Is it possible to train your memories to stay?

i have been told in the past that i have a memory like an elephant.  Fo those of you who don’t know what elephants memories are like they are very good.  I can remember alot from my childhood much more than my siblings, if you ask me anything i can recall in detail the events that happened.  However my short term memory is rubbish.  Ask me what i had for tea last night you’ll get a blank response.


However if i really push my memory i can remember what i had for tea last night but it will stick in my memory from then on, moving it from my short term memory store to my long term memory store.

Decay theory relates to both LTM,  STM and relates to lack of availability.  Trace decay theory focuses on time and the limited duration of short term memory.

This theory suggests STM can only hold information for between 15 and 30 seconds unless it is rehearsed. After this time the information decays. This explanation of forgetting in short term memory assumes that memories leave a trace in the brain. A trace is some form of physical and/or chemical change in the nervous system. This theory states that forgetting occurs as a result of the automatic decay or fading of the memory trace. According to the trace decay theory of forgetting, the events between learning and recall have no affect whatsoever on recall, it’s the length of time the information has to be retained that is important. The longer the time, the more the memory trace decays and as a consequence more information is forgotten.

Miller said that short term memory holds 7+/- 2 items, STM can only hold small amounts of information and so when STM is full old memories get pushed off and new information takes over that space.  Support for the view that displacement was responsible for the loss of information from short-term memory came from studies using the ‘free-recall’ method.

This would explain why i cant remember what i had for tea last night but if i rehearse this it will be stored in my LTM and i’ll be able then to tell you everything you want to know down to the sauce i had on it….thats if you want to know.  🙂

So yes i think it is possible to train memories to stay if you rehearse them before they decay.



Do BPS guidelines make a difference to the results of experiments?

The British Psychological society put many guidelines in place when experiments are taking place.  These guidelines are to protect participants and guide research with help from the code of ethics and conduct.

How different would the outcome of research and experiments be if the BPS had never been founded in 1901 and set up it’s guidelines and ethics for researchers in the future.

Milgram’s work on conformity and obedience is a very well known study.  The BPS was in it’s early years when Milgram did his experiment in   It shows the influence an authoritative figure has on a person who is taking the orders.

Some of the strengths of experimental studies of obedience are that it gives psychologists a better understanding of the human behavior.  Although Stanley Milgrams experiments of conformity and obedience came in for considerable criticism with some saying its claims are wildly overblown.  Would this experiment be allowed to take place in society today?

In 1971 Zimbardo conducted a prison experiment where he recruted volunteers to act as either prisoners or prison gaurds.  12 were  chosen to play prisoners the other 12 were chosen to play the prison gurads.  This experiment had taken place to study of the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or a prison guards and was funded by the US offfice of navel research.

However the experiment only lasted 6 days as the prisoners were becoming stressed and abused as the acting prison gaurds started to take their role much to seriously.  The experiment was initially cleared by the American Psychological Society, but was later criticized for being unethical.  This research would not be allowed to be carried out today as it would violate the ethics code of both America and UK.

These results from these studies show that YES the BPS guidelines DO make a differnece to the results of experiments.

Experiments have been changed or not even happened in the past as they were seen as unethical.  Some experiments and research has not been allowed to take place which means we will never be able to find out the answers to some questions.  FOr example if we were to remake Milgram’s experiment today to see if authority has changed in society over the past few years.  We will never know the answer as it would be classed as unethical to conduct this study again.

Do we inherit cues of depth perception?

In this blog I am going to focus on cues.  Making it follow on from my previous blog but adding more detail into the cues that we use when we perceive things.

The cues that we use we use when we perceive things are called binocular and monocular, these help use to determine the distance.   The binocular cues that we have determine the depth cues.  Both eyes are needed to see binocular cues.  Convergence and retinal disparity are the two most important binocular cues.  Monocular cues came be see by using only one eye.  for example overlap, texture, shading, size.

In 1960 Eleanor J, Gibson and R.D. Walk conducted a piece of research called ‘the visual cliff’. The purpose of this piece of research was to investigate depth perception in humans and animals.  The research was tried out on babies, rats, kitten and tortoises.

The visual cliff was where a clear piece of plastic was placed over a drop.  Giving the appearance of a cliff but not an actual cliff as the plastic was level with the first surface.  The baby would crawl on the flat surface and reach the cliff.  The test was to see if the baby would crawl over the cliff or not.

If the child or the animal had developed depth perception then they would not go over the cliff.

This piece of research suggests that we do not inherit cues of depth perception and we are not born with them, but in fact we learn them from our every day experiences.  As a baby or an animal moves around in the first few weeks/months of life then they learn that things are at different heights.  They learn to see the world in 3d rather than 2d.

Here are some extra links for more information and some great videos from you tube.

Is perception in the eye of the beholder?

Perception is the process of interpreting and understanding sensory information. It is an act of sensing that information then interpreting it. One of the cue’s in the environment that aid perception are affordances. These are clues in the environment such as optic flow, relative brightness, texture and size and they help to process what we see.

Gibson argues that Gregory’s use of visual illusions to prove his top- down theory are artificial as they are not images found in our normal visual environments. Perception is direct and we can make sense of the world with the information that we already have. This is widely argued because many illusions are encountered in the environment, for example when looking at a waterfall for a long time, then moving the eyes to a stationary objects, the stationary object seems to move in the opposite direction.

Optical illusions come in different forms, from seeing moving things in a still picture, seeing two different objects within the same picture to magic eyes.

Some optical illusions come from chalk drawings in the street, these are visible though our perception which makes the drawing seem 3D.

google images – optical illusion chalk drawings.

Here are some other illusions to try for yourself. Aswell as some web links. Thanks for reading…Have fun

Why are statistics important when studying Psychology?

Whilst thinking about my first blog I have considered different possibilities for a subject to write about that I would like to do more research on.  After much thought I have decided on the title of my first blog which will hopefully generate plenty of discussion and debate: ‘Why are statistics important when studying psychology?’

Whenever I have talked with others about matters relating to Psychology many people have made references to analysing people’s body language, their gestures and behaviours and so many people have suggested that Psychology is the study of analysing people and what they do but with the focus being on why people do what they do. This, of course, is true to a certain extent but in order to measure the different elements of psychology we need to use data and represent our findings in the form of statistics. Whenever we are conducting a research piece we can use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies to collect information and to determine findings that are accurate and complete. Some of the findings from quantitative research methods might be presented in statistical forms but it is without question that the findings from qualitative research need to be presented in the form of statistical data.

When doing research and finding out information on an area of interest the results need to be collected, processed and finalised into readable data.  The hypothesis can then be seen as accurate or inaccurate.

For example if you were to do a piece of comparative research on ‘How many children had learning difficulties in 3 different schools’?  You would need to collect data on how many children attended each school, how many children did have learning difficulties, and identify which learning difficulties they had.  All this information would have to then be collected and represented as statistics so that readers could have a clear idea about the outcome of the research.

Statistics are a vital part of Psychology and without them we would only have very limited ways of measuring and representing the findings of our research in ways that are clear and concise.