Author Archives: csulliv3

Disney Pixar’s Inside Out and Memory

In class we have been discussing the different components of of working memory\short term memory and long term memory. Discussion how these processes work instantly made the disney fan in me think of Disney Pixar’s movie Inside Out and if how they represented the different memory processes in the movie are truly accurate to how we process memories. I decided to do a little research to see what others have found memory processing to be represented in the movie. After some ‘googling’ I actually found an article on that tries to explain and compare just that!

For those of you that think you are too old for the magic of Disney or have made some other excuse for not seeing this fantastic movie; Inside Out is about a girl named Riley who has just moved with her parents to a new home. The movie take place inside Riley’s mind where the main characters or her four main emotions (Joy, Disgust, Fear and Sadness) run the show and help to determine how Riley’s memories are formed. In the movie Sadness begins to cause mayhem so Joy travels through long term memory to try to fix things.

So how accurately does Inside Out represent memory?

Well, in the brain the part called the amygdala is know for the emotions we feel. In this movie sense the emotions run the show in a place they call Headquarters we might be able to assume this is the amygdala. When the emotions have a string reaction to one of Riley’s experiences they press a corresponding button to generate a memory of that experience in that emotion. For example, in the movie Riley tries pizza with broccoli on it and doesn’t like the broccoli so disgust presses her green button to form a memory of broccoli with the emotion of disgust. the memory then pops up as a little bubble colored with the corresponding memory (in this case a green bubble). The bobble then gets sent up a tube to join the other memories in long term memory. This process does have some accuracy to it. For memories to be transitioned into long term memory it often helps to associate an emotion with it to allow for deeper processing.

In the movie, longterm memory is made up of what would seem to be endless shelves of memories all coded with a different color to represent one of the four main emotions. In our brain long term memory isn’t necessarily stored in shelve like formation but more of scattered webs of information that link to one another; branching webs of neurons.

The movie also shows the emotions able to replay the memories from the formed memory bubbles perfectly like a recorded TV episode that wont ever change. As discussed in class, our memory recall is not perfectly accurate. According to the Forbes article “Research by American psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has shown that our minds can be manipulated via a ‘misinformation effect’ that implants false memories.” In reality we are unable to remember all the details of our memories can easily be forgotten or changed depending on the context we try to remember them. Unfortunately it is no where close to a recorded TV episode that we can rewind and replay whenever we would like.

Overall Inside out provides a good basic guideline for an understanding and a visual representation of memory and how it works. However, there are many differences in how our memory processing really works as to how it is shown in the movie.


Sill a great movie if you ask me! For more information or to read the Forbes article for yourself, click here


Earlier this week in lecture we discussed the idea of someone who has “blind sight.” The idea that someone who is blind still contains some sort of sight or visual abilities was just mind-blowing to me. I decided to look a liter deeper into the concept.

Blindsight is basically when someone is able to see things without consciously knowing that they are seeing. To a person with blindsight they are convinced that they are 100% blind and cannot see anything at all. However, through various tests doctors have been able to prove that people with blind sight are indeed able to “see” to some extent unknowingly.

So does this mean that no one is actually blind?

Blindsight is not the case with every person who is visually impaired. True blindness can occur when your visual system (eyes and such) are damaged. Blindsight however, occurs when the visual system is fully functioning and it is instead the visual cortex in the brain that has been damaged.

You see (no pun intended), the visual context takes all the information that is received through the visual system and translates it into something that make sense to us. Thus, when someone has blindsight they can technically “see” through their visual system just fine. However, with a damaged visual cortex the information gathered through their visual system has no where to go, and no way to be translated into something we can understand. This is why someone with blind sight thinks that they cannot see at all.

The article “Blindsight: The strangest for of consciousness” discusses a case of someone who has blind sight named Daniel. Daniel underwent a surgery to cure headaches which ended up destroying the visual cortex. According to the article, Daniel thought himself to be “half blind.” Everything to the left of his nose seemed to be completely black to him. As a result Daniel went to London’s National Hospital where ophthalmologist Michael Sanders began administering tests to see what as going on with Daniel’s vision. Sanders quickly noticed that Daniel was able to perform certain tasks proficiently within his blind spot as if a “second sight was guiding his behavior, beyond conscious awareness.” When referred to psychologists Elizabeth Warrington and Lawrence Weiskrantz Daniel was asked to complete a few tests. One text they had him complete was to point at a circle on a screen placed in his blind spot. Although Daniel insisted he could not see anything he was almost always correct when pointing at the screen.

The article then goes on to raise the question: How much really goes on without our consciousness? When we make decisions do we only have the illusion of conscious control?

These of course are some of the most difficult and controversial questions to be answered in psychology. I’d like to believe that it is a combination of both systems at work when we are making decisions and doing other things but who really knows!

If you’d like to read more about Daniel or what the article has to say on the pressing questions of our unconscious verses conscious control feel free to read the article below: