Speaking of memory…

31 01 2008

We are studying memory this week in our introductory psychology course. Luckily, there are a couple of good recent posts on memory in my favorite psychology blogs…

Over on the excellent blog Cognitive Daily, there is a summary of a research study on the effects of changing camera angles on accuracy of memory for details in the scenes.

Cognitive Daily: Cuts in movies, and their impact on memory:

There was no significant difference in the results for a static camera versus a moving camera, but viewers were significantly less accurate when they saw an abrupt cut in the movie. This decrease in accuracy was almost entirely found at the point in the movie immediately following the cut, suggesting quite strongly that the cut itself momentarily disoriented viewers. So although the perceptual system can handle cuts in a movie presentation, those cuts do have some cost.

PsyBlog has a fascinating post on studies of the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon.

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PSY201A Podcast Episode 7 – Memory part 1 & Bell exercise 2.2

31 01 2008

First half of this episode covers the James Bell workbook exercise 2.2 on how to identify psychological research. Second half covers memory, primarily encoding, storage, and associative networks. Read the rest of this entry »

This is your captain speaking… I want to talk to God…

30 01 2008

An unusual story on the BBC website — A pilot who seemingly became psychotic in flight.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Pilot ‘breakdown’ diverts flight:

An Air Canada flight made an emergency landing in Ireland after a pilot apparently suffered a mental breakdown.
A passenger said the pilot was carried from the plane shouting and swearing, saying he wanted to talk “to God”.

The flight from Toronto to Heathrow landed at Shannon airport after its crew declared a medical emergency

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Online matchmakers and social psychology

29 01 2008

The NY Times has an article on the science behind online matchmaking services. It illustrates the difficulty of peer review of proprietary business models. Yet, for the algorithms to get better, they need to be critically evaluated, I believe. But, that’s because I think more like a scientist than a business mogul.

eHarmony – Psychology – Online Dating – Compatibility Testing – New York Times:

As the matchmakers compete for customers — and denigrate each other’s methodology — the battle has intrigued academic researchers who study the mating game. On the one hand, they are skeptical, because the algorithms and the results have not been published for peer review. But they also realize that these online companies give scientists a remarkable opportunity to gather enormous amounts of data and test their theories in the field. EHarmony says more than 19 million people have filled out its questionnaire.

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PSY239 Podcast Episodes 4 and 5

25 01 2008

Episode 4 – Assessment and Diagnosis: Assessment: interviews, self-report, neurological. Diagnosis: DSM and the medical model for mental illness; ICD.Episode 5 – Mood Disorders Part 1: Mood Disorders introduction; symptoms; etiology of depression and bipolar disorder. Read the rest of this entry »

PSY201A Podcast Episode 6 – Nervous System & Brain

24 01 2008

Nervous system part 2: glial cells & hormones. Brain structure and function; neuroimaging; hemispheric specialization; brain damage; plasticity. Read the rest of this entry »

Resurging interest in brewed coffee

23 01 2008

The New York Times has an article about the resurgence of interest in brewed coffee (as opposed to espresso), particularly through the new excellent extraction methods offered by the Clover brewer and siphon brewers. Siphon brewers have been used for over a hundred years, and they come and go in fads. This article highlights the “siphon bar” Blue Bottle Coffee is importing from Japan. I like the quote by the head of the importing company. Very Zen, almost like he would be talking about a samurai sword:

At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee – New York Times:

“If you just want equipment you’re not ready,” Mr. Egami said in an interview. But, he added, James Freeman, the owner of the cafe, is different: “He’s invested time. He’s invested interest. He is ready.”

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PSY201A Podcast Episode 5 – Nervous system & Neurons

22 01 2008

Nervous system organization & function. Neuroanatomy. action potential process, neurotransmitters & neurotransmission. Psychophysiology lab: muscle unit recruitment. Read the rest of this entry »

Changing terminology in clinical psychology

21 01 2008

While I was researching published literature for the previous post on restricted environmental stimulation, I came across an article published in 1966. It shows how our terminology has changed in referring to developmental disorders…

(emphasis mine)

Title: Sensory deprivation and aberrant behavior among idiots.
Year of Publication: 1966
Author: Cleland, Charles C; Clark, Charles M.
Source: American Journal of Mental Deficiency. 71(2) 1966, 213-225.
Through a review of sensory processes at both the human and infrahuman level, sensory deprivation is related to the study of idiocy. A microtheory is presented as a guide to future research and a method for training, grouping, and management is advanced based upon a “sensory-mapping” schema in conjunction with a sensory cafeteria. Based on this evidence, it appears the idiot represents the occurrence in nature of an S deprived of meaningful social, cultural, or sensory input. The systematic study of idiocy should yield information relevant to developing a taxonomy of goals for retardates. (2 p. ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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Reduced sensory stimulation in the BBC

21 01 2008

Later in the term, we will be studying sensation and perception and its relation to consciousness. The BBC has an article on what happens when we are left alone with an active perceptual system getting little external sensory stimulation. The terminology and attitude of the article are a bit dated though.

What is referred in the article as “sensory deprivation” is now referred more to restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST), and has been studied for a long time. Early studies of this phenomenon had focused on the deleterious effects and sensationalized the hallucinations and delirium that resulted. More recent studies have been focused on how it can be helpful in clinical therapy. My graduate school advisor, Peter Suedfeld, has done much with this research, including demonstrating its effects on cognition and usefulness for smoking cessation and other behavioral change.

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Alone in the dark:

North American scientists paid students to stay in conditions of sensory deprivation for varying lengths of time. Most dropped out after 72 hours, and very few were able to stay more than four or five days. The boredom and oppression of the experiments’ conditions became overpowering.

Mickey, a postman is seeing mosquitoes and fighter planes buzzing around his head and it’s frightening him.

Claire a psychology student doesn’t mind the little cars, snakes and zebras. But she gets scared when she suddenly feels somebody is in the room.

“In the dark room there is nothing to focus on,” says Prof Robbins as he monitors their behaviour. “In the absence of information the human brain carries on working and processing information even if there is no information to process and after a while it starts to create that information itself.”

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