Assignment # 3: October 2011 Archives

Do gal pals sync up periods?

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http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-women-who-live-together-menstruate-together


If you are a lady you have probably heard somewhere that if you spend a lot of time with another woman your menstrual cycles will "sync up" and that means you will have someone to share tampons and groans with every month. This wonderful phenomenon is called menstrual synchrony. Psychologist Martha McClintock who in 1971 started studying women in UK dormitories coined the term menstrual synchrony. In her initial study she found that women who spent more time together reportedly began to sync up periods. McClintock believed that pheromones influenced cycle length but a study by Zhengwei Yang and Jeffery C. Schank found that McClintock had the women in her study use the recall method to collect data in her interviews and they also found other data collection errors. This along with a host of other studies done since has found that women don't synchronize their menstrual cycles.
So why is relevant to psychology? In reading this article I found that McClintock's experiment wasn't replicable, she should have done the experiment more than one before basing more research off it (confirmation bias?!). But honestly, after more experiments in the same vain, people have found Occam's Razor to be true in this situation. If women are spending a lot of time together it is obvious that they will have their periods at the same time at some point.

Amnesia Myths

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Amnesia is defined as loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness. When I here amnesia I always think that someone has lost all sort of memory of oneself and everything from the past. According to the textbook there are two types of amnesia, which are retrograde and anterograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is when we lose some memories of our past, but not as all movies portray it to be. Anterograde amnesia is when we lose the ability to form new memories. I am sure everyone has either heard or seen the movie Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy and Bourne ultimatum. These films is based on a guy named James Bourne a former CIA assassin suffering from extreme memory loss. This guy had different identities through out his life as he worked for the CIA. He some how found a way to get away of the life of being an assassin, but the CIA still tries to track him, for reasons Bourne can't remember at all. So through out these movies He gets pieces of his memory back to solve the mystery. It seems that this movie shows the many misconceptions made about amnesia. Movies generalize amnesia as loss of all memory even of who they are, but that generalized amnesia is exceedingly rare. It is important to have amnesia explained in better terms to lessen the misconceptions. It would be better to have a way to know more about things than just relating it to movies we watch.

One of the things that seemed fascinating to me in chapter 8 was the description about how infants learn how to communicate. I never thought about how quick and important their developments at an early age are.

The auditory systems of the unborn infants develop by the fifth month of pregnancy and they can identify the voice of their mother and recognize their native language. This recognition was tested by measuring how much the infants sucked on the pacifier when they heard the mother's native language and an unfamiliar language. It was apparent for the researchers that there was more sucking when the baby heard the mother's native language even when a complete stranger was speaking.

As the infants continue to develop they begin to babble. The babbling, which refers to meaningless intentional vocalization, is important because the babies begin to use their vocal cords to familiarize themselves with the phonemes of their native language. It also helps them to fine-tune the vocal tracts and the ears to adjust to their own language.

This video from YouTube shows us what looks like a meaningful conversation between two infants. Before reading the chapter I would've just said "That's so cute!", but now I see this as quite an impressive phenomenon!
VIDEO HERE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmA2ClUvUY

Also it was interesting to find out that comprehension of the speech occurs actually way earlier than the production of it in infants. The production occurs at about the age of one, but comprehension could happen months in advance. The growth of the vocabulary grows gradually, but later on the rate increases and by the time the child goes to kindergarten he or she may know several thousand words.
In addition, an important milestone in speech development occurs when the kids move from one word sentences to using several words at once. More syntactic rules continue to develop during early years of school.

Nearly everyone has important memories from their childhoods that they recall with great detail due to their significance. However, most of us fail to remember the majority of our memories from our early childhood. For example, try to think of your earliest memory. Difficult isn't it? The explanation for our failure to remember much of our childhood is called childhood amnesia. For example, I often have a hard time remembering things from my childhood that one would assume to be extremely significant, such as the personalities of deceased relatives, the layout of my old house, or even the names of my closest kindergarten friends.

There is also the phenomenon of false memories, and this is often highly correlated with early childhood "memories". These false memories are memories of things that never happened, but that we believe happened. For example, there is a famous study in which psychologists asked subjects to recall meeting Bugs Bunny at Disney World, and many did agree that they remembered meeting Bugs with extreme detail. However, this would be impossible because Bugs is not a Disney character. I also have the false memory of believing I had the stomach flu during elementary school one fall. However, the truth is that I went on a road trip to South Dakota.

Childhood memories have always been difficult to recall, due to childhood amnesia, and there are also memories that we strongly believe occurred that are nothing more than figments of our imaginations. Try to experiment by asking yourself to recall certain memories from your early childhood, especially memories that you are uncertain of, and then checking the accuracy of those memories with parents or other adult individuals who were there. After experimenting with this you may be surprised by which memories are actually based off of past events.

Amnesia and Video Game Plots

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Amnesia seems to show its face quite often within the plot of computer role playing games, appearing in Fallout: New Vegas, Baldur's Gate II, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and (not surprisingly) Amnesia: The Dark Descent. In each of the examples above the main character is struck with a case of retrograde amnesia, meaning that they can't remember parts, or, in some cases, all of their memories before the start of the game. While in the real world retrograde amnesia doesn't occur nearly as often as anterograde amnesia, which is the loss of short term memory, in the games it helps the plot move along fairly well, while anterograde amnesia would produce a much less coherent plot as the character would forget what he is doing every couple of seconds.

In particular the game Amnesia: The Dark Descent has amnesia right at the center of its plot as one would guess from its name. The character, Daniel, wakes up in a spooky mansion remembering only his name, where he lives, and that some terrible creature from another dimension is haunting him. The plot then moves along as he discovers notes that he wrote to himself before he induced the amnesia in himself. These notes will often trigger flash backs where parts of his memory comes back to him. In this case Daniel has lost the ability to use his episodic memory in that he cannot recall specific events in his life, but he can still figure out how to light torches, read, open doors, etc... which implies that his semantic memory and procedural memory were unaffected by what every process brought about the amnesia.

As mentioned before Daniel often recalls parts of his lost memory after being prompted by notes to himself or locations in the game. This implies that whatever memory was lost to him might not be permanently lost but rather "hid" by the brain due to hide traumatic events. While this was self induced on Daniel's part, this does have a basis in the real world as there are cases of people that have suffered form dissociative amnesia which is caused by the brain blocking attempts to recall the memory due to its traumatic nature.

While amnesia as it is presented in video games is not a truly accurate representation of how it works in the real world I would expect it to hang around in the plots of these games, as it leaves it up to the player to fill in the back story or allows the game to slowly reveal the past to increase the level of immersion experienced by the player.

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Because of majoring in Retail Merchandising, I am really interested in Higher-Order Conditioning and I will discuss this concept in detail using a successful retail brand - Abercrombie&Fitch as an example. Higher-Order Conditioning is a form of learning in which a stimulus was previously neutral is paired with a conditioned stimulus to produce the same conditioned response as the conditioned stimulus. The products that consumers would choose to purchase depend on previous shopping experience or stimuli the brand provided, so Higher-Order Conditioning play an important role on building a brand image. Take Abercrombie & Fitch as an example, one of the most important factors that makes A&F become so successful is a host of new stimuli that A&F provided besides classical conditioning. To begin with, a lot of people are familiar with the special smell when entering in A&F store and the fragrance smells attractive, invigorating, warm and exciting, thus every time you smell A&F perfume on somebody, we will know that he must be wearing A&F style and associate the feelings that A&F fragrance bring to us with this person. In addition, A&F advertisements are well applied the concept of Higher-Order Conditioning. Models on A&F advertisements are all beautiful women or handsome men who present sexually attractive poses and they look strong, energetic, sexy and fashionable which are images A&F want to impress the consumers with, thus A&F achieved great popularity because many consumers unconsciously thought they are sexually attractive just like the models after purchasing A&F products. I am still wondering about, from commercial perspective, how close does a brand succeed correlate to Higher-Order Conditioning and how much efforts retailers should focus on utilizing Higher-Order Conditioning in their advertisements?

Being from a Mexican decent much of my family speaks only Spanish forcing me to learn it fluently since birth. My mother says that I learned both Spanish and English around the same time not one after the other making me fall under being "bilingual." Bilingual is defined as both fluent and proficient in reading, writing, speaking and understanding two distinct languages. Bilingual is to be able to communicate with others who are native speakers of the language.
It is important because understanding how people learn more than one language, aids in becoming bilingual. By being bilingual, trilingual or knowing many languages we are able to understand other cultures and connect with multiple groups of people instead of simply one. It helps us to understand not only the history of our own country or ethnic background but also that of many backgrounds.
The main question I have, is why is it easier for a person who speaks more than one language to learn another language, than it is for a person who speaks one? What in the brain makes it simpler for the mind to learn? Another question is why there is not a great influence of learning more than one language in the United States as there is on learning the "core subjects?"

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Infantile Amnesia

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When reading through the material, one topic that interested me was the idea of infantile amnesia. This is the term given for fact that humans do not have any memories before the age of three or four years old. Personally this is in line with my first memory, which was of a party for my fourth birthday. This idea explains that although some people claim to have their first memory before the age of two, these memories are almost always either false memories that actually did not occur, or memories that actually have taken place, but later in person's life. Evidence for these finds include the brain structure and development of an infant not having the capability to support memory function. It has been shown that the hippocampus plays a crucial role in the ability to perform long-term memory. In infants the hippocampus is only partially developed making it likely that we do not have the ability to support maintaining and storing memories. Other theories state that infants do not have an understanding of a "self", making it impossible to store memories in any meaningful way.
These findings give insight to contradict the theories and ideas of certain belief systems. One theory that was reviewed in the book was a belief maintained by people who believe in scientology. The theory states that many people remember stressful and degrading conversations that took place while a person is still a fetus. The believe that these conversations are thought to cause depression and low self-esteem later in life. The findings from infantile amnesia state that this is actually impossible.

In our text beginning on page 277 the authors introduce us to a very controversial issue regarding repressing and recovering memories. One side argues that some memories, such as sexual abuse or traumatic events are repressed and then recovered some time later. The other side of the argument sites the fact that there has been very little proof or evidence to help solidify the theory that people suppress and then accurately recall the memories in question. They also site the growing example that painful memories actually are "remembered too well."

What I would like to talk about is how important it is to use skepticism and avoid ineffective strategies such as hypnotism. However, we should keep an open mind and do not simply dismiss people who may have memories and periferal evidence to support those memories.

In a recent case, Cathy Olson vs. William Holden, Cathy Olson was awarded 10 million dollars (The highest amount ever awarded in the St. Cloud district) for damages involving repressed memories of sexual abuse. You may be skeptical at first, but I think people need a little more background. Not only had William Holden been sent to Jail for a case involving Cathy Olson when she was only 14 (for only two years), but he had several violations. Cathy Olson did not have any contact with him until only a year ago (nearly 30 years) at a family meeting. She claimed that upon seeing him that she remember additional violations. After speaking with syblings who had also been involved in the past incident, they confirmed her newly recovered memories. And not only family members testified, but old friends who she had not been in contact also came forward to confirm her story.

Some might argue that it was a plot for money, but what most people are unaware of was that when Cathy Olson initially contacted a lawyer, her only goal was to send him back to jail for the additional crimes. However, because he had already served jail time for that particular involvement, he could not go back to jail. Her only option was to pursue a civil law suit, in which the goal was money. The next thing that most people don't realize is that Cathy Olson will most likely never see any of that money. Most will go to her lawyer, and a the majority (7.5 million) in putative damages, meaning not for Olson.

In this case, in my opinion, the evidence favors the idea of recovered memories. I think that it is always important to have evidence to back up any claim or memory, and if they are logically invalidated they should be disregarded accordingly. However, if there is evidence, as is the case here, they should be considered relevant, to say the least.

You can read the full article here:

http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2011/03/william_holden_10_million_sex_abuse_victim.php

Classical conditioning can be defined as a form of learning in which animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus that elicits an automatic response. In simpler terms, a being responds to a stimulus that used to have no effect until it is now paired with another stimulus. Operant conditioning is learning controlled by the consequences of the organism's behavior. Here is a helpful video to distinguish the two http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99sWFCNoJTE.

In classical conditioning a subject reacts to a something because it is paired with another stimulus that is closely related to it, such as seeing lightening then preparing to hear thunder. Advertising is a great example of classical conditioning put to use. Here is an ad that demonstrates classical conditioning. Gatorade-AD.jpg The viewer is supposed to learn a connection with physical activity and drinking gatorade to rehydrate.

In operant conditioning the consequences of our behavior determine our future actions. Instead of the target behavior being elicited automatically, as in classical conditioning, it is given voluntarily. There are two key concepts involved with the "rewards" of one's behavior; reinforcement, which is an outcome or consequence of a behavior that strengthens the probability of the behavior. There is also punishment, where an outcome or consequence of a behavior weakens the probability of that behavior happening again.

It's on the tip of my tongue

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Surely everybody has had the frustrating experience of knowing the answer to something, but just weren't able to spit it out. "What's that animal called that lives in Australia that is really weird with a bill and swims in the water?" You know you know the answer, you just can't manage to get it out of your brain. "P......pl..... ugh I know this!"
This experience, as we learned in chapter 7, is called the "Tip-of-the-tongue Phenomenon." It occurs when we learn and "store" a piece of information, but we just can't "retrieve" it. Most people are able to describe certain things about the word, such as the letter it starts with or how many syllables it has, they just can't tell you what the word is. After the word is told to them they most likely will respond with something along the lines of "AH! I knew that! It was on the tip of my tongue!"
Here is a video that explores the idea of this phenomenon:

In the video, the point is made that the more time we spend in the "tip-of-the-tongue" state, the more likely we are to repeat that behavior later on. This can be a problem for people and as suggested in the video, it is better to just look up the answer rather than trying over and over. The longer you remain in state, the more you are teaching yourself to repeat it the next time the question is asked.
I would be interested to find out more about why this happens and what parts of the brain are involved. I will have to do more research when I have the time!

MNEMONICS: memory aids

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Mnemonics are ways in which we use to help us better recall things at a later time and numerous times. It is our shortcut strategy to make things easier to memorize. What makes mnemonics different than any other outside memory aid, such as calendars and planners, is that it works by people already having knowledge about what they are trying to remember. This concept is very important because this memory aid is a common use for a lot of people and even schools try to teach us this aid. It is something we grow up with. It can be used with a number of different things and is always amazingly useful.


When I was beginning to learn music notes in 6th grade when I joined my school orchestra, my teacher taught us "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge", which stands for the notes "EGBDF" in treble clef. I would always recite this line when I had to do a music assignment and write up my own music. Of course, I would have to have a basic knowledge of what these were, what they meant, and how to use them. This refers to the already acquired knowledge I mentioned above that differentiates mnemonics from other outside memory aids. This applies to all the memory aids I use.
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In 7th grade math, our teacher taught us the line "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally". This stood for the order of operations to solve a math problem; parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.


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I also learned in math class FOIL, which was when we were simplifying a math problem. (ex. (4+8)(6+10). This reminded me the order in which to solve the problem; first, outside, inside, last. foil.gif

The biggest mnemonic and probably the earliest I ever used was probably for the names of planets. I used the line "My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas". This helps me to remember the order of the planets; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
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  • Does this memory aid only work if we have a regular, normal, healthy memory? No medical conditions that affect our memory?
  • If children learn this method to recall things more often, does it increase their learning immensely?


Procrastination

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As you can see from the time that I wrote this article that I procrastinated until the last minute to write this blog. It is something that you can ask almost any college or high school student about and they will tell they have done it at some time. The definition of Procrastination is: The habit of putting tasks off to the last possible minute. It is something we all do and it is important to understand the key causes of Procrastination so we can avoid it.
The first thing you should avoid is stress. When people feel stressed or worried, this limits your ability to work productively. Procrastination in this case actually tries to work for you because it is acting as a coping mechanism. An easy way to avoid stress is to just leave more time to relax and have fun. This can in turn allow you to be more calm and get more done. The second one is being Overwhelmed. Your mind just thinks you have to much to do so it procrastinates when you least want it to.The best way to get over this is to stop, reassess your priorities and simplify. A third problem to procrastination is just being lazy. People don't want to get off there butts to do things and the more they sit and don't do anything, that harder it will be to actually do it. A way to get over this is simple, just get up and do it. Also another thing you can do is just get more exercise. This can increase your energy levels and allow you to be more engaged. A fourth problem many people encounter is poor time management. Many college kids get there social lives and school work mixed together and before they know it they are falling behind. A good counter fight for this is to use a timebox method. Work on some homework hard and strong for 30 minutes but then after that time is up, offer yourself a reward. This can increase your ability to work hard and then you can sometimes even end up working harder and longer than you anticipated.
These are some main signs of Procrastination and some ways to counter them so next time I or anyone else says "ill do it later", think about how to beat it and don't fall prey to the Procrastination problem.


Punishment is defined as "and outcome or consequence of a behavior that weakens the probability of the behavior". By that definition it sounds appealing since using it would theoretically remove unwanted behavior from children, even in school. Yet according to research done by BF Skinner, punishment has many negative effects.

There are two types of punishment: positive punishment and negative punishment. Positive punishment is where a stimulus is administered in attempt to remove the likelihood the behavior would repeat, for example getting a spanking. Negative punishment is where a stimulus is removed to reduce the unwanted behavior like taking away a child's favorite toy. The research done by BF Skinner, punishment shows what behavior not to do, it never reinforces the desired behavior. It is also known to cause children to be more subversive, and likely to model the punishment on others. If this is the case, why is corporal punishment , the deliberate infliction of pain, still legal to be used in schools in 21 states? The following video is short news story on the issue.

The video describes that in 21 states, spanking students with a wooden paddle, agess as young as three, is an acceptable form of punishment to be used in public schools. Teachers were even quoted on its effectiveness in teaching the right behavior yet the research has clearly shown that children that are physically abused are more likely to model that behavior and become abusers as adults. Why is this still in our schools?

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In the film "Fifty First Dates", actress Drew Barrymore plays the role of Lucy Whitmore. Lucy went pineapple picking for her father's birthday and got into car accident that greatly affected her life. She was diagnosed with a fictional form of anterograde amnesia which refuses her to obtain any new information. Lucy can recall memories up until the day of the accident but the capacity is not present to form new memories. I have always wondered if this scenario was possible and believed that it was make-believe for a dramatic Hollywood production. After learning more about memory, similar types of amnesia do exist.
This type of amnesia relates to an individual by the name of Henry Molaison. H.M. is mentioned in Scott Lilienfeld's text Psychology who suffered from epileptic seizures. In the 1953, surgeons removed parts of his temporal lobes and also the hippocampi. The result of the surgery was a case of anterograde amnesia which was more severe than Lucy's case. Both individuals were unable to retain new information of daily experiences. For example, when asked the current date, they would state the date of the incident, such as the car accident or surgery. H.M. was unaware that he solved the same jigsaw puzzles, and Lucy unknowingly performed the same tasks every single day.
In the film, Lucy was brought to the attention of an extremely severe case of anterograde amnesia. In the link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqi1xo658NE, Lucy examines a lesser degree of her diagnosis. Tom can only recall memories for no more than ten seconds. A real life scenario of this case happened to Clive Wearing. Lilienfeld mentions that Clive's hippocampi were destroyed by the herpes virus. He is unable to retain memories longer than thirty seconds and cannot recognize numerous individuals. For example, when his wife appears, he shows intimate affection as if he hasn't seen her in years.

Lilienfeld, Scott. Psychology. 2nd ed. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. 265-266. Print.

The future of memory drugs

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I find memory to be a fascinating feature of the human brain. Memory is the retention of information over time. I have always wondered what it is in our brain that makes certain memory last a lifetime while other things can only last a few seconds. Wouldn't it be great if everything you read from your textbook and heard in lectures was retained in your brain and never forgotten? If you could access any kind of memory at anytime, school and life itself would be a breeze.

In an article I found there are many prescription drugs to help people suffering from attention disorders. But there are few drugs that can improve overall memory for normal people. However there is a memory pharmaceuticals experimental drug, MEM 1414. This drug is in phase one of testing safety on people. MEM 1414 acts as antagonist on a special enzyme in your brain that creates new memories. Although this drug is specifically designed for people suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer's it can be used on people to improve memory.

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50302

MEM 1414 reminds me a film that I have recently seen called Limitless. Limitless is about a man who takes an unknown drug that helps him access any information in his life that he has ever seen, read or heard. He becomes a genius that makes millions in investment banking. Does Limitless portray the future of memory drugs to come?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOLqNOfzus4

False Memories and DNA

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From the case of Paul Ingram, we learned a real life example of how false memory affects people's life. Another story that was briefly described in the textbook (page 276) is the case of Ronald Cotton. In this case, Jennifer Thompson was raped as a college student. When she was choosing her rapist from a photo and voice line up, she choose Ronald Cotton both times. Cotton was convicted guilty for this crime. In prison, Cotton met Booby Poole who grew up in the same area as him and looked similar to him, then Cotton found out that Poole was in for rape. Poole first denied raping Thompson, but later admitted to it to another inmate. With this new evidence, Cotton protested the verdict and received a new trial. In this new trial, Thompson identified Cotton as her rapist and Poole innocent. Cotton was sentenced for two life sentences. When Cotton heard about the O.J. Simpson case, he requested another trial with DNA evidence since he was already serving two life sentences he had nothing to loose. This time Cotton was innocent and Poole was convicted of the rape. Ronald Cotton was a victim of false memory. There were multiple reasons of why Thompson chose Cotton as her rapist, but the most important being that Cotton worked in a restaurant new Thompson's home; therefore she would have seen his face before. Also when Thompson participated in the photo line up, she was basically looking at men and one was her rapist, so she chose a person most similar to what she remembered. This case helped free 235 innocent people from crimes they were accused for with DNA evidence. Also, this case showed how eyewitnesses are unreliable and highly persuaded. The main reason is because if a witness takes longer than 10 to 15 seconds then the witness is most likely using something other than recognition memory. This case is another example of how false memory can affect people's lives.

Poole is on the left, and Cotton on the right.

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(http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-4848039.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody)

False Memories

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I found the idea of "false memories" really interesting. I defined false memories as the way we remember thing vividly and our brain summarize what it understood in that particular situation which could be different from what actually happened. The factors which believe to cause false memories are inaccurate perception, inferences, similarity, and misattributions of familiarity. (http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/False_memory)

I believe that this finding that memory could be false and not operate like videos cameras is important because it gives the authority a chance to reconsider before they pledged someone guilty base on someone else memory. I am sure that these false of memories had put many innocent people in jail before. One example for that is George Franklin, a man who was accused by his daughter of murder. The daughter later said that she repressed the memories out of fear. George is free after spending six years in prison because there is not enough evidences and the DNA proved him from the charges. Our memories are very easily tricked so I believe it is better not to put an innocent people suffer what they did not do. below is the videos about George's trail.

A video below is showing the overall ideas of false memories and some experiments that has been proved that memories could be false sometime.


As I was reading the textbook, something really stuck out to me. I read that there is a gene that only one percent of the population has which allows them to sleep for six or less hours a night and still feel rested. And I think I know someone who has this gene. My boyfriend, Shaun, goes to bed at around the same time every night, and about five or six hours later wakes up without an alarm clock feeling totally rested and starts his day (which usually drives me crazy because unlike him, I need a good 9 hours to feel truly rested). For a long time I yelled at him and told him to get more rest and that it was unhealthy to get so little sleep, but after being called a cackling hen a few times and him explaining to me that he actually feels rested, I dropped the issue and decided not to think about it anymore. (Don't worry, I found other things to nag about.) But then, as I was reading the textbook and I learned that there are actually people who need way less sleep than most people, I was stunned.
I was really interested in this idea, not only because apparently my boyfriend is a mutant, but also because I thought that this could perhaps lead to other medical studies that help people who need more sleep or people who don't feel rested after they sleep, like me. I read this article, which talked about exactly that. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/health/research/14sleep.html The article quotes Ying-Hui Fu, professor of Neurology at the University of California, "We know sleep is necessary for life, but we know so little about sleep," which I thought was dead-on. The book talks about that idea too, that we sleep for a third of our lives, and yet scientists know very little about what actually goes on when we sleep and dream. But the most important part of this article is the second to last paragraph, which states, "The real benefit of the research will come if and when the mutation is identified in other individuals. That could lead to new discoveries about sleep timing and duration, and possibly new treatments for sleep disorders." I know I would love to be able to sleep for as little time as my boyfriend does and still be able to function.

The Gambler's Fallacy

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The gambler's fallacy is an interesting phenomenon. It is the fallacy of assuming that short-term deviations from probability will be corrected in the short term. For example someone who is buying into the gambler's fallacy, when faced with nine coin flips that land on heads, will predict that the next coin flip will result in a tails. This is because they assume a tails is "due". After all, it is extremely unlikely that a flipped coin will land on heads ten times in a row. However, this is an incorrect assumption. The previous nine coin flips do not have any effect on the next coin flip. The gambler's fallacy can also be applied to other situations. One situation that I am guilty of using it in is fantasy football.

I selected Chris Johnson, a talented running back, with my first round pick in my 2011 fantasy football draft. Even though Johnson had been holding out throughout training camp, I assumed he would have enough time to get conditioned before the start of the regular season. However, he performed badly in week one. In week two, the same thing happened. I was about to bench him, until I saw an article online that said Chris Johnson was "due" for a big game because he had been underperforming in previous weeks. Sadly, I agreed with the article and kept starting him. So far this year, he has not had a big game. This is one example of falling prey to the gambler's fallacy.

Article: http://www.fantasycouch.com/2011/09/fantasy-football-trades-buy-low-sell-high-2011/

False Memories

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When we started talking about false memories in our discussion sections, I was absolutely fascinated. It really made me think about how malleable the mind is. It also made me wonder that if someone tried to do this to me, would I believe it? I like to think that I wouldn't, but I know that there is a pretty good chance that I might fall for it. As seen in this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il0u2s_WGXA), roughly 25% of those studied fell for this trick. I also found it strange that even when they made up a more specific story about spilling punch on people at a wedding, roughly 25% of people still believed that it happened.

I also found this image funny:
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All in all, this is a very bizarre topic that I would love to learn more about. How much do false memories impact our day to day lives?

Narcoleptic dog

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In Chapter 6 of our book we learn about narcolepsy, the disorder characterized by the rapid and often unexpected onset of sleep. While reading about it, I saw the picture of a dog that had narcolepsy and I was interested to see if their was any differences in people and dogs that are narcoleptic. I watched a couple of YouTube videos of dogs with narcolepsy and this one interested me the most: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbmbQkX7czo&feature=related

This narcoleptic poodle has similar episodes as humans, for example, being excited or surprised make them both fall asleep for a short few seconds. However, when watching this video it brought to my attention that most dogs are constantly going through excitement no matter what they are doing. I never thought about the fact that unlike humans, a dogs excitement goes through the roof when they are about to eat. This poodle has to be pet constantly so he is somewhat distracted from his excitement just so he can't eat. I would assume that many narcoleptic people can get through eating a meal, however some people do get excited about food!

The video also says that narcolepsy is very rare in dogs and that very little is known about dog narcolepsy. In fact, they are giving this dog human antidepressants. Fortunately for dogs the only negative is that they can live a normal dog life. Humans on the other hand have many disadvantages to live a normal life. Some narcoleptic people are forbidden from driving, it's hard for them to maintain a job, and other daily activities that affect what these people can do.

The human brain is a complex machine made up of several important parts that control pretty much all of our every day functions. However, what happens when a part of the brain is damaged or destroyed? In essence, our brain has several different departments that are associated with different functions. The frontal lobe is associated with reasoning, planning, parts of speech, movement, emotions, and problem solving. The parietal love is associated with movement, orientation, recognition, and perception of stimuli. The occipital love is associated with visual processing, and the temporal love is associated with perception, memory, and speech. Clearly, any damage to any part of the brain could completely alter one's ability to "function," in general terms.
There are certain types of brain injuries, but one in particular is noted as the split-brain effect. This is a term that describes the severance of the corpus callosum that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. This can occur when there is damage to the tissue, and often times doctors will perform a procedure called a corpus callosotomy, a procedure used to help alleviate seizures. Why is this important? Let us review some more. The left part of the brain is responsible for speech and contains what is known as Broca's area (speech production) and Wernicke's area (speech comprehension). A person with a split-brain, when shown an image in his or her left visual field won't be able to vocally say or explain what he or she has seen. The person can, however, pick up and show recognition of an object with their left hand, since that hand is controlled by the right side of the brain.


Here is a link to an interesting video that goes into more detail about split-brain procedures and their experiments.

Classical Conditioning

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Classical Conditioning is simply a form of learning in which animals come to respond to a previously neutral stimulus that had been paired with another stimulus which made the animal have a automatic response. The most successful study is one done on dogs because it exemplifies classical conditioning in the best way. There are four keys conditions in classical conditioning, two stimuli and two responses. There is the Unconditioned Stimulus, a stimulus that elicits an automatic response, and then there is the unconditioned response, the elicited response by the unconditioned Stimulus. Also there is the Conditioned Stimulus which is a previously neutral stimulus that comes to elicit a Conditioned response. This an important finding because this shows that a previously neutral stimulus if paired with a unconditioned stimulus could eventually lead that neutral stimulus to become an unconditioned stimulus. This is an astonishing concept that is has led to many other test that proves classical conditioning is a way to see how our mind works.
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In my life I have experienced classical conditioning as a child in school when the bell rings in school to signal the end of the day. I use to respond to the bell the same way all the time and that is to get up and leave my seat to go to my locker. So when the bell malfunctioned one day and rang to early I got up and started leaving the classroom and so did other students and even the teacher was about to let us go if there wasn't an announcement telling us that it wasn't time to leave yet. This showed just how closely tied together the bell and the response of get up was for everyone at school. In this case the Unconditioned stimulus was the end of the day and the unconditioned response was to get up out of my seat. Conditioned stimulus was the bell and the conditioned response was to get up out of my seat.

Languages and Our Minds

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Growing up, I always loved languages, and speech. I thought that the different ways people said things, and how many different languages there are in the world was extraordinary. I always felt very lucky to have grown up speaking two languages mostly because I feel that being fluent in two enabled me to understand how languages work better, or as the Lilienfeld text says, I have "heightened metalinquistic insight".

Having spoken both Vietnamese and English at home really let me see how language affects the way that you think, and perceive things because I was able to understand language from an English speaker's point of view, and talk to my parents about how they view things as their most dominant language is Vietnamese. There are a lot of influences that each culture brings to the language. For example, in Vietnamese, you are often more formal when talking to people whereas in English, it's very easy to start talking in a more casual way with someone without coming off as impolite.

What I would like to know though are the effects that people have when they begin to learn more languages, becoming multilingual, and learn more about the cultures behind those languages. How does it affect them psychologically, and how does it change the way they view the world? Furthermore, what makes it possible for people to become multilingual, and to be so proficient in those languages that they make such few mistakes? Along with speaking Vietnamese and English fluently, I've had five years of French courses, and one year of Italian courses, and sometimes I can't even keep them separate!

A few years ago, I watched a documentary called The Boy With the Incredible Brain about a man named David Tammet, a British writer who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 25. As a savant, he once stated that he can speak 9 languages, and in the documentary, he was shown to have learned conversational Icelandic within a week. He is even now currently creating his own language called Mänti! Of course, his situation is a bit different than other people who are multilingual, but his story is fascinating in the sense that you can't help but wonder how his mind must work.

Despite all these questions, if I know one thing for sure, without language, we'd all be lost.


Shaping the future

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Shaping is when we give rewards for a behavior that is close to the behavior we are looking for. This is also called "shaping by successsive approximations". Basically this is a technique in the type of conditioning called operant conditioning. It is a way of teaching an organism something to do. This type of conditioning and type of technique is used in many different types of instances. I think that the place we see this most is with children. For example, when a child is learning how to write letters they are not perfect, the B might look like a D and their R's might be backwards, yet we reward the effort of this behavior with stickers and praise from teachers and parents. Also take childrens' sporting events. At a tee ball game everyone gets praised, whether they hit the ball or not. This is also an example of shaping. We reward the child for making backwards R's because they are close to R's and we reward them for swinging at the ball instead of hitting it because it is the next logical thing that will happen if they continue that action. I think that one of the most effective teaching techniques is shaping because when people recieve a reward for a certain behavior they want to keep doing it and the old adage does ring true "practice makes perfect."

So what was I here for?

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I am a victim of forgetting things at a very short span of time. So often I have the tendency of going to the place where I thought of the event or object and in most of the cases I remember what it is I was thinking about. Often I would get up to take out a book from my bag, but by the time I reach my closet, which in fact is only a matter of seconds, I forget what did I come there for. Thus I return to my desk, the same location where I thought of getting a book, and in most cases I remember what exactly it was that I was getting. I had never put much thought into this action until now when I learned about encoding specificity and state-dependent learning. I simply followed this method just because it worked best for me; never analyzing the reason as to why going back to the same location where I had encoded that thought to retrieve it.

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Encoding specificity is the phenomenon of remembering something better when the conditions under which we retrieve the information are similar to the conditions under which we encoded them. Therefore it may be true that students would perform better if their academic tests are given in the same room that they are taught the subject, as the various elements of the room such as the space, podium, or a poster would remind them of the topics that were taught in that lecture hall as it would be the same location as when the memory was encoded.

State-dependent learning is a psychologically phenomenon of encoding specificity. Superior retrieval of memories when the organism is in the same physiological or psychological state as it was during encoding. Therefore taking my personal example, going to the "actual" place where I had encoded that thought helps me retrieve it; thus going back to my desk, the same physiological environment helps me remember the event I had thought of. Apart from physiological state, people can retrieve memories through facing the same psychological state. Sometimes it's encouraged or thought of as handy when patients "relive their trauma" as it helps them to retrieve memories of the trauma that they had unconsciously suppressed. In a more easy and day to day example, we are encouraged to remain calm and devoid of anxiousness as it truly help us to remember our text more. Applying this theory, when we are learning our materials for the test we aren't in a panic state and hopefully not anxious at all, we are learning it in a calm state, thus maintaining this emotional state helps us retrieve the memories of the text easily as we have kept the same state of affairs as when we had encoded the text for the test.
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So do you think going back to the same place or to the same emotional state truly helps us to retrieve memories? And last but not the least how we wish we had this...

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Timber's Troubles

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One of the ideas that brought up memories from my childhood was simply Classical Conditioning. The processes are pretty simple, and I'm sure that we all know them by now. When i was a little kid I had a dog named Timber.
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The funny thing about Timber is the fact that he was so afraid of any loud noise. This shows classical conditioning because when he was a puppy, we were at a parade and a tractor backfired right next to him and scared him. Ever since that day, any loud noise, especially thunder would scare him. He then learned to associate rain, and other signs of a storm with the feeling he got when there were loud noises and would hide in our bath tub. His fear was elicited through classical conditioning, and I had never thought about it that way until now. I am curious as to whether this fear could have been conditioned out of him?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpoLxEN54ho

Mirror Neurons

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In Chapter 6, Learning, we were introduced to several cognitive models of learning. One model was observational learning. According to this model, we learn by watching others. It is a form of latent learning because it allows us to learn without reinforcement. We simply watch someone else perform a task or behavior, we see the reinforcement he or she receives, and we learn from it.

Mirror neurons, located in the prefrontal cortex, become activated when we watch someone else do something. An example in the book is when we see an athlete sustain an injury. When the athlete winces in pain, we also wince. Mirror neurons can explain why fans get so excited and involved in a game. The mirror neurons that correspond to motor areas are becoming activated.

Mirror neurons have also been implicated in empathy and autism. We can experience empathy when we are able to take the perspective of someone else. If we see someone get hurt, like the athlete example in the previous paragraph, we "feel his pain." Our mirror neurons are activated and we can imagine what he just experienced as if we experienced it as well. A lack of empathy, or a deficit in the ability to understand another's perspective, has been associated with autism. Perhaps people with autism have abnormalities in their mirror neurons, which inhibit their perspective taking abilities. Currently, it is just a correlation, not a cause.

The discovery of mirror neurons may allow for many new developments in how we learn and for more understanding of autism.

False Memories

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This widely controversial concept is when people recall events that did not occur. This mainly seems to happen to children because they are more likely to confuse fantasy with reality. Most children cling to their false memories even if authority figures tell them they are wrong, which shows us that these memories can be very convincing. This concept can also cause problems when children are repeatedly questioned. If a child is suspected of being abused and officers question this child about this abuse repeatedly, children may give investigators the answers they're seeking, even if these answers are wrong. For this reason, I find this concept of false memories to be important. People can be put in jail for years for a crime they did not commit. George Franklin is a very good example of the dangers of false memories.
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George Franklin was wrongly accused of the murder of a young girl. Franklin's daughter, Eileen, testified that she had recovered a 20 year old memory that her father killed her childhood friend. She said that she had "repressed" this memory out of fear; however, Eileen's sister said that Eileen's recovered memory had followed hypnosis. Therefore, Eileen's memory was probably completely false, and was not credible evidence. Franklin was sentenced to jail for life, but was released after six years. Eileen's credibility was also questioned when she accused her father of another murder, and eventually DNA evidence cleared him. After hearing this story, I feel one important question comes to mind. Do we need to consider this concept of false memories more often (especially during trials)?

We are all aware that watching violence can impact a person negatively but the question is can that turn a child from sweet to rough? There have been studies they have said that children watching violence on TV tend to be more aggressive than children that don't. What these findings fail to address is that a third variable may be involved concerning why these children are aggressive. Violence alone cant be the determining factor on the cause of aggression. Children that have more aggressiveness in them will possibly watch more violent programs. Researchers have used longitudinal designs to support their thesis that more violent programs induce more aggression in children. Other studies down showed two different groups of children violent presentations and non violent ones, it was proven that there was a causal link but not a direct causation. Just because violence proceeds aggression does not mean that is the cause. Despite the fact that field studies, correlational studies, longitudinal studies, and laboratory studies have been done it is still a controversial issue about whether violence is the exact cause of aggression.

What day is it today?

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In the video above, the woman is suffering from what is called transient global amnesia. This is a sudden and temporary loss of memory which is usually seen in middle-aged to elderly people, usually after some sort of trauma and lasts anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. The common symptoms are that the person is unable to form new memories or recall recent events and re-asking of the same question (like in the video when the woman kept asking what the date was).

Despite what you have probably seen in the movies or on TV, this type of amnesia, and certainly most types of amnesia, do not cause a person to completely forget who they are. In fact, in this type of amnesia you can remember most of your friends and family but simply can not remember more recent events or possibly events that have happened up to a year in the past (like in the video when the woman forgets about her past birthday party). Fortunately for people who have suffered transient global amnesia, the long-term effects are seemingly harmless. The lapse in memory usually lasts for only a short amount of time and afterwards your memory is just fine. And luckily for everyone, transient global amnesia is very rare.

There are several types of amnesia which include:
• Anterograde amnesia - Inability to remember ongoing events after the incidence of trauma or the onset of the disease that caused the amnesia

• Retrograde amnesia - Inability to remember events that occurred before the incidence of trauma or the onset of the disease that caused the amnesia

• Emotional/hysterical amnesia - Memory loss caused by psychological trauma; usually a temporary condition

• Lacunar amnesia - Inability to remember a specific event

• Korsakoff syndrome - Memory loss caused by chronic alcoholism

• Posthypnotic amnesia - Memory loss sustained from a hypnotic state; can include inability to recall events that occurred during hypnosis or information stored in long-term memory
(http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/neurological-conditions/amnesia.htm)

These other types of amnesia can come with more serious effects, like permanent memory loss, so it is important that doctors know how to differentiate from the different types.

Memory, It's What I Remember

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Memory is a very complex idea, which is not fully understood. Memory is defined to be the retention of information over time. Memory is the ability to recall everything that you can recall, such as, birthdays, phone numbers, and your first kiss. The idea that everyone has their own version of reality is a mind-boggling thought. Just pick out any random person and think about how they have their own personalized memories. A portion of this person's memories, however, probably never happened and are instead false implications of the mind to fill in the blurred out parts of their memories. Our memory has certain time spans where the memory is processed and stored or discarded, but only a portion of the memory is stored, leading to the blurry spots of memory. If you try to tell someone their memories are wrong, they will probably put up a fight due to some biases, such as belief perseverance. This whole idea of false memories, called a memory illusion, brings up many issues. Police used to rely on the word of crime victims, to pick the criminal out of a line up. The fact is that in a calm state, let alone a state of fear such as during a crime, memories are skewed yet we rely on them to enforce the law. Most people believe their memories are spot on, but some people have had false memories implemented in their minds by other people. The case of Paul Ingram shows how susceptible memories are. The daughter of Paul falsely "remembered" being molested by her respectable father when a pastor told her that she had been. The father was tricked into forming his own memories of the event, which never happened, as well. This all shows how, in certain cases, memories lack in validity. This is a serious concern in many ways. A main way this is a concern is that every person is molded into who they are based on the life they live and the memories which accompany it. The possibility that many memories, including yours, may be false is a scary thought indeed.

Sensory Memory and You

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Imagine yourself sitting in a noisy, crowded room. There are people sitting and standing everywhere, and each person seems to be carrying on a different conversation. You are also carrying on a conversation, when all of the sudden you here that your name was said. You turn around and you recall what that person was talking about seconds before they said your name, even though you were paying attention to the conversation that you were having. This is sensory memory in all of its glory.

Sensory memory in the true sense of the term a very short-term buffer memory where senses store what they have received before any cognitive processing within the brain occurs. It is a very short buffer; essentially lasting for 0.5 to 3 seconds. Imagine this type of memory as "scenic", being that it lasts for a short amount of time but has quite large capacity.

There are several types of sensory memory, essentially one for every sense as its name states. All of these types of sensory memory are essential to "get the whole picture" within ones memory. The sensory store is the window to short-term memory and long-term memory. So the next time you happen to hear your name in a crowded room, rub your hand on your head and say "thanks" to your sensory memory.hearing_aid.jpg

False Memories - Blog 3

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I believe that the idea of false memory is a very important concept to know about. False memory can be caused by many factors that impair our ability to remember what correctly happened. This concept could and has had a huge impact on people's lives.
Sometimes people are made to do a suggestive memory technique, which is a process of encouraging people to remember memories that may or may not have happened. False memory is also made up of crytomnesia, which is when people fail to distinguish that their idea came from someone else. Another way false memory can be created is during a traumatic experience. For example, if you were a cashier and someone came in and robbed you with a gun, you may forget what their face looked like because you were so focused on the gun at the time.
False memories can be very detrimental to people's lives. One example of this is the Paul Ingram case that we all had to read for our discussion sections. False memories that his daughters had, caused Ingram to be put in jail for rape. Another example is the Jennifer Thompson case of 1984. She was a college student that was raped and she falsely accused Ronald Cotton as the rapist. DNA tests then showed that Bobby Poole was the actual rapist and Cotton was released after serving 11 years in prison. This is a prime example of how false memories can damage a person's life. Jennifer must have been so focused on this traumatic rape that her memory of Bobby's face had become unclear.

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For years and years, the slightest thought of visiting the dentist has sent a feeling of uneasiness into the hearts of many. The associations of pain, discomfort, and dislike for the dentist at work have created a bad rep for the dental business ever since the days of no Novocain. What many people have yet to realize is that the dental industry has been working incredibly hard to help reduce the factors that create fear in patients by applying the concepts of conditioning.

By unraveling the Two-Process theory, we can take a closer look at why people hold such bias against dentists.

First of all, the Two-Process theory is a combination of classical conditioning and operant conditioning. In this case, the classically conditioned stimulus, visiting the dentist, gets paired with the unconditioned stimulus of a bad experience, whether it be the extracting of a tooth, a root canal, or even just a story from someone a person knows who has had a bad experience. The dentist is then linked with a sense of fear because people do not want harm to come to them, especially in their mouth where there are a lot of nerve endings.

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In order to reduce the unpleasant feeling, a person may avoid the dentist for as long as possible, which is a bad idea because they are Operantly negatively reinforcing the feelings. This many times only leads to more and more problems with going to the clinic, even when they are in dire need of dental attention.

I know that as a child myself, I was terrified when the dentist brought out the giant needle to numb my mouth, it seemed like it was a foot long. I was even so afraid of the dentist as a child that I had to be medical sedated for them to work on me. After that episode I was brought to a child specialist and that's where I saw the change.

Dentists and dental hygienists were actually using certain techniques to calm down children before working on them. They were conditioning the children with positive reinforcement. The more the children behaved and remained calm, the more rewards they would get for their behavior, teaching the children that going to the dentist and getting regular checkups comes with two perks: healthy teeth and the occasional toy or trinket. Some clinics also have movies that play on the ceiling to distract the children and the walls are painted with whimsical designs, all further enforcing the positive environment of a dentist's office.

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If only this would work on the older generation that had to deal with the not so ideal conditions of dentists' offices before the discovery of dental anxiety was recorded. That generation has a large number of elderly folks who are afraid of the dentist because all through their lives it was a deeply rooted fact that going to the dentist involved pain, and a lot of it. Hopefully the dental profession will continue to make all levels of dental care at all ages safe and worry free by applying more concepts of psychology to the field of work.

The Women with Perfect Memory

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Imagine being able to recall every moment of every single day of your life. For 10 people in the world, this imagination is reality. Our text books talks about one woman who goes by the name J.P. that has an extremely rare condition called hyperthymestic syndrome. She remembers the events of each day of her life since she was 14 years old. But is this syndrome a special gift or a nightmare? Different people with this syndrome have different ideas. I found a very informative 60 minutes clip that is kind of lengthy (13 and a half minutes) but is definitely worth the time to watch.

The clip talks with three women out of ten in the world that have this rare condition. While two of the women love their special gift, J.P., the women mention in the textbook, calls it a mixed blessing. She says she sometimes wishes she wasn't stuck with all the bad memories of her life. Mary Lou Henner, on the other hand, says that she enjoys having all her mistakes in her memories because they are life lessons she will never forget.
So what is going on in the brains of all these people? Brain scans show that something called the caudate nucleus is up to seven times larger in these people than in most human beings. Researchers are not yet sure what this means, but they sure have high hopes. There has been talk of these findings leading to a cure for Alzheimer's disease or other memory disorders. Hopefully we will see even more people with this newly discovered "disease" come forward so that the world will be able to benefit from it.

woman-refusing-to-eat.jpg Have you ever eaten something then got sick from it then never it ever again? If so, then you have experienced CTA. conditioned taste aversion. It is when you have had bad experience with food and because of that, you never eat it again since the food has caused you to become sick the first time you eaten it. CTA occurs in 3 ways, it only takes one try, delay between CS & UCS, and only sick when see that specific product in which that made you sick but not sick when you see similar products.

Here is a link to a video that demonstrate CTA : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLYw_g4F8lg

I chosen to blog about CTA because l too, have experienced CTA. In this case, it was McDonald.LOVIN_IT__by_Lora8.jpg I had eaten McDonald 3x and gotten sick all those times. At first, I thought it was probably the place/ area = unclean or something, then in a different type of location I tried again, and I got sick. This time I thought that it was the weather and that time of the year to be sick. Then sometimes has gone by, I went in for some McDonalds, and I got sick again. So after the 3rd time getting sick, I quit going to McDonald. Yes, it only takes 1 try to activate CTA, but I was in denial that McDonald can't possibly make me sick because other similar food didn't. It was just too weird to explain and I was willingly stubborn to try for 3x to be actually convince. Now, I understand why I can't stand McDonald's food, it's because of CTA. I think it's important to know what is happening to your body or mentality. So, you won't turn out like me, getting myself sick 3x; knowing/ understanding CTA can save you from illness.
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What's your CTA experience?

Long-term Memory

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Long-term memory is our relatively enduring store of information, meaning that it outlasts the event that has occurred. It is the store of information that includes the facts, experiences and skills we have acquired over our lifetimes. In short, long-term memory ties together the past with the present, and its capacity is essentially unlimited. It lasts a very long time as well. There are also different varieties of long-term memory, including explicit and implicit. Explicit long-term memory, which is the intentional use of memory, is broken down into to subcategories. Episodic is knowing or remembering specific instances in one's life, and semantic is when one just knows certain information, but one does not remember learning it. Implicit long-term memory, what one may not know, is broken down into two subcategories as well. Procedural is our memory for how to do things, and an example is tying one's shoes or driving a car. Priming is our ability to identify a stimulus more easily or quickly after we have encountered similar stimuli.
A good example of long-term memory is the primacy effect. This is if one is given a list of words or letters to memorize, one would remember the first items on the list. This YouTube clip demonstrates the primacy effect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfsPcXk4p6w

One girl does several different motions with her arms, followed by another girl who attempts to imitate the first girl. She goes through the first 5 or 6 motions and then does not remember the rest. This is a good example of the primacy effect because the girl remembers the arm motions from the beginning, but she does not remember the second half. If she were to remember the second half better than the first half, then she would have demonstrated the recency effect, which is linked to short-term memory.

Classical Conditioning

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There are four parts in classical conditioning, which is unconditioned stimulus (US), unconditioned response (UR), conditioned stimulus (CS), and conditioned response (CR). How are these four parts working? Firstly, US causes UR automatically. As the example Pavlov came up with is that food causes the salivation of dog. Secondly, Before US, we add CS, and repeat the sequence of CS and US, we will find that there exists CR. We still use the example of Pavlov, before the food stimulus, we add metronome before food, and we repeat of process of metronome and food several times, the result is when the metronome is ringing, then the dog drool, which shows CS causes CR directly.

The reason I think this concept is important is because it is used widely in our daily life. For example, advertisement maker is intent to give potential customers CS of their products through the US of the advertisement.

As the example showed in the video, the boy hates the music and he used classical conditioning method to make his 4 years old sister hate the music, too. In this case, the CS is the bad music, the US is squirt bottle. The boy played the music, and used the squirt bottle to spray water on her sister's head. He repeated this process several times. The UR and the CR is that the girl shouted. Although at last the boy did not spray water, while hearing the music, the girl still shouted. In the end, the girl hated that bad music.

When I studied this concept, I was wondering whether the process of CS causes CR directly would last for a long time. After studied the concept of extinction, I understood that the CR decreases, and gradually disappears, if the CS is repeated alone.

As a child, I remember my parents always trying to make me eat different and healthy foods. But, like most kids between the ages of 7-10 years old, I hated anything more complicated than Mac'n'Cheese or anything that was green (i.e. vegetables). Now most of those different and healthy foods I thoroughly enjoy eating. However, there are still a few, very specific, foods that I cannot make myself eat to this day. This is because these foods tasted so bad to me, or by coincidence of illness, that when I ate them I immediately became nauseous. One example is a bad Nutrigrain bar I had. I remember taking a bite and tasting this horrible flavor that reminded me of the smell of our family pet's dog food. 51uGOrBH8rL._SL500_.jpgTo this day I cannot eat one of those bars. This is an example of a Conditioned Taste Aversion. Conditioned Taste Aversions (CTA's) are unique in that they contradict "classical conditioning" with responses to uncontrolled and controlled stimuli in three major ways (according to the Lilienfield textbook).
1. The CTA only requires one trial to develop a CS and UCS pairing.
2. The delay between CS and UCS can be as long as 6-8 hours.
3. The CTA's tend to be very specific, with little or no stimulus generalization.
The first major contradiction explains why I simply have not been able will myself to eat another Nutrigrain bar since that incident. The second contradiction was not as much of a factor in this example, though it has been proven true. The third contradiction explains why I can still eat other nutrition bars without getting sick, I just cannot eat a Nutrigrain bar.
Though CTA's contradict "classical conditioning" it makes sense why they are what they are. For instance, the textbook states that it could be a survival trait passed down from our ancestors. The objective was to avoid food poisoning, which can take only one trial to inflict harm and possibly death, so any attempt at "classical conditioning" would fail terribly. 0511-0810-2317-3370_Man_About_to_Throw_Up_clipart_image.pngThankfully, it is much easier to manage which food items are safe to eat and not safe to eat.

Mental Set

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Starting with a test, please draw only one line to split the graph below into two triangles.

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Think about it, the answer is at the end of this entry.

We are good at developing one strategy to solve the similar problems. For most of the time, it is quiet economic on both time and efforts for us. But sometimes, we just neglect other possible solutions for a new problem, which can be more convenient. We call this phenomenon a mental set.

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An interesting anecdote in my hometown about mental set happens in a factory. The owner of a factory found that his automatic assembly line sometimes packed the boxes with no product inside. So he just asked an engineering company for help. The company sent its talent engineer to design a complex system with infrared detectors to filter the empty boxes and refill them. But unfortunately, this solution was rejected. Because the worker in the factory just came up with another solution: setting a large fan at the end of the assembly line. So all the empty boxes were just blew away by the fan. Obviously, the fan is much cheaper than the complex filtering system. The engineer was blocked by the mental set, his specialty.

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The similar events happened around us. And my solution for them is simple and straight-forward: every time I meet with a new problem, I'll try to share it with my friends of different backgrounds of knowledge. Because people have different mental sets. In sum, we will have multiple alternatives with the best solution.

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Many people think simply when they solve the problems. They usually have one solution to a problem because they don't think of other alternative ways to solve it. Functional fixedness happens when we experience difficulty in thinking about something only in term of its functionality rather than we can use it for another purpose. Functional fixedness is cognitive bias that limits a person uses an object in the way that is traditionally used. We became "fixated" in conventional use of object.
Functional fixedness is introduced by Karl Duncker. To prove this concept, he designed an experiment called "Duncker's Candle Problem" which he had a board, candle, bunches of matches, a box of tacks and he told experimentees to mount candle on the wall. Do you know a way to solve this problem? At first, when I look at a problem, I didn't know how to solve a problem because I thought that box only uses to hold the tacks. I actually fixated on the box's functionality and didn't think other alternative ways to use the box. After two or three minutes, I realized that the box can be used to hold handle and the box can mount to the wall using tacks. After that, we can burn candle to allow wax dripped down candle so that the candle can stuck inside the box. Therefore, we can burn candle safely.
The Duncker's Candle Problem is important because it shows that we have limited ability to solve a problem. For example, do you need scissors, hammer, paper but you don't have anything of these around you? What should you do? Do you find any alternative ways to arrange things to allow it to cut somethings, pound a nail, or write something on? I sometimes run into a problem when I need a paperweight but I only have ruler with me. I can't see ruler as a paperweight because ruler always uses to measure a length of an object. Functional fixedness is also a problem when NASA try to invent new pen that allows astronauts to write upside down in space but Russians use pencils for it and it saves them a ton of dollar. Another question that I may have for this concept is "Can functional fixedness happen to non-technological people (people haven't experienced of using any kind of tools)? What role does functional fixedness play in their society?

Funny examples of functional fixedness that I have found on youtube

Bilingualism

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Do you know more than one language? Around the world there are many people
that know more than one language. They travel and go abroad to study so
they can practice these different languages. Those people are bilingual.
That means that you are able to speak, understand and comprehend two
languages. It's clear that you will dominate your primary language more
than the other, but the fact of knowing two languages is awesome. Your
primary language is the one that you have learned first, almost always in
your home with your parents. The second language is the one that you learn
for example in your school or also in your home. It depends if your parents
are bilingual or not.

I consider myself as bilingual. My primary language is Spanish and my
second language is English. Currently, I'm an exchange student at the
University of Minnesota. It has been an experience of enrichment because it
has helped me to dominate my English language. I think that being bilingual
is an advantage because it is a tool for communication, knowledge, and a
connection with others. Also, it keeps the brain exercising and allows you
to explore new horizons through language.

The video below show you the diversity of languages around the world. Also,
it is clear that bilingualism is a passport to the world. Don't you think
knowing more than one language and understand people from other parts of
the world are awesome and interesting?

Before I came to college I had no experiences interacting with deaf people. I fell into the trap of common misconceptions about sign language. I thought people who had to sign weren't as smart, and that they had to use only a few signs to try and communicate, but that all changed when I came here. I enrolled into an American Sign Language class and I immediately found out that almost all of my previous knowledge about sign language was wrong. Me Signing ILY Rachel signing Mom19mo web.jpg

Sign language is just like all other languages. It allows the people using it to clearly express what they are trying to say in great detail. This blew me away. How could you communicate complex ideas or concepts through signs? I came to learn that ASL is similar to English because it uses some of the same components like morphemes and syntax.

Another misconception that I learned is that sign language isn't universal all over the world. It has dialects and certain types of slang just like spoken language does. Yes there are some signs that are universal all over the world, but just like English differs from Spanish, American Sign Language is different from French Sign Language.

The biggest thing about ASL that has changed the way I think about all language in general is the fact that in ASL there are ways to communicate concepts and ideas that are simply not possible to translate into English or any spoken language in general. It opens up a door into a whole different world and way to look at the world.

A great book that you can read to give you an idea of what I'm talking about is Deaf Again: An Inside Look, which will open up the world of ASL to you. DeafAgain4thEdCoverPicture.jpg

Also, I have attached a video that shows how great ASL can be to learn and how important it is to deaf children.

Drugs

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Drugs are at the center of attention for high school and college aged students because of their popularity and dangerous side effects. The most common drugs in the United States are stimulants, such as tobacco, and hallucinogenics, such as marijuana. There are many different drugs, and many of them have different side effects, but they are all dangerous because they impair judgement, rev up the nervous system, or produce alterations in perception, mood, and thoughts. Drugs are so dangerous because an overdose or the use of some drugs over a long period of time can lead to serious brain damage or even death.

Because of the dangerous side effects of drugs, most of these drugs are illegal in the United States. The only drug listed above that is not illegal is tobacco, and this drug is heavily taxed to encourage people to not buy it. People should be aware of the dangers of drugs to better protect themselves from the dangers they carry. Below is an example of what the abuse of drugs can do to a person over time.


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This past week, I read an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press regarding the role of God in psychology. You can read that article here. Gareth Cook, the columnist, basically summarizes and comments upon the findings of David Rosmarin, a psychologist at McLean Hospital. Rosmarin's experiment seems to indicate a negative correlation between amount of trust in God or a higher power, and amount of worry. To do some more research of Rosmarin's study, I found his original published article, Incorporating spiritual beliefs into a cognitive model of worry. Using the Principles of Scientific Thinking, I will attempt to analyze the validity of Rosmarin's experiment.

First, Rosmarin found a way to measure something that many people may consider "extraordinary". Using surveys to measure trust in God,uncertainty and worry, Rosmarin obtained small correlational evidence that mistrust/trust in God is associated with amount of worry. Thus, Rosmarin does have evidence to back up his extraordinary claims.

However, Rosmarin's experiment only surveyed religious people--both Christians and Jews. Presumably, Rosmarin should have used a third "control" group, a group of people who were not religious at all.

This observation ties into another Principle of Scientific Thinking. Rosmarin states that while there is correlation, causation cannot be automatically infered. In this case, it is difficult to separate cause from effect. Does trust in God cause less worries, or do people who trust in God simply worry less? For this reason, it would be helpful to have a base rate-- a group of non-religious people--involved in the study. However, it is important that Rosmarin is careful to note that his correlational findings do not equate causation.

In conclusion, both Cook and Rosmarin indicate that religion and trust could be used in clinical psychology, especially with anxiety sufferers. Rosmarin's findings seem to show a correlation between amount of worry and amount of trust in God. While there are some aspects in this experiment that could be improved upon, it is generally an acceptable experiment. Since many people are religious, it only makes sense to incorporate religious beliefs into their treatment! If Rosmarin's findings are replicated, psychologists should strongly consider using his suggestions in treatment. As Cook aptly says, "it's about offering a treatment option to the deeply faithful. It's about the field of psychology shedding its prejudices and preconceptions and returning to the first principle of therapy: meeting patients where they are."

Your short-term memory is able to handle about 5-9 pieces of information before you start to forget things. To extend the span of your short-term memory, people use a method known as chunking. Chunking is when an individual will group information in meaningful groups to expand their short-term memory. I find this interesting because instead of remembering for example 15 pieces of information, you can chunk that into 5 meaningful groups of 3 pieces of information each. For example,

If you were trying to remember the 15 letters below, you wouldn't be able to remember all of them:

CIAUSAFBINBCJFK

But if you chunk the group into 5 meaningful groups, you would be able to remember all 15 items without a problem:

CIA USA FBI NBC JFK

I have used chunking in my life when I was given information in a long string of digits or letters. I knew that I wouldn't remember all of the items in my short-term memory because it can only handle 7-9 items. So I took the information given and chunked it into meaningful groups. This allowed me to remember all the pieces of information and was very useful.

Also, in lecture the professor reinforced this idea in many ways. He asked us to remember a sting of letters or numbers. After an amount of time we recorded how many numbers or letters we could remember. But after he told us about chunking them into groups, people in class were able to remember many more numbers or letters. It proved that this actually works and I think that it's interesting how this does work.

Another example would be when Rajon Mahadevan was able to chunk and recall 31,811 digits of pi. He chunked numbers into area codes, phone numbers, historical dates, addresses and many more techniques to recall that enormous number of digits.

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Dealing with Drugs

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In our society, mind-altering drugs have become commonplace in daily life, either as a joke in conversation or as a lifestyle. Because they are so widespread in our society and have such complex effects on people's brains and lives, it's important for everyone to have a basic knowledge surrounding them.

Speaking, very generally, drugs have a multitude of negative consequences. Many people have seen the before and after images of one woman whose physical appearance changed drastically due to a meth addiction. Also problematic are the parents whose drug use affect their children. Photobucket

However, drug usage has also led to some great artistic works. Less well known are the role of drugs in scientific discoveries. Though historically debatable, it's been rumored that Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of DNA's double helix structure, allegedly had his stroke of genius while under the influence of LSD (this can be read about here).

Drug use in our society is a very complex issue that should be discussed seriously if it is ever to be dealt with. The current environment of viewing drug usage as a joking matter needs to be minimized if progress is to ever be made on how our society views and interacts with mind-altering drugs.

Availability Heuristic

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The availability heuristic is a cognitive bias in which the decision maker relies upon knowledge that is readily available rather than examining the question logically. In addition, the decision maker will make a decision based on how easily he or she can think of examples to the question. The media plays a large role in availability heuristics. They spoon feed us knowledge, and they seem to only cover uncommon events such as car accidents or other deadly occurrences, which then leads us to believe that car accidents happen more often than they really do.
For example, below is a link to an ABC segment on how the media can lead us to fall victim to the availability heuristic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOzAxhu6w2s
Also, here is another example of availability heuristic. Which group of animals are more deadly to humans in the world? Sharks, Lions, Bears or Mosquitos, elephants, hippos-- most people would instantly answer with the first group, which is incorrect. The media portrays lions, bears, and sharks as dangerous, deadly animals in movies like Jaws. Furthermore, attacks by these animals always make headlines, however, the second group in reality is much more deadly.

Erasing Painful Memories?

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Imagine if you could take the pain away from the memory of a loved one dying or the harsh break up of a long relationship. In Chapter 7 of the textbook, the idea about having the capabilities to erase painful or traumatic experiences is brought up. Two scientists in the 1990s, Lawrence Cahill and James McGaugh, performed an experiment in which some of the participants in the study were given the drug propranolol, which blocks the effects of adrenaline on beta-adrenergic receptors. Typically, this class of drugs, called beta blockers, are used to treat high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and other conditions concerning the heart as well as migraines and glaucoma. However, when Cahill and McGaugh used propranolol in their study to inhibit adrenaline, participants did not have very good recall of emotionally arousing parts of a traumatic story they were read. Roger Pitman, a psychiatrist, also experimented with propranolol to see how it effected people who had experienced traumatic situations such as car accidents. His study showed that none of the people who had been given propranolol prior to replays of their individual crashes showed a physical response to the tapes as opposed to forty-three percent of participants who had been given a placebo. Both of these studies show that propranolol can lessen the effects of traumatic experiences. The fact that experiences can be dampened by a pill leads one to wonder if traumatic events could ever be completely erased from a person's memory. If it is possible, would it be a good idea to make memory erasing available to anyone who wanted it? After considering this question, I firmly believe that it would not be a good idea. While traumatic experiences can alter a person's life irrevocably, the memories can be learned from and help make them who they are. If everyone was able to erase painful events from their memories, there would be no way to learn from them and avoid possible recurrences in the future.
This is a very interesting article that discusses the possibility of erasing memories and it's potential pros and cons.
http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/neuro/memory_drugs_sd.html

In an episode in the second season of "Castle", a team of detectives finds a witness to a murder that can't recall anything because he has amnesia, which he sustained after he was shot at and nearly killed. A psychologist examines the witness and explains the different types of memory, and which were effected. The witness's procedural memory was still intact, because he was walking and talking normally. His semantic memory was also intact, because he still knew facts. What was missing was his episodic memory.
Episodic memory is our recollections of what has happened to us--essentially, our past memories. The witness on Castle, having lost his episodic memory, would have what is known as retrograde amnesia, where the sufferer loses past memories. On the show, the witness lost not only past memories, but all sense of self, and had no idea who he was. That kind of generalized amnesia is rare, and often appears in television shows and movies because it makes for a better plot line--after all, who's more interesting: the guy who remembers some things or the guy who remembers nothing?
Retrograde amnesia can have several causes. One cause is a traumatic brain injury, but it's important to remember that simply getting hit alongside the head does not cause amnesia. The effects of a traumatic brain injury vary depending on where the injury itself occurred, and retrograde amnesia is not always a direct outcome. Another cause of retrograde amnesia is traumatic events, where the amnesiac is trying avoid recalling the traumatic event, and can either end up forgetting everything (generalized amnesia) or simply certain events. The witness on "Castle" would have suffered from retrograde amnesia because of experience a traumatic event (being shot at).
In the episode, when the witness is being examined by the psychologist, the psychologist explains procedural memory as memories of how to do things, and doing things so often that neural pathways are formed, which cancels out the need for conscious thought. Castle managed to get closer to learning the witness's name when he asks the witness to sign a piece of paper, and the witness automatically scrawls his own signature. Castle concludes that, since we sign our names so often, we form neural pathways and it becomes procedural memory--we don't need to consciously think about signing our names, we just do. That may not be just Hollywood magic at work, however. The show's offered definition of procedural memory is correct--repeating an activity over and over until the relevant neurons wire to produce the activity automatically. Theoretically, even if a person suffers from generalized amnesia, if their procedural memory is intact they may very well be able to sign their name--which is Castle's quote from the episode: "So, you can sign your name, but you can't remember it?" The psychologist replies, "Mysteries of the brain."

We've all been warned to watch what we say around young children because according to their parents, "They repeat everything!" Children copy actions, as well as words, all in an effort to "be like you," the adult they admire.
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In many cases children's copycat behavior, otherwise known as observational learning, is beneficial. According to the Lilienfeld text, the more official definition of observational learning is: learning by watching others. In animals observation learning occurs because of mirror neurons. Our Lilienfeld text tells us that mirror neurons are cells in the prefrontal cortex that are activated by certain movements when animals do or see an action. Observational learning is considered to be latent learning. Observational learning can have both positive and negative influences. This type of learning can save us from making terrible mistakes, but, at the same time can cause terrible habits. One example of this is observational learning of aggression. A negative effect of observational learning is shown by Albert Bandura's research, discussed in the text. In Bandura's research preschool children were shown an adult being violent to a Bobo doll or playing nicely while ignoring the Bobo doll. Next the children were given a Bobo doll of their own to play with. Researchers found that the children shown an adult being violent were more likely to copy that behavior and be violent to the Bobo doll. The Bobo doll research, along with observational learning itself prompt the question: How have you behaved today? Is your observable behavior worth learning?

I contemplated posting this blog at the very last possible time, but decided to not be a hypocrite and post it really early instead! Procrastination is something that I tend to deal with everyday. Before I can start any assignment related to school, I clean my room, wash my dishes, make lists of what I have to do, and check my Facebook about 100 times. Now, you're probably wondering why you care about my procrastination habits? Chances are, you probably don't. But my guess is that you have some procrastination habits of your own!

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Short term memory and long term memory affect everyone's lives in some way. As college students, one very important way that STM and LTM affect us is study habits. Our short term memories can contain information for about 10-15 seconds without rehearsal. Rehearsal is similar to study habits and has two different types. Maintenance rehearsal occurs when we repeat something in its regular form over and over again. For example, studying vocabulary flash cards and saying "echoic memory- auditory". Elaborate rehearsal is a little different. With elaborate rehearsal you link the two phrases in some memorable way. For example, echoic memory (I see echo) and auditory (I see audio) are both related to sound so you'd remember that echoic memory comes from what you hear.
So how is this related to procrastination? Remembering complex information is easier when you analyze it and compare it to what you know, then just simply remembering things through repetition. This takes us to the levels-of-processing which is basically how easily a person remembers things. The more deeply we process information reflects our ability to understand the information. Semantic processing is the most effective and can be achieved by emphasizing the meaning of your information.
Semantic processing is what any college student should want to achieve! This enables us to send information to our LTM where it can reside forever. When it comes to studying, I recommend not waiting until the night before to review four chapters for our psychology test. Chances are you don't have enough time to thoroughly rehearse the information in order to semantically process it. Worst case scenario would be that you'd barely remember the information for the test and then forget everything as soon as you walked out of the computer lab door.
Good luck rehearsing all the material enough so you can store it in your LTM and remember it forever! But don't worry; I'll understand if you decide to change your study habits, tomorrow. ;]

Many of us have already seen the movie Inception and might have been shaken with its fantastic plot. Planting nonexistent memories into someone's brain, that sounds great, isn't it? Yet scientific evidence in memory shows that it can be real in some certain circumstances.
Researchers found that using suggestive memory techniques can strongly encourage people to recall memories, even creating memories that they might have never really experienced. In one study, researchers using different verbs like "contacted", "collided", and "smashed" to describe the same video of a car accident to different people letting them estimate the car's speed. And the more severe the word researchers use to describe the accident, the higher speed the participants tend to estimate, even the video of this accident is exactly the same. 5948282uK0_o.jpg
In another study, researchers asked participants questions that contain misinformation-- in this case, they suggested that there's a stop sign while actually there's not-- about some details in a car accident video tape. Participants who had been asked such misleading questions generally had some false memories about the detail, which is their memory of a stop sign, while those participants who didn't receive such information mostly recalled the exactly sign correctly. F1.medium.gif
According to scientific theory, this can be due to misinformation effect, which is the creation of fictitious memories by providing misleading information about an event after it takes place. Evidence also shows that memories that are more acceptable by our rational reasoning are more easily to be planted in. For instance, having experienced a hot-balloon trip with family members in childhood is more rationally acceptable than experiencing physics professor dancing in a Golden Gopher custom, thus is much more easily to be planted. It seems that what the movie shows can be real in life if the planning is elaborate enough, but that will associate with ethical issues and there'll be long lasting debates to go.

Everyone has encountered a situation where we have behaved in some way and were reinforced by doing that behavior. Therefore, in trying to get that reinforcement another time, we will try to produce that same behavior. That was a pretty complicated way of explaining it, but I'll try to make it easier with an example. Say a baseball player taps his right cleat to get the dirt off before his at-bat, then during that at-bat he hits a home run. The player behaved in some way and was shortly reinforced after his behavior. The player might continue to tap his right cleat before each at-bat expecting the same reinforcement.

These superstitious behaviors happen all the time in sports, school, and even animals show this behavior. Skinner famously showed this in an experiment when he gave pigeons reinforcement every fifteen seconds regardless of their behavior. Skinner started to notice that most of the pigeons started to repeat their own actions before they received the reinforcement because they felt that their actions caused the reinforcement.

Superstitions are also tied into good or bad luck. Many people do or avoid certain things because they are superstitious that they will bring them good luck or bad luck. Common superstitions according to our text book include: lucky charms, crossing your fingers, not walking under a ladder, or to not step on cracks. Baseball pitchers show this by jumping over the baseline because they think if they step on the line, it will bring them bad luck. c6a28.Em.156.jpg

I guess I thought that it was weird that superstitious behaviors not only happen in humans, but also in animals. Before reading chapter six, I thought humans were the only organisms to part take in such a weird occurrence.

I would like to focus on amnesia for assignment three. In my own words, amnesia basically means the loss of memory for a period of time, usually from an accident involving head injuries and the memory that was lost will eventually be regained. There are two different types of amnesia including retrograde amnesia which causes us to lose memories of our past and anterograde amnesia which makes it so we aren't able to create new memories. Amnesia is significant because it can completely change the lives of people who have amnesia. Imagine a family with two young children, if their mother doesn't understand who they are, how can she be a good mother? Amnesia can damage individuals and families very easily. I don't have a direct relationship to amnesia in my life right now but, as I imagine my mother or father getting amnesia, I can see how difficult things would become. It would be hard for my entire family including my grandparents, my sister and whoever has amnesia because they are missing information to a part of our lives together. In this video, short term memory loss is displayed in a comical way but it does a good job of demonstrating how this could effect a family negatively. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuvF113uty4) I would like to know more about the statistics behind amnesia such as how many new cases occur on average per year and how many of these people make a full recovery? My last question is which of the two types of amnesia (retrograde and anterograde) is more common throughout the world?

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Wait...is this real life?

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When I was young, I saw Bugs Bunny at Disneyland...and that same day, my parents took my in a hot air balloon...but then they lost me, and when they found me, we went out for ice cream and I threw up and ever since then, I can't eat ice cream! Are you sure, my mind repeats? Yes, I'm sure it happened...look, they even have a picture of me in a hot air balloon and everything! memory 5.jpg
Unfortunately, it's all fake! But my mind was so sure of it! I even remember it vividly! That's the problem with false memories and flashbulb memories! The book defines a flashbulb memorymemory 4.jpg as an emotional memory that is extremely vivid and detailed. How much truth lies within these memories? We can't be sure, but one example, among many, demonstrates the problem with flashbulb memories! memory 6.jpgOn September 11th, President Bush was at a school with younger kids when his chief of staff, Andrew Card, told him about the attacks; he later reports that he was watching the television when the attacks happened! Footage for the attacks wasn't released until days after the attacks! So what happens when people tells us we experienced things that never happened? What if they come armed with pictures and recollections of experiencing it with us?? Psychologists have even coined terms for processes that can trick us into believing what never happened: the misinformation effect and suggestive memory techniques! This is particularly interesting to me because I am super gullible and easily distracted by fantasies...as are all of my friends!! This means that, along with the elderly, and those who are prone to believe that they were adducted by aliens, I am predisposed to believing these false memories! How about you? How susceptible are you to believing these false memories? These false memories are problematic too because, when implanted in the lab, they can create major problems!They can even tear families if kids believe that something as drastic as sexual abuse actually occurred! At first glance, if you saw a picture of yourself on a hot air balloon, it wouldn't seem to defy the six principles of scientific thinking, right? There is evidence...you can see yourself, it must have happened for there to be a picture! And in all reality, it's not exaggerated, and it's 100% possible! So how do we distinguish, especially when our minds seem to be fooling us? memory 1.jpgI tried hard to find the answer to that question and to evaluate these methods using the six principles of scientific thinking, but it's hard to falsify a claim in a memory, most of our memories can only seem plausible (and thus, not exaggerated) for us to believe them, we often forget correlation versus causation because we don't imagine that our minds might invent something, and the simplest explanation IS that it did happen to us, and why think of another hypothesis? Why would we imagine that we had made something up? It makes no sense! It just is like that picture of the scientist holding the brain, meshing it and molding it into every way he wants...and here's how they did it and here's how well it has worked! So when do we know what's real and what's not real? In my opinion, we look for evidence and support for any memories, especially those that need it! What do you guys think? How do we know what's real life and what's not? And are we sure what we believe is real life...really is real life?

Watch and Learn!

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kid-watching-tv.jpg"Watch and learn!" this was a famous phrase by my brother when he tried to teach me something. Little that I know that I was engaging in observational learning where I learned by watching my brother's action. This form of latent learning is quite beneficial for children growing in a good environment as they will likely see things that are not harmful to be learning such as learning to build dog house, learning to make flowerbeds and more. However, due to the development of technology, good and safe environment might no longer exist as children nowadays can learn to smoke and hit other people just by watching the television and surfing the web. This is what we called "observational learning of aggression" where Albert Bandura and his colleagues demonstrated that children can learn to act aggressively by watching aggressive role models (Bandura, Ross,&Ross, 1963). The role models in this case are the actors in the television who were unintentionally giving bad education to the children.
FIG5_14.JPGI had seen the effect of observational learning of aggression first hand when my little niece started to hit her younger brother after watching an action cartoon movie. This observational learning of aggression can only be prevented by the parents where the parents censored bad example in the television from their children. Aside from that, parents and older siblings also need to be careful with their actions in front of the children as the children might mimic their bad actions. However, knowing that acting like an angle every single day might be impossible, the adult needs to explain to the children about the consequences of doing bad things like stealing or smoking.

It's on the Tip of my Tongue!

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"Hey what is the name of that show? What show? The one with the cops trying to solve a crime. Hmm...CSI...no, not that one the other one! Ohh my gosh it's on the tip of my tongue!!!"
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The tip of the tongue phenomenon is an incident when we know something but we cannot put it into words. It can be aggravating to have the impulse of knowing what someone is talking about or asking but we are not able to recover the information in our minds. In our book they point out that tip of the tongue tells us the difference between forgetting something because we did not store it as a memory, and being unable to recall something that was stored in memory but we can quite retrieve it. This finding is important because many people experience this and when they believe they know what the answer is to something most of the time they are telling the truth. Daniel Schacter Seven Sins of Memory also use the tip of the tongue phenomenon as an example of blocking, which is the temporary inability to access information.tot phenomenon.png

I dealt with the tip of the tongue phenomenon many times throughout my life. Just within these last few weeks of studying for all of the first mid terms I am learning and trying to retain a lot of new information. While taking the mid terms I consequently experienced this. After reading a question I thought to myself, "I remember reading this and I can see it on the page but what was that word/concept". I was frustrated with myself and after working through the rest of the test it finally magically popped into my head, and it was an "ohh ya why couldn't I think of that before" moment.
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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Assignment # 3 category from October 2011.

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