To What Extent Is One Cognitive Process Reliable Essay

To What Extent Is One Cognitive Process Reliable Essay.

Memory is an important cognitive process that guides our behaviours; it is often relied heavily upon to solve small matters in everyday life and huge issues in legal systems. But is this process actually reliable? A study by Bartlett suggests that this may not be so – reconstructive memory, the theory that memory is not exact or precise but must be pieced together by our experiences, can be distorted by the culture we are brought up in. Additionally, Loftus and Palmer have concluded with findings from their experiment that post-event information can easily distort memory of the actual event.

However, Loftus’ study was criticized by Yuille and Cutshall for being too lacking in ecological validity, and has in fact obtained findings that contrasted it. A factor that influences the reliability of our memory are schemas – “packets” of information obtained from previous experiences that subsequently affect our perceptions to specific things. Bartlett was interested in the role of these schemas in recall. He asked European and Native American participants to read the Native American folk story, War of the Ghost, twice.

Fifteen minutes after reading, both groups were asked to reproduce the story.

This story was chosen because of its cultural significance towards Native Americans – European participants will adapt their own cultural schemas to their memory of the story. As a result, Native Americans found it easier to reproduce the story, and European participants did indeed use their own cultural schemas to fill in gaps of the story which they could not remember accurately, such as filling in “boat” for “canoe”. This shows that memory is indeed susceptible to distortion caused by the culture we are brought up in, hence not necessarily as reliable as we think.

The way this study was performed was very straightforward and highly replicable, meaning this experiment can be repeated to see if results are the same for different cultures and different stories. Gender bias was eliminated as participants were selected at random. However, as participants did not receive specific instructions and were only asked to reproduce the story, nor were they asked to be as accurate as possible, there could be distortions as they could have been guessing the aim of the experiment, hence causing demand characteristics.

The methodology in general was not sophisticated – there were no independent, dependent and control variables, meaning there were no control groups, hence providing one-sided results. This all adds up to low internal validity. Alternatively, the form in which Europeans remember better may be different to the form in which Native Americans remember better – for example, Europeans may remember images better than words – this is demonstrated in another study by Cole and Scribner, where two groups outperformed each other in two different conditions.

Another factor that influences the reliability of memory is the use of leading questions, as shown in a study by Loftus and Palmer. The aim of the study was to see if varying leading questions, and adding post-event information, would affect the memory of an incident. 150 students were shown a video of a car accident. Afterwards, they were asked to describe what had happened in three conditions, firstly “how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other”, secondly replacing “smashed into” with “hit”, and thirdly not a question about car speed (control group).

Smashed” averaged an estimate of 41km/h, whereas “hit” averaged an estimate of 34km/h. One week later, participants were asked whether they had seen broken glass; 32% said smashed glasses was involved in the “smashed” group, but only 14% of the “hit” group and 12% of the control group – in actual fact, however, there was actually no broken glass at all. This suggests how the word implicitly affected the way the situation was remembered by triggering the activation of certain schemas, for example using the word “smashed” implies somewhat of a severe accident, hence associating it with broken glass.

Loftus and Palmer concluded that our memory is fragile and susceptible to distortion with post-event information, hence again suggesting that our memory is not necessarily reliable. The use of a control group (who were not asked about car speed) as well as clear independent (the verbs) and dependent (speed of the car) variables allows this experiment to be high in internal validity and because of the simple procedure, it can be easily replicable and therefore be repeated for different cultures and ages.

Gender bias was also eliminated here, like from Bartlett’s study, as students of both genders were used. Additionally, this study cannot, arguably, be generalised – students from one school cannot be represent the entire world population, similar to Bartlett’s study, where only two cultures were involved in the experiment. This experiment also lacks ecological validity as they were essentially not real-life witnesses of the event, meaning their recall would not be affected by emotions felt if participants witnessed first-hand.

Also, in real-life situations, participants would often be taken by surprise and would not be paying full attention to it, whereas in this highly artificial environment they know they have to be focussing on the screen, meaning this study lacks mundane realism. Yuille and Cutshall have criticized Loftus and Palmers’ experiment for being far too lacking in ecological validity – they argue that an experiment within a laboratory does not reflect what would happen in real life.

Yuille and Cutshall carried out a very similar experiment but in a real-life setting – they interviewed people who had witnessed a real robbery and discovered that leading questions did not in fact distort people’s memory – the memory of these details were instead quite amazing. The degree to which details was remembered seemed to increase with witnesses that were closer to the event. Yuille and Cutshall concluded that leading questions had no effect on recall, and the closer to the event a person was, the more accurately they would remember.

This suggests that memory is still quite reliable. Being a field experiment, this study would have higher ecological validity and mundane realism as was one of the aims of the experiment – it was an interview conducted in a natural environment, unlike the previous studies such as Bartlett who made participants reproduce a seemingly random story, or Loftus who made participants estimate the speed of a car in a video.

Internal validity, however, was not maintained at a high level like in Loftus’ study – there was no control over what had happened before the interview, and it is possible that distortions to their memory of the event had already happened. Participants were also not selected by the researchers, and instead were voluntary; meaning one gender of participants may outnumber the other gender.

There is also the issue of generalising this study to a wider population, as the witnesses were very limited and the sample was only a small fraction of that number, meaning such a small number of people cannot possibly represent an entire populace. However, all in all, this experiment does indeed reflect with high ecological validity and mundane realism that leading questions do not affect memory. In conclusion, Bartlett’s study suggests how memory is reconstructive and is therefore influenced by cultural schemas, hence rendering memory an unreliable cognitive process.

Loftus and Palmer support this argument of unreliability and had obtained findings that suggest leading questions and post-event information do indeed distort memory. However, this is contrasted by Yuille and Cutshall, who have proven in a real-life situation that memory is not affected by leading questions – however, they did not ask for further details after one week like Loftus had, therefore allowing Loftus’ conclusion of memory being easily distortable to still be true.

To What Extent Is One Cognitive Process Reliable Essay

Early Memory Essay

Early Memory Essay.

Memory is a strange thing. It can even be created over time. The mind filters through the whole host of stimuli that enter during an actual event. Generally, memory is of three types, sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Sensory memory is present for each sensory channel, like visual, aural and touch. Memory can take its own form with imaginary additions and deletions. During recall of an incident, sometimes the actual incidents are colored with imagined details. Emotional factors also affect long-term memory.

There are two types of information recovery, namely, recall and recognition. While in recall, the information is reproduced from memory, in recognition, the narration of the information provides the familiarity that the information has been there earlier. The areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus, mature from two to four years. So it is normal to recall memories of childhood from two years of age. My earliest memories of childhood are of one cloudy day. I was just over two years of age when on an overcast day, as I tagged along with my grandma, something strange happened.

I remember a faint smell. The smell was totally new and different from the familiar ones around me. I do not know if I was scared of it or not, but it gave me an uncomfortable feeling. We were on our routine walk and so the entire places including the lanes and the houses and the shops were familiar to me. I could not spot any particular shop, but I always found the streets familiar. I liked this street more so because there was a cow in one of the houses and we could move as close as our common sense allowed us. Early Memory 3

I was not the least scared by the cow because the cow appeared to know us and it stayed calm whenever we approached it. It, in fact, would even nod when it saw our silhouette from a distance. I did not know then that this was for the long yellow form of the bananas which I held tightly to my bosom. I loved to just stand there and watch the cow. It was a real treat for me. Even when the weather was harsh with the rays of the sun piercing the skin, I could stand there still watching the cow doing her routine. In the process, I even began to like the smell of the cow dung.

It was my comfort zone. But this was a new smell, which later I knew to be the one of mud mixed with water, the smell which results after a drizzle. The smell made me uncomfortable, though in what ways I do not know. I vaguely remember my grandmother asking me to give the bananas to the cow. This time I did it more as a routine. I mechanically gave the bananas to the cow which nevertheless ate with the same relish. I cannot remember if I sensed the smell of the dung there. The new smell of the mud left me worried. Everything seemed slightly different.

Even as I touched the forehead of the cow, I held my grandma tightly as though she would just like that vanish. The wind was blowing. The cow now turned its face away from our direction, maybe because of the sand being blown by the wind. My grandma shielded my eyes to prevent the sand getting into my eyes, and the sudden darkness terrified me. I began to scream uncontrollably. The wind stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sudden wind had replaced the smell of the mud. My grandma got me a balloon. I then slowly got down, and holding my grandma’s hand, trotted along with her.

Though I cannot remember the color of the balloon, there was something drawn on it, some patterns. I would have walked only a few yards when the wind came back again, this time only with more force, and wickedly snatching my balloon, it vanished. I now was sobbing and stood fixed to the ground. My grandma then dragged me to the shop and got me another. When my grandma offered to carry it for me, I obediently agreed. Though I Early Memory 4 had another balloon, I think I was upset over the loss of the first balloon; maybe I was troubled over the fate of that balloon.

We were just yards away from our home when tiny droplets of water hit on my head and shoulders. Surprised and frightened, I clung to my grandma. I can still remember trying to climb on her desperately before she lifted me into her arms. I now felt secure and was ready to face anything as I clung to her. She told me in her own simple way that it was God who was trying to bless us. We were a religious family and even by two, I had great love for God. Once perched safely on her, I began to see the rain in a totally different perspective.

I still do not know for certain if it was the name of God or the cool feeling from a secure place that invoked this instant liking for the rain. By then, we had reached our house and the rain now lashed heavily. Once inside, we rushed to the window and my grandma slowly took my hand in hers while cupping it to collect some of the silver droplets. When it was full, she slowly let it drip from our hands. Every time I see the sky overcast with the fresh smell of the mud, it triggers off this mixed feeling of joy and confusion.

When I am preoccupied with other things, I only get sketchy images of the whole incident. Only when I am really free and see the sky overcast, do I sit to recall those memories. When I recalled this incident aloud a few days ago, my grandma corrected me in many places. The balloons, for instance, was plain, and had no patterns on them. The account of the wind blowing away my balloon too was not true. I had somehow left the thread on my own. Also, I was scared of the cow, and my grandma had to coax me to touch the forehead of the cow.

Also, grandma had some additions to it Early Memory 5 saying that as she put me down, I jumped in a puddle splashing water all over her, and in the process I even had a small fall. Call it stupidity or superstitious, even today, when it rains, I think it as God blessing me and still enjoy being drenched in rain. So, I feel I had rehearsed some part of incident as how I would have liked it, like blaming the wind for the loss of the balloon thus saving myself from the blame, and the fancy balloons of different colors must have taken the place of the plain balloon.

These changes and misinterpretations, I feel, are normal because when a person recalls something after a long period of time, with the inherent truth, there surely will be some imagined additions or deletions. Early Memory 6 REFERENCES Human Memory, [Electronic Version]Retrieved on June 8, 2007 from www. cc. gatech. edu May 2003, What your child remembers, Robin. G. , Synney’s Child, Vol 14, No4, []Elctronic Version] Retrieved on June 8, 2007, from http://www. nospank. net/grille5. htm 2004, Memory, John. S. , [Electronic Version] Retrieved on June 8, 2007, from http://plato. stanford. edu

Early Memory Essay

“Nostalgia” by Carol Ann Duffy Essay

“Nostalgia” by Carol Ann Duffy Essay.

When we were younger we might have been homesick at school camps or sleepovers at someone that is not family. But we were lucky for the next day we would return to our family’s embrace but there are people out in the world that suffer from nostalgia for years and decades before being able to see their hometown again. In

Nostalgia by Carol Ann Duffy, the mercenaries, strong brave men, described in the poem are tormented by the same feeling of nostalgia.

In the new land they find it hard to adapt but when they return their home has changed as well. They feel like strangers to everyplace they go. Using sound devices, structure, diction and language techniques, Carol An. Duffy presents a sentimental story of the mercenaries from Switzerland fighting in a foreign land.

The author uses examples of repetition and other language techniques to give the most possible amount of impact on describing the feelings and thoughts of the mercenaries from Switzerland.

When they decided to leave and began their journey, the repeated use of ‘leaving’ (1,2) indicates the hard choice of leaving, this idea is emphasised by contrasting the description of home as high, fine air (1,2) with the process of leaving described as ‘down, down’ (1,3). The double use of ‘down’ also expresses the feeling of the mercenaries leaving their further and further. The harsh constanent sound in ‘crude coins clenched’ (1,4) emphasise that coins were not worth the sacrifice made by not living in the homeland. The caesura (1,3) was drawing a boundary line between home and new land, it seemed to express that once you pass this mark there is no going back.

By including a range of language techniques in the poem, the mercenaries are presented to have found it hard to acclimate to the new environment while the memories of their home were still lingering in their minds. The anaphora on ‘wrong’ (1,6) was always followed by a word that indicates all five senses (Smell, Sight, Touch, Taste, Sound). The amount of ‘dull crude coins’ (1,4) that don’t seem to match the risks and the quantity of times they have to put their lives into danger. The coins that are ‘clenched in the teeth’ (1,4) seem to express that the mercenaries are worried about the value of the coins and biting them to see if it is real gold.

Later they feel ‘stones in the belly’ (1,5) which not only symbolises they are not digesting the food but the heavy stones are also in contrast with ‘high fine air'(1,2), this shows that their minds seem to have never fully left the homeland. ‘Here’ (1,7) that is written in italics indicates the heart, specifically defining the area of pain. The mercenaries that ‘pined, wept’ (1,9) although they were ‘strong men’ (1,9) feared by the enemy, they were growing weak under the torment of nostalgia. The nostalgia was ‘killing them’ (1,9), the past continuous tense applied here is implying that the pain is still going on, torturing the supposedly strong mercenaries.

Carol Ann Duffy portrayed a perfect ‘sweet pain’ when a flashback on the warm and safe home flickers in a mercenary’s head. ‘Sweet’ (2,3) stood for the loving memories of the past, ‘pain’ (2,3) represented the sadness that is felt when the memories are compared to their current state or the hopelessness of not being able to return to the affectionate arm of what we call _home._ Again the five senses are used when describing the longing for home -‘music, pipes,light’ (2,6). ‘Plains’ (2,6) is contrasted with ‘mountains’ (1,2) of home, the poem continuously relates back to home emphasising how hard it is to completely put home behind your back.

The continued alliteration of the sound ‘h’ (2,3) seemed to be communicating sighs of the depressed mercenaries. The flashback (2,7) contained words like ‘maybe’ (2,7) which indicted the unreliability of the memories, but the concrete elements just seem to make you consider that the memory was real. The sense of having nobody to protect him is compared with the ‘mother’ (2,9) who is usually the family member that cares for the children more than the father. It is also very touching to remind yourself of the happy times spent with mum. Carol uses many senses to describe the pull from and the urge to go back to safety.

After years of yearning to go back because of nostalgia, the mercenaries’ story touched hearts of everyone in the village. They thought they were returning to the land of their memories but unfortunately everything has changed, although the place is still the same, the mercenaries must adapt again to something new. The ‘chiming’ indicated that hope was going back into their hearts but the change ends it all. They returned with ‘their life in a sack on their back’ (3,8) shows that in order to get that money they risked their lives, this emphasises how grateful the mercenaries felt to return home, land of safety.

All their time of their golden age was spent under the shadow of murder and war, so ‘some will not fall in love had they not heard of love’ (3,2) .The home that never changes in one’s memory, the ‘workings of memory’ (3,4), the pictures that never change in the heart was implied when anaphora was applied on the word ‘same’ (3,9). The anaphora was also contrasted with the ending ‘everything changed’ (3,10). The ‘priest’ cried, although he was the one that was supposed to give blessings of joy but he couldn’t help but become touched by the mercenaries’ story. The schoolteacher ‘opened a book to the scent of her youth’ when she remembered the time the mercenaries were just playful kids, happy and innocent.

The mercenaries felt like a strangers to their environment even though it was their own home. Carol Ann Duffy used a range of language techniques, symbolism and diction to make readers engage in the power of nostalgia through the story of the mercenaries, of how strong and feared men became weak when confronted by this sensation. The poem Nostalgia, written by Carol Ann Duffy presented a strong theme of that although the place and buildings have not changed, time has passed and the person has changed. Now it can never be the same. The past is lost….. ..forever.

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“Nostalgia” by Carol Ann Duffy Essay

To Improve Memory Essay

To Improve Memory Essay.

In psychology, memory is an organism’s capability to store, preserve, and then recover the same information. Generally, the classifications of memory used the sensory, short-term and long-term memories. The first two classes are only available for a short period of time compared to long-term memory which could last for a life-time.

            The storage process for the brain undergoes an incident in which connections between neuron groups are strengthened. Its patterns are recorded by the brain in an occurrence called the “engram”.

These engrams will be stored and will remain inactive until they retrieved (Schacter, 1996). The major factor that would affect memory storage would be time; the past is always replaced by recent events and engrams not recalled are simply slipping away from the mind. Improving memory by converting information into long-term-memory can be accomplished by linking it into something that is in the memory.

            One of the most popular techniques in improving memory is by the use of mnemonics. This is usually done by making associations between something that is easily remembered and one that is not.

Another method would be to gather all the initial letters from the list to be memorized, and then make a single word out of it. Sometimes the word formed can be directly or indirectly related to the information aimed but it could also be unrelated at some instances, depending on the situation.

            Researchers state that increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain is a good way of developing a better memory. The best way to achieve this is by undergoing proper and regular exercise. Stress should also be lessened, as well as depression. Sufficient sleeping time should also be done.  A better memory can also be achieved if the individual undergoes constant intellectual activities like reading. Keeping the brain healthy will certainly help in reducing memory loss and enhances ones memory retrieval.


Eysenck, M. (2005). Cognitive Psychology: A Student’s Handbook, 5th Edition: A Student’s Handbook (5th ed.): Psychology Press.

Schacter, D. L. (1996). Engrams: How the Brain Stores Memories [Electronic Version]. Memory Expansion Channels. Retrieved September 2, 2007 from


To Improve Memory Essay