Author Archives: avogt

Power Naps Help Your Hippocampus Consolidate Memories.

Power naps and your hippocampus work as a dynamic duo to consolidate memories.

“ I catnap now and then, but I think while I nap, so it’s not a waste of time”, Martha Stewart. And “Though we seem to be sleeping, there is an inner wakefulness that directs the dreams, and that will eventually startle us back to the truth of who we are”, Rumi.


According to the post creator, Christopher Bergland, he claims the brain is never at rest. Even with deep sleep or just a catnap, your brain is always at work. Bergland mentions that neuropsychologists in Germany recently discovered that a power nap can improve retention of learned material five-fold.

Previous studies have shown that sleep improves memory performance. The new study focused on the hippocampus and how the different components of sleep (Sleep spindles, and Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS)) play an important role in the consolidation of memory. Researchers found that power naps lasting 45 to 60 minuets produced a five-fold improvement on information retrieval from memory. More specifically, Bergland quotes, “the researchers at Saarland University in Germany found that power naps dramatically boost the retention of hippocampus-dependent associative memories”. He also mentions that the hippocampus plays an important role in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and in spatial navigation.

What Makes Power Naps So Powerful?

Researcher’s examined “Sleep Spindles”, these play an important role during sleep in memory consolidation. “A sleep spindle is a short burst of rapid oscillations on the electroencephalogram (EEG)”. Researchers believe that information of high importance are subconsciously tagged, recorded, and given priority during memory consolidation while you are in the “Sleep spindle” stage of sleep. During a power nap, recently learned information is given a label, making it easier to recall that information at a later time. Power naps make your memory of something stronger, which is reflected by a greater number of sleep spindles seen on the EEG.

The research team at Saarland University concluded from its study:

A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning              success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep. A concentrated periods of learning followed by a short relaxing sleep seems to be the winning formula for consolidating memories.

The post also mentioned new recommendations of sleep durations for all age groups, newborns all the way to older adults. I have always been pro-nap so I am glad there is evidence to show that naps are beneficial and not what my mother would call me just being lazy! Power naps revive your brain and body, and can provide you with a kick-start to the second part of your day. Naps will help your hippocampus strengthen memories while giving you a boost to take on the rest of your day.

“Knowledge of “Culture” Enhances Second Language Learning Abilities”

I took a Linguistics class last semester and psychology was never brought up, so I found it really interesting how Linguistics was brought up in our Cognitive Psychology lecture.

I found an interesting article talking about “Knowledge of “Culture” Enhances Second Language Learning Abilities”. The article is by Ms. Bhanushree Agarwal, a M.A. student in Linguistics from the University of Delhi ( This woman’s motivation for her article is the classroom sessions of Spanish learning language. She goes in to great detail and talks about how the knowledge of culture helps to learn a second language. She mentions “Culture and language are two sides of a same coin which go together hand in hand be it anthropology, linguistics, or psychology”.ForeignLanguage-Training

She suggests that the first step towards leaning a second language is to know about the culture of the place where that language is spoken, until and unless one will feel connected to that language one cannot learn it. She quoted from Wikipedia with “ differences in the way languages encode cultural and cognitive categories affect the way people think, so the speakers of different languages will tend to think and behave differently depending on the language they use”. She agreed with this quote saying that one word is one language is not necessarily exist in the same form or context in other languages.

Culture is defined as traditions, rituals, thinking of people, set of ideas, behaviors, attitudes that exist within a large group of people (families, countries, ethnicities, etc.). Language learning is more of knowing about the people who speak that language, feeling and thinking in the same way they do. This is why communicative method is one the important tools for learning a foreign language. Learning a new language does not completely change your thinking towards the world but gives you another direction for looking at it and perceiving things.

She concludes with that language is a culture. If learners are being taught language without teaching about the culture in which it operates then students are learning meaningless and empty symbols or they might interpret the meaning in an incorrect manner. She also mentions her own experience when trying to learning Spanish as her second language. She says as she was learning Spanish, she would love to watch movies in Spanish. She also tried to get to know names of famous Spanish actors, singers, painters, and everything because then only she used to feel connected and enjoyed her Spanish learning classes.

Studying as Self-Regulating Learning

When searching for my next blog topic, I decided to look in to cognitive studying tips. I chose this topic in particular because, just recently we learned in class how much cognition goes into studying, and this really interested me. So I discovered a book called Metacognition in Educational Theory and Practice, edited by Douglas J. Hacker, John Dunlosky, Arthur C. Graesse. I came across a chapter in this called Studying as Self-Regulation Learning, by Philip H. Winne and Allyson F Hadwin out of Simon Fraser University (

ddddd            In the beginning of the chapter it talks about the six features that distinguish studying from the subsuming category of learning activities. In particular, studying:

  1. Rarely includes direct or frequent intervention by a teacher.
  2. Is often a solo activity, although peer meditation is also common
  3. Often originates with a general goal set by a teacher that the student subsequently interprets at the studying session’s onset and refines in a recursive way as studying unfolds.
  4. Quite often involves searching in and synthesizing information from multiple sources.
  5. Quite often occurs in settings where the student can engineer the studying environment to satisfy personal preferences.
  6. Almost always produces observable traces (Winne, 1982) of cognitive processing in forms such as notes in a textbook or in the margins of a textbook’s pages, outlines, summaries, self-generated questions, diagrams, records of attempts to solve problems, and especially highlighted text.

The Six features just numbered that distinguish studying from learning in general describe circumstances that essentially force student’s to engage in complex bundles of goal-directed cognitive and motivational processes that “get studying done”.

As a first step toward examining studying through metacognitive lenses, they suggested we present a general typology that defines features of academic tasks in general, including studying tasks. Then, we would use this typology to characterize the four distinguishable but recursively linked stages of studying: task definition, goal setting and planning, enacting study tactics and strategies, and metacognitive adapting studying. Next, we would then develop connections between our typology for studying and models of metacognition monitoring, metacognitive control, and self-regulated learning.

I think this article did a great job of breaking down the differences between learning and studying information. Learning as far as the teacher and classroom, and then studying as an individual in your own environment. Then they also break down the cognitive part of studying, like goal setting, planning, and adapting. When studying you can always just read your notes but in order to retain the information you really have to think about what you are learning and apply the information. For example, reading from flash cards is not going to help unless you thinking about the “why’s” and the “how’s”.



Left Brain / Right Brain

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For my January blog post, I took to Twitter to see what the “Twitterverse” had to say about Cognitive Psychology. From there I found an article called “Left Brain vs. Right Brain: The Surprising Truth” ( I picked this article because I remember being in high school psychology and taking little tests and questionnaires to see if I was either Left Brained or Right Brained. Later on in college psychology classes Left Brain/Right Brain was mentioned again. Not until this semester in Dr. Rettinger’s Cognitive Psychology class, I was told the whole theory of Left Brain/Right Brain was completely inaccurate.

From the article I found, it states that the Right Brain-Left Brain theory is only just a myth. It is now believed that brain function is not just in one hemisphere or the other, it is the whole brain functioning and working together. Prior theory of Left Brain or Right Brain dominance said, if you were Left Brained you were more logical, analytical and objective or if you were Right Brained were more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective. It is true that certain areas of the brain control certain functions for example language occurs on the left, and attention on the right side. There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that people have a stronger left-side or right-side brain network.

During my research, I googled left brain/right brain tests and it directed me to this website, After taking the test I received got a score of 50. According to the website “Both your right and left hemisphere seem to have reached a level of perfect harmony – rather than trying to dominant each other, they work together to create a unique and well-balanced “you”. I had the previous theory in my mind of receiving a Left or Right brain result but in reality my results were correct in that the whole brain works and functions together.