By Art Markman, Bob Duke PhD
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Additional info for Brain Briefs: Answers to the Most (and Least) Pressing Questions about Your Mind
This movement—aptly named positive psychology—was championed by Martin Seligman, who was then president of the American Psychological Association, and Ed Diener, a professor at the University of Illinois. It was an especially interesting shift for Seligman to start studying what makes people feel good. One of his most prominent early lines of research explored learned helplessness, a behavior that develops after organisms (remember, we’re all organisms) are repeatedly exposed to inescapable, painful events.
The Treaty of Versailles is harder to remember (at least for Art), because it is not connected to as many other pieces of his knowledge. And this leads us to why stories are so much more memorable than individual facts: Stories provide lots of interconnections among individual pieces of information. These interconnections make stories and the facts embedded in them easy to recall, which is why even very young children can recount long and elaborate stories without breaking a sweat. The facts that make up a story are connected to other related facts, which are connected to still other facts, and each part of the story triggers the recall of other parts.
Our recording engineer, David Alvarez, patiently explained (several times) where we were supposed to put the mike to avoid popping our p’s and that we shouldn’t tap on the table or kick our chairs. And we promptly forgot much of what we were told. But we did spend a lot of time in the studio talking about topics in psychology—happiness, fear, personality, habits, multitasking, brain games—and we had a blast. And Rebecca skillfully, brilliantly turned our rambling conversation into seven minutes of coherent fun.
Brain Briefs: Answers to the Most (and Least) Pressing Questions about Your Mind by Art Markman, Bob Duke PhD