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Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Exonerate the Innocent!

November 26th, 2013 6 comments

Many innocent people are wrongly convicted of crimes every year, and many of these wrongful convictions are due to a mistaken identification during eyewitness testimony. In many criminal investigations, eyewitness identification can be a deciding factor in the case. The Innocence Project (2012) has exonerated 289 people in the U.S. based on DNA evidence. About 75% of those wrongfully imprisoned were people mistakenly identified in a line-up. (To learn more about the Innocence Project, click here.) Surprisingly, recent data have shown that approximately a third of witnesses for line-ups are children younger than 16 years old. The data also show that about a third of these children under 16 are likely to make a false identification of an innocent person as the culprit. It goes without saying that there can be very serious and severe outcomes for people as a result of false identification. For these reasons, research on eyewitness testimony has become more important and prominent in recent times.  Read more…

Cognitive Compensations for the Visually Impaired

November 25th, 2013 2 comments

Two summers ago, I volunteered at a special education academic program at the Weston High School in Weston, Massachusetts. As I observed the students work, I was astounded by how behind in learning their disabilities put them compared to the average level their age would normally be associated with. While I was there, I helped a 13-year-old blind girl with her reading comprehension homework. I was asked to dictate a passage to her, and she had to answer one of four questions that she read in brail. As I watched her fingers trace the dots, and dictate to me the correct answer, I was both astounded and intrigued.  I wondered and still wonder, how does the human body adapt and reorganize itself to compensate for deficits, by birth or by injury? More specifically, how can blindness affect one’s cognitive abilities, in particular the various parts of the human memory?

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Did They Pass or Did They Mass: A Context Perspective

November 25th, 2013 2 comments

Let’s go on a journey into the life of a student, shall we? It’s 11PM the evening before your final exam. You are reading over the material countless times, hoping that it will still be fresh in your mind at 9 AM the next morning. Thoughts may be running through your head, one of them being: I wish I had studied this material before this dreadful, crammed study session. Well, it turns out that your thoughts are on the right track! Memory research has suggested advantages for distributing the study of material across time, also known as the spacing effect. This effect suggests that one is better able to remember information when learning is spaced across multiple, separate sittings. On the other hand, material is not remembered as well when the learning is crammed into one sitting.  For example, you may have a list of vocabulary words to learn for next week. According to the spacing effect, you will better remember the words if you study for a half hour every other day than for an hour and a half the night before the test.

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Good News for Individuals Who Gesture!

April 30th, 2013 5 comments

Have you ever completed a task but later you were unable to articulate what you did in order to succeed? For example, after I have completed a complicated math problem, I am typically unable to explain in words how I arrived at my answer.  When this occurs, we are said to have implicit knowledge of the task rather than explicit knowledge of the task. In other words, the knowledge that is evident in our behavior but it is unavailable through speech.  When I am unable to explain or articulate something, I often find myself gesturing or using my hands. In fact, I think of myself as a frequent gesturer. Many learners, myself included, demonstrate spontaneous gestures when trying to describe a task or knowledge that they cannot quite articulate. These gestures that we use while speaking are a way of revealing our implicit knowledge. Because gesturing behavior helps us reveal knowledge we cannot articulate, could gesturing enhance our learning? New research on gesturing has shown that gesturing can give us insight to the information that we cannot express through speech. But what happens when we are forced to gesture? Can forced gesturing reveal our implicit knowledge or perhaps, prepare us for learning?

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Categories: Development, Education Tags:

The Colors of the Alphabet

April 27th, 2013 6 comments

Imagine that you could taste sounds.  If you were lucky, your name would be delicious—every time someone said it you might taste that one fruit smoothie you love or a fresh-baked cookie.  Each word would be like sampling a new flavor, for better or worse.  This is a form of synesthesia, a condition in which one sense activates a separate sense.  Color-grapheme synesthesia seems more believable to most people.  Due to this condition, about 5% of the world’s population sees numbers and letters as inherently colored, even if they are printed in black.  This can actually improve performance on some tasks, such as a visual search.  The left half of the picture below shows the vision of a normal individual; the right half shows that of an individual with synesthesia.  As you can see, it is much easier to find the 2’s for an individual with synesthesia.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 10.51.32 PM

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Is Forgetting Always a Bad Thing?

March 19th, 2013 8 comments

Many people believe that we can recall events in our life perfectly, like rewinding a movie and watching it over and over again. However, recalling events is a much more complicated process that can be filled with glitches and errors along the way. There are various steps that need to take place for an event to be stored in memory Events that we experience can be processed for meaning and stored for later use in long term memory so when we need to recall an event, the information is stored and retrievable through long term memory. The information in long-term memory is stored so we can recall this knowledge when needed. This information includes the ability to remember a person, the foods we like, and the location of the nearest hospital. The process of remembering these events is called retrieval. Retrieval for memories can vary depending on the content of the information. If the content of the information if very negative, it is forgotten more easily compared to positive or emotionally neutral events. Psychologists Greenhoot, McCloskey, and Glisky (2005) were interested in how adolescents were able to retrieve the memories of family violence that took place during their childhood. Because of their interest, they conducted a study to test whether or not adolescents even recalled the abuse, and if so, how accurate the adolescents’ memories were.

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Categories: Development, Memory Tags: