Category Archives: Uncategorized

Boundary Extension: Beneficial or Problematic?

Boundary Extension occurs when one is remembering an image. Boundary Extension is when one includes more details than were actually shown. When I think of this process, it makes me think of the zoom function on a camera. To be more specific, when you see the image for the first time it’s as if the camera is zoomed in and focused on one piece of a bigger picture. Then, when you remember it later, it’s as if your brain zoomed out to reveal what was surrounding that one small piece. The information that is stored in our Long Term Visual Memory is referred to as image files. We use these as rules to construct and reconstruct images in our mind. It can be problematic if one is incorrect in their assumptions of the background. However, these image files and the process of background extension can be useful for our understanding of the world as comprehensive and continuous. It may also be useful if you are attempting to remember a scene or where an object was when you only saw that scene for a short period of time. For example, image driving your friend home from school. When you arrive at their house, you go inside to use the bathroom. Then you leave and return home, only to realize that your backpack is nowhere to be found. Then, you realize that you left it at your friend’s house when you walked inside. You cannot remember where exactly you left it but you do remember that it was next to the blue lamp. As you picture the blue lamp, you attempt to recall what is around the lamp. Usually, we find a desk or a couch is next to a lamp. This image file allows you to recall that you left your backpack next to the desk in the study. This is just one of the many uses of background extension.

Boundary extension. (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from


An article from EurekAlert titled ‘Recent research on memory/learning’ talked about a paper written by Nate Kornell. The paper’s main focus was metacognition. The textbook says that metacognition is important to the memory. According to Kornell metacognition is “the process of making judgements about one’s cognition and about one’s memory.” Kornell mentions something that we have been talking about most of the semester and that is that memory can be unreliable. Kornell opens the paper by saying that the human memory is prone to stability bias where we act as though our minds are stable and will continue to be stable in the future. By failing to recognize that our memories are influenced by external factors. The paper itself mainly focuses on metamemory. The book defines metamemory as an individual’s knowledge of and control over their own memory.

This semester we also talked about memory cues. In Kornell’s paper he discussed intrinsic cues, which is information that is being judged, mnemonic cues, information that is related to the person’s experience, and extrinsic cues, information that will be learned. These are described because they are thought to be part of metacognitive judgements. Metacognitive judgements are judgements that we make based on our memories.

Kornell says that metacognitive judgements seem to be influenced a lot by an individual’s experience at the time they are making a judgement. For this reason intrinsic and mnemonic cues happen relatively automatically.

Kornell’s study tested recall of the participants. He gave the participants a list of words and then tested their recall. He wanted to see if participants could remember the second word in the list if they were giving the first word of the list as a cue. Participants in the study showed stability bias because they thought that they would remember even though some of them did not get tested on their recall until a week later. However, they were confident that they would remember.

The conclusion of the study was that humans overestimate their learning and retention ability and do not take into account environmental factors that can affect memory. We discussed in class how memory is unreliable and this study supports that.

Understanding Cognition to Transform Healthcare

I’m sure that everyone in our class is aware of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act No_Change(PPACA) aka Obamacare seeing as it has been a controversial topic in many political debates. Essentially, the goal of Obamacare is to increase the number of insured individuals in the US by making insurance available to everyone. There are various political reasons people are disputing the effectiveness of Obamacare but I’m more interested in the reason brought up in a blog post by Dr. Nelson Soken: That we, as human beings, resist change.

Earlier this month Dr. Soken titled a post “Understanding of Human Cognition and Behavior Can Help Transform Healthcare” on the Association for Talent Development’s Healthcare blog detailing the Cognitive Biases that are barriers to change and then describing how he believes we can overcome those biases and the resistance to change. Several of the Cognitive Biases Cognitive_Bias_Unconscious_Mind_Adam_Eason_Hypnotherapy_01-600x675that Dr. Soken lists are ones that we have gone over in class; Confirmation Bias, Functional Fixedness, Loss Aversion, and Group Think. Additionally, Dr. Soken listed Egocentrism, turning a blind eye to the point of view of others (such as those who couldn’t obtain insurance under the old healthcare system), and Salience, focusing on the “louder” issues that get the most attention rather than the important issues (like the focus on the ramblings of politicians instead of on the actual issues surrounding individuals struggling without health insurance). He goes on to state that these cognitive biases tend to “reinforce the status quo” instead of promoting change, even if change is for the better. The doctor then lists out the mind and skill sets that he believes are imperative to the change in healthcare for the future: empathy, observation, a defined vision, collaboration, constructive debating, and prototyping (if you need elaboration on what any of these are, you’re welcome to read the original post which I have cited below). He concludes his post by stating that change is challenging regardless of the context, but that we stand a greater chance of accepting change if we have an awareness of the cognitive biases working against us as well as a valid list of strategies to combat those biases.

I found Dr. Soken’s take on the controversial subject to be much more interesting than the political ramblings that are portrayed throughout the media on an everyday basis. After reading the post, I have to say that I agree with him overall, that cognitive biases truly do have a strong effect on our openness to change. I would also have to agree that being aware of strategies that can be utilized to combat those cognitive biases definitely improves the likelihood of changes being accepted.


Soken, N. (2016, April 22). Healthcare Blog. Retrieved from Association for Talent Development:

Faulty Eyewitness Testimony

We discussed in class that eyewitness testimonies are unreliable because of memory errors like updating. Although, this article gives many reasons that someone may give a faulty eyewitness testimony. The author cites a study by the American Judicature Society stating that “if a person uninvolved in the case presents the photos one-by-one, rather than all at once, fewer mistakes are made.” This can be explained by updating. Updating is new information being folded into existing memories leading to updating effects. Misleading questions can cause updating of a memory, which leads the witness to a certain answer. The article says emotions can play a part in mistaken eyewitness testimony. The author recounts an incident in which her fear caused her to incorrectly identify the suspect not just once but three times. The author also cites the New Jersey Supreme Court for saying the witness can be influence by stress, the length of sighting, weapon involvement, and if the suspect is of a different race. Eyewitness testimony has the ability to sway a jury but it is not reliable. More and more studies are proving that eyewitness testimony is faulty, and the judicial system needs to recognize that and develop a solution.


Wexler, L. (2011, September 21). Eyewitness testimony often lies. Retrieved April 21, 2016, from

“The Gut is Faster than the Mind”

Have you ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach? That hunch that something is either right or wrong? That little voice in the back of your head telling you something is wrong but you can’t explain it, it’s just there? Have you ever met someone and you know you already don’t like him or her but you can’t explain why? If you ever get that feeling or voice don’t ignore it. That is your intuition speaking to you.

Intuition is referred to as our sixth sense; it’s that moment where you instinctively know whether something is right or if something is wrong. It gives us the ability to directly know something without having to analyze the situation (analytic reasoning), linking the conscious and unconscious parts of our mind along with our instinct and reason.

Your right brain is in charge of being intuitive and your left-brain is in charge of rational thought. According to researchers your intuitive right brain is observing your surroundings even when your conscious left-brain is focused on something else. Researchers also suggest that your body can process all of this information while your conscious mind is unaware of what is happening.

In a study conducted by Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, he wanted to test his theory that it is important to pay attention to “somatic markers” and that “the gut is faster than the mind” by conducting an experiment called the “Iowa Gambling Task.” In this experiment subjects were trying to win money and decide which deck of playing cards were the most profitable by choosing between four decks of cards. Within the 4 decks there were 2 risky decks and 2 non-risky decks that would produce profit. While conducting this experiment Damasio had his subjects hooked up to monitors so that he could observe his subjects skin for their response to stress.

The results of this experiment showed that it only took drawing 10 cards from the risky deck before his subjects to start show physical signs of anxiety. The crazy part is that it took the mind way longer to catch up to the reaction of the body. It took about 50 cards before the mind decided to change decks, and even then the mind couldn’t explain why they should switch decks. It took up to 80 cards before the subjects could explain why they switched decks. This experiment shows that intuition is faster than rational thought.

There are some people that are more rational thinkers, where they have to focus on the structure of something. Then there are intuitive thinkers, where they don’t have to focus on the details. They are more abstract. I find it really interesting that the mind is capable of giving you that gut feeling that something is either right or not. Its crazy how the unconscious mind can process so much information automatically without us even realizing. If you ever get that “gut feeling” that something isn’t right, you should trust your intuition, it is better to play it safe rather than sorry.



Conservatives and Liberals

Conservatives and Liberals Do Think Differently

In this article, Mark Beeman and Jordan Grafman have conducted a study about how conservatives and liberals (on a political spectrum) differ in thought and problem-solving processes. The study was conducted with 130 people, randomized with ethnicity and age. These people had to solve (non-political) problems using the Compound Remote Associate (CRA) problems.  They were able to possibly say that conservatives think more structurally and persistent cognitive styles, while liberals were able to have “A-HA!” moments and use instinct to solve problems. Both groups have shown the ability to use both methods, but usually use the method most comfortable or most repeated to solve these problems.

Beeman, M., & Grafman, J. (2016, March 15). Conservatives and liberals do think differently. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from

“Game on to prevent mental game over?”

If you would like to boost your cognitive ability or functioning, simply play a video game. Extensive research has been conducted by various teams around the world to see just how gaming affects human cognition. Gaming may get a bad reputation from the past controversies that involved laziness, violence, obesity, addiction and lastly social isolation (To that I would probably say that balance is everything), however, modern research has found that gaming can also benefit human life. Some of the benefits of game playing for children may include the development of logical, social, executive, and literary skills. Research was conducted by researchers C. Shawn Green, Adam Eichenbaum, and Daphne Bavelier, they were able to find and demonstrate that playing video games has long-lasting positive effects on basic mental processes (Decision-Making, Memory, Attention, and Perception). The majority of their research focused on the effects of playing action games (Those of which require fast movements, keeping track of multiple items at once, keeping track of a lot of pertinent information, and split-second decision making). A majority of the skills associated with playing video games are exactly the abilities that psychologist tend to consider the “building blocks” of intelligence. The researchers designed a correlation study as well as an experimental study to determine the effects of playing video games on cognitive ability and/or function. The correlation study had regular gamers perform on a perceptual or cognitive test along with non-gamers that are still comparable to the avid gamers. Various research teams have found that the gamers tend to outperform the non-gamers on these different test. The research suggests but does not prove that playing video games is the cause of the improved cognitive performance. The experimental studies that were conducted by various research teams were centered around non video game players. A group of participants are asked to play video games for a specific amount of time while the other group is asked to refrain from gaming. The two groups then will have their cognitive abilities tested, research found that the participants that were asked to play video games performed better than the control group (no video game playing) on perceptual and cognitive tasks. Video game playing has been found to improve basic visual processes such as contrasting colors and it has also been found to improve amblyopia (Lazy Eye). Gaming has also been found to improve spatial attention (Locating object/target in a field of distractors) and the ability to track moving objects that are in a field of distractors. Some more positive findings are that gaming can increase mental flexibility (Switching between tasks quickly and error free that have conflicting requirements) as well as reducing or even reversing the gradual mental decline that accompanies normal senescence (Aging). To make it even better playing video games can improve and equip you with job-related skills such as hand-eye coordination, working memory, attention and swift decision making. An interesting find is that relatively young and inexperienced surgeons that play videos games outperformed some of the most experienced in their field. I think that it is great that all my hours of video gaming may not negatively affect me as much as my parents may have initially thought. My parents don’t play video games; I now have more of a reason to get them to play. “Hey Dad, play this game or potentially develop Alzheimer’s.”



Gray, P., Dr. (2015, February 20). Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from


Does Passionate Love Reduce Cognitive Ability?

Most of us, at some point of our lives, have experienced the feelings accompanied by finding a new love. Compassionate love has been associated with intimacy and commitment, two aspects that contribute to long-term relationships. But passionate love is thought to play a central role in forming a relationship with a partner by becoming attracted to that individual. Passionate love usually involves enhanced, near-obsessive attention to the beloved. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the lover’s concentration for daily tasks, like studying and work, may actually be impaired, suggesting reduced cognitive control.

This study, conducted by Steenbergen, et al (2014), looks to find empirical evidence to suggest that new, passionate love can effect an individual’s cognitive ability. They had fifty one participants take the passionate love scale as well as conducting both the Stroop and flanker tasks. These two tasks assess the individual ability to attend to relevant information while filtering out distracting, irrelevant spatial and semantic information. Effects on a Stroop task may reflect response inhibition whereas effects on the flanker task might reflect a modulation of the visuo-spatial focus of attention.

The participants, all of whom had to recently fallen in love within the last six months, received task instructions that emphasized speed and accuracy. They then proceeded to practice the Stroop and flanker tasks, which included performance feedback. The participants where then asked to imagine and write about an appropriate romantic event from their past, or focus on a romantic vignette. During this ten minute period, the participants were also listening to their own favorite love-related music through headphones. This ten minute period was to evoke intense feelings of romance. Participants then performed a block of 72 trials for each task, and the order of the tasks were counterbalanced across the participants.

The results of this study showed a negative correlation between passionate love and cognitive ability. Though the study could not express causation since it is a correlational study, there seems to be a strong relationship between passionate love and impaired cognitive control. This suggests that when we are in love, we are not able to focus and attend to the environment around us. When we are consciously aware of the love, our unconscious awareness takes away from our automaticity.

A perfect study would be a more longitudinal study in which participants would be asked to take the Stroop and flanker tasks before ever falling in love. Then, once they do, have them undergo a similar romance evoking situation, and then have them retake the Stroop and flanker tests. This way, participants do not have as much of a range in time they had fallen in love. Also, since all love is not the same, having the participants take more than just the passionate love scale could be beneficial. Brain studies would also be helpful as different forms of love have different systems and neurochemicals within the brain.

van Steenbergen, H., Langeslag, S. J. E., Band, G. P. H., & Hommel, B. (2014). Reduced cognitive control in passionate lovers. Motivation and Emotion, 38(3), 444-450. doi:10.1007/s11031-013-9380-3

Give your brain a workout!

For a couple of dfinal blog imageays, I felt like I was forgetting everything.  What that person’s name was, what I told myself to remember, and little things here and there.  I feel like I have a sharp memory, I am very good with names and moments some people think are irrelevant.  After getting frustrated with myself, I decided to research what you can do to improve your memory.  With my family history, this is very important to me and I wanted to start doing these tips as soon as possible.  I came across this article from,, and decided to see what I can do, or if it was even possible, to improve my memory.

Neroplasticity is this ability of the brain to adapt and change, so it is definitely possible to enhance your ability to learn new information by forming new neural pathways.  These neural pathways help you recall information, but using different pathways stimulates your brain even more.  The more you use these different pathways, the better you will be at recalling and processing information. The next question is how can you strengthen and change these pathways?

Learning something new and challenging is one of the best ways to boost your brain.  Choose an activity that you have always wanted to try and learn how to do it to improve your memory by developing new skills and keeping your mind engaged.  There are plenty of brain training television shows and games, yet these activities have not been proven to increase you memory.  Don’t waste your time on these gimmicks and pick something like learning how to play the piano instead.  Another way to improve your memory is to exercise.  Not only is exercise good for your physical health, it is good for your mental health as well.  Exercise can wake you up if you are tired, get your blood pumping, and requires using your motor skills, all of which are connected to your brain function.  The next way to keep your brain working at its best is to get enough sleep.  Sleeping eight hours each night can help you consolidate memories, which will help you when you want to retrieve those memories when you wake up.  There are many other tips to help you improve your brain functioning, which will in turn improve your memory because you are continually training your brain.  If you are having trouble remembering what you were supposed to do before you left for class or what that song was, try some of these helpful tips, and overtime your brain will thank you.

“Cognitive Training: The Final Frontier for Athletes”


When people are asked the question, “What quality is most needed to play a sport?” most will agree that one of the first, if not the first, quality that comes to mind is physical ability. It’s easy for people to assume that athleticism and strength are the most important skills to become successful. Looking at professional athletes, it’s clear that the top players are in killer shape (for the most part). But people have the tendency to believe it’s only what’s on the outside that makes the player phenomenal. On the contrary, what makes a true champion often comes from within.

Training methods often incorporate techniques to improve agility, speed, hand-eye coordination, balance, strength, etc. Yet one of the newest and possibly most important training techniques elite athletes should use is often overlooked: perceptual-cognitive ability. Perceptual-cognitive ability is the level at which an athlete can see movement while on the court/field/rink. This ability is common amongst sports where the ball/puck is moving rapidly.

Dr. Faubert, a clinical sports psychologist, wanted to look further into the relationship between athletic success and cognition. He believed that “elite” athletes and average athletes differed in their levels of perceptual-cognitive ability. Despite this difference, Faubert also believed that all athletes can increase and improve their perceptual-cognitive ability during competition through certain training methods. His paper discusses the heightened importance for athletes to focus on their mental game equally as much as they do for their physical game. If an athlete chooses to work on their perceptual-cognitive ability, it’s likely they will be one step closer to becoming an elite athlete and reaching their goals.

Physical strength is all well and good, but sports are much more mental than people like to believe. “More research is needed, but Faubert suggests that what sets an elite athlete apart from sub-elite might be “the ability to process relevant perceptual cues and enhance search strategies”” (Sport Techie, 2013). Faubert further discusses the importance of repetition of motor skills. The saying “practice makes perfect” is very relevant for cognition in athletes. Yes, doing the same drill over and over again will help with technique, but it also eases the mind mentally. It allows for the player to feel comfortable with said shot/play/pass when they entire a competitive. Knowing they’ve practiced it 100 times has a calming affect, which lowers the likelihood of making too many errors.


Cognitive training will have its best results when players train in short sessions. With little research conducted on the topic, it seems that elite athletes benefit the most from such cognitive training; although average athletes have also seemed to benefit more quickly than expected. The mental game is a huge part of an athletes success, so researchers are intrigued to see if success can be developed/increased on different types of athletes (under various circumstances) with the help of perceptual-cognitive ability training.

As a tennis player, I completely agree with this article and Faubert’s research paper. The mental side of sports is often overlooked, yet it can make or break an athlete’s success. I know that there are sports psychologists who can help with mental/clinical issues, but I was extremely interested to find out that there is an actual term and training method. Consciousness is a portion of cognition that we are currently aware of, creating a unique aspect of personhood. A huge part of consciousness relies on working memory and attention, which in athletics is enormously important. Having great depth perception, anticipation, and an even greater court sense (of the competitive environment) are what give elite athletes an edge.

Lastly, most athletes use (or could benefit from) mental models. Mental models are when a person tries to represent concrete examples in their head, rather than use abstract rules. Using tennis as an example, a mental model can be beneficial when I’m trying to visualize where to hit the ball. The mental model allows me to simplify the point so that I don’t begin to over-think how deep, short, angled, high, or low I should hit the ball. If my mental model fails during my match, I can then use an analogy to improve and prepare myself for the next competitive in order to avoid making the same mistakes.