Author Archives: autumnphipps

How Do Musicians Learn?

Are you or have you been a musician?

Are you not a musician but wonder how musicians think and learn?

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There are so many different theories out there about musicians learn, think, and do things. If you’re curious, you’re in luck because we are about to go ahead and delve into the facts.

People who have musical training are able to detect patterns and rhythms quite easily. This is because they spend a lot of time sight reading and doing rhythm training. This is noted by Miendlerzewska and Trost (2014) from the University of Geneva as being some of the reasons why they tend to do very well in reading, learning other languages, memory, and grade scores. This can be due to the fact that since musicians are always reading and adapting to different kinds of sheet music, they are more used to learning new things.

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Fact or myth? Are musicians better at math than non-musicians?

Everyone seems to say that musicians are naturally better at math than the average person, but I grew up learning and practicing music all my life and have had a VERY hard time with math. So what’s the deal?

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In an article by Gaab and Zuk (2017), researchers found that there was a correlation between those who had been educated in music and higher grades in math. However, this cannot make a causal claim because you need to meet three criteria developed by research to make this a factual claim.

 First, there must be an association. Yes, there is an association, so that is met. Next, it needs temporal precedence. Temporal precedence is essentially saying that music education came before the high grades in math. Which came first? We do not know. As mentioned in the article by Miendlerzewska and Trost (2014), while researchers have associated these, they cannot clearly state whether musicians are just naturally better at math or if people who are better at math are more musically inclined. Since we do not have temporal precedence, we certainly have to rule out internal validity which is asking if there are any outside factors influencing the association. Scientists still do not know.

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So, I encourage you to ponder this. Are there biological, environmental, or learning factors that make them do things differently? Or is it a fusion of these things all together? Are some people just born to be musicians? Hopefully with research, one day we will know.



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Attention Introverts! A blog on how to navigate classes geared toward extroverts!

Introverts, rejoice! This is a blog for you.

First, if you don’t quite know what an introvert is, rest assured. An introvert is someone who is deeply “reflective”, often “reserved”, and enjoys spending time with a close-knit group of friends rather than large groups of people that they know less well (Myers-Briggs). Extroverts are usually seen as outgoing, they gather energy from meeting new people, and usually enjoy working in groups rather than alone (Myers-Briggs). 

The vast majority of the population falls somewhere between introvert and extrovert. According to Myers-Briggs, it is all about your preference, where you generally fall under just a little bit more of the time. If you would like to test your personality type and if you are more of an introvert or extrovert, you may follow this link to take the personality assessment.

Introverts are especially unique because they make up approximately 25% of the population, according to Myers-Briggs.

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Introverts have a unique learning style that is different from most extroverts. It can be difficult for them to adapt in a society that is geared more towards extroverts. This is especially true in school. They report finding it harder to learn in the public school system. Many of them are quite independent and perform better when learning independently, which is why they do better in online classes than extroverts on average, according to Sam Houston State University.

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Extroverts on average prefer more interactive face-to-face learning around their peers and teachers.

Introverts also prefer not to do as much interaction because they work very efficiently alone and find that being in groups can hinder their thought processes.


I am an outgoing introvert, I personally struggle more in lectures and participation, but excel in online classes because I am usually drained by being around a lot of people, so it tends to interfere with my learning more. I tend to do better when reviewing the notes later on after class. This goes to show that personality type can truly affect cognition and learning.

Now that we understand all this, how do us introverts help ourselves learn better in classes that were made for extroverts? Here are some tips that I have for you:

  1. Take as good of notes as possible in class.
  2. Read them thoroughly later.
  3. Read the textbook and make an outline of the topics from the lecture and textbook.
  4. Study them in an aesthetically pleasing, but quiet enough environment. (We spend so much time in our heads, so if something outside our heads is more pleasing, then that may help us stay focused.)
  5. Test yourself on the knowledge. Quizlet is an excellent platform to do this on.
  6. Talk to your professor/teacher. Some of them are actually quite introverted and can give you wonderful advice! You never know what you may uncover if you talk to your professors!\

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Stauffer, C. C., Indermuhle, R., Troche, S. J., & Rammsayer, T. H. (2012). Extraversion and short-term memory for chromatic stimuli: An event-related potential analysis. Internation Journal of Psychophysiology, 86, 66-73. Doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.07.184




Memory sucks with Depression… but it doesn’t have to!

Depression is a terrible psychological disorder. It comes in many forms, but they all have an impact on daily life. As a sufferer of depression, I can say that depression effects performance in so many areas. But it especially affects memory. Short term and explicit memory are highly affected adversely due to this psychological problem. Short term memory is memory retrieved only for short term. It can be encoded and stored for long term, but that would no longer be short term memory. Explicit memory is memory that is retrieved through awareness. You are explicitly looking for this memory to retrieve. When these forms of memory are affected, you cannot function the way you normally would. I personally have seen my grades go from dean’s list almost every semester to nearly failing quite a few classes. It’s sneaky, painful, and can take so many opportunities away from you. But it doesn’t have to.

There is hope. There are things that you can do to improve your memory, perception, and overall performance in school and life. While seeing a therapist, surrounding yourself with good people that you enjoy, getting medical help from a Doctor, and distracting yourself can be good strategies; there is also another strategy that can help reverse some of the damaging effects of depression.

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A theorist named Mihály Csíkszentmihályi developed the theory of flow. A good example of flow is the experience of being completely (and enjoyably) lost in something that you do. It can be a hobby like playing the piano, performing needle work, coloring, drawing, whatever it may be that puts you in that mindless, emotionless, enjoyable state. Sometimes it’s just better to have no emotion at all and have a break from all of those intrusive thoughts. So I challenge you to take time out of your busy day cramming for school and trying to memorize for that test. Instead, do at least one hour of an activity of your choice that induces flow. The research supports it, so give it a try!

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Flow theory:

Depression and memory: Burt, D. B., Zembar, M. J., & Niederehe, G. (1995). Depression and memory impairment: A meta-analysis of the association, its pattern, and specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 117(2), 285-305. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.2.285

Flow picture:

Piano picture:

Research Shows That This is the Most Effective Studying Method!

The life of college students never seems to get any less stressful. From the early classes, to the midnight cram sessions, and the gargantuan group projects– college seems to keep everyone busy. Cognitive Psychologists work on research every day to find out how memory and attention works. When asked about their favorite study habits that work best for them, students come up with mixed answers. Some say concept mapping helps them, some just simply read the text book, and others prefer to test themselves. Some students test themselves using flash cards, and others test themselves by making up mock tests on the subject to test their memory.

In a study done in 2011, Cognitive Psychologists devised research to find out what the most effective studying strategy was for students. Early on, they asked them what they thought the answer would be. The majority of students stated that they thought it would be concept mapping, but the results were surprising for the students! The results concluded that students did significantly better on tests and had better retention if they enacted a strategy called “memory retrieval” versus other strategies like concept mapping.

Memory retrieval is a process of studying in which the student tests their memory as they read and does smaller increments rather than cramming. Memory retrieval showed significantly better test scores in the research cited below.

Here is how you can practice memory retrieval and see how it works for you!

First, distribute your study time. Practice the concepts as you go in smaller increments. This will ensure that you understand the concepts at hand before you go on to the next topic.

Second, test yourself after reading each topic. This will aid you in awareness of your understanding of the topic and what you need to work on before moving on.

Third, connect the next topics to the previous topics that you studied and continuously test yourself on those topics. This way, you are retrieving memory as you go, so that it remains relevant and is related to the material you are currently learning.

Of course, not every college student has the luxury of time, or has hit a bump in the road of the semester, so this studying strategy is best done when there is more time to do this. The best advice that I can offer to alleviate this predicament is in the beginning of the semester, try to get as ahead as possible. Be diligent about your work from the beginning, so that if something happens to make you fall behind, you are able to spare at least one day. College students’ stress can be alleviated significantly if they are not always pressed for time, and studying in smaller amounts more often can be just the recipe we have been asking for. So as fellow college students, I urge you to practice this studying strategy and let me know how well this has worked for you!


Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces more learning than
elaborative studying with concept mapping. Science, 331, 772–775. doi:

Intro to Autumn Phipps

Hello everyone!

I am Autumn Phipps. I will be graduating in December of 2020 so I am almost a senior. I will be 23 years old in November. I am a Psychology major and I love writing stories. My dream for the future is to be a Clinical Psychologist, so if I am able to do that, I have a long, but I am sure rewarding journey ahead of me! I am very excited for this class and what we have in store to learn!