Category Archives: Memory


This post is inspired by The Attention Merchants, Tim Wu, Vintage Books, 2017, New York. Decision making is not a front line issue in the book, but it is also clear that we cannot control our decision making if we cannot control our attention. The book begins as a history of what has grabbed our attention from newspapers and posters to radio to television to computers and video games,  to the internet and its vehicles including our present attention grabber, the cell phone.  Of course, each attention platform has ultimately had to make money and advertising has been the dominant path chosen. Advertising is the villain only to the extent that it puts able resources into effectively capturing our attention. But we do not check our email so often or play video games so long due to advertising. There is definitely some behavioral conditioning going on.  Wu mentions that video games can even:  “induce a ‘flow state’, that form of contentment, of optimal experience, described by the cognitive scientist Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi, in which people feel ‘strong, alert, if effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of their abilities.”

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Why do almost all people tell the truth in ordinary everyday
life? […] The reason is, firstly because it is easier; for
lying demands invention, dissimulation, and a good memory
(Friedrich Nietzsche, page 54, Human, All Too Human:  A Book for Free Spirits, 1878)

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”  (Pres. Donald Trump, discussion with Russian diplomats, May 10, 2017).

This post is based on the paper:  ” ‘ I can see it in your eyes’: Biased Processing and Increased Arousal in Dishonest Responses,” authored by Guy Hochman, Andreas Glockner, Susan Fiedler, and Shahar Ayal, that appeared in the  Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, December 2015.

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Embodied(Grounded) prediction(cognition)


clark514DJ8Bec6L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_This post is based on a paper by Andy Clark: “Embodied Prediction,” in T. Metzinger & J. M. Windt (Eds). Open MIND: 7(T). Frankfurt am Main: MIND Group (2015). Andy Clark is a philosopher at the University of Edinburgh whose tastes trend toward the wild shirt. He is a very well educated philosopher in the brain sciences and a good teacher. The paper seems to put forward some major ideas for decision making even though that is not its focus. Hammond’s idea of the Cognitive Continuum is well accommodated. It also seems quite compatible with Parallel Constraint Satisfaction, but leaves room for Fast and Frugal Heuristics. It seems to provide a way to merge Parallel Constraint Satisfaction and Cognitive Niches. I do not really understand PCS well enough, but it seems potentially to add hierarchy to PCS and make it into a generative model that can introduce fresh constraint satisfaction variables and constraints as new components. If you have not read the post Prediction Machine, you should because the current post skips much background. It is also difficult to distinguish Embodied Prediction and Grounded Cognition. There are likely to be posts that follow on the same general topic.

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MM-ML Strategy Classification

mmmlrh4002This post is derived from “Chapter 5, Multiple Measure Strategy Classification-Outcomes, Decision Times, and Confidence Ratings” authored by Andreas Glockner from Foundations for Tracing Intuition– Challenges and Methods, edited by Andreas Glockner and Cilia Witteman 2010 Psychology Press NY. It shines a little light on how intuition experiments seeking to answer if a person is using a Take the Best strategy or a Parallel Constraint Satisfaction strategy, etc are actually done. It is written more understandably than a typical paper for a journal. It will hopefully give more meaning to the letters MM-ML.

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Kaku’s Future of the Mind

future ofthemindindexI occasionally like to go far afield from judgment and decision making, and here I go again. This post takes a look at Michio Kaku’s 2014 book, The Future of the Mind–The Scientific Quest To Understand, Enhance, And Empower The Mind, Doubleday, New York.

Decision models can sometimes seem very explanatory, but they seem so simple minded when I read  in Kaku’s book that we have two separate centers of consciousness and that we may all have photographic memories.

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Questions about the Recognition Heuristic


rh6002This is the second post based on Pohl’s paper, “On the Use of Recognition in Inferential Decision Making.”  Pohl looks at what have come to be seen as weaknesses of the recognition heuristic.

Recognition as a memory-based process
While acknowledging that recognition should generally be treated as a continuous variable, Goldstein and Gigerenzer  focused on the outcome of this recognition process, which is either “recognized” or “not recognized” with only a small and negligible gray zone of uncertainty in between. Accordingly, the quality of these subjective recognition judgments, that is, whether
they were true or not or with what confidence, was originally not considered. Meanwhile, some researchers have asked whether and how the recognition process itself possibly affects subsequent inferences.

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On the Use of Recognition in Inferential Decision Making


sanantonio450This post and the next post are based on Rudiger Pohl’s article, “On the Use of Recognition in Inferential Decision Making” that appeared in the Journal of Judgment and Decision Making in 2011.  The Journal had three issues devoted to recognition.  Pohl provides the best summary and is also the last.  I found that some of the articles with two or three authors trying to come up with a summary failed apparently because there was so much disagreement among the authors.

“Intuition is nothing more or less than recognition.”  Daniel Kahneman delivers this and credits Simon in Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow.  Pohl’s article does not address this statement, but it helps me address it. Maybe the statement is not making intuition simpler, but making recognition much more complicated.

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Justified True Belief Triggers False Recall of “Knowing”

gettierThis post is based on the paper presented at the 2013 Annual Conference of the of the Cognitive Science Society, “Justified True Belief Triggers False Recall of “Knowing”” by Derek Powell, Zachary Horne, Angel Pinillos, and Keith J. Holyoak. People’s beliefs are the primary drivers of their actions, yet these beliefs are often uncertain—the products of limited information about the world and interconnections between other (often uncertain) beliefs.

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Elderly Memory v. Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s

downloadIn my 60s I can attest to my weakened ability to recall.  It is ridiculous.  This post looks at a paper that is written most prominently by the authors of fuzzy trace theory, Brainerd and Reyna. “Dual-Retrieval Models and Neurocognitive Impairment” appeared online on August 26, 2013 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. (The post also uses an online source, The Cornell Chronicle, in an article dated September 5, 2013, entitled: “Breakthrough discerns normal memory loss from disease”, and was written by Karene Booker.) It comes up with some interesting conclusions.

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Power of Memory

silicon-power-flash-memory-sp008gbsdh010v10-13807larOn March 12, 2013, The Wall Street Journal featured “The New Power of Memory” in the Personal Journal. Shirley S Wang reports that research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex suggests that we use the vivid memory of past experiences to imagine and anticipate the future. Without a subscription, I was unable to access: “Imagine All the People: How the Brain Creates and Uses Personality Models to Predict Behavior,”  but I did find “The Future of Memory: Remembering, Imagining, and the Brain” by the authors mentioned, Daniel Schacter and Demis Hassabis in the November 21, 2012, issue of Neuron. The research included brain imaging that showed “that when people are asked to imagine the future as they recall past experiences, many of the same regions of the brain–the hippocampus and the medial prefrontal cortex–show increased activity”.  As reported by Ms Wang, the new research scanned the brains of 19 young adults asked to imagine four short scenes involving imaginary people.  Prior to this, the participants were given made-up profiles of four people that included photos and statements. Each profile had a different level of extroversion and friendliness. The participants studied the profiles and then were asked to imagine the different personae in situations. The researchers found that the different personality traits activated distinct brain regions.  Thus, the researchers were able to tell which of the four profiles the participant was thinking about just by looking at the part of the brain activated in the scan.

This is interesting, but it is not particularly surprising. Meanwhile, the secondary headline in the WSJ article proclaims:  “Sharp Recall Skills Prove Key to Future Success; Some Excel at ‘Mental Time Travel’.  Not so much. The research does not show that. In fact, one theory of memory and cognition, fuzzy trace theory distinguishes between meaning  based memory–the so called gist- and more superficial verbatim memory.  The theory posits that these memories are encoded separately.  It predicts that unconscious gist based intuition often produces better results than reliance on detailed verbatim memory. In other words, sharp memory is often trumped by hazy memory. This is completely at odds with the WSJ graphic.

In future posts, I will dig more into fuzzy trace theory and its primary proponent, Dr. Valerie Reyna.