Technologies and stuff

1. Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies.

Schema theory is a cognitive process of information processing. Schemas are packages of information stored in the long term memory, a mental representation of knowledge, beliefs and expectations of the world. One research study is the quasi experiment conducted by Bartlett in 1932, he investigated how cultural schemas influence memory. And then another quasi experiment is the Allport and Postman conducted in 1947 they investigated how preexisting schemas (stereotypes) influence memory.

The aim of Barlett’s experiment was to investigate how cultural schemas influence memory. Barlett’s used two different techniques: serial reproduction where one participants was told the story and that participant had to retell and reproduce the story and so on (snowball affect) and repeated reproduction where one participants was tested on different occasions on the same material. He used proses, stories and pictures on English participants because the story was culturally unknown for the participants. Participants were either tested on serially reproductions the stories or one participants was test on different occasions on the same materials. Results showed that there cultural schemas had distorted their memories. Certain characteristics changed. Stories became shorter, more coherent and certain parts were changed due cultural familiarities. Pictures lost their peculiarities. In conclusion, memory is not a tape recorder. We change information due to knowledge and experiences.

The aim of Allport and Postman was to investigate how preexisting schemas (stereotypes) influenced memory. They conducted a quasi experiment using serial reproduction. White participants were shown a picture of a nicely dressed black man and a poorly dressed white man with a razor in a argument. Participants serially told the picture to each other. Results showed that the picture’s story changed drastically. The razor and the dressing changed from the white man to the black man. In conclusion, the white participants preexisting schema showed that black people are more prone to violence. Pre assumably, if black participants were tested the razor and the suit would not have switched places due to different cultural schemas.

+One strength of schema theory is that several studies support the findings. Brewer and Treyens (1981) supported schema theory just as Barlett. They conducted a correlation (level of expectancy and number of items remembered) in an office. Participants spent half a minute in their professor’s office where 60 items were located, rating on how likely they would belong to an office. Student participants were asked to recall the items in it, they were not aware of this. Results showed that their memory was strongly affected by their office schemas. Objects such as desk and chair were remembered, because those are objects that are expected in an office while other objects such as wine bottle and picnic basket were not remembered.

-One limitation of this theory is that there are several ways of interpreting the theory and the definition of it is vague.

Another strength is that schema theory is useful for understanding how people categorize information,interpret stories and it also contribute to an understanding of memory distortion as well as social cognition and filling the gaps.A study that supports this is Brewer and Treyens study (1981).This study showed that their memory was strongly affected by their office schemas.Objects such as desk and chair were remembered,because those are objects are excepted in an office while other objects such as wine bottle and picnic basket were not remembered.One interesting thing was that the participants contributed to items that weren’t in the professor’s office because it belonged to office schema (e.g papers and books).

2. Technology can be used to look into the brain while it is going through a certain cognitive process or show the structure of the brain.

For instance, fMRI is used to localize functions in the brain. It lights up areas that are more active, magnetism is used to take the pictures, which is bad for the participant, although there is no radioactivity which makes it better than PET scans. This can help to diagnose memory diseases early on, diseases like Alzheimer’s. fMRI can show that there is less activation in the brain in areas that are connected to memory, and this is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

MRI shows the structure of the brain, but does not show activity. Even though it does not show activation in the brain, a picture of its structure can also be useful to explain cognitive processes, like memory. For example H.M had a third of his Hippocampus removed to cure epilepsy, although it took away part of his memory. Together with other experiments, interviews and observations they looked at the structure of the brain to determine what part of his brain was removed and what effects it had. They discovered that he could remember old explicit memories, the ones he made before the operation, he can also learn new procedural memories but he cannot make new declarative memories, since this happens in the Hippocampus.

These technologies are very useful in several ways; before they were available you could not look into the brain of a living person but had to look at the brains of dead people. For this reason, looking at cognitive processes as they were happening was not possible. After these technologies were introduced localization of function was made possible which gave greater insight of what parts of the brain are used for different tasks and processes.


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