Essay Advice: Reconstructive Memory

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Revision and Exam Preparation

Recently my class worked on a take-home essay with the question, “Discuss research memory, making referencing to one or more studies.” When reading and giving feedback on their essays, I found myself making similar comments – and the same ones I’ve been making for ten years. So here’s some advice that might help you avoid the same mistakes.  Before we …

Key Study: Leading questions and the misinformation effect – ” the car crash study” (Loftus and Palmer, 1974)

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Internal Assessment (IB), Key Studies, Studies and Theories

 Memory is a reconstructive process, which means memories are actively and consciously rebuilt when we are trying to remember certain things. Elizabeth Loftus, her colleagues and others studying this cognitive phenomenon have shown that during the reconstruction phase our memories can be distorted if we are given false information about the event – this is called the misinformation effect. Background Information …

Key Studies: “Weapon focus” and its effects on eye-witness memories (Loftus, 1987)

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, Criminology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories

From decades of research we know that memory is not a passive cognitive process, but it is an active reconstructive one. As Elizabeth Loftus says, memory is not like a tape recorder that records things accurately and plays it back for us, but it’s more like a wikipedia page that anyone can go in and change. Loftus should know as …

fMRI: An important technological technique used to study the brain

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Research Methodology

The invention of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has rapidly advanced our knowledge and understanding of the human brain. In the IB Psychology course, fMRIs are a good example of a “technique used to study the brain in relation to behaviour.”  Background Information fMRIs are a modification of a regular MRI machine. Whereas MRIs simply show the structure of the …

Key Study: London Taxi Drivers vs. Bus Drivers (Maguire, 2006)

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies

Understanding how the brain can grow and change as a result of our environment and experiences is an exciting and important new field in psychology. Maguire’s study on this topic is already a classic.  Context One of the most fascinating (relatively) recent discoveries is the idea of neuroplasticity: the brain’s amazing ability to grow and change as a result of different experiences. …

Key Study: Clinical bias and the effects of labelling on diagnosis (Temerlin, 1968)

Travis Dixon Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies

Clinical bias can affect the validity and reliability of diagnosis and one thing that can cause clinical bias is when a patient is labelled with having a particular disorder. Labelling theory usually refers to how a label can affect the individual being labelled, but it is also used to explain how others can treat someone based on their label. Effects …

Key Study: Confirmation bias: why psychiatrists stick to wrong preliminary diagnoses (Mendel et al. 2011)

Travis Dixon Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology

Clinical bias can affect the validity and reliability of diagnosis. One example of a clinical bias that could have an effect is confirmation bias. While the use of classification systems could reduce the influence of clinical bias, it might also lead to it. Clinical bias is a general term that refers to any cognitive bias that can affect the diagnosis …

Key Study: HM’s case study (Milner and Scoville, 1957)

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Key Studies

HM’s case study is one of the most famous and important case studies in psychology, especially in cognitive psychology. It was the source of groundbreaking new knowledge on the role of the hippocampus in memory.  Background Info “Localization of function in the brain” means that different parts of the brain have different functions. Researchers have discovered this from over 100 …

Computer games and the brain: A summary with two key studies

Travis Dixon Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Key Studies, Studies and Theories

In this post we look at the positive effects of playing computer games by looking at how it might affect the brain, both in young and old people. We know from many MRI studies that our brain changes as a result of experience – this is called neuroplasticity. Therefore, it’s not unrealistic to think that hours spent playing video games …

The negative effects of digital technology on cognition #2 (with key studies): TV, attention and working memory

Travis Dixon Cognitive Psychology, IB Psychology HL Extensions, Key Studies

Technology’s Negative Effects on Memory Numerous studies have investigated the effects of watching television on working memory and executive functions because kids in developed countries tend to watch a lot of television. Watching TV for long periods of time might be harmful for cognition because it doesn’t require us to use our working memory, unlike other activities like reading, doing …