Author Archives: victoriarulapaugh

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 |

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!


The effect of Hypnosis on Flashbulb memories

What is a Flashbulb Memory? 

In class, we learned about Flashbulb Memories, which is a vivid memory of an event or experience that one has gone through during their lifetime, that has stuck with them, emotionally. Flashbulb memories are not memories that you think about everyday, these memories can have trigger points.

What is Hypnosis?

My other key point is the term, Hypnosis. This term refers to a person loosing their own voluntary control, you are under someone else’s control. Usually hypnosis is used to find suppressed memories, but also alter the state of mind in regard to those memories.

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Hypnotherapy: Facts on Hypnosis and Hypnotism : Disabled World

My Flashbulb Memory

One example of a Flashbulb memory to me is 9/11. This was probably the most traumatic experience for me because it involved my mom. I remember this so vividly and it is quite weird because I was so young. I remember I was sitting on my Mimi’s (grandmother’s) lap in her living room watching the news after New York City was hit with a terrorist attack. Then there was news that D.C was hit as well and my mom’s office building was incredibly close to the Pentagon and my mimi could not get ahold of her. I remember bits and pieces after that, but I remember that anxiety and worry when I think about it. Trigger points for this certain example include, September 11th, every year, thinking about terrorism, and thinking about my mom’s old office building. It is crazy how one word can come up that is remotely related to this and I feel that pain again.

Student shoots video of WTC on 9/11 A former NYU student ... - YouTubeHow American Kids Are Learning About 9/11 in School | Time

After understand what flashbulb memories were and what hypnosis was, I wanted to focus on the both of these terms and see what Hypnosis does to flashbulb memories. To help me understand the effects of hypnosis on flashbulb memories, I decided to find a study from before and after hypnosis.


A certain study that I want to discuss is Princess Diana’s death. Basically, three days after her death, there was a survey taken from certain people in regard to how they felt about the situation. Then there was another survey taken 10-12 weeks later, with the same feelings and emotions, with this trigger. After completing the second portion to this survey, some participants were hypnotized to be less sensitive to the subject. After hypnosis, these individuals were given the same questions and the results were insane since some had no emotion towards the passing of Princess Diana

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This study proves that Hypnosis cannot take away the memory, or the importance of the memory, but it can ease the pain to where you do not feel that heartache anymore, or whatever pain you were feeling in the first place. Instead of this memory being a flashbulb memory, it would just be an event that happened throughout your lifetime.


After seeing the results from this study, I can conclude that Hypnosis will not erase your memory, it will just ease the pain that one is feeling. A lot of the time, Hypnosis is used to find repressed memories during therapy. If one is too lose their keys, yes, being hypnotized will help you find them, but it can never erase the memory from your mind. These people above will forever be affected by this certain experience, but some will not mind the subject as much since they were hypnotized to let go of that scarred feeling.

Hypnosis and Flashbulb memories can work very well together, especially if you have patients suffering from PTSD, but remember, your memories can never be erased with this procedure!



Did this actually happen?

Have you ever seen an old picture of you as a child and you think that you remember that time, but you are just not positive? This is called,”False Memory.” False memory is when people remember events in different orders than which they happened, or they remember situations that may not have ever happened at all. False memory can be relevant in a lot of court cases and in every day life, when looking back at family pictures or old youth memories.

A case that I am going to be discussing is referring to Julia Shaw, who is a criminal psychologist. In this situation, she was contacted by a lawyer discussing a case that dealt with two young girls, who were sisters that claimed to have been sexually assaulted by someone they knew. They said this person was a “close female relative” (Wired, 2017). These young girls described the assault in very good detail, making it very plausible. As Shaw looked into the case in greater depth, she realized that the girls were talking about how much of their childhood they blocked out, which is also known as “repression.” Shaw said, “I don’t try to find out if a person is guilty or innocent, It’s about whether the memory is reliable or not” (Wired, 2017). The trigger of the memory occurring was a post on Facebook by the individual who assaulted them. This led one of the sisters to remember being sexually abused when she was younger, and then the older sister started to believe what apparently happened. The cases ended up being dropped because of these repressed memories and unreliable events. Shaw said, “contrary to what many believe, human memories are malleable, open to suggestion and often unintentionally false” (Wired, 2017).

After looking at this specific occurrence, we can now understand how easy it is to create false memories. According to Wired, 2017, “False memories are everywhere. In everyday situations, we don’t really notice or care that they’re happening. We call them mistakes, or say we misremember things” (Julia Shaw, Criminal Psychologist).

False memory can be so incredible when you think about it, because it happens more than you would think. I asked a question in class about seeing an old picture of me when I was a baby and thinking I remember that specific time, but after researching this topic, I don’t think my memories are reliable. I used the court case above because I found that a lot of people are convicted for certain reasons, but then are found not guilty in the end. I believe that False Memory is the major cause for these punishments.









Optical Illusions with Top Down Processing

While you read this blog, keep in mind a few things. Note that there are 2 main topics I want you to understand and try to realize in the video: the optical illusion occurring with the nose sticking out, making it seem as if there are two faces and notice the top down processing happening in your brain while you watch this video. Do not be warned if you need to blink a few times while the head spins, it gets a little tricky to stay focused on this optical illusion!

As learned in class, Top down processing is essentially our brains taking the information that we are seeing and making conclusions based on previous experiences. We have that background knowledge to influence our perception of what we are focusing on. By having this existing knowledge in our mind, we are making these educated guesses or assumptions, which help lead to the conclusion on what something actually is, or says. A perfect example that I like to think of is, when you are reading a sign on the street, but it is missing some letters, you are used to seeing that sign in other places while you drive, so you can come to the conclusion of what it says based on your previous knowledge!

I have provided you with an optical illusion (below) and it is a mask that has a face on one side, but then it is hollow in the back. In this video, the mask will spin in a slow, complete circle. As this mask spins, you will start to notice the indent in the mask on the backside. We know that there is not a face on the other side, but we also know what faces are supposed to look like in real life. We know that everyone has eyes, a nose, and a mouth. One thing that I noticed in this video is that the nose looked like it was sticking out on the hollow side, that is the optic illusion that the psychologist, Richard Gregory wanted us to focus on. “Perception is a constructive process which relies on top-down processing. Stimulus information from our environment is frequently ambiguous so to interpret it, we require higher cognitive information either from past experiences or stored knowledge in order to makes inferences about what we perceive. Helmholtz called it the ‘likelihood principle’.” (Simply Psychology)

After reading what he had to say about optical illusions and top down processing we can understand what is happening here. Since we know that a nose is supposed to stick out, our mind is reconstructing a face on the other side, which defines top down processing.

I believe that this example will really shape how we see optical illusions, since we now know what exactly is going on in our mind. I think it is amazing that our brain can create images based on prior knowledge and experiences that we have either learned or have gone through. I hope you all get to watch this and experience this compelling argument for top down processing in this optic illusion!!