Monthly Archives: July 2016

Post Blog 2- A Memory

In the events of memory, I was walking down the road in an unfamiliar place in the town of Stone Harbor New Jersey when I smelled a familiar smell of my youth. It immediately took be back to the old neighborhood. I could see my house where I was raised, the houses of my neighbors, even the cars I have seen day in and day out. It was a flash of a memory so old yet it seemed so real. Then the smell shifted and the memory slowly faded.

In the process of the smell, it was a sensory long term memory that was made by an implicit conditioning memory. This memory was not consciously made but over time the memory of the smell was conditioned into my memory and associated it my old neighborhood. “Classic conditioning occurs when pairing an initially neutral stimulus taking on new properties.” (Goldstein, 2014)

Another aspect that it’s an episodic memory associated to an historical memory, “Episodic memory is that involves mental time travel- the experience of travelling back in time to reconnect with events that happened in the past.”(Goldstein, 2014) Although the memory was triggered by my olfactory, it took me down memory lane.

This process of isolating a distinguishable smell that triggered a memory seems not to be a common occurrence.  There was a study “Effect of smell presentation on individuals with regard to eye catching and memory” (Akira Tomono, Koyori Kanda, Syunya Otake, 2011) which introduce how association of visual objects are better enhanced with olfactory smell. We found that appropriate smell presentation contributes to an object’s conspicuity and memorability. “Analysis of gaze time and retention time showed that when smell is not presented, a viewer’s eye moves frequently in a wide range, thus attempting to acquire as much information as possible. On the other hand, with smell presentation, the viewer is more likely to concentrate on the relevant objects.” (Akira Tomono, Koyori Kanda, Syunya Otake, 2011)

To conclude, the reason why I was able to recall the mental visual picture was because my mind associated that specific smell and bonded it with the memory of my neighborhood. Yet, when I visually imagine my neighborhood, I do not smell the scent nor can I recall it. Hence, the association is one directional and conditioned.




Cognitive Psychology- Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience, E. Goldstein, 2014

Effect of smell presentation on individuals with regard to eye catching and memory, Akira Tomono, Koyori Kanda, Syunya Otake, Version of Record online: 17 FEB 2011

Do Faster Note-taking Methods Really Work?

With the rising use of laptops and tablets in class, many stress the benefits of using technology to take notes – electronic note-taking is faster, more efficient, easier to find when going back to reference, and it is easier to connect notes to online materials like graphics and videos. However, the benefits of handwriting notes may outweigh these new advantages.

When writing notes by hand, students have to pay attention to what professors are saying, what PowerPoint slides are showing them, remember this information long enough to write it down, and then pay visual attention to what they are writing. This creates a loop in which students are constantly repeating the information they have just learned in their heads through both audial and visual pathways, making it much easier to remember said information when recollection is necessary (Goldstein, 2011). Electronics also pose the threat of distracting attention from class, with abundant entertainment available online at the hands of social media and news websites, etc.

An article in NPR also suggests that longhand writing of notes forces students to be more selective in the information they choose to write – in effect, they need to pay attention to relevance of information they are given, which both streamlines notes for future use and forces additional processing of stimuli to determine which pieces are absolutely necessary to remember (NPR, 2016). In another study published in Psychological Science, it is suggested that generative note-taking that requires summary and processing of relevant information helps retention and encoding much more than non-generative notes that copy class lectures verbatim (Mueller, 2014). This is similar to the streamlining process in that additional analysis of information is needed, which benefitted students’ memory and retention of material in the long run.

The type of material being recalled can also display differences between laptop notes those taken by hand. In Mueller’s study at the University of California, students in each group scored equally when tested on facts and dates, but more semantic or “conceptual-application” questions heavily favored students who took notes by hand (Mueller, 2016). This suggests that while taking notes on a laptop or electronic “shortcut” may provide short term efficiency or speed, students who reinforce their learning by writing and streamlining are more likely to understand the information well enough to provide application of material and answer semantic test questions.

As a college student, I often find that I remember class notes better when I write them down. However, it is impossible to ignore the convenience of typing notes and the possibilities that come with note-taking software and the connection of notes to the Internet. Obviously this class is online, and I don’t think that the absence of in-class or handwritten notes is detrimental to my learning in this course. I also think the way this specific course is designed as an online class helps tremendously, as we are given textbook pages and learning modules to read and note, and then retain and reference those notes and sources in weekly quizzes, blog posts and labs that require us to look at the information again. Because of this repetition, it is much easier to recall information on tests and students can successfully apply what we have learned.

Goldstein, E. B. (2011). Chapter 2: Cognitive Neuroscience. Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research and Everyday Experience (3rd ed.)(pp. 23 – 45). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Mueller, P. A., & Oppenheimer, D. M. (2014). The pen is Mightier than the keyboard. Psychological Science, 67(1), 1159–1168. doi:10.1177/0956797614524581

NPR. (2016, April 17). Attention, students: Put your laptops away. Retrieved July 13, 2016, from

The Aging Brain

Screen shot 2016-07-12 at 6.40.53 PM

One of the greatest concerns I have in terms of adjusting to getting older is how the process will impact my cognitive functioning in terms of long term (LTM), short-term (STM)/working memory (WM).

My dad succumbed to the cognitive ravages of Alzheimer’s disease; therefore, I considered whether I might be genetically pre-disposed to the disease. If not, what was my fate in terms of normal brain aging and cognition? What could I do to improve cognitive functioning in terms of memory?

Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. Its mission is to slowly and mercilessly erode cognitive functions including memory. My dad had some good moments during his initial battle with the disease. My family and I would observe him use implicit memory to confidently and safely walk to the kitchen to get a beverage then drink it without issue; therefore, his right parietal lobe, at least at this time, was functioning as well as his cerebellum. In addition, in terms of working memory, his “visuospatial sketchpad held visual and spatial information.” (Goldstein, Bruce E. 2011) The observation was painful in light of the circumstances, yet had an element of fleeting comfort.

Eventually, he was unable to feed himself as a result of his left parietal lobe degeneration. (Alzheimer’s Society 2014) My dad was an engineer, who excelled at and enjoyed process optimization, which defines the work of an engineer. Yet the disease, ultimately, would not allow him to invoke episodic memories that pertained to his career, family and friends. Episodic memories are adversely impacted by the deterioration of parts of the medial temporal lobe: the hippocampus, which is responsible for the formation of new LTM, the thalmus, which is responsible for sensory perception, and the amygdala, which processes emotions associated with memory). (UCSF Aging and Memory Center 2014)

But what of his retrieval of a LTM regarding his mother’s preparation of breakfast many, many years ago (episodic memory), then his “awareness of the stored information that was (apparently) moved back to STM?” (Goldstein, Bruce E. 2011) Is STM not the first cognitive function to start declining as a result of the disease? The answer is that the initial resiliency of LTM is the result of an unconscious rehearsal of the best remembered memories so recall is strengthened.” (Morris, John C. 2016) Apparently recall of these long ago events relies on the hippocampus less. (Alzheimer’s Society 2014)

My dad’s right temporal lobe deteriorated; therefore, in terms of visual coding for LTM, my dad could not recognize family members based on their face or appearance. (Alzheimer’s Society 2014) (Goldstein, Bruce E. 2011) That reality was almost unbearable.

During the normal course of research, I learned that the probability of succumbing to early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease was low. In addition, “fewer than one in five adults age 65 or older have the disease, which rises exponentially with age.” (American Psychological Association 2016)

For those of you in your early 20’s, you will be happy to know that your brain’s volume is at its peak; however, it’s a downward spiral from there. The cortex shrinks, neurons atrophy, dendritic connections are reduced, and blood flow declines. Episodic, source, and flashbulb memories decline the most, while semantic and procedural memory decline the least. Planning and organizing activities take more effort. (American Psychological Association 2011)

I currently focus on a lifestyle that may improve my cognitive functioning in terms of memory by (1) eliminating distractions as the process of information encoding and retrieval can be adversely impacted, (2) exercising: I take intermediate level ballet classes, (3) socializing, (4) staying positive about the aging process as memory might improve as a result, 5) challenging myself intellectually (I am enrolled in the PSU psychology degree program), (6) reducing stress: I’m working on that, and (7) practicing self-efficacy. (American Psychological Society)

I have no reason to believe that my brain is not going through a normal, age-related, degenerative process. I do my due diligence in terms of researching credible information on the topic, then discussing the information with my doctor. I don’t want the fear of decreasing cognitive abilities such as memory to keep me from understanding and managing the normal brain aging process in spite of the “downward spiral.”

Works Cited

Goldstein, Bruce E. “Glossary.” Cognitive Psychology Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Copyright 2011, 2008. pg. 132.

Web Publications

Image credit: Jannis Productions. Rebekah Fredenburg, computer animation; Stacy Jannis, illustration/art direction.“Under the Microscope.” Braintour. Alzheimer’s Association. Copyright © 2011 Alzheimer’s Association®. web 12 July 2016

“Dementia and the Brain.” Alzheimer’s Society. Last reviewed: September 2014. All content Ó 2106 Alzheimer’s Society. web 11 July 2016.

“Episodic Memory.” Brain 101: Topics in Neuroscience. University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center. © 2016 The Regents of the University of California. Page Content Reviewed: December 8, 2014. web 11 July 2016.

Morris, John C,. M.D.“Why do Alzheimer’s Patients Remember Certain Things and Forget Others?” Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis. Copyright 2007-2016 Caring. Web 11 July 2016. n. pg.

Memory Changes in Older Adults. American Psychological Association. Ó2016 American Psychological Association. web 11 June 2016. N. pg.

Vierck, Elizabeth.“Memory and Aging.” APA Office on Aging and Committee on Aging. Ó2016 American Psychological Association. web 11 June 2016. N. pg.



Do Goldfish Only Have a 3 Second Memory? L8



It is the age old myth of believing that goldfish only have the memory span of 3 seconds long. With further research and experiments we now know that goldfish have a memory that last at least 3 months long (Harfield, 2014). If the myth was true, this would mean that the goldfish is never given enough time to process information to the long term memory. Short term memory is described as memory that can hold at least 5-7 items for a period of at least 15-30 seconds long (Goldstein, 2011). Long term memory happens to be a little different as we transfer information through repetition and rehearsal the memories can last for years, well for a goldfish only months at a time. With this understanding we would think that goldfish wouldn’t even make it out of the short term memory stage either.

We can easily test a goldfish memory by conducting our own science experiment. It can be as simple as using a lever for the fish to receive its food (The Goldfish Tank, 2016). It is a very similar concept to operant conditioning. When a goldfish presses on the lever and food is released the goldfish is able to remember the next day that when the lever is pressed food is released. If the gold fish was unable to make that connection, then the memory span of the goldfish would be shorter. Because the goldfish is able to make that connection we can conclude that a goldfish’s memory is much longer than what the rumors say. We can also learn when the memory span ends when we realize that the goldfish no longer goes to the lever for its daily feeding. Another experiment that was conducted to test a goldfish’s memory was similar to Pavlov’s famous dog and saliva experiment to test classical conditioning. The same was done for goldfish in which they learned that it was feeding time when a certain sound was played. This was proven to be true when the sound was played five months later and the goldfish still correlated the sound to feeding time.

In conclusion, memory is an important aspect of all of our lives. In the case of goldfish memory is a necessary tool for survival when it comes to remembering feeding or even remembering predators in the real ocean. We should all experiment on all of our pets to see how long they are able to remember things.

Goldstein, E. B. (2011). Cognitive Psychology. Belmont, Canada: Cengage Learning .

Harfield, D. (2014, February 4). Why goldfish having a three-second memory is a myth…. Retrieved from How It Works:

The Goldfish Tank. (2016). Goldfish Memory: Is 3 second goldfish memory a myth? Retrieved from The Goldfish Tank:

Elizabeth Negron

Visual perception




I would sometimes look at the clouds and imagine faces or animals. Also, I would find faces in landscapes,food or even man-made objects…..this experience always made me feel clueless. I didn’t know what I am experiencing or why I am imagining this. While reading my Cognitive Psychology textbook I came across a demonstration about finding faces in landscapes which reminded me of my past experiences. Searching more about this topic I came across the term “Face Pareidolia” which is the illusory perception of non-existent faces. I believe most people have never heard about it but nearly everyone has experienced it. According to the World English Dictionary Pareidolia is defined as “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.”(BBC, 2013)
Furthermore, Gestalt Law of perception explains how humans have the cognitive tendency to combine isolated, simple ideas and stimuli into meaningful and complex configurations. Gestalt describes in details five laws of perception which are continuity, closure, proximity, similarity and simplicity. Each type looks at a different side of our organizational perception. Continuity perception is when we perceive objects that seem to have a relationship to each other as being continuous. Closure describes our tendency to look for unity in objects and to see lines as a single unit so we tend to fill in details. Proximity indicates our tendency to group together close items in a meaningful way. Law of similarity suggests that similar things tend to appear grouped together. Finally, a law of simplicity or Pragnanz explains how objects in the environment are seen in a way that makes them appear as simple as possible. This cognitive ability is considered a survival technique that our brain uses to automatically seek sensible wholes out of random context.



BBC (2013, May 31). Pareidolia: Why we see faces in hills, the moon and toasties. BBC Magazine. Retrieved from

Gestalt challenge. Retrieved July 12, 2016, from

Goldstein, B. E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience with Coglab manual (3rd ed.). United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Episodic and Semantic Memories

Episodic memories are memories of events in which we participated. They can be of something as monumental and unforgettable as one’s own wedding or college graduation, or they can be as simple and forgettable as what one ate for dinner last night. In summary, they are an autobiographical recollection of past experiences that occurred at any given time or place and it is believed that they are stored in a temporal manner. Episodic memories are associated with a point in time and whether or not we can recall it.

The medial temporal lobe is where episodic memories are formed and stored (particularly in the hippocampus), but it is also believed that the prefrontal cortex is important in this procedure, as well, due to experiments that have shown that when it is damaged, episodic memories have a harder time being created. Researchers debate how long memories are stored in the hippocampus. Some believe that they are forever there and lay dormant when not remembered, while others believe that they are only temporarily there and are replaced as new memories are made with only the significant memories being saved. Alzheimer’s Disease, which erodes away memories, tends to damage the hippocampus significantly before damaging other brain areas. This disease, which killed my own grandfather, deteriorates all the memories and thus, all the sanity of a person, leaving them only with a shell of their former self before their brain finally shuts down from all the corrosion.

Contrarily, semantic memories are the opposite yet they are similar. They typically are memories we have in regards to the world around us and general facts about it. Examples can include what the capital of France is, or what the inside of an atom looks like, or what color the sky is. Semantic memories are not usually of a personal nature, unless it was something like one’s own hair color, and do not require that we mentally “travel back in time” to recall them happening to us, like we would with a high school graduation or a wedding. Semantic memories, like Episodic memories are LTM. Because of this, some question the necessity to even distinguish the two of them.

In my own life, I can identify many episodic memories such as my high school graduation, when I met my surrogate parents (I like to think of them as my parents because my real parents and I don’t get along at all), when I first discovered my most favorite music group, and when I realized that I wanted to earn a double doctorate in Chemistry and Psychology. I find that with episodic memories, I can remember them eloquently and without difficulty, whereas with semantic memories, depending on what it is, I can have trouble memorizing them. For example, I absolutely hate math. I would study and study for a math test for countless hours and still not remember any of it when the test came. Both episodic and semantic memories are in our daily lives everyday yet we, as people, fail to realize or understand what they are and how much of a vital part of our existence they are.


Elbich, D. (2016) Lesson 6: Episodic Memories. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site.

Elbich, D. (2016) Lesson 6: Semantic Memories. Retrieved from Lecture Notes Online Web site.


Multitasking: The Art of Divided Attention

It’s four o’clock and its finally time to clock out. I walk out to my car, turn it on, back out and quickly make my way home. This is my schedule every single day during the summer. At the beginning of every summer I notice that it takes a few days, sometimes even a week or so to get back into my usual routine. But it isn’t long until my routine starts to become automatic. It’s so automatic that I often find myself attending to other thoughts in my brain on my way home as opposed to focusing on the road and almost everyday I find that when I pull into my driveway, I can’t remember passing by certain landmarks, changing lanes, or even turning into my neighborhood.

This peculiar phenomenon reminded me of the subject of attention, which was covered in Cognitive Psychology in chapter four. This chapter mentioned the human ability to multitask, which can be done through divided attention. The book mentions that practice allows us to be able to effectively divide our attention between two or more things. For me on my daily drive home, those two things happen to be driving and thinking deeply about things that don’t pertain to my driving. Just as was mentioned in the book, the immense amount of times that I have “practiced” my drive home and the simplicity of it has resulted in it becoming somewhat of an automatic process, which then allows me to think about other things while I’m driving and later causes me to question how I arrived home in the first place (Goldstein, 2011).

However, there are other processes that don’t seem to come as easily to me, such as reading and retaining all of the information that I read. I often experience moments when reading for a class, for example, in which I am reading and suddenly my attention grazes off to something else and I can’t remember what I just read. In this instance my mind automatically follows the words because reading has become an automatic process, however comprehending the words is another story. In terms of comprehending what I have read, my mind would have to partake in controlled processing, which according to the book is something that one must pay attention to at all times (Goldstein, 2011).

In conclusion, we are constantly faced with things that require our attention. Some skills through practice become automatic, but the more difficult skills must be controlled.


Goldstein, E. Bruce. “Perception.” Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Third ed. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. 51-57. Print.

Protests, Protests, and more Prostests. We must unify as a nation!!!!

Protest, protest, and more protests!  Hands up, don’t shoot! Read this for a chance to win one million dollars! Sorry, I do not have a million dollars to give you but I figured the last few sentences would get your attention.  Attention is defined as the focusing on specific features of the environment or on certain thoughts or activities according to our text, (Goldstein, 2011).  People crave attention and seek attention to get things said or done.  Whether it is to further a cause, get a point across, or to accomplish a goal, attention is needed. When you look at the recent events going on in America right now, everyone involved is using attention or seeking it in some way.  The protesters are looking for attention to get their voices heard, the police are paying attention to every move they make to stay safe and the media is seeking the attention of the public through racy headlines and continuous media coverage.

When you look at all the recent protests around America against police brutality, racism, and injustices it is clear that the protesters want the attention of the federal government and lawmakers.  Most of the protesters are using selective attention, which is defined as the focusing of attention on one specific location, object, or message according to our textbook.  Their message is no justice, no peace and that all lives matter.  In the majority of cities, the protesting has been peaceful with a few antagonizing individuals mixed in with the crowds.  In Dallas, the protest was peaceful until the end when the domestic terrorist showed up and participated in the tragic events we all know about.  It is very sad and unfortunate, and ultimately words cannot describe the pain all those people involved must feel.

The police officers involved at all these rallies and protests are using divided attention, which is defined as attending to two or more things at once.  When the police officers are on the scene of these protests they have to constantly be paying attention to what is directly in front of them, above them, and around them.  The police also have to use overt attention, which is shifting attention by moving of the eyes.  Police officers have to constantly monitor everything and find every threat.  Covert attention is also used by police officers when at these protest.  Covert attention occurs when attention is shifted without the moving of the eyes, which is commonly referred to as seeing something “out of the corner of ones’ eye” as defined by (Goldstein, 2011).  All these types of attention are used by police to maintain the safety of everyone at these rallies and protests.

The media loves to have the public’s attention.  They constantly tease us with headlines and tell us to stay tuned at 5 or 6 for more information.  The media wants our undivided attention so that not only can they report a story, but also so that their ratings rise.  Every time I turn on CNN, Fox News, or any other media outlet I usually see a headline across my television screen.  Sometimes I think that they believe, the more outlandish the headline the faster we will give them our undivided attention.

Attention is something that is very valuable and meaningful to get things accomplished. Attention is something that is used and gained every day.  In the protestors’ case, I believe that the peaceful protests are bringing meaning to their cause and getting the attention of lawmakers and people in charge.  Every day I see more athletes and celebrities speaking up about various issues in regards to all the recent protests.  The police officers are trying to keep everyone safe at these rallies while focusing their attention to various places.  The media is also doing a great job in covering all the things that are going on and giving the public an unfiltered look at the issues and things going on in America right now.  Overall, I think that if every citizen uses their attention to focus on unifying, the America I love will heal and be a much safer place to live and thrive.


Hello? Are you even listening to me?

“Hello? Are you even listening to me?” The usual answer is “yeah I heard everything you said” or a “no sorry, can you say that again?”.  We’ve all been on both sides of the conversation before. We’ve either asked the question to someone focused on a book or the television, or zoned out on while someone else was talking to us and let our attention fall on one of our various social media accounts. While most people would agree that they’ve zoned out on someone while they were talking I think they would also agree with this statement “I am very good at multitasking”.  How can you be a good multi-tasker and unable to focus on someone speaking to you while completing another activity? And if we’re all so great at multitasking why did a study done in 2006 find that in 80% of crashes and 67% of near crashes were due to inattentiveness (Goldstein, p. 94)?

When I was younger I tried to master the art of multitasking. I was confident in my ability to accurately complete my homework assignments and watch television at the same time. My mother wasn’t as confident in my abilities as I was. As I got older, completing tasks such as that did not grow easier for me. I was never able to equally divide my attention between my auditory and visual perceptions. Another struggle I had when it comes to dividing my attention was when I’d write the word I just heard or said and interrupted whatever it was that I was originally writing. I’ve found that with practice at my job, that’s become an automatic process for me. I no longer have any issues with that.

For most people driving is an automatic process, the problem starts when they attempt to divide their attention between driving and doing something else. Eating while driving, using hands-free devices, reading, typing, and applying makeup, are all things that can take your attention off the road for just a few seconds but still have grave consequences (Goldstein, p. 94). Texting while driving is huge “no, no” for me and I even have my phone set to driving mode, and it automatically sends responses to people when I’m driving letting them know I’ll respond to them later. I wish that more people realized the danger of texting while driving and understood that no matter how good they think they are at multitasking they’re still putting their lives, and other’s at risk every time they do it.

Goldstein, E. Bruce. (2011). Distractions While Driving. In E. B. Goldstein, Cognitive Psychology (pp. 80-116). Belmont,CA: Wadsworth.