Recently in Writing #2 Category

Animal training, huh? What's the purpose of making good old Sparky learn to fetch your slippers or the newspaper, besides avoiding getting off the couch? Well, while the newspaper or slippers may not seem too substantial, retrieving an object on command for a dog can be crucial to some humans' lives. So why is animal training important? Animals can be trained for many purposes that not only make lives more convenient for people, but also increase our safety, independence, and give the animal tasks that allow them to feel accomplished. Dogs can be trained to detect drugs or dangerous objects, find missing people, warn humans of seizures other health risks, and aid people with disabilities in their everyday lives. From helping out the blind, to making people with PTSD feel more secure, service animals that are specially trained are changing thousands of lives a year. Now you're probably wondering, "What does this have to do with Psych, and why am I still reading this?" Well, animal training is a perfect example of operant conditioning. Training uses punishment and reinforcement in order to encourage or discourage behaviors to achieve necessary behaviors from the animals. Training may involve using the animals' natural instincts to the advantage of the trainer, and the trainers often focus on what will motivate the animal in the best manor to encourage desired behaviors. Some often training includes training animals to ignore certain stimuli (for seeing-eye dogs), bonding to individuals for special needs dogs, and using a dog's desire to retrieve to help people get items with the assistance of their dog. Without operant conditioning, and the psychology of animal training, many people with special needs would need other forms of assistance and may be robbed of their independence.

I have always been a fan of Budweiser beer commercials, especially those that are aired during the Super Bowl. Usually my favorite ads are funny, but as I browsed through ads on Google, I noticed that there is a very common theme throughout the ads: The Budweiser girls. Budweiser is taking full advantage of the sex appeal factor that proves to work time and time again in all different forms of advertising. The use of the attractive, sparsely clothed young women in their ads appeals to men, which are the main audience targeted by the Budweiser Company. Another tactic that Budweiser uses in their ads is a phrase claiming that Budweiser is the "King of Beers." This claim is another tactic that speaks to the masculinity of men. If you drink the king of beers, you will be the king. This creates the illusion that drinking Budweiser beer will make you more powerful among your peers. I have always wondered how much time and money goes into the advertisement tactics beer along with a number of other products. According to the Pacific Brew News, Budweiser spent a little under 500 million dollars in 2007 on advertising. Maybe advertising in a major brewing company is the job to have.budweiser-king-of-beers-small-99879.jpg

After watching the BBC Horizon "The Secret You" I really began to think about our mind and body, and how every person has her or her own conscious. Mark de Sautoy sits in on a study testing whether or not babies are fully aware of themselves and their conscious. This study proves that it is not until we are between the age of 18-24 months until we become self aware. Watching the baby looking in the mirror and examining himself, but not noticing that it was really him or that something was different on his face, such as the sticker on his face, shows that the baby doesn't fully recognize who he is. This is extremely interesting to me because babies can see, hear, smell, move, and respond before this time, however, they cannot recognize themselves and who they really are. It is fascinating to think that everyone, for a small part of their lives, was unconscious of who they were. Although I cannot remember that time as a young child when I was unaware of who I was, I wonder what it was like and if other people have had an experience like this that they can remember. Also, I would be interested to know what it is that changes in our brains, from the time we are unconscious of our selves to that time when we become fully aware of our self and our conscious? With the technology and resources scientists and doctors have today, I think it is very probable that we can find an answer to this question, and further investigate complex concepts such as how one's conscious works.

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.

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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.

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