Archive

Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Me, myself, and Google: a brief search into the Google Effect

April 26th, 2018 1 comment

Ahh, Google… My most reliable friend. Google has a constant presence in the life of every human with access to it. Whether I forget basic information, such as the route from my house to the grocery store, or have an urgent question, like exactly how many calories are in a Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse, Google is always there to clear up any confusion. With search engines constantly at our fingertips, we spend very little time grappling with trivial questions or attempting to recall answers from memory. Any question that I have can be answered almost instantly, regardless of my location or the time of day.

My best friend and me!

Read more…

What was I saying? Oh, right, Absent-mindedness…

April 26th, 2018 No comments

It’s a Saturday night. You come home early to catch your favorite TV show. You’re in such a hurry that you throw your keys somewhere carelessly. When it’s time to go out, you can’t remember where you put your keys. It’s not at the regular spot where you usually place your keys. It takes a long time for you to find them. Does this seem familiar? When things like this happen, you might wonder if there’s something wrong with your mind. In fact, it is a common phenomenon called absent-mindedness.

https://www.pinterest.com/

Absent-mindedness is a cognitive bias that happens when people “zone out” and make mistakes in daily life (Broadbent, Cooper, FitzGerald, & Parkes, 1982). The mistakes can be anything related to a lack of attention, e.g., walking in a room and forgetting why you came in, dropping something unintentionally, or throwing your phone in a trash can and keeping the coffee cup (which happened to me once). Absent-mindedness is where attention and memory come together, even though they seem to be two separate things.

How is absent-mindedness related to attention? Before answering this question, we need to know that our attention has a limited capacity (Sanbonmatsu, Strayer, Biondi, Behrends, & Moore, 2015). One theory suggests that when our limited attentional resource is occupied, the rate of absent-mindedness may increase (Fisher & Hood, 1987). This means that if you are talking to a friend while walking down the street and paying little attention to your surroundings, you might end up bumping into someone if that person is being absent-minded as well!
Read more…

Are you SURE that happened or was that that just a (false) memory?

April 26th, 2018 3 comments

Imagine this. You’re in a convenience store and are getting ready to pay for some delicious Toll-House cookie dough (YUM). Suddenly, a man runs in wearing a mask and brandishing what appears to be a gun, so you decide to quickly hide near the front of the store behind some of the shelves. He demands for the cash in the register and the terrified workers quickly hand over the cash. You are so well hidden that the robber does not realize that there is anybody else in the store, and so as he is on his way out, he quickly removes his mask so that he can better see to escape. For a brief, fleeting couple of seconds, you get a perfect view of the man’s face. A few days later, the cops bring in some pictures of potential suspects to identify, and you are adamant that it was definitely a certain man in the pictures. However, the cops later realize that the man has an air-tight alibi from that day, which means that your identification of the criminal was incorrect. How could this happen?

This would’ve been a less scary robber to identify.

Well, thanks to cognitive psychology, we know that this misidentification probably happened due to the phenomenon called false memory. A false memory is when somebody has either a recollection of an event that did not actually occur, or when somebody remembers an event very differently from how it actually occurred. Essentially, no matter how sure you are that you remembered something correctly, there is a still a chance that you could be wrong. Crazy, right? So, next time you’re promising someone you are remembering some event correctly – just think and wonder how solid this promise actually is! Read more…

All’s Well That Ends Well – At Least That’s What Your Mind Thinks

April 25th, 2018 1 comment

Imagine you are in line at the DMV. Would you rather wait in a long line that moves relatively quickly, or a slower moving line that overall takes less time? Most people would probably choose the shorter line, right? What about if you had a choice between holding your hand in painfully cold water for 60 seconds or 90 seconds? Again, most would assume that no one in their right mind would voluntarily subject themselves to pain for any longer than necessary. Even if I told you that in the 90-second option the water warmed up 1 degree in the last 30 seconds, the 60-second choice clearly seems more bearable, right?

Net satisfaction and duration have little to no effect on evaluations of past experiences. Instead, it’s what happens at the peak and the end that matters.

These “would you rather” questions may not seem that fun, due to their obvious nature. Of course, everyone would choose the shorter option in both of these unpleasant scenarios, right? However, if it were up to the Peak-End Rule, you may actually choose the longer of the two options in both of these cases!

The Peak-End Rule is a mental shortcut people unconsciously utilize when making retrospective evaluations of any experience that had a clear beginning and end. Instead of evaluating an experience based on overall satisfaction or duration, we tend to judge a past experience based on the average of how we felt at the most intense moment (the peak) and at the conclusion (the end). These retrospective evaluations guide our behavior by influencing our future decisions. We use how we felt in the past to tell us how to act in the future.  Read more…

Tip-of-the-… wait what’s that word again?

April 25th, 2018 No comments

You are at a coffee shop with your friend telling them a story about something funny that happened in class last week, you remember all the details perfectly but when you get to the name of a student in the class you get stuck! You know that you know their name, the professor calls on them all of the time, but yet you just can’t remember. In situations such as these, some might say “It’s on the tip-of-my-tongue!”

sites.psu.edu

There’s no predicting when a TOT state will occur! sites.psu.edu

This feeling of confidence that you know the word and feeling as though the word is just within reach is an example of the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (TOT). As most people have experienced, TOT states occur often, and there is no predicting when they will happen (Kikyo & Ohki, 2001). Although everyone experiences this, as is true with most things in life, TOT states become more prevalent with age. It’s expected that younger adults experience these states approximately once a week, but older adults often experience TOT states once a day (Radel & Fournier, 2017). Because we have all found ourselves in this state of frustration, lets explore why and when these states occur, and what we can do about it.

Read more…

Do You See What I See? I See Jesus in Toast!

April 25th, 2018 2 comments

Have you ever gone to hang up your coat and thought, “An angry octopus is staring right at me!” Did you wonder afterwards if this is common and if everyone was seeing what you were seeing? This is known as a phenomenon called pareidolia, where external stimuli (such as coat hangers) trigger perceptions of non-existent entities (such as faces) presenting an erroneous match between internal representations and sensory inputs (Liu et al., 2014). Face pareidolia is the most common form, which is where humans tend to see faces in non-face objects (Ichikawa et al., 2011). Some examples include seeing a face in the clouds, Jesus in toast, or the Virgin Mary in a tortilla (to see more cool examples of pareidolia, click here!) How and why does this happen?

Washing Machine Pareidolia Example

Angry Octopus Pareidolia Example

To examine these questions, we must delve into the process of pattern recognition and face recognition in cognitive psychology. Pattern recognition is the process of constructing a mental representation and assigning meaning to it. Pattern recognition relies tremendously on top-down processing, which is the idea that we use prior knowledge, context, and expectations to aid our perceptions.

Read more…

I can’t remember her name… is this a sign of dementia?! The tip of the tongue effect and aging

April 24th, 2018 No comments

It’s a parasite. Small. Drills its way into unknowing individuals’ feet and proceeds to circulate their bloodstream. Common in areas with poor sanitation. I know this parasite from my global public health presentation from just last year. It starts with an ‘S’, maybe even a shhh sound? How could I not remember this? “Schistosomiasis”, my professor stated after what seemed like several frustrating minutes of attempting to recall the name for this parasite.

Why couldn’t I remember a word with which I am very familiar? One with which I spent hours researching on various databases, the CDC, even Wikipedia? It’s called the tip of the tongue (TOT) phenomenon, and if you’re anything like me, you likely experience this ever so maddening effect more frequently than you’d like. I’ve long since wondered about this phenomenon as whenever it happens to my Mum, she claims that she’s “losing [her] marbles” or is developing dementia. Does this mean that I’m developing dementia, too? Cognitively speaking, what is going on when you experience a TOT? But seriously, what is a TOT, anyways? Read more…

The Barnum effect- Your horoscope just came in: There really is a sucker born every minute!

April 24th, 2018 No comments

In case there was any confusion…

Hello, and welcome to your reading! While you may have come here looking for some interesting cognitive facts or tidbits, what you’re really in for is a personality profile created specifically for YOU. Through our unique system of assessment, here are your results…

-You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage.

Was it accurate? Do you feel as though you can suddenly trust the powerful abilities of this post to predict your innermost emotions and traits? If you answered yes or felt that the reading uniquely matched you, then you’ve fallen victim to the Barnum effect. Named after the infamous showman P.T. Barnum, this effect refers to the tendency for people to give high accuracy ratings to personality descriptions that, although said to be unique, can apply to the general population. Barnum famously said that there is a sucker born every minute, and this tendency may explain why those “suckers” seem so gullible. From fortune cookies to the Long Island Medium to Buzzfeed personality tests, this effect explains why people are so eager to accept general profiles that have no veridical backing as the truth.

Read more…

False memories in native and non-native English speakers

December 14th, 2017 1 comment

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.

Read more…

Pay Attention! Divided Attention Impairs Memory Processes

December 12th, 2017 1 comment

Have you ever been certain a friend said something when they’re certain that they didn’t? How about remembering it completely differently from how they actually said it? If you have, chances are you had a false memory! Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. False memories occur when we remember events that didn’t happen or remember them very differently from how they actually happened (Schacter, 1999). Although it may be unsettling to hear, false memories are very common and hard to detect. As far as you’re concerned, these don’t seem like false memories at all! False memories can be very similar in nature to true memories, which makes them all the more difficult to distinguish. Psychologists interested in memory often study false memories to learn more about the underlying processes that drive memory.

thinking.umwblogs.org

Cognitive psychologists have developed a few different methods of inducing false memories. Perhaps the most reliable and widely used is the Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM; Roediger & McDermott, 1995) paradigm. In this paradigm, participants are presented with lists of words that are semantically associated, or related by meaning. For example, the words beach and ocean are semantically associated because people typically have strong connections between the ocean and the beach. After studying these words, participants take a memory test in which they have to decide whether they studied certain words or not. The DRM uses these types of associates to create false memories for words that are never presented, but are highly related to the words that are. One typical DRM list includes words such as banner, American, symbol, stars, and anthem, all of which converge upon the word flag. In this case, the word flag is called the critical lure. After studying this list of words, participants frequently remember seeing flag, even though it was never presented, because it is highly related to the words on the presented list.

Read more…