Learning & Physiological Psychology article critique
must be 900-1100 words
follow the assignment sheet and especially the marking guidelines attached
the two articles are also attached, only choose one to write on(answer the questions on the assignment sheet)
*Questions are to be written under sub-headings, 12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced lines, 2cm margins all around, APA referencing etc. The reference list is not included in the word limit.
Learning & Physiological Psychology article critique
The general problem
Many assume that the process of consolidation transforms any stable memory into a permanent one. However, further study findings indicates that this is not the case, as memory can get in a fragile state hence would require reactivation. Reactivation is also known as reconsolidation and is usually altered by stress. This means that it is important to investigate the effects of stress on reconsolidation of autobiographical memories.
The aim of the study
This study major aim was to investigate the impact of stress or how stress impairs the reactivation of the memories. The study further aimed at determining whether indeed reconsolidation and consolidation are independent processes or not.
Design of the Study
An experimental research design was used in the study (Solomon Four Group design). The researchers in their reactivating of autobiographical memories used autobiographical cueing test in the experiment that involved four groups (Williams & Broadbent, 1986). Participants were expected to remember their past experiences before they could be subjected to SEPCPT – Socially Evaluated Cold Pressor as the major source of stress and non-stressful conditions. A group of participants that was neither stressed nor reactivated from their experiences was used as control experiment.
The sample consisted of 64 students from Ruhr-University Bochum. They include both healthy and those that do not smoke. The men were 32 same as women aged 23 years. They were placed into four groups to take part in this experiment. One of the groups in the experiment was expressed to stressors also (React+ Stress group) and the other to non-stressful condition after recalling their past episodes (React+ control group). The third group was on the other hand exposed to stressor before memory reactivation also the stress only group. The fourth group, which was also the last, was not exposed to these stressors or even was their autobiographical memories reactivated. The researcher was critical test after seven days from the first day and to ensure consistency the experiments were done in the afternoon from 1 to 6 pm.
The researcher used a modified version of autobiographical memory curing test known as the reactivation of autobiographical memory to help in reactivation of the memory (Williams and Broadbent, 19896). Some of the groups in the experiments such as those that were exposed to react and control groups and react and stress were exposed to neutrals- busy and concentrated, positive- interesting and happy, and neutral adjectives- angry and sad. The researchers ensured that they controlled the reactivated memory age through recalling of events that were 24 hours to the tree weeks old.
Stress protocol-React + stress and react + control groups were exposed to SECPT (Schwabe, Haddad, &Schachinger, 2008) ten minutes after autobiographical memories reactivation and their stress success were measured using subjective feeling, blood pressure and salivary cortisol.
Memory Test-Autobiographical memory cueing test was administered to the groups after seven days in order to test what they could recall.
The researcher presented to some groups (React and control groups, and react and stress groups) with titles of events that they managed to recall while the other groups (stress only and control groups) only completed the memory test similar to the other groups. Mood assessments-In order to control memories that could be interfered by moods, the researcher employed Multidimensional German Mood scale where all the groups completed in first and second day of the experiment. (Lewis & Critchley, 2003; MDBF; Steyer, et al, 1994). This model was appropriate in helping to measure three dimensions of subjective feelings; wakefulness vs. sleepiness, elevated vs. depressed mode, and calmness vs. restlessness.
Whether methods and results support conclusion
With regards to the findings in the experiment, stress had no effect on reconsolidation of emotionally positive and negative autobiographical memories but could disrupt the reconsolidation of neutral autobiographical memories. Results indicated that human memories in the experiment was found to be in tandem with the previous rodents’ findings that showed impairment effects of stress on the rats and mice (Wang et al., 2008; Maroun &Akirav, 2008; Cai et al., 2006)
In the research design and methodology, the group differed with respect to the experimental manipulation, which aided to produce some high level of precision in the results. In addition, the procedures and control groups used were detrimental in the success of the experiment. This is supported by similar experiment (Schwabe& Wolf, 2009) that used same research design and methodology to find out that participants that managed to memorize a story after they remembered emotional and neutral experiences from past had impairment in neutral experiences 1 week later and not on the emotional experiences.
The findings of the study on the impairing role of stress on autobiographical memory reconsolidation (Azimi & Bakhshipour, 2012) which indicated that stress impairs autobiographical memory reconsolidation thus proving the fact that reconsolidation and consolidation are not alike hence supporting the study.
The study however, had limitation to the sample size hence generalization of the outcome on the entire population would be subject to biasness. The emotional nature of humans seems to change with regard to the environment or the information they receive hence the outcome is prone to decreased levels of precision.
Ethical concerns in the research
In the selection of participants for the study, discrimination was evident. The researcher had to select only the non-smoking and healthy individuals. The researcher did not highlight the parameters used in identifying the healthy and non-smoking individuals. The method to be used in the selection of the participants had to be in discriminatory.
The selected participants who were selected were also advised to avoid eating meals, drinking caffeine or alcohol and engaging in physical activity two hours to the commencement of the experiment. To achieve this, only those that could meet this threshold were requested to take part in the experiment and sign the consent form.
Implication of the study
The paper has built a good foundation for the future studies such as evaluating the effects of pharmacological glucocorticoid elevations on the autobiographical memories. The impairing effect of stress among some individuals adaptive updating mechanism could help in treatment of various psychological disorders such as PTSD- Post-traumatic stress disorder that happens through reconsolidation process helps us combine new information to the already existing one.
The other implication of becoming aware of the emotional effect on autobiographical memories in clinical practice is its application in early therapy as it helps to facilitate emotional engagement of clients with their painful memories. This could be of great importance in the procedure.
The studies could also have very useful implications for understanding the proportion of memory change that is resulting from reconsolidation, in the event being of detrimental importance in clinical practice and educational purpose.
Azimi, Z., & Bakhshipour-Roudsari, A. (2012). The Impairing Role of Stress on Autobiographical Memory Reconsolidation. Zahedan Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 14(10), 51-55.
Hupbach, A., & Dorskind, J. M. (2014). Stress selectively affects the reactivated components of a declarative memory. Behavioral neuroscience, 128(5), 614.
Schwabe, L., & Wolf, O. T. (2009). New episodic learning interferes with the reconsolidation of autobiographical memories. PLoS One, 4(10), e7519.