Author Archives: ceb5545

Watch Out! A New Driver’s On The Road: An Autobiographical Memory

Every day, we create memories; from vague to long lasting. It could be a pedestrian that we saw walking on the sidewalk, while we were driving an hour ago to the death of family member that happened over twenty years ago; memories that are stored in our mind are dependent upon the level that they are processed. I’m pretty sure that we all have remote memories that when recalled by a cue are pleasant and bring joy into our hearts and then there are certain flashbulb memories that when recalled we would like to forget but can’t due to the pain or sadness that is attached. However, there are rights of passages such as: learning how to shave, learning how to tie a tie, being taught how to change a tire, or getting our driver’s license that we have experienced in our past and that are associated with and stored in our autobiographical memory.
An autobiographical memory is recollected events that belong to a person’s past. For example, when I was sixteen years old, I could not wait to go to the DMV to get my driver’s license. Prior to getting my license, I would imagine I was driving on video games and practice on go-karts at Disneyland and the Family Fun Center. As a child I would even pretend that my bicycles, tri-cycles, and big wheelers were cars. That’s how fascinated I was with driving. I wanted to drive so bad, that as I got older and taller and was able to see over the steering wheel, I would even sneak and drive my grandparent’s cars when they went out of town. It was so scary at first, because we had a long driveway and I had to try to keep the car straight while in reverse. My grandfather has always driven a Cadillac, which is a big car, and for me at the time, it was like driving a yacht! Since my grandparents were frequent travelers, I had several encounters with driving while being underage and without a license. Luckily I had never been pulled over by the police or been in an accident.
When I turned fifteen and a half, I enrolled in Budget Driving School. All the kids at school and all my friends were enrolling. I can’t remember how many Saturday’s I woke up to attend the classes. However, I remember being excited and having no problem with waking up early on a Saturday morning to go and sit for eight hours to listen to the rules of the road.
Finally, when it came down to taking my behind the wheel test with my instructor, I had no fear. I knew these six hours I had to spend behind the wheel would be a breeze. I had been driving already for two years now. When the instructor arrived at my house and I got behind the driver’s seat and he seated in the passenger seat, he began to explain the rules of the road and have me locate all the switches and knobs in the car and review the hand signals. As we spent time on the road, my instructor was impressed at how well I could drive! He couldn’t believe how well I could drive, especially on the freeway. I remember him saying,” It’s as if you have been driving for years!” All I could do is smile and say to myself, “If he only knew.”
After I finished my six hours behind the wheel, it was time! Time for the day I had been waiting for all my life! It was time to take my behind the wheel and written test at the DMV. I was now sixteen years old, my grandfather had bought a new Cadillac, and I was ready willing and able to drive. Let’s go! My grandfather let me use his car to take my behind the wheel test. Needless to say, I had no problems with my behind the wheel test. As the instructor got nestled in the new leather bucket seats, he had me parallel park, switch lanes, get on and off the freeway, and merge with traffic. It was piece of cake! When we arrived back at the DMV I took my picture for my license and took the written exam, which I passed with flying colors. I left the DMV feeling like a new woman. I got my license and I was ready to roll!
Obtaining my driver’s license was an autobiographical memory that I will never forget. I remember feeling ecstatic and overjoyed. That was one of the happiest days of my life that has been encoded in my memory for days to come. Even though it is a memory in my past, well over ten years ago, I will cherish for the rest of my life because it symbolized independence and gave me a sense of adulthood. When I ponder on the experience I can recall all of the times I borrowed the car, the long hours spent in driving school, and the moment the DMV clerk gave me my temporary license. Autobiographical memories like this are one you can smile and share with your children and grandchildren in the years to come, and hope they don’t borrow your car while you’re out of town.

Problem Solving

A problem occurs when there is an obstacle between a present state and a goal and it’s not immediately obvious how to get around the obstacle. (Cengage, 2011) In life, we all face problems; well defined and ill defined. Sometimes we possess insight to immediate solutions and other times we have to restructure our problems to arrive at a delayed solution. When faced with life’s challenges, we as humans have a mental mind set as to how we view the outcome in which our problems are resolved. But let’s be real! Sometimes things don’t always work out the way we see them in our minds and we have to be flexible and not be functionally fixed on our initial resolution. However, no one goes through life without facing challenges that require that unique mental processing skill of problem solving.
As a social worker, every month I am faced with the challenge of scheduling assessment home visits for my disabled and aged clientele. Some clients are fairly easy to schedule, while some are difficult. In my mind, I already have preconceived dates and times on my calendar that I will only see clients. I like to see my clients at: 9:30 AM, 10:30AM, 2:30PM, and 3:30PM. As much as I would like to keep my schedule etched in stone, I always have to make exceptions. I always receive a phone call or a voicemail from a client stating, “Ms. Bradford, I need to reschedule my appointment. I have a doctor’s appointment on that date. Please call me back.” It never fails, each month I have to make an exception due to the client’s availability, scheduled doctor’s appointments, interpreter schedule (for client’s who don’t speak English), or for the availability of a responsible family member or conservator’s presence. I have to be flexible.
My conflict of scheduling not only poses a problem for my clients; but proposes an ill defined problem for me. While tentatively scheduling my assessments, I also have to consider my own personal schedule. I have to use some insight. I must think about my vacation time, dentist and doctor’s appointments, and even incubation. Sometimes I need a break from the hustle and bustle of dealing with stress from clients, their caregivers, and annoying family members. I have to consider will my personal schedule collide with the home visits of my clients? Will I get behind on my work if I take leave? If I schedule an appointment late in the day, due to the client’s availability, will I have enough time and energy to complete homework assignments? Even though while in the initial state, everything is perfect according to the fixed schedule I have in my mind, I always have to consider restructuring my schedule to be an effective social worker.
All in all, when faced with solving ill defined and well defined problems, one cannot be fixated with a concrete mind set. You have to be flexible. Everything in the initial state may seem conducive for where your mind set is in the present; but sometimes you have to restructure your plans in order to achieve the goal state. While on the journey of reaching the goal state of the problem, you may have to resort to subgoals, which will place you closer to your goal of problem solving. The solution to a problem occurs when you don’t focus on a specific characteristic of the problem; but focus on the problem as a whole and how you might have to restructure your preconceived notions to reach the goal state. Be flexible and open to various solutions.
Goldstein, B (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Inc.

Deep Processing

According to the Level of Processing Theory, memory depends on how information is encoded. The deeper the processing is the better encoding and retrieval than shallow processing. Memory depends on how information is programmed in your mind. So in order to see the desired results on an exam, which for me would be an “A”, I would have to develop a method that would allow me to remember what I’ve studied. I can shallow process by re-reading passages, review highlighted notes, and even use index cards to review my notes, but if I don’t associated the content with a connection relating to the subject, it’s very well possible that nothing will stick and I will be unable to retain the information I require to pass the exam. With that being said, what is deep processing?

For as long as I can remember, as a student in school, from elementary to college, I have always had to study for a test. Some courses required no effort in studying at all, while others required immense dedication. As a pupil in high school, I can remember coming home after school in the afternoon and sitting down at the dining room table and not getting up till after midnight; trying to prepare for an exam or quiz, using my flashcards, Cornell style notes, and even information that I had highlighted in my textbooks. However, the problem wasn’t in the note taking; it wasn’t even the preparation and organization of my gathered information. The conundrum was remembering all the information that I tried to encode in my mind when it came time to take my test. When it came down to taking the actual test, I would panic and become nervous, almost reaching a point of anxiety. What I failed to realize, is the deeper the processing and connecting of the information I encoded; the easier the retrieval of all the information I studied would’ve been, when it came time to taking the test.

One night while sitting at the dining room table doing my math homework, I became extremely frustrated. I think I was in the fourth grade and I was just learning how to do double-digit multiplication. For some reason, I just couldn’t grasp the concept of how to carry the numbers and all that other jazz that goes along with it. I tried to follow the samples in the textbook and tried to remember all the methods the teacher had written on the overhead projector earlier that day; but nothing prevailed. My mother, who was a teacher, noticed that I was still sitting at the dining room table and that it was almost time for bed. She saw my impatience and expressions of nerve-racking grief. I explained to her my dilemma with multiplication and that I just can’t comprehend how to do it! She wouldn’t accept my defeat. She knew that I knew my “times tables” so she literally sat down and drew out a map with arrows guiding me through each step to follow for each problem. We sat down and completed every problem on my homework assignment until it was completed. The next day in school, when the teacher asked for volunteers to share their answers from the warm-up assignments on the whiteboard in front of the class, I was able to solve my double digit multiplication problems with ease. As I focused on solving the problem, I was able to retrieve and use the image of the map of arrows my mother had taught me from my memory to guide me in solving the mathematical problem.

All in all, when we use the term deep processing we associate it with paying close attention to an item’s meaning and relating it to something else. Deep processing takes place when we elaborately rehearse (taking the meaning of an object and creating connections between the object and something we know). If my mother, had not made me rehearse my double digit multiplication problems till I was comfortable and taught me the map of arrows to guide me, I would have never had the confidence to stand in front of the entire class and solve the math problem on the whiteboard. Still to this day, I am now able to solve multiplication problems in my head, using the map of arrows my mother taught me. It comes in handy when there is no calculator within reach. This concludes, memory depends on how information is programmed in the mind. The more deeper and intense the processing of information in the mind; the better the retrieval.

Goldstein, B (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Inc.

The Cerebral Cortex

Bradford, Chantai


Pre-enrollment at Penn State World Campus, I became interested in the field of Psychology.  I always had a niche for listening to the problems of others as well offering sound advice.  Before the semester began I visited Barnes and Noble.  So I could have a secure understanding of what the wonderful world of Psychology was all about, I needed to get familiar with the subject of Psychology before the semester began.  Upon my visit, I purchased the book titled, Psychology for Dummies written by Adam Cash, PsyD.  I even purchased another book at a silent auction called, The Secret Life of the Brain, authored by Richard Rewstak, M.D.  However, as I began partaking in my psychology courses, I realized that psychology goes deeper than just a therapy session.  It entails various aspects such as: behaviorism, cognition, and even the human brain.

As I began reading my two written sources of information, I became fascinated with the human brain; particularly the cerebral cortex.  If you were to perform a lobotomy, you would see that the cerebral cortex, the surface, which includes the gray matter of the brain that plays a role in the humanlike functions from: seeing, hearing, writing, reading, doing arithmetic, communicating, and feeling compassion.  It is considered the most human part of the brain (McEwen & Schmeck, 1994)

The cerebral cortex is located in the forebrain; the executive part of the brain which allows the brain to have foresight to plan ahead and organize behavior to achieve a goal.  It sets us humans apart from any other creature.  Divided into two halves, fused by nerve fibers of the corpus callosum, allowing the two hemispheres to communicate for processing, is known as the cerebral lateralization.  Making up seven-tenths of the entire nervous system, the human cortex is 10 times larger than that of a macaque monkey and 1000 times that of a rat (Restak, 2001).  The cerebral cortex consists of four lobes which produce thoughts, governs language, and stores memories.

Each lobe is associated with our behavior.  The four major divisions of the cerebral cortex include: the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe.  Every lobe is a specialist.  The frontal lobe is responsible for: planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling movements, reasoning, and overall monitoring of the thinking process (Cash, 2002).  The parietal lobes are for the analysis of sensation on the skin via temperature and pain.  The temporal lobe is used for: hearing, understanding speech, and verbal activity.  The occipital lobes are responsible for vision.  Although each lobe is specifically designed for different human functions, the entire brain operates as a whole, incorporating the task of each lobe.

We as humans have been endowed with five senses, taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight.  The cerebral cortex is the first to receive signals from each of these senses and controls our cognitive functions.  A subdivision of the forebrain, the cerebral cortex plays a major role in assisting us in our daily activities.