Monday, October 27, 2008
While writing notes you ensure yourself not to have to write it again, not writing notes in the first place is asking to forget - a sort of "catch 22" in which you have to write things down in order to not have to write things down.
This article depicts a test that was done in a psychology class testing how much of the lecture students remembered. Both students who were taking notes and those who did not take notes remembered approximately 40% of the lecture, which seems to disprove the thesis of this study. However, the students who did not take notes remembered random bits of information while those who did take notes seemed to remember more valuable key points.
The explanation that this article brings up is that since you listen with a different part of the brain than you write with, evaluating what you hear to write it in your notes builds a link between two different parts of your brain helping to reinforce the memory.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The idea is that children who use more gestures might slow their development of spoken language. Apparently Italians are more physically expressive than Americans, so infants from both nations were observed at play and at mealtime, during the months before speaking their first two-word phrases.
When gesture is broken into two different categories, deictic (relating to something around the child) and representational (relating to something independent of the child) a marked difference can be seen. American children at times used more deictic gestures than the Italian ones, but in all the difference between them wasn't huge. But the Italian children preformed vastly more representational gestures, and since these types of gestures are laden with more meaning, it probably has more of an effect on use of language.
The use of spoken word in these children during the period clearly show the Americans using more words than the Italians, although the difference doesn't appear to be too great. This seems to support the idea that use of gesture can mean less spoken words.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing--as the end of the article points out, it doesn't mean Italians communicate worse than Americans, they just do it in a different way. I don't think the study really proved that language learning is slowed by gesture, because in the culture the Italian children are living in, it would be redundant to say what they are already communicating in their gestures. If there's no incentive to speak more words, that doesn't necessarily mean they can't, does it?
Friday, October 24, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I found this article about “Memory Glasses” that were being developed back in 2003 by an MIT grad student. The glasses have a tiny monitor built in that allows you to be reminded of things “without an alarm going off.” Richard W. DeVaul developed the idea of reminding glasses because he apparently would sit down to work and forget to eat for six hours.
I thought it was interesting and related a lot to my book review I did yesterday. The glasses were developed with prospective memory in mind, because people often will forget to do this in the future (like reminding yourself to call a friend later in the day rarely works, or trying to remember the three things you told yourself to buy at the grocery store.) With increasing chaos in our lives, would these really help? I guess I am thinking in the extreme, where people would have these on all the waking hours of their day but I guess that’s not necessarily what DeVaul had in mind.
After reading the article, I started wondering what ever came of these glasses? Maybe someone could reply if they find any recent information on DeVaul and his memory glasses.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The article focuses on a study done about the effects of eye movements on short term memory of words that the subject hears or reads.
The study states that it is previously suggested that moving your eyes back and forth horizontally will help improve your memory of words that you hear, but the question was brought up as to whether this can also improve your recognition and understanding of those words.
Remembering and understanding take place in different parts of the brain, and this quick movement of the eyes is supposed to help improve the interaction between the two halves of the brain.
In the study a group of college students were given words like "thread" "eye" "sewing" and "sharp", which all allude to a "needle" but the word was never spoken.
A goup of students was told to think about these words as they moved their eyes horizontally, another group vertically and the third group not at all, and the group moving their eyes horizontally were able to remember more of the words spoken and made fewer mistakes by inferring words that were never actually said.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I found this really interesting article, which links mood with performance in both children and adults. In the study with children, it was found that those who listened to sad music, and thereby put in a sad mood, were more productive, especially on analytic and detail-oriented tasks. The theory the researchers came up with to explain this phenomenon was that happiness leads one to think everything is all right, so there's no need to process quite so intricately. A sad mood, however, leads one to think there is something wrong that could be corrected, so the processing is more detail-oriented. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I like it because it messes with the notion that we all have to be happy and optimistic all the time--a completely unrealistic idea that is sort of propagated by society. There is a time and a place for being sad, it's not something that should be completely rejected. Our brains obviously need sadness to function more critically.
The article also mentions that for adults as well, sadness makes one more productive. They state that the sadness wasn't coming from the work itself, but something external. A theory for this was that happy people don't want work to distract them from their happy moods, while the sad people work harder in order to distract them. Research also showed that sad people made more thoughtful and accurate judgments. I wonder, as I read this, whether it's a case of people who are thoughtful also tend to be sad. They seem to be personality traits that go together somehow. Perhaps it is the trait of being thoughtful that makes one sad? It's hard follow cause and effect here.
October 12, 2008
Group Project Proposal
In our group project we will be sifting through the political world to elucidate emotional manipulation and buzz words of speeches, advertisements, and general behavior. Through the study of the upcoming Presidential elections and the current state of political turmoil (economy, war, etc) we intend to dissect the specific ways in which politicians use language to influence perception and meaning. We will explore the following themes:
• The use of “buzz words” such as Maverick and reform in campaigning
• Highly charged emotional language used to evoke fear during a post 9-11 society
• The way in which speakers appeal to the lower class through word choice and “folksy language”
• The words used during advertisements to reflect negatively on your opponent and positively on oneself— and how this is done is a very limited amount of time.
• The outcome of the election in November and how each party presents its interpretation of the result.
Along with studying current trends and issues, we will dive further into the history of semantics to better our understanding. A few of our possible sources are the following:
The Language Instinct (Steven Pinker)
The Study of Language (John B. Carroll)
An Introduction to Lingustic Science (E.H.Strurtevant)
Mankind, Nation, and Individual from a Lingustic P.O.V. (Otto Jespersen)
American Anthropologist v.92 (June 1990) p. 346-361 Wording, Meaning, and Liguistic Ideology.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I came across this article and thought it was kind of funny. It talks about how nudity used to be acceptable and that the ancient Greeks considered it “a symbol of order between human and divine.” Only until Christianity became widespread, and with it, the story of Adam and Eve, did “the shame of nudity” also become a common thought.
The part I found interesting was the final section about Nudity being in the mind of the beholder. I thought it related to the conversation we had in class about the political semantics. As Cheryl Tan writes, “Nakedness is, after all, a state of being without clothing; yet being without clothes only equates to being naked for those who choose to see it such.” It goes back to conceptual semantics and the multiple meanings of words in different people’s minds.
An experiment was conducted where both Liberal and conservative students were instructed to tap an M or a W depending on which was shown on a computer monitor. M's where shown more often, while W's would show up only about 20% of the time. Liberal students "scored higher for accuracy and were almost five times as likely to show activity in brain circuits associated with conflict, suggesting a strong capacity for dealing with change and novelty". While "conservative students were better at blocking out distracting new information which may lead them to favor structure and tradition." This is interesting in that it coincides directly with the majority of youth tending to lean liberal. This makes sense given that younger people generally need to be more adept at dealing with new situations and change, while republicans, who tend to be older individuals, are more likely to be more comfortable staying within their normal ways, and are less eager to adapt or prompt change.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
In the book that I am reading for the class project Gardner speaks of differences between faith and logic and how they go against each other. This is a situation where faith and logic go against each other. Politics always seem to go against gay “marriage” but some are acceptable with “relations”. Does it make sense that a man and woman who hate each other can be married but a couple of the same sexes who adore each other must be denied their status? I don’t think so. Marriage is supposed to be for two people who love each other and that is what Biden meant when he slipped the word “marriage”. He didn’t literally mean a church union. Politics of course tried to take advantage of the situation. Faith and logic go against each other with the gay marriage situation because logic says, if they love each other they should be together and certain faiths say, they cannot be together unless they are a man and woman. I believe gay marriage should be allowed because my logic thinks true love shouldn’t be hidden.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Here's a short article that encapsulates our discussion on speech errors. Fromkin beings by introducing the term spoonerism, an accidental and often amusing transposition of initial consonant sounds in an intended spoken phrase. She offers the examples "queer old dean" instead of "dear old Queen" and "noble tons of soil" for "noble sons of toil." Both examples are morpheme errors—a basic unit of meaning is confused to produce an utterance that makes sense semantically, but not pragmatically.
Fromkin goes on to explain the theory of Freudian slips. Freud theorized that a speech error is hardly a casual verbal fumble, but rather the expression of unconscious or repressed thoughts. As the article states, Freud's conjecture may or may not be true in individual cases, though speech errors have proven more useful in the study of language than of the unconscious.
Finally, Fromkin explains the words transposed or 'mixed-up' in speech errors always belong to the same semantic class. This is why speech errors are never random: "nouns are substituted for nouns, verbs for verbs, and prepositions for prepositions."