PSYB57H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: 5,6,7,8, Temporal Lobe, Conjunction Fallacy

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Memory and Cognition Lecture 10
Expertise Cont’d & Fundamentals of Reasoning
Pattern Learning and Chunks: You can take multiple pieces of information and package it together
efficiently (in a chunk,) to remember/learn it better. Ex: Rather than remembering the letter’s I, A, C,
separately you can rearrange them and remember it in a chunk as CIA (central intelligence agency) which
makes it easier for you to store in your mind. Instead of having a slot in working memory that only fits one
letter, now that slot fits multiple letters (so instead of having 3 different slots in working memory, one for
C, one for I, one for A, you now have only one slot that stores CIA together in your working memory! This
is more efficient and allows you to pack information into your short-term memory in a more dense way.
You get more bang for your buck in terms of how much you can put in your memory, with experts/masters
being better able to pack more information in their memory about something than beginners.)
Random Digit Sequences = Most people can remember an average of 5 random digit sequences, but when
you use strategies, practice, and training to remember more digits you can learn and remember up to 80 as
an expert! Memory strategies can help you greatly, but if you ask this expert with numerical digits to try
the same memory exercise with letters instead of numbers, suddenly they drop back to average levels of
memory! Why is this? Because memory strategies are very SPECIFIC to what you’re using them for, so
this person would need to develop new memory strategies for remembering letter sequences, because the
same strategies for remembering numbers would not work for letters as well!
Transfer and Generalizability = Making these learning/remembering strategies and skills generalizable to
other domains of learning and life is VERY COMPLICATED.
Transfer Stands as a Major Challenge in Cognitive Enhancement/Rehabilitation: Example is young
child Brazilian street vendors and math. These child vendors typically do not go to school (impoverished)
and so they would never learn traditional math skills and tricks like young children in the Western world
would. However, they still have an innate sense of math to be able to say to themselves “each mango is
$1.50 and this person wants to buy three, so they have to give me $4.50, and they gave me $5 so I owe them
0.50 cents.” This shows that these kids are obviously very skilled in math, as they can practice it day in and
day out while vending on the streets…BUT, if you take these kids and put them in a classroom and have
them do similar math problems on paper they STRUGGLE TREMENDOUSLY. This is a great example
that the same skill (math) is very difficult to transfer from one setting/usage to another (from street vending
to a classroom test.) This begs the question, are the things we learn in school truly going to help us in the
real world?? Can we transfer them at all? Yes, you can, but there is a block that makes this transfer difficult.
Theory of Identical Elements: Following from the above example, on exams, students tend to do better
on questions that simply involve memorization of information and then regurgitating it on the page, but
when they have to actually take this information and apply it in a new way the transfer gets messy and they
struggle. There is a reason this happens. This is the “Theory of Identical Elements” but Thorndike. His
proposal is that the mind is composed of particular habits and associations that provide us with specific
responses to specific stimuli. In other words, the mind is good at learning things in a very specific way for
a very specific reason…the consequence of this is that because we are so good at learning things in very
specific ways and for very specific reasons, we have trouble when we have to apply this information to a
situation that is even slightly different than the specific way/reason we learned it in the first place. (Think
back to the Brazilian street vendors…They were able to learn math in a street vending setting, so that they
could sell their goods, which is a very specific way of learning math and for a very specific reason…but
when you ask them to use this math knowledge in a class on a written test they struggle because this written
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test is vastly different than the way in which they practiced their math skills previously.) TENDENCY FOR
THE MIND TO LEARN IN A SPECIFIC AND RIGID WAY.
-First step to help people with this is to make them understand and appreciate that the mind learns in rigid
and specific ways, and that they must change something in order to be better able to transfer and apply their
knowledge in different settings.
Deep and Surface Structure of a Problem = Think about learning how to multiply in elementary school.
You get sheets with 100 multiplication questions on it and you have to finish it for homework. The actual
questions themselves (2x2, 10x12, 7x4, etc.) are the surface structure…and they are not as important. Your
teachers are NOT trying to teach you specifically what the answers to each individual question is and then
to memorize them so you know them for the future…they are trying to teach you a CONCEPT, which is
deeper! They are trying to teach you how to manipulate numbers so you can take this knowledge and apply
it to any set of numbers, even if you have never come across it before or memorized it, and different
situations (like doing taxes or being a cashier in the future.)
-So, one way to help students (or people) with transferring and generalizing their knowledge of something
to novel situations and environments is to give them practice questions to work on that makes them apply
their knowledge in a way that they haven’t before. Ex: if you have a student read the textbook definition of
punishment and reinforcement (in psychology) and memorize it, this is the surface structure! But the final
exam will not have a question that simply says “define punishment and reinforcement,” but rather will ask
them to APPLY this information…So, to help your students succeed, you should give them practice
questions that force them to think about the information/definitions from their textbooks in new ways (i.e.
questions like “I have to potty train my son, how might I use punishment and reinforcement to do so? Would
this method be effective?”) Another way to help these students is to make THEM teach YOU about the
concept, and ask them to explain the concept in different ways. The more you can get your students to think
about the information from different perspectives, the better! This will help transfer of information.
Expertise and the Brain: When you become an expert on something how does your brain activity change
to reflect this? As you gain expertise, regardless of what that expertise is, you need less and less of your
brain to govern that skill! Your brain as a rookie will activate many brain regions as you focus very
intensely on doing a task (like playing chess or driving,) but once you become an expert you no longer need
to focus as hard because you’ve practiced so much that the skill comes naturally to you…and so you have
fewer brain regions that are activated when performing the task that you are not an expert on. (This is the
global effects of expertise, global referring to the entire activity of the brain.)
-Basal Ganglia and Hippocampus: When you are new at a task your hippocampus is activated more, because
this is the area of the brain that involves working memory, which you need when you’re new at something
(because you have to constantly think about what you’re doing and focus on it a lot so that you don’t make
a mistake.) However, as you become an expert in something the brain activity switches from being primarily
in the hippocampus to being in the basal ganglia. The Basal Ganglia is deep in the middle of your brain and
allows you to do things as if you’re on autopilot (ex: when you’re good at driving you don’t have to think
so hard about pressing the gas lightly, not slamming on the brakes, turning at a proper speed, etc.…you just
do it without thinking about it, like you’re on autopilot. The area of your brain activated in situations like
this is the basal ganglia.) Hippocampus is a VERBAL MEMORY AREA, meaning when you’re new to
something you have to talk about it in your head so that you don’t mess up (i.e. you may say to yourself in
your head “okay the light up ahead is red so I need to slowly press on the brakes so I slow down on time.”)
The Basal Ganglia is a SKILL AREA, meaning you already have the skill mastered so you don’t need to
talk to yourself about it, you can do it without much thought.
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-Meta-studies show that once you learn something very well, activity in the frontal lobes drops off
dramatically! The frontal lobes are NOVELTY SEEKERS in the sense that they will cling to new
information but once you’ve encoded and learned that information and skill well (you’re an expert on it, in
a sense,) the frontal lobes drop it and look for something new to focus on intensely…literally.
-If you are watching a ballerina dance and you are an expert in ballet yourself, the same areas of your brain
will activate just looking at the ballerina that would be active if you were actually dancing ballet yourself!
A person watching the ballerina who is NOT skilled in ballet (a novice,) will not have nearly as much
activation, because they lack the expertise to unpack the ballet dance moves in a complex way.
^-- SO, when we are experts at something, we use less of our brain to perform that task, BUT if we are
watching someone do whatever it is we are an expert at then we have more brain activation when watching
as opposed to watching that person perform a task that you are not an expert at.
Introduction to Reasoning: A process of thought that yields a conclusion from percepts, thoughts or
assertions.
Deductive Reasoning: conclusions that follow WITH CERTAINTY from their premises.
Inductive Reasoning: conclusions that PROBABALISTICALLY follow from their premises.
Relational Integration: considering multiple relations simultaneously (the highest form of reasoning.)
Conditionals and Valid Deduction: Key elements are ANTECEDENT (if statement) and CONSEQUENT
(then statement.)
-Types of valid deduction include MODUS PONENS (A true, then B true) and MODUS TOLLENS (B
false, then A false.)
Example of Modus Ponens = “If Mike understood the book (A), then he would get a good grade (B).”
Example of Modus Tollens = “If Mike understood the book, then he would get a good grade. Mike did not
get a good grade (B). Therefore Mike did not understand the book (A).
-Types of invalid deduction include AFFIRMATION OF THE CONSEQUENT (B true, then A true, in
other words the second part of the statement is true, so the first part of the statement is also true…this is
wrong, obviously) and DENIAL OF THE ANTECEDENT (A false, then B false.)
Example of Affirmation of the Consequent = “If Mike understood the book, then he would get a good grade.
Mike got a good grade. Therefore, Mike did understand the book.” This is wrong! The first part is true (if
Mike understood the book, then he would get a good grade, and Mike got a good grade) but just because
Mike got a good grade doesn’t mean he understood the book! He could have cheated off a smart kid.
Example of Denial of the Antecedent = “If Mike understood the book, then he would get a good grade.
Mike did not understand this book. Therefore, Mike did not get a good grade.” This is wrong! Mike got a
bad grade but this isn’t necessarily because he didn’t understand the book…perhaps he simply didn’t study.
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