Author Archives: cheyc

Dogs Don’t Remember Yesterday, Claims Psychologist

Good old click-bait strikes again.

This article at first appeared very promising. Memory and animals are two things that always interest me, and it seems that every day we are learning new things about how animals observe and behave in the world.

Unfortunately this article is considerably bare bones. The author talks about a psychological article written by Dr. Tulving. The news articles discusses how the psychologists believes that dogs do not have past memories, at least not the same as us humans. The news article contains an anecdote about how the psychologist’s dogs are always excited to see him, whether he has been gone ten minutes, or ten hours. The news article then goes on to talk about how while the dogs might not remember the last time they saw their owner, they do remember things like where they eat food, or keep their toys. The news article then stops and provides no further information or insight.

However, the psychological article that the news article was based on does go into further explanation.  Dr. Tulving discusses that the reason his dogs are always happy to see him, no matter how much time has passed, is because they only have semantic memory, and lack episodic memory.  Episodic memory, also known as mental time travel, is the ability to remember the act of learning some new information, such as remembering the time where you first learned where you get food. Semantic memory is simply the remembering of the learned information, and not the act of learning it. Tulving argues that episodic memory is a purely human ability, and stems from a human’s sense of self. Sense of self is the ability to recognize yourself in other media. For example, a human can look in a mirror and understand that is simply a reflection of themselves. However, a dog will look in a mirror and think another dog is in the room.

There has been some arguments against Tulving’s theory, but no has yet managed to disprove him without using specific one time examples, which do not have the repeatibility required to disprove him.

Three Easy Ways to Whip Your Brain Into Shape

BRAIN GAMES

It seems like these articles are constantly being created. A list of tips that will help improve your memory, or make you solve problems faster, or allow you to better understand the world around you. So I guess the question is, do any of these things work?

This article addresses three problems: failure to finish tasks, feeling jaded, and boredom. These three problems don’t seem to be very  related except that they all involve dissatisfaction about one’s own actions which every can relate to which can help this article gain popularity, but do the solutions actually work?

The solutions given to these problems all involve simply taking a break and thinking about something else for a little while. Whether it’s taking “brain breaks” in an attempt to find a new attempt to a failed project, or breaking out of our normal routine in order to become less bored with our lives. However, as basic as these solutions are, can they still be valid. The answer is yes. In many cases people become so bogged down in living their daily lives, commuting, working, and taking care of the kids, that they often forget to allow time for themselves. Many people will often continue bashing their problem into the same wall expecting different results instead of considering there might be an entirely different solution.

So the conclusion we can make from these articles is that while their advice can be considered basic and almost unnecessary, many people don’t often hear the advice to take time for themselves and so they need to read it in a news article in order to feel allowed to do it.

What Makes Songs “Singalong-able”

An article by the Huffington Post has shed light on a matter many have considered for a long time. Why is it that people will sing along to the entirety of one song, but simply ignore others? The answers are surprisingly fairly simple.

Doctors Alisun Pawley and Daniel Mullensiefen conducted a study that would try to ascertain the reasons as to what made some songs more “singalong-able” than others. They attended multiple performance venues, and also pretty much anywhere that played music to a group of people. They observed many different things about the crowds, such as their inebriation, how crowded they group was and whether or not it was the weekend. What they found was that many male singers songs were sung along to more often than their female counterparts. They also found that the more drunk a crowd, the more likely they were to sing along to the song. Also they found that as long as the lyrics were easily heard, it did not really matter what they were actually about. Now while the study was conducted in the UK the doctors admit that they also want to perform it in the US because they believe that female song would be more popular here.

When the study was first brought up in the media it was simply used as a ten best songs list by most media outlets. Which was not what the researchers had not intended. They stated that they had not cared what the actual songs themselves were, but were more interested in the elements of the song.

I feel this article is  well related to cognitive psychology because it shows that many people’s brain agree that there is an appealing way to perform music, and when the music is appealing it is more easily remembered. It’s interesting to see what our minds deem appealing and what it then does with that information. Does this mean that if we like something enough auditorily or visually, will our minds remember it better regardless of whether we want them to or not?

The science of singing along: A quantitative field study on sing-along behavior in the north of England, is there article and was the first link I found after typing sing-along into the psychNET search bar if anyone would like to read about the study more in depth.

Speaking Two Languages May Slow Brain Aging

Well If that isn’t a headline designed to grab readers immediately then I don’t know what is. I found this article on huffington post online and it caught my attention pretty well. The article is about a recent study that was done in order to see if learning a second language, even as an adult, would help to slow the decline of cognitive function in the brain as people age.

While other studies have been performed on the same subject matter, there was one big criticism for those studies.  When reviewing these past studies other people wondered if learning new languages decreased cognition degeneration, or the people whose cognition didn’t degrade were just the ones to go and learn new languages because their cognitive functioning was higher.

The study combated this criticism by selecting a large group of people, 800, from a similar area, Edinburgh, Scotland. They measured the participants intelligence at age 11 and then again at age 70. It was found that those participants that had learned a second language, no matter the age of learning, were proven to have higher cognitive function than their peers.

So how might this higher cognitive function manifest itself? Well, those that had learned second languages had tested much higher in general intelligence and reading when compared to other members of the study.

This news article also mentions another causal studies that had showed that people who had learned another language typically lengthened the onset time of dementia by about 4.5 years. However, the article doesn’t go into any greater detail about the study so it is harder to discern the validity of this study.

This article does not seem to go very deeply into any of the cognitive psychology behind either of these studies, instead just stating the basic facts of them. In fact this news article does not even seem to cite the study that they are talking about. So it seems that although this article tries to be scientific and intelligent, it only provides the barest of information, and seems to operate under the thinking that cognition is mostly just IQ scores, seeing as those are what they mention are affected.