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Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Can Animals Time Travel?

May 16th, 2022 No comments

Have you ever looked into your pet’s eyes and wondered what is going on inside their head? If they really love you? If they can recall your past adventures together? You’re not alone! One of the biggest questions about nonhuman animals’ minds is whether they can have complex thoughts like humans do. Unfortunately, we are not able to simply ask them yet. 

https://www.tiktok.com/@malindahlewesterlund/video/6914708330065743109?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7091487439693710890
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Ever been mistaken for the other Black student in your class by a White professor?

May 16th, 2022 No comments

Ever been mistaken for the other Black student in your class by a White professor? Is it because you both look alike? Do you resemble one another? Or is it because your face is unrecognizable? Let me tell you, it’s not you, you aren’t the problem. Recognizing faces is a critical part of many social interactions as is the combination of how our ingroup and outgroup biases inform how we recognize people in other social groups.

A visual representation of what the confusion on Black students' face when they get mistake for somebody else
A visual representation of the confusion on Black students’ face when they get mistake for somebody else
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Can you trust your childhood memories?

April 29th, 2022 No comments

Do you remember anything when you were a baby? How many details can you remember about those memories? Do you remember your emotions, what you wore, and who was there with you back then? Well, I remember the infant me crawling on the floor to get a favorite toy when my dad walked across and “accidentally” kicked it farther away from me. I also remember being dragged around on the beach by my “loving” older cousin because she walked too fast, ignoring that I just learned how to walk. And, I remember entertaining myself by kicking around my pink with yellow heart pillow after waking up alone one morning. Perhaps you are like me who can recall several interesting episodes with some details. However, how confident can you be regarding those childhood memories? How can you be sure that they are accurate and actual memories?

Always be suspicious. This is the way we should examine our childhood memories. Meme retrieved from https://imgflip.com/i/qv74.
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Why Cognition Makes Funny and Weird Ads so Great

April 29th, 2022 No comments


Let’s be honest, most of us don’t like commercials or advertisements interrupting our entertainment, but for many Americans super bowl Sunday is the one night of the year where we actually look forward to the commercials. In fact, many even relate to the meme below. We often even discuss them afterward with our friends. Unsurprisingly, the boring commercials rarely get brought up, but the bizarre ones that made us laugh will certainly start some conversation. In fact, we probably don’t remember the boring commercials we saw the day before. This is due to the humor and von Restroff effects which are cognitive biases that result in remembering information better when humor or something bizarre is involved.

Super Bowl Commercial Ad

Remember that wild dream you had? Here’s why.

April 27th, 2022 No comments

Do you ever wake up and think, “oh my gosh, I just had the most bizarre dream”? Do you ever try to remember your dream and it just will not come to you? Or, do you think about the dream and start to tell someone what happened and suddenly it makes no sense? Me too. Our dreams piece together so many parts of our memory that we cannot even recognize how unusual they are until we say them out loud. Sometimes we know we had an eventful dream, but we just can’t remember it no matter how hard we try. Do not worry though, you are not alone. Everyone goes through these experiences with dreams and it is normal when you consider all the facts about how dreams relate to our memory.

Our memories drive the creation of dreams as we actively retrieve stored information throughout the night while we sleep. What we remember from our dreams tells us a lot about what we pay attention to and what we care about. Information from the environment is what we call distal stimulus or sensory input, which is anything that activates our senses and helps us recognize what that thing is. For example, the computer you are reading this on may be a distal stimulus, because you can feel the keys and hear the sounds it makes. This type of input helps us create images in our heads that we dream about later on. So many aspects of memory like these play into our dreams. We learn things, store the information, retrieve it in our sleep, and then sometimes we retrieve it all again once we wake up, which refers to those times when we do remember our dreams. Even though our dreams may seem like a different dimension of ideas completely separate from the waking mind, it really is all based on the same ideas. If you are as baffled by these phenomena as me, then you should read along to find out why. 

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It’s All Semantics. Literally.

April 27th, 2022 No comments

Some time ago, I realized a fundamental truth: that memory was weird. Now, I see that what middle-school-me thought was “weird” is more complicated than I ever could’ve imagined.

It was back in 2017 when I first learned that memory was a bit like a slot machine: you never knew what you’d end up with—or rather, you never knew what you’d be left with, after having had multiple strokes. I remember my trip to that rehabilitation facility in Maryland briefly, but the important parts are clear: I was with my parents and my brother. We had come to visit my uncle, who’d undergone two major strokes and countless minor ones. The big ones had been less than a year apart. The first stroke had left him weak yet intact, but the second one had taken things from him. The second stroke had taken his mobility, his memory, and his speech fluency. Years and years ago, I remember this uncle of mine before he had become hindered by his health and subsequent cognitive impairments. I don’t have many memories of my uncle, but one thing I remember being in complete awe of was that he was the only person in the world I knew who could make a seven-letter-word in Scrabble. But now, he could barely say seven words, and my uncle, this fragile man in a wheelchair, was nearly unrecognizable.

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POV: You are in 2022—nostalgic rosy retrospection in the time of Covid-19

April 25th, 2022 No comments

Have you ever watched those short videos on Tik-Tok with titles like “POV: You are in 20XX” that are supposed to invoke nostalgic emotions in you? When such videos were recommended to me and I scrolled through their comments quickly, I often saw people saying things like “Everything used to be better before Covid” and “I would do anything to go back to 2016”. The number of such videos increased rapidly in recent years after the pandemic started with a speed so fast that makes me wonder what causes people to linger over those “good old days”. After all, are those days really as good as people assume they are, and why did such videos start to go viral in the pandemic era? Well, consider the saying “look through rose-colored glasses”—this is what psychologists have found about the way people look into their past, and the effect of Covid-19 on people’s memories seem to have deepened the “rosiness” of those glasses.

Rosy retrospection is the idea that we see the past through rose hinted glasses.
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Chewing Gum May Help You Remember That Last Bit of Information Before an Exam

April 25th, 2022 No comments

What is your favorite flavor of gum? Mint? Bubblegum? Tropical Twist? None? Turns out, chewing gum may have more effects than simply making your breath smell good, or giving you something to do when bored. In fact, some studies show chewing gum can actually increase feelings of relaxation, increase attention, lower stress levels, and improve memory. Now, this is not to say that simply chewing gum while studying will get you an automatic 100% on an exam. But it may help enough to bump your grade up and boost your confidence!

Chewing gum is something a lot of researchers have recently realized might help students out, especially those who are in a cram session! Studies have been conducted to see whether chewing gum actually has an effect on recalling information and keeping us awake. In 2018, authors Ginns, Kim, and Zervos looked into seeing if chewing gum affected alertness and test performance. Participants were split up into two groups: one that chewed gum while studying and another group that studied without gum. It was found that chewing gum did in fact impact learning for the better – people who chewed gum and studied performed better on an exam given after the fact and felt much more alert and awake during the exam than the non-chewing gum group.

While portrayed in this image as someone not paying attention in class, chewing gum can actually increase alertness and attention!
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Why Do I Recognize Everyone in these Ads? Explaining the Halo Effect Using Super Bowl Commercials

April 25th, 2022 No comments

The Super Bowl is one of the largest, most publicized sporting events in the world. And, even if you don’t know a thing about football, odds are you watch the Super Bowl to see the ads, or you look them up on YouTube the next day so you’re up to speed on the ones people are talking about. My personal favorite is the Bubly seltzer commercial with Michael Bublé. Michael Bublé is probably best known for his Christmas albums, but he also has a lot of non-holiday music that has made him a well-known and successful artist all around the world. In the commercial, Michael walks into a convenience store and looks at the rows of Bubly seltzers, then sits on the floor with a sharpie and changes them all to say Bublé instead of Bubly, as seen in the photo below. He also calls it Bublé seltzer instead of Bubly seltzer, and refuses to believe the workers when they tell him he is wrong.

Michael Bublé Stars in Bubly’s Super Bowl Ad

As mentioned above, Michael Bublé is pretty much the Christmas music representative of this generation (and every generation) and he has become a fairly popular household name. So, naturally, he would have to be in a Super Bowl commercial for one company or another. Big brands using famous celebrities in their ads demonstrates what is called the halo effect: brands like to use attractive, well-known people in their ads because when we see someone we have positive thoughts about, we will associate those positive attributes with the product they are advertising. Everyone loves Michael Bublé, or can at least feel favorably about him after seeing his charismatic personality in the commercial, so everyone will want to love Bubly seltzer, the product he is advertising. I mean, look at the picture of him sitting on the floor changing Bubly to Bublé. Who wouldn’t love that face?

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False memories and hypnosis: What is to blame for distortion in memory?

April 24th, 2022 No comments

Hypnosis is commonly depicted as a way for people to get what they want. (https://www.kapwing.com/explore/you-want-to-hypnotist-swirl-meme-template )
( hypnotist-swirl-meme-template)

Star Wars displaying hypnosis as a “Jedi mind trick” is one of the ways the media has depicted hypnosis as a tactic for compliance and getting people to do what you want. Hypnosis gets a pretty bad and equally entertaining reputation because of these depictions. It is somewhat fantastical to imagine magical mind control and it draws viewers in. Most people’s hypnotism concept and its representation in media are likely based off of hypnosis’ dark side or proposing the ability to take advantage of someone’s liability within their mind.

In reality, hypnosis is a state in which one is awake and conscious but their attention is attached and focused on something or on inner experiences such as imagery and feelings that limit their attachment to their immediate environment and allow external input to guide their thoughts. One comes to a state of hypnosis through hypnotic induction which is focusing through imagination and attention. Focus could be on something visual like a candle flame, a ball, or an image as well as revivification of an occurrence like daydreaming. So why did we distort hypnosis and place it in the magic realm? The intriguing nature of false memories and suggestions had something to do with it. 

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