Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I found this article about consciousness to be very intriguing because the various questions have you literally be conscious of what you're conscious of as you read. While reading, I have TV on and am listening to music and my roommate is speaking to me. Although it may seem like a lot going on, I'm used to working with noise in the background and I hardly even notice it nor am i distracted. The only reason I paid attention to the noise of the TV and music was because the article had me wondering about what I'm currently conscious of. I'm not sure if it's my mind playing tricks on me now that my attention was brought to my surroundings, but I've found the TV to be a bit more distracting now then usual. I think being conscious of your surroundings is very important, and means you are a very perceptive individual. However, I also think it's very beneficial to be able to control your consciousness because it means you have the ability to focus on the one thing you put your mind to. I think it's so interesting when things are happening around you and you don't even really notice until you stop to ask yourself - did my text message ringer go off a few minutes ago ? or, did this same commercial just come on a few minutes ago ? I think it's interesting how I am subconsciously taking in what commercials are on TV - since I am not watching it nor paying attention to what commercials come on, I wonder if that's the reason why people randomly crave a certain fast food restaurant, or all of a sudden have the urge to go to to 6 flags ? Is it because a commercial came on TV that day and they just weren't conscious of it, but were subconscious enough to remember it, but couldn't tell you why ? What about when you say "god bless you" to someone who sneezes - is that subconscious or conscious ? I wish this article gave more comparisons and explanations for these sorts of things, however I do like how it is full of questions that get you thinking and coming up with your own reasonings. Some theories I have for our consciousness is simply a result of repetition and habits. We often do things and not even realize it, just because we do it so much it's almost robotic. Therefore, do we really need to be conscious in order to get things done ? Is it necessary or better to be conscious of all your surroundings - or is it a good thing your subconscious is left to worry about certain things that happening around you but aren't important enough to bring to your attention and ponder about ? Could being conscious about nearly everything be beneficial because you're able to quickly assess any situation in case of an emergency ? Or would that just mean more on your mind and more stress, which might distract you and not let you really give your full attention and focus on something one individual thing if necessary ? Will you always have a crowded mind and not be able to think clearly ? I wonder what important things we take for granted on a daily basis by being subconscious and not conscious about these things. After reading this article I'd like to find out more about what different things people are conscious and subconscious about, and how it changes one's life for the better and the worst.
What is intelligence? How can we measure it? Do IQ tests really test your intelligence? There are multiple definitions of intelligence. Robert J. Sternberg, who was a IBM Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University, defines intelligence as the skill in achieving whatever it is one wants to attain in his/her life within his/her sociocultural context. Whether it be to get good grades or to become a successful ballet dancer, each and every person decides their own personal intelligence.
He argues that IQ tests were only "convenient partial operationalizations of the construct of intelligence, and nothing more. They do not provide the kind of measurement of intelligence that tape measures provide of height." He explains how these tests are based on analytical and verbal skills that are created and measured by the intelligence of the test developers. In other words, the test does not take into account the creativity and practical knowledge of a person. It also doesn't measure the problem solving skills or life-time success of a person. In addition, there are many other circumstantial situations that can change or affect not just a person, but an entire group of people in an community. One community may be knowledgeable in another way or culturally different, compared to other communities. Thus, these IQ tests are not valid completely. Sternberg had started to develop tests to measure creativity and the practical sides of the mind which are starting to be used by some schools and businesses today.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Pills may be able to improve your cognition, but should we use them? The drugs classified in this article are mainly for ADD and ADHD patients. The prescription drugs help improve one's cognition, making one more alert and focused. There is a debate over whether they are ethical or not. In my opinion as long as they are safe then what is the harm? These drugs can help any one person's memory making them a more productive person. The article compares these drugs to over the counter caffeine pills and such. Both have provide a sort of increase in cognition, and relatively safely. I am curious how the world would turn out if everyone took these enhancing drugs. Would we all be more insightful, productive people?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Oh, and for any former friends of SmarterChild, sad news: he’s retired as of May 2009.
This blog post may be a little out of date for this week, but it is about language. My friend and I were talking about psychology and she told me about this incredible (and sad) video her professor had her class watch for homework.
The video is about a girl who was chained to a "potty chair" in a room up until she was about fourteen. She had almost no contact with the outside world and was completely nurtured (except to be fed I assume). When she was rescued she was almost animal-like and had almost no means of verbal communication. There was one similarly documented event in the 1800s where a boy was found in a forest, completely uncivilized, they compare the two cases in the video.
Eventually with proper care and a government grant she learned to speak a few words and phrases, but her voice was extremely high pitched and undeveloped. Sadly the grant was eventually stopped when they saw her progress slow, and she was put into foster care. Even more unfortunate is when she came to a bad foster home where she vomited and was so badly punished she became completely mute. From what I understand she is still alive today in adult group home.
This video was amazing because it gave psychologists, doctors and scientists an almost unprecedented chance at an incredible experiment that could never be preformed under ethical guidelines. They were able to examine the brain and learning processes later in life, to see how capable the human mind is of learning later in life, almost as a nature vs. nurture debate.
ASIMO's new artificial intelligence
Have you ever seen the movie, Irobot? Did you ever think one day that robots could possibly take over the world? Maybe not take over the world, but robots are reaching a point in technology where they can start to learn, a form of thinking which was an action robots were unable to do for a long period of time. It took over 20+ years to create ASIMO which is now the world's most "advanced humanoid robot." It was designed to help people in daily rituals. In the first video, we see how this robot came to life and started to learn and understand the meaning of things. The robot is able to recognize objects and also learn new objects, just like a baby does when it is first introduced to something new. A baby usually fixates the object and just like a baby, ASIMO, does the same thing. It is able to look at the object, learn its title, and when in reach of the object again, it can will recall the object's name. Later in the video, we see how the robot is able to make a judgment about an object. It is able to tell what is and what isn't a chair. Then, the following video is just showing how advanced ASIMO has become. He is able to do many tricks like walk up and down stairs as well as run and dance. But, the host of the first video questions this intelligence. Even though this robot is able to show a sign of true genuine intelligence, can or will it be able to hold an imagination? Or can the robot even be able to endure pain? It still isn't able to feel emotion, an action only humans can possess. But ASIMO can talk, see, and function just like a human. What possibly can be the next step in artificial intelligence?
Monday, March 22, 2010
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
When I was little I was obsessed with the Simon memory game. I'd play daily and challenge my friends to see who could get furthest. At a party last weekend my friend had a Simon laying out and I tried to beat my old score. I came nowhere close. It just goes to show that if you don't exercise your memory like a muscle you'll loose it. Repetition, repetition, repetition is the key to the wonderful memory game. To exercise your memory and play, click here!
Monday, March 08, 2010
In class we were talking about how inaccurate memories can be. I came across an article on how memory of emotions can also be inaccurate. The article states that the memory of our moods differ greatly from looking back long term vs instance by instance. They use the example of mothers and their children. Generally speaking all the mothers reported the most pleasurable experience was when they spent time with their children, when instance by instance they enjoyed the grocery store more, or working out.
Is this how many of our memories work? Clearly our memories cannot be trusted but it also goes down to our memories of emotion. Do recovering the memories of our emotions also change as we recall them like say our first day of kindergarten?
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Recovered memory syndrome is a controversial condition where one recalls an event that they repressed to the point of no prior memory. The issue is people are very suggestible. In studies Dr. Elizabeth Loftus studied a mother and her two sons. She eventually convinced them about an event of being lost in the mall in childhood (which never happened) to the point where each of them gave detailed descriptions of the kindly stranger who helped them.
Recovered memory was compared to a witch hunt, in that suggested memories were usually linked to some sort of sexual abuse. In cases where children were badgered into believing they were molested innocent people when to jail, parents even searched out secret hiding spots that in actuality never existed.
So in reading this, how much of repressed memory can we trust is a true memory? Are people really just smart monkey's who can be trained into actually believing a false memory?
“Likewise, if they chose to remember color we were able to decode which color they remembered, but orientation information was completely missing.
Though the article proved to be quite informative, It still raises questions in my mind. I know im not the only one who forgets things that at the time I made a concious point to remember. did my mind subconciosly decide for me that it was information that would not be stored in long term memory? What make my brain decide to keep information in short term memory. I mean, if I were to take the Art History exam that I Aced last semester now, I would probably fail it. Information that could prove to be beneficial in my field of study. Why cant my brain recognize that?? haha
Even though flashbulb memories seem so vivid in our minds we've learned from the reading that these seemingly permanent memories can change over time. These memories are usually of events that are typically highly personal and emotional in ones life. I remember where I was exactly when 9/11 happened and everything about that day. After reading the article I remembered that back in middle school I kept a diary. Even though I don't have the diary with me here in Brooklyn, I will be home over spring break and I'm interested to see how my "flashbulb memory" compares to what I wrote about that day.
I’ve always been astonished by the power of smell and memory. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been overcome with nostalgia just from getting a wiff of something familiar on the street. However, I'd never considered how brands could (and I suppose many do) take advantage of scent memory and association. If the smell of toast can me homesick just because it reminds me of driving by the ethanol plant in my hometown, it’s more than likely I’ve picked a brand a second time because I've archived it's scent somewhere in my mind.
In the article, it mentions several different types of deja vu. Associative and biological deja vu are the two most common deja vu types. Associative deja vu is experienced by normal, healthy people. You may experience something that has some sort of familiarity with a past experience. Researchers say this is a memory-based experience and that the memory centers of the brain are responsible for this occurence. The other kind, biological deja vu, is associated with people who have temporal lobe epilepsy. Here, people have a strong feeling of deja vu just before having a seizure. But I think the most common theory is from Sigmund Freud, who said that "the experiences resulted from repressed desires or memories related to a stressful event that people could no longer access as regular memory." Scientists call it "paramnesia" which is the most common way to explain deja vu.
Researchers now use deja vu studies to help understand memory and the brain and how the brain forms, store, and retreives memory. So far, what they have discovered is that the medial temporal lobe is involved in our conscious memory and within the medial temporal lobe contains the hippocampus which recalls events and the parahippocampal gyrus helps determine what is familiar and what isn't without actually retrieving a specific memory to do it.
What I thought was most interesting was how these studies have determined who is most likely to have these deja vu experiences. Researchers concluded that deja vu experiences decrease with age. Also, people who receive higher income, travel more, have higher educational levels, have active imaginations, and have the ability to recall dreams are more likely to have deja vu occurences. Some researchers found that the more tired and/or stressed you are, the more likely the experience will happen as well; others report the extreme opposite; that the more refreshed and relaxed you are, these experiences will happen more.
For more information, you can find the article here.
Monday, March 01, 2010
I've always been extremely interested in dreaming, especially in the theories behind recurrent dreams because I myself suffer from a nightmarish recurring dream. This article explores the Threat Simulation Theory or "TST" which is a theory that states that dreaming is a biological defense mechanism that evolutionarily simulates threatening events in our dreams through cognitive mechanisms. The author of this article undergoes a certain dream, and explores the idea of TST being a theory of why he experiences different versions of the same annoying dream. The theory of TST - that we dream to simulate problem-solving strategies for life events - holds true to me in some aspects because I'm able to relate my annoying/scary recurring dream to my subconscious trying to find strategies for the problems I undergo in my dream (which are symbols of my conscious daily struggles.) However, after reading the comments people had to this article, I found good argumentations in the many people that don't believe in the theory of TST. One poster explores one theory, " .. I am not sure that my dreams are not simply my mind's way of playing and compensating for days when I have not gotten the amount of mental stimulation I need.. " And another poster wrote " I'm not sure how the dream is teaching me to escape from real life threats. I do, however, wake up feeling somehow accomplished. Perhaps these type of dreams help us build confidence in our abilities or as in the highschool dream, help us accept and acknowledge our accomplishments."
There are so many reasons why it is extremely tricky to provide factual reasoning behind the theories of dreaming. Everyone thinks differently and there are different reasons behind the way our brains work - it's the same for our subconsciousness and dreaming. Some individuals may undergo a recurring dream that they cannot find any reason behind it or it's representation, OR they may be able to find a reason and be completely wrong about it. Some dreams are so subliminal that it's hard to find out it's meaning .. also, many dreams can seem like a pointless scary nightmares to one person, and a meaningful wake up call to another. One person may be able to blow it off as just some scary nightmare, where another person may take it seriously enough to apply it to their conscious life or keep it in their memory. It's hard not to feel bias, due to the fact I undergo a dream that I think is a direct result of my real-life struggles. About 90% of all my nightly dreams are a result of my conscious daily struggles. Also, I often dream about the issues that I was just discussing or thinking about a few minutes before falling asleep. As far as dream theories - I think it's very difficult to find the true reasons behind each dream, or to even find out if dreams do in fact have reasons fueling them. Do individuals with a high anxiety level therefore have more stressful and anxiety-induced dreams ? Do the more laid back individuals have less paranoia-infused dreams due to their more careless way of thinking ? I do believe when I am undergoing a period of great stress, I tend to have more nightmares. Is this for everyone though ? What about the times I'm not undergoing stress, but still have nightmares ? I'm not exactly sure what it means, or if I believe it has anything to do with evolution and my ancestors. Will an individual undergo a nightmare because their subconscious perceived something they saw but didn't pay much attention to that day ? Does attention and perception create the reasons behind a dream ? I believe every case is different .. some people tend to dream more than others for one reason or another. If it's a nightmare, it may not necessarily be a result of the stress of their lifestyle. Some people's brains may dream euphoric dreams to escape a harsh reality - therefore, won't it depend on every individual ? How can we say dreams .. such a tricky and vague matter to prove its reasonings .. be caused by anything evolutionary ? Another reason why I think it's so hard to identify a single theory behind dreaming is because of influences such as drug use, which is proven to greatly effect all aspects of dreams (conscious and subconscious life as well as cognitive memory). There is also lucid dreaming, where one can control their dreams the same time they are dreaming them .. how can this be a result of any evolutionary or ancestry cause ? Furthermore, considering every individual has their own way of interpreting things, who's to say it was a nightmare ? Who's to say it was a dream ? Does this theory include lucid-dreamers ? If a child living in a traumatizing household has the ability to lucid dream, won't they then have euphoric happy dreams in order to escape their terrible conscious life ? Is their ability to do so considered an evolutionary cause ? I question many aspects of this theory and it is preventing me from being able to form one strong opinion about it. All I can base my thoughts on is by pondering what I believe the reasons fueling my dreams and my reoccurring dreams may be. I wonder if this theory includes the drug users, lucid dreamers, individuals who's undergone life-altering obstacles in life, and people of all ages and races. Does this theory test only children ? What about the disabled ? Won't it be beneficial to question elders who contain more wisdom and have undergone more obstacles in life ? I think it'd be interesting to see if the results of children are similar to those of the elderly. I can come up with countless questions challenging the truth behind this theory. What do you think about the TST theory ?