Author Archives: sfreeman503

Can Memories be Genetic?

For this month’s blog post I found a video on Facebook about something called “genetic memory.” This caught my eye because we have talked a lot about memory this semester. This video described genetic memory as memories, particularly from traumatic or stressful events, that are passed down through our DNA. This seemed very intriguing to me because, based on what we learned about how memories are formed and encoded, I’m not sure when or how this would occur.

Despite that, assuming that genetic memory is real, this video claims that it could explain some phenomena that previously have had no explanation. Because these genetic memories are typically linked to traumatic and stressful events, this video claims that they could explain phobias and help treat anxiety. The video also claims that instincts are a form of genetic memory, which would make sense if they are actually real.

The video bases the information it presents off of previous research done on rats that found that, when one generation of rats was placed in a confusing maze, the next generation of rats did better. These findings have been replicated with other rodents as well. If this can be found in rodents, why couldn’t it be found in humans, too?

The video also suggests that these findings could also explain why some people seem to have a “natural gift” for some things, such as artists or musicians. However, this doesn’t seem to fit with the fact that earlier the video proposed that these memories were due to a traumatic or stressful memory. It would be interesting if things like musical or artistic memories could be passed down through the generations, though.

Despite how interesting this video was, I’m still stuck on the question of when in the encoding process this would take place. At some point, the encoded memory would have to leave a lasting impression on the DNA and physically change it, which at the moment I’m not really buying. I think more research should be done on this to determine how it may happen and to rule out the possibility that maybe the rats are just getting smarter. If you are interested in watching the video, it was called “Memories Can Pass Between Generations” from Today I Read- Season 6.

Do we share memories with the cavemen?

Psychology Life Hacks!

For this blog post I found an article from Psychology Today by Ryan Anderson that listed sixteen psychologically based life hacks. They varied in category from social psychology to cognitive psychology, but they were very interesting and supported by research. This is unsurprising due to the fact that the article is called “Sixteen Research Based Hacks for Your Social Life.” It was a very interesting article with helpful tips and tricks that I will be using going forward. It was also very nice that the author not only stated the hack, he also explained the psychology behind it and why it works. Some of my favorites from the list are as follows:

The first hack in the list mentions the Serial Positioning Effect. The author explains that we can use this in social situations by “making a good impression and ending on a high note.” He explains that this is because, due to the Serial Positioning Effect, we remember the first and last things that happen, so we want these things to be positive so that is what others remember. While in class we talked about this in reference to lists of things, the author suggests that this works for events as well.

The second hack on the list talks about chunking in order to remember things. We talked about this a lot in class, and it was intriguing to see it here in a “life hack” sort of layout. He also talks about other ways to remember things like giving them context, which reminded me of some other topics we discussed in class as well.

A strange hack on the list is one I have seen several times and thought was quite strange. It was sixth on the list and suggested that the direction a person’s feet are pointing can indicate if they are interested in a person or not. This hack didn’t have any research to explain why this happens, but it was too strange for me to not mention.

The tenth hack on the list talked about dating (very exciting!). The article suggested riding a rollercoaster on a date in order to get your partner’s adrenaline flowing. The author refers to research that has found that people are more likely to enjoy themselves if they have an adrenaline rush. This could help those positive feelings be associated with you, which could be quite helpful in the beginning of a romantic relationship.

While this was a very interesting article and I was glad it explained why these things work, there were a few issues with it. It did mention studies, but it did not cite them or report which studies were done so one could follow up and read more about them. I think this would have been a useful addition, particularly for the one that talked about foot direction. Overall though, it was interesting to read and I enjoyed it. I will certainly be using some of these, and I hope you enjoyed them too. If you want to read the whole article and explore the other hacks as well, you can find the article at this link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mating-game/201604/16-research-based-hacks-your-social-life

A less helpful life hack

Are Smart Phones Making Our Brains Lazy?

It seems fairly obvious that the answer to that question is probably yes, but now there’s some science that can back that guess up. We already know that our brains tend to take the path of least resistance, but now it seems that smart phones are making that even easier. Instead of using analytical thinking we tend to just Google things now which, according to some researchers at the University of Waterloo, may be making our brains even lazier.

The researchers at the University of Waterloo are worried that this trend will only continue to get worse, as we use or phones more and more we will be using our brains less and less. In a recent study that they performed this increased smart phone use was associated with lower intelligence, and the researchers are claiming that this is due to not using our brains enough. They are also concerned about what this means for aging as well, and claim that more research is needed in order to understand the full effect of these technologies on human psychology.

This article made me think about how we were talking about our brains’ tendency to do as little work as possible, as well as try to count how many times a day I Google something. The science behind this makes a frightening amount of sense. If we’re not using our brains as we typically have in the past, it seems logical that they won’t work as hard, just as if you don’t practice a language you will forget it. It may be time to face our evolutionary fears and start trying to actually do more work than needed as we are no longer cave men and we have time to sit down and figure out what seven times nine is.

It’s also pretty scary to think about what this means for our future. If the researchers are right and it will negatively affect us, this could have some pretty drastic consequences. Our generation has grown up with rapidly evolving technology, and future generations probably will too, so what does that mean for their potential “brain laziness”? Will our laziness be our downfall as a species? I sure hope not. But does this mean I’ll go back to carrying around a flip phone? That would be a no. But still, next time your friend asks you a random question try to reason it out for a minute instead of immediately reaching for your phone.

Creativity and the Brain

The article that I found reported on a study done at Harvard about creativity and the differences of patterns of connectivity in the brain between individuals attempting to brainstorm creative ideas. The researchers found that there were significant differences found in an fMRI scan of brain activity and were able to predict a person’s level of creative ability by scanning their brain. However, the researchers were careful to explain that this is not a “have it or not” scenario, and it is quite possible to practice being creative and improve one’s creativity levels.

The actual difference between a more creative and less creative person appeared to be the ability to use multiple brain systems at once that usually don’t all work together at the same time. The researchers were able to correlate this activity with more creative thoughts and ideas.

I found this to be very interesting, and think it could be something to explore with more “creative” minds such as writers and artists, who consistently create original pieces of art and literature. These people could have different results than the participants the study used. It is also interesting that the researchers added that creativity can be improved upon with practice, which seems like it could be related to the idea of practicing other “creative” activities such as art and writing.

Another comment that the researchers made was that they hoped this study would help to dispel the “left” and “right” brain thinking that permeates the public’s idea of psychology. As we discussed in class, this is not an accurate representation of how the brain works and will hopefully be dispelled in the near future. Ash one of the researchers stated, “this is a whole-brain endeavor.”

As usual, more research is needed in this field, but these findings could help us to better understand what makes a person creative and how we can increase our own creativity. If you would like to read the whole article, you can find it here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180117163954.htm