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Posts Tagged ‘Episodic Memory’

Why A Single Incident Can “Make Your Day” – The Peak-End Rule

April 26th, 2018 No comments

You Just Made My Day!

Following an exceptionally pleasant incident, people often use the expression “That just made my day!”. Of course, one single joyful moment cannot really change the nature of a day, but we use that expression because that moment does make us feel better, and will likely resonate with us until the end of day. Similar experience also applies to incidents that upsets us. For example, when we go to a restaurant, if a full bowl of hot soup gets flipped accidentally and spilled all over us at the end of that meal, even if the food and the service are good, it is likely that we would consider restaurant a terrible place and would never visit there again. The way we judge a situation or experience depends highly on moments that are associated with the most intense feelings, as well as what we get from the situation at the end. In psychology, such effect is called the Peak-End Rule, according to which the two points of peak (i.e. intense experience) and end (i.e. conclusion we have), instead of the sum or the average of our experience, serve as indicators which people use to judge their experience. 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…

Can Sleepiness Affect Your Eyewitness Memory?

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

It’s a given that as college students, we all feel tired from time to time. Well, maybe more than from time to time. Walking across campus, have you ever heard people saying things like “I got two hours of sleep last night,” “I slept terribly last night,” “I’m going to pass out right now,” or something along those lines? I’m sure you have at some point. sleepiness 1

We have all heard that it’s important to get our sleep. This is partly because there has been a lot of research showing that our episodic memory, or memory for specific details and events, is better after a period of sleep. For example, if you were to go out on the town and attend a show, your memory for the details and events of that show would be better the next day if you got eight hours of sleep, as opposed to staying out in the city all night. One reason for this phenomenon is that a function of sleep is consolidation (Diekelmann & Born, 2010), or the neural process by which memories are strengthened and more permanently stored. The more sleep you get, the more consolidation occurs, and the better your memories become.

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Can’t remember where you left your keys? Try getting more sleep

May 2nd, 2014 2 comments

Have you ever walked into a room and subsequently forgotten why you entered the room in the first place? Or have you ever misplaced a valuable item, say your iPhone or favorite sweatshirt, and tried to retrace your steps by visiting all of the places you think you last had it, only to come up empty-handed? If these sound like common occurrences, there is something easy you can do to help reduce the number of these painful experiences!

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Pick Up a New Hobby and See Your Memory Improve!

December 2nd, 2013 3 comments

Quilting(Treadwell, 2012)

As the older population grows in numbers, there is an increasing social urgency to find ways to maintain or even improve one’s cognitive health.  As we age, declines in memory, attentional control, speed of processing, and problem-solving abilities are expected and are considered to be typical of normal, healthy aging. Past studies have shown the links between participation in cognitive, leisure and social activities with improved cognitive ability, as well as a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.  However little evidence has been found on whether sustained lifestyle engagement can help to maintain or improve cognitive function.  This study by Park et al. (2013) sought to examine the impact of sustained engagement on the cognitive abilities of older adults. This study is called the “Synapse Project” because unlike normal cognitive training, in which participants come in for an experiment that typically last a few hours or a few days, the participants in this study agree to make a lifestyle change in that they are learning new, demanding real-world skills in a social environment. This allows us to see the true effects of the acquisition of the new skill over time on the participants’ cognitive abilities.

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Categories: Aging, Memory Tags:

Suggestibility’s Strong Influence on Behavior

November 27th, 2013 7 comments

How reliable are your memories?  Before I took Cognitive Psych, I never considered this question.  In fact, I assumed that most of what I remembered was true, even things from my early childhood.  Now that I know about suggestibility, I have begun to second-guess what I know about many of my past experiences.  Suggestibility occurs when, without realizing it, we include information from others in our memories.  This can lead to changes in memories, and sometimes the creation of non- experienced, or “false” memories.

There are two basic types of suggestions.  A personalized suggestion is one that indicates that something may have happened specifically to you in the past.  General suggestions, on the other hand, suggest that something happened to many people in the past.  For example, a personalized suggestion could involve your grandmother saying, “you always used to wear those green overalls when you came to visit me,” while a generalized suggestion may involve reading a magazine article that says green overalls were very popular among children in the late 1990s.  Research has shown that personalized suggestions create false autobiographical memories, which can affect behavior.  Memories are very important in guiding our behavior.  For example, if you remember a negative event associated with a certain place, you are more likely to avoid that place in the future.  Generalized suggestions guide behavior as well, but not through false memories.  In this case, a person may hear that something happened to others in the past and adjust their behavior to avoid experiencing it.  For example, if you learned that many people got sick from eating raw cookie dough, you might avoid sampling the batter when making cookies so as not to get sick yourself.

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The valuable skill you learned in elementary school

November 25th, 2013 5 comments

When I was a senior in high school, a close friend of mine was asked to help another friend’s older brother with a psychology experiment. She was going to be singing tracks for him, and all I remember was feeling entirely unsurprised, because she was the best singer I knew and I always been a little jealous of her. Fast-forward four years, and I’m searching through PsycInfo, looking at articles about music and memory, when I come across an incredibly familiar last name. “That’s so weird,” I think, “how many Simmons-Stern’s could there possibly be in the world?” So I read the article, and as it turns out, it’s the very same study that was being created my senior year, published in a real journal. Not only that, but it’s an incredibly interesting read, which is why I’m going to share it with all of you. Read more…

Categories: Aging, Memory Tags: , ,

Can Thinking About Your Future Change Your Future?

April 30th, 2013 4 comments

Have you ever found yourself thinking about a future event, or pictured a specific incident in the future? Have you ever had a coach ask you to imagine making the perfect shot on goal or running the best race of your life? This type of thinking is called episodic future thinking, which is when your brain stops thinking about the present and instead moves into the world of a possible future. When we “pre-experience” the future, we can imagine ourselves in a specific setting with other people, performing certain actions. Thinking about the future is similar in some ways to re-experiencing the past. This is important, as the belief that a particular event could possibly occur in the future influences our behavior and decisions.

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A Unique Stench

April 30th, 2013 1 comment

Do you ever catch yourself thinking back to experiences from your past – happy, triumphant, gloomy memories? Perhaps, you sometimes imagine what life could present you down the road, where you’ll be 5, 10, 15 years down the line. Research into mental time travel (MTT) – the manner of mentally travelling back in time to relive past personal events or forward in time to imagine possible autobiographical events in the future, suggests that past and future MTT operate along similar principles, mostly in that people tend to recall events dated close to the present regardless of direction. However, differences have been observed as well; future events have been found to involve more of an observer perspective (as opposed to first-person) and refer less frequently to specific events, while they’re generally more personally important and relevant to the person’s self-identity. In other words, MTT into the future is based more upon the creation of potential circumstances in terms of one’s own personal representation of the world based on prior experiences, while MTT into the past is based on actual recollection of past events. The present study (Miles and Berntsen, 2011) aimed to further investigate future versus past MTT in response to different types of sensory cues. It focused on odor cues, as it has been claimed that odors are uniquely encoded and maintained in memory. Thus, it was expected that memories evoked in response to various smells should be different from those evoked via verbal or visual cues.

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

How Safe Are Our Memories?

April 29th, 2013 No comments

We live in a world today that is constantly bombarding us with stimuli. Even a simple morning routine of getting to school or work shows how much information we have presented to us. Say we turn on the TV to look at traffic reports; we will see which celebrity is promoting his or her new film, which route to take and the new product we absolutely need to have. We have to make breakfast and get ourselves ready to leave. On the way there, we could run into advertisements on billboards and a new song we like on the radio. By the time we finally arrive, so much has been stored away in our memory. Yet how many times has it happened that we distinctly remembering hearing a specific song on the radio or which person was on the news that morning and someone else confidently tells us we are mistaken? How can we so strongly and vividly remember something when it did not happen at all?

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