Friday, November 30, 2012


       Hi Bloggers.!!! I was flipping through the Psychology book, looking for something to write about, when I stumbled upon this one.  I think you guys will really find it interesting.
A lot of people say they can’t remember anything.  I want to take a closer look and see how and what our brain encodes.  Encoding is the process is which information in entered in and stored for any period of time.  There are multiple different ways in which your brain can take in information.  Some are work a lot better than others.
       The first type is called automatic encoding.  It is memories that you may not want, but the information stores in your brain automatically.  Most people think their brain doesn’t automatically encode.  Here is an example; Imagine you are driving and a car passes you and we continue talking.  A minute later, I ask you what the color of the car was.  You didn’t want to know the color of the car; nobody told you to memorize the color of the car; your brain just took in the information and temporarily stored it.   Time and space is automatically processed.  Imagine going about your day, you unintentionally lose your coat somewhere.  You are able to trace the places you have been through your memory of time and space.  Nobody told you to remember where you went and at what general time.  The final thing that uses automatic processing is well-learned information.  For example, when you see words in your native language, perhaps on the side of a delivery truck, you can’t help but register the meanings.  It takes more effort to not process this information then to process it.
        The second is effortful processing.  The meaning of effort defines the term.  In order to remember these pieces of information, you need to rehearse it.  This is more commonly referred to when the topic of memory comes up.  Memorizing famous dates, choreography, random numbers (pi), and math equations all use effortful processing.  There is a lot to take in, so your brain needs attention and conscious effort to try and encode it.  More often than not, your brain will encode a small portion and forget the rest.  This is the reason why people remember certain lyrics to a song.
       Most people want to improve their effortful processing.  The answer is old and boring.  Space it out.  Psychological studies have proven time and time again that your brain will remember more when you rehearse it consistently over time.  Cramming works, but you don’t remember much long term.  A cool technique to use is the serial position effect.  It states that you are more likely to remember things at the start and end of a list.  If I told you 14 random nouns, you are more likely to remember the first couple and the last couple.  Try and use it with your next quiz.  Put the most important topics first or last.
         Within these two ways of encoding, there are three things we can encode: acoustic, visual, and semantic.  
        Visual encoding refers to strictly using your eyes to encode.  This is the worst technique to use because your eyes receive so much information. Acoustic encoding uses strictly your ears to take in information.   This is an ok way to encode, but isn’t the best.  Often, teachers will use the combination of listening and visuals to teach their class. This combination helps students retain information.  Semantic encoding is the best way to encode.  Semantic encoding is learning something by applying or understanding the meaning of it.  People who study vocabulary will often assign personal meanings to the word to help them remember the definition.  If you want to encode more and lose less information at the end of the day, try mixing semantic, visual, and acoustic encoding.  This will give you the best shot at remembering the facts for your next quiz.
         One great way improve your memory is to chunk.  Chunking is the organization of items into familiar, manageable units.  A common way to chunk information together is to use a mnemonic.  Can’t remember the five great lakes?  Remember the word HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior).  This is a great way to remember information long term.  It is “catchy” to the brain, giving you the ability to memorize it.
        If you are having trouble studying for that big test, remember the hints.
Combine semantic, visual, and acoustic encoding techniques to improve the chances of remembering it
Chunk information together
Space your studying out so your brain has time to process it clearly.

Hope it helps!  Happy Studying!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Operant Conditioning (originally posted 12/17)

     Hi Bloggers! Recently, I reconstructed an experiment from my advanced placement Psychology class.  The experiment tested operant conditioning.  Operant Conditioning is defined as a conditioned response (behavior) because of a positive or negative response.  Everyone in the world has been conditioned this way.  You don’t swear at your teachers because you got in trouble when you did.   We are conditioned every day to modify our behavior.
The experiment that I conducted was very interesting.  I gave students a skittle every time they touched their hair.  I didn’t tell them that I was giving it to them for that.  They had to figure that out on their own.  Learning what got them a skittle took most people about 15 minutes.  After that, they repeated the pattern to receive more skittles.  The results of the experiment were incredible.  Once people realized how to receive a skittle, they continuously repeated the behavior until they didn’t receive one for doing it.
The next step to this experiment tested how fast they stopped the behavior when they didn’t receive a treat.  This part of the experiment was easy; stop giving them skittles.  Within one minute, 1/15th of the time it took to learn the behavior, the people stopped their behavior.  They no longer touched their hair because they didn’t receive a treat for the behavior.
The final step to this experiment was to test how fast rapid recovery would happen.  Rapid recovery is defined as how fast one reverts back to a conditioned behavior or response due to re-exposure.  When I started to give skittles again, the people immediately started the behavior again.  This showed that it didn’t take any time at all for the brains to recondition themselves.  Students reverted back to previous behaviors for treats.
We are conditioned every day.  Our behaviors are changed due to positive and negative consequences.  Take one day and look around to see how many times you have been conditioned.  How many times have you restrained from action or behavior because you had been conditioned to.  You will be very shocked, I guarantee it.