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False memories in native and non-native English speakers

December 14th, 2017 No comments

Memory – a simple word consisting of six letters. Memory – a term we frequently use to encompass a broad range of concepts. Memory – the thing that’s left after an event has long passed. But what happens when memory fails us? What happens when we fail to remember the past as accurately as we thought we would?

False memory

In cognitive research, false memories describe memories of events that did not take place or they happened quite differently from how they are remembered. The most common technique to induce false memories in a laboratory setting is a word learning paradigm called Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM), in which people study a list of words (such as bounce, throw, basket, bowling, and golf) that are all related to a common item (in this case, ball). When given a memory test people will often indicate that the non-presented common item (ball) was on the list with high confidence (Deese, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995).

This is what researchers described as false memory: remembering something that did not happen.

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No One Ever Understands Me! Ah, yes – The Illusion of Transparency

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

Your world is collapsing. Okay no it’s not, but you are extremely stressed, sad, and worried. Do you ever wonder why no one seems to care that you’re feeling these things, or wish that someone would only ask if you’re okay? We all feel like this sometimes! But see, everybody else is not the problem. It’s not that people don’t care or don’t want to help (most likely); it’s just simply the fact that they may not even know you’re feeling like this. Think about the last time you gave a presentation in one of your classes or to a group of people. You’re standing up there, fidgeting, sweating, and you feel like your thoughts are jumbled and that your speech reflects that. You look into the crowd and see a girl twirling her hair – I must look like an idiot. You see someone else staring right at you and smiling – I must sound so stupid that he can’t help but stare directly at me. False! The girl is just bored and the boy is trying to show the teacher that he’s paying attention – so stop sweating and remain calm, you’re fine. These feelings are not out of the ordinary, in fact, they’re quite normal, and they can be attributed to the illusion of transparency.

That feeling when no one understands you…

The illusion of transparency is the tendency to believe that one’s internal states are more obvious to others than they actually are. We believe that the outside world can see and understand what we’re feeling and thinking, because we feel like we show our feelings, thoughts and emotions explicitly. However in reality, we overestimate the extent to which other people can tell what’s really going on inside our heads or what we’re trying to say. To test the theory out for yourself, watch this video to see if you can guess the song behind the rhythm! Or, to learn more about this illusion (after you’ve finished reading this post, of course), check out this other awesome post from the CogBlog! Additionally, many studies have been conducted that aim to look at why this happens, and to see if this illusion actually holds true when tested. Read more…

Reader, Do People Actually Know How You Feel? Welcome to Your Tape…

April 17th, 2017 6 comments

I recently got into this Netflix original called 13 Reasons Why. It’s an adaptation of a book with the same name that was probably on your summer “to read” booklist in middle school. It tells a story of a high school girl named Hannah who commits suicide and releases a set of cassette tapes to the people who were “instrumental” to her death. I put instrumental in quotation marks because we don’t really know what happened and we all know that memory could be untrustworthy; but that’s for another blog (This link will take you to another blog that talks about Confabulation). The question is why is this relevant in a blog about cognitive psychology?

Hannah from 13 Reasons Why

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Presidential election vs bilingualism: how does the framing effect impact our decision-making

April 17th, 2017 2 comments

Are you a logical thinker?

If you are a human being with a healthy dose of confidence, your answer is most likely “Sure, I use logic most of the time.” Or, if you identify with the virtue of modesty, you would probably say, “No guarantees, but I make my best effort.” If either of the above describes you, at one point or another the election of the 45th U.S. president was probably among the biggest mysteries for you. Hillary Clinton sure has had her fair share of scandals and hypocrisy, but so do many seasoned politicians; Donald Trump, on the other hand, had no political experience, more than a handful racist, sexist, and xenophobic statements, and multiple alleged sexual assaults. Furthermore, because of his background, Donald Trump is also under a lot of suspicion of abusing power for personal gains. How on earth did Donald Trump turn out so much more appealing in a presidential election?

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Why can’t I remember the name of the actor in my favorite movie?…I know I know it…it’s on the: Tip of the Tongue Phenomenon

April 17th, 2017 5 comments

mercercognitivepsychology.pbworks.com A accurate depiction of of TOT happening in our daily lives (minus buying tongues)

Remember that time when you were trying to recall the celebrity who plays the main character in your favorite movie? You knew that their name began with the letter L, that they were in another movie about dreams, and that they finally won an Oscar. You may even say, “it’s on the tip of my tongue”. But for some reason you just can’t recall their name (by the way it’s Leonardo Dicaprio). It is something we’ve all experienced, and it is called the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (TOT).
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Finding Reason in Rhyme, Nearly Every Time

April 16th, 2017 No comments

Happiness, health, love, and money — what else would anyone need?  These most universal of human interests are often the center of common phrases, called aphorisms, that express some general principle about how our world works . . . or so they claim.  For example, we all know that great spenders are bad lenders, and surely, what sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals.  Many people are very familiar with these aphorisms through previous, repeated exposure to them.  One critical feature contributing to the popularity of these phrases is their rhyming pattern.  But how about the phrase an apple a day keeps you pretty healthy? Well, maybe not. The botched rhyme in this last phrase makes us question the truth behind the statement.  This is due to the Rhyme-as-Reason Effect.  This effect is a cognitive bias by which people judge the validity and accuracy of a statement as being more true if the statement rhymes.  So, although the aphorisms are very vague, the use of rhyme as a rhetorical device asserts their claim in a more persuasive way.   Read more…

Gesturing and Tip of the Tongue: How flailing your arms can cure a TOT state

December 19th, 2015 No comments
tip of the tongue

http://mercercognitivepsychology.pbworks.com/w/page/32859313/Tip-of-the-Tongue%20Phenomenon

Do you ever think of a word or phrase and you know you know it, you just can’t seem to find it? You’re frustrated and want so badly to be able to say the word, one might even say it’s at the tip of your tongue. This feeling is called a tip-of-the-tongue state, or the TOT phenomenon. It’s likely that on top on this frustrating experience, you are flailing your hands around trying to gesture the word at the tip of your tongue. This TOT phenomenon is when information is available in your memory it is just not accessible. When in a TOT state, a person is experiencing blocking, where they are not able to retrieve information that is known. The information is being blocked. Although you may look strange doing so, gesturing may actually be the thing that helps you retrieve that word you so desperately want to access. Don’t worry, you don’t just look like a crazy person for no rhyme or reason! You’re trying to find that nagging word!
Gestures, which are body or limb movements, can be characterized as an element of a word’s meaning in a person’s mental representation. A person’s mental representation is a bank of everything they know; it is what our cognitive procsses are operating on and it is a topic in our mind that represents something in our reality. Humans often pair certain gestures with different words based on possible functions or shapes of a word that is an inanimate object, or actions of a word that is an animate object.

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Does Speak Aloud Help Form Better Memory?

November 24th, 2015 1 comment

Do you still remember the bedtime stories your parents read for you when you were little? Well, most of us jdad-bedtime_2817042bust have a vague impression about what was told. Even if we read the story by ourselves, we are unlikely to remember much. However, it is not the same case for our parents: they are likely to remember very much about story, even specific details such as the characters and how you felt about them. Now think back again, comparing the textbook you read aloud for the class in the morning and a message on your cell phone that you read ten minutes ago, which one do you remember better? In my personal experience, I found it easier to recall the sentences from the book rather than the text message. This raises the question: is there a relationship between how people read information and how much is actually remembered? Read more…

Categories: Language, Memory Tags: ,

It must be something in the way she sings!

November 24th, 2015 4 comments

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.28.20 PMSo it’s a Sunday afternoon and you are walking to lunch, the library, or the gym, and all of a sudden you start to sing the words to a song and it seems to come out of nowhere! Has this ever happened to you? I can testify to this and say that numerous times I find myself singing a song and I have no idea why. In fact, why do we still remember childhood songs such as “the wheels on the bus go round and round” or start singing a song we once loved in the 8th grade? The idea that song melodies seem to stick in our memory for long periods of time is an interesting concept.

Weiss et al., 2012, investigated the impact that melodies have on our memory. In their study, a group of participants listened to melodies, either vocal or instrumental, and were later asked to recall what they had heard. The participants listened to melodies from four categories: voice, piano, banjo, or marimba. In addition, the participants had to rate whether they felt happy, sad, or neutral while listening to the melody. They completed a recognition task in which they heard the same 16 melodies and then a set of 16 new melodies. They were asked to rate which ones were old or new. The results of their study concluded that the melodies that had been presented vocally to the participants were better remembered than those that were presented instrumentally, even if the participant liked an instrument more than a vocal melody. There was no difference of recognition or liking among the instrumental timbres.

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Categories: Language, Memory Tags:

A Sideline Story: The Effect a History of Concussions has on both Cognitive Ability and Injury Recovery Time In Collegiate Athletes

November 24th, 2015 1 comment

If you had asked the high school version of myself about some of the parents of my peers not allowing their children to play football because of the sports dangers, I would have laughed at the idea. To me this was the greatest game in the world, a game that teaches the values of hard work, perseverance, and a humbleness that is hard to learn other places in life. How can you simply tell someone who has dedicated countless hours and years to their craft that they can no longer do the thing they love the most? But the dreaded “C word” whispered in both high school and college locker rooms across the country is doing just that, as the length of recovery for athletes with a history of concussions is being questioned.

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