Memory and Perception Articles

Taking Class Notes on Your Laptop? Think Again

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Taking Class Notes on Your Laptop? Think Again

Last year, I wrote about how certain study techniques are more effective than others. Surprising, a lot of study techniques that students routinely engage in aren’t all that helpful to memorizing and learning material (such as highlighting or underlining text, or re-reading it).

Two researchers recently expanded upon this research to answer the question — does taking class notes on your computer help or hinder the learning process?

The answer may surprise you.

The Masks of Trauma

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

The Masks of TraumaSometimes I receive emails from acquaintances I knew in my early years. They usually start by expressing their deep concern for me and what I went through.

Each message like this is healing because validation and concern for my situation was something I desperately needed as a child.

But their next questions are more challenging. “Should I have known?” “How did I miss the signs?” The answer has always eluded me. I really have no response.

Does Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Exist?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Does Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT) Exist?Sluggish cognitive tempo is a long-time component believed to either be a part of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or may be its own stand-alone concern.

Parts of what we now call sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) has been around since the 1960s, but it was in the late 1980s — long before any attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications existed — when researchers first demonstrated that SCT symptoms are probably a unique condition or sub-type of ADHD (Lahey et al., 1988; Neeper & Lahey, 1986).

In other words, the scientific foundation for sluggish cognitive tempo has been around for nearly 30 years. It’s not new. And it’s hardly news. Scientists regularly identify dozens of proposed syndromes or symptom constellations in their research. Only a tiny minority of them ever go on to become a recognized mental disorder or diagnosis.

But does SCT really exist? Is it its own condition or disorder?

Why Positive Affirmations Don’t Work

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Why Positive Affirmations Don't WorkControl your thoughts and you create your reality. A positive mindset begets positive end results.

These popular tenets are espoused by the likes of Louise Hay, Napoleon Hill, Anthony Robbins and countless other self-help gurus. The problem is, they don’t actually work.

Consider the last time you really wanted something to happen… It could be a dream job, an ideal relationship or even a parking space in the city.

Why Ray Kurzweil is Wrong: Computers Won’t Be Smarter Than Us Anytime Soon

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Why Ray Kurzweil is Wrong: Computers Won't Be Smarter Than Us Anytime Soon“When Kurzweil first started talking about the “singularity”, a conceit he borrowed from the science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge, he was dismissed as a fantasist. He has been saying for years that he believes that the Turing test – the moment at which a computer will exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human – will be passed in 2029.”

Sorry, but Ray Kurzweil is wrong. It’s easy to understand why computers are nowhere near close to surpassing humans… And here’s why.

The Surprising Truth about Stereotypes of Online Gamers

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

The Surprising Truth about Stereotypes of Online GamersYou know online gamers. They’re overweight, lazy, socially inept, awkward, and prefer the darkness of a blackened-out room with only the pixels of a monitor or TV lighting the way.

All they do in their spare hours — and some in their not-so-spare hours — is sit in front of a screen and play their video games. They are mostly young teenaged boys, too.

The surprising truth of these gamer stereotypes is only that they aren’t true. Not for most gamers anyway.

Alert Fatigue? One Simple Solution So You Won’t Be a Slave to Technology

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Alert Fatigue? One Simple Solution So You Won't Be a Slave to TechnologyDo you have alert fatigue? Alert fatigue is when you get notifications — such as Facebook notifications or email alerts — that pop-up on your smartphone, iPhone, or desktop.

If you get these alerts all day long, chances are you may be suffering from alert fatigue.

There’s one simple solution to alert fatigue that will have you feeling better immediately — and help you sleep better at night.

Observe & Accept Your Thoughts, But You Don’t Have to Follow Them

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Observe & Accept Your Thoughts, But You Don't Have to Follow ThemOur minds are like cities. Some blocks are beautiful, safe, open and pleasant. Others are imaginative, colorful, creative and fun. Then there are the blocks that haven’t been cleaned in awhile and therefore are cluttered, littered, and foggy.

And like every city, our minds have blocks that are dark and dangerous. They lead to harm. To turn down a block like this is a choice, and can be a form of self-sabotage.

Our thoughts are spontaneous. But you don’t have to follow them.

Go Deep, Rich & Wide

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Go Deep, Rich & Wide”Just think positively.” Those words annoy me, perhaps because they are often misused by well-meaning people. There is no point papering over the truth of things to “try” to think positively. Nor is there any value in self-delusion or denial. It’s important to be honest with yourself.

That said, if you have accepted your true feelings about something, given them expression, sifted through your worried thoughts and gotten to a place of mental clarity, it can really help to work with enhancing positive mental states and emotions. This includes thoughts, feelings, images, memories and body sensations that put you in touch with a sense of well-being.

We know about the brain’s bias toward negative stimuli, so now’s the time to get smart and apply some neuroscience in order to amp up the impact of your positive experiencing.

What We Lose When We Bypass the Little Moments

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

What We Lose When We Bypass the Little MomentsDuring this past Christmas season, I ventured into Rockefeller Center to work on a project with my friend. I also wanted to immerse myself in the magic that Manhattan has to offer, especially during that time of year when everything around us seems to emit a bit of sparkle. The glorious Christmas tree was gorgeous (as usual), the lights shimmered brightly, illuminating the sidewalks, and festive caroling could be heard.

And yet, the atmosphere didn’t feel quite right. I was being pushed and shoved in a sea of aggressive onlookers who were also eager to acquire a touch of the holiday spirit. Everyone was desperate and determined to snap a photo on their phone or their tablet.

The pace was fast. Movement was rushed. My friend and I wondered: were they really here to absorb the sights, or did they just hope to get a snazzy picture for Instagram and bustle onward?

There’s something to be said for those little moments — moments that can feel special if we give the immediate present a chance.

Memory Help: 4 Simple Tips on How to Remember Somebody’s Name

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Memory Help: 4 Simple Tips on How to Remember Somebody's NameOne of the most common tasks we do as social beings is to meet new people in different settings — parties, the workplace, in class, or in some other social group. So it’s no surprise that one of the skills that will be of benefit in life is to remember other people’s names.

Yet, many people seem to have trouble remembering a new person’s name.

So how do you get over this problem? It’s easier than you may think.

Fun with Data! Spinning the Beneficial Effects of Cognitive Training, Brain Games

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Fun with Data! Spinning the Beneficial Effects of Cognitive Training, Brain GamesWhen virtually all of your data from your study show negatives — e.g., people are getting worse at the task — what does a good researcher do?

Show your intervention helped people decline less than nothing at all. Then ensure the news release talks about “improvements” in these cognitive training tasks — echoing the language you used in your study.

Welcome to the wonderful world of cognitive training, where squishy “neuroscience” means drawing every last bit of statistical significance from your data… even when it has little meaning for real-world impact.

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