Category Archives: Memes

Virtual Communication Perceptions

Most of the world has moved to virtual communication during these times of social distancing. Whether you’re working from home, visiting the doctor via telehealth, engaging in distance learning, or keeping in touch with family and friends, you’re most likely using some sort of virtual communication.

Luckily, we live in an age where we have various virtual platforms. Much communication can be done over the phone where we can hear what other people are saying. Another portion of communication can be done via video calls such as FaceTime, Duo, Zoom, Houseparty, etc. where you can not only hear what other people are saying, but you can also see their facial expressions and sometimes body language. The last way we are virtually communicating, and probably the way we most frequently communicate, is via text. Whether you are texting, emailing, posting on social media, typing into a chat with a doctor/counselor or on a forum, you are using text communication.

Virtual communication is extremely convenient; however, it has its disadvantages. Sometimes there’s background noise that makes it difficult to hear the person talking, or the reception is bad, or we ourselves are having a hard time hearing what someone is saying. Video calls have an advantage in that you can see the person(s) to interpret their facial expressions and occasional body language. Text communication is drastically different though. You aren’t hearing what the person is saying with your own ears and you aren’t seeing the person’s facial expressions and body language with your own eyes.

Think about reading. When you read you hear a voice that you’ve made up. You can’t see what’s happening, but you can visualize what’s going on through imagery. We are able to construct all of this based on our understanding of language, sentence structure, syntax, semantics, grammar, and our prior experiences.

Now think about SMS Text language. The language we all used in middle school because we had phones where you had to press the buttons a million times in order to say what you wanted to. It was easier to tell mom “OMW” rather than “On my way” when leaving a friend’s house. Maybe a friend asked if you wanted to hang out “L8R” rather than “later.” Text with people we know is interpreted differently than text with people we aren’t as familiar with. We tend to send more emojis when we’re trying to place emphasis.

In a study by Neuforn and Drinck, students in virtual learning environments were assessed for learning motivation based on the participants’ individual perceptions of written communication. They found that there were four important categories of a message: the appearance, the syntax, the vocabulary, and the empathetic communication.

Misunderstood Messages Between Hilariously Confused People | Funny ...      Communication Talking Transferring Information Listening Receiving ...

It’s important to remember, as we continue to virtually communicate, that the way we write something might not be interpreted the way we intended for it to be. There are times when things we say that people hear with their ears is misinterpreted. No matter how old the person(s) you are communicating with are, if they don’t know you super well, they might not take your sarcastic comment with four question marks very sarcastically. They may in fact, think you are being rather rude. Think about the audience you are talking to or aiming to talk to in addition to what you’re trying to say, and never respond when you’re angry.

Top 10 Funniest Text Messages from Parents – TechEBlog

A Distinction: Flashbulb Memories or Reminiscence Bump?


A Distinction: Flashbulb Memories or Reminiscence Bump?

2020 Flashbulb/Reminiscence Bump

We’re all well aware of what’s been happening in the past several months. Things have transpired in such a way that, from January to March, the news of current events have been particularly jarring. Among the coping culture of younger generations comes the production of memes in popular social media. Among these, we have the above: in which, ten years in the future, “2020” is a trigger for memories of what’s happened so far this year. From WWIII concerns to the current pandemic, its fair to say that the year has so far left a strong impression on us all.

So, how does this happen? There’s two possible options that I’ll discuss in my blog post. The first is flashbulb memories, which are very vivid memories within our autobiographical memory (most typically episodic memory). These flashbulb memories are closely associated with flashbacks, which are again closely associated with trauma or moments of substantially strong enough emotions, which can include receiving major news. In the month of January, there was a WWIII scare, which led to a deluge of social media referencing and which may have affected people to a certain degree, perhaps strongly enough to warrant the creation of flashbulb memories. However, while I’ve described flashbulb memories as being incredibly detailed and vivid, there’s one caveat that we must keep in mind: even though flashbulb memories are far more long lasting, they tend to be less accurate than our everyday memories, no matter how much more more we tend to feel more confident as to their accuracy.

A process through which we relive these memories is through recall initiated by what is widely regarded as a trigger, though is more scientifically known as a retrieval cue. Retrieval cues are stimuli that are relevant and closely related to other information that activates connections (formed through associations) within our brains that lead to other memories. Cues can cascade and waterfall – as we cue and remember specific information and memories, they can in turn cue even more information and memories.

Another potential contender that we have to explain the meme is the cognitive psychological phenomena of the reminiscence bump. Here, we have a strong recall of our autobiographical memories happening in our teens and 20’s. In short, older adult’s strongest memories are are of events and experiences that occurred between the ages of 10-30. The reminiscence bump applies to both semantic and episodic memories. Herein, we have three potential explanations (or perhaps even a mixture of all three or other combinations) as I learned them in my Psychology of Aging class:

  • Self-image – period of assuming one’s own self-image and sense of identity.
  • Cognition – encoding is typically better during periods of rapid change.
  • Cultural life script – culturally-shaped experiences structure recall.

Within my Cognitive Psychology class, we discussed another two potential factors:

  • Improvement of memory due to greater attention paid to life and surroundings (which falls in line with the aforementioned cultural life script).
  • And increased retrieval practice, brought about our tendency to reminisce (ironic isn’t it?) on what are typically viewed as the peak years of our lives, the highlights that shape us.

Now, I’ve mentioned two aspects of memory that I haven’t explained so it would only be right to properly define them for the audience. Episodic memories are a form of autobiographical memory; they’re narratives of our lives, recollections of events relevant to us like my mom’s wedding on the beach when I was 8 or the first time I swam a 50 yd freestyle sprint in under 22 seconds (CAC’s last year). Semantic memories, on the other hand, are statements of fact and are not necessarily tied to our personal lives – don’t have to be autobiographical. What’s the capital of France? What’s the legal drinking age in the US (though that may, perhaps, be of some personal relevance to some)?

Bottom line, I believe that whichever phenomena through which people remember the so-far memorable year of 2020 is something that is subjective and not necessarily mutually-exclusive. For some it could be one or the other, and for others it could be both. If you’ve enjoyed my blog post and/or have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to to leave me a comment!. Best wishes in everything!

Wait…Barack Obama was president during 9/11?

Barack Obama had a big part in 9/11. - GIF on Imgur

According to APA Dictionary of Psychology, false memory is a distorted recollection of an event that never actually occurred. False memories are constructed by combining actual memories with the content of suggestions received from others. During the process, individuals may forget the source of the information (Dictionary). Retroactive interference occurs when new information presented interferes with your ability to retain previously encoded information. Essentially, the new information that a person receives works backward in time to distort memory of the original event (“How…”).

At a 2016 Trump Rally, The Daily Show’s segment “Fingers the Pulse”, correspondent Jordan Klepper, interviewed several supporters of the now current president about their views. So let me put this into context for you…

Interviewee: Barack Obama had big part of 9/11.

Interviewer: Which part?

Interviewee: Not being around, always on vacation and never in the office.

Interviewer: Why do you think Barack Obama wasn’t in the oval office on 9/11?

Interviewee: That I don’t know. Would like to get to the bottom of that.

So can a false memory form because of retroactive interference? A recent study on this idea focuses on the idea that,“The argument advanced in this article is that false memories can arise because of…namely, the decline of distinctiveness and the rise of retroactive interference.” (Howe). In this particular situation, the interviewee’s recall of 9/11 may have been skewed because of information encoded during former President Obama’s actual presidency in 2009-2017. Because of retroactive interference-the information taken from Obama’s presidency-a false memory of the situation was formed. The interviewee may have felt as though during Obama’s presidency, he was not doing a good job, always on vacation, and never in the office to do his job. Though, when that information was encoded, it may have distorted his recollection of memory of our president during 9/11, former President George W. Bush. 

Though this show may be staged, this interviewee showed his confidence by stating that he felt as though Barack Obama was our president during the September 11 Attacks, which occurred in 2001. Similarly, false memories can be formed because, “finally, individuals can be encouraged not to think about whether their constructions are real or not.” (“How…”). With this in mind, no one in his life up until that point has informed him that his construction of that memory was incorrect. The strength in his false memory of Obama not doing his job during 9/11, was increased due to people not informing him that Obama was not the president until after 9/11. Agreement of an event by people is a very powerful technique for maintaining as well as instilling false memories.

This was just a quirky and fun example of false memory! But in all maybe we should cut this guy some slack, I mean, for all we know it could have been staged!


Dictionary. “APA Dictionary of Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2020,

“How False Memories Form.” How False Memories Form,

Howe, Mark L. “Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.” Journal of Experimental Child Psychology |, 1998,

Mirror Neurons in Empathy

I was getting worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with a topic to write about for this month’s blog post. However, I figured it out as Professor Rettinger talked about mirror neurons and empathy in the last 5 minutes of last Thursday’s lecture. So without further ado, here is a meme of my good friend Jimmy Fallon.

*Fun fact this is actually a photo my grandpa took of Jimmy (with his permission… kinda) at the Steelers vs. the Cardinals Super Bowl in 2009. Where he actually saw and got a photo of Jimmy Fallon as well as Rain Wilson (Dwight Schrute from The Office)*

ANYWAYS! Back to mirror neurons, empathy and cognitive psychology. As Professor Rettinger stated “Mirror neurons are neurons that tend to be active in watching either perceptual or motor activity of another person.” He stated that we tend to have mirror neuron responses to specific neural activity. Professor Rettinger gave an example about how his hand hurts each time he watches Luke Skywalker’s hand get chopped off while watching Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. Towards the end of his lecture he briefly talked about how we as humans have the ability to empathize with others. We are able to understand how another person is feeling in a literal sense because we can mirror that feeling based on their responses. Therefore, this was what I wanted to conduct a bit more research on!

I read an article from Lesley University that stated the official definition of empathy, “Empathy is a broad concept that refers to the cognitive and emotional reactions of an individual to the observed experiences of another.” (Lesley University). In the case of empathy, mirror neurons fire when humans observe and experience emotion. For instance, when I see my mother’s eyes start to get watery, just like her eyes, my eyes begin to fill up with tears. With a bit of time we both end of crying. My mirror neurons fired when they detected the feeling my mom was having, and because of the love and compassion I have for my mom, I ended up empathizing her emotions and feelings with her.

One thing I learned upon reading this article is that there is actually two types of empathy. Emotional empathy and cognitive empathy. Emotional empathy refers to feeling the same emotion as another, one’s feelings of distress in response to feeling the emotion of another, and feeling compassion for another. Cognitive empathy on the other hand refers to how someone can perceive and understand emotions of another person. Cognitive empathy relates more closely with cognitive psychology where a person has more complete and accurate knowledge regarding the contents of someone else’s mind.

I have a good friend who is capable of showing the most empathy I have ever seen. She pretty much cries because of anything whether it’s because of a show, a movie, witnessing a friend cry, even being encouraged makes her cry! She’s just full of empathy! I’ve noticed how there are many people out there who thing empathetic people are just emotional crybabies. However, after reading this article, there are definitely lots of positive benefits of having such high amounts of empathy. Having this much empathy simply shows that this person has a lot of compassion towards others, and truly desires helping others. An interesting point from this article stated that empathy is a key factor in successful relationships because it helps better understand the perspective, intentions, and needs of others. People who have high levels of empathy are much more likely to function well in society. Luckily for my friend, she does great in large crowds of people and she has rarely any fights with any of her friends. She proves that she is a wonderful caring, compassionate person, full of empathy. Where she is so in touch with her mirror neurons, for she can show empathy to anyone, anywhere, anytime!

Challenge: Next time you witness a friend, peer, family member, stranger, or raccoon having a hard time. Try to empathize with them and think about the process your mind went through to get there. Ask yourself the following questions:

What exactly triggered your mirror neurons to fire? Are you emitting cognitive empathy or emotional empathy? How can you view this situation in this person (or animal’s) shoes?

It’s quite fascinating!


Parallel Processing: More complex than it may seem.


Parallel processing is a much more complex process than it sounds. It is the combined process of both top-down and bottom-up processing occurring simultaneously in the brain at all times. Bottom-up processing is the building up of complex processes in order to eventually perceive something. That is, taking into account the most basic aspects of a stimulus first and sequentially building up information in order to experience the entire thing fully. Top-down processing uses your experiences, expectations, and beliefs to guide your perception. An example of this is your ability to understand that a person’s legs are not actually missing if they are cut off of your field of view by, say, a desk that they are sitting behind. Parallel processing says that rather than doing one of these functions or the other, your brain does them unconsciously and simultaneously in order to create a full picture of whatever stimulus your brain is trying to process. 

A study was conducted in by Buetti, Cronin, Madison, Wang, and Lleras (2016) to better understand parallel processing in human vision. Observers were asked to find a specific object in a scene, and the researchers found the observers used the specific architecture from the scene to compare all locations in the world in parallel to the scene they were looking for. This allowed them to quickly reject the locations of the world that were unlikely to be the scene they were looking for. They found their hypotheses to be true: that the certain task which an observer performs on a very simple display can significantly alter the way that such a display is processed. In other words, when we are looking for something, we attentively process each individual item in our visual field, just not to the same extent.

The meme that I created above is a simplified version of the basic idea that neither top-down or bottom-up processing occurs on its own. Rather, the two occur simultaneously as parallel processing. The video is highlighting that it is not accurate to simply reduce processing to one type or the other. It is also pointing out that parallel processing is a very complex process, as described by the study above. This study showed that visual stimuli is not passively observed but actively processed in a parallel manner.

The evidence that is found in this study is compelling, but one issue with it is that the presented displays contained only two items and were not based on real-life objects and scenes. This would have been important to study because it would have allowed for a more direct application of the research.

Overall, I found the topic of parallel processing very interesting. It was hard to find recent research on it that was relevant, but when I found this research article discussing parallel processing in relation to visual processing, I was intrigued because we have been talking about visual processing in class. I thought that the research article was difficult to read but the findings were interesting because it was novel research that was conducted, rather than a replication study of information that we already know about parallel processing.

Buetti, S., Cronin, D. A., Madison, A. M., Wang, Z., & Lleras, A. (2016). Towards a better understanding of parallel visual processing in human vision: Evidence for exhaustive analysis of visual information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145(6), 672-707.


Feature Nets and Word Recognition


This brain expanding meme, also known as Galaxy Brain, has been all over social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook since 2017 and it seems to only be gaining popularity as time progresses. The concept behind the meme is that the brain metaphorically “grows” as the variable that it is presented with becomes more intellectually involved. The irony of the meme and the information or variables that each image is paired with is what makes it so comical. 


Using the conceptual foundations behind this ironic trend, I have created a meme to simplify the feature net model and represent the intricate layers of the hierarchical system of word recognition in the brain. According to Grainger and colleagues, the feature net model, originally known as the Pandemonium model, was created by Oliver Selfridge in 1959. Grainger, states that the hypothesis of which Selfridge based this work off of inferred that “letters are identified via their component features”. With this hypothesis, Selfridge was able to create a model that is still used today when discussing word recognition. 

Even though the basics of Selfridge’s model are still used today, it has evolved with time and additional research. Recent research has discovered the simplest and possibly most important layer of this complex hierarchical chain of word and letter recognition called feature detectors. Grainger and his colleagues describe these feature detectors as, “the part of our word recognition system responsible for acknowledging and interpreting lines of varying curves and orientations”. This article discusses different research on these feature-based detectors and concludes that this additional layer to Selfridge’s original model is pertinent. Based on new research using a more psycho-physical approach to break down and dissect this complicated system, Grainger claims there is strong evidence that letters are identified by their varying features of lines and curves. 

In addition to the first layer, we currently understand this process of word recognition in four basic components: feature detectors, letter detectors, bigram detectors, and word detectors. Moving up from feature detectors, letter detectors are the pieces of this model that string each feature into a letter. According to “How the Brain Works: Explaining Consciousness” by Ben Salzberg, this letter recognition occurs because of the firing of different neurons based on which ones are used more frequently and, therefore, have a higher starting activation level and fire more easily.

After these letters are recognized, the same process happens with the next step in our recognition system: bigram detectors. Bigram detectors connect the letters we previously recognized based on the frequency of firing and threshold levels just like letter detectors. However, just as Salzberg concludes in his article, these bigram detectors are based more on the typicality of our specific language. For instance, in English, “Q” rarely ever comes after “L”, so this neuron would have a much higher threshold and not fire as easily as “CL” would in this situation. Finally, bigram detectors are stringed together with word detectors, using the same neuron-firing principles to make a full word.

Even though this process is so complex, using so many different detectors and neurons at the same time, this happens unconsciously at a rapid speed each time we see a word. The way this complexity increases with each step is the very reason and explanation for the meme that I have created. It is a way to represent this process of word recognition in a manner that anyone who is familiar with the meme world and has knowledge of word recognition can understand.

Split-Brain Patients

In this meme, I am showing the common misperception that people have when learning about split-brained patients. Often, we are confused by this concept of being split-brained which causes us to jump to conclusions. We instantly see a brain that is a bit abnormal compared to what we usually see and assume that this abnormality can be applied to us. We forget that in order to relate to the different concepts of being split-brained, you must have a severed corpus callosum. Today, the surgery that had previously caused this severing of the corpus callosum is no longer done. This surgery was done in the past to try and treat epilepsy, but after seeing all of the different side effects that came along with the surgery and how it affected the brain, this surgery is no longer conducted.

As we know and have learned throughout this course, our left hand and left visual field are controlled by our right hemisphere. With that being said, our right hand and right visual field are controlled by our left hemisphere. When we conduct an experiment with a split-brain patient, we use different combinations of their left and right hands with their left and right visual fields. By alternating these factors, we are able to see what sorts of things that split-brain patients can and can’t do without the use of their corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is what passes information between the left and right hemispheres, so without this link the left and right hemispheres are much more limited in what they can accomplish. The left hemisphere and right hemisphere are now independently responsible for what they produce, rather than being able to access information from both sides and working together to help brain functioning.

While conducting the experiment, we found quite a bit of different data.  When the left hand and left visual field are paired, the split-brain patient does not know what word they saw, but they are able to retrieve the object. When the left hand and right visual field are paired, the split-brain patient is able to see the word, but unable to retrieve the object. When the right hand and left visual field are paired, the split brain-patient did not know what word they saw and were unable to retrieve the object. Finally, when the right hand and right visual field are paired, the split-brain patient is able to both see the word and retrieve the object.

When reviewing this data, we are able to notice some key points about the left and right hemispheres. We notice that when the right hemisphere is working on its own by using the left hand and left visual field, they are unable to remember what they saw. This is the opposite for when the left hemisphere works on its own by using the right hand and right visual field. This is because the left hemisphere is superior in dealing with language. You could expect the right hemisphere to be better at grabbing or touching what they saw, even though they couldn’t recall seeing it. The split-brain patient could even draw the word that they saw, but this may be difficult if the patient is usually right-handed.

In conclusion, I made this meme to address the issue we see with people who learn about split-brain patients. We tend to believe that these things can happen to our brain, when in reality our corpus callosum is intact. Thankfully, this surgery can no longer be conducted, so we do not need to worry about our corpus callosum being severed and halting the flow of information between our two hemispheres.


Class Lecture

Split-Brain ZAPS

Cognitive Neuroscience Class Lecture

Confirmation Bias and Fake News

In the text book, confirmation bias is defined as a family of effects in which people seem more sensitive to evidence that confirms their beliefs than they are to evidence that challenges their beliefs.

In a shorter version, it can also be defined as the “tendency to seek out information that confirms what we already know or believe to be true”, according to an article written by David Braucher. In his article he talked about fake news and biases. Specifically about confirmation bias, he brought up a meme he came across with Trump saying if he were to run for president, he would do so as a republican, because republican voters are dumb and believe anything. This image was quoted to  from 1998. Braucher was quick to believe it, however, he admitted to overlooking the fact that the image from the meme was taken 10 years prior to the time of this quote. In addition he stated that “publishing such a statement would be obviously counterproductive for a Presidential bid”. The meme confirmed what he thought, and therefore he believed it.

In addition to talking about confirmation bias, he also brought up implicit bias. He defined it as “the idea that as humans we have a tendency to group people into categories”. He mentioned that he received the meme of Trump from a member of his political affiliation (liberal) so he trusted it; and that as a liberal he has an implicit bias against republicans.

Braucher then goes on to talk about the combination of confirmation bias and implicit bias:

“When implicit biases and confirmation biases work together, their potential to lead us astray increases exponentially. As our implicit bias leads us to trust and view more positively those of our own group, we become more insulated, only hearing from people of our own group. As those of our own group share our beliefs, they share “facts” that confirm our beliefs. It is a feedback loop, and we end up living in a bubble.”

I thought this was an interesting perspective, as I had never thought of the interaction of confirmation bias and implicit bias before. However, the most interesting take on this article was when Braucher brought up social media into the mix. The most well known example being of Facebook: when all your Facebook friends consist of people who identify in the same political affiliation as you, all you will see is news that supports your confirmation bias. No liberal is going to share an article that supports Trump.



concussions and amnesia

As I was looking for memes I searched for concussion memes (in hopes of finding something I can tie into cognitive psychology, likely amnesia) which was when I stumbled upon this gem. Right off the bat there were a few things I noticed that I found to be quite comical. First, all over his jersey, there are signs saying “handle with care” and “keep upright”. Seeing these reminded me of a movie where there was a football player who constantly got concussions and they would poke fun at him, saying one more hit and you will be out, better be careful… I also noticed that the grammar was wrong. Instead of I’ve it says Iv’e. This may have been an error but I like to think it was done on purpose.

I found an article from Medial Daily online and it had a video that talked about concussions and memory loss an how it can lead to memory problems. In the video they showed a clip of Hank Green (known for his crash course videos). Many posts I have seen talk about movies where a main character got amnesia from a car crash or some other accident. This article goes in depth about concussion induced amnesia and how they are real and are extremely serious. While the most common causes of amnesia include strokes, brain surgery, and brain infections; concussions are just as serious. A concussion occurs when “a bump to your head or body rattles your brain around in your skull, damaging delicate tissue” according to Green. He then goes on to explain how blows like this may make you feel minor headaches, or tired, but the effects are more serious. When you take a hit to your head, the fragile neurons in your brain are “sloshed” around and can lead to post traumatic amnesia. After that he goes in depth about the biology of it all. Towards the middle of the video Green begins to talk about the two types of amnesia: retrograde and anterograde, both of which can be caused by concussions. Just to refresh your minds, retrograde amnesia is when you forget things that have happened in the past, aka before the injury. It is fairly common for athletes who get concussions to forget what happened in the moments leading up to their injury. In more severe cases, athletes can forget days, weeks, or even years, leading up to their injury. Green explained that as the brain tissue heals, some of the moments can begin to come back. This is actually something I did not know until I watched the video. Then you have anterograde amnesia. This is when you are incapable of creating new memories (Ex: Dory from Finding Nemo). Concussions can also cause you to have troubles paying attention following the injury.

Watching this video gave me a better understanding about how serious concussions are. Also I learned about the biological reasoning behind concussions and amnesia in a way that actually made sense to me.

If you would like to watch the video in full you can click the link below:

Concussion And Memory Loss: Amnesia From Head Injury Rattles Brain Chemistry, Leads to Cognitive, Memory Problems-