General Psychology Podcast Episode 4: Remember?

31 01 2006

My lecture from Monday, Jan 30th, on memory storage & retrieval, is available via your podcast. This lecture covers how we store memories for procedures vs. information; sensory, short-term, & long-term memory; failures in memory – encoding & retrieval, including false memories.

As always, please leave feedback for me. I recommend subscribing to and listening to (and viewing) the podcast in iTunes.

UPDATE (June ’06):
Download using this link to subscribe (if you have iTunes).

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Some Quotes from R. D. Laing

30 01 2006

I have been perusing The Politics of the Family lately. R. D. Laing was among a few authors to examine the structures we live in, and how those structures may support, or perhaps even bring about, mental illness. For the most part, his propositions and logical puzzles are sound, although he goes out on some limbs that require quite a number of assumptions to be satisfied in order to accept the proposition. Laing comes up with some really quite good quotes in this book of essays. Have a look at these:

Referring to families in which there is resistance to realizing the dysfunction they inure:

Between truth and lie are images and ideas we imagine and think are real, that paralyze our imaginations and our thinking in an effort to conserve them. (from Family Scenarios, pp. 77)

Referring to the ways we take on the (often dysfunctional) roles of ancestors in our families, he says:

There are usually great resistances against the process of mapping the past onto the future coming to light, in any circumstances. If anyone in a family begins to realize he is a shadow of a puppet, he will be wise to exercise the greatest precautions as to whom he imparts this information to.

It is not ‘normal’ to realize such things. There are a number of psychiatric names, and a variety of treatments, for such realizations. (from Family Scenarios, pp. 82)

Referring to the ways in which many of us seem to be in a form of “waking hypnosis,” he writes:

We are acting parts in a play that we have never read and never seen, whose plot we don’t know, whose existence we can glimpse, but whose beginning and end are beyond our present imagination and conception. (from Family Scenarios, pp. 87)

Referring to Freud’s concept of (sexual) repression, he writes:

One is expected to be capable of passion, once married, but not to have experienced too much passion (let alone acted upon it) too much before. If this is too difficult, one has to pretend first not to feel the passion one really feels, then, to pretend to passion one does not really feel, and to pretend that certain passionate upsurges of resentment, hatred, envy, are unreal, or don’t happen, or are something else. This requires false realizations, false de-realizations, and a cover-story (rationalization). After this almost complete holocaust of one’s experience on the alter of conformity, one is liable to feel somewhat empty, but one can try to fill one’s emptiness with money, consumer goods, … narcotics, stimulants, sedatives, … to depress one further so that one does not know how depressed one is and to help one to over-eat and over-sleep. And there are lines of defence beyond that, to electroshocks, to the (almost) final solution of simply removing sections of the offending body, especially the central nervous system. This last solution is necessary, however, only if the normal social lobotomy does not work, and chemical lobotomy has also failed. (from Operations, pp. 101)

He takes a swipe at growing up in Scotland with this one:

No one intended, when they told a little boy when and how to clean his teeth, and that his teeth would fall out if he was bad, together with Presbyterian Sunday School and all the rest of it, to produce forty-five years later the picture of a typical obsessive involutional depression. This syndrome is one of the specialties of Scotland. (from Rules and Metarules, pp. 109)

Referring to the social rules that prohibit thinking or mentioning taboo subjects, he writes:

I have thought about the problem of how not to think a thought one is not supposed to think. I cannot think of any way to do so except, in some peculiar way, to ‘think’ what one must not think in order to ensure that one does not think it. (from Rules and Metarules, pp. 115).

Laing, R. D. (1971). The politics of the family and other essays. New York: Pantheon Books.

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Welcome General Psychology (online) students

29 01 2006

Welcome to a new set of readers – my General Psychology course taught in a distance-learning format (online via WebCT).

Course Casting?

28 01 2006

Tama’s eLearning Blog covers a Newsweek story about “Course Casting,” the act of making lecture material available through Podcasting. Since that is my current experiment in pedagogical methods, imagine my delight when I found out another community college professor is doing something very similar. Read on to the comments in this entry:

Course Casting in the Media:

Yes, visuals, video and the physical presence of lecturers can be extremely important. That’s why almost no one would ever consider replacing lectures, but rather allowing student the flexibility to re-visit the lecture later, or to hear it if they were sick!

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Breaking News: A Baby Step Toward Understanding Bipolar Mood Disorders

27 01 2006

New Scientist covers an incremental experimental result. Breaking News? I think that’s a bit of an overstatement!

New Scientist Breaking News – New gene linked to bipolar disorder:

A gene involved in causing bipolar disorder in as many as 10% of patients with the condition has been identified by researchers in Australia. Other teams have previously claimed to have found bipolar susceptibility genes, but this is the first time that the evidence has been close to conclusive, the researchers claim.

BUT WAIT! Not so fast…

More work is also needed to reveal exactly which other genes might be involved. “This is a complex genetic disorder caused by the interaction of a number of genes and the environment,” Blair stresses.

So this is how science works… Baby Steps!

General Psychology Lecture Podcast Episode 3: The Neurons Strike Back

27 01 2006

My lecture from Wednesday, Jan 25th, on memory organization and encoding, is available via your podcast. This lecture covers an error in my last lecture regarding Parkinson’s Disease, the reserve reading about Eric Kandel, Memory Processes, and a bit of Encoding.

As always, please leave feedback for me. I recommend subscribing to and listening to the podcast in iTunes.

Wired’s article on the Dalai Lama’s address to the Society for Neuroscience

26 01 2006

Wired magazine has an article on the Dalai Lama’s recent address to the Society For Neuroscience. Link via Mind Hacks.

Wired 14.02: Buddha on the Brain:

The Dalai Lama is here to give a speech titled “The Neuroscience of Meditation.” Over the past few years, he has supplied about a dozen Tibetan Buddhist monks to Richard Davidson, a prominent neuroscience professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Davidson’s research created a stir among brain scientists when his results suggested that, in the course of meditating for tens of thousands of hours, the monks had actually altered the structure and function of their brains.

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Want something brainy?

25 01 2006

Since we’re covering Neuroscience in General Psychology, here’s something for ya. The ever-omniscient Mind Hacks covers a place called “Brain Mart” where you can get – you guessed it – brains! Well, maybe not real brains, but enough brain stuff to max out your credit card.

Mind Hacks: Is that a brain charm in your pocket?:

Brain Mart, an online shop for everything (and I mean everything) brain-related. They sell a great deal of educational material as well as a range of ‘brain novelties’.

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General Psychology Lecture Podcast Episode 2

24 01 2006

My latest General Psychology podcast is available. If you’re subscribed to this weblog feed ( in your podcast reader, it should be able to detect the new episode.

This episode covers Chapter 1 of William James’ Principles of Psychology (published 1890). Also neuroanatomy and brain anatomy and function.

UPDATE (June ’06):
Download using this link to subscribe (if you have iTunes).

If not, subscribe to the following feed:

Cognitive Daily

23 01 2006

Cognitive Daily notes a recent article from Psychological Science, reporting the results of an experiment looking at the way children make choices for healthy or unhealthy foods. It turns out that they will choose the healthier foods if they cost less. This works, though, only if the children are on a limited budget. If they have a relatively unlimited amount of money, they’ll still opt for the junk foods. There’s probably an economics function that describes this…

Cognitive Daily:

Epstein and his team note that overweight and obesity is increasing in America, but their experiments do suggest one way to help kids choose healthier foods: keep them on a limited budget, and increase the price of unhealthy foods compared to healthy ones.

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