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Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Did fake news really help Trump win the election?

December 3rd, 2019 2 comments

As the 2016 election drew closer, headlines such as “Pope Francis shocks world, endorses Trump as president” or “WikiLeaks confirms Hillary sold weapons to ISIS…Then 

Fig 1. An example of a fake news headline

drops another bombshell”. There was even a scandal insinuating that in Hillary’s leaked email, “pizza” was just a cover up for a possible human trafficking scheme or child sex abuse ring. In actuality, these events never took place, and several reputable news sources, such as the New York Times and Fox News debunked any criminal activity involving “pizza”. So how did so many people fall victim to the headlines and why were these false memories so wide spread? Is there a possibility they could have helped Trump win the election?

Memory is a system that is important to our day to day lives. Without it we wouldn’t know where to go for food or water and we have to relearn basic tasks, like driving, every day. If memory is so important, how could our brains twists our memories, falsify them, and change our truths? 

Memory is made up of three processes: encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding allows us to take in sensory information from our environment before we store it in our short term or long term memory during the process of storage. Retrieval is then where we go to reassess that information. One example could be as simple memorizing vocabulary words for an exam. When you first learn the words, your auditory processes recognize the words, where they are stored into your short term memory. When you study those words at home, they are then stored into your long term memory. During the actual exam, the words are retrieved from your long term memory in order to ace the exam. While our memories decay over time, most false memories are a product of failure to encode or a failure to store information properly.

 

 

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Glory Days and Faded Heartbreaks: How Assessments of our Past Shape and Reflect Psychological Well-being in the Present.

November 26th, 2019 No comments

Peaked in High School or remembering it better than it was?

Before I present you with a base level summary of our current understanding of the psychological phenomenon known as Fading Affect Bias (FAB) and its relation to the conceptual system of autobiographical memory–complete with the associated empirical support, of course–I would first like to overanalyze some Bruce Springsteen lyrics. Don’t worry; it will all make sense soon enough. Read more…

Why You Should Take the Time to Rhyme: The Rhyme As Reason Effect

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

We’ve all been here…

Think back to your time in elementary school: you are having a running competition with your friends, and you have just won first place. However, your best friend, who got second place, is unhappy with the outcome and blurts out: “First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the treasure chest!” Immediately, any feelings of pride or accomplishment from winning the race vanish from your mind, and all you can think about is your friend’s outburst. You even start to believe that she is right… maybe getting second place really is better than getting first place.

 

Why do the presence of rhyming words in a sentence or phrase change our perception of the information received? Is it possible that we are more likely to believe information when it is presented through a rhyming aphorism, or concise statement, rather than when there is no rhyming at all? The Rhyme As Reason Effect seeks to answer this innate yet captivating phenomenon by suggesting: yes, using rhymes in sentences and phrases actually increases their perceived accuracy and trustworthiness when compared to sentences with the same semantic meaning, but without rhyming words.

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“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 who served the shortest term.

Ok, let’s try that scenario again: you find yourself looking around the room for something to spark that lightbulb in your mind, but nothing seems to do the trick. Your professor is bald and always has been. You simply just can’t remember the name you were looking for and accept defeat. You stare daggers at their head as you leave that question blank and go onto the next one.

What made these two scenarios so different? The second scenario describes a cognitive psychology term called “cue-dependent forgetting” where a person is unable to remember information in the absence of a retrieval cue (Chandler & 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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I’m a Little Confused on How You Got Here

November 26th, 2019 No comments

Where did I see that from?

One day, a psychologist was brought into the police office and was told being accused of rape. Little did he know that the woman who accused him of rape saw him on television prior to being raped. The woman had confused his face with the face of her attacker. The woman’s memory had failed at being able to differentiate where she saw the two faces. She wasn’t able to distinguish whether she had seen the psychologist face on television or as the attacker (Schacter, 1999). This is an example of a cognitive bias called misattribution of memory.

Let’s take the phrase “misattribution of memory” apart. Misattribute means to incorrectly assign the origin, cause, or source of something. For instance, you remember that someone made great coffee for you. You thought that it was your friend Amy so, you ask her to make it for you again.  However, it turned out that it was actually your friend, Sam. If you add the word memory to it, then misattribution of memory is when one incorrectly assigns the origin, cause or source of a memory. Misattribution of memory is a cognitive bias in which, people can remember what took place or the piece of information. However, they can’t remember where this information came from.

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Google: An External Hard Drive for Our Memory

November 26th, 2019 1 comment

Have you ever tried to share a random tidbit of information you know that you should remember and just totally failed to recall it? Have you ever gotten in the car to drive across town and realized you’d have to consult the internet for the address? Or, have you ever zoned out in class because you know you can just check Wikipedia to catch up once you get the study guide for the next exam? You might have fallen victim to what psychologists have come to recognize as the Google Effect. We walk around with our smartphones in hand and laptops in our bags, knowing the internet is always available, so why should we bother remembering something we can just look up later? Due to the constant availability of the internet, in modern times, individuals are increasingly failing to encode information and instead, have encoded one simple fact: I can Google it later.

Is Google consuming your mind?

Searching for things on the internet has become commonplace, whenever we need an answer, we simply type a few key words into a search bar and in under seconds there are billions of results available to answer our question. We rely on this resource to such a great degree we often feel lost or experience withdrawal when we can’t instantly access the endless information held on the internet. Individuals are rarely entirely offline, unless by choice. Due to the increasing presence of technology in our everyday lives, the internet has become a sort of external hard drive that our brains are adapting to rely on. Believe it or not, as evidenced by the Google Effect, the internet is causing the cognitive process of retrieving information from memory to occur in a different manner.

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The empathy gap: how walking a mile in someone else’s shoes (and in your own shoes) is harder than it seems

November 26th, 2019 2 comments

You’d never do this… right? Source: ballmemes.com

Growing up you are often told to exercise empathy and compassion by ‘walking a mile in someone else’s shoes’. However, what if I were to ask you, for example, if you’ve ever had a friend, usually super strict about only having safe sex, who told you about her last hookup, where in the heat of the moment decided to have unprotected sex. Did you judge that friend for being irresponsible even when that exact same thing happened to you a month ago? What if that same friend had told you this when you yourself had minutes ago just done the same thing? Do you think you would have had the same reaction?

Happen often? Source: me.me

What if I now asked you to walk a mile in your own shoes. For example, have you ever gone grocery shopping with the intention of only buying what was on your list but ended up buying five million other things that you, in hindsight, after eating, never actually needed? Were you famished while doing the grocery shopping? Has this happened to you more than once? When repeated did you expect a different outcome from the last time you shopped while hungry?

If you answered yes to these questions then you most probably have fallen victim to the empathy gap. Read more…

Confabulations: I am honestly (not) lying to you

November 26th, 2019 No comments

Have you ever told someone a story about something that happened in your life only for them to reply with, “That didn’t happen… Quit lying”? Now, have you ever asked someone a question only to be answered with a story that didn’t quite add up? In those instances, did you swear you were telling the truth? Did they? Maybe you both were but somewhere along the way, a couple details drifted away from actuality and you honestly didn’t know it. Maybe you were confabulating.

Confabulations occur when a person describes or talks about their memories that contain false or changed information without the conscious awareness that their memories did not actually happen. Sometimes these errors in memory are mistaken for lies, but it is important to note that there is a difference. Lies are intentional and often used to fool others, while confabulations are completely unintentional as the person retelling their memory, believes that their memory is true.
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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…