Author Archives: Maria Elizabeth Mair

The Benefits of Green Tea

As a busy woman with her hands full, green tea used to be the drink that I would constantly consume. I knew of its benefits when it comes to metabolism and fighting cancer growth cells. However, after many drastic changes in my life, I stopped drinking green tea without much thought to it. I retreated to coffee and tea since then until I found the article, “New Study Shows That Green Tea Boosts Working Memory” written by David DiSalvo.
In the article, it states, “Its active ingredients have been linked to an array of health benefits, including weight loss, decreasing anxiety, and stopping the growth of cancer cells. And now new research adds ‘memory enhancer’ to the list.” According to our textbook, the working memory is defined as a limited-capacity for temporary storage and manipulation of information for complex tasks such as comprehension, learning, and reasoning (pp. 131 to 132). The working memory works very closely with your short-term memory. It is responsible for helping you solve problems, including schoolwork, and enables you to use your reasoning by using your memories. As it also stated in the textbook, “working memory is concerned not just with how information is stored, but with how information is manipulated in the service of various forms of cognition” (p. 132). Without our working memory, we would not be able to remember what to do in certain situations or figure out how to do math problems or such things that requires you to use your comprehension and reasoning. It is a very complex, yet valuable, system in your brain which your everyday life relies on.
According to the website under “”, the green tea is very popular in China and Japan. It is somewhat of a coincidence that the stereotypes regarding the people of the Asia countries are exceptional in solving math problems and are considered to be some of the most intelligent people there are. Perhaps there is a tie between the two? That’s up to the researchers. The green tea is originally made from the leaves from “Camellia sinensis” that have undergone minimal oxidation during processing. The green tea, as stated by the website, “is a type of tea that is harvested and quickly preserved.” It’s more popular in China and Japan than it is here in America but there is a great growth in the popularity of the green tea among the Americans due to the health benefits associated with it. They have different flavors of green tea in the popular grocery stores like Wal-Mart, Price Chopper, Stop and Shop, and so on. However, the website recommends that you purchase the green tea from high-end grocery places like Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca or specialty grocery stores like Japanese or Chinese grocers.
Back to the article written by David DaSalvo, this article emphasizes that the green tea helps with your working memory as well as all the other benefits. The article explained how the research was done where they had some participants drink the actual green tea and others drink whey protein that tastes and looks like green tea. Then the researchers examined their brain with fMRI machine and the participants had to complete a task that tested their working memory. The results were as stated on the article, “participants who drank the beverage containing green tea extract performed better on the memory tasks, and their brains showed a distinctly different activation pattern between their frontal and parietal lobes. The frontal lobe, home of our most advanced thinking abilities, sits (as the name suggests) at the front of the brain, while the parietal lobe sits just behind it toward the back of the brain. The parietal lobe plays a large role in how our brains process sensory information and language.” It further explained the green tea actually intensifies the interplay between these areas of the brain which I find very interesting. Although, it does admit that in order to consume the same amount of green tea, we would have to drink several cups of green tea a day to match their green tea extract that they used in these drinks. Nonetheless, it proves to me that there are benefits in this drink and that includes improving our working memory. The researchers hope to experiment with a larger group of people but are confident in the evidence they’ve collected thus far.
Overall, this article motivates me to get back into my old habit of drinking more green tea and I’d like to recommend that you’d do the same. As long as we find the brand that we like and let it replace unhealthier drinks like soda and such, it likely will benefit us in the long run. Lucky for me, there is a Whole Foods store conveniently close to my new job and I definitely plan to give them a visit soon. Green tea, welcome back!

Work Sources

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

Artists and their Uniqueness

As the article written by Erik Shute stated, we’ve always questioned whether we’re more right-brained or left-brained when it comes to our skills and such. There are two articles that stated as-a-matter-of-factly that artists among us are structurally unique where there is an increase in their brain neural matter. These artists, who draw better than the ordinary, have this increase in their fine motor and visual imagery areas.
According to Chapter 10 in this course’s textbook, an example of a visual imagery is the ability to see something that isn’t there or in the absence of visual stimulus. The we look back into our memories and remember how certain things look. We think of the sun as something round, yellow/orange, and very bright. We think of the moon as also round, white and gray, and somewhat bright but not as bright as the sun is. When we draw something without tracing it, we try to visualize it in our imagination and we try to draw it from our imagination onto the paper. While we may not actually NEED to use viaual imagery in order to remember how certain things looked, we still tend to do that often like trying to remember how many windows we have on the front of the house or if the elephants’ ears are more round or pointy. So, it would make sense why visual imagery is something very valuable for the artists. They need to be able to visualize something in great detail in order to know what it is they want to draw, paint, or create.
Now, back to the two articles written about these artists, they both emphasized on how they’re structurally unique with the fact that the fine motor and visual imagery areas in their brain neural matter were greater than the people that weren’t considered to be artists. In the article written by Melissa Hogenboom, the researchers did their research with 21 artist students and 23 non-artists using a scanning method called voxel-based morphemetry. A voxel-based morphometry is an automated technique that is used for assessing structural changes in the brain. In this research, they found that that “these scans revealed that the artist group had significantly more grey matter in an area of the brain called the precuneus in the parietal lobe” (BBC News). So basically, it isn’t that it’s on the right side of the brain that makes the artist but rather, as Ellen Winner of Boston College in the same article said, “that increased grey and white matter were found in the art group in both left and right structures of the brain” (BBC News).
In the article written by Erik Shute, it stated, “The study can’t confirm whether this extra matter is an innate gift, but it does suggest the artist’s environment or upbringing plays a part in developing these creative spaces.” So while it might be considered a natural gift when one is so gifted in the matter of creating art, it is believed that the artists’ environment and upbringing are what plays a role in why there was an increase in their fine motor and visual imagery areas in the brain neural matter. It would be a matter of exercising and training their skills that would show an increase in these areas. As Dr. Chamberlain stated in the article written by Melissa Hogenboom, “It falls into line with evidence that focus of expertise really does change the brain. The brain is incredibly flexible in response to training and there are huge individual differences that we are only beginning to tap into.” (BBC News) Also stated in the same article, the researchers hope to collect more random participants in their research on the brain neural matter to collect more evidence to back up their hypotheses on this discovery.
Basically, the question isn’t whether we’re right-brained or left-brained but the correct question is whether we have an increase in the fine motor and visual imagery areas in the case of our artistic skills. While certain talents and skills could be innate, we can always design our own destiny. We have more control over ourselves than we may allow ourselves to believe. We can be anything we want to be as long as we set our mind to it, as long as we surround ourselves with the right influences and allow ourselves such an upbringing that would enable us to improve the skills that we want to polish.

Work Sources

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

Dory’s Amnesia

Before I came a mother of 2 girls, the movies I’d watch would include films like Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare in Love, and Love Jones. Now that I’m a mother, I watch movies like Rise of the Guardians, Monster High series, and Monsters Inc over and over again. So when we went over short-term memory and amnesia in Chapter 4 under the topic of “Attention” and Chapter 6 under “Long-Term Memory: Structure”, the film “Finding Nemo” was the first thing that came to mind and that is what I choose to talk about for my second blog in this course. After seeing this movie so many times, I’d lose my mind if I didn’t find a way to view this film differently. The only way I could make it more interesting enough to tolerate watch it yet again for the sake of my daughters and their need to spend more quality time with me, it became a need for me to actually analyze the movie from a psychologist’s perspective and Dory quickly became a favorite character of mine.

Amnesia can be a very complicated sort of condition and the film, “Finding Nemo” could shed some light on the issue for it to be better understood. Before you might think that it’s a bit childish to bring up this movie for a college course, let me assure you that there was even an article written about this film that was titled, “Finding Nemo ‘gets amnesia right’”. Dory’s symptoms in this film were considered accurate for the condition of amnesia. According to our textbook, amnesia is the loss of the ability to assimilate or retain new knowledge. In order to gain new knowledge, the short-term memory would need to be functioning correctly. In the textbook, it clearly states, “Short-term memory receives the output of the dectector. Short-term memory holds information for 10-15 seconds and also transfers information into long-term memory, which can hold information indefinitely.” In the case of amnesia, the short-term memory is not doing its job to transfer the information into the long-term memory. With amnesia, according to the Mayo Clinic website, the symptoms include confusion or disorientation, impairment to learn new information or to recall past events, and/or false recollections. People with amnesia could be able to read and write, and it is possible that this condition wouldn’t affect neither their intelligence nor their attention span. It really varies on the person.

Back to the film “Finding Nemo”, this character name Dory is a talking fish among the rest of all the talking fish in the sea and she was the key to finding Nemo in spite of her amnesia. Sounds ridiculous and plain foolish but it’s true and a person with amnesia could be very much like Dory and her symptoms. In the movie, the first sign of her forgetfulness would be when she claimed she knew where the boat was headed and insisted that Nemo’s father Marlin follows her to find his son but then she suddenly thought Marlin was a stranger stalking behind her and she tries to escape. Marlin tries to remind her that she was showing him the way to the boat and she once again claimed she knew the way but Marlin stopped her and was told of her condition. The first symptom here: false recollections. She made up this idea that she knew where the boat was headed when, in fact, she didn’t have a clue. The second symptom, she had completely forgotten who Marlin was or where she was going or why which is the inability to retain new knowledge. Since the short-term memory lasts only between 10-15 seconds before it’s supposed to transfer this new knowledge into the long-term memory, Dory had completely forgotten by the end of that time duration. After that, there were many different occasions where she’d completely forget who she was looking for (Nemo) or the sort of the situation she was in (like danger with the shark and the nearby bombs in the sea), or why she had a “gut feeling” she was supposed to do something (after being informed to swim through and not above for safety sake). There were many times she had felt lost and confused. And in spite of her amnesia, she was able to read and she, smartly if I may say, repeated the address to herself time and time again. By the end of the movie, when she was completely lost and confused, she saw the same address she had repeated to herself and all the memories came flooding back for that moment long enough for her to reunite Nemo with his father. Even after that, she’d forget again even the name Nemo.

So, in the article written about how the movie “Finding Nemo” gets it right when it comes to amnesia, they stated that it stands out for showing the realities of the condition. The researcher pointed out that one of the most important things to know about amnesia is the fact that it does tend to frustrate the non-affected people when they deal with the person that has amnesia just like the movie. She, Dr. Sarah Baxendale, stated that this was “an accurate portrayal of the considerable memory difficulties faced daily by people with profound amnesiac syndromes. The frustration of the other fish around her with constant repetition also accurately reflects the feelings of people who live with amnesiac patients. Although her condition is played for laughs during the film, poignant aspects of her memory loss are also portrayed, when she is alone, lost and profoundly confused”.

Overall, the film “Finding Nemo” was a great exposure for the children to get an idea that not everyone is perfect when it comes to their health and mental state but it does make them any less lovable. Someday, when my children are a bit older, I will have them analyze the movie with a bit more depth to see for themselves that the condition that Dory is no fun and can even be scary but with a positive attitude like the one she has would make any rainy day a brighter one. Therefore, I’m grateful that such a movie was created and I hope for more like this.

Work Sources

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

Have the “Talk” with Your Children

In the modern world today, there are many children and teens that turn up missing. Worse, they turn up dead. I am a mother of a 7 year old and a 4 year old, both girls, and this is something that is a constant worry of mine as they grow everyday. If anything happened to my daughters, it would kill me. One of the biggest blames for their abductions and murders would be the internet. There is also, of course, the cyberbullying and the fact that it would be easy to ruin your reputation. “It is time to have the talk with your children”, says a counselor of a Lowder Group in Greenville who went by the name of Karen Heaps. The fact that the frontal lobe of the people are not fully developed until they are in the beginning of 20s, it is up to the parents to provide our children with the information they would need to know in order to handle this sort of situation correctly.

According to our text book, the frontal lobe is receives all the signals from all the senses in your body and plays an important role in your perceptions that involve the coordination of information received through two or more senses. It is the part of the brain that regulates decision making, problem solving, control of purposeful behaviors, consciousness, and emotions according to the National Institutes of Health. With this in mind, we could understand Heaps’ concern with the children and technology. Children, in their growing years, go through a sort of a rollercoaster of emotions and are constantly changing mentally, physically, and emotionally. With the technology within reach and how skilled they are with computers, even the sky isn’t the limit. It can be a wonderful thing but it can also be a terrible, dangerous thing. It is up to us, the parents, to guide them in the right path.

As the statistics shows, up to 43% of the children using the internet have been bullied on the internet and only 1 in 10 of them would report it to their parents or trusted ones. What’s worse is the fact that these bullied victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider committing suicide. And as Heaps explained, the frontal lobe where is where we visualize the consequences, make plans, keep track of time, and learn from the past; these children wouldn’t be making the best decision for themselves or others without knowing all the right information they would need for a situation like this. With the frontal lobe not fully developed, they may act on any impulses including attempting suicide.

Also according to the statistics, ninety-three percent of the children now uses the internet and there are predators or pedophiles that actively seek for children to meet them somewhere. A little over a quarter of these children online will be asked to send a nude photograph of themselves and/or perform sexual activities via webcams. And one out of twenty-five will be asked to make an offline contact. Again, with the frontal lobe not being fully developed until the twenties and without being taught on how to correctly handle these situations; the statistics are expected to stay as is or worsen over the years unless we, as the parents, take precautions with our children.

Overall, a lot of things depend on our frontal lobe and it plays a huge role in the decisions we make on a daily basis. Children and teenagers aren’t old enough, especially due to the fact that their frontal lobe still isn’t fully developed, to make the decisions where their life would depend on. That is our cue for the parents to step in and show the right way of handling these sorts of situations. Have the “talk” with your children and do what you can to save them from harm’s way.


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