Monday, October 26, 2009
This is Stephen Wiltshire he is autistic but can do amazing things with his memory. He can remember and draw out the entire panoramic map of Rome after a 45 min helicopter ride and be almost exactly right. This clip shows that the human brain has the amazing ability to store a huge amount of information after seeing it only once, we just have to know how to retrieve it. I had a cousin who could do similar things; when he was 21 he was studding for med school and I was 11 at the time and I remember watching him study. He flipped through the book only glancing at each page for no mere then what seemed like 5 seconds because he had photographic memory he was able to store the entire book in his head. He went on to become a a doctor and by the age of 22 was already assisting at the emergency room.
While not all autistic kids have savant syndrome, and not all savants are autistic (although these cases are even further isolated-- see also..malcom in the middle?) the more mind-blowing ones most deffinatly are.
CHECK OUT THIS COMPILED LIST OF THE 10 MOST FASCINATING SAVANTS IN THE WORLD /i guess ever because some date back to the 16th century.
From sculpters, to musicians, to counters, to linguists, to even a blind girl that can walk with sonar and know what time of day it is at all times, these people are extraordinary ard worth a look at. And Stephen's up there.
Still this rare occurrence, like all other abnormalities, gives us insight into brain, and what intelligence really is. If you had to guess, what would it say about it?
On the cognitive end, I thought it would be interesting to contrast a "normal' cognitive effect such as a flashbulb memory to an "unusual" memory effect. Knowing the spectrum of possibilities allows for a greater understanding of cognitive memory.
Having memory of the past makes us who we are in the present. Clive barely exists in our reality because he cannot understand and hold on to so many concepts that make us a human with consciousness. Is Clive still capable of cognitive thought?
I recently watched the movie Memento in which the Hollywood version of Clive Wearing. One thing the movie brings up is the difference between the physical and the psychological with the condition. Do people who suffer from this type of amnesia suffer it for psychological reasons or is that their brain physically can’t make the memories. An earlier poster put up the video on 9/11, which showed the amygdala firings change when recalling the memory depending on the distance from the area.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
A Brief Video About Phelps' 9/11 Research
An Article About Phelps
Phelps' NYU Lab Website
The 9/11 National Memory Survey website
This article is not directly related to this week's class, but it does have something to do with memory. Researchers at UCLA found that getting wrong answers can actually help with learning. Instead of attempting to avoid errors, under the assumption that they slow or prevent learning of the correct answers, it was found that getting the wrong answer and then learning the correct answer, helps us learn things better.
In one study, one group was made to guess at a weak word association, like "star" and "night," which they were unlikely to get on the first try, before being taught the correct answer. The second group was given the word pair to study for the same amount of time. The group who got the wrong answers first did about 10 percent better at remembering the pairs, and the effect even lasted after 38 hours. Another study used an essay with a pretest and got very similar results.
It's interesting how getting the wrong answer can actually be a good thing, as long as you learn the right answer later. I wonder if the reason this works is that you feel more involved with, and actually think about, what you are learning instead of just trying to memorize it.
Monday, October 19, 2009
While doing research for my project I've been reading about the "Mozart effect," which influenced the Baby Mozart videos as well as the whole classical music for kids fad. It even went as far as being used to pass laws in some states that required childcare centers to play classical music. It turns out this effect has basically become an urban legend. The original research was done on college students, and only helped them with certain kinds of tasks for about 10 minutes after listening to the music. Also, other studies done on the effect did not always get the same results.
Although research was never done on the effect in babies and children, many people came to believe that classical music could increase their babies' intelligence. This article describes how the effect was exaggerated and overgeneralized. It also introduces the opinion that the spread may be related to Americans' fears about education and knowledge.
One of my sources for the group project suggests that while listening to music may not increase children's intelligence, learning how to create music may have positive cognitive effects. This situation relates to what we did in class last week, when we reviewed each other's sources. It is important to do research even on our research, and not to extend a scientific finding to an area where it has not been tested.
Also, this site has some research on how music and music learning affects people cognitively and some studies related to the Mozart effect.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Hey boys and girls! Happy Pre-Monday. For my blog this week I wanted to research more about cognitive distortion, which is more or less mental misconceptions that make people stressful, anxious, or depressed. As we go to art school, we all know that these factors, and a serious lack of sleep often kick us in the ass and make it difficult to work. I’m working in the class group dealing with the “environmental study space thing,” and I was thinking that if we could find a way to reduce anxiety, even on a short-term level, we can assist people’s productivity and drive with their work.
The Different type of distortions, are as follows, (according to Wikipedia, which is sourced to a few different sites,)
All or nothing thinking, overgeneralization, mental filter, disqualifying the positive, jumping to conclusions, magnification and minimization, emotional reasoning, “should” statements, labeling and mislabeling, and personalization.
If we take the last one, “Personalization,” which is basically feeling personally responsible for things you have no control over, or instead, blame others for your failure, it’s easy to see how natural this distortion is. There are always times when you may feel guilt for something you couldn’t even have done anything about, (the subway was wonky and you were late to work, for example,) or times where you blame others when you are also at fault. Ever had a group project where you stop caring about it and just say, “My partner had bad ideas we had to use,” or “It wasn’t my idea to use that color, paint, application,” etc…? Yeah. That’s what I mean. I feel that by just realizing these common distortions, it’s easier to catch yourself getting into a depression, or becoming anxious. Is there a way we can make others aware of these? Will the awareness help them realize when they are doing one of these actions? How? Here’s a video of this kid further attempting to explain the “jumping to conclusion,” distortion. He’s kinda silly and wearing a blazer from Express but hear him out. He makes some valid points.
This example shows how the lights themselves don't even move, just simulate it.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Lets face it, Michael Erard kinda comes off like a Dick. However, he did have a pretty interesting article on his, (extremely self promoting,) website, called “Read my Slips: Speech Errors Show How Language is Processed.”
Researchers analyzed slips of the tongue using bononos, to assist in understanding how humans use language. Kanzi, a 27 year old Bonobo knows the difference between different types of foods when tested on a lexigram, (a screen that shows words or visuals for different items,) however, sometimes when researchers asked him to touch the lexigram for blackberry, he might touch blueberry or cherries instead. This is similar to the way humans mix up colors, such as saying green instead of blue, or how one may mix up multiple wording because of repetition, for example, if you are trying to say Barn Door, but instead spill Darn Bores, simply changing around the first letter of each word.
Slips of this sort almost always affect nouns, or furthermore, “content words, (such as “cat,” “hat,”) rather than grammatical words, (such as “the,” or “in,”) because grammatical words are used more frequently.” Therefore, being consistently rooted into our conscious so we rarely mix them up. (This does not apply if you are speaking in a second language however.) There are some criticisms to this research, some believe we cannot relate ourselves to apes because in this study it can be argued that the bonobo was trained to respond in certain ways, not developed and conditioned like a human. Also, they keyboard proximity of the Lexigram could potentially account for errors. I prefer to continue believing in the more Freudian thought process. If I accidently say I’m drinking a beer when, in reality, im drinking water…I probably want to be drinking a beer. Maybe the bonobo just was hungry for a different type of fruit. Hah…But that’s not so Cognitive is it, Boys and Girls?
Monday, October 12, 2009
I guess I'll just post on our group project instead.
not sure if this link will work...
Apparently a study was done on the relationship between people's perceptions of social safety and the amount of "green space" they live around. We have discussed in class that persons who spend time out-of-doors or who have a view of green things from their office had a more developed ability to concentrate. What is interesting about this study is that people's feelings of social security are affected by whether they are viewing open green space (forests) versus closed green space (parks, urban gardens). A study of over 83,000 Dutch citizens living in urban and rural environments revealed that those who are frequently exposed to closed green space are likely to have diminished feelings of social safety. On the other hand, those who often inhabit areas of open green space are linked to feelings of social security. Although this study doesn't contradict the findings from the study we read in class, it is interesting to note that although having a view of trees from our studios may help us concentrate, it may also exaggerate our feelings of insecurity.
The Virtual Cliff experiment.
In the original experiment(above) the baby does not cross the glass but tin the updated new version, the baby will not cross the glass if the mother makes a scary expression. But if she makes a happy face the baby crosses the glass. I believe this is because the baby has learned to trust the mother and follows her even if its depth perception says otherwise.
Updated Virtual Cliff
I also read an article on land tortoises and their response to the visual cliff. They dint come near the edge, even as babies. Because tortoises use not only their eyes but also their limbs to navigate the space around them its strange that they dint reach out and try to make sure that the cliff is real, they relied only on their sight. But when aquatic tortoises where placed on the cliff board they "jumped" the cliff! Also they made the experiment even more detailed by making the cliff illusion deeper on one side and this cause more of the aquatic tortoises to "jump" as they preffered the shallow side 51 to 31.
An etiquette book from the 1930’s titled, “The Correct Thing, A Guide Book of Etiquette” by William Oliver Stevens disapproves of pause fillers. “Change pitch and tempo for variety. A slow steady drawl on one pitch will put any audience to sleep.” Even more offensive than this says Stevens is: “Tagging ‘uh’ after your words – ‘and uh…but uh’ – which is maddening to have to endure.”
In a post by Erard which links to one of the first articles he wrote on this linguistic subject, he states that in the early 20th century as American society became increasingly urbanized, we valued planning and efficiency. There was no place for “um” and “uh”. This would show weakness. Perhaps as Erard states, people thought this would reveal that “the bureaucracy in your head, of your self, was breaking down.”
It also became easier to point out verbal mistakes as the phonograph and radio drew attention to minute errors. Public speaking teachers also enforced this belief, and contributed to our feelings towards “um” today. The frequency of verbal blunders heard in the media now have lead to a more relaxed view of these pause fillers by some. They may not be widely accepted yet, but we seem to at least recognize their inevitability and occurrence for all people, regardless of status.
Most scientists believe that language and sounds are stored in a type of network in the brain. In relation to mundane slips of the tongue, there is much to be learned as well. Cognitive scientist Gary Dell proposed that
"when sounds or words stored in such a network are selected, this also strengthens or "activates" neighboring words or sounds, which may be misread as the right ones. In his model, people forced to speak quickly make more errors not because they have more opportunities to do so but because the stimulation of neighboring units has less opportunity to fade. Dell also proposes that practice tends to activate present and future units more than past ones. As a result, the more practice a speaker has, the higher the proportion of anticipatory errors, although overall errors decrease."
through further study it is found that the same slips can be found in writing, insinuating "that humans possess a single language faculty regardless of how they deploy it" although some of this may be contributed to lapses in motor skills as well.
Interesting stuff, and it reminds me of the speech exercises I did back in my short-lived actress phase. Did these small warm-ups stem from the study of languages and slips? Or were they born out of sheer logic? Try saying Toy Boat 15 times fast and tell me if that seems like a cognitive or a motor slip to you.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
View the article here
View Erard's blog response here
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Just wanted to share this awesome link...(you'll still need to do the other blog posting as well though)
Monday, October 05, 2009
(Rebecca posting under Shirin's name)
Our group, the Weiner Winners, recognize that Language affects one’s conception of reality. If we look at the example of two different languages, one example within the Science Forum discussion on Language and it’s influence on thought, “Hypography,” being Korean and English, it is noted that between these two vastly different languages, concepts are expressed uniquely. It reflects on the statement of, in English being, “I am going to the store,” that this expression to an English speaking individual is regarded as, “I am coming to the store and coming back.’ However, in Korean, you would not assume the person is coming back unless the person specifically states such. Therefore, language must be naturally built around of perception of reality. According to Pinker, “Language is understood in multiple as well as in direct [parts] of the content of the sentence.” Pinker 22. Therefore we can conclude that language is not thinking, but the expression of the process of cognition.
We use metaphors and analogies within everyday life in the physical world to assist in explanation of abstract thoughts, which often can create discrepancies between unique experiences and cultural context. This can be seen in the work of Lawrence Weiner…He’s so bad ass.
The work that he creates utilizes text and various graphic elements to create unique sculptural experiences for each viewer. Although the visual experience of the sculpture is universal, each person, based on their relationship to the language, viewers will create different abstract associations with his work. Closing thoughts anyone? Word.
A few posts down and you'll find the popular BBC article on weapon gathering chimps.
In our "alternative" group, we have decided to pursue research on the cognitive elements of musicology. As a sub-sect of this, I have looked further into what is called motor-mimetics, which involves the "non-sonic" aspects of music and music creation. This article, by Rolf Inge Godoy, explains how our mental images of musical sound effect our cognitive understanding of music. This relationship is referred to as the motor theory of perception. When we hear music, be it a single drum beat or a complex composition, we may unconsciously imitate the music with sound producing actions, or imagine the music as an actual entity of which we may "trace the contours as it unfolds". According to Godoy, music is much more than just what we hear, and listening to it appeals to all of our other senses, as would any other fully cognitive activity.
Godoy summarizes his theory here:
"There is now a growing amount of evidence in the cognitive sciences, both in the domain of audition research and in general, indicating that this sensory integration is not a secondary "by-product" of a "pure" sound stimulus, as has been the dominant Western view of perception and cognition in the past couple of centuries. In particular, I believe that we have good reason to suspect that images of sound-producing actions such as hitting, stroking, blowing, etc. play an important role in our images of musical sound, hence my idea here of motor-mimetic elements in music cognition."
After reading this article, I am curious to see how the idea of motor-mimetics effects the actual musical creator, as they produce it, and how our total sensory perception of music effects us emotionally.
Great article for project!!!!! Lots of general information!
The key point that this article explores are that in order for a child to develop well mentally, numerous cognitive skills have to be taught; such as engagement, persistence and resistance to distraction=attention, memory and motor skills. Therefore in order to have a toy that benefits the child's cognitive development this toy has to have these components; visual object manipulation and memory. Then the article goes into case studies of how cognitive development is measured in pre-schoolers, such as problem solving. Furthermore they state that most of these cognitive development studies are inaccurate or inconclusive because they fail to measure the progress of children to adults. These studies also fail because when the cognitive memory tests are given; the child might score lower/show weaker memory or problem-solving skills because of being in an unfamiliar environment with strangers. Then the article goes into the actual studies and scientific/statistic details which are very dry and confusing. But overall this article was very helpful for our Cognitive Toy Design project because it listed the three aspects that are key in play and cognitive development.
Memory also allows you to recall actions and motor sequences, such as the process you used to arrange the blocks. If they fell the first few times you set them up, you may reconfigure the order.
Attention might also be learned through the use of this toy. By concentrating on one aspect of the environment, you are able to focus.
Problem solving, another focus of cognitive psychology, can also be strengthened.
Research done at Temple University concludes that simpler toys such as blocks, crayons and clay are healthier for children than expensive electronic toys that don’t allow them to be expressive and make their own decisions. Unfortunately, these blocks are pricey, at 71.55 USD because the dies are all natural and the rings are made from solid wood.
To download pdfs of the essays, click here
Universals in Music: a perspective from cognitive psychology by Dane Harwood.
Ethnomusicology, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Sep., 1976), pp. 521-533
Based on my group’s research in the out of the box group, we came up with an article that articulate and pinpoint universals in music from the perspective of cognitive psychology. The article stated the importance of the definition and study of universals in music because the categorization aids the organization of the design of the studies and the correlation between universals in music and language. The parallels of music and language sparked further interest for me after having just finished “In other words”. When formulating universals, the article takes several factors into account like public cultural boundaries regarding music, listening context, structure and function.
In the article, the section on melodic contour interested me the most. The article asserts that many cultures music is stored in our memory by picturing it’s melodic contour. That is how the sounds all fit together and not how each individual sound relates in interval change to the next. That is our cognitive process “chunks” the music and creates generalization on the information processed on an abstract level and from there a detailed analysis can be accessed. This idea transferred tot eh actual listening of melodies created a melodic fission. It has been tested that cross-culturally many of minute intervals are perceived in the same degree of specificity. “In Other Words” noted that in English the difference between the sounds ba and pa is time between making the sound with our vocal chords and our lips smacking the air. For native English speakers this timing is within a very specific range and the differentiation between the two is precise based on each individual speaker. This overlap between language and music is something that is very interesting, although it is not a topic that my group will not be exploring in depth.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
ScienceDaily (June 19, 2009)
Saturday, October 03, 2009
The topic quality has been fantastic and on-point with the class material. Keep it up!