Writing 3: October 2011 Archives

No benefits of amnesia

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I'm sure all of us would agree that one would prefer to keep our mental health perfectly intact. However, with mental illnesses often comes the presence of a rare gift. For example though autistic people can often not perform simple tasks such as daily functioning or social comprehension, many have extraordinary talents such as the ability to memorize a dictionary, play a classical piece on the piano after hearing it once, or solve nearly impossible math problems. Manic depressive people sometimes have great talents for comedy. Mental illness can inspire musical, visual, or theatrical creativity. Van Gogh suffered from epilepsy and hallucinations, but he is one of the most renowned painters in history. Antonin Artaud was a schizophrenic, but he is one of the greatest theatre masterminds of history. Of course, mental health is always preferred, but if that's not a option, it's nice to know there are still some "perks," so to say.
Unfortunately this is not the case for those who suffer from severe amnesia. Those who cannot remember much of their past and have difficulty encoding new memories suffer in more areas that simply forgetfulness; due to the fact that so much of their memory has been erased, those with amnesia tend to have far lower imaginative and creative skills. Think about it. If someone told you to paint a sunset over mountains with trees and flowers but you had very limited memory of these things, you would not be able to complete the task well. You would certainly not be able to come up with imaginative ideas easily on your own.




Classical conditioning is used when you take an animal that responds to a previously neutral stimulus which is paired with another stimulus, to automatically draw out a response. The most well known way of learning this concept, is knowing about Pavlov's discoveries. Within his discoveries he discovers the meanings of: unconditioned stimulus (UCS), unconditioned response (UCR), conditioned response (CR), and conditioned stimulus (CS). In the video provided by an Office episode, Jim Halpert is trying to get Dwights Schrute to do what he wants; similar to how Pavlov tries to get the dog to do what he wants. In the Office situation, the sound of the computer re-booting is the UCS. When Jim supplies Dwight with the Altoids that is the UCR. Eventually as the video keeps playing, Jim's goal is to re-boot the computer which is now the CS without offering an Altoid. Now that Dwight is used to getting Altoids every time he hears that re-booting sound, that is the CR; he starts craving the Altoids every time he hears that sound.

Previous to listening to Dr. Peterson's lecture on consciousness, I had never critically examined the idea of a conscious thought in relation to those choices made without us being actively aware of them. The idea that we could be aware of something, without actually being conscious of such an awareness, is extremely interesting and shows the complex nature of our brains. To explain such a concept, we discussed and viewed a video regarding a patient who had his corpus callosum severed in order to relieve his severe seizures.

Corpus Callosum.jpg

As seen in the above picture, the corpus callosum serves to connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain so that they can share the information that they receive simultaneously. In this way, despite the fact that information is relayed to one side of the brain or the other depending on the position of the stimulus, the entire brain is aware of it. So in severing this connection, communication is stopped and any functions that are unique to one side of the brain or the other don't get relayed in the fashion that they should. This is especially evident in looking at the Broca and Wernicke areas of the brain.

Broca and Wernicke.png

These areas, responsible for the production and understanding of speech, are localized to the left area of the brain. This means when someone who has a severed corpus callosum interacts with something using only their left hand (meaning the signal is sent to the right half of the brain) they will not be able to articulate in words what the object is without viewing it. What is intriguing, however, is the fact that they are still aware of the identity of the object, just not on a conscious status.


As can be seen in the video, this experiment yielded very unusual results that present a variety of questions. It would seem that our mind can be aware of things without us even knowing it, which throws into doubt the idea of a unified consciousness. Another question that I find myself asking is in regards to how how much info is stored in our brain subconsciously and how often such information is used by our brains without us being actively aware of it. Also, if our brain comes up with falsified stories to explain such information, how much of what we think we know about ourselves and our self consciousness is really true?

Stuttering and the brain

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During our lectures on language and thought, I was absolutely amazed to see how the brain could know something yet be unable to speak about it, or somehow communicate its knowledge due to a severed corpus callosum. This idea of thoughts being unable to be spoken led me to think of stuttering.

Stuttering is a speech impediment that affects a lot people, mostly children. (I was a child stutterer, myself). It can range from the repetition of sounds, the prolongation of syllables, or elongated pauses between words and speech that occurs in spurts. For more information, go here. Many might recall the recent movie The King's Speech, where King George VI deals with many problems, such as his own stuttering.

Some scientists have found that while stuttering is often caused by emotional factors (such as stress or family dynamics), there are genetic factors as well (over 60% of stutterers claim someone in their family has stuttered as well). Stutterer's brains process speech and language differently than non-stutterers, but it's not that they don't use language and grammar properly. According to this article, when they begin to speak, their motor output does not function properly. In fact, "The right hemisphere is considered the non-dominant hemisphere for language, and the activity may indicate that the right hemisphere is compensating for something that is not happening in the left hemisphere". This subject still remains to be fully understood, but while most children phase out of stuttering by themselves, speech pathologists and therapists are able to help adults with their stuttering too.


It is easy for people to create false memories or memory illusions, like we experienced during our discussion this week. Many people included words in the lists that weren't actually said. It is amazing how our minds associate certain words, which causes us to believe that the words were actually in the list when they weren't. False memories can have a large affect on many situations throughout the world. An example of this was the case of Paul Ingram. He was led to believe that he had sexually abused his two daughters, when in reality he had never committed any crime. He merely believed that these events had occurred, because of people that he trusted providing him with all of this false information. People believed the girls even though there were many inconsistencies with their stories. The dates were constantly changing with each time that they were interviewed and there was no physical evidence of abuse on any of the girls. Paul even "confessed" to these crimes, but his stories of the events were not close to the accounts that the girls had given. The charges against Paul were eventually dropped two days after he pleaded guilty because the officials knew that he was having false memories.

This story of the Ingram family shows how false memories can truly affect people's lives. Many false memories consist of the mixing of multiple memories. For example, when recalling an accident that happened while driving home from work, someone might say that there was shattered glass covering the road. However, in reality, there might have been no shattered glass anywhere.

False memories occur all the time without notice. Did you ever think of how many false memories you've had that have lead you to stray from what had actually occurred in the past?

Here is a link to a story of a woman's experience with her own false memory:
My Lie: A True Story of False Memory

A Simple Trick to Remembering

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A mnemonic device is "any technique used for the purpose of either assisting in the memorizing of specific material or improving the function of memory in general." There are several types of mnemonic devices. You've probably used them before without even realizing! Most people use acronyms, acrostics, and rhymes, but there's also grouping, visual association, and the Method of Loci in which you place the items you want to remember in a visualized room or route.

The concept of mnemonic devices is a helpful one, especially to college students. Everyday we are presented with loads of information that we need to absorb so that it can be used at a later date. Learning mnemonic devices can help us with that. Take this video for example. In the popular TV show The Office, we see Michael Scott use mnemonic devices to remember his clients names. Although his way of doing so is offensive, it does work!

Mnemonic devices can be used for many things: remembering dates, remembering names, remembering the order of the planets (I'm sure as a child you were taught My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos!); the list is endless. I'm sure you also learned this one, too: mnemonic device.jpg

However, mnemonic devices don't work for everything. Although they are easy to use for recalling small pieces of information, or simple facts, larger concepts and ideas are a lot more difficult and many times making the mnemonic device more difficult to come up with and memorize. When this happens, it is important that people learn to recall the information in other ways.


These are the faces of a miscarriage of justice. The Norfolk Four case is eerily similar to Paul Ingram's-- if not even more terrifying. Four former naval officers confessed to the rape and murder of a young woman. They were tried, sentenced, and served time for a crime they had no hand in. The true criminal also confessed, confessed to committing the act alone. Yet his testimony was ignored, as was other irrefutable evidence.

Why do individuals admit to obscene acts they have not done? Why are countless people willing to ignore facts that stare them in the face?

First, I suggest referring back to the suspects themselves. All were former naval officers. This suggests that they had been conditioned to respect authority. When the men were brought into questioning and interrogated by a ruthless and unforgiving detective who would not take "no" for an answer, this conditioned response may have made them more susceptible to falsely confessing.

Loftus's interpretation of the "misinformation effect" undoubtedly played a contributing role. The interrogator would feed the men parts of others' confessions until the stories lined up more consistently. When the true rapist and murderer was discovered, they even convinced the Norfolk Four that they had found this man on the street and invited him to join in their mass crime.

As with Paul Ingram, police were under intense pressure to imprison for a heinous crime. Though there was no false testimony working against them, the cop harassing them was notorious for eliciting false confessions and later indicted on charges of corruption. One of the four had a particular interest in the woman killed which sparked a tangled web including more than seven suspects-- none of whom were related to the crime in question.

Per haps the jurors were biased by the suspects pleas of "guilty" and their brutal depictions of the crime they thought they committed. The men were told they would receive the death penalty if they didn't plea guilty and since sentencing each of them has rediscovered their innocence and are released or pending pardon from the mayor.

This Frontline video provides just a glimpse as to what the human memory is capable of believing:

The topic of dreaming has been the inspiration for many different films over the years. However, innovative filmmaker Christopher Nolan changed the cinematic perspective on dreams in his 2010 blockbuster, Inception. Nolan, who stepped into the realm of psychological cinema previously with Memento and Insomnia, comes back to tell a tale of psychological espionage and bring viewers into a fantastical world where one has the ability to invade another's mind.

The film deals with many psychological themes and is mainly based off the concept of what is real and what is a dream. The film blends worlds, often spending time in the dreams as the story progresses. A skilled thief is hired by a powerful man to infiltrate the mind of his rival and plant an idea to disable his corporation entirely. The film is relatable to psychology due to the fact that the film is based of the concept of lucid dreaming.

Lilienfeld defines, in the chapter dealing on human consciousness, that lucid dreaming is an "experience of becoming aware that one is dreaming" (171). Inception's characters work in the area of dream invasion, and often share a lucid dream together. Unless they get lost in limbo, an unconstructed dream space, they are fully aware of the dream. Stay with me here. The film gets very bizarre, convoluted and, basically, crazy as it follows the characters on their journey into the different levels of the subconscious mind. One character is labeled as the architect, the member in charge of knowing the levels and controlling the dream. This person is essentially the lucid dreamer.

In reality, many people have stated that they have experienced a lucid dream from time to time. Personally, I don't think I ever have been able to become fully aware while in a dream. I think I would remember something like that. I wish I could, though and will give it a try. A former roommate of mine claims he lucid dreams almost every night. I'm not sure if I believe him, but yet again the descriptions of some of his dreams he made me wonder how anyone could make such things up. The topic is only becoming increasingly more popular in modern science, and Inception brought the concept to life on the sliver screen.


*I have been trying to post pictures and a link to a video on lucid dreams but it freezes my browser when I attempt to post it. I have tried firefox, chrome and safari. What am I doing wrong?


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Memento is a well known movie directed by Christopher Nolan that depicts the life of Lenny who suffers from short-term memory loss. He still retains his previously long-term memories before he was afflicted with the condition, but he cannot make any new ones.
To see a trailer for Memento: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vS0E9bBSL0

After watching Memento (if you haven't I highly recommend that you do) it begs the question of whether or not it accurately depicts what it would be like to suffer from short-term memory loss. I do not not have much background or experience with the constructs of memory so after doing some research I found that the scientific community generally agrees that Memento is one of the most realistic and accurate depictions of anterograde amnesia.
Here is an interesting article on the validity of Memento:

What makes Memento so powerful is that you are immersed into the life of Lenny and feel as if you are in his shoes. From the way the movie is presented in reverse you get a real sense of what it is like to suffer from anterograde amnesia. It is as if you partake in Lenny's thought process and are as clueless as he is of what just happened.
Here is an interesting graph of how time progresses in the movie:

In the end, Memento raises the question: what is real? Is our memory to be completely trusted? Can we always trust our interpretations of the world around us? Memory can be flawed so easily, how are we to know if anything in our past ever happened? In the end, as in the case of Lenny, reality is what we make it.

Lucid Dreaming

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I have always had questions about lucid dreaming, and when I came upon the section in our Psychology book I was happy to see some information on it. I always wondered if I was one of the few that could tell that they were in a dream, and I like knowing that I am in a dream, specifically scary ones so that you know you are safe and really are not going to die. In the video I looked up on youtube, it explains more about dreaming, and has information about lucid dreaming particularly. It says that our brain is the one organ that we cannot control, and I wonder if that is the way it is supposed to be. They are trying to figure out how we can control what our dreams are about but I strongly disapprove of that. I think that we should leave our dreams up to our imagination, because for a few hours of our life everyday, we do not have control over anything that is happening. It would be neat to be able to pick our dreams, so that we can see places and experience things that are not possible, but I also think that dreaming is a part of life and a gift because dreams seem to always surprise us. The only way I would maybe think that dreams can become useful is if kids would use them so that they did not have so many nightmares. It can be really scary for kids, they might not even be able to sleep alone, so would kids learning to control their dreams make them happier children? What would happen if we were able to control our dreams, and we regretted that decision. Would we be able to stop controlling our dreams if we decided we did not enjoy the skill? Is taking control of our dreams pushing us over the edge on how much we are supposed to know about our bodies, and should we be thinking about our dreams when we are supposed to be sleeping and letting our brain take over while we get rest? What I really wonder is, would being able to control our dreams even make the world smarter, because we would be able to figure out problems we do not normally have answers for all the time, and would we be way smarter considering we would constantly be thinking and solving problems almost double our time here on Earth? I couldn't imagine people being way smarter then they already are.


Have you ever experienced a night terror or a sleepwalking episode? In my younger years, I definitely experienced both of these sleep disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, night terrors, also commonly known as sleep terrors, are episodes of fear, screaming, perspiring and confusion while asleep. Even though these sleep terrors seem extremely disturbing while they are occurring, they really are not anything to worry about. They are normally harmless and occur mostly in children ages 4-12. This is exactly the age I used to experience my sleep terrors. After sleep terrors, children usually do not remember much of what or anything that happened. Mayo Clinic also states that night terrors are almost always paired with sleepwalking. This is ironic, because I definitely have had times where I have experienced the two together.
According to PubMed Health, sleep walking is a sleep disorder when people walk or do any other activity while still fully asleep. Comparable to night terrors, sleep walking usually occurs during stages 3 and 4 of sleep, or non-rep sleep. It normally takes place in the beginning of the night when a person is in a deep non-rep sleep state. Many of the symptoms of sleepwalking are similar to those of night terrors, such as confusion, being wide eyed, sitting up during sleep, not remembering the episode, and more. Also, like night terrors, sleepwalking is definitely more common in children, but is a relatively uncommon sleep disorder. According to Lilienfeld, sleepwalking occurs 4 to 5 percent in adults and 15 to 30 percent in children. A difference between these two is that night terrors are generally not harmful, but people often do bad things while sleepwalking. In fact, a few people who committed murder have used sleepwalking as a defense.
An occurrence I had with night terrors and sleepwalking was an extremely intense experience. According to PubMed Health, you are more likely to encounter these sleep disorders if you have experienced lack of sleep; this is the only time I experienced them. One night when I was about 10 years old, my friends and I stayed up all night. The next day I was going to MOA with my brother Cory for my birthday, so I decided to get some sleep from 6 am to 8 am. During these two hours, I woke up sweating and experienced a night terror. I got very mad at my family, stomped my feet and cried, not even realizing that I was actually asleep. I also remember being very confused during the entire occurrence. After this, I fell back into a deep sleep. My brother woke me up at 8 am to go to MOA, but I didn't actually wake up. I rode in the car and we even stopped at a restaurant and ate on the way. I specifically remember when we got to the mall, I stepped out of the car into the parking ramp and woke up from my sleepwalking state. I had no recollection of the ride to MOA or even eating at the restaurant. These sleep disorders are extremely weird to think about, but definitely do occur.


As you're thinking about this upcoming Psych exam and perhaps all the other midterms you have in the coming weeks, you may be wondering how on earth you will manage to stay awake long enough to get all your work done and still find time to study. Maybe you are planning on drinking coffee, energy drinks, or other sources of caffeine, but perhaps you have also heard about a pill that can not only help you stay awake, but also increase you focus and help you to do better on your exams.

These "smart pills," as they are called, come in a variety of forms, including herbal remedies and prescription pills and are becoming highly popular on college campuses. However, students who are using them may not be aware of their "true identity." While it is true that drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin make a person more alert and awake, there is no evidence to support that they help a person to retain more information or to do better on a test. In fact, use of a drug that is not prescribed to you can be extremely dangerous. Some people even worry that drugs like this may become "gateway drugs," and lead users to try other prescription meds.

The truth is, these medications are no more effective than caffeine, and they may be hurting you more than they are helping. There is no way to "enhance" your memory. You were born with the brain you have, and all the knowledge you need is already there. So, forget about these phony drugs and just do the best you can. Good luck to you all on this exam and on all the work ahead of you in these busy upcoming weeks!

Have i been here before?

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In chapter 5 of our Lilienfeld textbook we delve into the discussion of consciousness. A concept that i can definitely relate to was Déjà vu. The average person has experienced at least one instance of the "this seems eerily familiar" feeling in their life. I've personally experienced the strange sensation many times. I was curious about this topic because it is so common with my friends and I. The strange feeling you get when you see a photo, go to a park, or smell a scent that you've never encountered before yet you can almost you've seen it before always left me wondering if i'm either going crazy or it actually happened.

The word Déjà vu is French meaning "already seen".The feeling of Déjà vu itself may also come about from a difficulty in recalling when you had experienced something of similarity. Another means of which it can arise is the excess of dopamine in your temporal lobes.(Taiminen & Jääskeläinen, 2001) As described in our textbook the feeling lasts normally from 10 to 30 seconds.

After doing some deeper research on Déjà vu I came about the special case of a retired British engineer who seemed to have longer lasting feelings of Déjà vu than the average person. A psychiatrist by the name of Robert Efron was interested in the sensation and wanted to create an explanation. After much research he gave rise to the Dual Processing Theory which states that the brain receives so much information during the day that much of it is not consciously analyzed. So then when the brain is sorting all these bits of knowledge can be integrated to their rightful place with a little delay causing the strange sensation. You can click on the following Link for more information.dejavu.jpg

Dr.Efron's theory left me with a few questions of my own. Is it Deja Vu merely a neurological process or could there be more meaning behind it? Could there be more behind it beyond the scope of observable science?


Pitching the first ball is a longstanding ritual of American baseball. The ceremonial pitchers can be the ones who are well-known as dignitaries, celebrities, or former players. Also the people who sponsor the team or who won the opportunity from a contest can be the pitchers to throw the first ball.

However, the original motive of throwing the first pitch has been deteriorated. Instead of those people listed above, people that have nothing to do with baseball games are welcome to the field as the first pitcher. Nowadays, most of the people who are asked to be the first pitcher tend to be those famous, sexy female celebrities especially in Korea and Japan. Watching the first ball being thrown by the hot female celebrities, both the baseball players and the fans, who are mostly men, get excited and believe that their team is going to win the game or so.

This is an example of classical conditioning applied in real life. In this case, the conditioned stimulus is the baseball game for the players playing on the field or for the fans watching it. On the other hand, the unconditioned stimulus can be the ceremony of the hot female celebrities' throwing the first ball, and the people's unconditioned response is arousal, encouragement, excitement, and/or pleasure.

Even when the unconditioned stimulus, the girls' throwing the first ball, is removed later on, the conditioned stimulus, the baseball game itself, will arouse the unconditioned response and change it into a conditioned response. As the conditioned response, people will get more excited about the game, which excitement was originally in response to the hot celebrities. Therefore, it is clear that having sexy girls or women throw the first ball at the beginning of the game has been such a strategy to get people more excited and crazy about the baseball under the classical conditioning.

[News] Japanese pro baseball player wants Soshi(famous Korean pop girl group singers) to throw first ball for Orix Buffaloes

That's why Japanese are crazy about baseball (youtube video)

Opening Ceremony Of A Baseball Game (by SNSD aka, Soshi, youtube video)

Gum.jpegDoes it take 7 years.jpeg

At some point, in nearly every person's life, they swallow some chewing gum and get barraged with the claim that the gum will be in their digestive system for 7 years. This claim is often times stated by adults, to try and prevent children from eating their gum rather than spitting it out. They scare the children, where the fear is the stimulus, so that they will swallow their gum less, this is a form of positive punishment. For some children this a scary thought, and many adults even wonder if they are actually carrying around some gum for 7 years after they mistakenly swallow it. So, does gum actually stick to your insides, or does it pass right through you like other foods?
Through some of the principles of critical thinking, this statement can be evaluated. The most important principle for this claim, principle #5, states that extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence. There is no outstanding evidence that suggests that this claim is factual, however people with confirmation bias sometimes unknowingly support their views by denying evidence, dismissing evidence, or even distorting it to fit their own theory. This plays a role in this claim because it is easily testable, and if someone is trying to test the experiment their conclusion may be inaccurate or not valid. Afterwards, the results may mislead people that have not done the experiment personally, and so, there is not enough evidence to prove the claim. Therefore, the principle that states that extraordinary claims must have extraordinary evidence is the most useful way to evaluate this claim.
Recent experiments have found that this claim is very replicable; however, the results refute the claim. This means that the claim can be tested, but the results are not replicated findings of the claim. It does not take 7 years to digest gum. In fact the experiments have shown that gum is digested at the same rate as other foods, but a large portion of the gum's composition is not digestible, so it becomes a simple waste product!

Learn more at http://www.snopes.com/oldwives/chewgum.asp and http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fact-or-fiction-chewing-gum-takes-seven-years-to-digest

Today, a person's schedule is more packed than ever. From one appointment to the next it's hard for anyone to catch a good night's sleep. But now sleep isn't just for sleeping anymore. As if we're not getting enough done while we're awake, "new studies" show we can learn while we sleep. Because in today's economy, time not spend engaged, is time wasted.
One of the fads discussed in Chapter 6 was sleep-assisted learning. I wondered to myself, how could anyone believe that and how could anyone try to market something so ludicrous? So I went on Google and found this website: the "offical" sleep learning website. A person could learn a new language, build self-esteem, quit drinking, learn business success, work out their marriage problems and even be psychic all while asleep!! The site screamed pseudoscience left and right. The site reclaims over and over again the "latest research" and "scientific studies in labs and homes" have proven learning while you sleep is an effective way of learning but it never sites a single study or credits any institution for its "findings." The site also claims we only use 5% of our brain, which we learned in Chapter 3 is simply not correct. The site appeals more to pathos than ethos and logos. First it tries to persuade potential customers sleep learning will help you pass an exam or learn a new language with LESS effort, then it goes on to claim the Soviet Union was already way ahead of the United States in organized sleep learning to finally an outlandish claim of 250,000 already satifised customers. And to top it all off, there is a 100% guaranteed money back, risk-free seal at the bottom of the page which we can not trust because as we've learned, no psycholgical technique is 100% foolproof. So what do you say? "The key to unlocking your potential" is either $9.95, $19.95, or $29.95 away.

False Memory Implantation

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False memory implantation is the ability of a person to alter ones memory of an event or to implant a false memory in one's mind. I think this idea is fascinating because people are able to convince others that completely made up events have occurred. This idea is also important because it demonstrates that memories can be manipulated and altered by a third party.

One of the most famous cases on false memory implantation involves the imprisonment of Paul Ingram for molesting his daughters. At a religious retreat her camp leader convinced his daughter that she was sexually assaulted and when she returned home the investigation began. Paul originally claimed he was innocent but throughout the investigation he was detained, isolated, hypnotized and eventually convinced that he sexually assaulted his daughters. Although there was no evidence against him, he pleaded guilty to "six counts of third degree rape" and was imprisoned for 20 years. This case demonstrates to an extreme extent that memories can be created and altered.

This applies to my life because often times, it seems that present events effect past memories. For example, if I get in a terrible fight with a friend but than she apologizes and goes out of her way to be nice, the fight will not seem as bad as it originally was. It often seems like the mood and setting can effect how one views past memories. An alternate explanation for this could be that false memories can only be implanted in one person. This can be tested through repliciability to ensure that implantation is a legitimate effect.

phoebus.jpgI have no shame in admitting I'm definitely a cat person. When we were talking about clicker training in class, I had some skepticism if it would work on cats which are known to be very difficult to train, unlike dogs. I looked up on youtube clicker training for cats to see if there were any specific examples of the training. The youtube video I did find was an ad for clicker training which showed how the training worked. First, I was surprised that it worked on cats. Second, I noticed how they must have skipped multiple hours of training to show the final trick the cat had learned. At first, it went step by step to show how the cat was trained to touch its nose to the end of a stick, which is a natural response of a cat. Then it showed how the training could be used to teach your cat to sit, jump up or down, high five etc. It feels they compared the first part of training, which is relatively easy to do because it capitalizes on how cats already operate, to the second part of training which is very against the normal nature of how cats act. Operant conditioning, while effective, does take a fair amount of time to do. This elimination of information can be misleading to those viewers who wish to train their cats to do certain tricks which is an example of how science can we twisted to produce profits. Although clicker training is an interesting idea, it is always vital to take a step back and evaluate how science can be used in everyday life.


Linguistic Determinism

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Linguistic determinism is a fascinating theory that derived from a study of Inuit people and the vast amount of words they have for snow. Linguistic determinism can be simplified as the view that our thinking is solely determined on the language we speak. This is an incredible claim because it makes the assumption that the way we think about the world is completely linguistically derived.
Although this theory is very popularly tested, there are some doubts that the studies involving the Inuit people created some loopholes. Some researchers have claimed that there aren't as many distinctions among the word snow as originally thought. There is also a claim that the English language has just as many terms that describes types of snow as the Inuit do. Finally there is a correlation vs. causation issue in which they are doubts that the greater number of terms caused the Inuit to make finer distinctions. It is likely that they found it useful to make distinctions between types of snow because of the environment they live in.
Coming from a family that is bilingual, the theory of linguistic determinism is a very interesting concept. I started to think about the distinctions between Arabic and English. There is a noticeable difference in the placing of words in sentences between the two languages. In English when one says, "That girl is beautiful", the Arabic translation comes out as "Beautiful is that girl", where the adjective comes before the noun. These differences could explain why Arabic speakers and English speakers emphasize different things. But is this difference a good thing?
Diversity among languages can be taken a multitude of ways. Some people appreciate differences among languages, but it is common for others to believe that these differences cause worldwide conflict and make it impossible for people from different linguistic backgrounds to resolve issues. Personally, I believe that these differences are essential for world unity. If everyone thought one way it would definitely be easier, but people having a diverse perception of the world is a big reason why earth is such a great place to live.

0_61_amnesia.jpgThis article is about Jeffrey Alan Ingram. He is an amnesia sufferer that found himself in a different state after four days, without knowing his past life. Ingram suffers from dissociative fugue. This type of amnesia "involves one or more episodes of sudden, unexpected, but purposeful travel from home during which people cannot remember some or all of their past life, including who they are (their identity)".

The article also discusses the possible cause of Ingram's amnesia. Ingram's amnesia could be the result of stress. Before his bout of amnesia, Ingram was reported going "on his way to Canada to visit a friend who was dying of cancer". I believe that Ingram's stress was too unbearable that his mind essentially reset itself--forgetting all the stress inducing memories. His brain was essentially adapting to the situation to prevent the damaging effects of stress.

In the textbook, the authors discuss the possibility of a drug that blocks the formation of traumatic memories. Like Ingram's mind ridding memories to prevent the damaging effects of stress, the drug propranolol blocks the formation of emotional memories, but is this living? Painful emotional memories are a part of the human condition, so if we were to take this aspect away then we would be no more than robots reacting to stimuli.



Hypnosis is Real!

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Last week when I was reading chapter 5 in our psychology text, I came upon the section talking about hypnosis. I was surprised to find this in our text book because I like many other people, thought hypnosis was just a pseudoscience, and didn't actually exist. Before reading the chapter I use to think that hypnosis was only used as entertainment and was all a bunch of actors and all fake. So after reading the 6 myths I was surprised to see that hypnosis is something completely different then I thought it to be.

Hypnosis is a set of techniques that provide people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Kirsch & Lynn, 1998). Hypnosis today is a treatment used all across the nation for many different types of things. Hypnosis is based on some ones suggestibility. If you have high suggestibility it is more likely for you to be hypnotized and if you have a low suggestibility you are less likely to be hypnotized. Most of the population fits in the medium suggestible.

After doing a little research on hypnosis I came across some cool things like women who give birth through hypnosis. The women are told to recall a time that she "felt good about herself" and relive it. The surprising thing is that the women are conscious throughout the whole birth and the hypnotist is talking to them through their subconscious.

In discussion and lectures we have discussed sleeping disorders and the severity to which they affect us. A study done by professor Brian A. Sharpless, at Penn State University have discovered that sleep paralysis has had some sort of effect on 28% of students, with the frequency of occurrence ranging from once in a lifetime to every night. Sharpless found that people experience three types of hallucinations during sleep paralysis which is the presence of an intruder, pressure on the chest sometimes accompanied by physical and/or sexual assault experiences, and levitation or out-of-body experiences. Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep, or when awakening. When it occurs upon falling asleep, the person remains aware while the body shuts down for REM sleep. When it occurs when one is waking it is due to the fact that the REM cycle had not completed its cycle. It can last from a few seconds to minutes and in extreme cases a few hours. Sharpless looked identified a large group of people for this study and even researched sleep paralysis in students in other countries and the relationship with stress.
This survey is very recognizable as it has studied over 36,000 people in the last 50 years. It it has constantly found the same percentages over and over. This relates to my life and with the constant pressure to succeed it can easily cause me to become stressed out. With me becoming stressed out I could fall into that 28% as well. It also makes me question do these students suffer in school? I would like to find out how it effects the daily lives of the people who suffer from the disorder, if any. This also makes me question can the individuals that suffer frequently escape the paralysis?


In discussion and lectures we have discussed sleeping disorders and the severity to which they affect us. A study done by professor Brian A. Sharpless, at Penn State University have discovered that sleep paralysis has had some sort of effect on 28% of students, with the frequency of occurrence ranging from once in a lifetime to every night. Sharpless found that people experience three types of hallucinations during sleep paralysis which is the presence of an intruder, pressure on the chest sometimes accompanied by physical and/or sexual assault experiences, and levitation or out-of-body experiences. Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep, or when awakening. When it occurs upon falling asleep, the person remains aware while the body shuts down for REM sleep. When it occurs when one is waking it is due to the fact that the REM cycle had not completed its cycle. It can last from a few seconds to minutes and in extreme cases a few hours. Sharpless looked identified a large group of people for this study and even researched sleep paralysis in students in other countries and the relationship with stress.
This survey is very recognizable as it has studied over 36,000 people in the last 50 years. It it has constantly found the same percentages over and over. This relates to my life and with the constant pressure to succeed it can easily cause me to become stressed out. With me becoming stressed out I could fall into that 28% as well. It also makes me question do these students suffer in school? I would like to find out how it effects the daily lives of the people who suffer from the disorder, if any. This also makes me question can the individuals that suffer frequently escape the paralysis?


50 First Dates depicts a man who is a marine-life veterinarian living in Hawaii. Henry Roth has been with many different women throughout his life and doesn't see himself in a long-term relationship. Henry meets Lucy Whitmore one day and immediately likes her. The following day however, when the two meet up Lucy has no recollection of ever meeting Henry. We later learn that Lucy suffers from 'Goldfield Syndrome' where she can only remember things from the current day resulting from a car accident. In order to help Lucy remember him, Henry begins to create video tapes and has her write in a journal which summarizes her life and him so that they don't have to start over every day. Henry later goes to visit her. She says to him that she doesn't remember ever meeting him, yet she has dreamed of him and recognizes his face. The movie wraps up by following the typical ending of the guy getting the girl and the couple living happily ever after although they still have to document Lucy's life in order to work through the amnesia.

This movie, in my opinion shows anterograde amnesia in a fairly accurate light. Goldfield Syndrome causes the character, Lucy, to lose the ability to encode new memories after she received brain damage to her hippocampus. Anterograde amnesia is a common form of amnesia, in which memory recovery occurs gradually. Lucy begins to show some recovery of her memory when she is able to remember Henry's face, believes that she saw him in her dreams, and sings on the days when she sees/meets him. This was sort of sudden, but since her memory never progressed past this stage it is still somewhat believable. However, it is unlikely that someone would be able to live a normal life with a family whom he or she cannot remember without the aid of videos and documentation of that person's life without any conflict ensuing.

Here is the ending scene of the movie which shows Lucy being shown her life after waking up without memory of her family or where she is.

Learn While You Sleep!

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Tired of staying up until 3am cramming for that psychology test in the morning? Sick of reading and re-reading material because it just wont stick? Then sleep-learning is for you! Sleep learning, called "Sleep-Assisted Learning" is the learning of new material while sleeping. Sleep learning is easy to do, all you have to do is put on the cd, put in your headphones, and sleep away!

Sleep Learning makes many extraordinary claims like the average human only uses 5% of their brain, with the other 95% wasted away, a 100% money-back guarantee, and that, "Sleep Learning taps into the brain sub-concious while you sleep,allowing ANYONE to learn ANY subject with LESS EFFORT." They also give testimonials where a person who used their sleep learning cd's have won first prize in a contest after 6 weeks of sleep learning, and use the U.S. Library of Congress to promote the legitimacy of their product.
The website only claims that scientific research has proven this method of learning to be true, but doesn't provide any studies. The Lilienfeld Psychology book tells us to be weary of guarantees because no psychological method is foolproof. They looked at many of the studies that claimed sleep learning worked and most of those studies didn't test to make sure the subject was actually asleep.

While Sleep-Assisted learning would make college students' lives so much easier, it likely does not work.There is no extraordinary evidence to backup these claims. There is also no proof that shows the subject is asleep and that they actually learned the material. There are also too many warnings signs against the six scientific thinking principles for this method of learning to be believable.

Lilienfeld Psychology textbook
Sleep Learning

"Lost in Paradise"

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Memory and 50 First Dates.

50 First Dates

Memory is essential to our daily life. It becomes relevant in the recognition of people and their names, a simple phone number, and more substantial evidence such as information for a test or quiz. Without memory we would not be able to recall new information or go about our daily life, memory is more or less crucial to our survival. However, what if one day you could no longer remember the person you had just met a day earlier? You were living in the present, but could not remember a recent event. The movie 50 First Dates illustrates the idea of short-term memory loss and the struggles one must overcome because of this. The main character, Lucy, was in in a terrible car accident permitting her from remembering anyone she met or anthing she did proceeding the accident. Lucy's memory regarding her life before the accident was in perfect condition, however the head injury permitted her from remembering anyone she met the day after. In this case we see that the main character is suffering from anterograde amnesia, which inhibitis us from forming new memories. While Lucy's long term memory was still in tact, she was forced to live the exact same day over and over again. In a comic twist Lucy thought it was her father's birthday every morning, painted the same shed, and more importantly ate at the same diner. In this hilarious romantic-comedy we see the main male character, Henry, attempt to get Lucy to fall in love with him again each day. Incidentally, Henry does not realize that she has anterograde amnesia and becomes confused as to why she does not remember him. It appears that Lucy's character emotes various emotions of confusion and distress when she meets Henry on different occasions. This form of amnesia affects the mind in a way that the person is not fully aware that they have it. The idea that one is living each day over and over again without conscious recognition is a difficult concept to grasp, yet even the people experiencing it do not understand the nature of their situation. Aside from Lucy's situation though, we experience another case of short term memory loss. While the movie twists the case of "10 second Tom" in to a more comic situation, the fact of the matter is that memory truly is a precious thing and can cause drastic restrictions in one's daily life.
"10 Second Tom"
In the case of "10 Second Tom" it appears that he has lost all types of memory function. He too is suffering from anterograde amnesia. In comparison, Lucy still has some types of memory in tact. While her episodic memory for the day is secure, she is unable to remember that day soon after. Her implicit memory however is in fine condition as is her procedural memory. Lucy is perfectly capable of completing procedural task which leads us to believe that anterograde amnesia does not affect this type of memory. However, despite her episodic memory, while stable in regards to events previous to the accident is drastically affected. Memory is what keeps us going. Without memory people may suffer from things as simple as misplacing their phone, to more drastic events like forgetting the love of their life.

Is it really true that freezing, reusing, and heating plastic water bottles releases a dangerous dioxins? It has been said that you should not drink water bottles that have been left in a hot car because the heat causes the plastic to release a dangerous dioxin chemical that can cause cancer, and more specifically breast cancer. The first problem with this idea is that what type of plastic water bottle is not specified. It could be a Smart Water type of water bottle where the bottle comes already filled with water or it could be a reusable bottle, such as Nalgene bottles. The first type of bottles are made from polyethylene or terephthalate. These types of bottles are supposed to be disposable and used only once. One piece of evidence that is given to contradict the myth was given by a Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Rolf Halden. Dr. Halden said that this idea is just an urban legend. To back this up he states that the type of plastic that compose the bottle do not contain any dioxins. He also says that chemicals do not easily spread in freezing temperatures. This evidence is, at least, somewhat reliable. We know that Dr. Halden is a researcher at Johns Hopkins but we do not know what field he is a doctor in. Next, the scientific information he gives us is falsifiable so it is possible to check the validity of the evidence. The other type of water bottle is the reusable type. The problem with these is that many contain BPA which, when ingested, can cause cancer and reproductive damage. However, there is no evidence to back up this claim. In the end, this myth has the possibility to be legitimate but it also has room to be proven wrong. LINK

Memory and Chunking

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In last week's discussion class, we had to re-write the list of words we have heard. We try to group the words together, which are similar in context so it will be easier to memorize. Many people have a good sense of memory, to memorize up to the "nine" digit magic number of memorization. The term "chunking" means organizing material into meaningful groupings.
To memorize a set of information, one must have to group the information into a set of information that is the same. This method is helpful to people because it gives many people a strategy of memorizing sets of information easily. Chunking expands our short term memory so we can remember sets of information for longer periods of time.
In the text book, (Lilienfield, page 249) the author uses the example of, "CIAUSAFBINBCJFK". The book assumes that we chunked these into 5 different sets, of 3 letters. The book assumes that we grouped it into, CIA,USA,FBI,NBC, and JFK. We tend to group these letters because they mean something to us.
In real life, many people use chunking for chess, and for blackjack. In blackjack, people count cards to get an upper advantage, instead of the casino having the edge. So card counters chunk the cards, into 3 categories.

50 First Dates

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Out of all the topics, I truthfully think I was so far the most intrigued with memory during these past few weeks in Psychology. It was crazy to read about the Ingram case and Loftus' studies and how people actually can force memories into other peoples minds. I was also definitely blown away by the memory activity that we did in the beginning of our discussion. It was so weird because I had sworn that I heard some of the words. The fact that our memory can come up with ideas of it's own is amazing.

In the movie 50 First Dates, One of the characters Lucy has a form of amnesia called Anterograde Amnesia. Anterograde Amnesia is basically is the loss of memory from the point of injury or illness forward. People with this kind of amnesia have trouble remembering anything new. They probably will still have good memory of their life before the injury occurred, but will start to learn little to nothing for the years afterwards. In Lucy's form, she forgets everything after a new day. She meets Henry and he encounters "50 First Dates" with her. This movie clearly shows the effects these kinds of memory losses have. Her family and friends went through so much to make sure she still lived a normal life. They rounded their lives around her to reenact the same day, October 13th, everyday.

In this movie, they also met a fellow named "10 Second Tom". He wasn't able to remember anything after 10 seconds so he needed to be watched under severe conditions, just try and imagine if you lost all your memory after 10 seconds.

As seen in the Ingram case we saw the implantation of false memories among the two daughters and the accusations towards their father even though the claims were ridiculous with no evidence to prove them. In fact, the case became so extreme that the father himself even caved in to his own daughters and believed himself that he had done the awful things they described. Understanding this modern day even of false memories perhaps we can look at a case, although fictional, in a book know as "The Crucible".
In summary the story is about the accusations from a group of girls who accuse their entire town of Purists of being a witch. Granted, the girls continued to convict those because they assumed they would get in trouble if they were caught but originally the idea of false memories came from one little girl. She believed that she "saw" after a ritual in the woods done by a witch doctor that she saw one of the old hags in the town with the devil. However, this is the only case we see where false memories occur in the Crucible because afterwards the main girl uses this idea to use at as a weapon against those who wronged her.
Even though the Crucible is not entirely wrapped around the idea of false memories it definitely played a role, however, the difference between these two cases is that back then no one truly understood the idea of false memories but during the Ingram case we did and yet no one ever questioned if the girls were telling lies but simply believed they were write just as they had done in the Crucible.why-did-arthur-miller-write-the-crucible1.gif

Erasing Memories

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PCWmice1.jpgThe class textbook mentions briefly the effects of propranolol on people memories. They mention that it had the effect of dampening traumatic memories but not erasing them completely. The studies showed that the participants that received the drug stopped having a physical response to their memories of the violent car accident they were involved in.

I have found a news article about a chemical that seems to actually completely erase memories, at least in rats and mice. They taught the animals to avoid an electric shock to their feet in a small box. The mice would remember how to avoid the shock for a long time after they learned how. The researchers then administered a chemical called ZIP to see how it interacted with the chemical they were studying called PKMzeta. The result was the mouse could not remember how to avoid the shock in the box and had to learn all over again.

The results of this research have some interesting implications for the future, such as many ethical questions about its use. I would hope that it could be used for good by enabling us to use it to treat mental diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia. It might even allow us to help expand our memories.

Out of Body Experiences?

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Out of body experiences are surprisingly common. According to Lilienfeld 25% of college students and 10% of the general population claim to have had an out of body experience. So what causes these out of body experiences? And are people actually outside of their body?

According to Lilienfeld these experiences are senses of being outside of the body, although we are not actually separate from our body. One explanation is that our sensory information from our different senses get scrambled. If our visual system and touch input do not coincide then our brain may put the pieces together as though we are separate from our bodies even when we are not. But is this the only explanation? I did some research to find out and found the article "Out-of-Body Experience? Your Brain Is to Blame". http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/03/health/psychology/03shad.html

According to this New York Times article there may be another explanation. This article also describes that our sensory information may be the cause but new research may have pinpointed a specific brain region. When mild electric shocks are given to a part of the brain called the angular gyrus patients experience the sensation that they are above their body or there is someone right next to them trying to stop them from doing certain actions. These experiments show where in the brain these strange sensations come from.

I find this topic intriguing because this discovery pinpoints that the angular gyrus gives us our sense of unity as one person. With time, this could lead to a discovery on how to be in two places at once.

The plot of the film 50 First Dates is based on a young lady named Lucy Whitmore, played by Drew Barrymore, who suffers from long-term memory loss after she was involved in a car accident with her father. She now relives every day like it was the day before the car accident, with every night erasing her memory of the previous day. Henry Roth, played by Adam Sandler, is attracted to Lucy and receives a rude awakening from her father when Henry learns Lucy's story. Lucy's diagnosis is partially anterograde amnesia, which is defined by http://www.memorylossonline.com "Anterograde amnesia is a selective memory deficit, resulting from brain injury, in which the individual is severely impaired in learning new information."


This accurately explains Lucy's situation in 50 First Dates. The other less accurate term that is used to describe Lucy is that she has lost her short-term memory. Examine the definition of short-term memory provided by http://psychology.about.com, "Short-term memory, also known as primary or active memory, is the information we are currently aware of or thinking about."We then realize that what Lucy is lacking is not short-term memory. This is because she is able to remember things that happened a minute, an hour, or even 12 hours ago. This is not a relative explanation of short-term memory loss. There are no recorded cases in which someone has fallen asleep night after night and suddenly no longer remembered the previous day. The movie is has a very great storyline, unfortunately it is not relavent to psychology. The terminology is incorrect and although very entertaining, it is not illustrating short-term memory loss.


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The movie Memento is about a man who develops anterograde amnesia, which means new memories cannot be made. He develops this after an attack on his family that leaves his wife dead. This movie portrays this form of amnesia fairly well, because the main character cannot remember anything after a certain amount of time, even though he has pictures and tattoos of things he has to remember. These tattoos and notes he makes only tell him what happened--he doesn't actually remember the event.
Memento clearly portrays a very severe case of anterograde amnesia, given that he can't remember any of the things that happened since he developed the condition rather than being able to remember a portion of each event. People who suffer from anterograde amnesia always retain their memories prior to the event that triggered this ailment and only have memory problems after the event. According to many film critics and medical experts, as well, this film accurately represented the ailment and did a much better job than other movies that attempt to do the same thing. The way the film was made also helped to see how accurate the portrayal was. The film is broken into pieces that run both in chronological order and reverse chronological order. This creates confusion for the viewer that is very similar to the confusion of the character because of his lack of memories. Overall, I think that this movie represents the effects of anterograde amnesia as best a film can without seeming too over the top.

The 2000 Christopher Nolan film, Memento, shows the story of a man suffering from anterograde amnesia. After a very serious head trauma, the main character, Leonard (played by Guy Pearce) can no longer form new memories. He remembers everything leading up to the accident, but has difficulty remembering things after.
The definition of anterograde amnesia is, inability to encode new memories from our experiences. In Leonard's case, the only way for him to "remember" things is to keep notes and tattoo important information on his body.
The film starts with Leonard killing the man he believed attacked him and killed his wife. The rest of the film then continues to move backwards showing all the events leading up to that moment. The scenes are disjointed and told seem to really have any flow. It is how I would imagine Leonard feels every day of his life following the accident.
The book describes the movie as a "largely accurate portrayal" but says that notes like the ones that Leonard have usually don't help because they forget to look at them.

I found the section in chapter seven about erasing painful memories extremely interesting. The ethics behind the research are controversial. If we could erase every painful memory we ever had, would we still grow and learn from our mistakes? I have always thought the idea of erasing specific memories was intriguing, since it has been the basis for many different movies. This whole topic can be connected to the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The two main characters, who are polar opposites, are inexplicably drawn together at the beginning of the movie. Viewers find out later that the two are actually former lovers meeting for the second time, however the two are unaware that they ever had procedures done to erase each other from their memories. I feel as though this movie portrays memory in a less scientific, but more fictional way. The movie portrays memories as "things" that can be manipulated and changed, whereas memories are much more complicated than that. The movie also suggests that there are specific places in the brain that memories are stored, but research has proven that this isn't so.


There is no specific place, or engram, that memories are stored in. The hippocampus plays a role in the recall of memories, while the amygdala plays a role in the recall of a memory's emotion aspects, but being able to pinpoint and erase specific memories like in the movie has not been proven possible. But does being able to erase painful memories mean we should? We would never learn from our mistakes, as was shown in this movie. Joel and Clementine (the two main characters) end up back together even after erasing their memories of each other. If painful memories could be erased, our lives might end up going in circles, by us making the same mistakes over and over.

A mnemonic device is defined in Lilienfeld as "". Mnemonic devices help people of all ages study and memorize important information. It is interesting that people use mnemonics in their every-day life usually without noticing it.

Many mnemonics are used by people to remember common things. A well-known mnemonic is that which helps people remember the musical notes in the scale which are ordered by: EGBDF. An easy way to remember this order is to memorize the phrase: "Every Good Boy Does Fine."

Another example of a mnemonic is that which helps people remember the order of the planets from the sun. The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The mnemonic is: "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles."

Bucks County Community College created a webpage to help students study more effectively. Instead of common mnemonics, Bucks Community College faculty created a table explaining all memory techniques. They explain to use acronyms, acrostics, rhyme-keys, loci methods, keyword methods, image-name technique, and chaining; (most of which are also explained in Lilienfeld).

In order to remember information for tests in classes, I use mnemonics to assist my memory. Recently, ABC news investigated the use of mnemonics. Samantha Towle (a student at Ithaca College) made her own mnemonic methods to earn an A in calculus. She would doodle comic strips "about equations that she didn't understand." Her creative method of learning served as a mnemonic for herself. This article suggests that doodling can help students not daydream in class, and they can even learn the class content from their pictures.


False Memories

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After doing a memory test in my Psychology Discussion class, I was so blown away by the results that I wanted to learn more. In the test, my teacher read off a list of words and we had to recall as many as we could. At the end of class, we got to see a list of all the words that were said, and on some lists, people (including myself) wrote down words that weren't included on the list, but were associated with the general theme. I could have sworn in one list she said a word, but turns out to my surprise, the word was never said. I created a false memory in my mind that she had said this word, and I was blown away to learn that in fact, the word was never said.

Looking at false memories more closely, I found a report from the University of Washington written by Elizabeth Loftus with stories of creating false memories, and some experiments that they did. One example was that of Nadean Cool, who went to therapy to help cope with a traumatic event dealing with her daughter. The psychiatrist convinced Cool that she had repressed memories of being in a satanic cult, eating babies, being raped, having sex with animals, and being forced to watch the murder of her eight year old friend. The psychiatrist also performed exorcisms on her, one of them which lasted for five hours. Cool finally realized that false memories were placed, and sued the psychiatrist for malpractice. Loftus first started researching memory back in the 1970's, when she began researching the "misinformation effect." This shows that peoples recollections become distorted when they witness an event and then are later exposed to misleading information about it. Her research goes to show just how easy it is to manipulate someone's mind, and to make them believe something that never actually happened. It's amazing how a few words can make the biggest difference.

George Franklin, who has spent the last 6 years in prison on a murder charge, was finally released due to the fact that false memories were planted in his daughters mind using hypnosis, and she accused him of the murder.

This video sums up the story of George Franklin, and is a good example of how creating false memories can often times lead to consequences, and it shows just how easy it is to plant a false memory into someone's mind.

For more about Elizabeth Loftus's research and about more stories of false memories:


A recent study done in the journal of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review proves that found that men are funnier than women. The margin between the humor of women and men is quite small, however. They also found that it was often times men who found other men funnier. Laura Mickes, a psychology professor in San Diego, says "The stereotype that males are funnier than females has always puzzled me, because in my experience, and my intuition was that, we are equally funny."

In order to perform the study, they had student participants fill out blank New Yorker cartoons and create several captions. They then had 34 men and 47 women grade the cartoons in a tournament-style rating system. They also found that men used vulgarity and sexual humor slightly more than the women in the study.

An interesting thing was what Mickes said later in the article. She says "I think the results do suggest that our thinking that men are much funnier makes us remember them as having been funnier." This to me is a clear example of the representative heuristic. When asked about funny people, I think most average people on the street would think of more men than women off the top of their head. People would probably name Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, and other comedic men, but they would probably forget people like Tina Fey who may be equally as funny. This thought makes us think that men must be funnier, and may have had an impact on the study.

False Memories: Paul Shanley

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In our Psychology 1001 discussion this week we talked and learned more about false memories. False memory, also called memory illusion, is a memory that never actually occurred, but you believe that it did. We learned that we are vulnerable to receiving false memories. I know I've always believed that my memories were always correct, but after an experiment that we did in discussion I no longer believe that.

Online I found a video about a priest name Paul Shanley. He was sentenced to prison after being found guilty of sexually abusing a 6 year old boy. The boy had no memories of being sexually abused until he was an adult. He claimed he had saw Shanley's name in a newspaper and all the memories had flooded back to him. The big debate in this case is whether the boy had a repressed memory or was this a false memory. These two claims of memory, repressed and false memory, are known in psychology as the "Memory Wars." Some psychologist believe that repressed memories, especially after traumatic events, can't happen.

In Paul Shanley's case I have a hard time believing that the boy all of the sudden just remember everything that had happened. I believe that with traumatic events, like child abuse, you can try to forget it but it will always be with you. I think that this could be a case of false memory. In the video they showed a psychologist who works with patients who believe the were abducted by aliens. These people's memories are extremely vivid and it just show how influential false memories can be. I believe that memory is a hard thing to base your evidence off. Our memory can be manipulated by many external factors. We don't have very strong evidence yet to know how exactly everything works with our memory.

Food color and diet

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Someone has done the following experiment: take some of the watermelon juice dyed it bright red, and then got the result that all participants feel that the watermelon juice with stain colors is tastes sweet than the watermelon juice with original color. Why is it so? This is because the brain getting long-term accumulation of life experiences formed a conditioned response. As an unconditioned stimulus, colors always enforce people with discriminative stimulus. People always feel excited by seeing red color, red can also increase appetite and stimulate the nervous system stimulant; seeing yellow is most likely to think the taste of citric acid, then stimulating saliva production and thus improving the appetite. It seems like the food color stimulation largely determines people whether to eat it or not .

Most people prefer the restaurant with the quiet and elegant environment when their have dinner, because eating in a comfortable environment will make people feel more comfortable while they are eating. Furthermore, yellow or orange color in the dining environment can effectively regulate people's mood, Thus stimulating the appetite. During the experiment, psychologists find that green is easy to give people the illusion of returning to nature, and feeling to ease of mind. In the dining environment with red color, people's emotional impulses can be excited easily , and thus increasing appetite, which is a important reason for a lot of restaurants using red color as main color in decoration. If a person is in the blue environment The blue color will help him or her relieve the psychological state of tension and slow down the heart rate. Therefore, the excitement will soon died down.
Although color itself has no emotion, the religious beliefs, life experiences, cultural enrichment, age under the influence of personality and other factors caused all kinds of associations, so that the food contains the corresponding psychological feelings, thus eliciting the conditioned response.

Picture References:


Seldom in our lives do we enjoy being proven wrong however; Elizabeth Loftus, who has extensively studied memory using suggestive techniques, has uncovered startling evidence that we may be wrong more often than right. Loftus played a critical role in understanding memory as she used the misinformation act to implant false memories into the mind of others.

Loftus was able to do this by asking loaded questions. For example, she would ask "while the car was stopped at a stop sign, did a red Dutsun pass by?" where no stop sign existed. The participants then believed that the stop sign was in fact, there. Additionally, Loftus implanted memories by asking children of their experiences with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Although this is impossible as Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brother's character, the participants often told elaborate stories of meeting him. This prompts us to question: if memory is fallible, why do we rely on it for evidence?

Memory played a large role in the Troy Anthony Davis's case. Davis was an American man convicted and executed for the murder or a police officer. Although no substantial evidence was presented, as many as seven claimed to see Davis shoot the police officer among others that stated they had received a confession. Where did these memories come from? Years later, it was revealed that the police department had coerced the witnesses to hold Davis responsible however; Davis was not released. Were the eyewitnesses brainwashed to believe they had seen him shoot the police officer? Is it possible that the damage had been done? After the eyewitness testimonies were used as evidence, could it be that the notion of Davis's guilt had already been implanted into the minds of others? Despite the lack of evidence, the jurors had used the "memory" of the eyewitnesses to convict and execute Troy Davis.

The Troy Davis Story
Troy Davis.jpg

A View From the Moon

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A Picture: (This page kept freezing every time i tried uploading the picture. I had to redo it a couple of times, so I just put the link.)

The Great Wall is about 5, 500 miles that runs from the east to west of China. It has been there for about 2,000 years. It is one of the most appealing attractions with people coming from all over to see this remarkable, historically significant creation. It was built in the midst of a war to keep invasions out.

I think that pretty much everybody has heard that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space. It's said to be the only man made object that can be seen from the moon. Can it really be true? Well, for a long time people believed this even though there was no evidence to support that it was true. It's been a long held belief and even though it'd been proven wrong, people still hold this popular belief. It definitely is a great example of belief perseverance.

This is an extraordinary claim. Is there extraordinary evidence to back up this? A low earth orbit is 160-350 miles away. At this distance there are other man made objects visible on earth, and the Great Wall is barely visible. It has similar colors to its surroundings, so it blends in. If it's barely visible from this distance, there's no way it could be visible from the moon. The moon is about 237,000 miles away from earth.


George Franklin Case

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The article describes the case of George Franklin. George Franklin is a man who was falsely accused of raping and murdering his daughter's best friend, Susan Nason. Eileen Franklin, daughter of George, was in a therapy session when she had a flashback of a repressed memory. The memory was of twenty years earlier when her father supposedly raped and murdered her best friend.

Everything Eileen recalled in her memory about what happened that day was also printed in newspapers from around the time of the murder. Eileen failed to present any new evidence to the detectives; she simply reiterated old facts with a slight twist. In addition, some of the things she recalled didn't fit with what actually happened, like how the mattress that her father supposedly raped Susan wouldn't have fit in her father's van like she said it did, and in reality it was a box spring found at the crime scene, not a mattress. So why did George get convicted? There was no evidence tying him to the murder. Eileen's story changed so much that it shouldn't have even counted. It was the statement from Dr. Lenore Terr that stated that memories of abuse can be hidden away so that victims can attempt to lead a normal life without facing the awful truth. This is what Eileen claimed happened to her. But what was more probable was Eileen was just trying to make sense of a senseless childhood tragedy.

George Franklin was sentenced to a life in prison for first degree murder. The jury had to believe Eileen because her story, even with its inconsistencies, seemed so convincing. Her memories were so vivid that they couldn't prove them to be false. George was released six years later when it was revealed that Eileen had been hypnotized when she had the recollection and again before she testified. When people are under the influence of hypnoses, their memories are more likely to change, so her memory couldn't be proven to be true.

Click here to read the article:

Genie, In Depth

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After reading about Genie in Chapter 8 of the Lilienfeld text, I was very curious to learn more. I came across a video that NOVA had made on the study of her emotional development and development in the realm of language. The Lilienfeld text does not convey the result of the study, which the NOVA video does. NOVA explains that Genie was never fully able to understand how to properly use the English language. Her story ends up being heartbreaking, considering that once the government stopped funding the study, she was put into more abusive homes and due to this began to revert to silence. This video showed me how critical it is to be follow the scientific method, which seemed to be lacking in this case. The scientists and researchers were so focused on the excitement of the case, some of the rather important things that made Genie's case valid, were forgotten. Since the case was no longer valid, the funding stopped. Not only did the motives of the scientists distort and ruin the rare opportunity they had to study Genie, they resulted in forcing Genie into more abusive situations. I wonder whether there will be another chance to study a "wild child", and that researchers will follow a better procedure by learning through the mistakes made with Genie's case.

NOVA: Secret of The Wild Child

Genie, In Depth

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After reading about Genie in Chapter 8 of the Lilienfeld text, I was very curious to learn more. I came across a video that NOVA had made on the study of her emotional development and development in the realm of language. The Lilienfeld text does not convey the result of the study, which the NOVA video does. NOVA explains that Genie was never fully able to understand how to properly use the English language. Her story ends up being heartbreaking, considering that once the government stopped funding the study, she was put into more abusive homes and due to this began to revert to silence. This video showed me how critical it is to be follow the scientific method, which seemed to be lacking in this case. The scientists and researchers were so focused on the excitement of the case, some of the rather important things that made Genie's case valid, were forgotten. Since the case was no longer valid, the funding stopped. Not only did the motives of the scientists distort and ruin the rare opportunity they had to study Genie, they resulted in forcing Genie into more abusive situations. I wonder whether there will be another chance to study a "wild child", and that researchers will follow a better procedure by learning through the mistakes made with Genie's case.

NOVA: Secret of The Wild Child

Grouping and chunking

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When seeing a series of information for a short time, people always show divergent level of ability of memory. Except some superman of memory, why ordinary people have so large difference of ability of memorizing? How can some people manage to memorize larger amounts of information than others for just brief period of time? The answer is grouping and chunking.
Firstly, grouping is to divide information into groups and remember all the groups in ordinal position. If one wants to remember a series of numbers maybe more than 12 in a short time, it's hardly to memorize all numbers one by one because the span of short-term memory, according to George Miller, is seven plus or minus two pieces of information. But if we divide the 12 numbers by 4 and get 3 groups of numbers, it much easier for us to remember all of them in short time.
Secondly, chunking is another way to extend our span of short-term memory. Chunking is to make meaningful groupings from material. For example, look at the following words for a little time and recite them: tone, stuck, tuning, pure, retain, period, pitch. It's not easy to memorize all of them quickly. But if we organize these words to make a sentence, "When it is struck, a tuning fork produces an almost pure tone, retaining its pitch over a long period of time", it seems easier to remember these words when we memorize the sentence. Because the sentence is meaningful, we could remember that more quickly than a set of single words.
Anyway, grouping and chunking are two means for ordinary people to remember information more efficiently in short term. Someone exhibits phenomenal memory we can never beat them!


Have you ever been asked a question that you knew the answer to, but had trouble thinking of the word for it? This is known as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. This is experienced when we know that we know something, but are unable to access the information. It is a universal problem that affects all of us weekly.

In order to get a better understanding of this phenomenon, Karin Humphreys and her colleagues as McMaster University performed a study on a study on a group of people. In their study, they showed the group questions that they would know, would not have known, or have had on the tip of their tongue. Half of the participants had 10 seconds to sit in the tip-of-the-tongue stage before being shown the answer, while the other half were in the stage for 30 seconds. Two days later, the researchers tested the same people.

What they found was that the people who were stuck in the tip-of-the-tongue stage for 30 seconds were more likely to get stuck in the tip-of-the-tongue stage on the second day. From this, Humphreys and her colleagues concluded that it is better to not get stuck in the tip-of-the-tongue stage for long and come back to it later on, or look up the answer.

Humphreys said this is important for us as college students who are studying because if we are studying and having troubles remembering the answer, we should look it up as this will prevent this phenomenon from happening again when it matters, like on a test. This study was an important one because it gives helps us understand how to avoid this very common, frustrating phenomenon.

Click here to learn more about the study

Reinforcement with Autism

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The little girl Lisa from the Autism video at https://www2.webvista.umn.edu:443/webct/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct?appforward=%2Fwebct%2FviewMyWebCT.dowebct is a great example of the concept of reinforcement and extinction from chapter 6 in our textbook. Lisa's teacher uses positive reinforcements to teach her to sit in a chair on command by rewarding her correct response after being told to sit with verbal praise and kisses. Autistic children respond well to physical hugging and kissing and so by pairing kissing with correctly sitting in a chair when told to, Lisa's teacher conditions her, using the command as the UCS, sitting in the chair as the UCR, and kissing as the CS, and sitting in the chair as the CR, so he is pairing the good feelings she gets from the kissing with being told to sit in a chair.
This also shows an example of extinction, because after the teacher does not follow up her sitting in the chair with kisses, she slowly begins not sitting down when being told to, and so the conditioned response is becoming extinct.
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False Memories

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This week in my psychology discussion class we did a short-term memory experiment that showed just how easily false memories can be implanted into our brain while we remain completely unaware of them. The activity consisted of listening to a sizable list of words and then recalling as many as we could afterwards. All the words in each list aimed at "activating" a certain word in our brains but not including that word. When it came to recall the words we had just heard, five times out of six I wrote down that I had heard the very word the list was intended to make me think I heard but in fact had not. False memories are more prevalent than many people think and can be created practically out of thin air. One researcher, Elizabeth Loftus, demonstrated this by doing an experiment where she asked participants if they had seen Bugs Bunny while visiting Disney Land. This experience is impossible, Bugs Bunny being a Warner Bros character would not be allowed in Disney Land. However, many participants recalled seeing him, even touching his tail and watching him carrots. The implications of this study are pretty frightening, especially when you take into account all of the "eye-witness" testimonies we rely on in the court room when deciding to lock someone up or not. Framing can also create false memories; framing is when a question is phrased in a suggestive manner. This is especially important in the courtroom when the opposing side is questioning witnesses. The jury and the judge should be well informed on how easily memories can be created or distorted when making final decisions on a case as to not lock up anyone innocent.

Amityville Horror

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Halloween is just around the corner and many of us have been watching scary movies in anticipation of the holiday. One well known movie, The Amityville Horror, is a favorite. Most people are familiar with the movie, book, or a telling of the events. What many aren't familiar with, is that it was all a hoax. The house was never haunted. Still, many believe the tale to be the truth, a classic haunted house story. This is despite the family who originally claimed the house was haunted, the Lutz's, eventually admitting they'd made it up.

Yet, even if one where to disregard the confession that the story was a fake, by use of the principles of critical thinking, one should be able to reach this conclusion on their own, allow me to demonstrate using a few of the principles.

The first principle, ruling out rival hypothesis, is perhaps the easiest one to use. If someone claims that there house is haunted, one should use this principle and ask themselves, what else could it be and has that explanation been ruled out? In the case of the Lutz's no one ever ruled out the possibility that the family was making the story up. Many tried to by inviting paranormal experts to validate the Lutz's claims, but no concrete evidence was ever established excluding the possibility that the Lutz's were lying.

The principle of extraordinary claims asks one to evaluate if the evidence is as strong as the claim. Again the answer is no. Besides the Lutz own first hand accounts, and the confirmations of supposed paranormal experts, there was no other evidence, certainly no concrete physical evidence.

Replicability, determining if the results can be replicated, is another principle that pokes a hole in the Amityville story. The haunted events that supposedly took place for the Lutz's were never replicated, and in fact, the families that have owned the house since have reported no sign of an otherworldly presence.

Although Halloween is a wonderful time to watch scary movies and get into the spirit of the holiday, it's important to keep in mind the principles of critical thinking. It's fun to be scared sometimes but, when the lights go off at night, its nice to know that that scary movie you just watched couldn't possibly be true. Right?


Since the early 1900's, some people have made the claim that one could see the Great Wall of China all the way from the moon. This claim is believed to be originally made by Richard Halliburton in his 1938 book "Second Book of Marvels". Halliburton said that the "Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the moon". "However, when leaving the earth's orbit and acquiring an altitude of more than a few thousand miles, no man-made objects are visible at all" (Rosenburg). According to NASA, "The Great Wall can barely be seen from the Shuttle, so it would not be possible to see it from the Moon with the naked eye" (Rosenburg). Obviously, if NASA says you can't see the Great Wall of China from the Shuttle, then no way can you see it from further away.

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This claim is an extraordinary claim. There is not enough evidence, or actually, there's pretty much no evidence at all, that this claim is true, so the evidence is obviously not as extraordinary as the claim. This makes this claim false. Also, this claim is falsifiable. There is evidence that contradicts the claim, so it can be disproved. This makes the claim even more false.

The only explanation to this claim being made is due to availability heuristic. People automatically think the Great Wall of China is so large that it could actually be seen from space. People don't realize that the moon is "roughly 237,000 miles away" (Snopes) from earth. The moon in peoples' minds is really big, and closer to earth than they actually realize, so they think if on the moon, they could see the largest man-made structures like the Great Wall of China. However, even though these thoughts do pop up in our minds easily, that doesn't make them true. The Great Wall of China can not be seen from the moon. This claim is false.

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Article- http://www.snopes.com/science/greatwall.asp
Article- http://geography.about.com/od/specificplacesofinterest/a/greatwall.htm
Pic- http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ia4h1rKanAQ/SrpGFCrJIgI/AAAAAAAAAss/zOb_78VTG7Q/s400/earth+great+wall+from+the+moon.jpg
Pic- http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ia4h1rKanAQ/SrpGwNZbohI/AAAAAAAAAtM/vHmt4U59rmY/s1600-h/great+wall+china+beijing.jpg

Magic Number 7

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To the majority of the public, when asked about the number seven, would say it is a lucky number; however, the number seven is not only lucky, but magic. The psychologist George Miller came up with the concept of the magic number in 1956 as he defined it in the following way: the amount of pieces of information, or chunks, that we can store in our short term memory without the practice of rehearsal. The magic number, according to Miller, is seven plus or minus two. Basically this means that given a series of information, the average human is able to retain anywhere from five to nine pieces of this information. There are some cases though that people are able to remember more than this magic range. Take for example the study of Sidney Smith in 1954, as Miller cited his study many times when publishing his works. Smith was able to successfully remember roughly 40 digits in a string of numbers. This should not be possible according to the theory of Miller's magic number--or is it? When Miller described the magic number, he used the word chunks. Chunking is organizing information into meaningful groupings; allowing us to extend our short term memory. Smith, as a result, was able to chunk his digits into groups of four. This allowed him to have every four digits count for only one of his pieces of information that could be stored in his short term memory. The revelation of chunking has allowed for massive memorization as seen by people reciting thousands of digits of the mathematical term pi.

The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Movie (1979).jpgThese are the words straight from a therapy patient's mouth, frightening and unsure of whether or not his memories are real. Strangely, false memories can be created fairly easily.

Often times these false memories are not remembered at first. Such as with Paul Ingram in the famous case in which his daughters claimed that he had sexually abused them along with committing many other satanist acts. Other claims of abuse are wild and crazy, anything from forced animal sex to eating babies. However, false memories aren't always so extraordinary and crazy.

For example, take something as innocent as the popular cartoon Bugs Bunny. Do you remember meeting him that time you went to Disney Land?

No, you don't. Bugs Bunny is actually a product of Warner's Brothers, not Disney.

So what should you look for when identifying false memories? One of the very first signs is not recognizing the memory at the beginning. When given more time to think, people begin to register the memory and believe that it has actually happened. This is what Dr. Oftshe believed happened to Paul Ingram in his case. Also, be skeptical if someone asks you to imagine yourself in the situation. This was also asked by Paul Ingram. This allows you to create scenarios and imagine your wildest dreams, eventually you may begin to believe them.

Always, always, always (Especially in legal cases) make sure that the details line up. In the Paul Ingram case, even though he pleaded guilty to the crimes, the details of his confession never lined up with the claims of his daughters.

Elizabeth Loftus is known for her extensive research on false memories. She herself was a victim of false memory after learning from her uncle that she was the one who discovered her mother's body after drowning. Even though her claims are controversial (After all, they brought all of these cases to light), she would never keep her research behind closed doors in a lab if she had the opportunity to re-do her past.

More on the Paul Ingram Case and Bugs Bunny

Having illusory memories is known to be bad and can possibly harm someone, But there has been said that it also has a good side to it. According to the Medical Xpress " memory is a flexible process of taking in new information and blending it with what is already there, selecting or forgetting portions of experience; it inevitably leads to errors small or large." ( Medical Xpress 1). This also leads to people creating their own memories that they believe is the truth. It is believed that creating false memories sometimes can be helpful and good for a person. The article says that, "remembering your childhood as happier than it was may help you have more satisfying intimate relationships in adulthood." (Medical Xpress 1). Also the article also states that false memories act like a placebo. Mark L. Howe did a study on children in which he made the believe a lumbar puncture as less painful as possible and then the next time they took the puncture they were able to tolerate it. According to Mark Howe, "Memories true or false can have a negative or positive effect, depending on the context. The key point is: Just because a memory is false doesn't make it bad." (Medical Xpress 1). I guess we can have false memories that can lead to positive effects and they aren't always negative like many thought them to be. We make memories all the time and many of them are most likely false and/or twisted from the first time we make the memory.


Taste Aversion

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Have you ever eaten something and thrown up later that night, which then led to you never wanting to eat that again? Well, you probably experienced a conditioned taste aversion. Taste aversion refers to the fact that classical conditioning can lead us to develop avoidance reactions to the taste of food when it has been paired with feelings of nausea.

Don't be fooled, taste aversion differs from classical conditioning in three ways. First, conditioned taste aversions only require one pairing between the CS and UCS to develop. Second, the delay between the CS and UCS can be as long as six to eight hours. Lastly, taste aversions tend to be specific and display little evidence of stimulus generalization.

My cousin doesn't like plain cheese--it makes him feel nauseous. However, he likes to eat pizza (which has cheese on it) and macaroni and cheese. Obviously his conditioned taste aversion is specific only to plain cheese.

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Let's look at this example. After eating the sausage, sensations of disgust and food poisoning developed. It is likely that sausage would be avoided from being eaten in the future because it has been classically conditioned with nausea.

I remember when I went to the cheesecake factory for dinner with my family. I ordered the chicken parmesan and later that night I threw it all up. I can tell you I haven't eaten that since, and I won't ever in the future. Even thinking about that meal makes me feel sick to my stomach. I had developed a taste aversion. So the question is will this taste aversion ever go away?

Emotional Memory

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Emotional memory is the concept that people remember things better when emotions are linked to the event. This is because when a memory is being formed, the hippocampus (in charge of helping us recall events) interacts with the amygdala (in charge of helping us recall emotion). Here is an article with more information on the topic. Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory
There was a study done to prove people remember stories better when they are emotionally stimulating. In this study, participants were told a story about a boy in the hospital. There were two groups of participants and each group was told a slightly different story. One group heard an emotionally neutral story about a boy who visited his father at the hospital where he worked. The other group was told a horrifying story about the boy being in the hospital because he was injured and had to be operated on to reattach his severed legs.
The participants were brought back for a memory test 24 hours later and the group that heard the emotionally stimulating story remembered in great detail the part about the boy's traumatic experience but not as much detail about the rest of the story. The group that heard the emotionally neutral story remembered the same amount of detail for every part of the story.
This study shows that people remember things better when emotions are involved. You can read more about emotional memory in this article. This concept is important because it can explain why memories of traumatic experiences stick with people in vivid detail for their entire lives. This gives us insight to the possibilities of erasing painful memories or at least making them less prominent. We know things are remembered better when we are emotionally stimulated so if we can find a way to hinder that emotion, the traumatic memories might be less vivid. They have done tests on certain drugs that can weaken emotions but our society hasn't quite decided if this procedure is ethical or something we really want to do. If we can't remember negative experiences, we can't learn from them.

Extraordinary Memory

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Kim Peek is an individual with an IQ of 87 but is known today because of his unique abilities. Peek can memorize 12,000 books word for word, the zip codes, and the number of highways in the United States (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Namy, Woolf, Psychology from Inquiry to Understanding, page 243). He could also remember the correct day of the week to any problems you gave him. Another phenomenal individual who possess similar unique abilities is Ranjan Mahadevan who is able to memorize the number of pi which is 38,811 digits long and could recite it in three hours. In addition, many people who hear stories of these two individuals might assume they possess extraordinary powers but the truth is the alternative explanation is these two individuals are using a method called chunking. Chunking is a system that we can use to increase our short term memory by grouping meaningful information together. In this case Mahadevan and Peek were able to remember dates, area codes, and other information by grouping together words or numbers to minimize learning lots of information. Another example includes Solmon V. Shereshevskii who claims to possess photographic memory because he could remember a lot of words that he could recall years later. These claims are very interesting to study because they are hard to replicate in the lab and are also likely to be disproven by others. Another alternative explanation of Shereshevskii's abilities can be due to memory techniques he acquired. One technique used often are mnemonics which allow individuals to enhance their abilities to recall information often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something. Here is the Link.



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For me, rehearsal is important. If I do not rehearse at all, I will forget what I previously learned. I rehearse on the things I learn every day, so that I will remember what I learn the next coming up days. But, I do not rehearse my school work as often as I rehearse my musical notes for my qeej class. I play a traditional Hmong instrument call the qeej, which we use the qeej for weddings, funerals and entertainment. Rehearsing is really important for me because in order for me to play the qeej properly, I need to play the correct keys and notes. But, playing the correct keys and notes are the easy part, what is the hard part is memorizing the words. Each sounds that I produce from the instrument have its very own word or meaning in it. It is not like playing a flute that produce out meaningless sounds (sorry for those who I may have offended). So, basically if I remember all the words correctly, I can play the qeej no problem. That is only if I remember the words for that specific song only. By rehearsing, it helps me remember all the words for that song, so I can play the song having no problem and any time I want. Rehearsing is not the only way I use to memorize all the qeej songs in my head, I also use elaborative rehearsal. Which one can argue that elaborative rehearsal and rehearsing is technically the same.
Since the songs of the qeej are basically stories, I always imagine having to tell the story in my head to remember what the song is about. When I know what the story is, I can most of the time produce out the words that I need to play for the song. In other words, I picture the song as a storyline. This way of rehearsing helps me to remember songs well. I am really thankful for even having rehearsal and elaborative rehearsal in me. Without this, I would not have been as proud of a person I am today. I wonder how life would be without rehearsal being introduce or having it in oneself.

Conditioned Taste Aversions

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In discussing learning and classical conditioning in chapter six of the psychology textbook, conditioned taste aversions are one concept outlined. A conditioned taste aversion can be described as a negative view or dislike of a certain food due to previous classical conditioning in our lives. If something unfortunate occurs in our daily lives such as vomiting, diarrhea, or an upset stomach after eating a certain food, we may develop one of these conditioned taste aversions. We associate the food we ate prior to the unfortunate event with the unfortunate event that occurred and become unable to eat that food anymore from then on. This form of classical conditioning only needs one occurrence to be instilled into our minds and does not always occur immediately after we experience our unfortunate event. The idea of conditioned taste aversions is necessary in the world of psychology to demonstrate the different ways classical conditioning can affect our daily lives in both positive and negative ways. We may also be able to determine a reason for no longer enjoying the taste of a certain food we previously hadn't thought about. I have definitely experienced a conditioned taste aversion in my life. One morning a few years ago, I was pouring myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and milk for breakfast. Little did I know, the milk was rotten, and I proceeded to take a bite of my cereal. I have never been able to eat Honey Nut Cheerios after that horrible discovery. In conducting further research on conditioned taste aversions, I would be interested in learning more about where in the brain we develop these aversions and how our taste buds are affected in the long run and if it is possible to outgrow the taste aversions.


Have you ever seen a movie where the main character loses his/her memory?
On the movie screen, it's usually an car accident or a nasty fall that causes memory loss. For me the thought of losing my memory is very scary. I feel like, as humans, memory is the most important thing that makes us who we are. We grow as individuals because of it. We cry, laugh and get mad all because of a memory. Memory is crucial to not only our every day lives but to our existence. So why not learn about why we lose our memory? What are the causes? I have to tell you it's not just dramatic car accidents and falls that we see on TV that cause memory loss. According to an Article titled "Why People Lose Memory" on LIVESTRONG.com, there are five main causes that result in memory loss. They are dementia, amnesia, stroke, tumors and head injuries. The article elobrated on each cause and why they result in memory loss. Dementia is a set of symptoms that show memory loss in a person. The symptoms can be due Alzeimers or Pakiston's desease. Amnesia, unlike the Hollywoods stereotype, is memory loss due to trauma or damage to the brain. I once have seen a movie called "memoirs of a teenage amnesiac". In my opinion, the movie portrayed the symtomps of amnesia pretty well. After seeing what amnesia can cause in one's life, I learned to be very careful about not injuring my head. Strokes are caused by the blood flow the brain and stroke also can damage the brain. In the article, it says the following: "The lack of oxygen reaching brain cells causes them to die quickly. Depending on where the damage to the brain is, memory loss can occur." Also besides stroke, if cancerous tumor grows in a brain area where memory is stored, it can cause memory loss as well. As for head injuries, depending on where the hit is, if it damages memory stroage parts in the brain, it can result brain damage and therefore loss of memory. As you can see memory loss can occur in multiple ways. It is up to you to prevent your most precious treasures (your memories). Wear your helmet if you are riding your motorcycle or bike, and prevent injuries to your head. You don't want to be the next lead of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesaic. Also ask from your doctor how you can prevent from having a stroke and growing cancer cells, not just in your brain, but in your body. If you see serious signs of memory loss, consult with your doctor, it might be sign of dementia. Dementia may include may include difficulties in speaking or thinking, or the inability to function in society because of an increase in judgment difficulties."


Blame it on Sponge Bob

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In a study published September 12, 2011 in Pediatrics, psychologists at the University of Virginia Charlottesville conclude that watching just 9 minutes of a fast-paced cartoon has immediate negative effects on the attention span and learning of 4-year-olds. Sixty children, all age 4, were randomly assigned to three groups. One group watched "Sponge Bob," another watched a slower-paced cartoon, and a third control group colored. SpongeBob.jpgAfterwards, the children's performance was measured on some attention, memory, problem-solving, and delay-of-gratification tasks. They were asked to move disks from one peg to another following a set of rules, to touch their heads when the experimenter told them to touch their toes (and vice versa), to repeat numbers an experimenter told them but to say them backwards, and to wait for the experimenter to return and get 10 pieces of snack or ring a bell to get the experimenter to come back and get only 2 pieces. The results? Children who watched "Sponge Bob" scored worse than both other groups.

I have only a few issues with this study. First, the sample size was small. Second, the group of children wasn't very diverse. Most were white, middle- to upper-middle-class kids, so the results are difficult to generalize. Also, the children weren't tested before they watched television. Instead, the researchers relied on reports from the parents concerning the amount of television their child typically watched and whether their child had attention problems. It's also not clear what cartoon features might have caused the results, or how long the effects might persist. And only 4-year-olds were tested, so that makes you wonder what the effect would be on children of other ages. Another question might be what would happen if they watched the cartoon for more than 9 minutes?

Nickelodeon, the network that airs "Sponge Bob," responded that the program is intended for children over 6. That may be true, but many younger kids will likely watch the show with their older siblings. As always, parents can turn off the television and kids can do something else, or kids can watch a slower-paced program. In any case, it seems that young children should avoid watching fast-paced cartoons right before they go to school so learning and performance aren't impaired.

For those of you unfamiliar with "Sponge Bob," here is a video clip.

Kids Should Play!

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The nation's largest group of pediatricians at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition released the statement "children under age 2 should avoid watching TV as much as possible" this past week. Some evidentiary support of this claim comes from the fact that even though there are several educational children's shows on television, none of them have been proven to be beneficial to the learning in children this young. In fact, watching TV has lead to sleep problems, delayed use of speech in young kids, and prevent children from learning language from their parents.
However, the article then goes on to claim that TV watching is beneficial to children over 2 years old. They say it can improve their language and social skills. Conversely, the children under age 2 are supposed to be engaged in unstructured play, which promotes creative thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills.
Although this article introduces some thoughtful information, it is lacking evidence to support these claims. The article stated that television can draw children away from participating in other activities like playing with and talking to their parents, but there was no statistical data or evidence from research to support the claims that children under 2 years old should not watch television at all.
Also, the fact that the article says that TV is beneficial to children over age 2 is questionable. Why then? What makes television a positive influence for children over 2 as opposed to children under 2?
This article brings very interesting and important ideas to life. Today in America, televisions are everywhere and companies are paying a lot of money to produce shows that are "educational" for children in hopes of expanding the range of their viewers.
To improve the credibility of this article and the claims it made, research should be done with children watching television compared to children who do not watch television in order to give more support for the claims in this article.
To read more, visit MSN.

Killing Innocent People

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On occasion, my family will talk about vacations we have previously taken. My younger sister has very vivid accounts of the vacations that she enjoyed the most. The only problem is most of these accounts were from vacations that she did not attend. In fact, the memories were from before she was born. Even now, at 14 years old and being told continuously that she couldn't possibly have been present for these specific events, she repeatedly tells her stories of our vacations. She believes them to be true despite the unarguable evidence against her claims. Also, in the article we read for our discussion sections about Paul Ingram and his family, we can conclude that the memory of an average person can be altered and is not accurate enough to use in our legal system. This can be seen when it comes to the death penalty of Troy Anthony Davis! troy_davis.jpg
Many things can happen that result in error with accusations against suspects of a crime. Going as far as punishing them for a crime they did not commit. Despite the fact that there can be misconduct in the legal system, people make mistakes when identifying an offender. We can even be made to believe a false event occured. An event can be altered in our memories on basis of source monitoring confusion, when we are unsure if an event actually occurred. Elaboration is encouraged by suggestive memory techniques. In the end, we are left with the misinformation effect, where misleading information results in false memories. Because of this, innocent people are killed. With this knowledge, death penalty should be abolished. This would change our whole legal system from one based off of variable perspective to one of hard evidence. I know that this would definitely save lives of the wrongfully accused, but might also affect justice to true victims of crime. Will we ever find a win-win situation?

Do twins have ESP?

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Unlike ordinary siblings, twins are sometimes known to share a majestic bond that no one else can understand. For example many twins report that they can finish each others sentences and even share their own language, referred to as cryptophasia. Some coincidentally buy the same outfit, order the same meal, or even call each other at the exact same time while apart. Referring back a few chapters to our textbook, it might describe these actions as just being an apophenia: perceiving meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena. But to twins it's much more than that. Other than sharing similar experiences and finishing each others sentences, there are other cases that go far beyond that. Twins seem to share an inherent understanding of their co-twin's emotional state. Many report a sensation of "something being wrong" when their twin is in crisis. This video is a perfect example of such a phenomenon. When Cathy got abducted by the two guys, Karen was able to see what Cathy was seeing when tied up in the back of the car and feel when her sister got hit in the head. So what is this phenomenon? Can twins really read each others minds? Telepathy is the process of assessing thoughts or feelings without help from sensory input like sight, sound or touch. In the paranormal world, extrasensory perception (known as ESP) is an ability to acquire information without relying on physical senses or previous experience. Is a form of twin telepathy or ESP at work to cause these extraordinary experiences? There isn't any empirical proof that twins have ESP or that twin telepathy exists because it can't be authenticated in a scientific environment. But despite the lack of scientific proof, these personal experiences can't be denied.

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