Monday, January 31, 2011
This article is really interesting. First, it gives you a little brief intro on what sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory are. Which some of the information was new to me and really cool. The difference between sensory and short-term memory is interesting. The next time you want to remember someones name, "elaborate on it" and it will turn into a short-term memory for you (hopefully).
There is some neuroscientist, Gary Lynch, who developed ampakines, a drug that increases communication between brain cells. The drug's receptive neurons are now more likely to store long-term memories. It seems like this whole idea is maybe in the process? Since there wasn't a huge amount of information about the actual drug and what it does or has done, I thought that maybe it was something that could progress into something big later on.
This is a survey to show different ways in which people think. It is designed by Dr Shearer based on Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences. The thoery argues that the IQ Tests are not enough to measure intelligence, since it plots everyone on the same scale. As opposed to IQ tests, this survey doesn't tell if you are smart or not, it tell you what kind of thinker you are.
It's made of simple personal questions and takes only 5 minutes. I'm sure there are more complex tests based on the same theory. I turned out to be a Kinaesthetic thinker, which is said to "have an aptitude for working with hands." What a surprise for someone in Industrial design!
There are 9 different types of thinking styles that are tested in the survey;
-Logical/ Mathematical Thinkers
The titles are pretty self-explanatory. And of course the result of the test doesn't mean that it's the only way one can think. it is possible to improve on other kinds of thinking styles too.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
The article which I have chosen explains how the brains of some blind people are able to rewire themselves in a way that enables them to process speech faster than any sighted person. I think it's safe to say that everyone has heard that once you lose one sense, the others get stronger in order to compensate. Researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany have backed up this belief with several experiments that proved some blind individuals can comprehend speech that is sped up far beyond the sighted person can understand. Through an MRI machine, the researchers were able to see that the part of the brain that normally responds to vision was responding to the sped up speech. The age at which you lose your sight is critical to how and if your brain rewires itself. They also found that those people were able to read (listen to) three books in the time it would take a sighted person to read one. I personally found this fascinating, and makes me wonder how this skill could be utilized everyday life, in education, and possible new career fields for the blind.
Dr. Kazuyo Nakabayashi, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Teeside University's Social Futures Institute, is beginning a research project to find out why it is that people find it harder to recognize faces of people from other races than their own. Dr. Nakabayashi plans to carry out experiments in Japan and the UK over a 15 month period to try and understand more about cognitive processes underlying cross-racial recognition. One of the experiments will involve recording eye movements while people look at a set of Caucasian faces and a set of Asian faces in order to find out which parts of the face they look at and how much time is spent on each feature.
I found this article interesting because I honestly was not aware that it was a known fact that most people find it easier to recognize their own race than others. I'd find it interesting to follow Dr. Nakabayashi's research and see if he is able to uncover some new information about cross-racial recognition.
Eyewitnesses Are Not as Reliable as One Might Believe
Farhan Sarwar, of Lund University will be defending his PhD thesis on memory psychology, under the premise that eyewitnesses to crimes are much less of a reliable source for information than police accredit to them.
According to Sarwar, the more a story is retold, the more likely the witness is incorrectly recall important details, such as the weapons used or clothing worn by a perpetrator, though their recollection of the events are intact. Sarwar recommends that witnesses write down what they know before discussing it. Witnesses who write before they speak are more accurate than those that do not. Furthermore, when witnesses discuss whatever criminal activity they have seen, they become more confident in the way they tell the story; their confidence is misinterpreted as accuracy.
Sarwar has developed a program using algorithms to calculate the accuracy of a witness statement. Though testing of this method is far from completion, Sarwar and his colleague Sverker Sikström predict it will be useful in many aspects of law enforcement.
This NPR interview was based on a book called Principles of Neurotheology by Dr. Andrew Newberg. Neurotheology is a relatively new branch of neurology that studies how the brain changes during religious or meditative practice. The author said he first studied expert practitioners of meditations using an MRI scan. These scans were successful in showing long term effects of meditation on individuals who had about fifteen to twenty years of experience meditating and were able to get into a meditative state while hooked up to the trappings of the MRI. Though initially successful, it could not be effective in studying the effects of meditation for the rest of the public. SPECT imaging was also used in the research in this book; it provides a picture of the brain during the meditative activity. There was an observable change in brain activity after an ongoing meditation practice; these changes were measured using scans of the brain before and after starting to meditate. Meditation was also effective for elderly patients who suffered from memory loss. The research subjects were asked to meditate for a few minutes per day. A study found that meditation improved thought processes, reaction times, focus, attention and memory.
This is a link to an article in Scientific American-Mind Magazine that focuses on how perceptions differ from person to person. While this article cannot give a definite answer, it gives a nice overview of how cognitive psychologists would investigate the matter. It talks about a variety of things from our individual preferences in color to our perception of illusions. It also mentions the use of fMRIs and other tests used for brain imaging.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
So, after we talked about the IAT(Implicit Association Test) in class on Monday, I decided to check it out. I looked into the origins, and even in participated in a few tests myself. The biases of the development of the test was to allow individuals to gain an awareness of their unconscious beliefs because many people are either not willing to admit them or are not even aware of what they are. Basically, the test gauges your reaction time by asking you to put certain words into a certain category. However, all the tests run in the exact same pattern(two categories, two different categories, both categories together, the first categories switch positions), so it seems that it would be easy to mess with the results once you understand the pattern. Maybe I don’t understand enough about Cognitive Psychology to understand that to fix the answers is impossible, but it seems that once one learns the pattern one can easily distinguish what categories things need to be placed in, kind of like a video game.
Here are some snapshots to clarify what I'm saying: