Sunday, November 29, 2009
1. What is cognitive psychology? Name and describe the types of research done is cognitive psychology, and psychology in general.
2. List and explain 10 historical contributions to the rise of the cognitive revolution.
3. What is the IAT and hoe does it relate to Gladwell's theory in "Blink"?
4. What do speech errors tell us about the brain? Give 3 examples.
5. What has been Pinker's contribution to cognitive psychology?
6. How do blind and sighted children differ in their spatial navigation?
7. Select and describe a Flashbulb memory study read in class. Make sure to explain the significance.
8. In the film "Secrets of the Mind" name and explain the 4 main phenomena. What was Dr. Ramachandran's explanation of each? What evidence did he provide?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Hate your older brother? Wish he was never born? According to article, having an older sibling may have been one of the biggest cognitive development aids of your whole childhood career.
"having older siblings is positively related to young children's cognitive development, especially the development of theory of mind."Theory of mind in a nutshell, evaluates how well an individual understands the "human mental processes such as trying to understand a playmate's anger or determining when a sibling will be generous."
In fact, according to the article, having 2 older siblings equivalents to one year of maturity level, and with all the inevitable household conflicts, comes an improved ability to resolve conflicts.
However the article warns parents about messing with the delicate balance of a sibling relationship. Favoring should be avoided at all costs, for when a child's emotional needs are not met, therein creates conflict. They also suggest that "punitive parenting" will increase the number of conflicts in the household as well, however acting as mediator will increase a child's understanding of mature resolutions for conflicts, and (hopefully) they will begin to make these themselves. This is vital because, as the article suggests, sometimes kids just need to fight issues out amongst themselves, and develop essential problem-solving skills in the processes.
Still, when jealousy arises, the article attributes it to negative marital relationships, and or when their attachment to mom is weak. But there is help! Jealousy can be squashed with a little help from a maternal figure.
Preschoolers are cognitively capable of understanding others' emotions if parents assist them in this process. The parenting strategy of induction is an excellent choice for helping young children to develop empathy for others.
And this will also lead to understanding of why another sibling may require more attention.
I remember being quite the jealous type towards my brother when he was born (enough to try and push him out of his cradle, goodness gracious!) but I grew out of it as I got older and developed a better theory of mind. Did anyone else have a similar experience? Or a "punitive parent" that may have affected you negatively?
Max’s post on Henry Markrams Ted Talk reminded me of an article I’d read on Wired magazine’s website. Robert Marc, director of research at the Moran Eye Center (within the University of Utah School of Medicine) and fellow neuroscientists hope to create a neural circuit diagram of mammalian sight processes. Marc uses the eyes of mice and rabbits which are stained to identify different sets of cells. Patterns seen in images after staining cells with antibodies show how the cells are functioning. The color alterations can be seen in the mouse retina above. It contains over 70 types of neurons.
Each cell in the retina will have its own map that gets compiled into a larger mosaic. By zooming and panning the tiled image, synapses between neurons can be identified. The scientists hope that by comparing healthy retinal images to unhealthy images, the cause of retinal diseases will be revealed. This could give more information to aid in the repair of injured eyes.
The way they map the neuronal circuits is pretty crazy. An electron microscope is used to determine how much “signal sending chemical” each cell is making.
To prepare for this, each retinal tissue sample must be soaked in a preservative and injected with solid resin wherever water is found. They are then sliced into sheets just 70 nanometers thick. The knife used for this procedure can dissect things into pieces “thinner than the narrowest wavelengths of visible light”!!!! If everything goes as planned and neural networks are decoded, we will have a better understanding of visual perception.
Seen below is a picture of the "retinal Mosaic" and electron microscope with cell segments.
The bold-shy continuum not only applies to humans, but to animals as well: even freaky looking fishies. At the University of Leeds, (which is in the U.K, I found their study on Omifile in the electronic references on Pratt Libraries,) they tested if variations of boldness among three-spined sticklebacks, ( a type of fish,) had an impact on how much prey they were able to snatch. They found that the fish that were "bold" enough to make multiple visits from the refuge to the other end of the tank to eat their prey, ( a type of larvae,) were able to consume more prey. (Obviously.) They also took account of hesitation time as the fish crossed the tank; some fish went directly towards the prey while others darted around before choosing to cross over and consume the larvae. The sticklebacks were more likely to go across the tank away from shelter when there were an increase of prey as well, showing the correlations between risk vs. reward. It was gathered from research that the fish that were determined "more bold," were simply genetically superior; they were born with the personality that makes them bolder, similar to a human, rather than it being a learned behavior. The scientist preforming this experiment also applied the same idea of natural selection, (bolder animals being able to survive more readily than shy ones,) to other larger animals. If bolder animals in general are apt to go further and make more attempts at catching prey, naturally they will survive longer than animals. If we look at humans in a different way, that being, bolder people will be more likely to take a risk than shy ones, does that me we can assume that bold people will be more successful in life?
Cognitive Dissonance is when we have two contradictory ideas simultaneously, its the awareness of one's behavior and the facts. The theory proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitude or by justifying or rationalizing their desires. In the video these children weigh the option of having one marshmallow right now (instant satisfaction) or to wait and have two marshmallows. Lets see which kids justify having one now vs two later.
The Alphabet Effect is a way of memorizing things. This process is about reconstructing something you forgot, by means of phonetic association and imagery. This particular article explains it as "When you are creating images for the letters of the alphabet, create images phonetically, so that the sound of the first syllable of the word is the name of the letter. For example, you might represent the letter 'k' with the word 'cake'."
B - Bee - Chomsky - a BEE stinging a CHiMp and flying off into the SKY
C - Sea - Genette - a GENerator being lifted in a NET out of the SEA
D - Diesel - Derrida - a DaRing RIDer surfing on top of a DIESEL train
E - Eagle - Foucault - Bruce Lee fighting off an attacking EAGLE with kung
F - Effluent- Joyce - environmentalists JOYfully finding a plant by an
G - Jeans - Nietzche - a holey pair of JEANS with a kNEe showing through
H - H-Bomb - Kafka - a grey civil service CAFe being blown up by an H-Bomb
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Renata’s post on siblings comparative IQ reminded me of a TED talk about alternate intelligences and creativity given by “creativity expert” Sir Ken Robinson. He makes the case that the education system that is currently instated in industrialized nations has a hierarchy that puts the arts below math and science. This, in turn, discourages people with talents in subjects other than math or science from pursuing their abilities. Robinson argues that intelligence is diverse and dynamic, and should be treated as such in our schools.
He points out a prediction that within the next 30 years more people will be graduating from schools than have in the history of mankind. This means that a Bachelors degree will become the equivalent of a high school diploma. He argues that this indicates that the needs placed on education are changing and is justification for a radical restructuring of what is valued in education. While he does not provide concrete information on how valuing creativity will create positive change, he does point out that the things that are currently valued in education are based on the needs of producing people who are competent at task needed for working in an industrialized setting. This, he argues, is no longer relevant to the needs of our society.
Aside from being genuinely funny, Robinson’s talk is though provoking. He brings into question what education’s current structure values, and if it should still be valued in the same way. This also brings into question what we should consider relevant to determining intelligence. In current schooling, people who excel in math and science are considered smart, while people who are more talented in the arts are not necessarily considered intelligent. This is because of what skills are valued in the school system, not because of what are valued or relevant skills in settings outside of academia.
If you ever need to justify spending money on art school, this works pretty well.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I wasn't sure exactly what we were supposed to write about this week, but since the next reading has to do with intelligence I thought this NY Times article was interesting. A recent study found that firstborn children have higher IQs than younger siblings (the subjects of the study were men, but the article says the findings probably apply to women too). The difference was only about three points, but even this could make a difference in the type of school one gets into, according to the article. The researchers found that this difference was probably not due to biological factors by also looking at people who had become the oldest after the death of an older sibling. They found the same results for this group. One theory social scientists have about this effect is that the older sibling gets more parental attention before other siblings are born that can never be made up for by other children, who must always share their parents' attention. Older children may also gain from teaching younger siblings, benefitting more from the lessons than their students. The article also says that younger siblings may be more likely to excel in other areas not measured by intelligence tests, and list some famous people who had older siblings, such as Darwin, Copernicus, and Descartes.
This article caught my attention because I'm the youngest in my family (I have an older brother). I don't know officially how our IQs compare, but this has made me think about it. Interestingly, while my brother is very smart, I've always done better in school than him, so it's difficult to tell how well these findings apply to us. What does everyone else think, if you are the oldest in your family, do you think you're the smartest? If you have older siblings, could they have a higher IQ? Has anyone actually taken an IQ test? If you're a younger sibling are you better at other things, maybe art?
Monday, November 16, 2009
We have discussed at length the history of cognitive psychology and how vague the definition of it can be.
I began to think about the was certain products are marketed displayed to us as consumers upon pinning the label of cognitive psychology to it.
Games like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy advertise their ability increase, memory processing power, however I don't know if there is actual research to back this information up. Big Brain has a very dynamic graph that maps your progress, a part of the game that I became very drawn to.
Can these games really improve any cognitive abilities? Is there a place for these games as solid scientific research? ( There is a mass distribution of a possible data collecting device. There are been previous application of video games within health, i.e. a virtual clinic in second life here doctors can discuss cases and gain information of new procedures, these were aimed at cancer prevention and management.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Earlier in the semester we discussed a couple attempts that were made at modeling the brain with a computer, which all fell short of success in various ways. Recently a team, called The Blue Brain Project, at a Swiss university (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) has begun reverse engineering the brain by creating 3D models of mammalian brains though data acquisition and mapping. From the model, the teams is creating a simulation of a brain utilizing a supercomputer, which is basically a network of computers linked together to function as one computer. Using the equivalent of one laptop per a neuron, the project is attempting to create a functioning model of the brain. They have already successfully created a functioning part of a brain, although it functions only half as fast as a real brain does. The primary goal of the project is medical research, and the project makes sure to state that they are not trying to create an artificial intelligence machine, but it sure seem like they are going to end up with something similar. The head of the project, Henry Markram, jokes that he hopes to have a hologram talking with people in a decade. One of the most interesting things is in the TED talk that Markram gives, he shows moving images of the simulation running, visual representations of something close to computerized thought.
Markram's TED Talk
Blue Brain Project Website
Monday, November 09, 2009
Monuments, unlike many other forms of sculpture, serve the purpose of acting as an embodiment of memory itself. Where sculpture, and art in general can serve many purposes such as communicating ideas or conveying emotions, a monument is specifically designed to act as an embodyment of a collective memory for the society that creates it. Monuments externalize memories, much like writing or other means of recording, yet the memories they externalize are ones of a shared significance between many individuals. This of course means that the memories that each monument comes to represent are incredibly varied, as are the experiences of the people who relate to the monument.
Maya Lyn’s Memorial for the Vietnam War allows for this. Her memorial is non-representative, not as to fail to connect to the memories of those that it memorializes, but in the fact that it does not utilize a straightforward depiction of what the war was about, or what happened therein. Because the memorial has only the names of those who died carved on to its surface and nothing more, it can actually come to mean more to more people. The information which is presented on the memorial is so minimal, it serves only as a slight reminder to those who visit it, allowing the mind of the visitor to remember though reflection of their own memories, much as the veterans in the video do about their fellow soldiers who are commemorated upon the surface of the memorial. Yet because of the sheer scale of the monument, its impact is unavoidable. This combination of impact and vague suggestiveness make the memorial so powerful, allowing each person to have their own reaction that fits easily into the monument, thereby allowing for a wider and more accepting general memory and opinion.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Well, anyway, because she has a relationship with her family members, even though she did not interact with the eyewitness generation, it’s difficult to have negative thoughts about someone who shares your blood. Perhaps through stories told by this girls grandparents or parents, her confederate relatives were “heroized” over time just like the German families interviewed in the Holocaust study.
In an exhibition at the California College of the Arts in 2005, fifty artists were asked to devise a proposal for a United States Monument. As stated in the exhibition requirements, this monument should “reflect each artist's ideas about the type of monument the people of the United States currently need or deserve.” We are all familiar with Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” sculptures which are installed all over the world, and even on our very own campus here at Pratt Institute. The collaborative artist couple Elmgreen and Dragset designed a monument in the style of Robert Indiana. It can be seen below. Monuments can shape our memories of learned histories, and thanks to this proposed monument, memories of our memory capacity.
Monday, November 02, 2009
With these points in mind, the monument is depicting a few inaccuracies, if not rendering the entire statue inaccurate. While it is understandable that Theodore would be represented as a hero, especially after his outstandingly generous contributions to the Natural History Museum. However, when then does it become okay to alter a monument? Though this statue is not as offensive as others may be, what happens to ones that are? Or even ones that are now ousted as clearly inaccurate? Are we allowed to alter our memories to make them clearer, acceptable, precise, or even to improve them with the further understandings of cognitive psychology? Even if we know them now to be influencing our memories already? Or is that just another part of America’s priceless history?
There is a monument currently being built in Senegal which the Dakar government is spending over 27 million dollars on. Supposedly, this monument is being built to show the rest of the world of Africa’s “Rebirth,” and freedom from the government. However, this statue, while supposedly being built to symbolize Africa’s rise after “centuries of ignorance, intolerance, and racism,” is simply offensive to the population of Dakar that are currently struggling to survive in poor and impoverished conditions. Furthermore, the president, Abdoulayne Wade, considers himself a savior of the poor, although so much money is being spent on this statue, (with 35 percent tourism profit going straight to him,) as well as the fact the monument is not being built by Africans, therefore, their own laborers are not able to profit from the work being built. While this statue to the government is a sign of independence and prosperity, to the people of Dakar where many are struggling to survive, this statue symbolizes the government’s blantent disregard and will be remembered as such. While Dakar needs basic tools and capabilities to run, the government is choosing to create a façade of wealth instead of spending this valuable money on expanding and rebuilding current necessities. The African people will remember this statue as something entirely different that what the symbolism is supposed to mean. This statue stands taller than the statue of liberty, and Abdoulayne Wade is proclaiming this to be as important to the world as the Eiffel Tower. Clearly, this statue will continue to build significance as it heads towards completion for December. But, the question is, will this be symbolic for what it is supposed to represent now? Or, will this gain symbolism for the memory of what it is doing to the population? Will the memory of this historical site alter over the years as a symbol of a selfish government?
First the Maya Lin Vietnam memorial:
Maya Lin was finishing up her architecture degree and the class assignment was to design the memorial and it was optional to submit it to the actual contest. She submitted the proposal on one of the last possible dates. The selection process was anonymous and after she was chosen there was some uproar after they discovered that Maya Lin was of Asian descent.
Rachel Whiteread made the first Holocaust Memorial in Austria. She was criticized for being making a memorial for a culture and people that she had no blood relation too. She is a British born artist, whose visual vocabulary is very similar to the memorial. The memorial is a silent library to commemorate the loss of all the people from the Holocaust, whose voices can’t be herd but are still heavy on the consciousness of those affected.
I thought it was interesting to think about how the maker of an object/space has such an effect on our perception of it. Both artists’ personal connection to the memorial plays a part in how the public contextualizes the work.
Is it possible to make a memorial where the artist has a minimal personal connection? Are there double standards upheld for public artists versus other artists?
I think one interesting way to look at the connection between monuments and memory is to examine the controversies that some have led to. For example, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was at the center of several different controversies. It's abstract design was criticized, then later its lack of an American flag, and omission of women. The second two issues were addressed by the addition of two statues. This website describes some of the history of the memorial, including the controversies. Although it is not from a completely objective view, it seems to have a good summary of what happened.
Controversies over monuments such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial show that the way we choose to remember events and people often involves conflict. Monuments can serve as reminders and commemorations for those who experienced the event, and as places to learn about the event, and those involved, for those who did not. They symbolize the way we choose to remember something or someone as a group, and how we want those who come later to see them or it.
Another example of this is the FDR memorial. There was controversy over whether he should be shown in a wheelchair. Because he had hidden his disability during his presidency, it was thought that he would not have wanted to be remembered with it. However, some wanted his wheelchair to be shown, as it would show how he overcame difficulties to become a great leader. In this case there was a clash between the wishes of the person being remembered and those wanting to remember him. The issue of historical accuracy was also raised.
I don't think memorials are meant to be a faithful document of what really happened. They are there not only to preserve our memories, but to shape them. They allow us to share a certain group version of what happened and why it was important.
She describes the role of the monument as a frame for dialogue: a gateway that opens up discussion within a community about history and tragedy. She writes "Today memory is understood as a mode of re-presentation that belongs to the present," which I believe implies that the wealth and variety of information available to us at the present makes it more difficult to simply take sides with the victor. Therefore, the way that we interact with monuments is somewhat different than in the past. Whereas they traditionally served to mark a certain name, date and event, they are now appreciated more for their quality of "monumentality" which promotes a discussion about the event and its total meaning.
The construction of a monument obviously turns public eye on an event and demarcates that that event is "important" within the sphere of human history. Thus, monuments wield consequential influence over what we remember about the past. However, I wonder if they still have the power to tell us how to remember or to feel about these events. The Vietnam Memorial, for example, lists all the names of those American soldiers who died in the war, but how do we think about what happened? Do we remember the soldiers as heroes for giving their lives? Or do we remember the Vietnam war as an abuse of military power? The monument discusses all these things and leaves room for ever more interpretations from future generations.