March 2012 Archives

Dying to be Beautiful

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I feel like people have a lot of misconceptions concerning anorexia nervosa and similar eating disorders. Treating anorexia is not just about helping patients gain weight; it is about giving them appropriate psychiatric care. Self esteem is not easy to build up if you think you're ugly. I know because I struggled with this for almost my entire life. It's also hard to feel like you have some sense of control in uncontrollable situations. There are so many mental problems that come with anorexia and the like, and people need to appreciate these complexities.

People also think about anorexia as a "girl's disease", and certainly in most instances it is. However, what are we doing to help men who suffer from anorexia? In reality, the occurrence of male anorexia is a lot higher than most people would ever think, and these boys/men have an even more difficult time recovering from this disease because of the stereotypes and stigmas associated with the disease and with gender. Here is a link to an article and video regarding the occurrence of male anorexia:

Finally, people also don't understand how truly difficult it is for recovering anorexics to gain weight. Even after patients are getting a handle on their psychological problems, putting on a single pound is a giant challenge in a physiologic sense. I think the following video does an amazing job showing just how long the path to recovery is:

As many Americans aspire to lose weight, they are looking for the best diet and meal plans out there. Of course, advertisements hit people with thousands of different ways to lose weight, many of these methods being very unsuccessful and even harmful to the body. After much research, the best way to truly lose weight is to maintain a healthy diet as well as get a sufficient amount of exercise. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy snacks throughout the day may actually lead to a loss of weight.

Healthy Snacks.jpgGood Housekeeping presented a "Snack-All-Day Diet Plan" which consists of eating low calorie snacks throughout the day (about 180 calories per snack) and having about a 300 calorie dinner. The key here is that these snacks are healthy and low in calories. Suggested healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy products.

So why can't I just hold off until a regular meal and fight off my urge to eat snacks? This is a perfectly legitimate question. Eating three healthy and well-balanced meals throughout the day is just as reasonable and healthy as the "Snack-All-Day Diet Plan". However, the urge to overeat is more common with a three-planned-meal diet than with consuming low-calorie snacks throughout the day. As people get hungry, they might decide to "fight off" their hunger until the next meal. However, with this built up hunger, people are more likely to binge during their next meal. Binging, as we all know, leads to weight gain.

The "Snack-All-Day Diet Plan" is a very effective and reasonable way to lose weight, as confirmed by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. This diet plan, among others, is a great way for people to lose weight in a healthy way, stressing the fact that healthy diets and exercise are very important keys to maintaining a healthy body weight.

psych blog.jpgLie detector tests have become a popular image thanks to many popular TV shows and movies such as Meet the Parents, Lie to Me and Maury, making us believe that they are reliable. In reality, the idea that a machine is able to detect the validity of what a person is saying based on their psychophysiological changes is more of a lie than anything. Three indicators are commonly looked for in "lie detection" tests: heart rate/blood pressure, respiration and skin conductivity. There are three common types of questions that are asked during a lie detection test: relevant questions ("Did you do it?"), irrelevant questions ("Is your name John Doe?") and control questions ("Have you ever betrayed anyone who trusted you?"). If there is more physiological responses to the relevant questions than the control questions, a diagnosis of "deception" will be made, if there is a greater response to control questions, a "nondeception" diagnosis is reached, and finally if there is no difference between the relevant questions and the control questions, the test is considered "inconclusive."

The problem with these tests is that they typically aren't separated from placebo-like effects. It is very easy to alter the results of the test simply by clenching ones' teeth, biting ones' tongue, curling ones' toes or trying to solve complicated math problems in ones' head. Lie detector tests have "lied" to the people administering them many times, falsely convicting people of crimes that they didn't commit.
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This information brings us down to the final question: when will we stop believing in the machines that are supposed to detect lies, when all they do is lie to us about the results?

For more information on "lie detection" or polygraph tests, click here.

Am I a Good Parent??

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parenting styles.jpgWhen it comes to parenting, there are many different ideas on how to raise a child. Some people take ideas from their parents. Some get ideas from friends. Others read books or take classes on parenting. No one has all of the answers. Because of the many different approaches, psychology researchers, Diana Baumrind in particular, have tried to narrow down parenting styles into groups. They have come up with four categories that they feel can describe the various different parenting styles.

Permissive parenting is when the parents give the child a lot of freedom and show a tremendous amount of affection. They also rarely use discipline. Authoritarian parents give many demands to their child and rarely give them freedom to do what they please. They punish often and don't show a lot of affection. Authoritative parents give their child clear guidelines but also give them freedom and support. Finally, uninvolved parents tend to give little to no attention to their child.

Although Baumrind determined that authoritative parenting was the most beneficial for children because it gives them the best mix of permissive parenting and authoritarian parenting, it has been found that parenting styles don't matter as much as originally thought. As long as you provide your child with the appropriate amount of affection and discipline- the average expectable environment- they will turn out great.

So when it comes time to become parents, don't stress about knowing what each type of parenting style entails, and what style is best to adapt. Just make sure that you are giving them love, attention, and discipline and you will have yourself one well-raised, well-adjusted child.

Click here for more information on parenting styles or find out what your parenting styles would be!

Many of us gauge when or when not to eat food by the grumbling or empty feeling in our stomachs. However, what most people don't know is that our hunger levels are controlled in our brains, not our stomachs; sequences of hormones and signals along with the hypothalamus are responsible for when we want to eat. These chemical messengers can be to blame when it comes to overeating, a theory for the cause of obesity, or under eating.
Living in a high-tech and mediated world, we see models and celebrities on a daily basis. For many young women, and sometimes men, this pressure can cause them to see themselves as overweight and resort to drastic measures. Bulimia nervosa, the bingeing and purging of food, and anorexia nervosa, the starvation due to perception of being overweight, are the most common eating disorders.
payuke.jpgAccording to CBS News, there are even sites that promote anorexia or bulimia for the sake of "thinspiration," but Dr. Andrea Vazzana claims that followers of these sites use them for means of support for their own problem. Around 24 million Americans have an eating disorder; and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of all mental disorders.
If technology and media has accelerated these mental disorders on body image, what was it like before there was media or the internet? Was there just as much pressure for women and women to be thin?

Animal Talk (Speechless)

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Have you ever wondered if animals can communicate to each other and if so how? Researchers have found that in fact animals can communicate to one another. They not only can communicate on a verbal level but also through high frequency sounds, which are seemingly silent. As noted in the book, animals communicate for both mating and expressing aggression. Similar to how honeybees have the "waggle dance" to communicate their feelings and expression, many other animals in the world both large and small have their own unique ways of communicating. Studies found that, "Whales, dolphins, domestic cats, rats and mice, and some bats also communicate with very high frequency sounds" (Pierce). 220px-Tarsier_Hugs_Mossy_Branch.jpg
Many people wonder how animals that appear to be mute communicate. Pierce's study showed that although they might appear to be mute, in reality these animals are producing a sound at an extremely high pitch. Humans are not able to hear these pitches because of their extreme frequencies. I think in future studies researchers are going to discover not only that animals are communicating but also what they are actually saying to each other. This may take decades, but I think with our advancing technology we will, someday, be able to accomplish this feat.


Virtual Aggression

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In the past decade children's aggressive behavior has been directly correlated to violent video games, and some show no correlation at all. There are many other factors that play a role in why children's behavior is aggressive even if they play a substantial amount of violent video games. According to Dr. Christopher Ferguson from Texas A&M, factors such as negative relationships with parents, antisocial personality, and delinquent peers can affect a child's behavior towards others. Findings show violence video games will not have a long-term, but short-term, affect on one's behavior. The video games introduced in today's era are much different than what it was 25 plus years ago. As Pong and Pac-Man did not have any affect on the aggression of children's behavior, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto might. Or do they? Patrick Kierkegaard from the University of Essex in England states, "There is no obvious link between real-world violence statistics and the advent of video games." You might be saying to yourself how this is not possible, but it is! This is going to be hard to believe, but with violent video game sales skyrocketing since the 1990's, violent crime has surprising decreased. It is still hard to conquer what the real cause and effect of violent video games on children is, but both sides of the argument has great supporting evidence for their given reasons. Grand_Theft_Auto_IV_cover.jpg

While people often talk about test scores, many people are confused about exactly what these test scores mean. In order to adequately assess and interpret test scores, psychometritians use a process known as standardization. The standardization process involves administering the test to a representative sample of the entire population that will eventually take the test. Each test taker completes the test under the same conditions as all other participants in the sample group. This process allows psychometricians to establish norms, or standards, by which individual scores can be compared.

Intelligence test scores typically follow what is known as a normal distribution, a bell-shaped curve in which the majority of scores lie near or around the average score. For example, the majority of scores, which is about 68%, on the WAIS-III tend to lie between plus 15 or minus 15 points from the average score of 100. As you look further toward the extreme ends of the distribution, scores tend to become less common. Very few individuals receive a score of more than 145 or less than 55 on the test.

As described in chapter 9 of our textbook, the following is a rough breakdown of various IQ score ranges. However, it is important to remember that IQ tests are only one measure of intelligence. Many experts suggest that other important elements contribute to intelligence, including social and emotional factors.

115 to 129 - Above average; bright
130 to 144 - Moderately gifted
145 to 159 - Highly gifted
160 to 179 - Exceptionally gifted
180 and up - Profoundly gifted

Intelligence tests (also called instruments) are published in several forms:

Group intelligence tests usually consist of a paper test booklet and scanned scoring sheets. Group achievement tests, which assess academic areas, sometimes include a cognitive measure. In general, group tests are not recommended for the purpose of identifying a child with a disability. In some cases, however, they can be helpful as a screening measure to consider whether further testing is needed and can provide good background information on a child's academic history.

Individual intelligence tests may include several types of tasks and may involve easel test books for pointing responses, puzzle and game-like tasks, and question and answer sessions. Some tasks are timed.

Computerized tests are becoming more widely available, but as with all tests, examiners must consider the needs of the child before choosing this format.

You can find more information about the types of intelligence tests by clicking here.

Professor Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, recently published a book titled Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion that brings calls into mind new question regarding political polarization in the United States, while at the same time evaluating the changing views of American political parties. The book attempts to cover the spectrum of different ideas ranging from the disparities of political communication to the morals that create groups and societies. In a New York Times article William Saletan, Slate Magazine's national correspondent, and author of "Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War" summarizes the book and provides a brief discussion on it.
In the discussion regarding the book, Saletan really seemed to focus on the rhetoric of politics. He argues that when it comes to politics, people who try to argue to other people's logic rarely ever win, because people choose political parties based on their morals. Therefore, when it comes to political discussion, it's more beneficial to try and discussion the morality of it, then to use reason. The example that Haitd used in his book was a study in which he asked participants

Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it?

He concluded that under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why. This shows how people who have strong beliefs struggle with the ability to justify them, when they are just based on morals. This in turn translates into the difficult political rhetoric many face.

For more information on Haidt and his research visit his website

Molding by Experience

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If you've ever had a younger sibling or anyone in your life and watched them grow and mature, you know that how they speak is always a particularly interesting area to joke around with. For example, my younger sister would make up two syllable words for our names by the time she was about two. For example, my sister Kathryn was "kaka," then there was mama, dada, gaga, etc. What was interesting about this was that since my name began with a vowel, she put a "y" in front to compensate so my nickname became "yaya." This all directly coincided with what we learned in lecture about how young babies talk using only vowels including our names to grasp our attention for something she needed at the moment. But remembering how my younger sister learned to talk, I always picture her attentively listening and watching us converse on occasion. Brains are so malleable at that age, it's unbelievable to think of everything she was absorbing and how we were inadvertently teaching her to speak. As discussed in lecture, we can actually do very little to teach them how to talk, it is mainly what they absorb on their own and gather from their surroundings. Just like my little sister, picking up on the main consonants in everyone's names so she could begin joining the conversation.

A chapter from the book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner looks at the decrease in crime rates from the 90s on. The authors look at all of the explanations that experts had given on the crime drop which range from innovative policing strategies to aging of the population. After explaining why each of these explanations has little to no effect on the crime drop they go on to offer up a new theory, the reasoning that legalizing abortion causes a decrease in crime rates. They explain that because abortions are more common in poverty stricken and challenged homes the children that would be born are more likely to grow up as criminals.
What i think this chapter is missing is a look at the other side of things and what could disprove their theory. Besides the fact that this theory is opening up a whole new aspect of "what if's" with the abortions but it also completely avoids the other changes that could have caused this decrease as well. Such as the better education children are getting now compared to the past, also the rise of support, after school programs and other efforts that have been put in place concerning children raised in poverty stricken environments. Overall i think it's an interesting theory that doesn't take everything into account and lacks solid evidence.

Detecting Lies

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E. H. Chapin once said, "A small lie, if it actually is a lie, condemns a man as much as a big and black falsehood. If a man will deliberately cheat to the amount of a single cent, give him opportunity and he would cheat to any amount." We spend a large amount of time trying to figure out if people are lying to us. Many people think they can tell if people are lying, others feel there are other methods that detect lies better. I believe that I can tell if my friend is lying, but not someone that I barely know. I feel that if you know someone well, it is easier to notice if they are telling the truth. Back when I was in high school, my little brother told me he was going to start for football. I knew that even though he was pretty good at football, there was no way he was going to start for his football team since it was his first year. If some random person told me that they started for their football team, I would probably believe them even if it wasn't true. Detecting lies by just instincts is not always the most accurate. Polygraphs are one of the most popular tests to detect lies. The polygraph test works by asking the suspect relevant, irrelevant, and control questions and evaluating their autonomic activity following the questions that are asked (video that shows the polygraph test, I think that the polygraph test is a better way of determining lies than using humans. I believe that the polygraph test is more of an arousal detector. If I was put to take a polygraph test I feel like I would fail regardless, because when they ask me relevant, I would be nervous about whether my autonomic activity would pick up and make it look like I committed the crime. Polygraphs are more accurate that humans when it comes to detecting lies, but I believe that there is no perfect way to tell whether someone is lying.

Have you ever wondered how divorce effects the children in the family? Well I think this is an interesting topic because my parents got divorced when I was younger. I did some research online about possible effects that divorce can have and I found some of the findings pretty interesting. Some research shows that people that live in divorced families tend to be worse off, have more problems with peers, Here are 2 articles that I thought had good information about this topic in them
Article 1
Article 2
The first article talks more about how divorce effects different groups of children such as infants, elementary students, and teenagers. It also talks about the gender effects of divorce. I found this part very interesting. It says that boys raised by fathers and girls raised my mothers do better that children that are raised by the parent of the opposite sex. I assumed that it wouldn't really matter who which parent raised the children as long as they were good parents to the child.
The second article also had some interesting facts. I understand how children with divorced families tend to be worse off than children who still live in an "intact" family. Even though there is anecdotal evidence of children who turn out different than the average I still find this information interesting and feel there is more to be learned and discussed about this topic.

Our textbook briefly discusses the process of decision making. It is the process of choosing among a set of options. The authors of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, took an interesting twist to this concept of psychology. They decided to show that, at root, economics is the study of incentives. One chapter uses economic theory to show cheating exists in sumo wrestling. The authors say that if people have a chance to cheat, some will. This is decision making.

Freakonomics may not seem that interesting to some students, including myself when it was introduced to me by my dad. However, after looking into the Freakonomics website, it appears to be fascinating. The authors look into correlation versus causation on a wide variety of topics. For example, how did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime? These topics may not all be relevant to a college students life; however, reading this book will help us understand the way in which people make decisions. This can be applied to every aspect of college student's life. We wake up each morning and decide whether or not to go to class and each moment we make after this is made up of decisions.
If you don't have the time or money to read the book, you're in luck. They have turned the Freakonomics ideas into a movie and lucky for you again, it's on Netflix! The movie trailer can be found on YouTube and gives a quick glimpse into the use of economics to decipher decision making.

Our textbook briefly discusses the process of decision making. It is the process of choosing among a set of options. The authors of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, took an interesting twist to this concept of psychology. They decided to show that, at root, economics is the study of incentives. One chapter uses economic theory to show cheating exists in sumo wrestling. The authors say that if people have a chance to cheat, some will. This is decision making.

Freakonomics may not seem that interesting to some students, including myself when it was introduced to me by my dad. However, after looking into the Freakonomics website, it appears to be fascinating. The authors look into correlation versus causation on a wide variety of topics. For example, how did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime? These topics may not all be relevant to a college students life; however, reading this book will help us understand the way in which people make decisions. This can be applied to every aspect of college student's life. We wake up each morning and decide whether or not to go to class and each moment we make after this is made up of decisions.
If you don't have the time or money to read the book, you're in luck. They have turned the Freakonomics ideas into a movie and lucky for you again, it's on Netflix! The movie trailer can be found on YouTube and gives a quick glimpse into the use of economics to decipher decision making.

We all know that a typical father plays a dramatically different role than that of the mother. Dads tend to be more firm and less affectionate, they spend more time in physical play with their children, and are thought of as the leader of the family. Times have changed, however, and father's are no longer considered the sole income-earner. Mother's are not simply expected to be housewives and take care of the kids while the husband is off working; these roles in society have greatly shifted. The father's role should never be underestimated, because they do play a large part in the psychological well-being of their children. Even in situations when the father is not often around, or is not particularly close with his kids, he still plays a vital part in raising a strong and happy family. For example, a father should always display utmost respect for his wife, teaching his children what it means to respect one another, and to know what it is to be respected. A father can be a strong role model, for many, their father's are the most important role models throughout their entire lives. This can be true even when the father is not around often, for their kids can learn from his strong work ethic, or witness his charity to others. I know this is true in my own life; I have learned many values from simply watching how my dad has lived life, how he interacts with others and always puts his family first, in everything he does. goes on to discuss the unique role a father plays. I believe that it takes a strong father and mother together to share the challenges that come with raising children. They both play a vital role in the development and identity of their kids, and a father's natural differences from a mother help complete the equation which leads to a productive and loving family.father.jpg

I've spent 21 incredibly, lucky and wonderful years on this Earth, and as screwed up of a place as it is, I hope to spend many, many more here with you all. Humans, for all our faults, continue to (slowly) discover and create more and more wonderful things at an exponential rate. But as the unstoppable juggernaut of science marches onward, and in a world where our view of ourselves and the universe changes drastically over the course of a lifetime, there are many people who have great trouble accepting the value of or the validity of science, even if the evidence is overwhelming, out in the open (often the very physical processes they deny are the source of and are proved successful by technology they use every day!) and if accepting it as truth only requires a change of mind.
The problem lies in that a change of mind often requires a change of heart, as author Jonathan Heidt claims in his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. In it, he states that human reason is used less in deciding where our morals or political allegiances lie, and more in justifying the morals and political allegiances we have already acquired through intuition or emotion, that is, how we feel about something based on our interpretation of it. In my mind, this could explain why I've watched so many people cling to ideas and beliefs that have been buried under mountains of evidence supporting contradicting ideas, even when acceptance of contradicting idea isn't detrimental to the long term interests of the individual in question. This applies to all of us, and I'm still learning the ways in which I am wrong about the way the world works. It's always a difficult lesson, and I admit that even though I try to be an somewhat open minded person, I change my mind less often than I think, and the evidence supports this. This results in a mindset that is very difficult to change by reasoning with it, as our deepest beliefs are associated with different parts of our psyche.

Regardless of this, I see and admire the many of our species who are striving to change the causes of our belief towards reason and evidence, and away from our intuition and emotion (which are both notoriously inaccurate). This will help increase the chances we will survive ourselves, by allowing us to more accurately see the world by creating a mindset where humans are able to change their minds more effectively, while providing a system that keeps us from believing anything without first considering and comparing it to our old theories, not paralyzed by constant change in what we believe.
Some people seem to be a little too good at changing their minds v
For instance, when it's advantageous on the campaign trail. But in fairness to Mitt, we all do it sometimes, whether we realize it or not.

If I were asked if violent video games caused more aggressive behavior in youth, I would say no. The controversy over the issue has led to the same number of studies saying they have a positive correlation as no correlation at all. modern_warfare_2.jpg

There are several flaws I find in common arguments for the former. Obviously one thing is that hostile behavior in children studied could be due to other external factors such as predisposed aggressive behavior or family troubles. Additional problems with some experiments is that they loosely define what "aggressive" acts are and tend to show short-term effects instead of long-term, which is what really matters.

Saying that the youth is becoming more violent due to media is a bold statement in itself. Juvenile crime has actually declined over the years while the gaming industry is increasing in popularity world-wide. Consider this data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Juvenile Arrest Rates.xls

To also argue that they are becoming desensitized to violence through playing video games is also a stretch. For example, just because teenagers play Call of Duty does not mean that if they were to enter the army, they would be fine with the death of others encountered. Gamers recognize the difference between real life and fantasy. Overall, there is simply not sufficient or conclusive evidence to link violent video games with heightened aggression in teens.
If interested, here is a link for the most violent games of all time.

Seeing as I'm in Carlson, I decided it would be worthwhile to look at problem solving in cross cultural business practices. I took a Management class last semester which lightly discussed the difference in businesses across cultures, so I previously had some knowledge of this. I definitely agree that Western managers tend to rush to solutions before defining the problem, and I think this can have big impacts when dealing business across different cultures. What I find the most interesting is that often times the biggest chunk of business is not actually business at all. Instead of going through charts, graphs, and negotiations, much of a business's time goes towards recognizing the cultural business practices of where they are. A typical Western manager trying to do business is a different culture will often want to move faster than the people they are doing business with because they are much more focused on quick solutions than identifying the problem.
I think it's obvious that we should always be aware of customs across different cultures, and in regards to doing cross cultural business practices it's the same. For me personally this could be extremely useful in my career because I will be dealing with technology in businesses. Often times technology departments will do business with people from around the world so it's important for me to be considerate of different customs. Overall I think it's important to be aware of cultural differences, regardless if it's for business or not.

Taylor Swift: A Genius

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According to Howard Garner and his theory of multiple intelligences, "people vary in their ability levels across different domains of intellectual skill" (Psychology, pg 322). Psych Blog Photo #3.pngAccording to his criteria, Gardner developed eight different intelligences: linguistic, logico-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and, of course, musical. Under Gardner's theory, Taylor Swift, a popular, successful musician, contains great musical intelligence.

Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences is widely supported by the scientific community. Most agree with Gardner in that an individual's strengths and weaknesses vary among other individuals'. However, Gardner's theory is almost impossible to test, and therefore, violates the rule of falsifiability. Because of this, Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences cannot be proved.

Despite its violation of the rule of falsifiability, Gardner's theory has been applied in classrooms across the country. Using Gardner's theory, teachers work around a student's difficulties or deficits by utilizing their individual "intelligence type". While this appears to be beneficial to the student and their development, I believe it could also have damaging effects. Instead of strengthening a known deficit and building upon and acquiring a new "intelligence type", the student would only be practicing a known intelligence type. In order to ensure that a student is well rounded in their academics, I believe it is important to strengthen those intelligences that the student is not yet fully developed in.


Divorce is a GOOD thing

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According to divorce rate statistics, the United States has the highest rate of divorces in the world. The US leads this poll with a divorce in every 4.95 people out of 1,000.

For as long as I can remember I have been told and learnt that divorce is a bad thing. When you look at it, yes it truly is. It is showing that you basically gave up and weren't able to fulfill a life long commitment you made. But just because you're supposed to be with this person forever according to certain vows that were made at a wedding doesn't mean that staying together is the right option.
Most often times in marriages, kids are brought into the picture. Kids are surrounded by their parents day after day. They hear what they have to say to each other whether it be good or bad. When a couple begins to fight and this becomes continuous, it evolves into a poor environment for children to live in. Children love their parents no matter what but they dont deserve to be surrounded by the negative environment due to their parents relationship. That is why divorce can be a good thing given a situation like that. Divorce has great effects on children depending on how you look at it. Children are being faced with the harsh fighting and cursing throughout their lives that when their parents finally separate, its a sense of relief and it makes living a whole lot better for them, a sense of liberation. According to page 391 of the Psychology, From Inquiry to Understanding textbook, "In the latter case, divorce typically produces no ill effects on children, probably because they find the divorce to be a welcome relief from their parents' incessant arguing." psych2.jpeg

Many of us fall victim to some sort of hoax at one point in our lives. Unfortunately, I was duped into taking a $300 dollar course to "triple" my reading speed. It was offered here on campus through a demonstration. They timed us lucky volunteers as we used two fingers to scroll through a two-page text, telling us beforehand that we were sure to at least double our speed in this simple trial. When it worked for me I was instantly sold.
The class consisted of four, three-hour courses where we did drills similar to the demonstration. The idea was that once our eyes began to follow our fingers, we would begin to read in "chunks of words" and eventually our inner voice would diminish. After the third week of class they had us reading at 700-1000 wpm (words per minute). I was truly astonished at my speed...until I had to recall anything I had just read. We really were reading fast, however, we had not retained hardly any of the material we had just covered. As the book discusses, anything over 400 wpm is incomprehensible. So take from my misfortunes and proceed with caution when you sign up for your campus offered speed-reading course.

Watch a similar advertisement that sold me (here).

Forgetting or recalling a memory is a prevalent part of everyday life. There are, however, many different types of these things. Source monitoring confusion, flashbulb memory, and false memories are three of the many.

Confusion can often be associated with any of the above three. Confusion looks like this.
Bush confused.jpg

Source monitoring confusion is forgetting the source of a memory. For example, Peyton told Eli a joke about the Giants beating the Colts. Three days later, Eli told Peyton. When Peyton stopped him to say the he was the one who told him that, Eli was convinced he heard it elsewhere.

A flashbulb memory is a distinct memory of what you were doing at an important time in history. For many in our generation, this is the 9/11 attacks. I remember that I was sitting in third grade. The principal came on the loud speaker and said there had been a terrorist attack in New York City. All I knew of New York City was that the Statue of Liberty was there.
statue of liberty.JPG

Beware of phantom flashbulbs, which are a false recollection of what was going on at the time.

False memories are those that are instilled in our minds. This is often associated with hypnosis.

An example of a false memory is that I was certain I had finished my blog; but I went to check and it was nowhere to be found. When I tried to remember what I had typed, I couldn't - false memory.

This week we learnt about false memories. I was amazed by this phenomenon because I never thought a person can have recollection of an event, or the details of an event, that did not actually occur. We did a very interesting activity in discussion, we were asked to recall some words that our TA said. However, most of us wrote down some wrong words that were relevant to the words our TA actually said. From this activity, I found that it is very easy to create false memories in our daily lives. In my opinion, I guess people make false memories because of two main reasons. First, they mix their real memories with other relevant things, like the activity we did in class. Second, people tend to remember things they want to happen but never happen as false memories.


When I search the Internet, I found some very interesting studies by Elizabeth Loftus, one of the most important scientists in the area of memory evidece and false memories.


Loftus wanted to test whether false memories could be implanted into one person's psyche. She used people being lost in the mall to study false memories. Before asking participants, she made sure that these people never experienced being lost in a mall by interviewing their closest relatives. The participants were asked about being lost in the mall. Even though that never happened, people came to "remember" being lost in the mall after being asked many questions about details of lost.

Here is a video about Loftus's study about lost in a shopping mall.

Alzheimer's is a growing problem, effecting millions of people and their families characterized by lack of memory and retention. Although much research has been conducted on the issue, little is known on what causes it. In fact, Alzheimer's can't be physically diagnosed without an autopsy, so biological reasons for causation are hard to determine. What is known by autopsy is that people who die with alzheimer's have a large amount of protein that isn't found in patients without. The reason Alzheimer's is an age problem is that these proteins are accumulated at a low rate throughout life, and only come into play after being built up for a long time.
What confuses doctors is that there seems to be no link between demographics and Alzheimer's besides age. What can be link to Alzheimer's is genetics. If your ancestor's were diagnosed your chances of contracting the disease goes up exponentially. Another link is lifestyles and life events. Patients with serious head trauma are at a much higher risk of having Alzheimer's than patients without. Also those who keep an active lifestyle, and live a life of engaging their brain, have a lower chance of having the disease. Although Alzheimer's exact cause is a mystery, through research, some factors such as genetics, and lifestyle choices, are linked to the cause of Alzheimer's Disease.

The Ability to Read Minds

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Who ever thought technology would allow us to read minds. While it is true that we may not be able to communicate direct sentences, today's technology does allow us to detect when someone is using a certain part of his/her brain. Not only does this help scientists learn more about what we use each part of the brain for, but it has also become useful in detecting consciousness. Consciousness is described in our book as "our subjective experience of the world and ourselves." It includes things like the voice inside one's head, one's emotions, and one's actions. Brain function might seem like an implausible way to detect if someone's "still in there," but the key is in the word "action." The thing that I found most surprising from the BBC video "Horizon - The Secret You" was that people still activate the same areas of their brain when thinking about an activity as when they're actually doing it. Because scientists can measure brain activity, the only thing a person has to do to prove his/her consciousness is respond to a command with his/her brain. Scientists can see (as shown in the picture) if the correct parts of the brain (if any) are responding to the given command.

It's not far-fetched to say that losing my memory is probably one of my greatest fears. But what would happen if only select memories from my mind became erased? In "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", staring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet (arguably Carrey's best performance) a couple undergoes a voluntary procedure to erase each other from recollection. In theory, the idea of terminating bitter memories in one's mind sounds fantastic; but the power to control retrograde amnesia-the loss of memories from our past-comes with great responsibility. As the movie goes, while the portions of their memories are being erased, both Carrey and Winslet begin to realize how much they don't want to forget each other: the irony of the movie is that there is no eternal sunshine from a spotless mind, rather the sunshine from each mind comes from the memories in them. I understand that every memory in a person's life is not all milk and honey, but experiences and coinciding memories exist for a reason! The memories we hold help shape who we are, for better or worse, and nothing on Earth could convince me to delete a single memory from my mind. Amnesia, Alzheimer's, and all seven sins of memory are demons each person should fight off for the rest of his or her life. I highly recommend "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", but I equally discourage the attempt to control memory loss.


Along with the new decade has brought many problems to the NFL. The main problem being concussions. These concussions have triggered an uproar from not only former players but current players as well. Players are concerned about there life after football and how these concussions will effect their short term memory loss. The common concern is that players are looking to have a valuable life after their football career. They want to be functional citizens that are coherent and intelligent. This is tough when concussions have contributed to short term memory loss. The text defines short term memory as the memory system that retains information for limited durations. When a player is exposed to repeated head trauma, the brain loses it's ability to keep memories for a longer period of time, and thus, forgets things faster. Attached is a video of a player receiving a concussion.

Along with the new decade has brought many problems to the NFL. The main problem being concussions. These concussions have triggered an uproar from not only former players but current players as well. Players are concerned about there life after football and how these concussions will effect their short term memory loss. The common concern is that players are looking to have a valuable life after their football career. They want to be functional citizens that are coherent and intelligent. This is tough when concussions have contributed to short term memory loss. The text defines short term memory as the memory system that retains information for limited durations. When a player is exposed to repeated head trauma, the brain loses it's ability to keep memories for a longer period of time, and thus, forgets things faster. Attached is a video of a player receiving a concussion.

Along with the new decade has brought many problems to the NFL. The main problem being concussions. These concussions have triggered an uproar from not only former players but current players as well. Players are concerned about there life after football and how these concussions will effect their short term memory loss. The common concern is that players are looking to have a valuable life after their football career. They want to be functional citizens that are coherent and intelligent. This is tough when concussions have contributed to short term memory loss. The text defines short term memory as the memory system that retains information for limited durations. When a player is exposed to repeated head trauma, the brain loses it's ability to keep memories for a longer period of time, and thus, forgets things faster. Attached is a video of a player receiving a concussion.


In the movie, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", the character Clementine goes to a doctor who has the extraordinary claim that he can erase the memories of that painful relationship right out of one's mind. Seem farfetched in real life?

Doctors have discovered a drug used for treating high blood pressure may also block the memories of traumatic moments in one's life. The drug propranolol inhibits adrenaline in the brain, which adversely affects the amygdala, or emotional area of memory. It allows the person to remember the facts of the incident (stored in the hippocampus), yet seem to feel neutral about the traumatic memory. The research has been replicated, and the findings have been supported.

In an article published in 2012, propranolol is being combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help "permanently" erase the fear/memory that is producing an anxiety disorder in the patient. According to the authors, it gives an opportunity to interfere with memory reconsolidation, and promote extinction of the memory, not just behavioral changes produced from CBT only. The findings of the study did not support the hypothesis that propranolol would result in memory extinction. "Failed" studies still build the knowledge of the field.

Will there be a time in the near future that we will be able to go to the doctor and get a prescription to get that man out of our head? As the movie shows, even though it is painful, there are wonderful memories simultaneously being destroyed. Would one want to lose both?

Where were you when you first head that the twin towers had been struck? What were you wearing? Who were you with? Who told you? Were you scared? Were you old enough to understand? These are questions that so-called "flashbulb memories" can usually answer. These memories are generally connected with a very strong emotional response. Most people find that they are sharper and in more detail than regular memories, or play out in our minds almost like a movie. According to the Lilienfled text, college students' recollections of the crash of the space shuttle Challenger 3 days after the event are surprisingly different than their recollections several years later. To investigate this further and on a more personal level, I decided to compare my memories of the day of 9/11 to a few others' memories.


My memory is as follows: It was a Tuesday. I was sitting in the back of the fourth grade classroom in a group. We were working on math problems together. We were sitting in a circle; I was facing the back wall. Then the principal come over the loudspeaker and explained what was happening to all of us. I remember not understanding what she was telling us. I thought that she was saying that it was all an accident, that a plane had accidentally hit a building. At 9 years old, I wasn't mature enough to comprehend the concept of terrorists with so little explanation. After school, my grandma was at my house when I got home and I remember her being scared, but not outwardly so because my sister and I were there. But there are some things you can just sense. The T.V. was on and my grandma and I watched the news together. I know that I didn't feel scared, but I could tell that something was really wrong.

I asked my friend Megan about her memories. She was in the same class as me. Her memory goes like this: Well we were in 4th grade (right? haha) and I remember my class was working in our reading groups. My group was sitting on the floor discussing our book when an announcement came over the loudspeaker. We were informed of the tragedy and asked for a moment of silence. My class fell silent but no one, including myself, had any idea what was actually going on. I didn't find out the events until my mom explained them when I got home from school.

Last, I asked my mom for her account. It was a bright, clear, beautiful day outside. You were in grade school and after sending you off at about 8 in the morning, I passed the TV, which was on, and so happened to hear a snippet of the report. After watching for a few hours, glued to the screen, I called your grandma. She was hysterical with fear. She didn't want to be alone, so I picked her up and brought her to our house. I didn't get much work done that day. You and your sister came home shortly after this -- your school had been let out early. Your dad came home from work early. We all sat in the family room watching the news together. You had homework that day. But you stayed in the room with everyone else. You didn't seem particularly scared, but I wasn't sure if you understood what was happening. I think it registered with you that the adults were scared.

Overall, my memory is relatively similar to that of Megan's and of my mom's. There are some distinct differences, however. For example, Megan remembers doing reading groups and I distinctly remember doing math. And even though she remembers a specific activity, she's still not sure what grade we were in. I have absolutely no memory of school being let out early, but my mom insists that it happened. I also don't remember doing homework in the family room or even sitting and watching TV with all the members of my family, together. It's really very strange that such super-charged emotional events can elicit strong memories. Whether or not those memories are true to the history or not is up for debate. How can we be so sure that what we remember and vehemently believe to be true is what really happened?

To find out more about flashbulb memories, click here!
To read former president G.W. Bush's flashbulb memory account of 9/11, click HERE

Alzheimer's affects many people and their families. Most always wonder what they could have done to prevent it and what they can do to now to make it go away. In reality nothing has been found to treat it. Age, genetic makeup and brain inflammation are some things they have found that trigger Alzheimer's. There are two different types of Alzheimer's that have been found, those being Sporadic and Familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD). Less than 10% of Alzheimer's patients are affected by FAD. When looking at genetics scientists have found mutations on the 1st, 14th and 21st chromosomes.
People often start loosing their memory, get confused with the time and place, and have trouble completing familiar tasks when people first start noticing that they may be affected by Alzheimer's. Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's which is a struggle for many people and their families. However, there are many drugs that have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Click here, to learn more about the research revolving around Alzheimer's.

When I was seven my parents moved our family to Wisconsin to be closer to my grandfather who had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD). I didn't know at the time, but this disease would change the man we all knew and loved into a person who couldn't recognize his own wife.

Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia, and causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Although scientists are still trying to fully understand the cause or causes of Alzheimer's disease, its effect on the brain is clear. During the course of the disease plaques and tangles develop within the structure of the brain. This causes brain cells to die. Patients with Alzheimer's also have a deficiency in the levels of some vital brain chemicals which are involved with the transmission of messages in the brain - neurotransmitters. Some risk factors include: Increasing age, family history of Alzheimer's, and head trauma.alzheimer_brain.jpg

There is no cure for AD, but but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. One form of treatment is taking drugs that act as cholinesterase inhibitors which improve the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. The medication contains a chemical that inhibits the cholinesterase enzyme from breaking down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Those who suffer from AD often go through a series of stages (usually 7 stages) with the first stage having no impairment and the last stage when body systems start to fail and health deteriorates.

The University of Minnesota continues to be a frontrunner in Alzheimer's research and great progress has been made to prolong and improve the quality of life of those who are inflicted with this terrible disease. Studies have shown that challenging your brain daily with puzzles or memory games can help prevent Alzheimer's. So after you watch that marathon of The Office, pick up a Sudoku or crossword and give your brain some exercise. For more information, check out the Alzheimer's Association's website.

Is implanting false memory is really possible? In the movie, Inception, people try to implant false memory into a subject so that the subject would make wrong decision about his company in the future. One technique they use is that they inject the subject with the medication which induce deep sleep and break into the subject's dream to implant a false memory. While "breaking into one's dream" seems very impossible, "implanting false memory" seems possible in reality. Let's look at a few cases of implating false memories. In 1986, Nadean Cool was a nurse's aide in Wisconsin. She needed psychological therapy to deal with her traumatic experience. Her psychiatrist used hypnosis and other techniques to uncover buried memories. After the therapy, she convinced that she had repressed memories of having been in a satanic cult, of eating babies, of being raped, of having sex with animals and of being forced to watch the murder of her eight-year-old friend. However, she realized that these memories were false and claimed that these memories Inception-Wallpaper-inception-2010-12396931-1440-900.jpgwere planted by her therapist. Cool sued her therapist and received 2.4 million settlements. In Missouri in 1992, a church counselor helped Beth Rutherford to remember about her father, a clergyman, that her father had regularly raped her between the ages of seven and 14. Under her therapist's guidance, Rutherford developed memories of her father twice impregnating her and forcing her to abort the fetus herself with a coat hanger. The father had to resign from his post as a clergyman when the allegations were made public. However, later medical examination of the daughter revealed that she was still a virgin at age 22 and had never been pregnant. The daughter sued the church counselor and received a $1-million settlement in 1996. It seems that it is not rare that people develop false memories. However, are these false memories implanted by therapists or are these people just vulnerable to having false memories?

For a long time I have always wondered how animals talk to each other and how they try to tell us what they want. After living with two dogs for three years I have come to notice that it is impossible to tell if there is an actual animal language but they do have various forms of communication.
1. Gaze: I noticed whenever my dogs are about to wrestle with each other they'll just sit there and stare at each other for about 30 seconds without moving an inch and then whoosh they'll just run after each other. Are they actually exchanging their thoughts?article-0-08288061000005DC-736_468x383.jpg
2. Smells: Ever heard the phrase "marking your territory"? While we identify others by their looks, smells are how animals can identify others. Some smells can even have pheromones that can be threatening and lead to a fight. That's why if you bring your dog to a dog park they spend the first five minutes probably just sniffing the ground.
3. Gestures: Even to humans body language can be more powerful than what we actually say and it's the same with animals. For example, when a dog goes into a "play pose" (front legs are on the ground and back legs are fully stood up) or by simply wagging their tail lets the other one know if they're in the mood to play or not.
Now unless you have some superpower that allows you to read minds I doubt anyone will know what animals are actually saying. We can guess and assume but until they create a some sort of collar that can read and pronounce animals thoughts like in the movie Up!, I think animal language will remain a mystery.
For more reading here's a link to an article about the ways different animals communicate with each other. Tell me what you think of it!,-Top-5-Most-Amazing-Examples-of-Animal-Communication&id=3597898

There are many popular films these days that deal with memory loss, but one that has struck me as particularly interesting is 2009's 'The Hangover.' For those who are unfamiliar with the film, it follows four friends who party way too hard in Vegas who must use clues to piece together what happened during that night in order to find their friend who is missing.
This film portrays the humorous aspect of memory loss, but does not overlook the possible dangers that it can cause. It is easy to watch 'The Hangover' and laugh at the situations these men find themselves, ignoring the true danger of having absolutely no idea what you may have done the previous night. People often find themselves in jail cells after a long night of drinking, with very little memory of what had happened. This makes it extremely difficult to defend oneself or to cut a decent plea bargain, because you have very little credibility when it comes to having an accurate account of what really happened.
Please party responsibly.

Every kids done it. They have this great idea and have to go see this cool toy! Once they have finished their playtime, they go back to find mommy and she's not there! Where did she go? They figure she would've been right where the child left her. Then soon the child realizes, they're lost! lost.jpg
Often times my mom and I talk about when I was a young 5 year old and had gotten lost in the grocery store. What I remember from that normal trip to the store is different from what my mom remembers though.

What I remember: Oh it was a great time going to the store seeing all the people, picking out my favorite foods and toys. I was at the age where i no longer could fit in the shopping cart, so I would walk alongside my mother to the certain locations in the seemingly massive store. All of the sudden my mom was gone. I actually didn't think much of it at first and just walked around to try to find her. I even checked the car to make sure she wasn't there. Soon enough I go look at the checkout lanes and walk over there and she was there waiting. I run and meet her arms.

What my mom remembers: She was having a normal run to the grocery for the usual family foods. Soon she realizes I am no longer following her. She looks around through the aisles, going up and down all of them, heart racing. She then goes to the front of the store to customer service and reports a lost child. They announce it over the intercom and she waits eager to see me show up. The store sends employees to go look for me and eventually the employee finds me walking around crying profusely. She is very upset and happy at the same time and walks me to the car.

Clearly our two minds recall the event in different light. But why? Well one reason for the difference could be that I don't recall the events in chronological order as I was a child and still had a developing brain. The store says that no child would have made it outside of the store to the car alone because they always have someone at the door checking for shoplifters. So I must have been with my mother when I "checked" in the car. Another reason for the difference may be because of what I think a child being lost in a store would be like, I try to project that to my instance of being lost. This lack of consistency between my mother's memories and my memories is based in the mind of the 5 year old that I once was. For more information on the reliability of childhood memories click here.

As a student who has spent a year studying abroad in Mexico and learning another language, the topic of bilingualism was fascinating to me. Our book discusses several advantages and disadvantages to learning a second language.
One disadvantage is that syntax in a language is affected as many languages have contradicting syntax patterns; this problem is eventually addressed as the student spends more time learning the language.
Despite the disadvantage of confusing syntaxes, the advantages of learning a second language seem to far outweigh the potential difficulties. Students who learn a second language have an increased metaliguistical knowledge; that is to say that they better understand part of a language and how they work together. This has certainly been true for me. As I have increased my ability to speak Spanish, I have come to a greater understanding of how language is structured and used.
Apart from the linguistical benefits of learning a second language, there are also a great number of social benefits. This article discusses one student's experiences learning a second language and the ways that doing so have opened up more opportunities for her. In my experience, learning Spanish has not only provided me another way to communicate but has given me an even greater insight into another culture and the issues that surround it.

Consciousness.... In Robots?

Human beings are defined by our consciousness, that is, our ability to be aware our our self and our surrounding. We perceive our world beyond any other creature, drawing conclusions and understanding things far beyond a surface level. In our mind, this ability makes us unlike. But this "unique" ability may indeed be the future of machines as well. This may sound like something out of a Hollywood action film, and indeed it has been popularized by it, but advances have been made to insert consciousness, albeit artificial consciousness into robots in a field know as cognitive robotics. Through this scientist have been able to create robots that learn by example and use their senses and knowledge of the earth's structure to figure things our on their own. They hope to further robots' reasoning, planning, decision-making and perception of their surroundings. See this article on recent advances in cognitive robotics.
While the technology is fascinating there is some question about the morals of this endeavor. Are we imitating or giving away the very thing that makes us unique? Could this move machines beyond our control as popularized in the popular film I, Robot? At this stage anything is possible.

Advertisements, on the outside, seem simple and straightforward. The advertisers create something that showcases their product so that you want to buy it. Simple right? Not exactly. For decades, advertisers have been inserting things into advertisements to make you feel specific emotions, to which you are unaware the advertisement is actually doing, regarding the product(s) being shown. Things like car and sport advertisements tend to create a sense of excitement and thrill to emphasize their products, while beauty and decoration advertisements often exhibit feelings of calmness and serenity to get their point across.


This advertisement by Apple is no different. Apple is clearly trying to portray a sense of fun, excitement and enjoyment in this advertisement. The goal of the advertiser is to make viewers feel like buying/using an iPod will make them more happy, more excited, more fulfilled. Also, the advertisement prominently displays people wearing up-to-date, "cool", clothing. This, along with the focus on solid black, white and a single bright color, also adds to the effects of fun and excitement.

The 1990 film, Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, poses interesting ethical questions regarding memory. The movie tells the story of a man who undergoes a procedure to have false memories implanted in his brain. In this futuristic setting there is cutting edge technology that allows people to undergo virtual vacations and remember the vacations as if they actually occurred. Given the evidence that false memories can be accepted by people as their own, such as in the case of Paul Ingram and the lost-in-the-mall studies, it is not unrealistic to think that this technology may one day be available. total recall.jpgHowever, the complications that arise in this movie from the procedure cause one to wonder if such technology should be adopted if it becomes possible. After undergoing the procedure Schwarzenegger's character appears to be unable to separate reality from his virtual memory. While such technology would be extremely tempting to take advantage of and allow people to "remember" doing things they otherwise never would have been able to do, the downside of such technology may be too large. Not to mention, the side effects on the human brain could be substantial if something goes wrong during the procedure. Given the advances in technology over the last few decades it is not unreasonable to think that such technology will be available in our lifetimes. Because of this, we are likely to be faced with many tough ethical questions in the future. What do you think about the use of such memory forming technology?

For more about false memories and Total Recall see:

Recent research performed by the television series BBC horizon indicates that human beings are not as in control of their functions and actions as they think. Humans have long believed that they have exclusive control over their own actions and the consequences of said actions. Recent research, however, has indicated that scientists are able to predict our actions up to six seconds ahead, in controlled circumstances. psych blog pic 2.jpg This indicates that humans do not have as much control over our actions as we once believed. Our actions are predicted based on how the neurons in our brain are wired. This leads to the conclusion that we are controlled by the neural impulses in our brains.While it is currently unknown how much our consciousness controls these neural impulses, new research in the field may soon show that our actions are determined purely by the chemical processes of our brains.

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