Friday, December 16, 2011

Forgetting why you went into the other room

 Doorways and memory loss

Comedian Bill Cosby tells a great story of looking for his glasses. He looked all over the living room then walked into another room to look there. Once in the other room, he can't remember why he went into that room in the first place. If I recall correctly he blamed the whole mess on his kids driving him crazy. 

Researcher Gabriel A. Radvansky and colleagues at the University of Notre Dame conducted an experiment to see if the act of walking through a doorway actually decreases ones memory. (Published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2011: show me the article.)

Their findings showed that the process of walking through a doorway did in fact lower experimental subjects short term memory. Subjects that walked through a doorway did much worse than subjects that walked the same distance without passing through a doorway. The research indicated that the act of going through a doorway compartmentalizes one's memory into separate activities weakening memory access to what was just learned in the previous room.

Least I forget, Bill Cosby was looking for his reading glasses that traveled with him from room to room perched on his head.

A few books on memory improvement that I recommend to my patients. Helpful, but they do take work. You have to learn how to improve your memory:


Thursday, December 1, 2011

What are negative emotions and rough handling of their infants

Dr. Phil,

I learn a lot from your blog and I have read your parenting book. I read your blog Aggressive Behavior in Toddlers, but I do not know what you mean by "negative emotions towards their infants and rough handling of their infants."

Thanks, Lilly, S.F. CA

Great question, Lilly, thanks.

Yesterday I was at lunch, looking forward to reading the latest gadget article for all things Apple computer. A few tables over I observed a mom and grandmother eating lunch with a 3 year old and an 18 month old. What I observed were "negative emotions towards their infants and rough handling of their infants."

The three year old was in a high chair reaching and grabbing as the food came to the table.  As he strained to reach for a french fry, his mom gently slapped his hand and said, "I told you in the car if you can't be a good boy you're going to get a spanking."

Over the next 15 minutes, while I finished my lunch, I observed the mom and the grandmother talking to each other in a friendly manner. When either adult was interrupted by a child, they growled softly at the child and said stern things to them.

"Stop doing that, you're acting like a little snot."
"You never listen to me."
"You're being a brat."

The 3 year old seemed unaware of anything the adults were saying. He seemed used to it. I saw his hand get gently slapped 5 times. Of note I did not see either adult talk to or with the children only at the children.

Over time, I can see how this type of parenting can lead to these children showing aggressive behaviors in school.