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The Mandela Effect

Without Googling it, when did Nelson Mandela die? Some people may say that he died while he was a prisoner in the 80s. Others may not even know he was dead. He actually passed away in 2013, long after his prison release in 1990. I came across an article called “The Mandela Effect” which really caught my eye because it was strange to hear of something called the Mandela Effect. Upon reading the article, I was surprised to discover that I have been very guilty of experiencing the Mandela Effect.

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon in which one is so convinced about a particular event (thing, memory), that they have false recollections of that event, even when that event is completely false. In other words, it’s remembering something as one way, but discovering that it has been remembered all wrong. This is what happened to the thousands of people who reported seeing Nelson Mandela’s funeral on T.V.—way before he actually passed away. Another example of the Mandela Effect is the phrase in Snow White: mirror, mirror on the wall. Did you know that the actual phrase is, magic mirror on the wall? Yet, people falsely remember and claim that the phrase is, mirror, mirror on the wall. I sure did! I had to look this up and hear it for myself because all these years I’ve been thinking the same thing. But, it’s true! It is “magic mirror on the wall.” Hear for yourself:

So, what’s the psychology behind it? The Mandela Effect is explained through false memories. As we’ve learned, false memories are mistaken beliefs about a past event. These beliefs may have not even occurred or the existing memory may have been distorted. The Deese-Roediger and McDermott paradigm demonstrates how people can falsely recognize related words. Participants were given words that were closely related such as “bed”, “tired”, and “rest” and when asked to recognize the words that previously appeared, participants falsely recalled words that were related to the ones previously presented, but where not actually presented.

It is quite fascinating seeing how people can produce false memories. It makes me suspicious of my own memories—especially memories of my childhood. I wonder how much of my childhood memories are real and how much I have misinterpreted. I remember of a time when I got in trouble for stealing $1 from my mom’s purse. My mom tells me this never happened, but I can swear that it did. I even remember me going in her purse and contemplating between stealing her Tick Tacks or the $1 bill. The Lost in the Mall Study by Loftus and Coan also demonstrates how people can make up memories that never happened. As we know, participants of this study were able to be convinced that they were lost in a mall as children. They were presented with false evidence that made them believe this really happened. Similar studies have also demonstrated a similar effect. Participants are primed to falsely recall events from their childhood that never happened. Isn’t this fascinating?

Most of these false memories can also be explained through schema driven errors. Schemas give us an inference about things and help us fill in things that are not present in a story. This can be very useful when trying to infer facts in a story. However, schema driven errors can have negative effects on memory. Intrusion errors add details that fit your schema that weren’t necessarily in the story.

Can you see how memory errors can contribute to the Mandela Effect and false memories, in general? I wonder if what we know about how false memories are created have been used to trick people into confessing crimes they never committed?


Auditory Processing Disorder: A Personal Account

For my last blog post, I decided to get a bit more personal about myself. I was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) as an infant after my parents we’re concerned when I haven’t yet spoke even being over 2 years old.

APD is defined as the difficulty for the central nervous system to process auditory information according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. However, this is not a result of any other cognitive disorder such as autism. The cause is currently unknown. Some of the symptoms include difficulty reading, being distracted easily in loud environments, difficulty in following oral directions if given in a series instead of one by one and taking longer to process auditory information. All of these symptoms were listed by The Learning Disabilities Association of America.

The reason I discuss my personal learning disability was because of our recent lecture on language and I thought I could compare our lecture on language to APD.  There are 4 main subgroups that are often (but not always) affected by APD, according to Understand.Org. Auditory discrimination involves the ability to compare and distinguish between different sounds, auditory figure-ground discrimination involves the ability to focus on a specific sound in a nosy environment that includes multiple sounds, auditory memory involves the ability to recall what you heard, and finally auditory sequencing involves the ability to understand and recall the order of sounds and/or words. Specifically, I will discuss auditory discrimination.

The effect of APD on auditory discrimination could be on speech segmentation. Speech segmentation is used to aid in phoneme identification by “cutting” the stream of sound into segments we can understand, which are separated by pauses. These pauses however are just our perception and don’t actually occur when we speak. The information of these pauses may be so delayed with those of APD that it may not actually be heard, so all that is heard is a long stream of different sounds. Or, its possible that due to the delay in processing the information, the pauses are placed in the wrong places in what’s heard. Either way, this would cause difficulty understanding what was said.

The effect on auditory discrimination by APD could also be on coarticulation. Coarticulation is that when we speak, we already begin to articulate the next phoneme before finishing the last phoneme. With APD delaying the processing of auditory information, its possible that someone with APD struggles to distinguish that although these phonemes overlap, they are separate phonemes that create the morphemes of words. The effect on coarticulation could be further explained with categorical perception. Categorical perception is when people are better at hearing the differences between categories of sounds than hearing the variations within a category of sounds. A personal example of the effect on categorical perception is that if my parents told me “please go grab the box”, I would bring back a sock or they would say “clean your room” and I would think they said “bring a broom”. As you can guess, this can be incredibly frustrating for both parties involved.

Even today, I still struggle with this disorder. I have a hard time listening to people in loud rooms, I’m almost exclusively a visual and “hands-on” learner, and I struggle with a made-up term I created called “wordisms”. I define wordisms as when I confuse two different but similar defining words. For example, sometimes I’ll refer a cabinet as a drawer. I conceptually understand the difference between a cabinet and a drawer but in a conversation I’ll confuse the two very easily.

How would you relate our current knowledge of cognitive psychology to these three other subgroups of APD? Explain in comments below!


Moses Illusion

Humans are bad at picking out errors around them in the world. The article “Why You Stink at Fact-Checking” states that “Even when people know the correct information, they often fail to notice errors and will even go on to use that incorrect information in other situations”. This is a scary concept because ultimately you know the right answer but can’t recognize when there is an error in the statement. Take for example the following sentences.

In the biblical story, what was Jonah swallowed by?

How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?

These are two common biblical questions and something that for the most part are easy to answer. Most people would respond to the first question with ‘whale’ and the second would be ‘two’.  The issue isn’t with the answers, it is with the failure to recognize that Noah was the one to build the Ark, not Moses, and to continue to answer the question. People know that Noah is the one to the build the Ark but they failed to recognize the error in the above sentences. Psychologists call this the “Moses Illusion”.

In the first study done in the 1980’s, after seeing the false sentence about Moses people were asked who built the Ark. 80% of people answered that Moses in fact was the one to build the Ark during the Great Flood. Even though they were warned there would be errors in the sentences they still got the question wrong. This shows that misinformation can change your knowledge.

The reason for why this happens is because of something called “Knowledge Neglect”. This means that people have a ton knowledge but they fail to use it.  This is done by studies in which psychologists give a story in which there are obvious mistakes in it but after the participants read a story they are given a simple trivia test in which they fail the questions that related to the false facts in the story. For example, in the article it gives this story about working in a planetarium, “Some information in the story is correct: “Lucky me, I had to wear some huge old space suit. I don’t know if I was supposed to be anyone in particular – maybe I was supposed to be Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.” Other information is incorrect: “First I had to go through all the regular astronomical facts, starting with how our solar system works, that Saturn is the largest planet”. In the trivia test they get the question wrong on what the largest planet in the universe is.

Reading false information affects you in many ways. This is why journalism and social media can be dangerous because if it gives us the wrong facts, we will take it as truth.

The scariest part of this all is that YOU won’t be able to become better at fact-checking, there are still no techniques to help with this. Even if you highlight and try to find the factual errors your later recall will remember these things as true.

Why does not noticing errors and misinformation happen?
There are two reasons for why this is the case.

  1. People generally believe things are true.
  2. People accept information as long as it is close to the true information. So for example if you were to say “how many animals of each kind did Trump take on the Ark?”, you would catch the error

Another interesting piece of information is that the Moses Illusion is tied into not remembering names. This is because names are “meaningless labels that usually do not reveal any telling information about the person to whom they refer.” This is saying that the story behind Moses is important, not his name. This is also the case with trying to remember actor and actresses names from movies. “Errors in both name retrieval and comprehension are more likely when the correct name and distractor name sound similar, share biographical characteristics, or have some visual resemblance.”

I feel like this is something many people should learn and be conscious about because not all the information we are getting from the world is correct so we need to make sure we don’t take everything for fact. This is because we can easily make fiction into fact by the Moses Illusion and the Misinformation Effect. If everyone was aware of this study they would understand how imperfect we as humans are. This study and the cognitive psych class in general have made me understand that there are many unconscious errors we make in our everyday life, and that is something few people realize. If people were aware of these mistakes it could benefit them because it would be the first step in preventing them.







Are fairytales misleading? Do you believe that they can be sending the wrong messages to children and possibly creating a specific memory error schema?

Reviewing schemas in class we learned that one type of memory error is a schema. A schema is what you perceived many times. Schemas help you to use your top down generic knowledge of the things that we don’t recall well but have a general idea of what is correct. According to the article Fairytales and childhood stories can be sending what is considered a wrong doing schema.

Of course, this broke my heart reading it because I have always dreamed of living a fairytale life that results in a happy ending. Well reality hit, and adulthood has shown otherwise but a girl can dream. That is why I find this article so interesting because I believe maybe that is the reason why I have been so mislead until I was out of high school and in college with bills and other things to make my life stressful.

In the article it states that Cinderalla, Three Little pigs, Hansel & Gretel, little red riding hood, along with many other childhood stories and fairytales, all have bad intentions and actions with a harmed victim in the story. This is a harmful way of viewing things as a child because it shapes our mindset and morality of human patterns and even the breakdown of relationships. Not only does this effect come from movies but from home and school as well.

When considering a wrong doing schema in a relationship is the idea that there is something bad about your partner. There are thoughts that they are selfish, inconsiderate, portray negative thoughts and feelings, and feelings of being harmed. The wrong doing schema infers that there is a bad person in their life that has wronged them in some way to effect their way of thinking and feeling currently. This idea can come from the fairytales and childhood stories of the wrong doing schema because many of the stories start with a negative impact on the character, in Cinderalla. In the story she has a evil step mother and step sisters treating her unfairly. In the three little pigs the big bad wolf was out to get them. They all result into a happy ending but the message that we may be receiving most of all is that there was a wrong doing in each of them and hopefully something good will come from it.

. There are many effects of schemas on memory such as direct inferences at retrieval (not knowing something for sure but using your schema to guess what it maybe), intrusion error (adding what fits the schema but wasn’t necessarily in the schema), and direct attention at encoding (paying attention to what is expected versus what is not understood).

In this case using a direct inference in a relationship with someone if we know that they are harboring bad feeling we may think that they have been mistreated in some way by someone but are not really sure. We may believe that they are negative and will more than likely say something terrible or do something bad because that is how they are (evil step sisters and mom, big bad wolf). Giving direct attention to encoding can be the idea of something bad happening in every story or fairytale and hoping for a happy ending, which eventually comes in the story.

In many ways I can see how this can impact a child’s way of thinking because we see the bad in a lot of things because it can be scary and memorable. I don’t believe it shapes us completely as an adult but may have a small impact of how we feel growing up.


Gottman, J. M. (2011). The science of trust:  Emotional attunement for couples. New York: W. W. Norton.

The Illusion of Truth and Fake News

Over the past two years, the topic of “fake news” has been all over the news thanks largely in part to Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the election year and still to this day many websites have published stories that have little to no factual claims. And yet many of these fake news stories have convinced people that they are in fact factual and  credible. The spread of fake news could be related to the illusion-of-truth effect which states that the more someone hears a statement, the more likely they are to believe that it is true. This is closely related to the topic of false memories which are memories that people claim to have experienced something which actually never happened.

There are examples where the illusion-of-truth effect can be seen in politics with such claims as Barack Obama is a Muslim, or he was not born in the United States. These claims are false but the reason they still exist is because of the illusion-of-truth effect. Lets pretend that a website has a story which claims Obama was not born in the United States. Now let’s say 100 people see that story and tell their friends about it or share it on social media which results in more people seeing it. Then another website sees that claim and makes an article about the same false claim. As more and more websites publish articles on the topic, the more likely people are going to believe it or at least think the story has plausibility.

A study from the Central Washington University was conducted to see “whether repeated exposure to fictitious stimuli would cause participants to develop a false memory for having heard about the false news stories from a source outside of the experiment” (Polage). The results of the study found that those who were exposed to fake news were more likely to believe that it was true (Polage). This study is helpful to have research behind the claim that fake news can be influential on a person’s thoughts and memories.

Society is currently in the age of technology where anyone can spread fake news through social media. Just in the last year, there was a good example of how fake news can spread in an instant. The mass shooting in Las Vegas led to a false claim that the suspect was a Democrat who was against Donald Trump. This claim eventually made its way to websites which wrote articles about the false claim. Those news stories were then shared on Facebook and other sites. The more likes and shares these posts received, the more believable this claim became to people (Levin).

The illusion-of-truth effect and the effect it has on news can be quite dangerous in a time where anyone can post something on the internet. False information can sometimes move faster than the truth. This is an issue we will have to deal with in the coming future to prevent false information that could have a negative impact on everyday things.



Works Cited

Levin, Sam. “Facebook and Google promote politicized fake news about Las Vegas shooter.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 2 Oct. 2017,

Polage, Danielle C. “Making up History: False Memories of Fake News Stories.” Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 8(2), 21 May 2012, pp. 245–250., doi:10.5964/ejop.v8i2.456.

The Glasses that fix Colorblindness

It’s hard to imagine how different life would be if one couldn’t see colors in the same way everyone else can. Your favorite shirt might not be your favorite after all. Your favorite movie scene might look much different than you think does. In a certain way, being color blind would mean that you’re never really sure what the world around you really looks like. Thankfully after years of research, a product was invented to give people the chance to experience the world the way it really is. In 2010, EnChroma was founded as the company that gives the 250,000+ people around the world suffering from colorblindness the opportunity to fully see color with EnChroma glasses.

To put into perspective how these glasses function, one must first understand the causes of colorblindness. The retina has two photoreceptors that absorb light, rods and cones. Rods help us see in low lit conditions, usually at night. On the other hand, cones are mainly used during the daytime and are responsible for our recognition of color. Our eyes have three types of cones: one for blue light, one for green light, and one for red light. Light enters our eyes it stimulates these cones in the back of our eyes. These cones then stimulate bipolar cell which stimulates ganglion cells and the process continues. Although the process is obviously important for vision, we will not get into that because what matters most here is what happens at the cones. In colorblind individuals, these cones respond differently to light than they normally should; they are faulty.  Typically the cause of most color blindness results from green and red sensitive cones overlapping in their responses to light. In other words, rather than responding to each light wavelength separately, they respond in a very similar way. EnChroma glasses work by removing wavelengths of light in the spot where the overlap is happening. This seemingly simple and painless process has changed the lives of many people.

My best friend, Isaiah, has trouble distinguishing green and red colors. I remember he would always make jokes in high school about how he’d never get his driver’s license because he would not know what to do at a stop light. Last summer, his family gifted him with a pair of EnChroma glasses for his birthday and his reaction upon putting them on is absolutely priceless (video below).

As I was talking to him today, I realized how much these glasses meant to him. He told me that he thought it was insane how he’s a twenty-one-year-old adult but he’s just now seeing how some common everyday objects really look for the first time in his life. He told me that he recently went back and played some of his favorite childhood video games while wearing the EnChroma glasses and said that the experience was completely different, “everything seemed so much more colorful and upbeat”. These glasses gave him the ability to perceive the world the same way everyone else does. Although the EnChroma glasses are not a cure for colorblindness, they have successfully given 80% of its users the freedom to no longer wonder what they may be missing in terms of color vision. This beautifully wonderful product that has put tears and smiles on so many faces and my only hope is that more of these 250,000+ colorblind individuals get to try them at least once in their lifetime.



Toddler Organization of Toys

As discussed in class, most things are placed into categories or concepts. I am a preschool teacher and I see just how difficult it can be to place items into categories through the eyes of a two year old.  Many books and online tools are available to help children learn the skills to place objects into categories. The main way I teach my students how to organize items is by beginning when they are cleaning up. The two year old students in my class are able to identify all of the animals and place them in the animal bucket or put all the blocks into the block bin. What I find the most interesting and a subject that raised a question was if children at the age of two can categorize toys by type, why are they unable to place all the squares with the squares and circles with the circles? Below is the answer I received once I researched more into the question.

Image result for children sorting

“Like all other math skills, sorting and patterning skills are developed in a sequential manner.Children begin by comparing objects and matching like items. Then they learn to categorize, which is sorting. They typically start with sorting by color, then moving on to sort by type.Next comes classifying. When learning to classify, children first learn how to classify by naming attributes that allow items to fit within a group, then move on to identifying attributes that exclude from a group.By having a foundation in sorting, children can then move on to the recognizing and creating of patterns, another way to organize. By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to recognize and produce different kinds of simple patterns, such as AB, AAB, and ABC patterns”.

Based off this explanation, I am providing the building blocks for the children to understand schemas and they will be able to categorize by shape and color once they have an understanding of different exemplars for different concepts. Once children are primed they will be able to make the connections, for example, that all the red circles go with all the other red circles. So my job as a teacher, is to give them the tools to be able to make those connections once their brain has the ability to do so.


GOT and Two Types of Memory

Almost halfway through our class of Cognitive Psychology we started to talk about the really interesting topic that is memory. Learning this topic ended up being very fascinating because we learned not only how everything works in memory also that there are two types of memory, and when Dr. Rettinger brought up how to optimize what you remember. Like in class Dr. Rettinger told us that when you met someone for the first time to actually remember the persons name you’re meetings is to repeat it back to them when they introduce themselves. That way you don’t skip over the persons name when they say it. Just going through that chapter on memory made so many things click in my head on people’s memory or how people’s memory is portrayed.


In fact in class when Dr. Rettinger told us about the repeating name back to the new person you’re meeting to remember the name reminded me of a character named Ramsay Bolton from my favorite show named Game of Thrones. Ramsay Bolton was a sadist in the show set in a fantasy world that would do the same thing when meeting new people to remember their names. Making the connection between what Dr. Rettinger had said in class with Ramsay from Game of Thrones made me start thinking on the other examples of memory in the show like explicit memories, implicit memory, and the illusion of truth in the show.


In the show Ramsay being a sadist would regularly capture and torture people. This was no different for when he had captured a young Prince named Theon, whom Ramsay tortured to the point that Theon now believed himself to be, “Reek”. We learned in class from Dr. Rettinger that explicit memories require conscious thought for remembering, and use direct memory testing such as recall or recognition that specifically urges you to remember the past. All throughout Ramsay torturing “Reek” and making him a new person Ramsay would look at Theon and use direct memory testing saying, “who are you and where are you from?” and every time Theon would start to recall who he was Ramsay would torture him and also let him think he had escaped and then bring him back to the dungeon to ask him again. Eventually they got to a point that Theon only ever remembered being “Reek”. Ramsay was trying to change Theons episodic memory (episodes or sequences) of his life. This went on to until Theon’s sister broke into Ramsay’s castle to save him. Since it had been a while since she had seen her brother she didn’t recognize him, but she felt there was a familiarity to him (or a feeling of “knowing”). She asked Theon to come to her and if he remembered her and he consciously chose to not remember her, because of training Ramsay had put him through using Theon’s mind against him.

We learned that implicit memories are the memories that are unconsciously remembered and automatic. This can be seen when Theon chose not to go with his sister when she tried to rescue him or since Ramsay saw “Reek” not leave with his sister he would let him be free during the days, knowing that he would never try to leave because of all of his priming to not leave. Ramsay knew what “Reeks” automatic response would be after breaking him down over a period of time. Dr. Rettinger also stated in class, “the first time you experience a stimulus effects the second time you experience it.” All of Theon’s memories of the physical pain Ramsay put him through from previous escapes started to unconsciously influence his daily actions though he was not aware of it leaking into his behavior.




There are effects of implicit memory in which claims that are familiar end up seeming more plausible like the “Illusion of truth”. Though out having Theon as a prisoner Ramsay would always tell, “Reek” that he loved him and would bathe him. There was plain evidence that Ramsay doesn’t care about him like the mutilation, but the times he did show that he cared gave Theon the illusion of truth that Ramsay cared about him and that he was his master. Which was another reason he was conflicted about leaving with his sister whom he recalled (to generate in absence of a hint), but the illusion of truth that Ramsay cared about him had stopped him. He had better retrieval for the nicer times with Ramsay, because he gave those times deep meaning in the levels of processing.


In class we learned that remembering and knowing are similar in appearance but different. In the end Theon knew who he really was and his implicit memory of his old self leaked into his behavior. Being able to break down what is happening in people’s memory and understand the difference between the two types of memories is really useful.


Reference Links:

Reisberg, Daniel. Cognition: Exploring the Science of the Mind. Langara College, 2017.!/4/2@100:0.00


Language Acquisition and Brain Mechanisms

Language acquisition and the mechanisms and processes behind it is a topic that has been discussed and hotly debated in both the field of linguistics and the field of psychology. One such theory of learning language, a “propose-but-verify” theory, now has neurological backing.

Using MRI scanning, the research team was able to confirm that the hippocampus plays a role in matching the names of objects to the objects themselves with this strategy. By using novel objects and corresponding made-up words, the team was able to test how the participants matched objects to words. They found that over time, the participants were able to successfully match the pairs, despite having no idea what the objects actually were. The hippocampus, perhaps building on its function in memory consolidation, was integral to this process.

While these tests were only performed on adult participants, it has been theorized that children first learn language through similar strategies, which makes sense. As a child first learning language, every object is a novel object, and every sound cluster that apparently has meaning is a new sound cluster, and the matching of object to sound (and therefore meaning) mirrors the efforts of the adult participants to match nonsense words to novel objects.



Faulty Memories

The concept of Eyewitness Inaccuracy is a troubling one. So often people are accused of crimes based on the memories of someone who was at the scene and thinks they witnessed what occurred. I remember some time in high school I watched an episode of Brain Games and was shocked at how sure people were about incorrect details.

In this episode of Brain Games, they had a bunch of people witness a crime and then tested them through various different manners to see if they really remembered the correct details of what happened in the crime. They tested the viewers as well to see how often I could catch the mistakes that the eyewitnesses in the show were making, since I have studied memory and how malleable it can be, I feel like I was overall more observant.

One of the scenarios was a police lineup to see if they could properly identify a suspect. I was hesitant to select one of the men because I really didn’t get a good look at their faces, or if I did it wasn’t something that I was sure of. The majority of participants in the show ended up picking a man who was in the crowd with them, rather than the man who committed the crime because the guy in the crowd seemed more familiar to them although not for the reason that they thought he was. If the police were planning on using that method alone to figure out who to arrest, they would have ended up accusing a man who could be placed at the scene of the crime but was innocent.

Another scenario had a bunch of the witnesses together on a panel to recount what had happened. They planted a couple of actors in the mix to try and distort the witnesses memories and the witnesses quickly picked up details that weren’t there. The actor would say one of the suspects was in a red coat and immediately people were agreeing or disagreeing with him and even some of the disagreements were incorrect. Everyone was so sure of the false details they thought they remembered. The actors were able to alter important components of the crime, including what was stolen.

Eyewitnesses are so important to figuring out what occurred in a crime. It is very disheartening to learn just how inaccurate those memories can be. There are studies to suggest that even the way that someone asks a question can alter a memory (i.e how fast was the car going when it crashed into the other car vs. bumped into the other car).

I do think that arguments about memory are important to think about in aspects of criminal justice because all of this shows that people’s memories are not always a good representation of an event especially in a high-stress situation. This is a good argument for having body cams on police because it will lead to less differences in opinions later because it is clearly documented through this Brain Games that even if people don’t mean to lie they ended up not really telling the real story through no real fault of their own


Brain Games Episode

Other Brain Games clip that discusses word choice

Elizabeth Loftus Ted Talk about Memory