Julia Bailey – Research etc


This blog has moved!

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I’ve now transferred this blog to a new address – www.juliabailey.info/wordpress

Please go there for all future posts!


Written by juliarbailey

28/05/2011 at 5:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Lomo photos

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Taken with Zenith Lomo 35mm

Of course I like all the fogged ones ūüôā

Written by juliarbailey

06/05/2011 at 11:06 am


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06/05/2011 at 9:23 am

TED Talk – Sean Carroll – Distant time and the hint of a multiverse

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06/05/2011 at 7:42 am

Posted in Science

3D scan of mist

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Written by juliarbailey

04/05/2011 at 9:47 am

Posted in Science

Memory by Jonathan K. Foster

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Past events only have to influence our thoughts, feelings or behaviour for this to provide sufficient evidence of our memory for these events.

Plato regarded memory as being like a wax tablet, on which impressions would be made or encoded, and subsequently stored, so that we could return to and retrieve these impressions (i.e. memories) at a later time. This tripartile distinction between encoding, storage and retrieval has persisted among scientific investigators to the present day.


Although personal observations and anecdotes about memory can be illuminating and entertaining, they often originate from a specific experience of a given individual. It is therefore open to question to what degree they are a) objectively ‘real‘ and b) can be generalised universally, to all individuals.


Bartlett found that when recalling a story subjects:

  • make the story shorter
  • make it more coherent i.e. people seemed to make sense of unfamiliar material by linking this material to their pre-existing ideas, general knowledge and cultural expectations
  • change the story based on their associations with the reactions and emotions they experienced when they first heard it

Bartlett argued that what people remember is, to some extent, mediated by their emotional and personal commitment to – and investment in – the original to-be-remembered event. In Bartlett’s own words, memory retains ‘a little outstanding detail’, while the remainder of what we remember represents an elaboration that is merely influenced by the original event. Bartlett referred to this key characteristic of memory as ‘reconstructive‘, as opposed to ‘reproductive’. In other words, instead of reproducing the original event or story, we derive a reconstruction based on our existing presuppositions, expectations and our ‘mental set’. Depending on our interests, motivations and emotional reaction = how the presented narrative is remembered.


Sensory store – appears to operate below the threshold of consciousness. It receives information from the senses and holds it for about a second while we decide what to attend to. What we ignore is quickly lost and cannot be retrieved: it decays just as – from a sensory perspective – lights fade and sounds die away. So you can sometimes catch an echo of what someone said when you are not paying attention, but a second later it has gone altogether.



Verbal short-term store retained information primarily in an acoustic or phonological form. Information was converted to an acoustic code. […] Continuing to attend to and turn over in one’s mind information transfers it to the long-term store.

By contrast with acoustic representation of information in the short-term store, information in long-term memory is thought to be stored primarily in terms of the meaning of the information. The ‘top down’ imposing of meaning can often lead to distortions and biases in memory.


Déjà Vu may be centrally dependent on the feeling of misplaced familiarity. This phenomenon occurs when people feel they have witnessed something before, without being quite able to place the prior event or provide any further confirmatory evidence that the event or incident actually took place. It seems that in déjà vu, familiarity mechanisms may occur by mistake, so that a feeling of familiarity is triggered by a novel object or scene. Furthermore, it has been suggested by some researchers that déjà vu can be induced by hypnosis. So it seems possible that the brain mechanisms underlying the experience of déjà vu may be mediated by different mechanism that those that typically operate when we are fully alert.

See previous post about déjà vu.



There are two traditional views of forgetting. One view argues that memory simply fades away, just as objects in the physical environment might fade or erode or tarnish over time. This view represents a more passive conceptualisation of forgetting and memory. The second view regards forgetting as a more active process. According to this perspective, there is no strong evidence for the passive fading of information in memory, but forgetting occurs because memory traces are disrupted, obscured or overlaid by other memories. In other words, forgetting occurs as a consequence of interference.

The consensus in the current literature is that both these processes occur, but it is often quite difficult to separate the importance of time – i.e. the fading away or decay of memories – from interference through other events, because often these two things occur together.

pg. 63

More generally, our experiences do tend to interact in our memories and to run into one another, with the result that our memory for one experience is often interrelated to our memory of another. The more similar two experiences are, the greater the likelihood that they will interact in our memory. In some cases, this interaction can be helpful in that new semantic learning can build on old learning (for example, there is evidence that chess experts can remember chess positions better than novices). But when it is important to separate two episodes and render them quite distinct, interference can mean that we remember less accurately than we would otherwise have done.


Real versus imagined memories

Even when we believe¬† that we are literally ‘playing back’ some previous event or information in our mind, as if it were a videotape, we are actually constructing a memory from bits and pieces that we actually remember, along with our general (i.e. semantic) knowledge about how these bits should be assembled.

This strategy is usually very adaptive, minimising our need to remember new things that are very similar to things we already know. But sometimes there can be a blurring between what actually happened and what has been imagined or suggested. The issue of reality monitoring – i.e. identifying which memories are of real events, and which are of dreams or other imaginary sources – according to Marcia Johnson – that external memories i) have stronger sensory attributes, ii) are more detailed and complex, and iii) are set in a coherent context of time and place. By contrast, Johnson argues that internally generated memories embody more traces of the reasoning and imagining processes that generated them.


Overall, memory should not be regarded as a passive process: it is a ‘top-down’ system influenced by our ‘mental set’ (our preconceptions, stereotypes, beliefs, attitudes and thoughts) as well as a ‘bottom-up’ system influenced by sensory input. In other words, memory isn’t solely driven by sensory information derived from our physical environment, with people passively receiving that information and putting it into their memory wholesale. Rather, influenced by our past knowledge and presuppositions, we impose meaning on perceived information, biasing our memories to be consistent with our general world view.

False memories – People can be encouraged to ‘remember’ an item that is semantically linked to a series of previously presented items, but which itself was not presented (for example, people may come to remember having been presented with the word ‘night’, when they were previously presented with a series of words that are semantically associated with ‘night’, such as ‘dark’, ‘moon’, ‘black’, ‘still’, ‘day’….).

Written by juliarbailey

28/04/2011 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Book Notes, Science

The Contemporary London

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Some of my pieces are now represented by The Contemporary London – beautiful new website!

Written by juliarbailey

27/04/2011 at 9:50 am

Posted in Practical Work