Monthly Archives: March 2014

False Memories

Have you ever thought back on something in your life and realized that what you are convinced you remember may have been a bit different than you believe? Or not even true at all? This is known as False Memory syndrome, and it’s a lot more common then you might think. Anything can influence your memory, from looking at old pictures, home movies, stories you hear from multiple sources, sometimes dreams can even influence what you think that you remember.  In my own life I have noticed this happening to myself before.

In my family, taking home videos was overused. We have an entire box just filled with home movies from vacations, to trips to the park, going to the beach, just us kids doing stupid things, etc. So growing up it was entertaining for us to see ourselves when we were younger and the dumb things we said and did. But because of these home movies now when I try and think back on those memories I see them instead of from my point of view, I see it from the camera’s point of view and what that showed. So now I feel like I remember those memories but really I just remember watching the video of that experience.

Now another example of this is when you may have entirely fabricated memories out of thin air. Maybe you had a dream and now you’re not sure if it actually happened or not, or you heard a story about someone else and thought it was you. For example, I have a vivid memory of going to the Bug Museum in Philadelphia for a class trip in 1st grade. I remember wearing a lady bug dress, I remember looking at all the cool bugs, and I remember volunteering to “eat” a bug and that it tasted like BBQ chips. Now, even though I have this memory of this happening and can remember all the details of it, I am still not 100% sure of this actually happening. Because when I told my parents that this happened, they looked at me like I was crazy and told me that that literally never happened.

So this is where the phenomenon of false memories fits in, did it actually happen or was it just something I thought I remembered. That is what makes it so interesting because everyone has this happen to them at some point in their life. TIME magazine posted an article about false memories saying, “What’s long been a puzzle to memory scientists is whether some people may be more susceptible to false memories than others — and, by extension, whether some people with exceptionally good memories may be immune to them. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences answers both questions with a decisive no. False memories afflict everyone — even people with the best memories of all”  With that being said, you shouldn’t feel like there is something wrong with you or that there’s something wrong with your brain if this happens to you often. They are still doing studies to find out why this happens but all it’s showing is how common it is and that it afflicts everyone. False memory or not I will always believe that I went to that Bug Museum in 1st grade.

Thean, Tara. “Remember That? No You Don’t. Study Shows False Memories Afflict Us All.” TIME. 19 NOV 2013: n. page. Web. 21 Mar. 2014. <>.

Near Sightedness

Near sightedness is a common form a blurred vision that results from the focusing of the image in front of the retina. This causes close objects to be seen clearly, but objects further in the distance are very hazy and difficult to make out. I was diagnosed with myopia in 4th grade – when i received my first pair of glasses which were Tommy Hilfiger. Prior to this diagnosis – i had found myself squinting and frowning and making odd faces and eyes movements to try to see and bring distant objects into better focus. I would experience awful headaches and found myself holding books closer to myself and having to sit on the floor close to the TV or movie theater screen in order to see the image on the screen. I learned that near sightedness gradually gets worse as my eyeball grows and develops with increased age – I did NOT want this to interfere with my academics, sports, or work performance – thus, I immediately visited the eye doctors and voiced my concerns.
My form of near sightedness was not due to a disease, but due to a natural or random change in the shape of the cornea of my eyeball. This change alter the bending of the light entering my eye – thus, the light rays entering my eye were being positioned/focused in front of my retina rather than on it. A normal eye would focus incoming light rays directly on the retina in order to convert the light into neural impulses to send to the brain to form an image.
Funny enough – i was “okay” with getting glasses. I had always wanted glasses ever since I saw my friend in primary school with the fancy pair of glasses. I agree that they add a notion of sophistication and intelligence; a vibe of class and hierarchy; and even a little spunk, depending on the brand you wore.
I do find it interesting how people (including me at one point in time) who do not need glasses yearn to have a pair while those who are dependent on them thank the lord for the invention of contact lenses. Glasses can add sophistication – however, a lot of people dependent on glasses are sensitive and ashamed of them at times. For young kids, it can be a form of embarrassment and a vulnerability to get teased and made fun of. I have never experienced this, but i know a few people who have and it’s unfortunate how something we have no control over can have such an impact on our life and ego.
Glasses are a lot of work – to clean, to keep accounted for, to prevent damage.
Be thankful if you have 20/20 vision.


Nearsightedness is when the image is focused on front of the retina where you can only see things clearly when they are really close to you. My whole family besides me deals with nearsightedness. I don’t know what it is like to wear glasses and I especially do not know what it is like to wear glasses to help me see something far from me. However, it seems like a lot of people have glasses and most of them are nearsighted.

I have always wanted glasses ever since I saw my friend with the trendiest pair of glasses. I always thought that people who wear glasses look smarter and very sophisticated. However, I know glasses don’t make you smarter. I also feel like it is so much work to keep the glasses clean, to not lose them, and to not break them. I wonder what it is like to sit in the back of a classroom and have absolutely no idea what is going on at the board and only being able to see the person sitting directly in front of you. I guess it would also be difficult to drive if you were nearsightedness. It would be okay for you to drive with out glasses if everything on the road was close to you, but most of the signs, people, and cars are a distance away from you. I would think that it would be very scary to not know what to expect until it is right in front of your face. I thinking being nearsighted would be extremely annoying and I am glad that I am not one of the people that have to deal with being nearsighted.


As we learned in class it is uncommon and almost nearly impossible to remember things that happened to you before the age of three unless you experienced a traumatic event. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as childhood amnesia or infantile amnesia.  Childhood amnesia is the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories before the age of 2–4 years. Early memories tend to be implicit and implicit memories are difficult to bring to consciousness. Explicit memory, which are centered on verbal and conscious form of memory do not fully develop until after about age 2, when the hippocampus is more fully developed and language skills are intact.

Research has proven that certain memories from the early childhood years are more accessible than others for adults. I used to assume that not recalling a childhood memory meant that I had forgotten the event but there is a difference between accessibility and. A memory may always be available, but a person might not be able to access the memory for various reasons.1 According to a study by West and Bauer, earlier memories have less emotional content than later memories, and are less personally meaningful, unique, or intense 2 . Earlier memories also do not seem to differ greatly in perspective. For example I can remember in great detail how I celebrated my 10th and 18th birthday, each were very significant parts of my life. For my 10th birthday I can remember where it was, who was there and what it did but I can’t necessarily pinpoint how I felt at various points of that day whereas for my 18th birthday I can remember the events that occurred that day in the same detail but in addition to this I could tell you how I felt at various parts of the day, while I couldn’t tell you exactly how I felt on my 10th.

As professor Wede mentioned in class keeping a journal is useful for accessing memories that in time we won’t be able to remember as well in the future. In hindsight I would have kept a journal when I was younger so if I felt the need I could go back to read it to remember significant moments in my life that I am beginning to forget.


  1. Jack, Fiona, and Harlene Hayne. “Eliciting Adults’ Earliest Memories: Does It Matter How We Ask the Question?” Memory 15.6 (2007): 647-63. Print.
  2. West, Tiffany A., and Patricia J. Bauer. “Assumptions of Infantile Amnesia: Are There Differences Between Early and Later Memories?” Memory 7.3 (1999): 257-78. Print












Psychosocial Development

Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, explain eight stages through which a healthily developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood.

It took me a while to figure out who I really wanted to be. Everyone goes through multiple phases that help them figure out what they actually liked to do and what they didn’t like to do. But for me, I was always in limbo. I never joined any specific clique or dedicated my time to one thing in particular. Nor did float around to these different environments around me. I kind of just stayed in one place and waited to see who I would become. According to Erik Erikson, one must test various roles and eventually settle into a consistent environment in order to form close relationships and ultimately live a happy life. But why did I need to go out and experience different things by myself in order to find a group to do it with me? I had a different approach. Not necessarily a good one, but it ended up working for me. If all my friends were playing baseball, I would go play baseball. Not because I thought that if I kept playing baseball I would eventually become a major league superstar, but because that’s what everyone was doing and they seemed to be having fun doing it. When I got to high school and my friends were drinking, I’d probably join them, but not to try and look cool, but because realistically there was nothing else going on. People say going out and experience new things will help you find your true identity, but sometimes it’s ok to let your identity come to you. Although I can be very energetic and outspoken, I can also be introverted and kept within my own thoughts. During the time when all my friends (who at this point were about 12 and 13 years old and truly didn’t know anything about their own futures) were practicing their so-called “passions,” I was enjoying my time in my own mind knowing that I would eventually find comfort. And I did. This may go against what a bunch of you may think, but just know that I believe that you don’t always have to find happiness, sometimes it may just find you.

Retroactive Interference

Retroactive interference is when new information learned interferes with older information that was learned previously. When I was a senior in high school I took a statistics course. My teacher would give us weekly quizzes and we also would have tests every three weeks. The information on each test was not cumulative, so each test was based off of new material learned. In other words, older information previously learned in the class throughout the year would not show up on every test. However, before each test, we would learn new information that would not be on that test. Instead, the information learned the week of the test would be on the next test. For example, if we were to have a test on Thursday, March 13th, the information on that test would have been based off of material learned up until Friday, March 7th. We would not review for the test on Thursday; instead, we would move on and learn new material right before it. This material learned the week of the test was not to be on the test that week. All the material on that test was learned a few weeks before it. The method my teacher had of teaching us new material right before a test would really confuse me. It was difficult for me to remember the information learned previously that would actually be seen on the test. I found it hard to recall the test material because of new material interfering with my memory. Retroactive interference had a huge effect on me in my statistics class senior year. The information learned later in class would continually interfere with the information I had learned earlier. It would have been helpful if my teacher had helped us review the week of the test instead of having us learn new material that would not be on the test to avoid retroactive interference.


As a child growing up in a Puerto Rican household, I quickly learned the nuances of speaking a different language. However, as I grew older and was required to pick a language to study in high school, I decided that taking Spanish would be too boring; I already knew Spanish! I went out on a limb and took up French. I found that I had an affinity for languages so picking up French wasn’t the most difficult task. As I continued with the language and began to speak French more and more, I found I had difficulty speaking Spanish. I noticed something was wrong when I would use improper nouns and adjectives that just didn’t exist in Spanish, but did in French. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, I know I was experiencing retroactive interference. My new knowledge of French was interfering with my prior knowledge of Spanish. Regardless of the fact that I knew the information was retained, I was unable to retrieve that information as readily as I could before I began learning French. Much to the chagrin of my Spanish-speaking relatives, my poor communication skills continued until I could barely speak any Spanish at all without becoming confused. I could only call the resulting vernacular a hybrid of French, Spanish, and English: Spranglish.

I’ve wondered what could have happened to my existing knowledge of the Spanish language. It couldn’t have just disappeared, could it? I believe what must have happened was that I was experiencing trace decay. This is a process in which memories are lost because I failed to use them. I was so busy forming new memories and rehearsing French, that my Spanish fell into disuse, and now I struggle with the language. Also, I’ve admittedly put in far less effort into re-learning Spanish than I have put into learning French. Now, however, as I no longer study French, I find that my speaking abilities there have decreased dramatically. Hopefully beginning to speak Spanish again will be easier now that I’ve forgotten more French. I understand now that I need to put in the effort to learn Spanish again so I can better communicate the language with my family as well as with my peers. Learning new languages is tough, hopefully re-learning a language isn’t as challenging!

False Memories

A couple of years ago I was doing the laundry when my sister yelled down to me that her bed was shaking. Since she is typically one to exaggerate, I did not think much of it and told her to calm down. In her classic dramatic fashion, she yelled that she thought there was an animal under her bed and for me to come upstairs. By the time I got up there, the shaking had stopped, which led me to believe I had been right the entire time. Within minutes everyone was posting on Facebook about their houses shaking and asking if anyone else had felt it, and within an hour they were reporting on the news that a minor earthquake had happened in the Eastern United States. I felt like an idiot for making such a mockery of my sister, because she had been right.

Since I was in the laundry room with bother the washer and dryer running, I did not notice the shake at the time. However, whenever I recall the experience, I remember feeling the floor shaking. If the shaking that my sister felt had just turned out to be her being dramatic, I would remember the story as just that. However, since the shaking did end up being an earthquake, I falsely remember feeling a shaking sensation, too.

This memory phenomenon, known as false memories, has to do with your memories being affected by outside sources, such as wording, being told a story about that memory, etc. In my example, the earthquake taking place made me create a false memory of the house shaking. In other examples, such as an eye witness reporting a crime, words used by the questioner to the witness could affect their memory. If the questioner asks a witness of a car accident “Which car smashed into the other?” the witness may remember a small fender bender as a way more severe accident. Because of this, many courts do not count eye witness testimonies as evidence for or against a crime. Another example is memories from childhood. While many of us don’t have our first actual memories before three years old, someone may claim they remember their first birthday party because they have been repeatedly told stories about the event from older relatives who were there.

Though we can create false memories, many of our memories are not false. Actually, most of them are true. Our memory is a very powerful thing and is not easily swayed, but when it is, false memories come into play.



False Memories Took Me to School

In the past few years, I have come to believe that a large part of my academic life came to be as a result of the phenomenon that we have learned to be called “discerning false memories.” I can vividly recall my parents taking me to many Penn State football games and driving through campus when I was a very young child; it was these memories that conditioned me to aspire to go to Penn State during my elementary school years. However, when I went the 2007 PSU vs Notre Dame game with my parents, they asked me if I enjoyed my first Penn State football game. Of course I debated with them that they had taken me to many prior to that, but to this day they adamantly deny taking me to Penn State as a child.

I find it so bizarre that our brain has the ability to build these false memories and convince ourselves that they actually occurred. These false memories are the foundation of who I am as an academic today, and I cannot determine where they originated. As glad as I am that I ended up at Penn State due to these false memories, but they have also taught me to not always trust my own memory, which, to be honest, is a very strange sensation.

Discerning False Memories

My parents have always taken lots of pictures and videos of major events in our lifetime. Occasionally as a family, we would sit down and watch home video’s together and look at photo albums. There are so many pictures and videos that I have seen millions of times that I can “remember” exactly when it happened and what had happened. Then one day during class we learned about forgetfulness and that there is something called discerning false memories which means that everything we think happened doesn’t necessarily mean we actually remember what happened. Since I have seen these pictures so many times, there is a chance that I could have created an image in my head about what happened instead of actually remembering what really happened. So all of the events that I thought I remembered from looking at pictures and or videos, doesn’t mean I actually remember them. There is a good chance that most of these events I actually do remember, but there is a good chance that I don’t remember some of them. In order to prove it you need some sort of evidence that proves what happened. It is a fact that most of the memories in your head are true because otherwise our lives would be a mess. After recently looking at these pictures over break, I questioned whether or not I actually know what happened or not. I couldn’t tell if I actually remembered being at the event, or if I had constructed a fake event in my head. I tried to think if these memories I had were real or not but it was very difficult to decide. It is very hard to distinguish a difference because we believe we remember what happened but since we can not be sure we doubt ourselves.