the information. As we know the information which is exciting is more remembered than the information which is ordinary. Psychologists divide memory in to three categories based on their capacity and the length of time each memory is expected to last, even if the distinction among these three memories are not always clear. These three memories are: sensory memory is the shortest memory which stays only a few second but it contains detailed information. The perceptual information in sensory memory appears in different forms like as iconic, echoic, and other forms of memory. Short term memory stay for 10-15 seconds little bit longer than sensory memory and has limited capacity like seven plus or minus two, however it is possible to remember more digit by using the system " chunk" that means by organizing information in to meaningful groupings. It is also possible to extend the duration of information in short term memory by "rehearsal" that is repeating the information over and over again like a phone numbers until we dialed. It is also called working memory because it contains the information that lets us remember that we are on the process of working. Its process takes place in hippocampus. Long term memory is memory that last for years or even longer. It contains a lot of information about something we know since from our child hood age. The long term memory is so fascinating because it reminds me about neurons long -term potentiation that we learned in unit three. According to Hbb's rule "cells that fire together, wire together", this means the activity of one neuron will tend to produce the activity of the other neuron. This is the reason why Taxi drivers developed the large hippocampus. The process of long term memory starts in hippocampus and stored permanently in the brain cortex. The reason I chose this topic is memory is very essential to our daily life in order to survive.large hippocampus of london taxi driver.jpg

large hippocampus of london taxi driver.jpg Source - from Lilienfeld psych# 1001 text


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Dawit Wage
Psychology writing # 3
Date- 10/20/2011
Memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experience. Individual attention is necessary to store memory in the first place. Failure to retain the information can result failure to retrieve the information later. The content of the information can also determine the individual's ability to recall the information. As we know the information which is exciting is more remembered than the information which is ordinary. Psychologists divide memory in to three categories based on their capacity and the length of time each memory is expected to last, even if the distinction among these three memories are not always clear. These three memories are: sensory memory is the shortest memory which stays only a few second but it contains detailed information. The perceptual information in sensory memory appears in different forms like as iconic, echoic, and other forms of memory. Short term memory stay for 10-15 seconds little bit longer than sensory memory and has limited capacity like seven plus or minus two, however it is possible to remember more digit by using the system " chunk" that means by organizing information in to meaningful groupings. It is also possible to extend the duration of information in short term memory by "rehearsal" that is repeating the information over and over again like a phone numbers until we dialed. It is also called working memory because it contains the information that lets us remember that we are on the process of working. Its process takes place in hippocampus. Long term memory is memory that last for years or even longer. It contains a lot of information about something we know since from our child hood age. The long term memory is so fascinating because it reminds me about neurons long -term potentiation that we learned in unit three. According to Hbb's rule "cells that fire together, wire together", this means the activity of one neuron will tend to produce the activity of the other neuron. This is the reason why Taxi drivers developed large hippo campus. The process of long term memory starts in hippocampus and stored permanently in the brain cortex. The reason I chose this topic is memory is very essential to our daily life in order to survive.

Source - from Lilienfeld psych# 1001 text

The Secret Language of Twins

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The majority of us who has surfed YouTube to waste time may have came upon this video of two adorable twins talking to each other. Perhaps they were arguing if they should raid the refrigerator or do something about the mess on the kitchen floor. Whatever the case may be they seemed to have a language of their own that they can only understand- known as cryptophasia (Lilienfed, 2010). However, the secret is out. For those who believe that this bond helps them invent secret, they are wrong.

Although, around 40% of twins have this phenomenon, it usually disappears later on (Bakker, 1987). This babbling between siblings is not limited to twins; Bakker suggests that children who grow up together during the language acquisition period use each other as model to practice their language skills. However, this can result in long-term language impairment. If they are only talking to each other, they are using language with significant amounts of error. Additionally, the twins can't correct each other because they tend to make similar kinds of errors so that speech is only understandable to them, but not to us. Therefore, encouraging them to play with other kids and correcting them on their speech helps develop their language skills.

As for their funny hand gestures, the twins may have picked this up from their own parents or other adults by observational learning- learning by watching others. Even though this video may have provided us with two minutes of mindless entertainment, we have to remind ourselves to take a step back and realize that they don't have a secret language. We have to evaluate these extraordinary claims using our knowledge about learning, language and reasoning to help us understand what is going on and why it occurs.

Bakker, Peter. Autonomous languages of twins. Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae: Twin Research, Vol 36(2), 1987, 233-238.

Lilienfeld, Scott, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Custom Edition for the University of Minnesota ed. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010.

Near-Death Experience

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This article describes a recent study with an explanation for near-death experiences (NDE's). It suggests that the experiences are tricks the mind plays on itself as a result of a large amount of carbon-dioxide being released into the bloodstream.
There is evidence that people, who have either inhaled excess carbon-dioxide or been at high altitudes, have experienced sensations similar to NDE's, giving more credibility to the study. Anything that damages the brain can account for this experience, including excess carbon-dioxide.
Articles found here and here give similar views of the study.


There does not appear to be enough evidence to support this extraordinary claim. A scientist, who disputed this claim said, "There is no coherent cerebral activity which could support consciousness, let alone an experience with the clarity of a NDE. I'm sure it would be very easy for the researchers in charge of this study to fall victim to the confirmation bias. Of the 52 patients who were admitted to one of three hospitals after having a heart attack, only 11 of them reported a near-death experience. It seems likely that the researchers are looking for a correlation that might not be there. Not only is there evidence, in their own study, that the correlation may not exist, but it is based on some immeasurable variables. Yes, they can measure the carbon-dioxide levels, but to pair high levels with NDE's, how can the researchers tell if a patient actually experienced a NDE except by asking them and hoping they'll answer honestly? There will be instances where patients will experience a NDE and not remember and times when they don't experience a NDE and report that they did. This study seems flawed because it is based on the patients memory, which may not be flawless all the time.

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.

False Memories

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False Memory.jpgOne of the topics I like the most so far has been the false memories: when good memories goes bad topic. Soon as days ago I was studying for another class test using an old test provided as reference by the instructor. While I review the practice test I notice that some of the questions were not covered in class. I keep studying and reviewing the test while moments later I imagine the professor lecturing about the topics 'not covered in class'. I said: "yeah she covered but I was distracted and I don't copy any notes". False Memory! Later at the week the instructor email the class noticing that the practice test was a guide of the format of the test, not the topics the test will be about. I was right, the topics were not covered yet, but I have the false memory that they were..
Like in my recently case, our brain creates false memories that appeared to be 100% real. What cause or produce these false memories? Schemas and memory mistakes; "schemas can sometimes create problem for us, because they lead us to remember things that never happened"(Lilienfeld, 2010).
In other different cases of false memories we can have other factors causing it. In summary, are memory mistakes, we need to be aware that our brain is very powerful but it can have some mistakes including false memories. To know more about the imperfection of memory we can study the seven sins of memory and being aware of what can happen to us one day.

Misinformation Effect

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Misinformation effect is an event where fictitious memories are created from misleading information about the event after it has taken place. I believe this concept is extremely important because this concept is frequently used people in the judicial system, persuasive speeches, and everyday conversations.
Throughout history lawyers and prosecutors have used the misinformation effect to implant fictitious memories to prosecute or acquit people. As shown by Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer, by inserting different words in the phrase "About how fast were the cars going when they _____ each other?", such as hit, bumped, collided, or smashed; lawyer can create different assumptions and or memories by changing how they phrase their argument. Lawyers are not the only ones guilty from using this, government and influential groups have used this to spread fictitious propaganda about events past.
Personally I am a victim of the misinformation effect. Like many parents, my parents have used the misinformation effect to scare the crap out of me or influence me to do things. They would recreate elaborate stories to convince us not play in the dark, swim in the lake; hang out with friends, etc. They would tell us stories about people who drown because their friends "pushed" them in or by use other fancy words when it was merely an accident. As a result, majority of my siblings, including me, do not know how to swim.

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

Memory Deterioration is the process of memories deteriorating by means of aging, injuries and accidents, or brain diseases. But why do these causes make our memories worse? Is it the only cause? Many people try to come up with only one conclusion or two, but there are actually many reasons for why our memories deteriorate, and there is usually not just one hypotheses explaining this. This is important for studying the effects of memory on humans/animals, also for studying certain diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and many other brain problems relating to memory. In real life, one America acquires Alzheimer's disease every 72 seconds. But why? Is it only because we age? As we take a look at this video, it explains how Alzheimer's is another progressive neuro-degenerative disease, through the views of the patients, doctors, and results.

As we can once again tell, it is evident that the actually cause of Alzheimer's disease hasn't been established yet. Will we ever know the cause? There are causes such as neurofibrillary tangles which create the loss of synapses, but this isn't the cause of memory deterioration, because correlation doesn't equal causation. There could've been an alternative reason to why patients that have those diseases, lose memory. This could be because with a loss of synapses comes a death and deterioration of acetylcholine neurons.
Some common myths of Alzheimer's is that "Memory loss is a natural part of aging." Although this can be seen to be true by many, it has not yet been scientifically proven,and the research still needs to be addressed. Also, there are people in real life that don't lose much of their memory as their age(but we should still keep in mind that their memory isn't always as reliable as it should be).

Lillenfield Textbook

Memories are usually what remain over time to help us remember events, right? Well believe it or not, some of your memories could be false memories. False memories are memories that did not actually occur; you just think that they happened. One example of this would be having a parent or guardian tell you vivid details about how you were lost in the mall as a child. At first you do not believe them but then you start to picture yourself in the situation and soon enough you believe that it happened. Surely, it never did. Details were just planted into your head and you believed that they were true. This is what Elizabeth Loftus did in a study at the University of California.
My question is though, are false memories and déjà vu linked? Some scientists say that on can experience déjà vu after doing something that they were unconscious of at the time of the event. So it makes me wonder. Can false memories also be a part of déjà vu? I think that it seems pretty plausible. Obviously false memories do not cause déjà vu (correlation vs causation) but it could be an explanation.
A real life example for myself is that I imagine that I am snowboarding in Colorado, something I have never done before. I think about all the details ranging from the temperature to my apparel I'm wearing. It's so vivid that I imagine that I actually was there. Then three months later I'm actually snowboarding in Colorado and I experience déjà vu. Did my implantation of a false memory spark an episode of déjà vu?

Memories: Are They All Real?

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False Memory.jpgFor last week's discussion we were assigned to read an article on the Paul Ingram case. The tragic story started when Paul's daughter, Ericka, went on a church retreat and was confronted by a speaker, Karla Franko. Franko insisted that she, "felt the Lord prompting her with information," and proceeded to tell Ericka that she had been sexually abused as a child. Once home, Ericka and her sister, Julie, began making accusations against their father, Paul, claiming that he had in fact molested them as children. Paul eventually confessed to the events after he had been manipulated, brainwashed and interrogated while secluded in jail.

This particular case arouses the question; did Paul actually sexually abuse his two daughters? Many may answer this question without any hesitation saying, "of course he did, he admitted it." However, they fail to acknowledge other very important aspects concerning the case.

In chapter seven of the Lilienfeld text, it introduces the idea of suggestive memory techniques and false memories. Suggestive memory techniques are described as persistent methods that work hard to assist people in recalling their memories, often creating recollections that were never present to begin with (false memories). These two concepts or ideas played a huge role in the Paul Ingram case, starting with Franko planting false memories in Ericka's head. Then while Paul was in jail, his Priest would relay the daughter's most recent story in full detail and constantly urge him to confess which caused him to also develop false memories. Furthermore, Dr. Richard Ofshe conducted an experiment that would test Paul's false memories. The study consisted of Ofshe explaining in vivid detail an event to Paul that never actually took place and then asking Paul to pray on it that night. The following day, Paul gave Ofshe a three-page confession of the event. Although this study proved of great significance, it was ignored due to Paul's inability to admit that it was not real.

I think that these concepts are very important and they should have been taken into greater consideration during Paul's case. Because police failed to further evaluate these concepts and how they related to Paul, an innocent man was forced to serve fifteen years of his life behind bars.

Paul's confession was heard well over the lack of evidence and the questionable stories that his daughters provided. Why? Was it because the girls made multiple, detailed claims? Or was it because Paul failed to deny any of the claims? Is everybody susceptible to false memories? Do false memories have enough validity to be used in the justice system?

Click here to watch an experiment about creating false memories.

Memory and Justice

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Professor Randy Fletcher discussed the wide field of memory during lecture. He mentioned that memory can be changed or influenced by many factors such as people or events. One example that we looked at during discussion section was that of Paul Ingram. One important outcome of this case was his confession to a crime that he did not commit. Dr. Richard Ofshe, a social scientist, had designed an experiment that would help prove his innocence, but ironically, this experiment solidified Paul Ingram's belief in committing the crimes alleged by his daughters.
A specific aspect that I was interested in was the fact that the authorities were convinced that Paul was guilty. This is significant to other real-world situations because authorities should be on the side of justice. Innocent suspects should not have to go to jail or prison. I thought the saying was "innocent until proven guilty." In this case, the authorities seemed sure that Paul had committed the crime. I thought about the many TV shows about crime that I watch occasionally, and I wondered if instances like Paul's could apply in this context. Could it be possible that some of the people that are put are actually innocent? It's important to realize that not all people convicted of a crime are guilty, and that corrupt parts of the justice system do not actually serve justice in the sense that we as a society hold in such high regard.

black-cat.jpgResearchers from Kansas State University developed three reasons for superstitious behavior: to gain control over uncertainty, to decrease feelings of helplessness, and because it is easier to rely on superstition instead of coping strategies. One of the major discoveries was that people who believe that chance and fate control their lives are more likely to be superstitious.

In the first study done, the researchers conducted questionnaires with 200 undergraduates, asking about how pessimistic they were, whether they believed in chance or fate, if they liked to be in control and other questions. In order for these discoveries to be credible, other researchers should be able to replicate these findings. For the results to be more reliable, the questionnaires could have been sent out to people of different ages, and more than 200 should be used. These suggestions could help to eliminate bias. In the second study, it was found that when faced with death, people are likely to abandon superstition altogether. Thinking about death would make people feel helpless, and would actually reduce their superstitious belief. link to article

In contrast, according to the Lilienfeld text, superstitions are due mostly to operant conditioning. Shown by a study done by Skinner involving pigeons and food, superstitious behavior is caused by actions linked to reinforcement by sheer coincidence. The pigeons received reinforcement no matter what they did, but the behavior that the pigeons performed right before being reinforced was strengthened, so they kept on doing it-thinking that that behavior would increase the chances of receiving the food. This reasoning of operant conditioning could be seen as one of the six principles of critical thinking- Occam's Razor, because it is a more simple explanation.

Do you remember way back in 3rd grade when if you answered a question right in class, or helped a classmate out voluntarily, or picked up a piece of garbage in the hallway and threw it out your teacher gave you piece of candy as a reward? Yeah those were the days. Well, this is an perfect example of a positive reinforcement. A positive reinforcement is a reward given to increase the likelihood of good behavior in a given situation.
This doesn't just apply to 3rd graders it applies to everyone. I think this is important, especially at a young age, because it teaches our brains to associate doing something good for our surrounding community or ourselves with a good feeling or sense of well-being after we do it. I feel positive reinforcement is one key feature in a child's development in order for them to grow up understanding the whole concept of "work hard, play hard". If you work hard and apply yourself, you will be able to someday live your dream. In this case, the 'working hard and applying yourself' is the positive reinforcement for being able to someday live your dream.

Here is an excellent/funny example of positive reinforcement from the T.V show The Big Bang Theory


This not to be confused with negative reinforcement, which is the removal of something that increases the likelihood of good behavior. Like a police officer removing a taser from a caught suspect after a wild police pursuit. The removal of the taser would give the suspect relief and therefore lead them to now stop fighting with the police.

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.



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One of the most interesting concepts of memory that I remember learning about is chunking. It applies directly to short-term memory, which is where we store a majority of our information we acquire for 3-15 seconds.

Hypothetically let's assume a teacher assigns you to memorize the first and last names of 5 presidents. Abraham Lincoln, Chester Arthur, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon. The initials of their first and last names are ALCABOBCRN. If you were to try and remember the 10 letters of both their first and last names in random order, you would most likely fail at putting that information into your extended short term memory. On the other hand, using chunking would help ingrain that information into your extended short term memory and even better, help you pass the task that your teacher has assigned. My best example of chunking this data would be CAR-NBC-BOAL. Chester Arthur, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Abraham Lincoln.

This is a great example of using a memory concept to help train your brain to remember information. Anyone can memorize tons of information if they just put meaning behind it. My favorite example to date is Rajan Mahadevan who memorized the first 31,811 digits of pi by using chunking and linking all the numbers with important historical numbers and dates.

Intent vs. Impact

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For anyone who watched the Lions/49ers game last Sunday afternoon, it is clear to see that one's initial intention can be taken the wrong way. Last week, after the 49ers upset the Lions with a victory, the head coach took the walk across the field to do the traditional post game handshake. In all of excitement, the 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh shook Lions' head coach, Jim Schwartz's hand "too hard." Following the game, Harbaugh admits "Personally I can get better at the post game handshake" (NFL.com). Following the handshake, the two head coaches were involved in an altercation that overshadowed the actual game.

The dispute that took place over the handshake is an example of how one's intent can be interpreted differently depending on the situation. After reading chapter 8, we have all learned how complex language is and how there are many different ways to interpret others' words and actions. Interpretation is made even more unclear with the amount of technology surrounding us. Facebook, texting, emailing, etc. present even more difficulties in realizing one's intention because we do not hear the person's tone. For example, one could wrongly interpret a friend's text if that text has only periods, or a brief answer. The person receiving the text may believe that their friend is mad without knowing why, which could lead to hurt feelings.

So the next time someone steps on your toe, spills your drink, or in the case of Jim Schwartz, shakes your hand too hard, don't fret about it. Although the impact may come off as intentional, you don't actually know the thinking behind that person.

Intent vs. Impact

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For anyone who watched the Lions/49ers game last Sunday afternoon, it is clear to see that one's initial intention can be taken the wrong way. Last week, after the 49ers upset the Lions with a victory, the head coach took the walk across the field to do the traditional post game handshake. In all of excitement, the 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh shook Lions' head coach, Jim Schwartz's hand "too hard." Following the game, Harbaugh admits "Personally I can get better at the post game handshake" (NFL.com). Following the handshake, the two head coaches were involved in an altercation that overshadowed the actual game.

The dispute that took place over the handshake is an example of how one's intent can be interpreted differently depending on the situation. After reading chapter 8, we have all learned how complex language is and how there are many different ways to interpret others' words and actions. Interpretation is made even more unclear with the amount of technology surrounding us. Facebook, texting, emailing, etc. present even more difficulties in realizing one's intention because we do not hear the person's tone. For example, one could wrongly interpret a friend's text if that text has only periods, or a brief answer. The person receiving the text may believe that their friend is mad without knowing why, which could lead to hurt feelings.

So the next time someone steps on your toe, spills your drink, or in the case of Jim Schwartz, shakes your hand too hard, don't fret about it. Although the impact may come off as intentional, you don't actually know the thinking behind that person.


This article, is all about sleep. it goes on to say how important good sleep habits are and what it can lead to if you aren't on a regular sleeping schedule. This article states how not getting enough sleep can lead to; decreased performance and alertness, stress, poor quality of life, injury, and even obesity. It also states that there are over 85 different kind of sleep disorders in the world today affecting over 70 million americans. It shows how sleep disorders are related to many other more serious conditions. Chronic snoring and sleep apnea can be associated with heart and brain disease. There are so many problems in sleep out there today and less than 10% of the population with these disorders have been diagnosed.
This article pertains to my life in may ways. I am now a full time college student so I need sleep. this article helps me realize how truly important sleep is. Getting enough sleep helps you physically and mentally, from staying alert in class, to performing well on activities and other jobs you may have. Getting enough sleep is also very important to stay healthy. It maintains a stronger immune system and helps with obesity in the long run. Getting enough sleep is also gives you a better chance of not getting any heart/brain related diseases. This article makes me wonder if I have any sleep related illnesses that should be looked at by a doctor because of all the statistics they mention.


'Behavioral learning' is the nice name that the slave masters have found for 'consumer conditioning'.
Classical conditioning - behavior is influenced by a stimulus that occurs prior to the behavior and elicits it in a manner that appears to be a reflex. Advertisers try to identify messages, sights or sounds that will elicit positive reactions from consumers to associate their product with a positive stimuli - thus eliciting a positive reaction to the product (half-naked babe on the car roof). svedka_bot_15nyc102610.jpg
Stores and mall all over the world know that the tempo of music played in the store resulted in various shopping speeds by consumers. The slower (and rithmic) the music, the slower (and almost trance-inducted) the shopping speed, the more (up to 40% !!) groceries purchased. La va sans dire that the customers would NOT have purchased this surplus if they could have maintained self-control. It is also obvious that music is only ONE of the 'hypnotizing' factors in play. Note that customers are completely unaware of any differences in music cadence, since the effects of music operate at below consciousness levels. Music is also used purposely elsewhere: take restaurants: although customers take more time to complete their dinners when slow music is played, liquor sales increase. Every time the consumers take longer to eat, the time spent waiting for food increase the sales of liquor & aperitifs & second bottles of wine or mineral water made while waiting for the food... a trade off between number of times a table can be used and higher recipes per consumer... so to say a "slow food benefit" vis-à-vis fast food joints.

This article suggests a very interesting way to improve your memory. It states that simply moving your eyes back and forth in a horizontal movement will strengthen your memory skills. This is very interesting, and seems to make logical sense. Especially when even our textbook states that there is a large amount of evidence that both the right and left side of the frontal lobe are involved in memory, therefore linking the two together would strengthen what we remember, right?


The main focus of this article is how these eye movements affect recall and recognition memory. The main experiment that they talked about was the "Lure" test. In this test they presented college students with lists of words that were all focused around a word, without actually saying that word. This tested both their original recognition abilities, and also how likely they were to fall to prey to memory illusions. They actually found that about 10 percent of those who used the eye movement technique ended up being about to retain more words and 15 percent were less likely to fall prey to those dreaded lure words. This is very exciting news, because it means that we are making progress in finding ways to help us improve our memory.

However, even the main researcher behind the article states that this information is simply speculative. Therefore, we cannot prove much of anything just yet. What we can conclude from this article is that we may have more plasticity in our memory than originally thought. Taking on memory one step (or eye roll) at a time.

50 First Dates

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In the film 50 first dates, Adam Sandler plays a character that meets a girl played by Drew Barrymore named Lucy. In the film Lucy is portrayed to be suffering from anterograde amnesia. The effects of this type of amnesia include the inability to create new memories, while holding on to other long-term memories. The film uses the fact that Lucy suffered terrible brain damage in a car accident a few years back. Brain trauma is a common way that people can be inflicted with anterograde amnesia, and the film effectively portrays this in an accurate fashion.

Although this movie is meant mainly to be a comedy they do a good job of portraying anterograde amnesia pretty accurately. Lucy has as much knowledge of her long-term memory prior to the accident as any person not suffering from amnesia. She remembers all the details of her family, and what she did the day of her accident, but is just not able to recall any recent memories. Throughout the movie Adam Sandler's character Henry tries to help Lucy remember how they met, and that they were currently seeing each other, but never makes any real progress in creating any new memories in Lucy all throughout.

In the movie 50 First Dates Lucy is unable to build any new memories past the day of her accident, and at the end of every day she goes to sleep and wakes up with no knowledge of the previous day, or any day following her accident. This part of the movie is border line inaccurate for the reason that a lot of the people that suffer from anterograde amnesia have trouble remembering what they did even earlier in the day, while Lucy finds no struggle with this, but magically when she goes to sleep all of her memory is lost. Her span of memory is a bit too exact to deem this film entirely correct on how people suffering from anterograde amnesia would carry themselves through a day. A better representation of a daily pattern of someone suffering from anterograde amnesia would be Dory from the film Finding Nemo. Dory continues to forget information she had learned earlier throughout the day, and this more accurately reflects anterograde amnesia, rather than the retaining of memories and information until bedtime.

The film 50 First Dates represents a relatively accurate portrayal of how people with anterograde amnesia are affected. Although there are a few parts of the film that can be pointed out to be a little fictional, for the most part the film reflects the condition quite accurately, especially compared with a lot of the other options for films with people that suffer from amnesia, and more specifically, anterograde amnesia.

Through the class lectures and videos, and keeping up with the book, I have become interested in the split-brain procedure. The split brain procedure involves severing the corpus callosum and separating the right and left sides of the brain. This procedure was done a long time ago without knowledge of the affects, and it would not be completed in present day solely for research purposes. Split brain surgery is done to cure epilepsy, and is best to be done at an early age, so each part of the brain can accommodate and learn functions of the opposite side.

Roger Sperry did experiments and discovered that the left and right brains do serve specific and different purposes. When the corpus callosum is severed, the two sides are unable to communicate. This was found through the inability for items in the left visual field to be spoken about, because the language center of the brain is on the left side, and the visual fields pair up with the opposite side of the brain. It was also found that our brain recognizes items in both visual fields, but only items on the right can be spoken aloud. We know they are recognized because patients could draw items that were shown on the left side, but they didn't know why they were drawing them. They were unaware that they had recently seen a picture of that item. This article talks about this topic and explains the experiments. (I don't know how to do an actual link, I copied and pasted the url, and that usually creates a hyperlink in other things.)


I think this is a very interesting topic and could correlate with the question of "Are some people left brained or right brained?"

The most interesting thing that I learned from the Loftus's article should be people's memory can be planted by others. The subjects from psychology experiments were persuaded by investigators that they had experienced something but actually they never did. Those investigators were using fairly strong suggestions to make the subjects confidently and the false memories were given persuasively. The strong suggestions involved family members construct scenarios and mix true and false memories together and feed them to subjects. This procedure is called ''familial-informant false-narrative procedure'' but it's also called "lost in the mall procedure" for short. In the real world, people use a technique which is called guided imagination. This can increase people's confidence to believe that they have had experience which actually they have not. This is a seriously problem in our society, according to the beginning of Loftus's paper. A lot of innocent people went prison and spent very long time because the victims had false memories.
My best memory is that I and my parents had a vacation on an island. It was very good of course but the reason why I think that is the best is that it is the only vacation we have ever had with each other. Every time I tell that to other people, I always add some "extra juice" that I was not sure that have happened and when I look at the pictures, I did not find the actually evidence. For example, I remember I have seen an elephant show that allow audience to go on the stage and lie down, they will make an elephant to pretend step on his body but without pain, so that people can take pictures. I barely remember that I went on the stage and let the elephant do that to me. I can even remember I felt worried and excited at that time, but when I asked my parents, they told me that I only fed the elephant and didn't take the picture that elephant step on me. I was shocked when I heard that, because I can even feel my mouth felt bitter when I tell that story.
In my opinion, it is really important for people to recall past experience accurate. A lot of people go the prison because the victims' bad memories and their wrong recollection of past experience and this tragedy is only the tip of the ice-berg. 733_elephant_rex_18c0d9b0a23313b71.jpg

Memory is a funny thing. There are times when you can remember a certain event like you're watching it on TV. But there are also times when, unless there's something making that memory reappear, you can't recall that same memory whatsoever. By definition, memory is the ability to retain certain knowledge and occurrences over time. It is commonly known that the older you become, the worse your memory becomes. But is memory loss truly inevitable?
Yes there are certain conditions where you cannot escape memory loss, like amnesia or Alzheimer's; but in general, you are the only thing standing in the way of a healthy, life-long memory. A few ways to help improve your memory and keep it healthy include your general health: making sure that you are consuming the necessary vitamins and minerals that help create and maintain strong and healthy memory, and practicing your common knowledge by continuously testing the brain. This website provides a list of vitamins and minerals, as well as safety precautions for these vitamins and minerals, that the authors established, through numerous tests, can help improve your memory and overall brain function.
There are other ways you can strengthen your memory. One very good way is by using memory games and tests. For example, one website that will help improve overall brain function and memory is that of Lumosity. It is a website that creates a personalized training program for you to improve your memory. I have personally tested it. I was able to tell through one session that if one were to make these sessions a daily thing, they would help improve memory and brain function in the future.
By strengthening your memory and brain as you age, you're more likely to be an elderly person who is still able to communicate with their families, still has their personality and loves life just the way it is. Don't let yourself succumb to the possibility of forgetting your loved ones and all of your knowledge that took you years to learn; protect your brain, keep it healthy and agile. When you're older, you will look back and say "Man, I'm glad I did that!". For what's a few little memory tests as opposed to years of forgetting?

Impact of False Memories

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430.jpgMemory illusions. Before the topic arose in class, I believed anyone who came up with "false memories" had to be crazy! Now I see how easy it is, according to Loftus's findings as well as the tragedy of the Ingram case. False memories can be implanted and encouraged through suggestion, or simply misleading information. This article says even watching a simple video of someone can create a false memory of yourself doing the action! This finding is incredibly important to take into consideration when it comes to heavy court cases that effect the lives of those involved. As we had experienced in class (refer to above picture) we could see that a list of words could create a false memory, but think about if we were to enter a court case similar to the Ingram family? Or any case that needs vital information for that matter... False memories have the potential to impact any court case because of how convincing the information seems. In other words, other people have potential to control situations of court if they use the right technique. This, in my opinion, should be taken into deep consideration for law review, so that any type of suggesting a false memory should be struck down by the court because it is completely invalid. The only problem is, who knows when it is a false memory or not? Those same suggestions and memories are what the court is trying to determine, anyways. I wonder if more research could help identify what constitutes a memory as being "false" if we had no prior knowledge to the suggestion of that memory. For now, however, we should stick to hard evidence as the courts are supposed to be.

Memento.jpgIn the movie, Memento, Leonard, played by Guy Pearce, is an ex-insurance investigator who is hunting down his wife's murderer. Leonard's problem does not stop at searching for his wife's murderer, Leonard also has anterograde amnesia. He is incapable of creating new memories and he can only remember things for no more than a few minutes. Memento follows Leonard as he struggles to contain and remember the information that he collects that will lead him in finding his wife's murderer. He does not know who to trust but himself, the comments he wrote prior to forgetting on photos, and his own judgement. In the end, through all his struggles and difficulties, Leonard finds out the truth and discovers the person who had murdered his wife. (It's shocking to find out who it is!)

Memento fantastically portrays the life of a man who lives his day to day life with anterograde amnesia. They not only show how instantaneous his disorder effects him, it also shows how he manages and bypasses it day by day. For example, Leonard can only remember something for a few minutes, about ten minutes max. To bypass this difficulty in not remembering anything for more than those precious few minutes, Leonard takes photos of people and objects he encounters. With these photos he quickly scribbles down comments and his thoughts within those moments before he forgets. After those few minutes are up, Leonard forgets everything that has just occurred but all he has to do is look at these pictures and these notes to know where to continue on in searching for his wife. Just like Clive Wearing who also jots down notes after every several minutes because he feels he's just woken up, he is clueless as to what is written and why it was written. Also like Clive, Leonard recognizes that it his handwriting but unlike Clive, he tries to figure out the meaning behind what is written.

Not only does the movie show him jotting down things quickly in urgency he also tattoos them to his body. The movie shows Leonard's fight against this disorder, strongly depicting his emotions and reactions as he reads the words, phrases, dates, and names tattooed all over his body. There are times where Leonard awakens and is afraid because he does not understand and know his whereabouts but when he looks in the mirror, his prior self from hours or even minutes before has tattooed onto his body what has happened, in addition to the photos and post-it notes. Every time he looks in the mirror he goes through the same emotions of learning how his wife died, what he should be looking for, and to avenge his wife.

The emotions depicted within this movie shows the clueless innocence of a man struggling with the anterograde amnesia and how difficult it is to live day by day never remembering anything new. It is just as our psychology textbooks depicts, a person with anterograde amnesia is unable to create explicit memories. But unlike our textbooks, it portrays and reveals a life of man with this problem, trying to move on with life and find a solution to what he remembers last, his wife being murdered. This film is a fantastic choice when wanting to depict the struggles of someone with anterograde amnesia and how they bypass & live life with this problem.

I strongly recommend those who haven't seen yet to watch this movie, it is in many ways impactful and makes us realize how we take our memories and remembering for granted. You can see the trailer here.

Do you ever forget about an upsetting memory, but then the next time you are in a sad mood; you can't help but remember it? If you have, you're experiencing mood-dependent learning. This means that people find that when they recall memories that are bad than good when in a bad mood, and good rather than bad when they are in a good mood. To me this is so true, because it literally is the story of my life. Every time I'm in a bad mood, I can't help but reminisce on the memories that I thought I had finally forgotten. The memories are the ones that are full of heartbreak and tears. There are specific ones that never even cross my mind until I'm in a sad mood. I find it so interesting that our minds are able to do this to us. I mean they are so good at tricking us, then bam! those memories hit you like a bus. Penelope A. Lewis and Hugo D. Critchley wrote an article explaining the whole concept of mood-dependent memory very well. They go back all the way to 1917, the first dated time that mood influenced memory was noted. They all talk about the evidence that has been used to support this concept. To me this concept is very applicable in everyone's life. I think if people actually think of they realize that this concept does truly affect them. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=MiamiImageURL&_cid=271877&_user=616288&_pii=S1364661303002183&_check=y&_coverDate=2003-10-31&view=c&_gw=y&wchp=dGLbVlV-zSkWb&_valck=1&md5=183b8bdfa9f336cbe98306de250d87cd&ie=/sdarticle.pdf

solitary-show.jpgOur short term memory retains information for only short periods of time. In fact, it is probably no longer then 20 seconds. The television show Solitary is a reality show that takes nine participants and challenges them both mentally and physically for a cash reward. In the second episode of the second season, participants are shown a message one word at a time and asked to memorize it and then repeat it back. However, if they want to see the message again, they have to move a stack of bricks across the room.

The first time the participants saw the message, it went too fast for them to read all the words. So, they asked to see it slower the next time. However, the next viewing went so slow that the entire message took around 4 minutes. Many of the participants said that this was actually worse. Why would that be? After all, they could clearly see every word. The problem is that the message took so long that it wasn't in their short term memory anymore. An explanation for this is decay. Decay is when the information from our memory fades over time. Another explanation is interference. Interference is when we lose our short term memory because there is too much competition from other information that we are acquiring.
In order to prolong their short-term memories, many of the participants used rehearsal. Some used both rehearsal and chunking. In the end, the participants finally memorized the message using these popular techniques. Knowing how our short-term memory works is very important because it allows us to use techniques to better our short-term memory. I would like to know, however, what the exact reasons are for why it took some participants longer than others to memorize the message.

A Feature of Language

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One of Jesse McCartney's hit singles is about body language. He makes it clear, when reading through his lyrics, that he (like most teenagers) needs some help on reading certain forms of body language.

Body Language is defined as a form of nonverbal communication consisting of body postures, gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and eye movements.
This can also be defined as extralinguistic information.

Teenagers struggle, now more than ever, on reading body language.
This is due to many new technologies, including:



An example was given in the book of a simple situation including a girl just saying "It's just awful in here!"

How do we figure out what she's referring too? This is where body language interpretation is a necessity.

Is she in a hot room?
Is she on a crowded bus?
Crowded Bus.jpg
Or is she smelling something fishy?

We would only be able to determine this by reading into her body language or by viewing the extralinguistic information that is being given.

One of (possibly the most important) features of language, is as simple as body language.
So turn the phones off and close the computers, even you, Jesse McCartney.

The article that I recently found was describing why children should be taught a second language early in life. The article "Can Preschool Children Be Taught a Second Language?" explained how it is much easier for a young child to learn a language than an adult. First, they explained how children are totally immersed in the language, it is easier to learn. According to the article, "when people immerse themselves in a language like children, through play and exploration, they can learn a language quickly and easily."
The article also gives tips on how to allow the children to learn a second language easier. Some examples are learning by doing, learning by talking to each other, and learning by having fun.
This article also includes vocab such as babbling, which happens in the first six months of life. This is one way the child learns the language, and therefore, it could transform into any language the parent wants it to. During the first few years of life, children form their main learning pathways.
Learning a new language is by far easier to do when one is younger because they are already leaning one language, and an easily transfer that into learning a second language. Also, it becomes much harder for one to learn a language when one starts high school, which is when most Americans start learning one. Learning at a younger age is much easier than at an older age.

Children are known to have wild imaginations, and, beyond that, they are known for being easily influenced and vulnerable. What others say and do, especially those that children look up to as authorities, can change children's actions and ideas. Beyond that, they can influence a child's own thoughts and memories through suggestibility.

Problems have resulted due to children's susceptibility to others, especially among cases involving sexual abuse. Generally, sexual abuse of children leaves no physical evidence, leading to a case solely revolving around the child's word against the accused. However, it has often been found that investigators using leading or suggestive questions may change the child's explanation and accusations. In cases such as these, it is incredibly important that the truth be told as real abusers need to be caught and those that are falsely accused be set free instead of facing jail time for a crime that they never committed. Research has been conducted to see how suggestions from adults can lead children to admit to things that never actually happened. For example, in the study found HERE, it was found that children would accurately answer questions before the leading questions, but, once the leading questions were presented, children (especially those ages 3 and under) were much more likely to make mistakes in their recollections.

Clearly, this is a very important issue as it is vital for children to have accurate interpretations of memories in order to give the true description of events that may or may not have led to their harm. The presence of suggestive questions can hinder or help an investigation, depending on whether these questions lead to the actual truth or simply a false conclusion due to the direction the questions were heading. Questions for further consideration include: What types of suggestive questions are alright? When are leading questions too much? When do they simply lead a child to give incorrect answers? Deriving the truth from memories should always be an important focus for investigators, especially when dealing with those who are impressionable, such as young children.

While reading the section of chapter seven about false memories, I was reminded of a movie called The Fourth Kind. In this movie, a psychologist uncovers her patients' regressed memories, of being abducted by aliens, while the patients are under hypnosis. This movie claims to be one-hundred percent backed up by real case studies, which I find hard to believe. If these events really did happen, however, there is a more parsimonious explanation to these "memories" than an alien abduction. The text book claims that false memories can be induced under hypnosis. The patients didn't remember being abducted by aliens before they were hypnotized, only after. The book also states that false memories can seem to be very real, in some cases subjects of an experiment insisted that the memories they had actually happened (Ceci et al. 1994), (Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, p. 274). In my opinion, if these events actually happened, which I doubt they did, the memories where convincing false memories, not in fact real alien abductions.

Classical conditioning happens so often, that usually we don't even understand why we react a certain way to the things we react to. Classical conditioning is when someone or something (like an animal) reacts to a normal stimulus that was paired with another stimulus, sometimes an odd one, until we always get the same response for the previously normal stimulus, even without the odd stimulus. Have you ever reacted to something, thinking "Oh, that happens all the time"? Now think, have you ever thought about if you react to that stimulus the same way every time? For example, if we hear a bell behind us and we assume it's a bicycle, wouldn't we try to move out of the way? The original stimulus was a bell, and it was paired with the stimulus of a bike driving past us, and since we always needed to get out of the way, we assume we have to get out of the way for anything that could be a bike. This is an example of classical conditioning.

Watch the following video of classical conditioning on the very funny show the Office.


Although this is a bit farfetched, it's not too far from the truth of how classical conditioning really works. This is such an important concept in Psychology because we can be classically conditioned to do something, with no awareness it's even happening. This makes this a source of power in many circumstances, because in the right situation we can make someone react to a stimulus in the way we program them to (a very scary thought). Classical conditioning, although not generally a part of everyday thoughts, is a very powerful force in everyday life.

aphasia:i can't speak!

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Sarah Scott,a 19 years old girl who suffers from aphasia, a communication disorder.She find she can't speak any word after she get an unexpected ischemic stroke.
Aphasia is a kind of impairment of language ability which is caused by the advantage hemisphere damaged.As different area and extent of brain is damaged ,aphasia is divided into several types such as anomic aphasia、receptive aphasia and global aphasia and so on.
Lots of reason can make us get aphasia like cerebrovascular disease and craniocerebral trauma.
They make our advantage hemisphere broken and we can not find the word we want to say.
For example,if our brain is Wikipedia,the database is run but there is some trouble with Search tool .We can't find the information we need though we know the word.
Aphasia patients are suffering because they are still smart and have their own mind but they can't show it and talk with others.
Up to now ,scientists are still discovering effective way to cure it and improve patients' life.


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Iridology is the idea that areas of the body are represented in a particular part of the iris. In the study of iridology, each section of the iris in both left and right eyes is divided up almost like a pie into different parts of the body, and from that iridologists can then determine which part of the body is diseased or not functioning properly. Examination of the eye, including the iris, by a trained physician can at times be an indication of diseases that affect the eye, for example diabetes. However, there is no evidence that each part of the iris represents different organs and other parts of the body. Iridology charts, which can vary greatly depending on the chart, are referred to by iridologists to determine which organ is diseased. Though in double blind placebo-controlled studies, a trained iridologist has been able to correctly diagnose the disease. In these studies, iridologists examined the actual iris of both diseased and healthy patients, and recorded their diagnosis. In all of these clinical studies using correct scientific procedure, the iridologist could not produce a correlation between specific patterns of the iris and the presence or absence of disease, besides chance. Therefore the examination of the iris is of no clinical use in diagnosing disease in other parts of the body not relating directly to the eye itself. There has never been a proven correlation between the presence of patterns on the iris and disease in other parts of the body. So I think it would be wise for everyone to stick to their normal diagnostic processes.


Goo Goo Ga Ga

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Babies are known to babble which is considered a form of language due to the fact that they are producing a sounds like words. Babies begin to use babbling around 4-6 months old. This is when they say things such as ga goo da ma pa etc. It has been stated in our textbook that the babbling does not have meaning until it is a word, but I now question whether or not a baby's babble has meaning after watching this video.
This video shows to twin babies babbling to each other and laughing. They use extralinguistic language by using gestures with their hands and fluently babbling to each other and showing reactions such as laughing after each "babble sentence". The babbles even have a pitch difference as if they are actually communicating with each other. I believe babbling is a language that just babies can understand, especially in this case in the video where the babies are twins. Twins are known to have a bond and a language of their own, cryptophasia. This language between twins has been said to be caused by language delays in the production of language center, Broca's area. The Wernicke's area is the center for language comprehension. These both play off each other for babies producing words. Babies are known to comprehend words before produce them, such as how they listen when their name is called. They understand and comprehend (in this case in the video) and also produce sounds showing an intelligent insight. This viral video really precisely captures two twin babies having a conversation with each other. Sometimes science is falsifiable, and we must use critical thinking Occam's Razor to simply find what is happening to be true. These twins are having a conversation, and there I have no doubt about it.

Upon searching the web for an interesting topic to write this blog about, I found a humorous parody of the song "Memory" from the well known musical, "Cats." This video features a talented cabaret singer, Pam Peterson, as she spoofs on the slightly comical challenges of growing old. The song focuses on Pam's "senior moments" as she refers to them. Although the video's main purpose is to entertain the audience, the video contains a few scientific truths that deal with the aging brain.
The most repeated challenge that Pam depicts is the difficulty with remembering things. For example she sings phrases like , "What did I walk in this room for? What was that man's name? What was the question?" These are all common questions asked by the typical aging adult. As we discussed in class (also supported in a mental health article), the aging brain experiences several changes. The change most associated with memory loss is the weakening of the hippocampus. This creates a problem in both the retrieval and formation of memories because the hippocampus plays such a crucial role in directing information from the short-term memory to the long term. Without the hippocampus at full strength, memories can essentially be erased or tossed out. Pam continues in the song to sing, "I remember the old days. I was sharper back then." Very true when considering the science of the deteriorating hippocampus!
Not only does the hippocampus play a role in the aging memory, but other factors do as well. These factors include a decreased level of certain proteins and nutrients in the brain responsible for brain cell stimulation/survival and decreased blood flow throughout the brain. Unfortunately, once these processes begin, they are pretty much irreversible. So when Pam pleads, "If I eat fish and do crosswords everyday, will he brain cells grow back again?," the answer is an unfortunate no.
However, there is good news for those experiencing some of the misfortunes of aging. Although, different aspects of both short and long-term memory may not be as sharp as they once were, aging contributes to both an increased semantic memory and an increased procedural memory!

While looking online, I recently found an article about how false memories affect behavior. First of all, false memory is the act of recollecting an event that did not actually happen. I think that it is so interesting that this memory technique can have such powerful affects. In the article, psychologists did a study on students where they falsely told them that they had gotten sick from eating an egg sandwich when they were younger. In an experiment, they offered different types of sandwiches to the students, one option being the egg salad sandwich, and asked the students to evaluate the sandwiches. When observing students in four and eight month increments, research showed that the ones who had been told they had gotten sick still had a distinct change in attitude and behavior toward the egg salad sandwich. These results go to show that false suggestions about events can impact the way one acts in the future, hence why the students still believed that they had a negative experience with the food and therefore gave it lower evaluations than the other sandwiches. Also, I found it interesting that these psychologists said that using this false memories technique could help reduce obesity in people, by falsely leading them to believe that they had negative experiences with unhealthy foods in the past (steering them away from wanting to consume them in the future).

Here is the website for the article:

Bilingual Babies

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chinese_bilingual_baby_on_board.jpgWhile recently looking through articles online about studies involving language and psychology I came across a study that involved bilingual babies and if the brain is altered based on knowing one or two languages. The study involves analyzing infant's behavior based on where they turn their gazes and how long they pay attention to find out the infants perception of sound, words, and language. Also, they use this data to find out what is familiar or unfamiliar to the infant. However using these types of signals from the infants makes it very hard to replicate the experiment.

During the study they used this data to also discover if monolingual infants or bilingual infants had different developmental trajectories. The bilingual babies at six to nine months couldn't detect phonetic sounds in either language they were exposed to while monolingual babies could. However at ten to twelve months the monolingual babies could only recognize phonetic sounds in the language they were exposed to while bilingual babies could recognize them in both. These results make logical sense and very simple. This is an example of using Occam's razor.

At the end of the article it is discussed how being bilingual allows children to learn in a variety of ways and how they are prone to prefer certain languages based on ones that are similar to the ones they heard while in their mother's womb. These ideas are very similar to the ones discussed in the textbook. The textbook says that a certain language is typically dominant to a bilingual person which in this case would be the language heard by the child in the womb. To learn more about this study visit,

I'd Rather Be Dreaming

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Wouldn't it be nice if you could put away all of those college textbooks and learn all of their material while snoozing?! It sounds crazy, but that is what a lot of companies are proposing. They call it sleep-assisted learning. In their advertisements, they say that by listening to their CD's while you sleep, you can learn to speak a new language, stop smoking, or even reduce stress.

One website, called Sleep-Learning-Guide.com, says that you can, "learn almost anything while sleeping." (the website can be viewed here) It also says that, "Sleep-learning can aid greatly in time-saving, in increased efficiency, and in improving general knowledge."

This idea sounds absolutely insane! Learning while sleeping! Because this idea seems so out of the ordinary, we must evaluate it with a few of the principles of scientific thinking.

First, we must look at the principle of Extraordinary Claims. This principle means that when we evaluate claims that seem to contradict what we already know, they must have persuasive evidence to support them. In the early investigations of sleep-assisted learning, there did seem to be some evidence to support it.

However, the first reports failed to rule out other explanations for sleep-assisted learning. This is where another principle of scientific thinking comes in. They failed to use the principle of Ruling Out Rival Hypothesis. One possible explanation for sleep-assisted learning is that the recordings may have awakened the listeners. When experimenters improved the experiments and used EEGs to make sure the subjects were sleeping, they found little evidence to support sleep-assisted learning.

So according to what researchers have found, sleep-assisted learning programs do not actually work the way they are supposed to. One may only learn from the recordings if they continually wake up while listening. This is a good example of how we need to learn to evaluate all scientific findings with the six principles of scientific thinking. And the next time someone asks you if you would like to learn while sleeping, you can just respond, "I'd rather be dreaming."

Picture taken from:

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