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Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Famous or Not: the Competition between Familiarity and Recollection

December 7th, 2020 No comments

Do you know Brett Cohen? Sounds familiar? Even if you answered no, just keep reading. Let me show you how he made himself “famous” in one night.

Brett Cohen was a YouTuber who dreamed of being famous. One day, he decided to do a celebrity prank in the busiest streets in New York City and to see what it feels like to be at the center of attention. Brett dressed like a typical celebrity: a striped shirt with top buttons unbuttoned, sunglasses (classic!), and combed hair. He also hired some people to pretend as his bodyguards, personal assistants, and even paparazzi and reporters. Off he went, on this exciting journey. Once Brett walked from the NBC Observation Deck into the public, guess what? The crowd went nuts. People formed circles around him, yelled his name, and rushed to get a picture with him. When people were asked where they knew Brett from, they all responded with Spider-Man. One of the conversations went like this:

Common Cohen (up) vs Famous Cohen (bottom) How did he trick people into thinking that he was a celebrity? (pictures from Cohen 2012)

The “reporter”: Do you know Brett Cohen? 
The guy: Yea.
The “reporter”: Where do you know him from?
The guy: Well, when he was in Spider-Man? 
The “reporter”: Yea?
The guy: Yea. Very good actor.
The “reporter”: You liked him there?
The guy: Yea.
(Cohen 2012)

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Why Can’t I Stop Eating?

December 5th, 2020 No comments

Can you ever imagine that you can finish eating all forty cookies, one bucket of pretzels, two packs of chips, one pot of boiled milk, one jar of nuts, half of the pomelo, and two chocolate pies just in an hour without a second of rest? And can you also imagine even after you finish all of that food, your brain still craves for food though your belly is so swollen that you are about to puke? You may think that the person who can eat all of these must be a monster. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case

Kung Fu Panda ate 103 dumplings

Kung Fu Panda ate 103 dumplings

(though you may recall the scene Kung Fu Panda ate 103 dumplings). Or you are probably going to think of those competitive eaters. They can shovel so much food into their stomach in a short period of time. However, what might surprise you is that many people, myself included, even including those skinny, ripped athletes, can finish the amount of food all at once, roughly equivalent to nine meals for an adult. And this behavior is neither normal nor beneficial for people’s mental and physical health. So, what is this uncontrollable, torturous, and unstoppable action of food-intaking? The answer is binge eating disorder (BED), which is defined as the uncontrollable consumption of a large amount of food. Then what led to the creation of “glutton”? Why can’t these people control themselves from eating normally and healthily? And what are some treatments for the abnormal cravings and intaking of food?

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I don’t want to think about it—Oh wait.

November 27th, 2020 No comments

Do you ever find yourself driving somewhere or walking to a place without even thinking about it? Take this for example: Your friend invited you over to their house to hang out. So you get ready to leave, jump in your car, and make your way there. As you begin to drive, you take all the normal turns you would to regularly get there until you realize you are five minutes away from their old address. They recently moved to a different house about 20 minutes from their old one, and what was going to be a 10 minute trip has turned into a 30 minute one. You’ve been to their new house before but for some reason you unconsciously still drove to their old address. Over time, you continuously begin to remember that your friend does not, in fact, live at their old address until the association with them and their new address remains in the forefront of your mind while the old address is locked away in your archives of “things that are a distant memory”.

https://marketscythe.blog/2018/12/21/youre-looking-in-the-wrong-direction/

Inhibition is used to help block out things that we don’t necessarily want to remember.

This happens to people all the time in different scenarios during our daily lives, but why does this happen even when we know the correct route to take or decision to make? One of my favorite singer-songwriters, Olivia O’Brien, made me wonder, briefly, this same thing after listening to her song “Inhibition” as it came on my playlist.

All this liquor in my system 

I ain’t got no inhibition

Always end up crying on my way home 

Drunk or sober what’s the difference 

Still ain’t got no one to listen 

Always end up crying on my way home

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Is 2020 Making Us More Stupid?

November 26th, 2020 No comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened fear, social isolation, and economic anxiety across many communities around the country.  In a recent survey of roughly 300 American workers, about 40% said they feel less productive than usual during the pandemic (Ducharme, 2020). College students, including those at Colby College, are not immune to similar feelings such as a lack of productivity, inability to pay attention, and an overall decrease in work performance. When talking to students at Colby College there is a general consensus that one’s ability to focus on one’s work has decreased in addition to overall cognitive performance. This general belief of decreased productivity and ability got me thinking about possible reasons for this widespread feeling. I began to wonder, “have students become lazier?”, “have Colby College students become less intelligent?”, or “have classes become harder?”. Logically thinking through these questions, I conclude a reasonable answer to these questions is “no” to all. But what could be driving these changes in cognitive performance across the Colby campus and beyond? Thinking back to my own peaks in academic performance, I think about the times in which I have seen the greatest success. Overall, I have found that my academic performance seems to be positively correlated with my level of happiness. These observations from the world of the pandemic, my own life, and the general trends on the Colby campus this year has led me to wonder, how do emotions affect one’s cognitive performance? Due to the magnitude of studies varying by different moods and cognitive processes, this blog will primarily focus on positive mood’s effects on learning and memory.

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There is a very high chance you Confabulated a (false) Memory

November 25th, 2020 No comments

When I was four years old, I accidentally set myself on fire. I vividly remember going up close to a candle and the next thing I knew, the front of my shirt was engulfed in a flame. I then remember screaming for my parents, who emerged from opposite sides of our apartment and managed to put the fire out. However, my mum remembers this story quite differently. Her narration goes, “You were trying to put out the flame of a candle, so you used your shirt to help you. It then caught on fire, and you screamed, so your father and I who were in the same room, ran out together and put the fire out.”

So now the question is, which version is right? While they both contain the same big picture, the smaller details are quite different. Now I’m sure I’m not the first person to argue with my mum over whose version of a story is more accurate, but you would think that with a reasonably traumatic moment like that, both of us would remember it better.

We may have a gut feeling that our version of a story is correct, but it may not be as reliable                                                                                as we believe.

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Are you sure about that? How different lineup presentations affect eyewitness testimony

November 24th, 2020 No comments

Jennifer Thompson’s life was picture perfect. She was set to graduate college with a perfect GPA and she was well-liked amongst her peers. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Until the night of July 28th, 1984. An attacker broke into her apartment, held her at knife-point, and raped her. Determined not to die that night and for justice to be served, Thompson burned the face of her attacker into her memory so that she could recognize him later. Thompson chose Ronald Cotton as her attacker in two different lineups. Cotton was then sent to prison based primarily on Thompson’s eyewitness identification. Thompson celebrated that night when Cotton was taken away, because justice served that night. The man who committed a heinous crime against her, was in prison, and she had won. However, when DNA evidence was tested 11 years later, Thompson found out that Cotton was innocent and that she was responsible for sending an innocent man to prison. Her attacker was actually a man named Bobby Poole. Later, when Thompson saw Bobby Poole’s face, she did not even recognize him as her attacker.

Cotton (left) and Poole (right). Would you be able to tell the difference?

This is a familiar story of approximately 300 individuals who were sent to jail based primarily on eyewitness identification, only to be exonerated years later with DNA evidence. The Innocence Project works at helping individuals stuck in this situation. In addition to the Innocence Project’s work, we should also be working towards reforming the aspects of the criminal justice system that involves eyewitness testimony processes. 

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Reasons Behind One of the Many Reasons We Argue: Our Stories Don’t Match Up

November 23rd, 2020 No comments
Artist: Marie Ling

           Constructive Memory

Have you ever recalled an event with a relative or friend and you both think the other is making stuff up or that something was off with their side of the story? Maybe one of you was exaggerating or adding in details to make it sound better or cooler.

Recalling events such as a holiday gathering or a vacation can become skewed. Imagine that when you broke your arm many years ago, and you remember it happening because you tripped while walking backward while your sibling remembers it as them pushing you. When this event comes up, you both argue            about what actually happened. Why do we remember things differently? 

Our memories are reconstructive, meaning that we piece them together rather than replaying memories as exact footage. Instead of memories being stored as a single chunk in the brain, the details are remembered separately. These details can be influenced by imagination, perception, biases, and other cognitive processes.

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The Space-Time Continuum: How & Why to Space Your Time

November 22nd, 2020 No comments

We’ve all been there, even me. You might even be there right now.  You know the deal – it’s 10pm on a Sunday night.  You promised you would leave yourself time to study for your psychology exam, but you got caught up in weekend plans, the latest election news, and all of the other midterms you have to study for.  And let’s not forget about the two problem sets you also have due in the morning!  It seems that the hope you had when you first made that promise is slipping further and further down the drain.  Now, the exam is mere hours away, and it seems there’s nothing left to do but cram.  You stay up all night, attempting to review every single concept your professor introduced this semester.  You go through the motions of studying: rereading, highlighting, and underlining terms, as if to make up for the hours and days of lost time that you should have devoted to preparing for this exam.  

https://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/demi-examcram-comic.png
Staying up late the night before an exam to cram is not an effective study strategy.

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Your Horoscope for Today: You may download or delete a horoscope app on your phone

November 21st, 2020 No comments

Real footage of exhausted, Gen Z college kids acting flabbergast at zodiacs predicting their lives

Link to meme:https://images.app.goo.gl/Y4Kmu1R9xujSdmeP9

Maybe you have read somewhere that those who take astrology seriously are suckers(the meme world has verified this information as you can see in the image next to the this post) and are prone to a variety of biases. Maybe you yourself have made fun of that one friend in the group who seems to take the “star sign thing” way too seriously and who is ready to choose a life partner by their chart compatibility. And maybe despite that, like me and countless other people, when you come across a “reading” or a horoscope prediction, you read every word intently to see if it matches you. And maybe you have done this a few times: sucked your teeth when you read the horoscope for a day that has just ended but see that not a single thing on it lines up with the day you have just had. And maybe after that, you swore never to read the damn things again. But if I checked right now, it has probably just been a few days since you opened the notifications from an astrology app like Costar or ran a google search for character traits of others like you who were born within the month-long interval that determines your shared “sun sign. Life right now is so unpredictable so we hold on to sources of predictions because SOME idea of what is going to happen would be nice. But astrology’s hold is not due to that reason alone. Humans are susceptible to many biases in our thinking and in this blog post, I’ll break down our shared mental weak links that have even science majors picking out partners and friends according to their sun sign compatibility.

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Where Have All The Memories Gone?

November 21st, 2020 No comments

I was inspired to write this blog post by something I saw in one of my favorite TV shows, Full House. DJ Tanner was asked if she remembered someone. She’s currently 10 and was 5 years old when she last saw the person. When she said no, her dad said “Don’t worry about it DJ. You were only 5 years old.” Her younger sister then said “I’m 5! Does that mean I won’t remember any of this?” As I watched that scene in the TV show, I realized how common this situation is. Imagine this scenario. You’re at your annual family reunion looking for where the food is being served and a woman you swear you have never seen before walks up to you. She gives you a big hug and tells you she’s missed you so much. “I remember when you were just learning how to walk!” She says. “You’re so big now! Do you remember me?” You smile and nod as she gives you another hug even though you have no idea who this is. Maybe you’ve experienced this or maybe you’ve experienced something similar in a different way. When I was five years old, my father abandoned my family and me. 15 years later, I struggle to remember my memories with him or even how he looked. What happens to those memories of the random woman at the family reunion? And what happened to those memories of people we lost at a young age?

Mary Ainsworth’s Attachment Theory

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