Author Archives: jzaccagn

About jzaccagn

I'm a human unfortunately.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Today, my power went off at 12:45 P.M. My only plan for the day was to write a bullet-proof blog post for this class. I was going to give up; but I am here at Starbucks with my slow  and ancient tablet. I have changed from a complicated  topic to an easier topic because it is dear to my heart( which is a reference to deep processing to be honest):

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you have not seen this movie, I demand that you stop what you are doing immediately and watch this movie right now. I cannot express how much I love this film. This movie evoked feelings I did not know I could feel. Lucky for me, I know this film well enough to use it  as an example to apply the principles of  cognitive psychology.

If you are a terrible human being who will not watch this movie and enjoy it, please google Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and read the summary, so I do not have to spend time explaining the premise and boring everyone through the process. The brief summary is that the main characters Joel (Jim Carey) and Clementine (Kate Winselt) attempted to erase each other from their memories after a terrible break-up. Cognitive Psychology explains how this attempt to erase a person from memory was an epic fail.

I think it is perfect how we are covering Chapter 7 now, and most of my points on memory-erasing comes from this chapter. Memory is a network. Memory is not a series of isolated thoughts. The retrieval paths, the associative links, meet together at nodes and continue to spread to other nodes, to create a “net”. Joel and Clementine were an intimate, romantic couple who lived together. Many memories are being intertwined. From sleeping to waking, if I remember correctly, the couple were lived together for two years, which to me, is a lot of time spent with another person. It’s enough time for daily habits to be associated with one’s romantic partner. Daily habits are “deeply” ingrained. I almost wrote my blog on how much my daily habits were disturbed due to the power outage. Every time I walked into the room, I still attempted to turn on the light though I knew the power was out. Turning lights is extremely automatic. I think this is an example “processing fluency”. The spreading activation is strong for automatic motions, like to turning on light switches. Living with someone else, you become accustomed to that other person, and memories of that person become intertwined with association links.

With all these associations in mind, imagine erasing a targeted memory. After removing the targeted memory, associations remain. In the movie, “Lacuna, Inc.” attempts  to correct this issue by asking their clients to remove all belongings that would remind them of the person being erased. That said, places cannot be erased. Sights,  sounds, smells, taste, touch, and feelings cannot be erased.

I bring up feelings not being erased to make another point. In the cases of H.M., Korsakoff’s syndrome patients, and amnesiac patients, explicit memory is impaired, but not implicit. To me, this is fascinating. These patients can remember without remembering! What a paradox! Within the impicit memory paradigm, is familiarity. In Chapter 2, we learned what happens when familiarity is impaired: Capgras Syndrome. The people we love are recognizable but they are not familiar. Now, we can imagine the reverse situation: seeing a complete “stranger” who is eerily familiar.

This is what happened in the film. The explicit memories were erased with no problem, but implicit memory remained in tact. Our hearts, or our  amygdala rather, cannot forget. Sorry, I icannot help but be cheesy. At the last second while Joel was erasing Clementine, she tells him to meet her at Montauk beach. When he wakes up, he meets her at Montauk for the first time, a second time.

This is the theme song, because music is life.

The Age of misInformation

I do not remember how I learned the coined term, “Age of Information”, but when I was thinking about it one day, I googled it. Whenever I use Google, as I have done for this project, I think to myself how grateful I am to not have to walk, bicycle, drive my car, ride the bus, or even better, ride in my stagecoach in a massive dress and hat, to the nearest library to discover the answers to my questions. This is the beauty of Internet. I have all the answers to my questions readily available at my fingertips. With this convenience though comes a cost. Not all the information on the internet is necessarily true. No information anywhere is necessarily true. So what happens when we do learn the accurate information to incorrect information? Is this new, accurate information easy to replace the old, false information? My search for the term, “Age of Information”, is a somewhat small, yet ironic, example. I will not lie: I romanticize the notion of the Digital Age. When I looked it up for “giggles” and I saw a few results that stated, “We are no longer in the ‘Age of Information’.”, my reaction was “NO! THAT IS NOT TRUE WE ARE TOTALLY STILL IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION EVERYWHERE!”. I was unable (and unwilling) to accept that an alternate “fact” could be true. This is a pretty petty example, because besides, who makes the decision on what “Age” we are in anyway?

One of University of Mary Washington’s own, Professor Patrick Rich, has done research on this phenomenon: the continued influence effect. According to the continued influence effect, misinformation sometimes persists even after its retraction and correction. Rich’s “The Continued Influence Effect of Implied and Explicitly Stated Misinformation in News Reports” investigates how implied misinformation is more resilient to change than explicit misinformation. What does this mean? An example used in his paper is a real life news story that reported a family of four dying on the same night they ate Chinese food. Even after the story was recanted with the fact that the family actually died from a “faulty furnace”, the Chinese restaurant from which they ate still went out of business due the bad, and false, publicity. Implied misinformation requires the readers to “self-generate” their own stories and explanations to a certain event, which certainly happened in this case.

Well, that is nice. What does this have to do with Cognitive Psychology? A better question would be how this does NOT relate to Cognitive Psychology. Only 121 out of 565 pages of our textbook, Cognition: Exploring the Science of the Mind, is dedicated to the explanation of Memory. (Fun Un-related Fact: mnemonic is one of my favorite words of the English language). Not only does the persistence of Implied Misinformation pertain to the functions of memory but also the profound, intricate, and powerful functions of judgment and reasoning.


Before I elaborate further on these two concepts, I need to say, as a novel student in cognitive psychology, I am definitely “in over my head”!


Let’s start with the working-memory system. We did learn a little about that in Chapter 1. Chapter 6 describes the working-memory System, which is essentially an updated name of short-term memory, in more detail. Some interesting qualities of the working-memory are that information is easy to gain, but also easy to lose, and that working-memory is much more fragile than long-term memory. I thought I had while reading Prof. Rich’s article is, “what if the implied misinformation happens to reach long-term memory?”. Long-term memory is much more permanent after all, which would be an apparent hurdle for correcting the misinformation. As stated previously, newer information is as easy to learn as it is to forget. This is a rather simple perspective.

Something I find to be extremely interesting is that, the textbook states that connections promote retrieval of memories. In context of continued influence effect, this means the self-generated stories of implicit misinformation makes it easier to remember, rather than the retracted version of information.

Persistence of implied misinformation, or more precisely, explicit misinformation, may also be related to confirmation bias and belief perseverance, which are supposedly, functions of judgment and reasoning. Explicit misinformation is information that is blatantly false. Professor Rich’s heroes, Ullrich Ecker and Stephen Lewandowsky, are experts in terms of the continued influence effect of explicit misinformation, and I will link one article written by them, too. I think we are all guilty of confirmation bias. We accept information, which supports our beliefs and worldviews, and dismiss anything that contradicts our ideas. I am a bit of a hypocrite. I profess to being the queen of open-mindedness and objectivity and yet, if I learn something that logically conflicts with my beliefs, I become “emo” for a week and question all of my life decisions until I decide whether to disregard the challenging concept or revise my beliefs to accommodate the seemingly conflicting idea.

What can we learn from the phenomenon of the continued influence effect of misinformation? How can the continued influence effect be applied to real life? I personally believe that social media, particularly Facebook, is polluted with explicit misinformation.


I do not Facebook anymore. John Donne was a complete liar when he said, “no man is an island”. I am a remote, deserted, inaccessible island in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. So no one will witness when my ice caps melt and I sink into the ocean. So, take that, John Donne!

(Depending on my grade on this assignment, “Pause” and “Play” might be my thing because I like it)


Anyhow, everyone generates the media now, and information travels fast, whether it is true or not true. “Huey Newton”, a song by one of my favorite artists, St. Vincent, often gets stuck in my head, particularly the descriptive lyrics, “cowboys of information”. With the magic that is the internet, we are all cowboys of information! As “Cowboys of Information”, we are going to need to learn, practice, and educate others in the importance of healthy skepticism and critical thinking when discerning new information.  Alas, these are the times of the “Information Age”.



<-Because I am not as intelligent as I pretend to be

Topic Idea

Hey, guys!

Have you seen today’s Google Doodle? I almost choked on my coffee when I saw it.

This is not my official blog post for credit. I just thought I would share in case anyone was feeling lost. I am pressed for time right now, plus I am mentally unprepared to write a quality blog. If this topic does not pertain to cognitive psychology (Chapter 2, specifically),I do not know what does!

It’s lame when we will all right about the same thing, but if none of you write about this in the next few days, I will myself! Good luck and happy reading!





Good thing we have this testing opportunity! I am Julie Zaccagnino and I already managed to delete my first post! I prefer to go by Valencia rather than Julie or Zaccagnino. I am both ecstatic and terrified of this blogging experience, but I’m sure it will all work out in the end. I do look forward to reading your posts! Here’s to a fun and thoughtful semester! Since the weather is actually nice, it is now time for me to go on a study picnic with my cats. This is my paradise: cats, outdoors, books, blankets, and coffee.