Tag Archives: memory

Another Memory Post…I think?

I have constructed a deeper understanding of myself through direct experience and introspection on my physical, personality, and other characteristics. However, this self-concept is not guaranteed to reflect those of others. So, who are you? Are you the choices that you make? Your past experiences? The people you regularly associate with? Perhaps, more specifically, your collective memories? Memories are deeply personal and, when accurate, are reflective of the experiences and information you have gathered from the external world.

Memory, as we have discussed in class, is crucial for many aspects of learning and socialization. As we learn things from our external environment, information gets encoded and stored in our memory. We are then usually able to retrieve that information at a later time. However, being that our memory is reconstructive, recollections are not a carbon copy of what we perceive or experience. Sometimes, the process of retrieving memories is imperfect. False memories are extreme recollections of events that are either highly distorted or completely inaccurate. People with false memories are usually adamant about the accuracy of said memories. These are severe cases involving substantial errors in memory retrieval. What would cause such significant lapses?

Enter suggestibility, one of the seven sins of memory we covered in class today. Receiving new information after an event can alter one’s memory of what occurred. A study conducted in 1974 by Loftus and Palmer involved exposing participants to various videos of car collisions. After witnessing each individual collision, they were asked specific framing questions, including “About how fast were the cars going when they (smashed/collided/bumped/hit/contacted) each other?” As you might expect, the slight variance in wording to describe each collision resulted in participants reporting higher than average speeds on questions that used more extreme terminology such as “smashed” and “collided.” Merely altering the presentation of a statement, inflecting a particular tone, or including polarizing details in explanations, can affect how a recipient interprets and encodes that information into their own memory. More importantly, skewing one’s memory of information and events can lead to both the propagation of falsehoods and all-out psychological manipulation.

In the case of this study, suggestions made through subtle alterations in word choice led to significant changes in eyewitness testimony. The reason for this form of evidence losing its credibility in the court of law over the centuries is our growing understanding of memory. Memory is flexible, perhaps a little too much so. We as humans are naturally biased, notably, in that we tend to notice and exaggerate some experiences and minimize or overlook others to meet expected outcomes (the introspection illusion!). Broadly speaking, no matter the individual or circumstances, being convincing does not mean that one is truthful.

Consider this quote by Frank Herbert:

“Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.”

Let that sink in for a moment. Now, consider the questions we introduced at the beginning of this post. If our perceptions of “self” are, in fact, built upon subjective experiences and resulting memories, it is essential to draw the line between beliefs and knowledge. When we are confident that we know something factually, we do not usually go back and try to verify it. Our beliefs, however, are continually being challenged; by ourselves, people around us, situations, and so forth. Our beliefs, even when flawed or manipulated, make us unique. They dictate our individual and social behaviors, determination of what is right and wrong, how we perceive ourselves and others, and so much more.

That was a lot. I will leave you with a video that I found to be super fascinating regarding the perception of self and the formation of memories. In this video, Michael Stevens, the (subjective) genius behind the Vsauce YouTube channel, subjects participants to a modified version of a false memory experiment conducted by Loftus & Pickrell (1995). The goal of this experiment was to determine whether “reminding” participants of details from partially-fabricated childhood experiences affected their recall of said memories. It also includes a demonstration of “choice blindness,” a phenomenon in which people incorrectly claim that they fully understand the roots of their thoughts and emotions. Despite this, they are blind to their own choices and preferences when forced to act on a task.

“If even the most basic parts of you, like your memories or your past, can be forgotten or manipulated, how can you know ever really know who “you” are?”

Sources/Further Reading:
1. Formation of false memories, Loftus and Pickrell (1995): https://webfiles.uci.edu/eloftus/Loftus_Pickrell_PA_95.pdf

2. Loftus and Palmer suggestibility study, “Reconstruction of automobile destruction” https://www.simplypsychology.org/loftus-palmer.html

3. Eyewitness testimony: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/uncategorized/myth-eyewitness-testimony-is-the-best-kind-of-evidence.html

4. False Memory post on a fellow cognitive psych blog: http://web.colby.edu/cogblog/2018/04/26/heres-a-suggestion-dont-trust-your-false-memory/#more-4141

Memory sucks with Depression… but it doesn’t have to!

Depression is a terrible psychological disorder. It comes in many forms, but they all have an impact on daily life. As a sufferer of depression, I can say that depression effects performance in so many areas. But it especially affects memory. Short term and explicit memory are highly affected adversely due to this psychological problem. Short term memory is memory retrieved only for short term. It can be encoded and stored for long term, but that would no longer be short term memory. Explicit memory is memory that is retrieved through awareness. You are explicitly looking for this memory to retrieve. When these forms of memory are affected, you cannot function the way you normally would. I personally have seen my grades go from dean’s list almost every semester to nearly failing quite a few classes. It’s sneaky, painful, and can take so many opportunities away from you. But it doesn’t have to.

There is hope. There are things that you can do to improve your memory, perception, and overall performance in school and life. While seeing a therapist, surrounding yourself with good people that you enjoy, getting medical help from a Doctor, and distracting yourself can be good strategies; there is also another strategy that can help reverse some of the damaging effects of depression.

Image result for flow theory

A theorist named Mihály Csíkszentmihályi developed the theory of flow. A good example of flow is the experience of being completely (and enjoyably) lost in something that you do. It can be a hobby like playing the piano, performing needle work, coloring, drawing, whatever it may be that puts you in that mindless, emotionless, enjoyable state. Sometimes it’s just better to have no emotion at all and have a break from all of those intrusive thoughts. So I challenge you to take time out of your busy day cramming for school and trying to memorize for that test. Instead, do at least one hour of an activity of your choice that induces flow. The research supports it, so give it a try!

Image result for playing piano


Flow theory: https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/1995-21418-001.html

Depression and memory: Burt, D. B., Zembar, M. J., & Niederehe, G. (1995). Depression and memory impairment: A meta-analysis of the association, its pattern, and specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 117(2), 285-305. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.2.285

Flow picture: https://sites.google.com/site/strategiesforlackofmotivation/flow-theory-by-mihaly-csikszentmihalyi

Piano picture: https://bestdigitalpianoguides.com/importance-of-learning-musical-theory-with-playing-piano/

I Might Have A Bad Memory – Sophia Kovalcik


For the entirety of my childhood, most of my adolescence, and my current young-adult life, I have dealt with memory problems. Early on in my life, my poor working memory and executive functioning primarily showed up in an educational setting. I would read, and then re-read paragraphs or definitions and have little to no recall of the information. Nowadays, its more of a social issue. I find myself asking my friends a random question about their lives much too often, sometimes even multiple times a week. I also get lost easily, even in familiar environments. In short, having a poor memory will definitely impact one’s ability to retain information that plays in sequences. After learning about the episodic buffer in class, I wondered if my working memory, central executive or, and more specifically my episodic buffer process, are manipulated by my ADHD diagnosis. 

A study conducted via both the Department of Psychology at Florida State University and University of Mississippi Medical Center Department of Pediatrics, focused on the episodic buffer component of working memory in children with ADHD. The study defines working memory as “a limited capacity, multicomponent system that serves a critical role in planning and guiding everyday behavior.” The episodic buffer defined in this study as a part of memory that is elicited when information from multiple modalities must be compiled and stored as a single chunk of information.

Why is this process so important? According to this study, day-to-day activities of individuals are likely to rely on the episodic buffer. For example, linking a name of a building with a physical location is important if someone like myself needs to remember a complex route to the library. The episodes buffer helps when integrating what someone is saying and their non-verbal body language, or when I have to follow multiple steps of a lab procedure. 

The study was conducted across multiple testing days. A sample of 86 children (ages 8– 13) with ADHD and without ADHD were told to complete three working memory tests. These tests were the same in all aspects except for the key process: phonological, visuospatial, and episodic buffer. The episodic buffer working memory task combined the phonological and visuospatial tasks. Children were shown a series of numbers and a letter that appeared in visuospatial squares. Children were told to remember the spatial location of each number or letter. They then were instructed to reorder the numbers in ascending order and put the letter last. Thus, the episodic buffer test required the children to connect the phonological, which were the numbers and letters, with visuospatial elements (the location each appearing number or letter). 

The results of this study indicated that that adding episodic buffer demands resulted in decreased accuracy for both groups. The ADHD group of children  demonstrated similarly large deficits on all three tasks. Thus, their performance deficits on the episodic buffer task can be better explained by their overall executive function deficits, rather than a unique problem with the episodic buffer. Therefore, learning about this study reconfirmed that a poor memory has its effects on the day-to-day lives of those who have ADHD. It also showed me that my episodic buffer works closely both working memory and central executive functions  🙂  

Remember Sunday

To quickly summarize, in the film Remember Sunday, Actor Zachary Levi plays as Gus, a current jeweler and former astronomer living in New Orleans, who suffered from a brain aneurysm that gave him anterograde amnesia. He was able to retain his already grounded Long-Term memories prior to the incident however, he cannot form any new memories. Alexis Bledel plays as Molly, a waitress who’s been unlucky in love and financially shaky as she awaits for an inheritance to come her way. As any love story, she and Gus are designed to be together, but how can someone love a person who will forget them every day for the rest of their lives?

This a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, as such this does deliver the expected romantic drama love story to it. For those in the Psychology major, a feeling of familiarity should be apparent in the movie. I can’t say that this movie is particularly astounding, but I can say that it does its best to be unique and thoughtful about life without something we take for granted everyday, memories. If you have the time, I urge you to think critically about the leading characters in the film and how it translates to the patients we humbly get to study. The film sheds some light onto very real and sometimes very frightening aspects of the human condition while keeping a generally light tone. I think for those of us studying psychology, it’s easy to forget that the patients we read about time and time again aren’t just their brain damage/psychological disorder. What I like about this movie is when you slip into Gus’s shoes, there is a lot of sacrifice and frustration that comes with having to live with a memory impairment like the one portrayed in this film. That premise is what I consider to be it’s strongest point.


Spoilers ahead→

While yes I did really like the film and find a lot of lesson in it, I can’t get past some major plot holes regarding Gus’s condition and how it was expressed by the director Jeff Bleckner.

The biggest plot hole is it’s false overarching idea of how short-term and long term memory function in the human brain (as of our current research). In the film at about 36 minutes, Gus, along with his sister go to a doctors appointment where the doctor explains to him, “Most healthy brains use sleep to consolidate short-term memories into long for you it’s the opposite, sleep takes away your short term memories.” Then, throughout the days in the movies it’s understood that he remembers 6am, his usual wake up time, until he goes to sleep.

Here’s why that’s an issue. As of current research, the average short-term memory is 6-7 chunks in capacity according to Miller, while long term memory is immensely vast. The movie is giving the false impression that everything we do from when we wake until we sleep is held in short term and later consolidated and processed into long term. Not all of our day is only short-term memory. A lot of what we do in our day is encoded in a variety of ways. Moving information into long-term memory is process that can be done with consistent memory rehearsal techniques and methods, not only during sleep. However, it is true that for memory consolidation, sleep is quite important. The hippocampus is what decides what information moves into long term, and it does this when the body is asleep or awake. Moving information from short term into long term memory, is a consistent process that can be expressed through primacy and recency tasks like word list recall. This is a task that shows we can move information into long term when awake. When researching cases regarding the idea of losing memory after 24 hours, I found the case of F.L. In this case, a woman was in a car accident and her memory functioned normally throughout the day, until she went to sleep. Unlike the case of F.L., the film makes it clear that Gus’s memory doesn’t work like normal, his hippocampus was severely damaged, therefore he shouldn’t display similarities to F.L. Instead, a more accurate portrayal of Gus would have been if his life was shown similar to H.M., a man whose hippocampus was removed because of his severe epilepsy. The film says Gus’ hippocampus was “destroyed,” so we can only assume it was unable to function in entirety similar to H.M. Therefore, the expression of anterograde amnesia on screen for Gus’ particular case seems very unlikely.

Getting past this main issue, the following are somethings that I believe the movie did well. Gus’s Procedural memory such as working on the jewelry, making origami elephants, and rollerskating are all examples that seemed to hint that Gus’ procedural learning still remained functional despite the amnesia. While these may also be from past experience, he did continue to practice and do better at these tasks.

Furthermore, The bridge scene is something I think is notable. We have to remember that experiencing such an intense event in one’s life such as an aneurysm, is traumatic. Gus’s aneurysm was a traumatic event and we see it more visually when he reaches that bridge in California in front of his former observatory. His breathing changes and the stress in his voice is clear, almost at the verge of panic. He claims that the observatory and the event of what he learns to be his aneurysm, plays in his mind as the very last solid moment he remembers before his memories shut off.

He may not remember the aneurysm himself, though he re-learns everyday that this aneurysm, at the last place he remembers, has derailed his growing career, his life, and his ability to create a future. These feeling can be extremely painful, yet he only has a little less than a day to cope with that pain. We learned from H.M. that grief requires time and memory. He couldn’t cope fully with the news of his uncle’s death, because he couldn’t create any new memories to help him cope. This concept is something I’m sure is very hard for people with a healthy functioning brain to fully fathom. However, I believe it is important to take the time to really try to reflect the weight that H.M and patients with other debilitating conditions had to carry on their shoulders.

For further information on memory and research for this post check  https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSFeVHKvsuNj6Mdmz41EgnyYRmNk82llGEl2dOcgn_soTfLnCAxb_ronGDAuv9CAVazTMe0aWx8xuDU/pub



Can understanding the forgetting curve help you achieve a 4.0?

Imagine what your grades would be like if you could remember things more easily and ensure that all your study methods are working to their fullest potential? Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered the method of savings and the forgetting curve by testing his ability to memorize a list of syllables in a longitudinal study. An article from the Independent News of International Students explains why understanding Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve is essential for improving your memory and boosting your grades.


The article begins by discussing the steepness of the forgetting curve, which means that as soon as we learn something, we quickly begin to forget the majority of that information. The article compares this progression to cramming for a big exam. When attempting to memorize a large amount of information in a short period of time, you only hold onto the information until it isn’t necessary anymore (i. e. a few days later). However, this article gives a few tips on how we can improve our memory and ensure that the information stays with us for a much longer period of time.

The first tip the article gives is to connect new information with what you already know. They claim that the knowledge you already possess is not affected by the forgetting curve; therefore, connecting new memories to older memories that are already fully integrated would result in quicker memory gain. In one study, A Replication and Analysis of Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, they found the same correlations as Ebbinghaus’ original research. However, this tip cannot be backed up by this research because there was no instance in which the new information being learned was connected to previous knowledge. Even so, we can assume that, since the forgetting curve pertains to new memories, previous knowledge is most likely unaffected by this theory. Therefore, the article was accurate in saying that integrating new information to previous knowledge would positively impact your studying and information retention.

The second tip the article gives is to keep accessing and activating the information in regularly spaced intervals. They claim that this will ensure that the knowledge becomes fully integrated. I completely agree with this tip based on the replication of Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve which had near-identical results that supported the original findings of Ebbinghaus’ method of savings or savings affect. In this study, the researchers activated the information at twenty minutes, one hour, nine hours, one day, two days, six days, and thirty-one days. Congruent with Ebbinghaus’ findings, the subjects memory improved significantly as time progressed. Therefore, this tip of repetitively accessing information on a schedule should impressively increase your memory!


The final tip the article suggests is to download memory games that integrate information that you’re studying. The writer claims that through this memory testing software, you can train your brain to turn learning into an engaging activity and, therefore, increase your chances of remembering. However, in one study about the effect of brain training games on working memory and processing speeds in young adults, the results do not indicate that brain training games would work for everyone. Some games might improve some cognitive functions, but this is not a strong enough correlation to support this article’s tip that brain games will improve learning.

Overall, this article applied Ebbinghaus’ research fairly well. They understood the large aspects of his studies and used this knowledge to come up with a few good tips on improving memory for students. This said, the writer did not have research to back up a few of these tips and, therefore, wrongly assumed that brain games always improve memory. Even though this could be the case in some individuals, based on the research I found, we cannot apply this to the general population.

Nonetheless, I believe this is a very relevant article that contains a few great tips that everyone could begin to integrate into their studying routines. The most reliable tip is to access the information your studying on a regular basis to ensure that you are retaining the information, just as Ebbinghaus’ original research found with the savings affect. An easy way to do this is to plan your studying strategically each week, staying on a routine schedule. What tip will you start using in order to make your studying becomes more efficient in order to boost your grades?

Anxiety’s Effect on Memory

Could anxiety actually help you remember you something better? A new research study says that this may, in fact, be the case. The 2017 study done by Christopher Lee and Myra A. Fernandes found that the initial encoding context a person has is capable of influencing how a person remembers that information at a later date. The basics of this study found that if people have higher anxiety they are more likely to have negative emotions and thoughts. These negative feelings will put the individual in a negative mind frame which in turn makes certain events or stimuli more memorable.

The study found that the participants who had anxiety developed a downstream bias in their encoding and also in the retrieval process of information. The researchers mentioned that there have been previous studies that have found that high anxiety levels can have a negative impact on people cognitive functions. For this study, the participants were all people who could manage their anxiety to the point where it would no become crippling and debilitating to them. The researchers also mentioned that their study was completed with traditionally college-aged individuals and that the results might differ depending on the age group being tested.


This article personally interested me because there are times where I am able to remember a memory about a negative event that happened to me years ago. I have always wondered why I am capable of remembering it even though the event was insignificant when I look back at it. It feels like I am able to remember it perfectly and like I am able to watch the replay of the event in my head. But then when it comes to positive memories, I am less able to remember all the details about the event. I know my mother is able to remember the time in her childhood when she accidentally pushed her best friend off a wall and her friend broke her arm. It has been over 50 years since this event happened but she says she is still able to remember all of it. But when asked about going to school dances with her friends, she is unable to fully remember all the details.

This article helped me better understand why those pesky negative memories sometimes pop up in our heads at random times.


Lee, C., & Fernandes, M. A. (2018). Emotional Encoding Context Leads to Memory Bias in Individuals with High Anxiety. Brain Sciences8(1), 6. http://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci8010006

Nierenberg, C. (2018, March 01). How a Little Bit of Anxiety May Improve Your Memory. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://www.livescience.com/61898-anxiety-memory.html




Do you remember as well as you think?

Contrary to what you think, you probably do not remember things as accurately as you think. A study done in 1988 by Ulric Neisser proved that many of our memories change overtime and become somewhat inaccurate. Neisser handed out a survey to some of his students following the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. He asked them where they were when they heard, who they were with, and what they were doing. Neisser followed up two years later asking the students the same questions. He ranked their accuracy on a scale of 7. On average, students got less than 3 with 25 percent receiving a zero.

Scientists think memory begins with encoding. The memory is then consolidated until reaching the final step remembering or retrieving the memory. Each and every time you remember something, the neural pathway to that memory gets stronger. This could be why the students were inaccurate in remembering where they were or who they were with. I would assume that the students did not access those memories frequently so, the neural pathway to those memories was not strong.

This could be why many studies have shown it is better to study for 2 to 3 hours and then take a break instead of cramming for 8 hours. The more times you revisit the learned information the stronger the neural pathway. This makes the memory easier to retrieve come test time. If you are just cramming the information over and over again you are not allowing the information to go through the cycle of formation. When you access that information so quickly after introduction, you are not fully retrieving it.

In all, I found this video most helpful in beginning to understand the complexities of memory.

Is Your Brain Weird?

It is, according to this Buzzfeed article. The article is entitled “11 Memory Facts That Prove Your Brain Is Weird.” The article talks about weird memory phenomena, like false memories and context-dependent memories. Along with each fact is a description and a nifty GIF of a fuzzy animal or a movie quote. So that’s pretty cool. But even cooler, unlike many social media mentions of cognition, this article actually backs its assertions up with real cognitive research! I’ll take you through a few of the mentioned memory facts, summarizing their points, and then I’ll analyze their respective research articles.

open-door-day-samo-za-vjesti-1First, the Buzzed article talks about that familiar sensation of walking into a room and totally forgetting why you had to go to that room. In this study by Gabriel Radvansky, participants were given tasks to complete in a virtual reality comprised of many rooms. Each room had two tables with an object on one table. They had to carry the object to the other table or into another room, but once holding it, they couldn’t see it any longer. They would be tested frequently on which object they were holding and which they had just put down. Participants performed much more poorly on memory tasks when they had just crossed through a door than when they had traveled the same distance but remained in the same room.

This study made me think of memory tasks where participants forget details of a story (the bus driver example) because their brain automatically makes the call about what information is important and what isn’t, without the person actually deciding, and doesn’t encode the irrelevant info into long term memory. Similarly, in this study, participants’ brains recognize the doorway as a marker of the end of an episode. The door serves as an event boundary, so the brain decides which information is no longer likely going to be relevant, and it is dropped from the working memory in preparation for new, more relevant information in the new room. This is an example of our brain jumping the gun and automating a process to save us time, attention, and effort. When it works to our advantage, it’s great, and we don’t notice it. When it doesn’t, however, we forget why we came into a room and get really frustrated!

RV-AB577_WEEKIN_DV_20110208191537Another weird memory fact mentioned in the Buzzfeed article is that closing your eyes can help you remember more effectively. In a recall study, participants were shown a video and then reported on it (free or cued recall). They were tested a few minutes later and again a week later. Some participants had their eyes open during recall tests, and others had their eyes closed. The study found that eye-closure had no effect on recall in the first test, but increased accuracy on the second test by 37%. It even helped participants recall things they hadn’t reported the first time.

What is causing this phenomenon? My first inclination is to think it has something to do with attention. We learned in class that attention is a resource (why else do we say “pay” attention?). This resource is limited, and our brains can only consciously focus on so many things at once. Perhaps something about closing our eyes helps limit which stimuli are demanding our attention, and allows us to focus inwardly and more effectively recall previously encoded information. The study mentions also that eye-closure only helps us with “fine-grain visual details,” not overall big picture, or even auditory details. This indicates that the effectiveness of eye closing has to do with how we encode information. When the information we encode is very visual (the example in the study is “she elbowed him in the face”), closing our eyes allows us to relive the moment and re-visualize what occurred. This improves recall.

I found this article to be very interesting. Memory is complicated and messy, and that makes it always worth studying. I especially appreciated the references to how our brain automates complicated processes in order to make our experience more simple and streamlined. We’ve learned a lot about this trend in class, and seeing it at work in memory was interesting. In some ways, it departed from the usual social media science article, which tends to throw out crazy facts with vague research backing it up. The article provided direct links to cognitive research that supported its assertions. My only issue with the article was the way it approached some of the research findings. It seemed that the author was more focused on the “wow” factor of its studies than in actually imparting the main points of the research studies. In the eye-closing study, for example, many interesting findings were left out of the Buzzfeed summary in favor of the more simple, attractive finding. Overall, however, I liked this article.

Can Art Improve Cognition?

Being interested in art and music has many more positive sides than many people would believe. Something that intrigues me is the idea that art, music and performing arts could improve cognitive functioning. Could engaging in visual arts or music have an effect on cognition?


The answer is yes! There are many benefits of art for the brain and cognition. The arts can influence many cognitive processes. An extensive amount of research has been done by several scientists teaming together, and there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that art and music really effectively help improve cognitive abilities such as learning, attention, motivation and intelligence. The first finding was that performance in art leads to higher motivation in individuals and in turn produces sustained attention. This higher motivation and attention can lead to better performance in school. These qualities in kids were found to lead to better performance on intelligence test scores. Another finding was that high levels of music training lead to a vast improvement in working memory and long-term memory and an ability to manipulate the information in each domain.

Another finding of the scientist’s studies was that practicing music could lead to greater skills in geometrical representation, greater reading skills, and sequence learning. It has also been found that early music training leads to earlier ability to read and greater phonological awareness or speech production and perception. Training in acting was found to lead to better memory, specifically improvement of semantic memory.


Other studies have found that there was a significant improvement in psychological resilience as well as increased levels of functional connectivity in the brain amongst people who participated in the visual arts. Also mentioned was that making art could even delay or reverse age related decline of many brain functions.

Art can help improve so many cognitive skills such as reading, math, critical thinking, memory and attention. So why are schools not as focused on art education as we are in other fields? According to all this research, it would be incredibly beneficial for schools to keep art and music at the forefront of education along with all the other important subjects that we learn in school like English and math, since art can help you with other domains of school. Finally, art can even improve mental and emotional health.


Art has been found to decrease negative emotions and help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. This is the reason art therapy can be so useful to people struggling with mental health issues. Doing art helps reduce so many of the negative symptoms associated with mental illness.

So, as we can see from overwhelming evidence from many studies, participating in arts- whichever one you enjoy most: visual arts, performing arts, or music is highly beneficial for the brain, cognition and health in general. So whichever art form is your favorite, make sure to continue with it because it has so many positive effects on many aspects of your life!







Mondays Aren’t As ‘Blue’ As We Think


Happy Monday!  Or should I say ‘Blue Monday?’  After looking through various websites for a blog post topic to write about, I came across an article talking about why people associate Monday’s as gloomy or unpleasant.  The (old but interesting and relevant) article discusses how cognitive heuristics, memory, and decision-making all play a role in why most people consider Monday as the ‘worst day of the week.’  The peak-end heuristic is at play, which is the tendency to emphasize peaks and recent experiences when summarizing a period of time.  An example of this is the large change in mood from Sundays to Mondays in which people who work weekday shifts experience.  Memories also play a big role in the ‘Blue Monday’ belief.  Researchers conclude that if we have experienced something unpleasant on a Monday, it may lead us to associating Monday with the memory of the mood/emotion we felt on the past Monday.  Decision-making plays a role in the fact that it allows us to draw knowledge from our past experiences.  For example, experiencing an unpleasant medical test on a specific day will determine we choose to do that procedure again.

Arthur Stone conducted a research study in hopes of finding evidence that Mondays were in fact much more ‘bluer’ than other days in the week.  They conducted live phone interviews with people across the United States asking about their mood in the prior day.  With this information, he and his research team were hoping to find day-of-week (DOW) effects on both positive and negative moods.  Overall they found evidence that there were more positive moods on weekdays and Fridays.  With that being said, they did not find any evidence to support the ‘Blue Monday’ belief.  They also found that DOW effects were gender-blind; women were more likely to assess their moods negatively than men, but day to day changes were similar for both sexes.  In addition, Stone also conducted a study that examined the expectations about mood and day of the week.  He found that two-thirds of the participants voted Monday as the ‘worst’ day of the week, even if they may not have felt gloomier that day. 

Knowing and understanding why most people believe in the ‘Blue Monday’ or feel that Mondays are the ‘worst’ day of the week is interesting.  We know that in classifying Monday as ‘Blue Monday,’ there are many cognitive principles that apply to how we do so.  Heuristics play a big role in associating Mondays with unpleasant and gloomy moods.  For example, both peak-end heuristics play a role, as discussed in the article, as well as availability heuristics, discussed in class.  I gave the example for how peak-end heuristics play a role in ‘Blue Monday.’  The availability heuristic plays a role in ‘Blue Monday’ because if an unpleasant and gloomy mood is what is easily available to us on what happened on a Monday, then we are more likely to associate Monday with that mood.  In addition to that, if that is the memory we have with Mondays, that situation is more likely to stick to our memory, resulting in Mondays being associated with a ‘Blue Monday.’  As discussed in class and the article, we know that memory can be flawed, which may be one of the reasons why people most associate Mondays as the ‘worst’ day of the week, when in fact, they do not feel gloomier or less pleasant on that day.

I thought this article did a great job in explaining why people most associate Monday as the ‘worst’ day of the week.  Like most people, I myself associate Monday as the ‘worst’ day of the week and dread Mondays.  After reading this article and Stone’s study, it gave me a better understanding of why people may seem to think this way even though Mondays actually is not a more gloomier and unpleasant day in comparison to the rest of the week.  The article did a nice job in including many different concepts in helping explain why Monday is considered as ‘Blue Monday.’  The article introduced a new type of cognitive heuristic in which I was not aware of, which I enjoyed learning about.  I think that the article gave great examples in helping explaining how the cognitive principles applied to the ‘Blue Monday’ belief most people have.

After reading the article and relating it to past research and what we have discussed in class, I have a better understanding on why we believe in a ‘Blue Monday,’ how that belief is created, and how it may be flawed as a result of memory.  The article discusses how because our memory is flawed, it may be a result of our association of Monday with a ‘Blue Monday.’  This makes me wonder, what if this whole time ‘Blue Monday’ may have been a ‘Thank God it’s Monday,’ but it is not due to our flawed memories of Mondays being gloomy and unpleasant rather than joyful and happy.  I think that the research done on ‘Blue Mondays’ is very interesting and helpful in understanding why the majority of people do consider Mondays as the ‘worst’ day of the week.  I also thought it was interesting to read that the research found that retirees did not make much of a distinction between weekends and weekdays.  With that being said, do you think that people are only ‘blue’ on Mondays because they have to go back to work and/or school on Monday?  What about people who have different work schedules?  For example, if someone had a Wednesday to Sunday work-week, would they consider Wednesdays as their ‘Blue Monday?’