Category Archives: personal

Remember, remember

Giving a detailed account of the history and use of the Wechsler memory scale, and offering improvements on the method of comparing immediate and delayed memory, Tulsky, Chelune, and Price’s “Development of a new delayed memory index for the WMS-III” is invalvuable for understanding the use of the Wechsler memory scale. In particular the analysis of the test and how it can be adapted to suit the experimental purpose should play into the method of the proposal. Of particular interest are the revise General Memory Index (GMI) and Immediate Memory Index (IMI) that allow more transparent comparison. Having a means of comparing long term and short term memory is essential to a study of attention, encoding, and learning, especially in the classroom. Without them, the study would not be significant or interesting in the broader context of education and retention.

Tulsky, D. S., Chelune, G. J., & Price, L. R. (2004). Development of a New Delayed Memory Index for the WMS-III. Journal Of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology26(4), 563-576.

Education, Age, and Neurological Measures

Lam, Eng, Rapisarda, and Subramaniam in “Formulation of the Age-Education Index” aim to determine the validity of different measures of one’s education level using cognitive batteries. Unfortunately from the perspective of the proposal, their measures and methods did not have a clear relation to attention. Nevertheless, they give an important account of how neurological tests are affected by education. Most importantly for the proposal, they note that these tests are particularly influenced by language and literacy. Their focus is more on using these neurological measures and education level to assess individuals facing memory and other cognitive deficits, which is beyond the purpose of the attention proposal, but might be useful elsewhere.

Lam, M., Eng, G. K., Rapisarda, A., Subramaniam, M., Kraus, M., Keefe, R. E., & Collinson, S. L. (2013). Formulation of the age–education index: Measuring age and education effects in neuropsychological performance. Psychological Assessment25(1), 61-70. doi:10.1037/a0030548

Statistically thinking

Marambe, Vermunt, Boshuizen in their “A cross-cultural comparison of student learning patterns in higher educaiton” remind us that there are not simple models of the Asian learner, especially because of the way that education systems are set up and the impact of colonialism. They show that an ANOVA analysis of cognitive batteries, in this case the ISL, ICB, and ARPM can show differences in the use of cognitive faculties. In particular, while there was a significance between Dutch learners compared to Sri Lankan and Indonesian learners, there were almost as many differences between Sri Lankan and Indonesian students.

More than just establishing the significance of their results, Marambe, Vermunt, and Boshuizen place the results in a cultural context, noting how similarities correspond to the place of the student in all of these societies, while cognitive differences match socio-cultural differences as well as the relationship between educators and educated.

Because of how well this cognitive test could correspond to cultural differences, I was tempted to include it in the proposal. Ultimately, it seemed like an interesting test, but one that would add too much workload to the researchers, especially if they were going to process heat maps and the simpler memory scale. Although the Weschler memory scale is not as comprehensive, it does have clear elements related to visual processing, which can be compared to the attention data.

Marambe, K., Vermunt, J. j., & Boshuizen, H. (2012). A cross-cultural comparison of student learning patterns in higher education. Higher Education64(3), 299-316.

TM. Tan. Laundry.

Multiple studies have shown the efficacy of TM as an intervention for treating stress. One blind study by MacLean et al. (1997) took a random sample of men ranging in age from 18-32 and tested them in a laboratory setting for acute effects of a variety of stressful tasks. The stressors were mental arithmetic, mirror star-tracing, and isometric handgrip. Measurements of hormones were taken before intervention as a baseline and after participating in TM or stress education classes (SEC) for a total of four months (twice, daily). After running a t test and ANCOVA, researchers found that the TM group’s cortisol levels significantly decreased in both baseline and overall amounts and that cortisol response was markedly more sensitive for the posttest in comparison to the pretest (MacLean et al. 1997:381).

Psych Out! Culture Shock

While reading an article by Catherine Ann Lombard titled “Coping with anxiety and rebuilding identity:  a psychosynthesis approach to culture shock” I came across a citation for the book The Psychology of Culture Shock by Colleen Ward, Stephen Bochner, and Adrian Furnham.  It is quite obvious that this was a strong resource for Lombard’s article.  The idea of the sojourner popped out at me directly.  The book is based strongly on discerning the ABCs of cross-cultural interactions.

Some chapters of interest include “Theoretical approaches to culture shock” and “Stress, coping, and adjustment.”  There’s also a really neat table on pg 72 pulled from J.H. Berry (1997) that depicts a stress and coping framework.  There’s also  a great bibliography in the back.

Culture Shock: It begins with Students

The Five Stages of Culture Shock: Critical Incidents Around the World by Paul Pedersen is a good reference for the early approaches to culture shock.  I particularly like the history of the U- and W- curves.  These visual aids are given to most students in their per-orientation programs before they travel abroad.  I know I received one before I attended a fieldschool in Portugal.  The book notes that one criticism of these curves are their linear depictions of assimilation.  I would be curious to see if, having been introduced to stage models such as these before traveling, students feel an increase in the magnitude of culture shock for not matching the model.

Taking It All in: Data and Eye Movement

After the details of the electrooculargram and seeing how difficult the results could be, this articular was a bit of a relief. Berger, Winkels, Lischke, and Höppner offer a program capable of analyzing the raw data of eye tracking in “GazeAlyze: A MATLAB toolbox for the analysis of eye movement data.” It was not any less detailed or methodical than the article about raw electrooculargraphy, but knowing that there is a program like GazeAlyze that works through MATLAB, a program available on a number of universities, including Alabama, made eye movement a more feasible experimental measure. This also opens up the possibility that researchers experienced in MATLAB would find the eye tracking data easy to read, or at least could become familiar with the analysis relatively easily.

Beyond my personal relief, the authors note a few improvements that would be convenient for researchers and improve on previous software such as ILAB. GazeAlyze allows files to be exported as images and marking of regions of importance (ROI). Although these features might be easier to use if the subjects look at static images while their eye movements are tracked, they also allow easier sharing and reproduction of results. In particular, compared to the raw data of eye movements, heat maps generated by the program would be more intuitive to understand.

Berger, C., Winkels, M., Lischke, A., & Höppner, J. (2012). GazeAlyze: A MATLAB toolbox for the analysis of eye movement data. Behavior Research Methods44(2), 404-419. doi:10.3758/s13428-011-0149-x

A Look at Eye Tracking

Although it tends toward the sci-fi side of tracking eye movement, particularly in it’s discussion of “brain-to-machine interface (BMI),” the Fricke, Sobot, and Dounavis in their article “Analogue portable electrooculargram real-time processor” show that measuring eye movement is feasible on a small scale, opening the possibility of future applications.

The authors looked at a simple electrooculargram with five electrodes: one centered on the forehead, two above either eyebrow to measure vertical movement, and two on the outside of either eye to measure horizontal movement. Although it would be difficult to determine exactly where someone is looking, this instrument should give enough information for the purposes of studying where students are looking in a classroom and what sort of stimuli they respond to, such as the teacher’s gaze and emoting or material on the board. Ideally, five electrodes would not be too invasive or distracting for a period of about an hour, and the low power requirement and real time data would be helpful in the field.

I cannot speak for the technical details of the circuits and signal processing, but the authors show some favorable results. Their primary focus was on clear, precise movements involved in tracking a white dot that moves only horizontally or vertically, which do not match up with the more varied eye movement in a classroom setting, but could be adapted. They note that trained subjects produce clearer results, which is not unexpected. Nevertheless, with some signal boosting and processing, the electrooculargram gives a clear indication of eye movement with even a simple instrument.

Looking at their results, researchers would have to have significant training to interpret them, which might be a significant setback for a real proposal. Unless their instrument can be adapted to produce results that are more intuitive to interpret or can be processed by another program to produce clearer graphs and figures, then the utility of eye tracking instruments might be limited.


Fricke, K., Sobot, R., & Dounavis, A. (n.d). Analogue portable electrooculogram real-time signal processor. International Journal Of Circuit Theory And Applications, 42(2), 195-208.

The Psychosythesis Approach to Culture Shock

Perhaps not as well known as his contemporaries Freud and Jung, Roberto Assagioli nevertheless left behind an impressive legacy in the form of psychosynthesis.  Lombard uses this approach in her 2014 article “Coping with Anxiety and Rebuilding Identity: A Psychosynthesis Approach to Culture Shock.”  There are a couple things I like about this article.  Firstly, Lombard begins with a pretty good literature review on culture shock.   Lombard sees student sojourners  as a rapidly increasing population that is willfully engaging in different cultural contexts.   Secondly, the self-identification exercise is a unique form of therapy that complements the subpersonality model by allowing distance from “ties that bind” in order to get at the true “I,” or what Lombard refers to as “the observer and director or all their subpersonalities” (10).

In my opinion, while I can see how these two interventions may affect the ABC’s of culture shock,  a psychosynthesis approach provides insight into what is going on biologically.   I believe a biocultural model of culture shock would provide a better avenue to understanding the phenomenon.  Identity is not merely psychologically based.