sahux010: October 2011 Archives

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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Putting Pieces Together

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We all can agree to the fact that we make sense of our world by putting bits and pieces together to form let's say a picture that's understandable to us. This is in fact what occurs in our brain, our mind has the capacity to put pieces together to create an understanding of and object or our surroundings. This is known as the binding problem which refers to "how our brains take multiple pieces of information and combine them to represent something concrete". It is one of the greatest mysteries of psychology.

In his lecture, Professor Sheng He showed us a slight where a deer was carved on wood, on revelation we realized that different pieces of wood were put together to create the illusion of the picture of deer- showing that our brains are prone to put together the pieces to create an understandable picture.

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Another example is a structure of a house that is located in an "art garden" in Washington D.C. This house indeed is artistically created. Before I go any further, you might wish to sit back and watch this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHGqTClu6tU&feature=related

I believe if you have seen the video you have not only had a clear cut presentation of how illusion can create 3D effects but also grasped the concept of our brain making sense of something by literally putting the pieces together. If any of the pieces of this house was put it separate and spaced out location we would perceive them as individual pieces, but the proximity and special distance between these pieces creates the "complete house". Without the pieces in close proximity the characteristics wouldn't make much sense as they cannot be associated with a complete picture.

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The question of how our brain does that is still unanswered. Psychologists are still exploring the ways by which our brain binds the pieces together to make sense of it. No matter what come up with a scientific, religious or theological answer, so how do you think our brains put the pieces together?

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by sahux010 in October 2011.

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