Author Archives: Mala

I have 99 problems but…..

How do you solve problems? Are you the type to approach a situation step by step or do you base your decisions off of intuition? Has it ever occurred to you that the environment you grew up in could have affected how you solve problems? In a study conducted for the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, it digs into how environments play a role in our cognitive abilities. 

The study took children of age two and analyzed their environmental factors that included earned income and parental engagement and reassured these children at the age of four. Results showed that children who were exposed to harsher environments (i.e lower socioeconomic status) and higher levels of disengagement with parents had worse visual problem-solving skills.

Lacking problem-solving skills can be problematic. Especially if you’re a college student bombarded with an intense work-load and other responsibilities. How you approach a problem can differ from another person but are similar in approach. First, in the initial state, you need to use prior knowledge and resources to make your way to your goal state. In order to carry out your goal, you need to know your available tools, also known as operators. Along the way, you might face some limitations but all paths have obstacles along the way we must conquer to reach our end goal. 

Some problems require past experiences such as, beliefs and habits in which you can use as a foundation and resource for new problems. Much of our knowledge is stored in our long term memory which is essential for problem-solving and there are two general approaches that are used to solve problems. One being algorithms which are a set of rules that when applied correctly always lead to a solution and the other being heuristics which are general strategies that serve as shortcuts. Although heuristics are a faster way to get to a solution they do not always guarantee a solution. 

Referring back to the study, children who lack problem-solving skills can have similar issues throughout their life ultimately affecting their emotional, cognitive, and physical development. 

So what are some ways you problem solve? Do you approach it in a systematic way or do you make more impulsive decisions? Comment below and share an experience in which you had to problem solve and how you did it. 


Suor, J.H., Sturge‐Apple, M.L., Davies, P.T. and Cicchetti, D. (2017), A life history approach to delineating how harsh environments and hawk temperament traits differentially shape children’s problem‐solving skills. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 58: 902-909.

Robinson-Riegler, G., & Robinson-Riegler, B. (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

I’m (Enter Number Here) – Lingual

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to learn a new language or ever were fond of someone who was able to switch from one to another? A study conducted by the University of Delaware explored how our hemispheres play a role in language processing. It’s common to know how the left hemisphere plays a role, however, in the study it was found that identifying basic sounds and processing acoustic details of sounds is a key element of the right hemisphere. In the study, participants were exposed to pairs of sounds that were similar but had different consonants. Based on fMRI’s that were conducted it showed that the right hemisphere was most active in early sound-recognition. 

So how do we process language? Well, first let’s define language. Language can be described as a set of symbols that allow for communication and comprehension. How you’re able to read this text is based on your past knowledge of words and their meanings. All these words are stored in your own mental dictionary also known as your semantic memory, which is a form of long term memory that allows you to recall words when needed. Along with our semantic memory we also use grammar rules to arrange certain words in positions that make sense, otherwise, we would say sentences that don’t make any sense. 

To learn a new language sounds must be processed in our auditory perceptions and then we must create representations that stem from our semantic memory. The article mentions that the goal of learning a new language with a greater success rate in a certain period of time will be based on if someone is able to practice sound recognition in the early process of learning a new language. 

The process of understanding is beyond complicated. However, research indicated that adults are able to train themselves to become more sensitive to foreign speech sounds using techniques and learning the phonological elements of words. 

 Have you ever been interested in learning a new language, do you think you are able to train yourself to learn it? If so, comment below what language interests you!


Resources used

Robinson-Riegler, G., & Robinson-Riegler, B. (2008). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

“I Have One of the Greatest Memories of all Time” – Donald Trump

Do you ever find yourself arguing with your friends trying to prove what actually happened at that party you went to two months ago? Has there ever been an instance where you believed something was so true that you refused to believe anything else? Why does this occur? Well, many researchers state that believing that something happened when it did not is an example of false memory. The idea that people remember events differently than what actually occurred.

What is memory? How does it work? Memory is not as simple as most people think. Memory is broken down into three parts; encoding, storage, and retrieval. It focuses on how information gets transferred into our brains, how it stays inside our brain, and finally how we pull it out of storage and use the information. The article, How Memory Became Weaponized by Matthew Hutson, focuses on the encoding and retrieval aspects of memory and relates it to how it’s affecting us in our daily lives.

In the article Hutson states that the human mind is built to believe. He focuses a lot on the idea that our memory is constantly being altered with the use of technology. Whether it be through news media outlets, social media, or any other source, you can create false claims and advertise it to millions of people who are willing to believe. The biggest contributor to this idea, in my opinion, is POLITICS (enter eye rolls and sighs here).

Since the 2016 elections, there has been a constant divide between both political parties when it comes to “stating the truth.” Much so that supporters are willing to believe anything and everything that continues to confirm their biases on both ends. Our President has been very verbal about his own opinions and often times has stated his own facts on Twitter when he has been from time to time been proven wrong with the information he has been providing. So why do people continue to believe him you may ask. One aspect that may contribute to this is the misleading effect. This happens when one experiences an event and later information that contradicts is presented to them and over time that new information settles into their memory.

Another may be due to his use of repetition. President Trump’s rhetoric has been widely accepted due to the idea of the Illusion of Truth. Statements that are false, but are repeatedly said are more likely to be perceived as being the truth. This idea is exacerbated when like-minded people join together and further promote those beliefs.

When our minds remember the information we try to identify its source, where the information came from. We do this by using heuristics, which is a mental shortcut that uses the least amount of mental effort to make decisions or solve problems – because let’s face it, we’re lazy. If we are unable to recognize the true source it can lead to inaccurate information thus distorting our memory.

How do we avoid getting jumbled into misinformation and false memories? According to Hutson, there are ways to slow down the process, but notes that it’s not 100% effective. Some of the ways include explaining the source of false information and providing an alternative answer that trumps that source, regulation of fraudulent information on the internet, fact-checking and filtering online sources, and overall questioning everything that comes your way to be false until proven otherwise.

Although I don’t agree with Hutson’s ideas of how to get rid of false claims, I do think he did a thorough job of explaining how people create false memories and what aspects of cognition are associated with it. Are there ideas or ways that you believe we can get rid of or even decrease the effect of false memories? Please leave your ideas below in the comments!

Side Note: I was not able to add pictures to the post for some reason, they’re showing up as blank posts after uploading them. Attaching a google doc link, if you would like to read the post with images.


Sources used:


Stressed? Me? Never….

Let’s admit it, you’re stressed, I’m stressed, and everyone else reading this post is most likely stressed as well. Whether it be because you just started your five-page paper that’s due at midnight (cough, cough) or simply because you can’t decide what outfit you’re going to wear tomorrow morning. The beauty of stress is that it can apply to anyone at any given time, however, the downside is that we often don’t know how to deal with it and eventually break down (it’s okay I too have just recovered from such tragedy). 

Everyone reacts to situations differently. What may seem like a big deal to you may not raise a hair on the person next to you. However, how you successfully deal with your stressors should be determined by what Alice Boyes refers to as your own cognitive style.  We all are different. We have different ways of retaining information and further processing that information to make our own decisions. Which means that we have to create strategies that work for our own self when it comes to dealing with our stress.

One of the many reasons why we tend to stress is because of how much attention we give to a particular situation. Research shows that how much attention we have is limited, creating this notion that beyond a certain point we are unable to process what is going around us and how effectively we are able to make decisions. In the article, Boyes states that it is important to create strategies that will help find a balance between how much attention we give to a stressful situation in order to avoid overthinking.  


How do you deal with your stress? Is by eating an entire tub of your favorite ice-cream (I am guilty of this), do you address the situation with positive energy, or do you completely avoid the situation until it “goes away.” Our personality definitely plays a role in which direction we chose to deal with our situation. As mentioned in Boyde’s article, those who tend to feel more hopeless should try to face the situation with a more defensive pessimistic view. Meaning that if you set low standards from the gecko and envision all the possible negative outcomes that could occur, you would be more likely to take action in trying to avoid that from happening in the first place. Resulting in less stress in the long run.

If you are the complete end of the spectrum and are someone who is optimistic about every situation you have a better chance of having to deal with your stress in a positive manner. However, one does have to realize that regardless of your subjective feeling it won’t necessarily change the reality of the situation but will help in terms of emotional well-being. 

Reading this article I did find myself agreeing with a lot of what Boyes had to say in terms of how everyone has their own cognitive style in dealing with certain issues. Although I do think she could have incorporated more ideas into it in regards to other factors and solutions that one could engage in to control our stressors.

Sources/links used:

Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, Cognitive Psychology: Applying the Science of the Mind. Pearson, 2017. ISBN 9780134003405