Tuesday, 23 March 2010



Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

I heard this poem at the beginning of the six nations rugby this Saturday (20th March) being read by Morgan Freeman and it sent tingles down my spine with the context it was delivered in. A such I would like to experiment with alternative film subjects using this very same poem.

Bye the way - this poem is said to have been repeated by Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned on Robben Island.


The last two weeks have been frustrating to say the least. I am still waiting for my cine Super 8 films to come back from the developers (bluecinetech) I spoke with them yesterday and they explained that there had been a high level of super 8 films going through the processing stage and as such there was a back log from between 7 and 10 days.

I feel that everything is on hold until I get these films back. I have purchased old super 8 film from ebay and done a small amount of post editing with it which I suppose has started me down the learning curve of using final cut pro and all its capabilities.

I am beginning to feel like a fellow student on my course (Amy. In Semester one Amy had many challenges when she took on a purely screen print based project and came up against many challenges trying to come to a final practical outcome.

Even though the esthetics of true film, especially super 8 cine film are amazing in their final output I am beginning to wonder if there is a more direct route through digital film where I can capture a theme or subject on cam corder and then through post production (Final Cut Pro) edit the final piece to look as though it has been executed through a cine camera.

This would solve several problems I am having at the moment: 1) the time it takes to actually get a physical copy on a computer after doing the filming 2) the cost - I have only produced 2 sets of film so far (1 in colour and 1 in black and white) and the total cost so far is in the region of £150.00 just to get two 21/2 min films on a computer.

I have really enjoyed the initial process of capturing moments in time on time tested equipment but this second stage of the process has left me very frustrated and I have started to question the outcome.

I can clearly see why we have moved on in technology and advancements in terms of film, as our 100 mile an hour lifestyle really doesn't suit this form of film any more.

I am sure that my state of mind will change when the films finally arrive and I can get down to some serious editing???????

Emotions Influence Memory, Learning

Emotion, the basis for much of human expression, while yet still poorly understood, exerts definite influences on parts of the brain that control attention, perception and learning, a new report released recently suggests.

The report, which appears in the journal Science, traces the biological bases of emotions in findings that could have implications for treating mood and psychiatric disorders. It also could open windows to better understanding of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

Researcher R J Dolan of the Institute of Neurology in London reviewed current medical literature about the brain and emotion and drew some key conclusions. For example, the "emotional machinery," as Dolan describes it, appears to connect directly to parts of the brain responsible for attention and absorbing new information. The same machinery also appears to be involved in forming memories and making decisions.

According to Dr Dolan, "The best studied examples of emotion influencing other brain regions are its effects on memory. This is mediated by influences on the hippocampus and early sensory processing regions. I suspect that there are few, if any, regions of the brain where the influence of emotion is not evident."

Another critical region of the brain, Dolan explains in his report, is the amygdala, an almond-shaped structure located within the limbic system. The amygdala is involved in registering emotion, particularly in response to danger. However, its connections to the visual cortex, which is found towards the back of the brain, and the hippocampus, which is behind and below the frontal lobes, permit the amygdala to process perception and memory.

"Emotion cannot easily be divorced from the concept of motivation and in this sense one can argue that emotion at some level is the engine of most forms of learning," Dolan said. For years, Dolan said, psychologists and psychiatrists and other physicians who study mental =llness have been apprehensive about delving into the understanding of emotion. "I think this has to do with the fact that for many years psychologists were uncomfortable with their (emotions') apparent subjective nature and the fact that emotions have bodily manifestations, as for example in a blush, that did not fit easily with a dominant information processing model of the mind," Dolan said.


August 13, 2003

In his old age, American humorist Mark Twain once mused that his mental faculties had decayed such that he could remember only things that never happened.

"When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not," Twain wrote. "But my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it."

Modern science has confirmed Twain's conjecture--research shows that memory skills tend to decline dramatically in old age, with decreasing levels of accuracy and increasing errors. However, new research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests age-related cognitive decay may not be as inevitable as Twain contended.

"Our study suggests that the failing memories of older adults, including their tendency to remember things that never happened, are not an inevitable consequence of aging," said Henry L "Roddy" Roediger III, study co-author and James S McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Washington University.

In research presented at the American Psychological Association meeting in Toronto, Roediger provides evidence that false memories and other cognitive declines often associated with normal aging can be more directly linked to measurable declines in executive control functions in frontal brain lobes.

"We tested a group of adults with an average age of 75 years and found that about one out of four had managed to avoid the memory declines so common in older adults," said Roediger. "Older adults who maintain high frontal lobe function were shown to have memory skills every bit as sharp as a group of college students in their early 20s."

Roediger, a leading expert on human memory, has focused recent research on understanding cognitive processes behind the creation of false memories, also known as memory illusions. Human memory, he explains, is not a storehouse of crystal clear, video images available for immediate and 100 percent accurate recall. Instead, memories are recalled through a constructive process that retrieves sights, sounds, words and other seemingly pertinent information, weighs their relevance to the memory task at hand, and then weaves them into a "best available" representation of a past experience.

Veridical memories are those that generally conform to reality--memories that provide a relatively true and accurate representation of a past experience. False memories occur when we remember events differently from the way they occurred, or in the most dramatic cases, when we remember events that never happened. False memories often result when we mistakenly merge elements of various past experiences or when imagination is used to fill holes in a sketchy recollection.

This explains why many instances of "sexual abuse" or "alien abduction" can be traced to early invasive hospital experiences. This is not to deny, of course, that child sexual abuse is common and real.

"There has been a lot of research in recent years that suggests deterioration in the prefrontal cortex is linked to age-related declines in veridical memory, but this is the first study to firmly establish a similar link to increases in false memories," Roediger said. "The idea that frontal lobe decline is associated with susceptibility to false memories is relatively new."

Several theories exist for why false memories increase with age. One suggests that older adults fail to properly encode information as an event is experienced or have problems retrieving and sorting such details during recall--a problem known as source monitoring. A related theory suggest frontal lobe problems make it difficult for older adults to focus attention on the memory task at hand and to effectively place retrieved information in context. That is, frontal lobe functioning underlies the ability to monitor accurately the source of information, and when frontal lobe declines, so does memory for the source of the events.

"If the frontal lobes are responsible for controlling attention or source monitoring, such that false memories can be distinguished from true memories, then we thought it possible that older adults with high frontal lobe function scores would not show greater false recall," Roediger said. "The idea here is that the increased susceptibility for memory illusions with older adults is carried by older adults with relatively low frontal lobe function. Our findings support this theory."

In other words, those who use their brain actively are less likely to be subject to false memories.

This story is based on a Washington University press release. The study has not yet been published.


Children Sometimes Remember More Than Adults

Kids are smart, but curiously they are smart in different ways to adults. These findings run counter to what has been known for years from memory research -- namely, that memory develops from early childhood to young adulthood, with young adults having much better memory than children.

In one study, children were accurate 31 percent of the time in identifying pictures of animals they had seen earlier, while adults were accurate only 7 percent of the time. And the memory difference was not because adults already have their mind filled with appointments, to-do lists and other various grown-up issues.

The researchers found that memory accuracy of adults is hurt by the fact that they know more than children and tend to apply this knowledge when learning new information. “It's one case where knowledge can actually decrease memory accuracy,” said Vladimir Sloutsky, co-author of the study and professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University.

The findings appeared in the August 2004 edition of the journal Psychological Science.

The issue is how people perform a type of reasoning called induction, in which a person uses particular facts to reach general principles. One way of doing induction is by category. For example, if a person learns that a particular cat has a large brain, he can induce that other animals in the same category -- in this case “cats” -- also have large brains. This is the way most adults perform deduction.

But you can also do induction in other ways, such as by similarity. Using the same example, a person could induce that any animal that looks similar to the cat with a large brain, also must have a large brain. In this research, the findings showed that this is how children most often perform induction.

In one study, the researchers showed 77 young children (average age of 5 years) and 71 college students 30 pictures of cats, bears and birds. In some cases, the subjects were first shown a picture of a cat and informed that it had “beta cells inside its body.” They were then presented with the 30 pictures of animals, one at a time, and were asked whether each of the animals also had beta cells.

After this phase of the study was done, the participants were shown 28 pictures and asked whether each was “old” -- exactly the same picture shown previously -- or new. None of the participants knew they were going to be tested about their memory of the pictures. This is where the children were four times better than adults -- a 31 percent accuracy rate compared to only 7 percent for grown-ups.

The reason, Sloutsky said, was because children used similarity-based induction when they were examining the pictures the first time. When they were asked whether each pictured animal had “beta cells” like the first cat they were shown, they looked carefully to see if the animal looked similar to the original cat. On the other hand, the adults used category-based induction: once they determined whether the animal pictured was a cat or not, they paid no more attention to the details of the picture. So when they were tested later, the adults didn't know the pictures as well as the children.

“When people use category information, they will filter out unrelated information,” Sloutsky said. “The adults didn't care about a specific cat -- all they wanted to know was whether the animal was a cat or not. The children, though, were comparing similarity -- whether the animals looked like that first cat who had the beta cells. So they remembered specific items about each picture that helped them remember it later.“

In a second experiment, the researchers taught 5-year-old children to use category-based induction just like adults do. When they did that, the memory accuracy of the children dropped to the level of adults.