“Memory Wars”

“Memory Wars”

Recovered memories have been a topic of controversy for quite some time. It is no secret that there have been wrongful convictions of people based upon false or implanted memories that were supposedly recovered. Because of this, more and more research has been done to further study the validity of repressed memories. One article specifically looks at the idea that trauma can lead to a blockage of autobiographical memories. It discusses the concept of dissociative amnesia, which is argued to be another term for memory repression. This article starts by discussing the term “memory wars”, which refers to this debate between psychologists everywhere regarding repressed memories and whether or not they truly exist. There are many different arguments to this debate, but the main question is of the validity of the concept of repressed memories. Some psychologists believe that due to trauma, people can block out certain memories as a sort of coping mechanism, and therefore, the memories must be retrieved by a professional later on. However, others believe that the idea of repressed memories is dangerous and can easily lead to accidentally implanting false and traumatic memories. Some psychologists believe that in order for someone to heal emotionally, they must have these supposed repressed memories retrieved so that they can work through them in therapy, but those who do not believe in these memories say that it is unethical to put a person in such a position that has the potential to be harmful to them. Furthermore, if repressed memories are indeed true, is it ethical to make someone relieve trauma with no guarantee that it will help them in the long run? These are some of the many questions proposed in this article. Next, this article discusses a laboratory study done by Loftus and Pickrell in 1995. This study looked at how easily false memories can be implanted. They interviewed a group of students and asked them to reflect on four different traumatic events that happened in their childhood. The students were told that these events were provided to them by their own parents; however, one of the four memories was actually false and was confirmed by the parents to never have happened. Loftus and Pickrell found that 25% of the participants claimed that the false event did occur, after it was suggested to them. This study alone suggests that using certain suggestive interviewing techniques can allow for false memories to be implanted fairly easily. All in all, because there is such an issue of ethics in the topic of repressed memories, it is a difficult concept to study. Studies such as Loftus and Pickrell’s allow us to understand this controversy a bit more, but are not able to answer all of our questions. So, what do you think? What are your thoughts regarding the memory wars? Do you feel that repressed memories exist?




Cognitive Difference in the Male Brain

Competition in class is often a way for teachers to check children’s learning in a way that makes their students excited. For any competitive game, I remember many of my elementary school teachers would be forced to divide the class in half, which most often led to a “girl” team and a “boy” team. Although I didn’t notice it at the time, after reading this book chapter describing some of the early learning differences between boys and girls, I’ve had to reflect on why the results of those competitions always seemed so similar. 

I have always heard that girls mature much quicker than boys, which I felt was an adequate enough explanation for most of the delinquents at my schools being male. In her research regarding how to teach both girls and boys, however, the author reveals some of the causes for boys’ seeming lack of interest in school at an early age, the most interesting of which, to me, is how female-oriented teaching can exacerbate the problem. Many curriculums for young students focus on reading and writing, as well as speaking, all of which appeal to young females’ verbal superiority. Girls also develop a good verbal working memory before boys, and have much better episodic memory. Being that language is the first focus of learning for children, it is easy for young boys to be left behind at a very early age. Boys’ strengths lie much more in fact recall and spatial memory, while they often struggle verbally when compared to girls. When it comes to general memory in class, the author claims that “males connect action and perception, whereas females connect analysis and intuition (Ingalhalikar et al., 2014). What this means is that the teacher is using words as cues for memory, and females in the class can use the words to analyze and find appropriate memory. The males in the class need more concrete information or references to something they did in class. It is not necessarily that boys are not paying attention, but that the teacher used the wrong cues to help them remember”. When boys are not given cues which appeal to their cognitive strengths, they may lose interest or feel as though they cannot succeed academically, even though research shows that they will develop these skills naturally over time. In her conclusion, the author also points out that those boys whose brains do develop well verbally at an early age should not be discouraged socially, as they are often looked down upon for having interests in reading and writing. Rather, it is important to consider those cognitive differences as a result of both brain development and social conditioning, in order to identify where a student’s strengths lie, and how education for each type of brain can be improved. 


James, A. (2015). Cognitive differences. In Teaching the male brain (pp. 61-81). Thousand Oaks,, CA: Corwin doi: 10.4135/9781483393407.n6


Is It Beneficial to be Bilingual?

The article, The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual, states that there are consequences to being bilingual and can have improvements in language. When a person knows two or more languages- both languages are active at the same time. A person’s brain would automatically think about a few words that begin the same way the word being said is. If a person hears the word “act”, the other words that are initiated are active, activity, or action. This is because the productivity (number of messages that can be formed) starts before the entire word is being said, the sound comes in sequential order. With a bilingual person, the person is not limited to thinking in one language.Just hearing a word activates comparable words no matter which language it is in. The improvements in language can help with processing information to make it easier for learning. They can learn a third-language faster and easier than a person learning a second language. A monolingual person does not have the best ability to focus on the new language’s information, because they can not reduce the intervention of the only language known to them.

 BILINGUAL QUOTES - Bilingual Kidspot

Only knowing one language is a part of life but knowing more than one is a privilege. It is a privilege because you have the ability to sharpen your cognitive skills, switch between tasks better, and can delay neurological disorders. All of these advantages are the reason why people want to know and learn more languages. They are important and helpful assets to life, not only for the brain but also in life. It helps to know more languages when traveling and with jobs. It just increases the number of places and positions that are available. These reasons prove that being bilingual is beneficial.





Cocktail party effect with children

Background Information:

In class, we learned about the cocktail party effect and how our brain shifts between conversations and our focus goes towards one thing, although there are other distractions going on at the same time. The cocktail party definition in my own words, is your brains ability to focus on it’s auditory attention on one stimulus at a time.

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According to Science daily, “Marc Vander Ghinst and colleagues used magnetoencephalography to measure six- to nine-year-old children and adults’ brain activity while listening to a recorded storyteller mixed with background conversations” (p.1). This article discusses research collected from children of the ages six to nine. In this research there is proof that a child’s brain has not developed enough to process everything that is going on around them. Due to a child’s brain not developing to it’s fullest at that age, it makes sense why this is very hard for them to do. Another important fact from science daily explains, “The researchers found that, compared to adults, children’s brains struggled to focus on the intended speaker’s voice with increasing background noise levels” (p.1). This makes more sense to me know after learning this because children at this age have a hard time paying attention when there is more speaker talking at once, especially with the intense levels around them.

Cocktail party effect: How the brain filters noise | hear-it.org

Personal experience:

When I was younger I had the hardest times paying attention in large crowds and I never quite understood why since other people were able to. I remember being at ceremonies or large parties and just feeling extremely overwhelmed, but as I got older this became easier for me and I do well in large crowds. When we learned about this in class it was a come to life moment for me!



Does IQ really matter?


IQ tests were developed to test general intelligence. General intelligence is all about working memory, perception and attentional ability. This leads to better problem solving ability, spatial manipulation, and language acquisition. The whole test is one big complex task measuring many different verbal and spatial skills.  Usually if someone scores high on one aspect of intelligence they score high in others as well. It is thought that a higher IQ leads to better life outcomes, including health and longevity, and success. IQ test are commonly used at the elementary school level to test for learning disabilities and what areas a student might need more assistance in.

The problem is IQ scores are not an accurate representation of someone’s intelligence. The traditional IQ test only asks questions related to reading, comprehension, series and mathematical knowledge. The University Of Chapel Hill School Of Social studies claims that there are so many other areas that relate to intelligence. This includes mechanics, social skills and creativity. Howard Gardener was the first to propose that there are multiple intelligences and that people learn in different ways. He claimed that IQ tests were too narrow and don’t consider intelligence like musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic skills.

A study was done in 2012 that found that “there is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.” The study had 100,000 participants complete 12 online cognitive tests that measured memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities. The results showed that there was no single test component that predicted how well a person could perform mental and cognitive tasks. However they found that short term memory, reasoning and a verbal component make up intelligence confirming past theories. The researchers also found that training ones bran to improve performance on cognitive tasks did not help people when tested on these three aspects of intelligence. The studies senior investigator said “We have shown categorically that you cannot sum up the difference between people in terms of one number, and that is what is important here.”

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Many people believe in this common misconception that IQ is the best representation of intelligence. I found it interesting when I came upon an article about our current president and his consistent comments in regarding to IQ tests. The way President Trump has mentioned IQ scores gives the impression that he believes that they are a measure of someone’s worth and intelligence. It has been revealed by half a dozen of people close to him that he frequently says that the people he likes have genius- IQs. He has even called himself a “very stable genius” on multiple occasions. On top of all of this he said his cabinet has the highest IQ of any assembled in history.  In 2013 he tweeted “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q is one of the highest –and all you know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” This is a good example of the fact that a lot of people don’t understand that IQ scores aren’t the end all be all representation of intelligence. IQ tests just don’t fully represent someone’s capabilities and it needs to stop being used as a way to compete with others or represent intelligence.






Stereotype Threat

Since discovering the concept of stereotype threat, I wanted to dive deep and see if this plays a role in any other intelligence assessments. Stereotype threat is the notion that asking people of color or women about their racial/gender identities prior to a test can be correlated with poor performance and lower scores. This can be due to the amount of pressure an individual can feel about possibly being judged based on one or more of their identities which in turn affects the outcome. The APA released an article addressing the achievement gap that stems from this concept. This article also discussed stigma which can play a major role in poor performance on intelligence scores. There were several studies noted within the article but one that stuck out was conducted by Dr. Claude Steele, Dr. Diane Quinn, and Dr. Steven Spencer. These researchers discovered that by simply telling women that their math test results also showed gender differences, they performed worse than men. Conversely, when researchers told women that the tests showed no gender differences, they performed equal to men. It is important to note that stereotype threat is not the exact cause for differing performance levels however, researchers found that this concept has a significant influence on test performance. The results of these studies have led to people developing methods to reduce the achievement gap. 



Do Test Perceptions Influence Test Performance?


The Controversy Behind the IQ Test

Image result for iq

A popular topic these days, though maybe not as popular as when I was younger, is the concept of the IQ test, which is designed to measure your intelligence quotient. An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a total score derived from a set of standardized tests or subtests designed to assess human intelligence. According to Wikipedia:

“Historically, IQ was a score obtained by dividing a person’s mental age score, obtained by administering an intelligence test, by the person’s chronological age, both expressed in terms of years and months. The resulting fraction is multiplied by 100 to obtain the IQ score. For modern IQ tests, the average raw score  is defined as IQ 100 and scores each standard deviation up or down are defined as 15 IQ points greater or less. As such, around two-thirds of the population scores [are supposedly] between IQ 85 and IQ 115.”

Now, I put an extra emphasis on supposedly above. You can probably take a guess as so why I did this, and if you guessed that it has to do with differential scoring among ethnic and racial groups then you would be correct. That brings into question: why do some groups of people have higher average scores on IQ tests than others?

Despite coming into being over a century ago, IQ tests are still widely used today to measure an individual’s mental ability. In America, these tests show significant differences in scores (lower) when it comes to demographics of different racial and ethnic backgrounds other than white. According to Daniel Murdock, there are two potential reasons for this. 

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Firstly, there is a possible genetic factor that could impact intelligence testing. Most researchers believe there is a reaction range to IQ, in which heredity places an upper and lower limit on the IQ that can be cultivated. This has been found through family studies, that show that intelligence is highly correlated among members in immediate family. Further supporting studies are twin studies that show that intelligence is more highly correlated among monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins. Interestingly enough, adoption studies that show that the IQ scores of adopted children somewhat resemble those of their biological parents, giving weight to the biological/hereditary perspective.

There’s also an environmental perspective to consider. While studies have supported genetic factors, we can’t do away with how the environment can play a part in the development of intelligence. To this end, we must understand the concept of epigenetics. Epigenetics is “the study of the process by which genetic information is translated into the substance and behavior of an organism: specifically, the study of the way in which the expression of heritable traits is modified by environmental influences or other mechanisms without a change to the DNA sequence” according to Dictionary.com. Simply put, epigenetics is the study of how the environment manipulates the expression of genes without actually causing structural changes to the genes.

Image result for epigenetics

To that end, we must find support for the influence of the environment on IQ – family and adoption studies. Adoption studies provide evidence that our upbringing plays an important role in our mental ability – adopted children show some resemblance to their adoptive parents in IQ. Family studies also show that siblings who are reared together are more similar in IQ than siblings reared apart.

Similarly, when children are removed from deprived environments and placed in homes that are more conducive for learning, they show increases in IQ. While all this so far works on a more individual basis, it serves to set the stage for the big picture: groups.

What in the environment could cause these patterns and changes in IQ? Socioeconomic Status, Health, and Nutrition, and Education. This is true on an individual level as well as it is on a group level. The quotation below was pulled directly from the source as I personally couldn’t find a better and more concise way of putting across what the author said:

  • “Socioeconomic environment: Racial and ethnic minority children are more likely to experience socioeconomic disadvantages, which are correlated with lower IQ scores.” (Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores, 2018)
  • “Health and nutrition: Racial and ethnic minority children are statistically more likely to be exposed to poorer nutrition, prenatal health care, and postnatal health care. Poor health and nutrition can negatively affect cognitive development and functioning.” (Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores, 2018)
  • “Education: Racial and ethnic minority children are more likely to be exposed to poorer quality schools than white children, which limits opportunities for cognitive development.” (Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores, 2018)

Image result for minority groups

Inspired by the Week 12 SHT topic, this blog post is meant to help me properly articulate my thoughts within the topic of systemic racism and its consequences on the population. However, there is no room here for politics so I’ll leave it at this: the ethnic and racial differences in IQ scoring have nothing to do with biological or genetic limitations specific to one or more racial or ethnic groups. These scores are a product of the environment, the system under which they live and experience.


Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores. (2018, February 1). Retrieved from https://study.com/academy/lesson/group-differences-in-intelligence-test-scores.html.



April Blog Post

The first chapter of The Nature of Consciousness by Mike Rowlands argues that consciousness, specifically phenomenal consciousness, presents a threat to the materialist theory of the mind because it deals mainly with sensations and emotions, which due to being materially intangible, can’t exactly be quantifiably measured. Experiences, according to phenomenal consciousness, are more than simply images, sounds, odors, textures, and tastes. However, as Rowlands explains, phenomenal consciousness is very difficult to explain, but he then states that “Rather, it is a feature of our understanding of the concept that any adequate amount of consciousness should address and, hopefully, explain. Approaches that are, broadly speaking, eliminativist about phenomenal consciousness will explain this by saying that there is no coherent concept there to specify, or that what is there is a jumbled mish-mash of conceptually variegated strands that cannot be rendered into a coherent whole.” Rowlands then goes on to state that the book is of the realist, rather than the eliminativist, persuasion. According to the book, an author by the name of Nagel claimed in 1974 in a paper “‘What is it like to be a bat?’, to say that ‘there is something that it is like to be that organism – something it is like for the organism’.” This claim points to the idea that experiences as well as the beings who have them are phenomenally conscious. For example, the book gives the example of being guided while blindfolded and the person’s experience depending on their sensations during the scenario. The topic is very interesting because it presents our experiences as more than the sum of their sensory parts, that the emotions one feels during an experience are just as important as the sensory information we gather. However, the phenomenal consciousness theory has a few problems of its own, each of them shown through a hypothetical situation. The first is that of the abused scientist, who is kept her whole life in a black-and-white and grayscale room without any non-neutral colors. She is also all grayscale. Despite her unusual life, she is a leading neuroscientist with a specialty in color vision. When she is let out of her B&W room to experience non-neutral colors for the first time, she learns what it is like to experience color despite her grayscale upbringing. The second is that of the zombie. In this context, the zombie is someone who “is physically and functionally human, but which lacks conscious experience.” Such a person lacks any phenomenal experience and though not a natural possibility, they are still a logical possibility. The third is that of the deviant (but not the sexual kind). Here, deviants are individuals who are like doubles of us for whom qualia are inverted, meaning that our conscious experiences are inverted. For example, when one person has an experience as of the color red (seeing a red fire truck), their inverted twin has an experience as of the color green (seeing an expanse of grass). Just like the zombie, the inverted twin is also a logical possibility.

I Pledge that I have neither given nor received unauthorized help on this assignment.


Virtual Communication Perceptions

Most of the world has moved to virtual communication during these times of social distancing. Whether you’re working from home, visiting the doctor via telehealth, engaging in distance learning, or keeping in touch with family and friends, you’re most likely using some sort of virtual communication.

Luckily, we live in an age where we have various virtual platforms. Much communication can be done over the phone where we can hear what other people are saying. Another portion of communication can be done via video calls such as FaceTime, Duo, Zoom, Houseparty, etc. where you can not only hear what other people are saying, but you can also see their facial expressions and sometimes body language. The last way we are virtually communicating, and probably the way we most frequently communicate, is via text. Whether you are texting, emailing, posting on social media, typing into a chat with a doctor/counselor or on a forum, you are using text communication.

Virtual communication is extremely convenient; however, it has its disadvantages. Sometimes there’s background noise that makes it difficult to hear the person talking, or the reception is bad, or we ourselves are having a hard time hearing what someone is saying. Video calls have an advantage in that you can see the person(s) to interpret their facial expressions and occasional body language. Text communication is drastically different though. You aren’t hearing what the person is saying with your own ears and you aren’t seeing the person’s facial expressions and body language with your own eyes.

Think about reading. When you read you hear a voice that you’ve made up. You can’t see what’s happening, but you can visualize what’s going on through imagery. We are able to construct all of this based on our understanding of language, sentence structure, syntax, semantics, grammar, and our prior experiences.

Now think about SMS Text language. The language we all used in middle school because we had phones where you had to press the buttons a million times in order to say what you wanted to. It was easier to tell mom “OMW” rather than “On my way” when leaving a friend’s house. Maybe a friend asked if you wanted to hang out “L8R” rather than “later.” Text with people we know is interpreted differently than text with people we aren’t as familiar with. We tend to send more emojis when we’re trying to place emphasis.

In a study by Neuforn and Drinck, students in virtual learning environments were assessed for learning motivation based on the participants’ individual perceptions of written communication. They found that there were four important categories of a message: the appearance, the syntax, the vocabulary, and the empathetic communication.

Misunderstood Messages Between Hilariously Confused People | Funny ...      Communication Talking Transferring Information Listening Receiving ...

It’s important to remember, as we continue to virtually communicate, that the way we write something might not be interpreted the way we intended for it to be. There are times when things we say that people hear with their ears is misinterpreted. No matter how old the person(s) you are communicating with are, if they don’t know you super well, they might not take your sarcastic comment with four question marks very sarcastically. They may in fact, think you are being rather rude. Think about the audience you are talking to or aiming to talk to in addition to what you’re trying to say, and never respond when you’re angry.

Top 10 Funniest Text Messages from Parents – TechEBlog


Learning from online vs campus

Recently I have been wondering how most college switching to online classes would affect students learning. The Brookings Institution suggest that online classes can be very beneficial to students by helping target the causes of learning problems and helping traitor questions to help the student excel. However, they also say that students that do not highly excel in the traditional classroom tend to fall remarkably in learning when given online classes, which leads to more withdraws and dropouts. Therefore, most students benefit greatly from the traditional classroom. This is different from what University of the Potomac says which is “70% of all students claim online instruction to be as good as or better than in a traditional classroom;” along with on standardized test average score of classroom learners was 50th percentile, while average score of online learners was 59th percentile. Salt Lake Community College states that “Arguments can be made for both sides, but what it ultimately comes down to, is an individual’s preference in receiving their education,” which brings up an exceedingly good point. After the many articles I have read, many more than are referenced, have brought me to a similar conclusion. Whether you think that on campus classes are better for you cause you believe that hands-on activities or more conversation style lectures work better; or that online classes are better for you cause you believe the looser time limits or videos lectures that you can rewatch are better, it is all up to your personal preference. Just remember that you can get it into your memory one way or another, and in a time where we do not have an option, use the internet to your advantage, watch more videos or do more worksheets to help yourself understand. The internet has many resources to help you through this.

Brookings Institution, Eric Bettinger and Susanna Loeb: https://www.brookings.edu/research/promises-and-pitfalls-of-online-education/

University of the Potomac: https://potomac.edu/learning/online-learning-vs-traditional-learning/

Salt Lake Community College: http://slccocsw.org/societal-impacts-effects-online-education/

Pic: https://www.vecteezy.com/vector-art/208988-flat-home-office