Writing 3: October 2011 Archives

A Forgettable Momento

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After learning about amnesia, it reminded me of a particular hollywood movie. The 2000 movie Momento revolves around a man who has short-term memory loss and uses clues and tattoos his body in order to find the man who killed his wife.

Leonard Shelby, the main character in the film, suffers from anterograde amnesia. This means that he is unable to create new memories from new experiences. This illness makes his task much more difficult than it should be for a normal human being. Throughout the movie he is constantly trying to find clues that will help to lead him to his wife's killer, and he tattoos the most important ideas across his body.

Amnesia is a serious disease that can have a huge affect on someone's life. I find it rather intriguing and can't imagine what it's like for someone that suffers from the illness.

Momento is an extremely entertaining film. It is one of Christopher Nolan's first films and I enjoyed every minute of it. Everyone should check it out if they want to get a better idea of how anterograde amnesia works!

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Hollywood vs. Amnesia

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Hollywood seems to give off the wrong impression of amnesia. The movie 50 first dates is an example. If you haven't seen the movie, Henry (Adam Sandler) meets Lucy (Drew Barrymore) and they hit it off. But the next day when he sees her, she has no idea who he is. In the movie, they say that Lucy suffers from Goldfield syndrome due to a head injury in a car accident; however, this is a fictional term for anterograde amnesia, or short-term memory loss. Also, according to Sallie Baxendale "The most profound amnesic syndromes usually develop as a result of neurosurgery, brain infection, or a stroke. These factors are overlooked at the movies in favour of the much more dramatic head injury."

Click HERE to read Baxendale's article

Do you think it's bad that film makers twist scientific topics to create a better plot, giving off the wrong impression of amnesia to the public?

Hypnobirthing, Does it Work???

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Hypnobirthing, is an interesting technique that clams to naturally relieve the majority of pain associated with child birth by hypnosis. During birth you will not be in a trance or asleep, but in a daydream state that allows you too be conversant and totally in control. There is a whole website devoted to this natural method that you can check out to get more information in this interests you. Do you buy into this claim that a little hypnosis can relieve the pain of child birth, and would this be something you might be interested in?

http://www.hypnobirthing.com/howitworks.htm

Have you ever been a victim of "sleep attack" during class lectures? I guess many of college students have felt some kinds of "sleep attack" during the early-morning lectures or after-lunch lectures.

Narcolepsy is one of sleeping disorder, and it causes the rapid and often unexpected onset of sleep. A new study of Devanjan Silder, a researcher of Sannford-Burnham Research Institute, explained the relationship between narcolepsy and weight problem.

There are two types of fat: white and brown. White fat stores calories while brown fat burns them.Lacking of the neuropeptide hormone, orexin*, that encourages hunger and wakefulness may cause "a lack of energy-burning brown fat."

Right now, there is not perfect treatment for the narcolepsy, but more research about orexin would help many people who are suffering from "sleep attacks."

"Orexin"- is a hormone that narcoleptics do not have. Orexin is related to our appetite and sleep. sleep.jpg


While reading the text on conditioned behavior and unconditioned stimuli and responses I thought about the reality TV show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which is based on counseling celebrity drug addicts past their addictions. From what I understand, conditioned behavior is a significant part of drug addiction, where the unconditioned stimulus is the drug, and the unconditioned response is the high.

In this case, the environment, setting, or people would be the conditioned stimulus. This creates the need, or the impulsive feeling to take part in using the drug, which is the conditioned stimulus. Addicts tend to be reminded of their addictions based on where they are, and whom they are with. A major part of curing or counseling drug addicts is keeping them in a similar environment with addicts, however removing the conditioned stimulus or the drug.

When Dr. Drew uses the extinction process, he slowly exposes his patience to the conditioned stimulus (environment) to create the conditioned response (Cravings) however he doesn't expose them to the unconditioned stimulus (Drug). Gradually overtime a new conditioned response to the similar conditioned stimulus, diminishes the original conditioned response; which was taking the drug. The addiction diminishes through the process of addiction, for the time being. However the patient can relapse through spontaneous recover where the Conditioned response reappears when the patient exposes himself to the unconditioned stimulus once again. My question is, is the extinction process really an "extinction" process if can come back at anytime?
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For most people, that answer would be a clear no. But for users of methamphetamine (meth), ingesting this ingredient and numerous others is just business as usual. Why is this drug so damaging? A look at pictures such as these http://www.myfox8.com/wghp-pg-faces-of-meth,0,1425347.photogallery makes you wonder how the people have become so scary looking in such a short time.
http://citizensagainstmeth.org/meth_ingredients.html gives a very good description of all the ingredients in meth.
Consuming these ingredients alone is damaging, but combining them is even more so. So what exactly makes people look like this after using meth? According to experts, a combination of the effects of the toxic chemicals, lack of sleep, spending money on the drug rather than hygiene, and weight loss contribute to the less than stellar appearances of the users.
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50FirstDates.jpgEver since I watched 50 First Dates for the first time I have become very interested in memory loss. From studying memory in the past week I have learned a lot about the different types of memories. Drew Barrymore's character in 50 First Dates, for anyone who hasn't seen the movie, damages her brain in a car crash and can only remember one day at a time after the accident. Her long term memory is still in tact as she remembers her life before the accident as we remember yesterday.
This form of amnesia, where every night her memory of that day vanishes, is not very probable in the real world. The main character in 50 First Dates suffers from a very Hollywood version of Anterograde Amnesia. Although she can clearly remember her past before the accident, she can not hold any new memories and therefore lives in the same moment over and over again.
Even though amnesia cases in the movies tends to be very unrealistic, I can really get an understanding of how life must be for a sufferer of memory loss and I am grateful that my mind is still in tact. Hopefully psychologists in the future will learn how to better treat amnesia, but I wonder what it would be like to live only one moment for the rest of my life?

A Voice with No Words

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I cannot even begin to imagine growing up without learning to speak a language because language is such an integral part of human life. For a young girl named Genie, that was her unfortunate reality. Because she was isolated for the first 13 years of her life, Genie missed the critical period for language learning and was never able to learn one language fluently. I think it is interesting that after a certain point in ones life, language can no longer be learned fluently.

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How would you be able to go through life without being able to speak any language?

Narcoleptic Weiner Dog

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After reading the chapters, I came across a section regarding narcolepsy that really caught my attention. The disorder narcolepsy is when a living organism experiences an episode of sudden sleep that can last seconds to several minutes. A surprise, elation, or strong emotions can even lead some people with narcolepsy to experience cataplexy, a complete loss of muscle tone. Genetic disorders and sometimes brain damage increase the risk of narcolepsy and studies have shown that the hormone orexin plays a key role in the sudden attacks of sleepiness. Medications are hopefully being developed to help patients with narcolepsy. Here is a video I found that is somewhat comical regarding narcolepsy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Li7pKbpDf8

Is Hypnosis Real?

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After reading the section on what hypnosis is and isn't in the text, chapter 5, and comparing that information to my experiences with hypnosis I struggle with believing that hypnosis is real.
Since I was first introduced to the concept of hypnosis, I thought it was an interesting concept. Being able to be lulled into a sub conscious state with someone else "controlling" you was an awesome idea to a 16 year old boy. Then as I started going to some of the hypnosis shows I started questioning the validity of it because the peers of mine who i talked to claimed to have no recollection of what had just happened. It seemed to me that there should be at least some knowledge of what you had just done. The doubt really started coming after I was selected to be hypnotized. I tried to keep an open mind about it but to no avail i wasn't able to be put under.
After reading the text it really makes me question because on of the Myths of hypnosis is that you forget what happens while you are hypnotized. Every one I have ever talked to, which has been a fair number, has said they don't remember what occurred and now the text disputes that claim. It makes me wonder if the people selected in these shows fake it for the attention.
Maybe its just me but hypnosis seems a little too hooky to me.

If you're like me, you may have experienced a similar dilemma when prompted by friends or family to tell your best joke at that last party or family get together...

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I tend to remember the essence of the joke, you all know that one about the bar right? and remember the good feelings it gave me, which usually is what lead to its encoding in the first place.

What i struggle with and have began to realize may be a hole in with our advanced encoding process is my loss for the small details like precise wording and the delivery style of the joke which made it so funny. Most great jokes rely on a punchline, which seems to inherently lose its "punch" when the lines are not remembered word for word.

If our sensory memory is able to hold a couple lines of a comedian's joke for only a couple seconds, the entire joke or at least its important phases will be passed on to our short term memory. The success of our short term memory to pass on information to the long term memory for the jokes ultimate storage, is reliant on making meaningful connections with the information, some of which will be remembered. With most other oral tales, this process would work perfectly, however with jokes, the integrity of the story is often times ruined by our own over simplification of it in our minds.

So next time you hear a great joke, hold back from normal processing and make a conscious effort to focus on the wording! It may even help you charm a good looking classmate before being passed onto grandma during the holiday season...

Advertisements effect our perception in numerous ways ("Ways of Seeing" by John Berger is a good read on this subject). But our chapter on memories got me thinking about the potential for advertisements to effect our memories as well. Could part-or-whole of a memory I have simply be from a commercial? Turns out the possibility is there...

This article cites a journal study focusing on the "false experience effect" of high-imagery, vivid advertisements. In the study, certain students were shown a vivid commercial for a fake product (popcorn) while others were shown a text ad of the product, and a certain number were also given the corresponding product to taste while others weren't. But those who watched the commercial were just as likely to report later that they tried the product as those who actually tried it. Is your t.v. implanting memories into your mind?tvfamily.jpg

Returning from the Dead

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Nobody knows for certain what happens to people when they die. This is because once people die, they can't communicate with the living to explain their experience. But sometimes, people are pronounced "dead", and somehow manage to return to life a short time later. Often, people who have such near-death experiences claim that during the time they were "dead", some strange things happened to them. Many people describe leaving their bodies and floating above them, seeing impossibly bright light, and viewing their entire lives pan out in seconds. Because they've essentially died and come back to life, they are able to recount their experiences to the living, and give us a short glimpse into the world of the dead.

Unfortunately, these claims are difficult to back up with solid evidence. Experiments to test out-of-body experiences have been widely discussed, but would be a challenge to carry out. This is because such experiments would involve inducing near-death experiences, which would be inhumane. One commonly discussed (but never performed) experiment involves placing a sign that reads, "You are dead" high up and out of viewing-range of the "dead" subject. If, when the subject regains consciousness, he or she knows what the sign said, then that person must have had an out-of body experience; otherwise, he or she wouldn't have been able to see the sign.

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Sleeping on the Job

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In chapter 5, I found narcolepsy to be extremely interesting. Narcolepsy is a sleeping disorder in which people can fall asleep at any moment lasting from seconds to minutes, and occasionally as long as an hour. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to live a life knowing you could fall asleep at anytime...talk about embarrassing! Imagine what it would be like to fall asleep during a date or in the middle of work!

Not only can narcolepsy be embarrassing, but incredibly dangerous. According to the New York Times article, Narcolepsy, on average 1500 people die every year from narcolepsy related car accidents. In addition, narcolepsy is very dangerous because cataplexy, a complete loss of muscle tone, occurs in narcoleptic people while they are awake. More information that I want to know about narcolepsy is, can narcolepsy be treated effectively? Is it possible eliminate narcolepsy with medication?

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What do your dreams mean?

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I found the dream theories to be very interesting. I've always thought of dreams the way Sigmund Freud took sides with the Native Americans. Freud created the Dream Protection Theory which was an idea that our dreams are our guardians while we are sleeping. The mental censor in our brain, the ego, isn't able to repress the sexual and aggressive instincts we have as well when we're sleeping, as when we're awake so dreams protect us from these instincts disturbing our sleep. Dream-work turned the instincts into symbols and pictures which are also known as wish-fulfillment, simply, how we wish things to be. In order to find the true meaning of your dream Freud proposed that you had to reverse the dream-work. On the contrary, Hobson and McCarley came up with activation-synthesis theory which said that dreams were simply the brain activation during sleep, not an unconscious wish. They said that dreams showed the brain trying to make sense of the random and internally generated neural signals during REM sleep. More specifically, REM sleep is activated by surges of the neurotransmitter acetylocholine while serotonin and norepinephrine shut down. Acetylcholine activates the cells located in the pons and since serotonine and norepinephrine are responsible for thought, reasoning, attention and memory the pons sends out incomplete signals. The forebrain does it's best to put the signals together into a story, the result, dreams. After learning about the Activation-Synthesis Theory, I'm not sure which I agree more with. Freud's theory is what I expected dreams to be, but Activation-Synthesis makes more sense realistically.

My sister is not a zombie.

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After reading the chapter in our textbook about consciousness, I learned many myths and truths about sleeping. However, I did not need the book to tell me that people who sleepwalk are not zombies, like you see in the movies, and you can actually have fully conversations with people who are sleepwalking. I have had a few experiences with sleepwalkers, the most recent being my 6-year-old sister. Her sleepwalking has been going on for a few months and the episodes are very similar. She will walk downstairs, sit on the couch, and watches tv. I always ask her why she came downstairs and she will answer "cause". Her eyes looked zoned out and it is very creepy. Sometimes we will have full conversations with her and she never remembers in the morning.

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Have you ever had an experience with someone sleepwalking? Did you know they were sleepwalking right away or did it take a while before you realized they were not awake?

I remember nothing...

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Have you ever remembered something that never actually happened? This is actually quite more possible of happening than you might think. One of the more interesting topics in discussion we had was of people having false memories.

When somebody tells you something over and over, or makes you think something was there that really wasn't....you can start to develop false memories. For example, when people were showed pictures of Bugs Bunny and told he was at Disney World, they started to develop "memories" of seeing Bugs at Disney. However, Bugs isn't a Disney character!

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This thought makes me wonder how many of my "memories" may not be memories at all....hmmm. Did I really go to class last week?

Best way to memorize

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From my personal experience, my best way of memory is creating a connection between the event which you want to memorize and your personal feeling, which means building a connection between short-term memory and long-term memory. For example, when I witness an event and really want to memorize it, I will imagine I am a person involved in the event and try to imagine what I will feel in that condition, and then I will memorize that feeling. By doing this, I can easily recall the whole event when I have the same feeling again.

Many of you have probably seen the Austin Powers movie trilogy, and probably laughed at the clips where Dr. Evil is always in search of "Frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads" As far-fetched as marine animals being used as weapons might seem, the U.S. Navy has been using dolphins and sea lions for decades, though as far as I can tell none have actually had laser beams attached to their heads.

According to THIS article, dolphins and sea lions are being used to patrol the waters outside U.S. Naval bases. The animals are trained using Skinnerian principles, mainly with positive reinforcement in the form of treats. Don't feel bad for the animals, however, as none have been killed on duty in the entire history of the program. This program is just another way that B.F. Skinner has influenced society with his behavioral approach to psychology.

Something I never thought much of in relation to memory and learning is phobias, and I was intrigued when our text ushered in the topic in that context.
It's true that people aren't always afraid of thing with which they've had the most frequent or traumatic unpleasant experiences. I've had a deep seated emetophobia (fear of vomiting) since I was a child, but the first time I became ill in that way was when I was seventeen and had no traumatic encounters with the act previously.

The theory of preparedness and evolutionary predisposition to phobias is a great one, and makes me think of Carl Jung (what with the collective unconscious). But what about the unexplained character of many of them (sure, clowns aren't all that funny, but are they actually dangerous enough to warrant the dread they seem to invoke in many)? There are phobias out there that seem to function on a symbolic and psychodynamic level: when a literal threat is too terrible to face, the fear is cast off into a symbol. What parts of the brain work to achieve this displacement? It's certainly a survival mechanism of sorts, but would the displacement not interfere with learning about the actual, literally perceived danger?

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[BOOM] Whatcha Say?

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Has this ever happened to you? When your friend says something to you, but you were distracted so you didn't quite "hear" them, but then you understood it 2 seconds later. This is a perfect example of echoic memory. I wrote "hear" in parenthesis because your auditory system heard what your friend said perfectly. You just didn't pay attention to it completely to send the information to short term memory. Echoic memory has a duration of ~3 seconds and is one of the five components of sensory memory. So next time this happens to you, don't feel like you are rude because you interrupted them, blame it on your echoic memory.

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While reading the psych textbook, I came across and interesting tidbit of information. On page 216, it says that

"Spanking and other forms of physical discipline are correlated postively with childhood behavior problems in Caucasian families, but correlated negatively in African American families. Moreover, spanking tends to be more predictive of higher levels of childhood aggression and anxiety in countries in which spanking is rare, like China or Thailand, than in coutries in which it's common, like Kenya or India" (Lansford et al,. 2004-2005)

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little girl spanking.jpgSpanking alone is already a controversial issue. Most of us agree that dicipline should lie somewhere between breaking a child's will, and providing no guidance for behavrior.

However, when looking at the ways that culture plays a role, things seem to turn so much more "gray". Why is it postive in some cultures and negative in some? Why is it correlated with aggression in some places but not others?
Personally, I think there may be a role in how children view what is "normal". Children may associate their parent's love with how other parents treat their children.

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What do you guys think are some of the reasons that culture affects children's behavior so strongly? Being from another country, I am especially interested in seeing how race and culture alters our perceptions as people.

A "memory" is defined as the retention of information over time, but how is it that some memories change while others do not? While reading chapter seven on the inner workings of memory and our abilities to retain such information, I was intrigued by the different scenarios in which our so-called memories fool us and re-route our recollections from what actually occurred during a particular event to something completely different. Specifically the concept of transience, that memories change and fade with time, much like a street changes with construction or looks different when we are re-visiting our old neighborhood.
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It made me think back to when I was younger living in a different state and different neighborhood. If I were to revisit my old street again, how different would it look? And what about those old memories...just how different would they be now as compared to the originals?

I first learned this silly sentence way back in my eighth grade science class. We were learning how to classify organisms, but the whole class had trouble remembering the order of the classifications. Thanks to Mr. Searls and his handy mnemonic, I was not only able to remember the information for that one science test, but am still able to recall the same information today with no trouble at all (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species...).
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Mnemonics are useful devices that help us encode and recall memories. People often use these to study for tests or to recall long lists of words that would be difficult to remember otherwise. Mnemonics use knowledge that we already have and apply it to information that we are trying to learn. In this example, kings playing checkers is common knowledge that makes something more complex easier to recall.


We all have memories of our past, whether happy or sad. We sometimes cannot control what we recall or feel because of implicit memory that connects our current situation to our past. We may suddenly remember the happy memories we spent with friends and loved ones and of those memories when we felt alone. Implicit memory is a gift because we can suddenly connect the experience that we do today like having a nice thanksgiving dinner with friends and automatically remember the dinners with our family. Yet it is a pain because we did not have happy memories only, we also have sad memories. And the emotional memories can allow us to trigger those moments also. Therefore, how can we control our minds to allow just recalling our happiest memories?

Here is a video that explains more about explicit and implicit memory, and explains how implicit memory helps with child adaption.



Note: [Add clever title]

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Procrastination is a wide-spread problem that affects many college students, including myself. For instance, I put this blog entry off until now because football was on and video games are far more fun. However, the biggest procrastination promoter, at least for myself, is the internet.

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There are several solutions to this problem, but one of the most effective was introduced to us in Chapter 6. Through his research with monkeys, David Premack found that we can positively reinforce a less frequently performed behavior with a more frequently performed behavior.

I've used this technique many times in my college career to finish projects that I can't seem finish. Whenever I need to get something done, I just promise myself a couple hours of playing video games in exchange for the completed work. So now that this blog is finished, I'm going to go play Minecraft!

For my younger sister's 8th birthday we ordered in Chinese food, a favorite of hers and mine. Unfortunately though she ended up throwing up later that night, and now we no longer have Chinese food as much as we used to because she no longer likes or can stand the taste of it. untitled.bmp This is known as conditoned taste aversion. I found this very interesting because it is different from most examples of classical conditoning; it requires only one trial to develop the aversion, the delay between the CS and UCS can be about 6-8 hours, and it tends to be very specific. It is also an example of classical condtioning that I hear talked about all the time, but I never knew before I read it in the book, that it is an example of classical conditioning. Which makes me think and want to know what other examples of classical conditioning impact my life

What i thought most interesting about what we have been learning lately is the subject of memory. An interesting subject because to say the least i can hardly remember what i did yesterday.... One of my new favorite shows is called Unforgettable with Poppy Montgomery who, now, since the death of her sister can remember everything down to the littlest things of her life.
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After seeing this show since the subject isn't really talked about in our text book i looked it up online, it showed it is a very new topic of research but i found another similar story like this where a lady can remember every day exactly since the age of 11. My question remaining is does something such as a traumatic event have to trigger this sort of memory?


After talking about the placebo effect in discussion, I stumbled upon this youtube video that talked about the different effects and types of placebos. It made me really think how people in developed countries can be so dependent on medication and other drugs. There can be a sense of feeling as though there should be a treatment for everything that someone could ever come across. When we take a pill or get a shot, we assume that it is going to do something for us. How much of a pill or other medications effect is just due to us thinking that we are better. I am not too familiar with how exactly doctors use placebos, but I feel as though when people come to their doctors asking for medication, they probably could just use a placebo and get the same results. How do you guys feel about placebos in general? Is it alright for a doctor to "prescribe" a placebo when he feels it could yield the same results as conventional medications?

Being a full-time student at any university / college can be stressful as is. Also having other responsibilities such as a job or being involved with sports can definitely cause for many all nighters and sleep deprivation. Studies show that it is recommended that college students get 9 hours of sleep. However most college students only obtain about 6-7 hours of sleep. Have you ever crammed all night for a test, and then feel both mentally and physically exhausted the next day? Our body needs to obtain the stage of REM sleep in order for us to function at our best. Sleep
I know from personal experience that it's a rare occasion when I get to sleep for 8-9 hours. I tend to notice that I feel much better and find it easier to retain material while studying when I am able to have 8-9 hours of sleep. How much sleep do you receive? Would you say it's enough or would u like to receive more?

When I first meet people, I usually get lots of puzzled looks because I don't have an English name but yet I have no foreign accent. This is because I started learning English when I was 5 and half years old and I grew up in the United States. When it came to the time when I started learning Spanish in middle school, it was easier for me to learn another it because I already know two other languages. I realized that I seem to understand more in depth than my peers about how Spanish was structured and used. The book described this as metalinguistic insight. Looking back now I'm glad I got to learn two languages when I was younger. Although I always wonder at what age when learning another language would a person develop an accent?

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Pigeon racing has been a sport for hundreds of years now. With pigeons like the homing pigeon, who can navigate and return home from hundreds of miles, these birds have become the basis of pigeon racing. For lack of time, pigeon racing consists of a couple steps:
1. Pigeons are trained to come home.
2. Pigeons are clocked in and shipped out hundreds of miles for races.
3. Pigeons are released and the bird with the fastest average time upon entering the loft, wins.

Step 1 is the most crucial step in winning on race days. Having your pigeon clock into your loft as soon as it comes home. Pigeon fanciers have trained/conditioned their birds similar to that of Pavlov. At a young age, pigeons are introduced to a system. Every time during feeding, the pigeon fancier would whistle or shake a can as the birds ate. Once the pigeons were finished eating, the food tray's removed until the next feeding. The unconditional stimulus is the feed, the unconditional response is eating the feed, the conditional stimulus is the can shaking or whistling, and the conditional response is returning to the loft to eat. This process is repeated for almost a whole week before the birds are finally released out of the loft. While the birds are flying, if they hear the can or the whistling they swoop right down and into the loft as shown in the video.

During a race even seconds could determine the winner. If the pigeon fancier is disciplined and has trained the pigeons very often with their type of conditional stimulus, their pigeon trapping in could win the race. This is one way that classical conditioning has been used to train animals. What other animals have you seen classical conditioning applied to?

I'll start it tomorrow...

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They say that between 80 and 95 percent of college students procrastinate, this is because the average American student prefers fun over work. Big shocker there. I know for me I am an avid procrastinator and to fix that, although I still am one, I set myself up a positive reinforcement system. In my system I have a coloring page and for every 2 or 3 pages I finish reading I use one color on the page. This is a strange thing, but it works well.Thumbnail image for huey-dewey-louie-1-coloring-page.jpg The question is how are we going to reduce procrastination down the line and now. Procrastination is not going to be alright in the real world we need to step it up and figure out a way to start things today.

That Awkward Moment When...

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Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when someone says hello to you, but you can't remember who they are? This happened to me just last week. I was so frustrated because she looked so familiar and she even knew my name -- yet I couldn't remember from where we knew each other. I was experiencing tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon in which I was sure I knew something, but I was unable to access it. This phenomenon can be classified as a retrieval failure in which the information is in there somewhere, but that we can't quite retrieve it.

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When I ran into this "friend" of mine, I was embarrassed that I couldn't figure out who she was, that I just politely said hello and nothing else. I was suffering from the memory sin of blocking. It wasn't until hours later that it hit me suddenly that the familiar face I ran into that morning was the girlfriend of a friend of mine who I met while we were studying abroad together in Spain months ago. In remembering this, I felt like a whole set of memories opened up to me again and the next time I see her it won't be such an awkward moment!

What do your dreams mean?

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I found the dream theories to be very interesting. I've always thought of dreams the way Sigmund Freud took sides with the Native Americans. Freud created the Dream Protection Theory which was an idea that our dreams are our guardians while we are sleeping. The mental censor in our brain, the ego, isn't able to repress the sexual and aggressive instincts we have as well when we're sleeping, as when we're awake so dreams protect us from these instincts disturbing our sleep. Dream-work turned the instincts into symbols and pictures which are also known as wish-fulfillment, simply, how we wish things to be. In order to find the true meaning of your dream Freud proposed that you had to reverse the dream-work. On the contrary, Hobson and McCarley came up with activation-synthesis theory which said that dreams were simply the brain activation during sleep, not an unconscious wish. They said that dreams showed the brain trying to make sense of the random and internally generated neural signals during REM sleep. More specifically, REM sleep is activated by surges of the neurotransmitter acetylocholine while serotonin and norepinephrine shut down. Acetylcholine activates the cells located in the pons and since serotonine and norepinephrine are responsible for thought, reasoning, attention and memory the pons sends out incomplete signals. The forebrain does it's best to put the signals together into a story, the result, dreams. After learning about the Activation-Synthesis Theory, I'm not sure which I agree more with. Freud's theory is what I expected dreams to be, but Activation-Synthesis makes more sense realistically.

What do your dreams mean?

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I found the dream theories to be very interesting. I've always thought of dreams the way Sigmund Freud took sides with the Native Americans. Freud created the Dream Protection Theory which was an idea that our dreams are our guardians while we are sleeping. The mental censor in our brain, the ego, isn't able to repress the sexual and aggressive instincts we have as well when we're sleeping, as when we're awake so dreams protect us from these instincts disturbing our sleep. Dream-work turned the instincts into symbols and pictures which are also known as wish-fulfillment, simply, how we wish things to be. In order to find the true meaning of your dream Freud proposed that you had to reverse the dream-work. On the contrary, Hobson and McCarley came up with activation-synthesis theory which said that dreams were simply the brain activation during sleep, not an unconscious wish. They said that dreams showed the brain trying to make sense of the random and internally generated neural signals during REM sleep. More specifically, REM sleep is activated by surges of the neurotransmitter acetylocholine while serotonin and norepinephrine shut down. Acetylcholine activates the cells located in the pons and since serotonine and norepinephrine are responsible for thought, reasoning, attention and memory the pons sends out incomplete signals. The forebrain does it's best to put the signals together into a story, the result, dreams. After learning about the Activation-Synthesis Theory, I'm not sure which I agree more with. Freud's theory is what I expected dreams to be, but Activation-Synthesis makes more sense realistically.

Luck Is On My Side

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Have you ever wonder if your luck will really change, if a cat crosses your path? Many may say that it will change their good luck into bad luck because it's one of the big superstitions that people in the US believe in. Well, I'm in luck because in my Hmong culture, we don't believe in that superstition, but a similar one. Instead of a cat crossing our paths, our superstition involves snakes. Since there are barely any snakes in the metro area, luck is on my side!

Does your culture have its own superstition?

(image)- http://blog.qatestlab.com/2011/03/17/superstitions-in-software-testing/

Erasing the Pain

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We've all had those moments - the brief, aching seconds when you remember a painful experience such as a past breakup or the death of a loved one. Everything reminds you of it and you wish you could just move on and be happy. But what if you could erase a painful experience entirely? Or remember it without feeling like you want to cry?

With the help of a single pill called propranolol, the emotional reaction to traumatic memories can be diminished by inhibiting adrenaline. However, it cannot erase memories.
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This concept that the emotional pain of certain traumatizing memories can be reduced by taking a simple drug fascinated me. If humans forgot painful things, how different would our personal experiences be? Pain is an important part of life, but is it better to lead happy, easy existence?

If you had the choice to take propranolol, would you?
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The Magic Number

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George Miller claims that the digit span of most adults is between five and 9 digits, with an average of seven digits. This means that its hard for us to retain information that is "seven plus or minus 2." This concept is something that really interests me. It got me thinking about how my short term memory works and what I am able to remember. My thoughts on this subject lead right into the idea of chunking. Chunking is the organization of materials into meaningful groupings.

This is the perfect example of chunking:

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The more we break it down in a way we think we will be able to remember it, the more likely we are to actually remember it.

The way our short term memory works is incredible. When you think about it though, it makes total sense for our brain to break down the bigger things into smaller things as a way for us to remember them.

Mirror Neurons = Compassion

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When reading through this section I found mirror neurons to be especially interesting. I found the correlation especially interesting because you don't (when first looking at the vocabulary) directly relate mirror neurons and compassion. However when you think about it a little more in depth mirror neurons are partially responsible for your compassion. They allow you to imitate others thereby learning how to act like your model. By learning how your model acts you are able to predict how your model might react. By understanding how your model may react gives you a better understanding of why that person is the way they are, making you feel compassion for them if they are upset or hurt. Have you ever wondered why you feel compassion for somebody?

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Falling Asleep on the road

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Have you ever pulled two all nighters in a row? If you have, then you know afterwards during the day. You keep drift off to sleep very easily and physically and mentally exhausted whole day. However, some people are suffering from narcolepsy must deal with this on a daily basis. They completely loss muscle tone and experience sudden sleep anywhere. . They don't know if what they experienced was a dream or if they actually experienced the situation. Imagine people falling asleep while driving or walking. Narcolepsy is a very common disorder; between 1 in 2000 people in the United States have this disease. You will be on the road with a narcoleptic any day.

How do you feel about driving on the same road with them?

The Art of Potty Training

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The chapter on learning was very intriguing. Learning is a concept that we all understand and is often associated with memory. Is learning a slow, gradual process or a sudden, all-or-nothing process? I believe it is a slow, gradual process especially when learning is teamed up with the idea of shaping. Shaping suggests that learning a new behavior is determined by the reinforcement that we are given over time as we come closer and closer to meeting the requirements of producing the behavior. This made me think of the art of potty training. Toddlers don't just sit on a toilet and know what to do. Wouldn't they be cool if they did, though? Potty training is an extensive process of praise, positive reinforcement, and lots of treats. Whether you use stickers, candy, or a bribe of other sorts, potty training is a behavior of shaping. When a toddler sits on the potty for the first time, they may have a tendency to be timid or completely fight the situation. After the toddler can sit on the potty in a calm manner, they are given a prize of some sort. This process goes on and on until the toddler can go to the bathroom on their potty, and eventually have the ability to communicate their need to go to the bathroom. After each stage of the process they are continually being positively reinforced and shaped with bribes to accomplish the task of potty training. Eventually, the tots are on their own and the potty training process is finally over.

Hyp-NO-tism

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I found the section on hypnotism to be quite interesting. I have never been a huge believer in things like palm reading and hypnotism, however I did have the chance to see it in action. During our senior year party in High School a hypnotist came and performed a live audience show. She called up a bunch of people from the audience and seemingly hypnotized them in to pretending like they were riding on a bear or eating ice cream. I believed it at the time, however after reading about the techniques they use, such as looking for the people who would most easily be persuaded, and whispering in their ears while on stage it makes me question whether or not it was real.

I will say that during the show I watched some of my friends do things that I don't think they would ever have done if they were in a normal state of being. One of the kids was drooling....another started crying. Makes me wonder which claim is right.

Slot Machines: The Big Gamble

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It's tough to think of anyone who values psychological findings more than the casino industry. A salient example of this is the extensive integration of a variable ratio (VR) schedule of reinforcement in casino games.

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In a 60 minuets report, Lesley Stahl, asserts that casinos are doing everything in their power to keep customers at the slots for longer periods of time. Not only are they leveraging the most potent schedule of reinforcement, a VR, but they are now introducing "modern slots", a new machine that has some important changes from their older counterpart. A few highlighted changes are the replacement of buttons for levers (allow a person to place bets faster than ever!). They also incorporate music, video, sound into the slots while allowing you to play hundreds of lines at once. Lesley Stahl believes that this flow of stimuli can easily overwhelm and trick someone into feeling like they are winning when the reality couldn't be any further from the truth.

So, are these casinos taking advantage of people by cleverly integrating psychological findings into their gambling floors, or are they merely providing a service that many people enjoy?

For more information, check out this 12 minute youtube clip that summarizes the original report: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLD17r0U2D0

I just cut off WHAT??

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How cool would it be if you couldn't feel pain? A person could jump off of buildings without a parachute and feel nothing. You'd be on top of the WORLD! Well, in all actuality this inherited pain insensitivity could be very dangerous. Pain is the way our bodies alert us to something that is hurt or not quite right; so when this machine is not working correctly, we may be unaware of something that is really hurting us. This is very rare but when it does occur, it is innately planted within us and it doesn't go away. Babies could chew off fingers, toes or have a high fever and not even know it. That would be worrisome to parents!

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It's called Procrastination! Procrastination has became one of the most frequent study problems that college students experience. It's common, widespread and often troubling to many people. There are several methods to overcome procrastination, however, most procrastinators find them useless and painful to achieve. According to Chapter 6 in our textbook, a "remedy" was introduced to us; by applying Operant Conditioning, the most effective way to overcome procrastination is concluded by David Premack - think about all the wonderful things you would like to do, then reinforce yourself with these higher frequency behaviors only after you've completed your work. It's been proven effective by several Universities and Researches. I've tried it a few time, and it really works!

Are you waiting until the last minute to study for your Psychology Exam?
Are you waiting until the last minute to start posting your blog entry?
If you are, then admit it, you are procrastinating. Why not use Premack's Principle to overcome it!

http://dennislearningcenter.osu.edu/belgium-paper/BWT-belgium-paper.htm

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Cramming for Exam 2?

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The majority of PSY 1001 students are currently scrambling to finish their study guides and review all the chapters before Monday's test. Ironically enough one of the concepts we just studied gave evidence that in fact, cramming is no where near as effective as distributed practice.

In chapter 7 (p.261) our book not only advises us not to cram but actually gives us a law of learning; the law of Distributed VS Massed practices states that we remember things better in the long run when we study information in small increments over time (distributed) instead of studying in large increments over a brief amount of time (massed).

Unfortunately if you're just learning about the law of distributed vs massed practices, it is a little too late for you to apply it. Thankfully the authors were once college students themselves and realize the reality of kids studying weeks before-hand vs two days before does not have a very high percentage. To help us poor PSY 1001 students cram for Exam #2 they came up with Helpful Study Hints that have been derived from memory research which I have listed below. Good luck!

--Spread your study time out, reviewing notes and textbook in increments rather than
cramming
--Test yourself frequently on the material you've read.
--Connect new knowledge with existing knowledge rather than simply memorizing facts or names.
--Work to process ideas deeply and meaningfully - avoid writing notes down word for word from lectures or slides. Try to capture the info in your own words
--The more reminders/cues (mnemonic devices) you can connect from your knowledge base to new material, the more likely you are to recall new material when tested.

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Hypnosis comes from the greek work hypno meaning sleep. Most of the times, almost every single time that we are exposed to a hypnotized person, we are shown that they are unconscious and have no clue what is going on. I was very surprised that that is not the case. In chapter five it state that people who are hypnotized do not show brain waves similar to sleep waves. Also hypnotized people are fully aware of their surroundings and can actually recall conversations around them! So to say that hypnotized people are unconscious and sleep-like is truly a myth!

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Want to be more creative?

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In our daily life, we always recognize an object only for its traditional function . For example, we usually can't see a hammer's use as anything other than for pounding nails, however, a hammer also can be a paperweight or something else. That is functional fixedness, which inhibit us from solving a problem in a new way.

Functional fixedness is an obstacle to our creativity. As is known to all , children are more originative and imaginative than adults. Because adults have so many conventional thoughts, which limits our ability to realize other possibilities of objects. Conversely, children have an open mind to play with objects less intentionally.

Do you want to be more creative? Let's make efforts to overcome functional fixedness.

Easy Target?

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Of all the topics covered, I find the aspect (or section about) of memory to be the most interesting. It still blows my mind how easily we can be influenced by others. I was also a little embarrassed to see that I believed some of the stereotypes about memory.

I, just like many others believe (well I did) that amnesia meant total loss of all memories. Had no idea there were different types of amnesia. Where did this previous logic come from? I'd like to thank Hollywood and movies such as M.I.B. who present the world with this false information.
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However if I was able to believe this incorrect understanding of amnesia, who's to say I wouldn't be an easy target for being implanted with false memories? Being that I am now a professional critical thinker, I try to examine things closer. While on the road to understanding, it's better to make decisions on your own, without influence from others, especially when it comes to our memories.
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A Glimpse from the Past

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Karma is not the only thing that can come back to hurt you. In some cases, more experienced learners are at a disadvantage for learning new information. This is known as proactive interference, whereby old information can interfere with the acquisition of new information. proactive interference.gif

While reading about this I couldn't help but think about my prime years of my basketball career. In eighth grade, I had practiced rigorously to transform my basketball shot. Although it took, me a while to consistently shoot with the correct form, I eventually got it down. However, during high pressure games, I would, at times, unintentionally return to my old form. This leads me to my hypothesis: Under high stress situations, proactive interference is more prevalent and is thus more likely to inhibit the ability to maintain and retain new information.

Biologically, the hippocampus and the amygdala are close in terms of proximity.amygdilla-hippocampus.jpg The hippocampus has been shown to be involved with memories, producing L.T.P while the amygdala is involved with fear. Upon response to fear, the amygdala is activated and perhaps interferes with the recent information learned (i.e. my correct shot) or alternatively stimulates the activation of the previous information learned (i.e. my old shot).
Imagine if I had the ball with 3 seconds left in the game and instead of just shooting it, I thoroughly, thought out the process of shooting a basketball using correct technique. I would not get the shot off in time! Perhaps, to cope with the strenuous situation, my brain unconsciously returned to its old ways. Perhaps this is a primitive instinct? Have you had a similar experience? Why do you think this would occur?

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I was thinking about linguistic relativity when I saw these kind of funny pictures. They are funny because English speakers don't make sense of the illogical and strange words, and thus make fun of the generativity. According to the linguistic relativity, the language, Chinese in this case, determines how you think about the world. Chinese people believe every being feels the world as human beings do, so we need to respect the grass and don't step on the grassland. Based on this cultural context, it's not difficult to understand the transliterated sentence. The disparity in understanding the world makes the translatioins and transliterations so hilarious!

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Sleep walkers have been known to drive cars, turn on computers, or even ***put pillows in the oven while sleeping.*** Even more surprisingly, sleepwalking has been used as a legal defense for some people who have committed murder. In fact, one man drove twenty miles removed a tire iron, killed his mother-in-law, and stabbed his father. He was later declared innocent because he claimed to have slept through the entire event and was not responsible for his behavior. If you were on the jury, would you have declared this man innocent?

Sss...Sss...Santana?

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The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is one that I seem to encounter quite frequently in my daily life. I find it so irritating when I am trying to think of a word but just can not come up with it. However, it is rather interesting how I can usually determine the first phoneme of the word, but I just can't recall the rest of the word. An example of this that I have experienced is trying to remember Santana's name on the television show Glee. I know that her name starts with an S sound, but for some reason I always have difficulty remembering the rest of her name. What are your experiences with the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon?

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In chapter six, I found the paragraph about discipline and culture to be very interesting. Cultures have different methods to enforce discipline. Blacks are more likely to punish children with items resembling whips, like a belt, while whites would generally chose a paddle or a spanking. In China and Thailand, spanking is very uncommon. However, Chinese parents pinch and yank their children's hair more than other races. Latinos have been known to make their children kneel with bare knees on uncooked rice. Puerto Ricans may place a toddler into a bathtub of cold water after an outburst. Cultural differences certainly influence types physical discipline, but this does not mean certain punishments are more harsh than the others. Each of these methods can be applied with varying level force, frequency, and time. One must also take into account the children's age and vulnerability. Punishment of bad behavior works best when parents also positively reinforce good behavior.
The full article can be found here:

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