March 2012 Archives

When trying to figure out whether someone's lying to me, I look for the typical signs: shifty, averted eyes, twitching, rapid blinking, and so forth. But most psychologists and body language experts will tell you that none of those indicate lying. In fact, pinpointing a lie based on physical cues only works about half of the time, making it a guessing game at best.
In lecture, we talked about Paul Ekman's 6 basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise. Ekman believes that we make unconscious flashes of expressions, called micro expressions, that demonstrate our true feelings. They are not something that we have total control of, and that is how it shows our true reactions. Some of these expressions are extremely difficult to decipher, but most can be broken down into these six categories.

Here, Eat this tapeworm.

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One thing that shocked me while I was looking into the prompt of the worst weight loss plan ever was the plan that had once convinced young girls to ingest parasites. Around the 1920-30's people began learning that tape worms can cause you to eat more than you normally would, but people would never gain any weight from it because the parasite would eat the ingested food. After this was discovered, people began to get this crazy that that would be a great way to lose weight or eat as much as you want but never gain weight. People would intentionally ingest these tapeworms in the hopes of getting, or staying, thin.
This seems absurd to me because, although you do not have to put in an effort to stay thin, you are risking the health of your organs to do it. I understand that that is also the idea of many people with eating disorders, as they are risking the health of their bodies every day to stay thin, but it seems disgusting to purposefully ingest a worm, even for that. To me, it just seems logical that if you eat healthy and exercise daily, you will not only remain a healthy weight but you will also feel better during the day. I mean, can you imagine slurping this down? YUCK.

Becoming Numb

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Does watching violent movies and playing aggressive video games increase the likelihood of a child to be more angry and aggressive?

My analysis concludes that it may make children more aggressive with the child being completely incompetent in understanding the change. The child believes they are completely normal but they are being taught how violence and aggression is okay subliminally. The shows they watch slowly desensitize them. The desensitization allows the child to look at an issue more abstractly and less morally because some of the basic moral foundations such as the treatment of others and equality has been shaken. I come to this understanding by looking at the rate of crimes and murders that come from children under the age of 18. Juveniles have had a clear increase in deviance across the board and I believe a major contribution is the desensitization of the built in morals we as humans try to instill. Children soak in so much at a younger age why should they be soaking in violence and anger? These two concepts become deeply ingrained and outweigh other concepts because those other concepts are not as relevant in children's shows. The goal we need to set is to make sure that our children have morals that are built on love, equality and friendship so that as they get older and get in power they are perverted by wrong thinking that will not benefit us as a nation.

lil girl.jpg

Contact Comfort

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In the study created by Harry Harlow, he looks into how rhesus monkeys develop attachments to the "terry cloth mother" simply on the basis of touch. Although this is something that conceptualized naturally, intuitively it makes perfect sense. After thinking about it and how it affects the development of mammals it got me to think about how it could be interpreted into everyday life. If you were raised by 2 parents it's most likely that there was one who was more affectionate towards you than the other. After several years of understanding their behavior most of us would have the tendency to go to the more affectionate parent in troubling situations. This to me proves the point that contact comfort not only helps us physically as babies and toddlers, but that it helps us to mentally cope with stressors in our everyday lives even as adults. Have you ever wondered why dogs (and I suppose cats too) like to be petted so much? It has to do with the same concept of contact comfort.
However, according to a CNN Health article, someone who was not afforded contact comfort when they were babies or toddlers are more likely to have negative emotions associated with touch. Oxytocin is a chemical that is present in our brain when we are touched by a loved one. So the lack of this chemical has been known to cause those negative effects such as not having trust in people.

Liar Liar

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Being the mischievous individual that i am, i wanted to research the art of lying. I think i can speak for everyone when i say that we have all told a little white lie here and there to get us out of something. Maybe to our parents, maybe to our friends. After a while, some people seem to catch on and believe they can "detect" these lies. But can people really tell when were lying?
I looked into this question a little bit and found some interesting information. Contrary to popular belief, we have no truly 100% accurate way of detecting someones lie. In everyday scenarios, we can detect someones lies by paying attention to their non verbal cues (sweating, nervousness, stuttering, lack of eye contact). In more serious cases, investigators sometimes use whats called a Polygraph test. This test measures and quantifies some of the non verbal cues (heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and hand conductivity) and compares it to a controlled question in which they know you are lying. I also found it really interesting that there is research to support the claim that "practice makes perfect" when it comes to lie detection. The more you work in the field of lie detection, the better you become at it. They have found that those not involved in that field have a chance no better than luck to perceive lies in others.

Kids ability to percieve

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Violence and Video Games

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Ever since discussion on Thursday, the topic we talked about, "Does television have an impact on a child's behavior in a negative way," has been bothering me. This is something that irks me a good deal. Watching violent television shows and playing violent video games does not make you more likely to become overtly aggressive. Yes, there are always the few exceptions to the rule, but there are exceptions to everything in life. In my opinion this is a classic case of availability heuristics. A good number of people think its true because they have heard a prolific story in the media about something along the same lines, linking the two things together. All of my friends, including me, and a good portion of the human population play or watches violent things. Each year the graphics become better and violence a touch more gruesome yet somehow violent crime rates have decreased significantly in the past decade. So why do so many people still link the two together? To me, this correlation does not make logical sense. There are much more plausible studies done on emotionally disturbed people and their predisposition to commit violent crimes than the ones done on this subject matter.

Lawrence Kohlberg's work started a foundation for development and moral decision making. Kohlberg demonstrated his concepts by using the "Heinz Dilemma" that he created. The basic premise of the dilemma is that Heinz, the husband of a woman who is dying of a special kind of treatable cancer. There is a drug that would cure the problem, but the problem is that Heinz can no raise enough money to pay for the seemingly overpriced drug. The questions is about whether Heinz should steal the drug because he can not raise enough money or whether he should just let his wife die.

Kohlberg focused on the reasoning behind making decisions about what to do in situations such as this. His work was later criticized. What I found to be the most interesting criticism is the fact that Kohlberg's work has a significantly low correlation with real world applications. Correlational studies have shown a score of around .3. This basically points out the fact that though Kohlberg's work influenced how people approach moral decision making, it really only works when we are thinking about the problems rather than actually being faced with them.

Lawrence Kohlberg

Business theorists have found that Western managers are more inclined to rush to decisions compared to managers from Eastern cultures. I believe that the differences in the Western managers can partly be attributed to the way our media sources are structured. For example, many of our popular television stations, such as CNN, ESPN, and CNBC all utilize the scrolling news line at the bottom of the screen which constantly updates us with new information. It causes us to accelerate our thought processes to comprehend all the new headlines our eyes our observing. Reading news articles online, there are always several different links to chose from. No longer do people choose to sit and read a newspaper, taking in stories one at a time. Now a days, we visit one of our favorite websites and browse the headlines and assume we have educated ourselves for the day. The way our information sources are structured have cause our minds to accelerate and assume we have been informed based on a few bits of information.

I also believe we are trained to make quick decisions. I am an intern for an entrepreneurial program where we start out by running our own paint company. When we give our estimates for an exterior paint job, we are trained to 'close hard' on our clients to make the decision to book a job with us that day. It is an extremely sufficient investment to make a decision on within just one hour! But more often times than not, we are able to get the client to give a firm decision that day, just from implementing a few verbal techniques. People in our society are not as conservative as many believe themselves to be.

It was late November, before Thanksgiving, and I was preparing my dorm room for the coming holiday season. Mariah Carrey was softly singing what she wanted for Christmas, the heat was cranked up to eleven, and my cup of mint tea was lazily rolling steam into the winter air as it steeped. However this picturesque moment was shattered when i realized there was no proper place for string lights to be hung. I continued to attempt at unpacking and untangling the tangled mass of Christmas lights while frantically coming up with ideas to solve this problem.
Could I rope them from bed to bed? No that would be inconvenient and dangerous. Could I put them on the door? No no secrecy was of the utmost importance as my CA was on the hunt for holiday policy violators. could i just leave them plugged in on the floor as a last resort? No no no that simply would not do. I looked around and became interested in a small ledge above the curtains. I saw the potential for a location and was once again filled with hope. Could this be my Christmas miracle?? What came next still amazes me. In a flash of inspiration, I transformed 2 metal pen cap tabs into hanger prongs, slid them underneath the top bar of the curtains, then at long last I hung the lights. In overcoming functional fixedness, I bested the difficulties of dorm life, and came out at the end feeling like a mistletoe Macgyver.
Living in the dorms actually undoes many of the pitfalls of functional fixedness, as every item or small appliance takes on new meaning and purpose. For example I have witnessed a person making a grilled cheese sandwich by turning a toaster on its side then placing a piece of bread and slice of cheese into each slot. And it worked. Beautifully. Being forced to be creative or inventive like this is just one of the hallmark traits of college life. To which it is no surprise when one considers how many fortune 500 companies have been born in college dorm rooms. If you need proof, come find me in T-Hall and we will go watch The Social Network, while enjoying some toaster grilled cheeses.

I got all of the following information from page 388-389 from our textbook under the heading Parenting: What's right and what's wrong. As I read this I couldn't help but notice how black and white they looked at the parenting styles. First off they only list 3 parenting styles; permissive, authoritarian and authoritative. I am not saying that these 3 don't exist, I am just saying there probably are few parents that stick to these guidelines 100%. I think most parents will have a combination of permissiveness and an authoritarian hold on their children. So does that mean that all parents are authoritative? I think if you don't give a child a good amount of freedom that will hinder their abilities because all you are doing is sheltering them and setting them up for a harder future. But at the same time if you don't show authority over your children they may have a lack of respect towards others and may develop a "me first" set of morals.
The problem with this is I don't think there is a right way in terms of guidelines on how to raise a child. Even parents who seem to do everything perfect in terms of parenting may have their child become "corrupt" by what the child has experienced from their peers. Parents have a big influence on a childs life but so do the kids that the kid is hanging out with.

It's all about me

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One of the topics I found most fascinating from this weeks lectures was egocentrism in children. Some of the videos we viewed in class were quite shocking, for example when the little girl seemed to follow the story of the footprints and who ate the muffins perfectly but could not see that someone could potentially not have all the information she has. Also, children were shown a view of the mountains (as shown below) and then were asked what would you see from a different perspective and they still responded with what they were seeing.

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Egocentrism is defined as children having the power to only think of themselves and putting themselves first. It also makes "putting themselves in someone else's shoes" impossible. They cannot imagine how someone else would feel in a certain situation, only how they feel.

I never put much thought into this particular topic until seeing and reading about this. Now that I have thought about it, I have looked back at my experience with my own little brother and seen how this does prove to be quite a true stage in children. My little brother would always do things that only benefitted him and I or my parents would ask him, "How do you think that made ____ feel?" and he really seemed not to know. He only could think about how he felt and what would make him happy. Even though most people grow out of this phase, I would say some adults seem to always put themselves first, I suppose everyone has egocentric behaviors and thoughts at sometime or another.

When I read the segment in the text on pages 395-396, my mind jumped instantly to the TV show Breaking Bad, in which almost every character is morally ambiguous and impossible to judge. The show, very briefly, is about a high school chemistry teacher (Walt) who is diagnosed with lung cancer while still middle aged, with a wife and a handicapped child. He refused handouts to pay for his expensive treatment for personal reasons, and instead chose to cook and sell Meth with an ex-student of his in order to create a financial nest egg for his family, should he pass away. Kohlberg doesn't score the answers from his dilemmas based on what IS morally right or wrong, he only scored the reasoning processes they used to decide right from wrong.
Applied to Breaking Bad, Kohlbrg's moral dilemmas in my mind would look like this.
Preconventional morality: a focus on punishment and reward. Walt SHOULD cook meth because he could get away with it and get a lot of money. Walt should NOT cook meth because he might get caught, get arrested, and embarrass the family he is trying to provide for.
Conventional Morality: a focus on societal values. Walt SHOULD cook meth because dealing hard drugs (and not consuming them) will eventually allow his family to live comfortably without him, and Society would see him as a failure post mortem if he left his family with staggering debt and no real income. Besides, through supply and demand, the drug would still be produced if Walt was not cooking it. Walt should NOT cook meth because its against the law, and he is providing something that ruins the lives of others (even though he doesn't know the people to whom he provides).
Postconventional Morality: a focus on internal moral principles that transcend society. Walt SHOULD cook meth because providing a healthy life for ones family and allowing them to live without massive financial burden of higher moral principal that can overrule anti-drug laws in this case. Walt should NOT cook meth because in doing so, he is violating basic human principles of empathy and what is good by providing life-ruining drugs to the lower class and slums of Arizona while re-investing the money into his own family.
Personally, I think that Walt is morally wrong in his decision to make money in the way that he does. However, examining the thought process is interesting, and it's difficult to know the right answer.

What do you think? Dealing drugs is clearly morally wrong, but is this particular case justifiable? Keep in mind that when walt makes his decision, he is the primary earner of the household, his child is handicapped, and his wife is currently pregnant with a second.


Last semester, I was assigned a group project in a class where we had to create a PowerPoint presentation. We did our best to split up the work equally and decided on a due date for everyone to email their section into one member. However, when this date rolled around, one group member had not sent their email. I had experienced this problem before with other group projects and in these cases the group member was slacking and figured the rest of the group would finish his/her part for them. I immediately assume this was the same situation and my problem solving abilities were hurt by the "Salience of Surface Similarities" obstacle. I failed to look at the underlying issues to the problem. After talking with the group member, I realized they had spent a lot of time trying to finish their part, but did not understand the material and were embarrassed to ask for help. We were able to help this member with their section and left the experience with no hard feelings since we looked at the root cause of the problem instead of assuming the group member was simply slacking. Lack of communication is often a barrier in problem solving when it comes to groups. Research has shown communication to be a critical step towards problem solving since it removes assumptions and provides an opportunity for brain storming to come up with solutions.

A key problem that college students face is the distribution of time academically and socially. For me, a really big problem arose when I had to study for three midterms but at the same time a friend of mine was having a lot of personal issues, and she really needed me to confide in. Normally when it comes to homework, I can pretty easily distribute my time in the most logical way to try and get everything done. But what happens when social aspects get in the way? I think it's fair to say that the majority of students would preach "study before social". And for the majority of the time, that's true. But what do you do when you have a friend who is struggling? What is the best way to cope with it? For me it meant spending an extra few hours studying at night instead of sleeping, but my resulting midterms did not go quite as well as I had hoped for since I felt much less prepared than I would have if I had spent all of that time studying. Is there an "algorithm" that can be created on how to handle these situations? And how do we prioritize friends from school? For me, I always feel the moral obligation and desire to want to help a friend who is in trouble, but to what extent do we need to be selfish with our time?

Blog #1- Chapter 11

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While reading chapter 11 the section that I found most interesting was the "Importance of Nonverbal Cues" and "Body Language and Gestures". This caught my attention because I feel that you can learn a lot about a person based on how they carry themselves as well as their body language. Many times, you can detect how someone is feeling based on their facial expression even if they are trying not to show it. For example, if someone is trying to figure out a difficult math problem they may feel that they are thinking hard but look expressionless. However, someone watching them finish the math problem may see them with a puzzled face or tapping their pencil on the desk and perceive the person as being confused. Also, often times people are judged based on their body language such as during a job interview. Employers look for someone that is confident and now slouching down in their chair. A weak hand shake to an employer or a lack of eye contact may represent that you are intimidated or nervous. As you can see, body language plays a large role in presenting yourself and first impressions. It is important to be conscious about how you portray yourself when in certain situations. Below is a link to a website with further examples of decoding body language.

Killer Math Problems

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Many times, calculus problems take a lot of brain juice to find the right answer. They require me to counter the problems with using heuristics while reaping the benefits. The problems include salience of surface similarities (Wait! I saw a "volume" problem yesterday and I just can't do this question the same way.), mental sets (All of the other questions used this formula but now I can't seem to figure out how to use it in this question!), and functional fixedness (Perhaps the equation can be used only if it is slightly tweaked but I don't see it.)
I learn many examples in class and in my homework to give my brain a wider range of options to liken a new problem to. In this way, I can fly through test problems because I know how I did similar homework problems.

I researched several problem solving barriers at and found some interesting mental blocks: emotional (impatience, frustration, or fear of standing out),perceptual (stereotypes or confusing the problem's perspective), intellectual (lacking knowledge or the ability to use it), and environmental (stress, lack of support and communication, or distractions.
The ways to combat these blocks are logical but yet difficult to carry out consistently. The most basic suggestion is to be methodical in problem solving. This will help eliminate blocks like impatience, stereotypes, and distractions. Also, I have to realize that problems often include obstacles and that these obstacles are not my fault. The final bit of advice is that I should practice using analytical and creative approaches while solving problems so that I can use the full range of my knowledge.

Barriers to finding the best solution
Overcoming the Blocks to Problem Solving

Do Animals Talk?

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I've researched a few forms of animal communication and happened upon some very interesting and unexpected forms of communication between animals. The most shocking to me is that ants communicate using chemicals. Depending on the species, ants can release between 10 and 20 different chemicals from different glands on their bodies. The chemicals released can mean a variety of different things: signaling danger and even signaling that a fellow ant is dead. This is by far the strangest form of animal communication I have come across. I was also surprised to learn that lions have a roar to locate one another. This roar is softer than the one used as a warning to other animals.

Although I believe that animals can communicate in their own way, I don't believe these forms of communication are a language. I believe that language is the spoken word with meaning given to individual units of speech. Just because different species of animals can communicate and understand their own form of communication does not mean that they are using a language. The languages we use as humans are simply a form of communication spoken among our own species. In my opinion there is no such thing as animal language, but there is definitely animal communication. I refuse to believe that animals communicate through language until I hear words (other than a bark) come out of a dog's mouth.

Moral Dilemmas

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Kohlberg applies psychology to the decision making process, and the stages that lead to a morally challenging decision. The focus of his work was the reasoning process of his subjects, rather than the conclusions they came to when faced with his hypothetical moral dilemmas. His subjects demonstrated the development of morality over a lifetime, as well as personal, cultural, and conventional morality. The different levels of morality demonstrate the cognitive sequence of applying moral principles. The cognitive process becomes more complex with each level.
Using Kohlberg's method, I assess a different moral dilemma- Is it justified to take one life in order to save a hundred others?
The first level of morality, preconventional morality concerns the simple debate of right and wrong. For example- Taking a life is wrong. Saving 100 lives is a heroic act.
The second level is conventional morality, and demonstrates the cultural and societal constraints that one faced with this moral dilemma might encounter. For example- The family of the person left behind will be extremely upset, and additionally hurt that so many others were saved with the exception of their family member. One will receive much praise and appreciation from those they would manage to save.
The third level is postconventional morality, and focuses on the personal internal aspect of human morality. For example- By protecting so many lives, one would not necessarily be in violation of the human principle of not physically harming or violating other human lives.
What would you do?

There are two main explanations for how people think: one explanation suggests that thinking is totally dependent on language and wouldn't be possible without it. Another explanation takes the easy way out and says that thinking shapes but isn't absolutely responsible for what's known as thinking.

Personally I think it's more safe than sorry to assume that thinking has a definite and important effect on the way one thinks. There's so much variety in language, and being a foreign language learner I know that if I spoke another language as my native tongue it'd change who I was as a person. Different languages have different ways of saying and even seeing things than other languages. For instance, Chinese is a language that puts much more emphasis on the relationship's one has with their family, using more descriptive words for cousins, aunts, etc.

Anyway, I don't believe that thinking isn't possible without language. I do believe that all mammals have their own way of thinking, no matter how simplistic that thinking is. For example, when a dog is hungry it knows to go bother it's owner to get some food. How could a dog know to bother it's owner for food? Conditioning, sure, but how could conditioning be possible without thinking?

As a science major student, Iiterature is not my thing. Personally I think literature is more about writing, especially for fictions and novels, while language is for direct communcation such as speaking and listening. Obviously, although there are many people who can not spell or read, few can not speak.
Because I am a second language speaker, I am still in the level of language learner, and english literature is alomst an unknown to me. I have read nothing but several novels with the help of dictionary, most recent is Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman. So most of my thinkings are base on chinese literature, although I believe english literature should be similar.
Back to high school, what I learned "Chinese" are most about ancient language and some articles written by some men at least 50 years old. In the exam, there are questions asking you what the articles shows or what it implicated. These questions are very hard and most students do it by guessing, as there are hardly logical connections or rules. Also there are poems, which twisted the sentence to make the rhyme. While if literature is nothing but mastering words and rhyme, than it will be no fun at all. What I feel is that literature is a way to reveal something implictly and gently. The writer would transform his feelings or dreams to an article, and while we are reading these feeling and dreams would retranslate back to our mind. Literature is more that the extend of the language , since it comes from soul, while everyone has a soul few can master language very well. Also we judge the masterpiece more about what it contain than whether it sounds interesting.

Double Trouble

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Greetings fellow bloggers:

For this blog I would like to write about polyglots and the benefits of being bilingual. I am not fully bilingual, but I am proficient in Spanish and fluent in English. Pictures were vital to my learning of a new language. We touched on this very briefly in lecture, but I found that learning spanish vocabulary became much easier when I could associate a picture with the word that represents it. My spanish textbook was full of pictures and this helped me when it came to learning the words that associate with the pictures. In addition, in spanish class we frequently used flash cards that had a picture on one side and the word on the other. Thus, my learning of a new language was accelerated by using repetition and the visual side of memorization.

I have found many uses for being bilingual, even though I am not fluent in spanish. One of which is the fact that is has made traveling to spanish speaking countries far easier. I recently went to Costa Rica and my knowledge of the spanish language was vital when seeking directions or ordering food. I would have been lost had I not learned the language. Also, a little less practical perk to knowing a second language is my older brother and I were able to have conversations at the dinner table or throughout the house that no one else could understand. This came in handy when telling stories that we did not want our sister or parents to know.

Do any of you speak multiple languages? If so, how have they helped you out? Did you learn by using visuals as well?


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Memento is a movie that came out in 2000 starring Guy Pearce. Guy plays a character name Leonard that is trying to avenge the murder of his wife. The movie can be a bit confusing to follow at times because it consists of two different story lines that eventually meet and complete the plot for you. It starts with scenes that are in black and white and in chronological order and then continue with color scenes that are in reverse chronological order. You find out that Leonard suffers from anterograde amnesia due to being beaten in the head by his wife's attackers. He is unable to form new memories so he creates a series of ways to remember what's going on when we wakes up, one of them being tattoos on himself. After reading the psychology book I conclude that his ability to form explicit memories has been affected while his implicit memories are still intact. I came to this conclusion based on the fact that he is still able to function normally and hasn't lost any motor skills. If you compare the character Leonard to the case of Clive Wearing it's safe to say that it's not exactly an accurate portrayal of anterograde amnesia. Leonard believes everything that is tattooed on him and is able to figure out what he's doing and why. Clive did not believe what was written in his journal even though it was his own handwriting.
Here is a picture of the tattoo reminders he leaves himself.

When I was four years old I was playing in the backyard with my neighborhood friends. It was a normal warm, summer night. We had just had some family and friends over to grill out and when they started to leave, I was one the jungle gym in the backyard with whoever was left there. We were having a great time when all the sudden, I started climbing the ladder and fell into the sandpit below. I felt a rush of pain which I had never experienced before. I went inside and as soon as I opened the door, I screamed like no other for my mother. The pain was so intense I cried like I never cried before. I was in so much pain that I could not even form words. We drove to the clinic but they were closed for the night. It would make sense to go to the emergency room, but my parents never took me there. This is where things didn't make sense once I got older. I had formed a memory of intense pain and discomfort that my mother said was never there. She said I cried for about ten minutes and then stopped. She didn't think anything was broken because I stopped crying and acted just fine. When we went to the clinic the next day, I got x-rays taken and my whole left leg was broken. It was a spiral fracture that went from my hip to my ankle. As I grew up, I would tell this story and it only made sense with the injury, that it was super painful. That however, was a memory made up in my head. Memories can be made up especially when you are younger and you don't remember a lot of stuff anyways. My mother tells this story as though I was some kind of super hero as a child, which I still find difficult to understand. Still, memories can be molded, modified, and created out of nothing with the right circumstances.

Alzheimer's effects over 35 million people worldwide. The disease currently has no known cure and people that have it can lose all of their mental faculties over time. In a Special report for Reuters Julie Steenhuysen discusses the difficulty in detecting Alzheimers in people who do not show symptoms of memory problems and cognitive abilities. Today there is only one form of Alzheimer's that can be detected by diagnostic testing, it is called dominantly inherited Alzheimer's disease which is detected by discovering a mutation in one of three genes: amyloid precursor protein, presenilin 1, or presenilin 2. As is though this form of Alzheimer's effects only 1% of all Alzheimer's patients. For all other forms Alzheimer's is almost impossible to detect before symptoms arise. Scientists are currently looking for signs of Alzheimer's in peoples cerebrospinal fluid by analyzing known Alzheimer's related proteins such as beta amyloid, which forms sticky plaques in the brain and tau which is a marker of cell damage. These proteins however are only associated with Alzheimer's and are not a significant enough alone to detect the disease. Until scientists can discover what actually causes the disease it will be impossible to create a cure. This also means that prevention is virtually impossible for now because the cause is unknown. The best thing people can do in my mind is live a healthy lifestyle and if you have a family history of Alzheimer's be prepared for possible outcomes. Also watch out for signs such as short term and long term memory loss, speech impairment, and other signs of memory and cognitive problems. Sadly the disease is only growing due in large part that people are living longer lives, but there is hope since 1997 when aracept was first produced new drugs have become available that help slow the progress of Alzheimer's but results differ in all people. These drugs and there ability to help some Alzheimer's patients present evidence that scientists are beginning to focus in on the real causes of a terrible disease.

We all possess painful memories that we wish we could forget--the death of a relative or a pet, a car accident that left a friend paralyzed, a parents' divorce. In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the main characters, Joel and Clementine, experience painful memories too, the memories of their past relationship. Hurt and heartbroken, the characters each decide to have a procedure performed known as "targeted memory erasure," hoping to rid their minds of the memories they have of one another.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.jpg

While "target memory erasure" is a fictional procedure, methods for dampening the effects of painful memories do exist. One such method is the use of the drug propranolol after a traumatic event. Propranolol targets adrenaline and blocks it from affecting beta-adrenegic receptors, preventing memories from becoming solidified. While the drug is effective when it comes to dampening the effects of painful memories, it does not erase them altogether.

Even if the technology to erase memories was available, would it be ethical? Some argue that our memories are an important component of what makes us human. That being the case, would you undergo a procedure to have your painful memories erased? Comment below.

Nobody is really quite sure what exactly causes alzheimer's, but it can be from the build up of protein in the brain. The build up could be from either plaque or tangles that are inside or in the spaces of the nerve cells. One theory from scientists think that the plaque and tangles block nerve cells' ability to communicate with each other, making it difficult for the cells to survive. There is no actual cure for alzheimer's disease but there are medicines that can help and lots and lots of therapy. There are a few ways to prevent having alzheimer's disease, such as; staying active,taking vitamins,control your cholesterol and eating healthy. But these are not 100% full preventions, you can still get it. I can relate to alzheimer's pretty well since 3 out of 4 of my grandparents either have it or did have it. It's so hard showing up to their house and having them not even recognize you or forgetting everything that has happened. But you just have to learn to get use to it and help them remember things, as hard as that is.


I put this image on here from the movie "The Notebook" because in the movie, the woman has alzheimer's disease so her husband reads her a book of their life hoping that one day she will remember.

Repetition and Memory

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Today's media covers a wide variety of different life challenges and triumphs, one of the more common movie plots seems to be the idea of memory loss and the process of recalling/recovering ones previous experiences. In the movie Unknown (2011), Dr. Martin Harris is the victim of a terrible car accident, and when he comes out of his four day coma he remembers only, "bits and pieces" of what happened. Dr. Harris is aware of who he is, as well as his wife's name and why he is in Germany as well as other details including his coworkers name and office number, but surprisingly not his wife's phone number. I believe that Dr. Harris can remember his coworker's number because they have been in contact for quite some time, and he has hand dialed his number on numerous occasions. Whereas, his wife's number is likely to be set as a speed dial, and he would not have to know the numbers. This might be seen as a stretch, but after thinking about this, I asked a few friends and they can recall more numbers of old friends because they had to dial them, then they could of their siblings, parents or more recent friends. I know this to be true of myself too. Why can we retain the numbers of childhood friends better than that of those we call most often? Due to the brains ability to retain long term memory for years, or decades, we remember the childhood numbers because most of us did not have cell phones and had to physically press the buttons whereas now all one has to do is type in the name of friend XYZ, hit call and that is it. The actual number is only typed in once upon adding it as a contact, rather than every time you want to talk. The repetition of dialing the numbers years ago put these digits in our long term memory, as for the newer numbers, they are only saved to short term memory and my only be remembered long enough to enter them into ones contact list.

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In an interesting story I found online, Alan Alda, who plays Hawkeye in M*A*S*H, goes to the University of California, Irvine to do research on memory for an upcoming TV show. Here he took a tour of the facility and had a picnic with Elizabeth Loftus, a UCI psychologist studying memory. At this picnic Alda developed a hate for hard-boiled eggs due to a memory of getting sick from them as a kid- which never actually happened. How did this happen? Loftus was able to implant this memory!

Alan Alda
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Elizabeth Loftus
Elizabeth Loftus.jpg

Read the whole story (very interesting):

Having gone through the chapter on memory, I can remember where my memory has failed me... I have a very clear memory of playing outside on a summer day as a child and deciding that it would be fun to climb on to the back of my neighbor's dog and ride him around. This dog was known to take swims in "Icky Pond" on the other side of my house. I remember riding the dog into the pond where I fell off and almost drown.

I did actually almost drown in "Icky Pond" as a child, but my mother swears that there is no way I could have ridden a 35 pound dog like a horse and also swears that the dog was not out at the time. My best guess is that this memory is from a dream or just my imagination's guess at what happened.

Have you ever experienced a false memory like Alan Alda or myself? If so, what happened?

You Said What?

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Learning another language can be the most frustrating thing. Reading, writing and speaking a new language is not an easy task for most. Growing up I learned Somali at home and learned English at school. Being bilingual has helped me learn. I tend to really think when I translate between the two languages. The benefits of being bilingual include being able to use new information in new ways, good listening skills, and connecting with others. In the current years, more and more children are bilingual. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, more than one in 5 school-aged children (21%) speak a language other than English at home.

I think the biggest advantage in learning a new language is the environment. Being surrounded by other people who also speak the language on a daily basis will help improve your skills. Although it may not always be an available option, traveling and studying aboard can be very helpful.

It is estimated that there are over six thousand languages in the world. Despite the fact that English is the most popular one around the world, English speakers have trouble communicating with local people in many countries. Learning one or more foreign languages is becoming increasingly common in America. However, teaching children more than one language is a controversial issue. Some people think the natural way is to immerse children in only one language at first and gradually let them learn another. From their point of view, learning two languages at the same time when they are little makes children confuse. It turns out that they have incomplete understanding on both of the languages. On the other hand, most people support the idea that bilinguals are more intellectual and better at reasoning. Bilinguals are also acceptable to other cultures with open eyes and think over things more critically.

Personally, I am interesting in language learning. I did not have much trouble with studying English, which is my second language. I started learning English when I was eight and I enjoyed learning English. English is completely different from my native language, Chinese, because it is composed of letters instead of characters. I agree that the more languages one learnt, he/she may have a global view and focus more on what is happening around the world. I don't think I can learn English very well without actually going to an English speaking country. The more time and effort I spend on learning, I am more curious about what is the life like in Australia, America and England. The best way to learn a new language is to have friends who are native speakers, commutate with them and immerge to the language environment. I took a French class earlier last year. In theory, I should find learning French is a lot easier since I have known English and they have some similar sentence structure. However, I think French is much more difficult. I believe learning languages is easier for children. Adults need much more effort to be fluent in another language.

As cultures change and grow, controversy arises. An example is bilingual education. In the United States most people were educated in only one language fluently. As globalization has risen and there is more desire to work with others across the globe, more and more Americans have started to become more interested in bilingual education. A disadvantage to this is that it lessens the chance that students/children will learn either language fully, sometimes making it difficult to finish their education. Another disadvantage is that many people with learning disabilities will have a hard time coping with learning two different languages at once. Although these difficulties exist, people have also found many advantages, including the fact that it will allow more free communication between countries. Another advantage found is that those who are bilingual tend to have a greater comprehension of other materials and a more global view of what goes on around them. This ability could create world leaders for the future.


I myself went to an International Baccalaureate school and enjoyed the opportunity to learn in both French and English from first grade on. I personally, found very little issues with learning multiple languages because I had a lot of practice in both. On the other hand, I saw how my brother and sister, who have dyslexia, struggle more while trying to learn multiple languages at a time. It took more studying, but they too are quite fluent in both French and English. Due to this, I believe bilingual education should be added into every school in the United States.

Alzheimer's: a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

Alzheimer's disease accounts for anywhere from 50% to 80% of dementia cases so it is not uncommon to have had an encounter, either with a relative or family friend, with Alzheimer's and seen first hand the effects of the disease and the 7 stages of the disease. As a patient moves through the 7 stages they go from not being able to remember new information to losing the ability to respond to their environment.
While researchers are not sure on what causes Alzheimer's, they have found a correlation between Alzheimer's and the presence of plaques and tangles in the brain. Though most people develop some plaques and tangles as they age, those with Alzheimer's tend to develop more and in a predictable pattern starting from areas important to memory and then spreading to other areas of the brain.

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer's so the idea of prevention is a big one with many different ideas ranging from preventive drug treatments to something as simple as stay healthy through diet and exercise. With no conclusive evidence of a certain cure or prevention method many ideas abound on how to deal with the disease. The leading idea, however, is that a healthy lifestyle can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's which marks yet another reason why it is important to stay healthy with diet and exercise.

You can train a fish?

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As discussed in class, B.F. Skinner while working at the University of Minnesota discovered a concept called shaping. Shaping is a form of operant conditioning in which one reinforces behaviors that aren't target behavior but that are progressively closer versions of it. This is a common practice for animal training in dogs, horses, and even birds. These animals learn even more complex tricks through the process of chaining, in which the trainer links a number of interrelated behaviors to form a longer series. Each behavior becomes a cue for the next behavior in the chain.
Now, one would consider these methods and think them very possible for training dogs, horses, and other animals. But a fish? Yes, it is possible to train a fish, as demonstrated in this video...

As for the first trick, of training a goldfish to swim up a "chimney," one would start this shaping process by rewarding the fish for going anywhere near the chimney, then only rewarding when it goes near the bottom, and then once again only if it starts going inside until finally you have your fish trained to go through the chimney for its prize. This makes one wonder at the possibilities. While man has trained dogs to do anything from leading the blind to sniffing out specific odors like bombs and corpses, there are many more possibilities that animals could be trained to help mankind further.

In this article is claiming that the increase in traffic related air pollution may be increasing strokes and heart attacks in individuals. They derived this from comparing almost 2,000 stroke cases to the day to day levels of air pollution. states in the article on CNN, that the chance of having a stroke is 34% higher after a day spent in moderate air quality, rather than good. I believe that this claim lacks the support of one or more of the six principles of scientific thinking. One major scientific thinking principle that should have been considered in this claim is the ruling out rival hypotheses. The article is giving readers one explanation; therefore, many are automatically assuming it is correct. Many readers need to realize there are other possible explanations or causes for these strokes and heart attacks. The article did state that they looked at the medical records of the patients in the stroke cases they evaluated. This was done before this claim was stated, but there are other explanations that would also fit these findings that may not be on individual's medical records. There could be causes that were never tested in those individuals or explanations that have not yet been thought of.
Another scientific thinking principle that does not support this claim is the Occam's Razor. When looking at other explanations of heart attacks and strokes like the blockage of an artery or the burst of a blood vessel, they seem like much simpler explanations. These explanations not only seem simpler, but also do a better job of accounting for the result of a stroke.

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