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Comment Memory (Score 0) 426

I see many people talking about the operational definition of consciousness and how it is related to memory. There is a problem here in that memory is not a single consistent entity. There are different forms of it. What did I eat this morning vs. what is the capital of Idaho vs. how do I ride a bike vs. I am I afraid of spiders? These rely on different parts of the brain.

Let us explore the common concept of memory: Most people are probably talking about 1. all the things I can consciously recall. and 2. think things are forever stored in their mind like a filing cabinet. The above 2 points are very general, and I admit they may be wrong.

Lets look at memory moving from behaviorist to more cognitive understanding: Classical Conditioning:

Pavlov makes a dog salivate when ringing a bell. Memory or recall at an unconscious level is responsible for the reaction.

Operant Conditioning: Punishment for a particular behavior will reduce the likelihood of that behavior occurring again. Again memory is somewhere in the mix. I have a response I will do less often because I don't want to get punished.

From the above orientation, we see memory as being inherent in the behavior.

Moving more cognitively: People who have damage to their hippo campus can develop anterograde amnesia. These people can not form new memories. (think Memento). Studies have been done on them to determine if indeed they no longer have the ability to produce memories. One experiment, used an aversive event on subjects, then distracted them long enough that they forgot the event. It was found that even though they would forget the event, they would still physiologically react to it before it occured again. In this case the reaction would be increased heart rate and sweat.

More cognitively (and more salient to this topic): Elizabeth Loftus has found that memories can be changed after the fact. She has found that that certain ques in questions can change the way we remember things. For instance, in one experiment participants viewed a car accident on video and then answered a question about how much broken glass was on the street at the accident. Participants who were prompted with the question "How much glass was on the street" reported remembering glass significantly more often than those who were ask "Was there glass on the street?" This shows that memory retrevial is fallible.

Comment Cool (Score 0) 328

Did some work with a couple of species of Arabdopsis last summer. The lab sequenced one of genes that the plant uses for glycolysis and compared it across several different species as part of a phylogenetic study. It was a joint effort between our lab and a lady in South Africa.

Comment Re:crap (Score 0) 295

I feel the stories are good especially the third book (Holy crap! I love that book.) The 4th and beyond not so much. I find that I hate the lurching pace of the narrative because of Douglas Adam's jokes getting in the way. As an alternative, I posit John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. He writes very funny science fiction stories.

Comment No (Score 0) 470

Cancer used to be a total death sentence, but now it is not. It required large amount of intricate research that turned into drugs like Gleevec which treat chronic myeloid leukemia as well as other cancers. Drugs that work on turning on or off cellular communication pathways are just over the horizon.

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid