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Unless We Spot Changes, Most Life Experiences are Fabricated From Memories - Neuroscience News

HomeFeatured Unless We Spot Changes, Most Life Experiences are Fabricated From Memories Neuroscience NewsJuly 25, 2018 FeaturedNeurosciencePsychology8 min read Summary: A new psychological model suggests change detection plays a key role in how we construct reality. Source: WUSTL. We may not be able to change recent events in our lives, but how well we remember them plays a key role in how our brains model what’s happening in the present and predict what is likely to occur in the future, finds new research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. “Memory isn’t for trying to remember,” said Jeff Zacks, professor of psychology and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis and an author of the study. “It’s for doing better the next time.” The study, co-authored with Chris Wahlheim of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), brings together several emerging theories of brain function to suggest that the ability to detect changes plays a critical role in how we experience and learn from the world around us. Known as “Event Memory Retrieval and Comparison Theory” or EMRC, the model builds on previous research by Zacks and colleagues that suggests the brain continually compares sensory input from ongoing experiences against working models of similar past events that it builds from related memories. When real life does not match the “event model,” prediction errors spike and change detection sets off a cascade of cognitive processing that rewires the brain to strengthen memories for both the older model events and the new experience, the theory contends. “We provide evidence for a theoretical mechanism that explains how people update their memory representations to facilitate their processing of changes in everyday actions of others,” Wahlheim said. “These findings may eventually illuminate how the processing of everyday changes influences how people guide their own actions.” In their current study, Zacks and Wahlheim tested the change detection model with experiments that take advantage of the well-documented fact that older adults often have increased difficulty in recalling details of recent events. Groups of healthy older and younger adults were shown video clips of a woman acting out a series of routine, everyday activities, such as doing dishes or preparing to exercise. One week later, they were shown similar videos in which some event details had been changed. “When viewers tracked the changes in these variation-on-a-theme videos, they had excellent memory for what happened on each day, but when they failed to notice a change, memory was horrible,” Zacks said. “These effects may account for some of the problems older adults experience with memory — in these experiments, older adults were less able to track the changes, and this accounted for some of their lower memory performance.”

Yale neuroscientists have debunked the idea that anyone's personality is normal — Quartz

trying to define people one way from a psychiatric perspective is a failure of imagination and opportunity, which hobbles people rather than empowering them to inhabit their full selves. Classic psychiatry categorizes people in limiting, linear ways, while the world is inherently wide-ranging, according to the researchers. They propose instead that each individual be assessed and understood singularly from a psychiatric perspective, but according to a wide range of fluctuating behaviors and tendencies.

The model is not the reality

Doctors loved Kübler-Ross’s five stages. The stages gave doctors the capacity to diagnose their dying patients, to target their questions and categorize the evidence: if the patient wasn’t depressed, then maybe she was in denial. The stages provided guidance on what to say in impossible circumstances. She had, unwittingly, provided doctors with a system for discussing death like a medical process. Her collaborator, Kessler, told me that on more than one occasion, a medical colleague would stop by while he and Kübler-Ross were writing to seek help with a diagnosis. “They’d be like, ‘Elisabeth, what stage are they in?’ And she would say, ‘It’s not about the stages! It’s about meeting them where they are!’” She found it laughable how some doctors had the gall to hold an essential organ in their hand but had no capacity for ambiguity.

Diverse populations make rational collective decisions -- ScienceDaily

The team found that individual ants had different yet consistent preferences. Some of the ants were happy to feed on either of the two solutions. Picky ants refused to feed from either. A third "middle" group consistently chose the solution with a higher concentration. These varied choices demonstrated that individual ants had individual thresholds to the sucrose concentration and made yes/no binary decisions accordingly. The researchers then fed each colony again with the differing sucrose solutions and found that the majority of the ants in all six experimental colonies chose the 4.0% sucrose solution, without being influenced by other ants in the colony. The "collective" decision of the colony was thus for the more nourishing solution. "Importantly, neither ants with a low threshold and high threshold contributed to the collective decision making, since the former didn't care about the concentration and the latter refused both concentrations. Thus, the decision maker was the middle group which preferred the higher concentration," says Hasegawa. "The study demonstrates simple yes/no judgements by individuals can lead to a collective rational decision, without using quality-graded responses, when they have diverse thresholds in the population," he continued. This mechanism can be applied to various fields including brain science, behavioural science, swarm robotics and consensus decision-making in human societies, conclude the researchers.