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Memory Loss portrayed through film


I have watched my fair share of movies that incorporate characters who suffer from memory loss such as Memento, Bourne Identity, 50 First Dates, and even The Notebook. I would easily say that the Bourne series is the best series I have ever seen but I will focus on the memory loss associated with the main character Leonard Shelby from Memento. Lenny suffers from a memory loss condition after his head was injured from trying to save his wife from being murdered in his own home. The thing is, the police are not trying to track down this guy so he feels he needs to get vengeance for his wife's death. His memory loss is short-term. He has to write notes on photos and tattoo important information to enhance his memory of past recent events. He explains that if someone talks too long or he takes a nap or is not doing something for a while that he will become preoccupied and not remember recent events. This seems to be characteristic of dementia. However, even though this disease can occur before geriatric stages of age, I do not feel he was really completely disoriented or suffering physically as well. He was simply disoriented most often with his mission of finding the killer of his wife. That makes sense because most crime investigations are quite complex and take a lot of notes and time to go through information even for police who do not suffer from memory loss.

Parallel Processing (Chapter 4)


We often come across pictures where our mind perceives the image as something else. Based on our own expectations, we perceive those images differently. That is due to parallel processing; the ability of the brain to attend to many sense modalities simultaneously of differing qualities. There are two concepts that follow along with parallel processing. The bottom-up processing is when a whole image is constructed from parts of the picture. For example based on a person's own expectation of the picture shown below, they would see the image of a man's face. The tunnel part makes up the eye on the left and the branch sticking out from the tree makes up the other eye. Along with the eyes, the woman in the field makes up the nose and mouth. Here, our brain's expectations perceived the image of a man's face. On the other hand, with our second concept, the top-down process, the brain's function would allow the person to see the image of the woman in the field. Both of these processes are due to our own expectations or knowledge which influences our perception of pictures that we see.

face of a man or a woman standing on the field.jpg

I Don't Remember the Truth Anymore!



An early memory I have is of swimming at the YMCA and my little sister "drowning" in the deep end of the indoor pool. I say "drowning" in with hesitation, because from my memory she was not, in fact drowning. If my memory serves me right, my sister could not get her foot on the ledge and kept slipping, therefore her head would go under the water, yet resurface. She was not 'drowning' in my memory because she also had a water toy to hold onto.

When I asked her to relay the same memory, from seven years ago, she strongly believes she was drowning in the pool that day.

The two memories differ slightly, one reason this is the case is because memory fades over time. An example of this is an illustration in the textbook, Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, by Salvador Dali, which relays images of clocks melting like wax. Another reason the same memory might slightly differ for two people is although our episodic memory, the "recollection of events in our lives" might serve us well what we choose to remember can differ (Lilienfeld 252).

I was 13 years old and at my very first school dance. It was homecoming week. We all remember those dances: guys on one side, girls on the other. At this dance I broke my elbow. How? Three fellow teammates on my baseball team asked if I wanted to do the "rocket ship." Sounded cool so I instantly agreed. I was sprung straight up into the air. I looked down to see my friends scattering and before I knew it I was hurtling back toward the ground looking up at the ceiling. I landed with a loud thud. Evidently I was supposed to land on my feet. My head and back hurt instantly. I was walked to a classroom by the principal and given ice. He called my parents, who were not at all shocked that something so ridiculous had happened to me. After the pain in my head went away we noticed my left elbow swollen and painful. I was somewhat rushed to the hospital. According to my parents, I cried the entire way home. I do not remember such a thing. I believe I took it like a man and marveled at how awesome my elbow looked. To this day we argue if I cried or not. So why do we remember different things? I believe my parents have fallen into "imagination construction," in which they think it is funny to say I cried over my stupidity. Maybe I am the victim, wanting to deny myself crying. It is tough to say considering the only people who know whether or not I did were the three people arguing about it. If you ask me in 20 years, I took it like a true hockey player would, poking at the elbow and seeing if I can see any bone. My parents? Their little baby cried and asked mommy to make it go away.

Kanzi, the talking bonobo.

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Something that really caught my attention in Chapter 8 was the ability of certain animals to understand and even communicate through the use of the English language. According to the text, bonobos, which were once thought to be a class of chimpanzee, are now recognized as a species that is genetically even more closely related to humans. Unlike chimpanzees, which require thousands of trials to learn the meanings of associate signs or lexigrams, bonobos tend to learn through observation, which is a more human-like trait than the direct reinforcement used to teach chimpanzees. However, along with chimpanzees, bonobos seem to get stuck when learning syntax, which is defined as the set of rules by which we construct sentences.
Even with these limitations, it has been proven that bonobos can understand English, communicate with English-speakers through the use of lexigrams, and even construct 2-word sentences, as demonstrated by the following video clip. In the clip, we can see how one bonobo by the name of Kanzi can communicate with not only the doctor whom he interacts with on a daily basis, but also the reporter whom he has never met in his life. Something that I found especially fascinating in the clip was the fact that Kanzi could express words that could not be found on his lexigram through the use of other words, such as "big water" for flood and "slow lettuce" for kale, which Kanzi had a hard time chewing.


50 First Dates realistic?


In the romantic comedy film "50 First Dates", Drew Barrymore's character suffers from a terrible memory loss syndrome called "Goldfield's Syndrome". Hollywood made up that name for her disorder, but according to Dr. Catherine Myers of Rutgers University, Barrymore's condition resembles a real memory loss disorder.

The type of amnesia that Barrymore suffers from would be anterograde amnesia. According to our textbook, anterograde amnesia is when a person loses the capacity to form new memories. In the film, Barrymore is in a car accident which made her lose most of her short-term memory, and her ability to form new memories. According to our textbook, short-term memory can be called "working memory" which refers to our ability to hold on to information we're currently thinking bout, attending to, or processing actively.

Although Barrymore somewhat resembles this disorder, there is one big problem. In the movie, she is able to remember everything from the day up until she goes to sleep. Once she wakes up, she forgets everything that happened the previous day. In reality, people who suffer from anterograde amnesia have trouble forming short-term memories after 10 minutes or so, making it impossible for Barrymore to remember things from earlier in the day.

The link provided is one of my favorite parts of the movie due to the character "Ten-Second Tom". Tom is a patient and his memory-span lasts 10 seconds. 50 First Dates is a great movie, and if you watch it, just remember that "Goldfield's Syndrome" is fictional.

Memory Loss- 50 First Dates


50 First Dates is a very good example of memory loss portrait through a character. When you think of memory loss, most people think of it in terms of a smaller scale such as forgetting some events or information in our life. In this specific movie, they portray a condition called Anterograde Amnesia, which is the loss in ability to create new memories. People loose the ability to recall the recent past, but surprisingly long-term memory from before the accident remain in tact.

Memory as we know has many forms, two most common are short-term and long-term. Looking at the movie 50 First Dates, it exemplifies how this condition effects so many different aspects to the characters life. Anterograde Amnesia still allows the person to recall significant figures in life, such as family members and personal objects. The aspects it effects is short term memory from the recent past, such as new acquaintances, new information, and such information that is recent. An example of this would be the newspaper or a new individual one meets. At the time, the individual suffering form Anterograde Amnesia will be fine, but the next day that individual will have no recognition of this information. Many individuals that suffer Anterograde Amnesia loose the ability to recall declaritive memory, such as facts. On the other hand, these individuals will still be able to recall procedural memory, such as talking on the phone or walking.

Overall, memory loss in all forms is a very powerful ability to loose and is very serious. Memory is one of the brains most powerful abilities, so to loose memory is a big deal.

50-first-dates 2.jpg

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia which is commonly referred to as memory loss. The disease is defined biologically by the build up of plaque and tangles of protein in the brain causing impairment of nerve cells. In Chapter 7 of the textbook, people who were more active and used their brain more were less likely to acquire Alzheimer's than people who led sedentary lifestyles. Although you can't control your age and genetic factors which often can lead to Alzheimer's, you can control what you eat and how much you exercise.


By leading a healthy lifestyle which promotes good cardiovascular functioning, normal blood pressure,healthy body weight, no tobacco use and non excessive alcohol use, you can help create a healthy functioning brain that will help not only prevent Alzheimer's disease, but slow down the stages of the disease. Also, staying connected socially can keep your memory sharp at old ages when this disease is prevalent. Next time you see Grandma on Facebook, understand that she is just trying to exercise her brain.

Lacuna Co- Fact or Fiction?


In the 2004 move Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel Barish attempts to undergo a quick procedure to erase his failed relationship with his lost love Clementine from his memory after she had already erased him. The company which does this work, Lacuna, performs this task with a machine and in a single night while the patient sleeps. They claim that though this is in fact brain damage, it is only to the extent of a heavy night of drinking. The promise of healing wounds with voluntary, specific, retrograde amnesia may seem like a glorious idea, but realistically this could never happen in real life.
Because of the complexity of the brain and its structures, finding and correctly destroying the areas and only the areas which deal with an ex-lover would be impossible. Inducing a retrograde amnesia would require greater destruction and deterioration of the brain, and could never be nearly so specific. A traumatic enough event may induce a certain level of repression, but unlikely would it erase the complete memory of a person. The complete erasure of painful memories is not possible especially due to their emotional nature, however there is a drug called propranolol which blocks the effect of adrenaline on receptors and consequently inhibits the emotionally arousing part of memories. In a study where a control group was given propranolol after a car crash while the others were given the placebos, those who took the actual drug had little response to tapes recreating the accident. Forty-three percent of those who had taken the placebo still showed a physical reaction.
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind we are lead to ask ourselves whether it is better to have loved and lost or to erase both the pain and the joy of the experience completely - this question is also often pondered by researchers and philosophers. I believe, as this film also expresses at its core, that it is better to remember the hurt and the happiness than to exist as a stoic shell of a human.

^Lacuna's machine erasing Joel's memories of Clementine

Advertisments and Emotions


Advertisements have been used for many years to get consumers to buy a certain product. So what makes a good ad? Advertisements use classical conditioning in order to make connections between a brand and some sort of positive emotion. The video of the Cheerios commercial is an example of classical conditioning in an advertisement. The advertisement tries to make the viewer feel joyful and positive in order to make them, hopefully, buy and eat Cheerios. In the commercial, the conditioned stimulus is the Cheerios; the unconditioned stimulus the use of the smiling, happy children, upbeat music, bright colors, and other factors that add to the positive feeling of the ad; the unconditioned response is the viewer feeling happy; the condition response is when we see or eat Cheerios, we get the same happy feeling. We see millions of advertisements throughout our life time, with emotions attached to every single one. The next time you see an advertisement, stop and think about what type of emotion the advertisement is appealing to, and if that emotion is strong enough to make your buy that brand.

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