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Posts Tagged ‘Forgetting’

“Ohhh, ‘Cue!'”: Cue-Dependent Forgetting and Study Techniques

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

Picture yourself in a classroom taking a history quiz. You don’t consider yourself a history buff of course, but you feel as if you studied well enough. You breeze through the questions, until you come across one that stumps you a bit: “Which U.S. President served the shortest term?”. You have to know this, of course, because you remember looking over it yesterday. The weight of familiarity is killing you, as you rack your brain and sort through the order of United States Presidents you thought you had memorized. When you studied, you paired the President’s last names along with common words that sounded similar–Lincoln and Linkedin, Kennedy and candy– you thought you pretty much had it down. Your heart thumps as you begin to look around the room, hoping something will strike your memory and soon your attention is drawn to how weird your teacher’s hair looks today. Hair, hair, Harrison! Suddenly you have it, William Henry Harrison was the President that served the shortest term.

Try putting down those cue cards and seeing how much you remember. https://i1.wp.com/boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/wally_feresten.jpg?fit=952%2C713&ssl=1

This scenario describes a cognitive psychology term called “cue-dependent forgetting” where a person is unable to remember information in the absence of a memory cue (Chandler and Gargano, 1995). A retrieval cue in this case is something that signals or prompts the memory of something that you associated with it (Chandler and Gargano, 1995). In the previously described scenario, the retrieval cues were the common words that sounded similar to the President’s names. This is why, when the retrieval cue for Harrison (“hair”), was forgotten, you were unable to answer the question. Pairing items as a form of studying may seem like an efficient way to quickly memorize material, but as seen in the example, it isn’t always reliable. Why does cue-dependent forgetting happen? And are there ways to prevent it from having a negative effect on test performance? These questions can be understood with a quick summary of how memory works.

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Don’t worry, you can Google this blog after you’ve read it

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

Do you know the capital of Indonesia? Or who the 11th President of the United States was? Perhaps, instead, you could tell me what arachibutyrophobia is?

pretend edward cullen GIF

Don’t know something? Well…

No? Well, that’s okay. I mean, what’s the point of knowing stuff like geography or US history when you have all that information at the tips of your fingers? Maybe you won’t place first in your school’s trivia contest or apply to be on Jeopardy, but who cares, you can just Google it!

A long, long time ago, searching for information wasn’t so easy. People had to look through encyclopedias, dictionaries, and maps (ugh, can you imagine?) to figure out information that these days, we can find within seconds. Thanks to the previous work of dozens of brilliant scientists, the world was forever changed with Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web. What is fascinating is that in just the short amount of time that the Internet has been available, the human mind has already begun to develop and work in synergy with this technology. One of the most prevalent ways in which we see this is the Google effect. That’s right, an important cognitive bias was actually named after the world’s most popular search engine – and for good reason!

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Don’t remember the Google Effect? Don’t worry, you can Google it.

November 25th, 2019 3 comments

Let’s step in the shoes of a typical college student for just a moment (think: Birkenstocks, Vans, or Adidas sneakers). You’re taking 16 credits, volunteering at the local elementary school, working in the library, and participating in countless other extracurriculars. Your brain is constantly moving a million miles a minute.

This is what happens when you’re utilizing a ton of cognitive resources!

In other words? You’re busy. Now let’s imagine you have a sociology paper due at midnight. You want to fine-tune your conclusion with more relevant information about affordable housing, but you can’t seem to remember the median household income in Reno, Nevada. “No need to fret!” you think as you pull up the Google homepage on your sticker covered laptop. “Why utilize precious cognitive resources for something that I can quickly type into a search bar?” This, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of the Google Effect. Read more…

Get Ready…You’re Next.

November 24th, 2019 No comments

“When will I get to speak” – Instead of attending to Mr. Know-It-All, they wait in anticipation for their turn to speak next.

Imagine that you are in class and your teacher has split the class into multiple groups, assigning each group different chapters of your reading to summarize for the class. In your group, you collectively brainstorm with your other group members about chapter four and write down the main topics and themes that pop up throughout your discussion. When your teacher signals that it’s time for each group to share what they talked about, all your group members assign you to be the spokesperson since you have jotted down some general notes. “Yeah, sure. It’s no big deal,” you think to yourself. “It’s not a formal presentation or anything, I just have to summarize what we talked about.” The group’s spokesperson for chapter one goes first, followed by the group’s spokesperson for chapter two and then chapter three. As it nears your turn, you start to think about how to present a clear and concise summary to the class as your classmates have just done. All of a sudden, you’re up next, so you stand up and tell the class about the main topics your group discussed. When you sit back down, the group for chapter five begins to share, but you look back over your notes making sure you did not forget to include anything important. At the end of class, your teacher gives a mini quiz about the chapters the class just summarized, and you realize that you can’t really remember anything from the presentations on chapter three or five. What happened? You were subject to the next-in-line effect.

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The empathy gap: the cognitive scapegoat least likely to earn you brownie points in intimate relationships (or with HR)

April 22nd, 2018 No comments

I think you’d call that an objective overreaction (Marcinski, 2015)

Try to remember to the last time you had a fight with a romantic partner or friend, especially over a small misstep or misunderstanding. Were you angry at the time? Jealous? Hurt? If so, you probably said and did things you didn’t mean; perhaps you were intending to cause your partner the same pain you felt, or were simply lashing out impulsively, not caring to listen to their side of the story. Only your own feelings mattered.

Now think back to the aftermath, when you had resolved the issue and moved forward. Everything that happened in the heat of the argument might seem a bit silly to you now. Maybe your partner pointed out that you had overreacted; your emotions seemed perfectly valid then, but now, in a state of calm as you and your relationship are, you’re inclined to agree with them. There’s no way you acted like that; you had no reason to. You certainly won’t do so the next time you’re in an argument…right?

Unlike faucet taps, these states are rather mutually exclusive: no lukewarm middle ground here (http://image.wikifoundry.com/image/3/5ac715be43f996a35f99bf5976ec1348/GW350H215)

Wrong, says the empathy gap. Read more…

If I could just stop thinking about it! The effect of emotional input on working memory.

November 24th, 2015 7 comments

An overtime loss. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t all your fault. Now you sit in the image001library trying to finish your research paper due in an hour; you can’t concentrate as visions of the puck slowly sliding through your goalie pads into the awaiting net behind you consume your thoughts. Do you ever find yourself helplessly replaying events that you’re upset about while trying to focus on something else? But why do we have so much trouble thinking when something is bothering us, yet we can work so productively the rest of the time?

If only we could effectively think about multiple things at the same time. You could process the events of the game last night while writing your paper; you could replay that upsetting fight you had with your boyfriend while studying for your Spanish vocab quiz. Essentially, our lives would be that much more efficient, if only we could process multiple thoughts at once.

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Challenge: Can you memorize 67890 digits?

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588…You can tell from the first three or four digits that this whole bunch of numbers represents a simple idea, the ratio of a circle to its diameter, π. Now, if I say that the person who can memorize the most number of the decimals of pi can win a million dollar prize, what strategy do you think is the most effective, and how many decimals do you think are enough to win the prize?

 

marcumile

One strategy that may come to your mind is creating little chunks of decimals of pi and memorize chunk by chunk. For example, the first 20 digits can be chunked into ‘31415,’ ‘92653,’ ‘58979,’ and‘32384.’ The last one or two digits of the previous chunk may cue you about the first one or two digits of the latter group. However, after you memorize a considerable number of decimals, you will find it difficult to continue because the digits cues start to repeat and you will experience too much retroactive interference, which describes the phenomenon that things memorized later may negatively affect your ability to recall something memorized earlier. A similar thing happens when you are trying to remember two people’s phone number. After you memorize the second phone number, the first one will appear to be a bit vague in your memory. You can choose to enlarge the group size from 5 digits to 10 digits to reduce the cue repetition, thus the retroactive interference can be reduced as you are using more digits as cues. However, you may still find it hard to continue after you reach a certain part when all the digits and cues entangle and you cannot recall them in a correct sequence, which is the key of memorizing pi. Due to the difficulties you find, you may come up with a reasonable estimation and wisely give up because it is kind of a waste of time. Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,

What to remember, what to forget? Decisions, decisions….

Have you ever found yourself wishing there was a way to erase part of your memory? …perhaps a bad breakup, car accident, or a really embarrassing moment that you simply never want to remember again?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just wake up one day and have all the bad things in our memory trace be gone forever?  Why yes–I think that would be quite wonderful–and I wish I could tell you there was a way for this to happen, but I’m not.  Unfortunately, the memory of an old girlfriend or boyfriend may stay with you forever; but, what if there was a way in which you could change the way you remember an ex or alter the memory of a bad breakup?  Well thanks to recent research, cognitive psychologists have discovered a way to “forget the unforgettable” (Coman, Manier, & Hirst, 2009).

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

What if you could forget your prom fiasco? The importance of selective forgetting

May 2nd, 2014 6 comments

Everyone has moments in their life that they wish they could forget. It could be that time that you the bridge gave out during your pictures on the water or the inevitable newspaper article written about it. But what if you could forget the whole thing happened and block out that embarrassing moment out of your memory forever?

 

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Pay Attention, Grandma!

November 25th, 2013 7 comments

Have you ever had a moment in which your mother forgot where she had put her phone, which she says she was just using it a minute ago? Or have you ever walked out of a store empty handed because you couldn’t remember precisely what it was that you were going to buy? I have.

Such forgetting occurs more frequently among older adults (60 -78yrs old) than among younger adults (17 – 27yrs old). In other words, older adults forget more often than younger adults. In addition, older adults are also more easily distracted. For example, when my dad once turned on a television while my grandma and I had a conversation, grandma got distracted by the show on television. She then forgot that she was in a conversation just a moment ago and started watching the show with my dad.  At moments like this, I could not stop wondering why can’t my grandmother just ignore the television like I do.

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Categories: Aging, Attention, Memory Tags: