Monthly Archives: September 2016

Experiencing Pain

Modern research has shown that pain can be influenced by what a person expects, how the person directs his or her attention, and the type of distracting stimuli that are present. (Weich et al., 2008 p.61) There are ways which people alleviate physical pain. Some take prescriptions and/or drink alcohol; others approach exercise or physical therapy. There is also emotional pain which is alleviated with these approaches as well. I would like to talk about alcoholism. The main topics that I will focus on are the emotional pain acquired from alcoholism and how the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) works as a placebo effect.

Alcoholism is defined by the American Medical Association as “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.” I myself have experienced this disease, which I am relieved they diagnosed as a disease. I have experienced physical and emotional pain as a result of alcoholism. I can remember the insanity of thinking I can successfully drink “this time”, after bouts of defeat. The next day I would wake up to the guilt and remorse, crippling emotional pain and regret. The promises I would make to my family and friends that I will not repeat this tragedy again. There I am the next day, indulged with the bottle. My perceptions of how I seen my addiction what severely different than those around me.  I did not feel pain while active in my addiction. As I stated earlier, pain can be influenced by what a person expects. (Weich et al.,2008)   After several years of drinking, I knew my expectations, which were none. I was relieved of the feeling of pain. When I would “come to” or become conscious, the pain quickly appeared.

Alcoholics Anonymous had its beginnings in 1935 at Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics. These two men approached and helped other suffering alcoholics, and the group grew larger becoming a fellowship. The program was based on spiritual principles and way of living. Early in 1939, the fellowship published its basic textbook, Alcoholics Anonymous. The text, written by Bill, explained A.A.’s philosophy and methods, the core of which was the now well-known Twelve Steps of recovery.

Our text, Cognitive Psychology, gives an example of how Ian was experiencing physical pain after coming in contact with a radiator and his forehead. The example states Ian did not realize he was in pain or bleeding until after he looked into the mirror and seen the gash on his forehead. Consequently, one way to decrease pain would be to distract the person’s attention from the source of pain. I believe A.A. did just this for me. Once I actively participated in the program, developed spiritual principles, my attention was diverted from where it once was for many years. What a miracle!



The free dictionary by Far lax (2003-2016) Retrieved on September 9, 2016  from

Alcoholics Anonymous (2016) by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. Retrieved on September 9, 2016 from

Goldstein, E. Bruce (2015, 2011). Cognitive Psychology, Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience Stramford, CT: Cengage Learning


Using Neuro-imaging to Reduce Stress

Neuroscience is making its way in to the work environment. Researchers are discovering new ways to utilize neuroscience to benefit human behavior in the workplace. The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to help researchers demonstrate the level and degree emotions and thought when put in stressful activities.

The Scandinavian Psychological Association published a research study about the use of fMRI to study the treatment of chronic stress in employees (Bergdahl. J., Larsson, A., Nilsson, L., Åhlström, K. R, 2005). fMRI allow more accurate and less radioactive results, with the use of hemoglobin molecules. “fMRI indicates the present of brain activity because the hemoglobin molecules in high brain activity lose some oxygen they are transporting, which makes the more magnetic and respond strongly to the magnetic field.” (Goldstien, 2011). It uses the iron properties in hemoglobin molecules as magnets. The use of the fMRI allowed researchers in the study to track the brain activity in one of the areas of the brain for perception called the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is located in the frontal lobes of the brain. This cortex job is to regulate cogitative emotion and social behavior. Dr. Richard Davidson used fMRI to conclude that the left prefrontal cortex activity shows happiness and the right prefrontal cortex shows sadness (Breazeale, 2013). The more a person is happy or content the more active the left side is. The unhappier a person is, the more activity shows up on the right side. Researchers have also refer to this as part of the brain as the decision-making function. Some considered aspects of executive functioning humans plan, make decisions and express certain behaviors (Goldstien, 2011). Emotions play a key role in the way a person reacts to certain situations and makes certain decisions. This also means that the prefrontal cortex can also be affected by the emotions and decision making when a person is under stressful situations. In the research study, where the fMRI was used to treat chronic stress in important to decisions and effects of decisions in the work place environment.

In the study the researchers used FMRI to track activity in subjects prior to the treatment, short term affect focus groups. Then also after the treatment was given. It was reported that all subjects had high stress levels and the psychological effects of stress prior to the treatment (Bergdahl, J., Larsson, A., Nilsson, L., Åhlström, K. R., 2005). It is also conclusive with the research from Dr. Davision that there were lower levels of activity in the left prefrontal cortex. After the treatment concluded, researchers noted that the reported levels of stress were reduced. Researchers also noted the side effects of stress were lowered as well. The signal intensities in the left side was higher, resulting in lower left side activity.

These advancements in neuroscience can be used to make generalizations about stress reduction and performance in the workplace. The use of neuroimaging tool like the fMRI has help not only researchers connect the prefrontal cortex with the complexities of its executive functioning. It helps industrial organizational psychologist create and modify plans based on reduction of stress, which has an outstanding effect on behaviors and decision making in the work place. The high costs and limited access of the fMRI technology, limits research for this purpose.



Bergdahl, J., Larsson, A., Nilsson, L., Åhlström, K. R., & Nyberg, L. (2005). Treatment of chronic stress in employees: Subjective, cognitive and neural correlates.Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 46(5), 395-402. Retrieved from

Breazeale, R. (2013). The Role of the Brain in Happiness: Advances in neuroscience reveal fascinating details about how the brain works. Retrieved from

Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Wadsworth, Inc.

PSU. (2016). Cognitive Neuroscience, Lesson 2. Retrieved from







Perception, Reaction time in Corrections



How many times during our everyday life do we use perception? The answer would be numerous time but most do not recall or give notice of.  Perception result from the stimulations of the senses. Cognitive Psychology, Pg:49.  Every move and step and sight we take we perceive things.

Did perceiving and reaction time ever get you in trouble? Donders’ pioneer experiment was interested in how long it took someone to make a decision. He did this my measuring reaction time. Pg:6.  The starting of perception is with Bottom-up processing which receptors are involved. Also building blocks called Geons are responsible for us being able to recognize objects. This is backed up by the Recognition-by-Components theory. Pg77.

Before I became a correction counselor I was a corrections officer. As an officer you always have to have your guard up. During the hours of recreational activities “yard out” it’s a time when I used perception. There was a time when I saw a fight happening and I needed to call it on the radio. There was a time between what I perceived and what was actually happening. I needed “to make the call”. The call of calling a fight or not, and running to the fights needs to be made in seconds because of life and death situations. When I ran to the fight, I also had to make sure that the inmates fighting did not have a “shank” which is a jail made weapon or not. The time of calling a fight on the radio, running to the fight and apprehending the inmates and hand cuffing them its crucial.

Now as a counselor I use perception on the “block” which is the housing unit. I use my perception when the inmates are coming back from the chow hall, yard, or from a pass.  I use perception even when an inmate is not acting his normal self. I need to watch their body language.

In conclusion, perception and reaction time goes hand in hand at my job. My story of perception is different than other stories because I need to react fast. My reaction time counts towards a situation of life or death.





Goldstein, E. Bruce. (2011). Cognitive psychology connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Perception: Adding Complexity to the Complex

Brian Brennan

Dr. Jonathan Hakun

Psych 256 (002)


Perception: Adding Complexity to a Complex Process


Through years of evolution, natural selection has molded human beings in such a way that has yielded the most advanced and intelligent form of life known to exist on this planet. With each passing day, we human beings continuously manipulate and improve ourselves in seemingly unnoticeable ways. Our brains, in particular, incessantly take in, filter, and apply data from our surrounding environment so as to help us adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions. However, a conscious awareness of the myriad of processes that occur while our brains take in this data would inevitably overwhelm the brain with a tedious and daunting process that would consume most, if not all of our daily lives. Ironically enough, our brains have adaptively solved the problem by means of allowing data-intake to proceed in a seemingly automatic and effortless manner. Ergo, our ability to use our perceptions to recognize, reason, and react to environmental stimuli occurs so as to maximize efficiency while minimizing effort. To that end, our most reliable and valid data-taking device is the two-part complex machinery resting on either side of the nose; the human eyes. Indubitably, vision per se is our most important sense, seeing that, “more than 50 percent of the cortex, the surface of the brain, is devoted to processing visual information,” according to David Williams, the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics (University of Rochester, 2012). But what exactly does vision entail, and why is it so important? To answer that question, one need only to consider the concept of visual perception.

Over the past several decades, researchers around the world have investigated human perception with great vigor, and fortunately have answered many of the previously unresolved questions associated with perception. Moreover, these researchers have utilized two methods in particular to answer these questions, including brain ablations and a general neuropsychological approach. By means of these two methodological approaches, we have discovered that the process of perception largely occurs through two neural pathways, known as the ventral and dorsal streams, which are ultimately responsible for delineating what and where/how an object is, respectively (Goldstein, 2014). Nevertheless, because of the scientific nature surrounding the physiological process of perception, there will always be questions left unanswered and discoveries yet to be made. Fortunately, a team of neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, headed by University of California – Santa Barbara’s Michael Goard, have made yet another momentous discovery in the field of neuropsychology, which has further contributed to our understanding of the connection between how perception guides action.

A recent article posted by ScienceDaily illustrates just how significant this discovery was, and, more importantly, what it can reveal about how exactly human beings perceive the world around us. The research at hand was specifically geared towards further understanding the neural circuitry responsible for transforming perceptual signals into coordinated motor responses. However, before one can understand the significance and importance of their findings, it is primarily important to explain what we already know about perception and how it relates to their research, especially with regards to the neural circuitry thought to play a pivotal role in using our perceptions to guide how we interact with objects in our environment. Goard explains that, “mapping perception to a future action seems simple. We do it all the time when we see a traffic light and use that information to guide our later motor action” (ScienceDaily, 2016). However, after familiarizing oneself with the complexities involved with perception, as exemplified in lesson three, it becomes clear that perception is anything but simple. Consider, for example, the following sentence:


The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.


In the mere second it took you to read it, your retina received incoming photons of light, which were simultaneously projected as a coherent two-dimensional image on the back of your eye, and reflected back towards your computer screen (or piece of paper); these electrical signals were then subsequently propagated through the optic nerve, to the occipital lobe, and then sent to the respective lobes of the brain responsible for understanding what you’re looking at. This exemplifies only half of the story, and it occurs by means of bottom-up processing. The second half, known as top-down processing, also occurs while perceiving the sentence. This knowledge-based processing allows one to use his or her prior knowledge of the English alphabet (including the knowledge of every letter comprising the alphabet, seeing that all are utilized in the above sentence), word formation, sentence structure, and pronunciation in order to make sense of the perception per se. It is also worth noting that, while reading and making sense of this sentence, your brain was also using the same two processing devices to scroll through (or turn) the page. In my case, I was using the two aforementioned processing devices (i.e., bottom-up and top-down) to locate the keys in which to type the sentence, use my prior knowledge of perception to formulate a detailed and understandable interpretation of the complex perceptual process, and thus compose the text you are reading at this very moment. To deem the concept of perception, including the two ways in which we perceive environmental data, as being a complex physiological process almost seems like a drastic understatement. To that end, the interaction between perceiving (i.e., all that goes in to your experience of reading and/or writing a sentence) and taking action towards whatever it is your attention is turned to (e.g., using the muscles of your eyes to navigate across the page, using your fingers to locate and press the keys on a keyboard) has caught the attention of researchers around the world, as the scientific community continuously attempts to answer the question of how our brains accomplish these tasks; a question that was of primary importance in the research headed by Michael Goard and colleagues.

This question was first addressed beginning in the 1980s, after a myriad of theoretical support came forth regarding the likely existence of a close connection between perceiving an object and using that perception to interact with it appropriately. In order to investigate problems of this nature (e.g., those involving unobservable and complex neurological mechanisms), researchers frequently employ an approach characterized by brain ablation, which is the process of nullifying the actions of a brain region via surgical removal or chemical injection. By subjecting test subjects (i.e., primates) to an object discrimination task after the careful ablation of temporal regions in the brains, it became clear that a specific pathway is responsible for determining the identity of a given object; a difficult task for those test subjects with ablated temporal lobes. The conclusion of the experiment led to the formal discovery of this pathway, which is known as the what pathway (also referred to as the ventral stream), and it extends from the occipital lobe to the temporal lobe (Goldstein, 2014). Similar research has revealed yet another pathway involved with the process of perception, known as the where (or more appropriately, the how) pathway. Utilizing a landmark discrimination task, the goal of which being to remember an object’s location and then to choose that location after a delay period, as well as ablating regions of the parietal lobe revealed that the neural pathway responsible for determining an object’s location in space and time extends from the occipital love to the parietal lobe, and is known as the dorsal stream (Goldstein, 2014). The existence of these two pathways were provided with even more experimental support by means of utilizing a neuropsychological approach.

Similar to the test subjects who experienced nullified neurological functioning that arose by means of ablating regions of the brain, individuals with brain damage can also serve as useful test subjects, depending on where the damage occurred. Ergo, the experimental utilization of these test subjects (i.e., those who have suffered brain damage) is characteristic of a neuropsychological approach, and this approach was used to provide further support for the existence of a perception (ventral) stream and an action (dorsal) stream (Goldstein, 2014). Nevertheless, the notion that these two streams are solely responsible for perception and associated action has been under scrutiny, and for good reason. After all, the paradox lies in the fact that, despite the fact that we are able to use our neurological machinery to understand our neurological machinery, the evidence brought forth thus far does not meet the qualifications necessary to satisfy a complete and accurate understanding of our neurological machinery. The full quote by Goard regarding perception is as follows, “Mapping perception to a future action seems simple…However, how these associations are mapped across the brain is not well understood” (Goard et al., 2016).

In their research article, posted in the journal eLife, Goard introduces his research by explaining that sophisticated sensorimotor decisions (e.g., using a traffic signal to guide future driving maneuvers, often requires mapping specific sensory features to motor actions at a later time. He also mentions that there lies the possibility that the connection between perception and action may involve other neural circuits besides simply the ventral and dorsal streams, which is a logical conclusion to reach when attempting to understand why we do what we do (Goard, Pho, Woodson, & Sur, 2016). The article also denotes several unresolved issues involved with turning a perception into an action, including the lack of clarity regarding the regions responsible for sensorimotor transformation, as well as the issues that lie in determining which region(s) is (are) responsible for maintaining task-relevant information between stimulus reception and an evoked response to the given stimulus. The article also elucidates the fact that, “although measurement of neural activity is an important first step toward defining task-related regions, the presence of neural activity does not prove that a given region plays a causal role in mediating behavior” (Goard et al., 2016). To that end, the researchers were curious as to whether the observed differences (i.e., of previous studies) in sustained neurological activity, implicated in the parietal and prefrontal cortical regions, during perceptual tasks is consistent with that described by previous theoretical models; or whether these differences could be attributed to another aspect of the task (Goard et al., 2016). In order to aid in clarifying the unresolved issues involved with perception, the researchers utilized a more comprehensive and technologically advanced approach; they theorized that the clarification could be accomplished by measuring and perturbing activity across sensory, parietal association, and distributed motor cortical regions during a visual-delayed-response task. Additionally, instead of using only ablation or only a neuropsychological approach to yield information about brain activity involved with perception, the researchers were able to use more advanced techniques, which were based upon recent optical inactivation approaches. Specifically, the aforementioned approaches were deemed the most apt for the experiment due largely to recent revelations regarding the effect of cortical inactivation of behavior being dependent on timing and whether the inactivation was bilateral or unilateral (Goard et al., 2016). Using chemically ablated mice as their test subjects, the researchers utilized an optogenetic approach, which involved inactivating bilateral cortical regions exhibiting task-related responses. In doing so, the researchers were able to determine the necessity of sensory, association, and frontal motor cortical regions during each stimulus, delay, and response of a memory-guided task. Simply put, the significance of their research rested in their conclusive determination that the visual and parietal areas were involved in perceiving the stimulus and transforming that into a motor plan (as explained in lesson 3), but only the frontal motor cortex is necessary for maintaining the motor plan over the delay period.

The reason this research is particularly relevant and important in our understanding of human perception is that it was able to reveal a little bit more information about top-down processing. Moreover, by using more advanced techniques (i.e., optogenetics), characterized by the inactivation of neurons in a temporally precise manner by means of manipulating nerve cells with photons of light, the researchers were able to obtain a much more precise and accurate portrayal of what is going on in the brain when you use perceptual information (e.g., seeing a traffic light) to guide later motor action (e.g., hitting the brakes). In addition to the roles of the parietal and temporal lobes in our perceptually-based decisions, this study reveals evidence of perception being even more complex than originally thought.




Goard, M. J., Pho, G. N., Woodson, J., & Sur, M. (2016). Distinct roles of visual, parietal, and frontal motor cortices in memory-guided sensorimotor decisions, In eLife 2016(5). Department of Brain and cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Cambridge. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13764

Goldstein, E. B.  (2014). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience,  4th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version].  Retrieved from


Hagen, S. (2016). The mind’s eye, In Rochester Review 74(4). University of Rochester: Rochester, NY. Retrieved from


University of California – Santa Barbara. (2016). Neuroscience: Linking perception to action. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from


Top-down processing in Pokemon go

I have noticed an example of top-down processing recently while playing the new app pokemon go. The app has a sightingsfeature that tells you there are pokemon nearby and if you have yet to caught a pokemon it is just a shadowed outline of the pokemon with no color or features. You can see an example in the photo below. Now to anyone without knowledge of pokemon it is just a nameless gray shape. However, with previous knowledge and through top-down processing I know that this gray shape is a Snorlax.  

This example of top-down processing is very simple and easy to understand. You need previous knowledge of something and the right context to guide the information collected into something with meaning. With no previous experiences with pokemon the gray figures in the game are just that gray figures. They have no connection to anything in your previous knowledge so top-down processing does not occur and they remain gray figures with no meaning.

On the same note the Pokemon show had a short segment before and after commercials called who’s that pokemon. Where they showed a gray figure of a pokemon before the commercial and showed the pokemon after snorlaxcommercial break. This was the same example of top-down processing in different context.

fMRI and Brain Surgery

Brain imaging is always used in planned brain surgeries. For example, before neurosurgeons will consider operating on a patient with uncontrolled focal epilepsy they require a multitude of tests; a fMRI is one of the most important. I am going to through it so that every function is location can be identified, as well as determining whether or not the risks of damage being caused by surgery are too great. The fMRI is even able to pinpoint functions, including memory and language, to the hemisphere that they are most prominently used in.

In the context of the cerebral cortex, hemispheres can be defined as the identical twins of one another. They both have the same lobes, which in an average brain usually serve the same functions as its “twin”. However, the two hemispheres are a bit interesting because they control the opposite side of a person’s body than the side that they are located. In other words, the right hemisphere of a person’s brain controls the functions of the left side of the body, while the left one controls the right side of a person’s body.

The fMRI evaluations provide information about both hemispheres, as well as the lobes. During the evaluation that is used for surgery, the patient is asked to do a multitude of tasks that are recorded using the FMRI. The technician may ask the person to do something related to voluntary motor function, using one side of the person’s body at a time, in order to pinpoint the exact location within the lobe(s) of voluntary motor function control, not just its general location. As for functions like memory, the doctors are more interested in where memories are mainly stored and processed. Those functions are usually mostly stored on one of the hemispheres.

If performing surgery on the focal point, also known as the origin of the person’s seizures, will cause major damage to these areas then the person is told that they are not a candidate for surgery. However, if it seems that surgery will cause no major damage to these areas then the person is told that they may be a candidate for surgery. I say may be because some patients require further testing.

Ricky the Wonder-kid

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a superhero, cliché, I know. There weren’t many little girl super heroes and I wanted to be invincible. That dream did not end up panning out, but I did meet a little boy, Ricky who I was almost certain had super powers. Unfortunately, his “superpower” would end up with some pretty scary downfalls, similar to the stories I wished so badly to be real.

Ricky, I would learn later had no super powers, he actually had a very rare disease called congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, or CIPA. (Lambert, 2007) While initially it might not sound so bad, our perception of pain is vital to our safety and survival. Lambert explains, “People with congenital insensitivity to pain and CIPA have a severe loss of sensory perception. They can feel pressure, but not pain, so they are likely to injure or mutilate themselves without meaning to. They might know they slammed their hand in the door, it just doesn’t hurt.” Ricky was a toddler when I met him, and a very happy and well behaved kid, but it very quickly became very clear how important the perception of pain really is. The other kids in the daycare had learned through experience not to play with sharp things, or cry out if they are hurt or need assistance. Ricky did not, he would continue whatever his activity was.

Parents with children afflicted with CIPA have to come up with some very creative ways to help keep their child safe. In Ricky’s case, his father had come up with a way to use operant conditioning to teach Ricky basic things to stay away from, Ricky learned if he got near or grabbed dangerous things (stove, sharp objects, electrical cords) he would get a warning via a walkie-talkie he wore around his neck. This still required full supervision at all times, but it did provide hope, he wouldn’t learn by getting hurt, but he disliked time-outs as much as any other kid.

As you might expect, this disease is of great interest to scientist and doctors worldwide. Cambridge University genetics professor Geoff Woods is one such scientist. His team discovered that these people had two mutated copies of the PRDM12 gene as well as missing nerve endings that play a vital role in pain sensation. While there is no cure as of now, identifying this gene has provided families hope at a cure in the future. The Cambridge researchers also feel strongly that PRDM12 could be the key to helping millions of pain sufferers around the world. (Brodwin, 2015)

In essence, having the super power of not feeling pain actually has a lot more negative repercussions than one might initially imagine. Meeting Ricky helped me open my eyes and gain a greater understanding for how and why our bodies work the way they do. Our understanding of the perception of pain has come a long way, but thanks to these individuals who will never physically hurt, we are able to broaden our understanding of pain, and possibly how to alleviate the sensation if a person is in a situation which necessitates it. In my eyes, that makes Ricky, and those in his same position kind of like real life super heroes.

Sources Cited:

Lambert, K. (2007, September 21). How CIPA works. Retrieved September 09, 2016, from

Brodwin, E. (2015). People with a rare genetic mutation who can’t feel pain are revolutionizing how we treat it. Retrieved September 09, 2016, from

Why do we forget: Even if we study?

I pondered what to write my blog about, as I have always been fascinated about Psychology, even as a little girl.  Now what caught my eye was the section on Psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, who was one of the first to study forgetting and wanted to determine how are memory is and the relation to forgetting what we try to learn.  Good question right?

I have often wondered why I study so hard at times and seem to really know the material, especially if it is of a subject or topic I really like or am interested in knowing more about, but then somehow either forget key facts or maybe even a huge chunk of the material I thought I had down pat; everything is blank and I am unable to recall the material I tried to learn.  What was the reason? Is there something that contributed to it that helped me forget more easily?

The article, “Forgetting”, in Very Well, speaks of Ebbinghaus and his published findings in “Memory:  A Contribution to Experimental Psychology” in 1885.  His results were documented and was deemed the “Ebbinghaus forgetting curve”.  As he learned from testing his self for the experiment that “information is often lost very quickly after learned”.


Cues can help you recall things from memory.  A good example, my Art History professor told us on taking notes in class to retain memory, was to do a quick and simple sketch of an art work, with lil key notes on important facets of it.  It will job your memory, or a key word.  Being able to recall things from a vast of newly learned materials can be difficult, and definitely can be forgotten quickly.

The article continues to mention on reasons on why we forget.  Distractions, something that has definitely impeded my retaining material from time-to-time.  Another thing it mentioned that correlates with Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve, is “The Interference Theory of Forgetting”  It lists an example if you were asked what you ate for dinner last Tuesday, but you might not recall or have difficulty, but would probably more easily remember if it were more immediate, like the next morning.  As more time elapses, it is harder to recall from memory.  Similar things to remember are what it means by the “Interference Theory”.  Unique things are more likely to be remembered even with a lapse of time.

It is difficult to know what exactly creates the cause between memory and forgetting; it could be a multitude of reasons from interference, to new information, to time delays, so knowing what the main contributing factors are would not be easy to test or determine.

Definitely, as Ebbinghaus briefly indicated from his own tests, that when learning new material, or studying and then going to sleep, there was no drop in forgetting, as shown in the “Studying before Sleep” article, by Dr. Russ Dewey, 2007.  I would definitely have to agree with this, even if Ebbinghaus “reject some of his own data”.  By studying and then directly going to sleep, unless you suffer from insomnia, anxiety or other factors, you have no other interference with your memory.  You are asleep.  It is able to be restored right after the learning took place.


I personally have tried many ways, gaps before going to sleep, time in between, repetitive, but what seems to enable me to retain more and fully, is studying and then immediately going to sleep.  I never really looked at the other things that contributed to the “Why” we forget part before, but definitely delays and lapses of time in between learning and other interference or distractions cause forgetting and/or inability to recall or store the material or retain it properly.

With that being said, I know what I will be doing before the next quiz, going straight to bed after I study! 🙂


Works Cited:, “Forgetting”, 2016, About, Inc., Studying Before Sleep, 2007, Dr. Russ Dewey,


Operant Conditioning and Addiction blog #1

So far in this course, we have discussed many topics regarding cognitive psychology. The topic that I find very interesting is the idea of operant conditioning. Introduced by B. F. Skinner, operant conditioning focuses on “how behavior is strengthened by the presentation of positive reinforcers, such as food or social approval (or withdrawal of negative reinforcers, such as a shock or social rejection)”(Cognitive Psychology pg 10).  The article that I had found in relation to this topic is the use of CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) therapy for individuals that suffer from addiction. By rewarding healthy behaviors and allowing the consequences of addiction directly affect the individual, through CRAFT therapy, this can help facilitate the addiction treatment of an individual, with the support of friends and family.

Through CRAFT therapy, the concerned significant others (also know as CSO’s) are specifically taught to reward any positive and healthy behaviors that the addicted individual performs. Consistency with rewarding these actions as well as not rewarding the negative actions are key aspects of this therapy. The more one positively reinforces positive actions as well as take away rewarding factors when negative actions occur, the faster and more efficiently the process of addiction recovery will occur.

Another important factor of implementing operant conditioning through CRAFT therapy is the concept that the CSO’s of the individual with the addiction must let the bad consequences happen to them if they perform the addiction. Although difficult to watch, it is imperative to allow it to happen because facilitating the consequences of the addiction will only support the addiction within the individual. The ability of the CSO’s to allow the negative affects to occur will ultimately help the process of the addiction treatment.

Through the support of the addicted individual’s CSO’s as well as the implementation of rewarding healthy choices, taking away rewards when necessary, and allowing the negative affects of the addiction occur are all necessary using operant conditioning for addiction treatment. The reason why one becomes addicted is because of the instantaneous reward. By monitoring and shifting the rewards and punishments within the individual’s mind, this is the best method of treating addiction. The concept of operant conditioning in relation to addiction treatment is like fighting fire with fire, since there is still the concept of reward which is what drives the individual with the addiction.

MRI and Multiple Sclerosis

Although we haven’t talked much about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), we have brushed up on MRI neural brain imaging, which is one of my favorite topics. A head MRI uses magnetic and radio waves to scan the brains nerve tissues Head MRI. Without the technology of MRI, my Father probably wouldn’t have found out about his disease and what causes his body to work the way it does.

About 10 years ago, my Father had a stroke. His whole left side of his face looked like it was melting and he was unable to speak properly. This was because he had lost control in his nerves on the left side of his body. The doctors had no idea what caused the stroke up until two years later when he had his head scanned in an MRI.

Multiple Sclerosis is the damage of the nervous system that disrupts the flow of information between the body and the brain. For more information on MS here is the link for National Multiple sclerosis Society webpage. Basically my Father was slowly losing control of moving certain parts of his body. MS usually effects people cognitively as well but my Father hasn’t dealt with that side of MS yet, only the physical part. What I mean by physically, he has trouble with fine motor skills, such as using a fork and a knife when he eats or using a cane to help him walk. From how my Father explained it to me it was like his bad nerves were attacking his good nerves which prevented him to have normal body movements.

Now going back to the use of MRI’s, his knowledge on his MS is very dependent on getting scans every 6 months. Thats a lot compared to the average person. To see the difference between a normal brain image compared to progressive or relapse image of MS click this Link. Since there is no cure for MS, only monthly medication to help slow the disease down, my Father is able to see every 6 months if his MS is progressing or not. Thankfully through the years of getting brain scans he and his doctors are able to see what his brain looks like and which medication helps more then others. Good news is that he has been in remission for a couple of years now! Which means the MS has not progressed!

I feel that a lot of people bash on technology advancing, when for my Father it has had some major benefits. With out MRI scans, we would not be able to have a clear cut image of whether his MS was worsening or not and if his medication was helping. Hopefully there will be further advancement in MRI brain images that could help find a cure to stop MS completely.