April 28, 2014

Exercising the Mind and the Body

Hola personas!

Only two weeks left of classes! Wow, time sure does fly. In my classes, it’s starting to get into “crunch time” – all those final projects, papers, and preparation for finals. This semester I feel like I have a pretty good handle on it all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of work to get done! For a little bit of a change in pace, here’s a glimpse at what I’ve been reading this week:

“Advanced Experimental Designs”

For my Design and Analysis course for Psychology. The title sounds a bit boring, which, I’ll admit, it can be. But once we start applying it, and it becomes more “real”, it can be really neat to see how different properties of an experiment are affecting the outcome. You must always ask if you are really testing what you aim to be testing, or if the design of the experiment is actually the one running the show. Plus, cute comics!

A comic strip panel with two talking pills

{You can click on the pictures to make them bigger!}

“Language Structure” and “The Functions of Remembering”

For my course in Learning. By the titles of these chapters, it might seem that this is focusing on more of a “cognitive” concept rather than behavioral, but once you get into the text, you quickly learn that that is not the case. It’s actually really interesting to me to read how a behaviorist addresses concepts like these that I, and I would assume many of you, are so used to hearing about in colloquial terms, such as that memory is some sort of store located inside of our brains. Behaviorists argue that “remembering” is only a verb, a form of observable behavior, which is essentially learned similar to other behavior. There is only the act of remembering and no such inner storage holding on to past information. I go back and forth on my own views regarding these theories, especially since I’m taking cognitive psychology as well, but I’ve found it really beneficial to become more knowledgeable in the behaviorist perspective.

“Thinking: Judgment and Reasoning”

For my Cognitive Psychology course. I really like this textbook. It’s written with a bit of a conversational tone, so it tends to hold my interest and attention for a bit longer. Also, more fun comics!:

A comic strip panel with a man in a hospital bed and a woman visiting him

Of course, they do use other visual representations as well, but the comics are always fun =) This chapter focused on how we as humans tend to reason and make judgments. It was actually a little unsettling reading this section. Our reasoning quite often strays from the truth and is easily influenced by a number of factors. Many have heard of the “confirmation bias”, in which we only really pay attention to evidence that endorses our current beliefs and neglect all that disagree, but there are even more ways that we rely on faulty logic or are blind to the truth of the matter.

Other than all my readings, I’ve done some fun things outside of my coursework too! One evening I went out to eat with a few of my friends to a nearby restaurant called Jasmine. I’d never been, but they both recommended it, so I went! They offer sushi, Japanese, and thai entrees. I got my typical Japanese food order – miso soup, rice, and yakitori. Yum yum! We then topped our meal off with Rita’s Water Ice – There’s always room for Rita’s.

From dinner, we went to the Williams Center for the Arts on campus to see “Triple Play”, a series of three short plays that were written and directed by students from Lafayette! One of the friends was the writer for one of them, so we wanted to go see it with her! I was impressed by all three works. They ranged from grave to comedic, and all were thought-provoking. Fun night!

Student dancers pose with choreographer Tara Madsen-Robbins

Tara Madsen-Robbins – bottom row, second from the left

Probably one of the highlights of my week was Saturday afternoon. Thanks to the grant that Lafayette received which is helping bring more dance to campus, we were able to have a master class with Tara Madsen-Robbins. A current part-time dance professor at DeSales, she is also a professional performer and has toured with a company as well as presented her own original works internationally.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous before the class – I didn’t know what to expect! It was so incredible though. She ran us through a series of warm-ups and conditioning with bits of improvisation mixed in, then taught us a really neat combination. She described the style as a jazz-modern mix. We were all sweating within the first ten minutes, but it felt great. It was intense, but not over my head. She taught at an ideal level of push, motivation, repetition, and critique. The next day I was definitely sore, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. We are hoping to have her come back again sometime next semester!

Both my mind and body are sure getting a good work-out these days! Till next week!

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