September 30, 2012 by Cara Flanagan.
This week there was a programme on TV about The Boy who can’t forget (see here), about people who remember everything. They’re not the only ones with special recall. There are also people who don’t forget faces, they recognise anyone they have ever met (see Caroline Williams ‘Face savers’, New Scientist, September 15). It has been estimated that about 2% of the population have such super abilities for faces – about the same percentage as people who experience face blindness (prosopagnosia) which is the inability to recognise faces.
Research suggests that thesesuper recognisers don’t have especially superior memories nor are they better than average at object recognition. It appears they just have a special talent for recognising faces, which could be very useful in the police force. For example after the recent riots in London, police had to sift through thousands of fuzzy CCTV photos trying to recognise suspects. Super recognisers found it relatively easy to identify suspects in the CCTV footage.
The study of super recognisers can shed light on the way we process faces, and may even help understanding prosopagnosia. It seems that super recognisers use their brain differently, processing the whole face rather than individual components whereas the opposite is true for prosopagnosics. Studies using local and global letters are used to test this whole versus individual processing (see right). Participants are asked to read the large letter and end do this more slowly in the incongruent condition shown on the right. Prosopagnosics don’t show this slowing down, possibly because they don’t process at a global level (see page 43 of the A2 Complete Companion). Research is currently underway to see what happens when super recognisers try this task.
August 18, 2010 by Cara Flanagan.
The A2 book for the Welsh board is just about finished – but not in time for the new term. In fact it won’t finally appear in a beautifully bound version until after Christmas. But do not despair – OUP (our new publishers) are going to make three chapters available for free. The chapters will be one on Memory and two chapters on research methods (the chapters required for PY3). Keep on eye on the sample chapters tab on this blog and the links should appear there before the beginning of term.
August 8, 2010 by Cara Flanagan.
The excellent BBC radio series about case studies in psychology is returning this week and is about Henry Molaison (HM) – on Wednesday 11 August at 11 am. You can find details here. The blurb in the Radio Times says ‘In 1953, after a brain operation to cure his epilepsy, Henry Molaison was left unable to form new memories. But he was happy that others would benefit from the research conducted into his condition; he was happy every time he was told about it because it was always news to him. Recordings of Molaison made before he died in 2008 make this a particularly poignant programme. Claudia Hammond talks to the scientists who studied him and got to know him, though, sadly, he never got to know them.’
The programme also covers the story of HM’s brain after his death – which you can read about here. Provokes some interesting ethical questions about a person who couldn’t give informed consent.
The previous case studies series covered Kitty Genovese, The Wild Boy of Aveyron, The Man with the Hole in his Head and Little Hans. Some of these can be downloaded from Psychexchange, see here.
July 30, 2010 by Evie Bentley.
University students in north-east England have been taking part in a study to see the effects of binge drinking on memory. So what counted as binge drinking? Imbibing 6 units of alcohol in a drinking session twice a week or more was the criterion, and those students with other habits such as smoking and drug taking were screened out. Anxiety, age and depression had no effect on the results of both the binge drinkers and the control non-binging group.
The experimental task was to watch a 10-minute video clip of a Scarborough Read the rest of this entry »
June 8, 2010 by Adrian Frost.
There’s a useful presentation on experimental design to be found here
But equally interesting is the software that has been used to produce it – you can have a play here – it’s really easy to use, and you have to agree the presentations look pretty slick..
I was wondering – this could be used for a quick class experiment: Ask one group to present information using powerpoint (i.e. in a linear fashion), ask another to present the same info using the more hierarchical prezi software, to see if the way in which information is organised affects recall in independent groups of subjects?
May 19, 2010 by Adrian Frost.
Dreams, drugs, intelligence, memory, infant brains, psychoanalysis, human evolution and many more – Loads of online broadcasts from Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ Radio 4 series to be found here – all free – it makes one proud to be a licence payer….
April 17, 2009 by Adrian Frost.
I’ve just found an excellent article for one of those ‘Introduction to Psychology’ induction style activities. It concerns Jill Price, a woman who appears to have exceptionally accurate recall for dates and events. As the author explains:
“I first saw Price last May in a YouTube clip of her on 20/20. Diane Sawyer asks Price, an avid television viewer, to identify certain significant dates in broadcast history. When did CBS air the “Who shot JR?” episode of Dallas? When was All in the Family‘s baby episode shown? And so on. Price nails every question. She not only gives the date for the final episode of MASH but describes the weather that day”.
As is so often the case with such case studies, the truth behind the simple headline is at once more complex and more mundane than it initially appears.
I think that the article is a good one for use with classes because it starts off with consideration of cognitive and biological factors, veers into psychopathology and ends up with conclusions that are more psychodynamic in tone. On the way it touches upon a range of research methodologies and ethical issues – all in an accessible tone well suited to an introductory lesson.
October 1, 2008 by Cara Flanagan.
One way to improve your memory is to draw mind maps of topic areas – we have included an example of a mind map in the AS book and suggested you have a go. Send them in to us and you might see them published on here. If you can’t scan them, just post to Mind Maps, East Gilgo, Migdale, Bonar Bridge, Sutherland IV24 3AR.
September 23, 2008 by Adrian Frost.
In terms of ‘memory practicals’ I never get much beyond reading out lists of random numbers in class. Next time I’ll have a look at the BBC online memory test. It’s great for illustrating the multiple components and active processing elements of working memory and even has a brief stab at testing the long-term store. Respondents also get individual feedback, placed in the context of wider theory. On top of that, the data is being gathered as part of a larger research project so respondents get a chance to compare their results to everyone elses and to be part of a ‘proper’ psychological research programme.