Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Week 2 Post

1.             In class we discussed the reading and started to watch “Memento.” Class started with a warm up activity that I found to be particularly interesting. I enjoyed seeing how different individuals interpreted the question “How did you get here?”
2.            The reading was a good one in my opinion. It really got me thinking about the ways in which humans perceive time, more specifically past events. The discussion of memory and forgetting was probably one of the most interesting to me.  The argument between loss of a memory or lack of recall was a great argument. While I do not know where I stand on this issue, I think it is a tough thing to prove either way.  They did present evidence where a person with an electrode inserted into their brain was able to recall memories they thought they had lost. I am not entirely sure about this evidence. I am no psychology major, but I do know that our nervous system runs on electricity essentially. I do not know if this occurs, but I can see how the addition of electricity to a system already using electricity to carry signals, could potentially distort ones memories. Perhaps the electrical current is connecting items already stored in the brain and forming them into a false memory. Us as humans already make fake memories without realizing it, and I think that this sort of experiment leaves too much wiggle room for errors.
      The discussion of the brain as a ball of wax and a birdcage was slightly lost on me. I can definitely see how the brain is not a ball of wax and why it was thought of that way, but the bird cage is not too clear. I thought the bird cage analogy referred to a cage with multiple birds but people in class told me it was one bird so I am now all confused, but it’s ok because I think the brain has been proven to be a bit more complex than a bird cage  so I’m good. 
3.       Do you think that animals have the same capacity for memory as we do? Why or Why not?
What do you think time is to non-humans, do you think that non-humans (on earth) have a similar concept of time as us, or do you think it is different, do they have one at all?
4.            I looked into the part of the reading about the flatworms. This experiment didn’t seem right to me at first. Flatworms are primitive organisms and it surprised me that they were able to learn at all. I am not a psychology major, thus I am not sure about the exact parameters that need to be met for learning to take place. These organisms do not have a brain, but have two clusters of nervous tissue near their front called ganglia. When the worm was spilt and both halves showed the learned response it would seem that these ganglia somehow passed along the conditioned “memory” to the other half. I do not know if this is the case however, because when researching the Planarian nervous system I found a map of their nervous system. Planarians have light sensory nervous tissue running the length of their body. If this light sensory nervous tissue was where the learned response was “stored,” then when the worm was cut in half the response would have already been learned on both halves. This also does not necessarily mean that the response was a chemical form of memory, but could have been electrical in nature due to the presence of light receptor neurons on both halves of the body. While this experiment was really cool and interesting I think it is a poor example of memory, especially for a book about human memory and human perception. These worms operate very differently from humans and their nervous system is far from analogous to our own. While the mention of this experiment made for good conversation and was really very interesting I think that it was irrelevant and potentially erroneous and used only to try and shatter the reader’s concept of memory but this was done out of context. The author took human ideas and emotions and applied them to a very primitive organism, which does not normally work out.


  1. I believe that non-humans on earth have their own sense of time. For example, nocturnal animals have to at least be able to recognize nighttime, right? Also, animals hibernate as well. I think it would be ignorant of us as humans to deny that things other than humans can have a sense of time because no one truly knows.

    Nice post! I like that you did extra research on the flatworms. I agree that their inclusion in the article was unnecessary and out of context.

  2. I liked your two questions. They got me thinking about what the difference was between do animals have memory and do animals have concepts of time? I think that only the latter was addressed in the article, but I find them very different.
    I don't see why non humans can't have a concept of time. Just as Christina said, they know the difference between night and day, dawn and dusk, and the seasons. There may be some instinct to this, but I think that an animal has to have some recognition of time going by. This ties into memory then. Will an animal realize the winter (by cold) and then learn to expect spring after that? Is this a form of memory?