• 07 Mar
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Psychology behind how do we recognize and remember faces

    How do we remember faces


    Isn’t it amazing that we can remember hundreds of faces from our friends, family and daily acquaintance, name them accurately and even remember other information about them?

    Humans all have the same physical features, then how is it that we can distinguish one from the other?

    Special parts of the brain help to remember faces, and then recall them.

    In the first instance of seeing a face, encoding it and storing the face, it is the fusiform gyrus which activates specifically in response to faces.

    The functionality of the fusiform gyrus allows most people to recognize faces in more detail than they do similarly complex inanimate objects.

    More specifically, the fusiform face area, so named for it’s face recognition features, is responsible.


    The speciality of this area is that it can recognise faces in the upright direction and not up-side down.

    This is explained by the fact that when we were evolving from the stone age to the current times, quick recognition of upright faces is what helped us to negotiate, fight and survive. Upside-down faces were a rarity and so that is an ability we do not have.


    The fusiform face area also tends to get activated when we see features in objects that look face-like.

    For example, when we see a house and the windows look like two eyes! This is known as pareidolia, the condition of seeing faces in random objects.

    In a condition known as prosopagnosia, the person cannot remember faces, and it drastically affects their daily life. Damage to the fusiform face area and the fusiform gyrus brings this about. This condition is known to affect 2.5% of the world population!


    Another important area that helps us to recall faces is the visual short term memory or the VSTM.

    It was believed that the VSTM only helps with object recognition and remains static through life.

    But recent research has found that VSTM helps to remember and recall faces, and what’s more, it gets better as we age, and reaches its peak around 34-35 years of age.

    So, when we look at a face for the first time, the fusiform face area helps us to encode the face in our memory and other information about this person is stored in other areas of the brain.

    Then, when we see the person the next time, their face is momentarily checked in the VSTM and then collected from the fusiform area, where more information is stored.

    It is a very important part of our social life that we remember faces and use that knowledge in our interactions.

    This seemingly automatic and easy part of our daily life that we take for granted, is very difficult for people with prosopagnosia, which affects approximately 2.5% of the world population.

    This is also a condition that affects people with memory disorders and degenerative issues like Alzheimers and other types of dementia.

    Some tips to remember faces better would be to pay attention to special features of the face and try to join it with the name.

    However, for the most part, we do not have to try so hard, because although we may forget names, we hardly ever forget faces.

  • 06 Mar
    Oyindrila Basu

    Save your Marriage Today, Because It Is Important

    Save your Marriage


    Sarita: Huh! It’s so much better, that here at least I can view one serial completely, in a day, otherwise in your house; it was all about news channels, and we would not get a chance.

    Ravikant: Ahmmm….. ya right, you have just got a chance to complain again. You have been there for only 3 months, and in such a short span, you had so many problems hmm! Wow!


    The phrase “just 3 months” and “such a short span," suddenly angered Sarita, she was reminded of all the unpleasant incidents that have been happening post her marriage, until the time she came to US with her husband on a different posting. A small humorous dialogue between the two, unexpectedly changed into a damaging scene where Sarita began hurling all the harsh words.


    Sarita: what do you think, a person who is complaining after 5 years of marriage is a pious lady, and only because I am expressing myself instantly, so I did not adjust? I did not bear with your rustic family? Oh so you think your mother, and father were perfect?

    Ravikant: I never said anything, it’s useless talking to you.

    Sarita: No, there is no reason why you should quit now, should I make you count on all the incidents when your mother smothered the environment with her uncouth tongue, but I kept quiet?


    And this went on, till the time, Sarita sat at a corner, hot tears rolling down her cheeks in rage, and Ravikant was so much in anguish because of Sarita’s reaction, that he was numb and didn’t want to talk.


    This was not the first time, usually their common conversations broke into fights if one of the two hits upon any point that occurred in the initial 3 months of their marriage.

    Ravikant and Sarita belonged to two different cultures, and as it happens these days, love marriages are accepted by families but never endeared.

    Once the bride comes to a new house, she as it is, has some adjustment issues; on top of that Ravi’s mother turned insecure with her son and her own position in the household, consequently disliking Sarita, and taunting her, whenever she could, or trying to manipulate her, as per her choice, none of which were acceptable to Sarita and as a straightforward girl, she preferred sharing everything about her discomforts and dislikes with Ravikant, who in general was understanding and calm, but when these discussions were recurrent, he did not feel so good, because it was criticism about his own family.

    He has grown up within it; with all its odds and ends, he knew where the problem was, but did not want to acknowledge it, and that upset Sarita all the time in discussions.

    That night, the two of them sat in different rooms.

    Sarita had decided; this is it. “Ravi never loved me; he is only the son of his family. He will never be my husband. He is always defending his family. They are a group and I am an outsider. I should not stay here; I should not stay with him. This marriage is on inequality, we should separate.”


    In what circumstances, a couple generally think of divorce and what are the factors we should follow to avoid it?


    Anger or contempt for each other: It is very normal, that when two people are staying together, they will have differences of opinion; they will fight and have disgust and contempt for each other, because each wants to stick to his/her point and not understand the other’s view.


    Nevertheless, don’t let your anger get the better of you. Ask yourself, if the moment of conflict is staying in your mind for a long time, or maybe forever, subversively. If you find, your momentary anger and dissatisfaction with your partner are turning into a long term syndrome, wash your mind. Don’t let the love for your partner die under pressure of your headless annoyance, which might have occurred occasionally.


    Arguments are important: If you are filled with disgust, and dissatisfaction with your partner, and you go off to sleep without retaliating or arguing, get the hint; that end is near. Keeping your frustrations within you is bad for your mental health as well as your marriage. Bring it out, discuss it, shout, but do not just let it go. When you start living like roommates, without a discussion, it is not healthy or sophisticated, it is damaging your relationship internally. You don’t talk, so you don’t know what the other is thinking or feeling, you make up your assumptions and live to believe them.

    Live for your love, not your stubbornness.


    Try to be a listener: Sarita was not wrong, if she complained about her problems with her mother-in-law. After all, it was not her house, she has grown up elsewhere, and if she doesn’t receive proper cooperation or support at the new place, or senses suppressed rivalry in the household, she can always react to it. It is important that Ravikant listens what Sarita wants to say, and try to console her, calm her, be compassionate with her, rather than try to be defensive for his family. When the wife is in anguish, she will want the husband’s support, if you are being protective towards her agitation, it will aggravate her further and will make her think that she is not significant to you. So learn to listen, and later you can put your perspective forward if you have one.


    Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes: This is applicable for both Ravikant and Sarita. Disagreements are natural, but in an argument, try putting yourself in your partner’s place. Sarita should have tried to understand, how Ravikant might be feeling, hearing recurrent complains about his family. Though he knew the problems, it was difficult for him to handle all this, because he was in a new situation too, and how much ever wise and rational, you are, you feel hard to hear about your loved ones. The same he would be feeling, if his mother spoke ill of Sarita. So knowing the other’s perspective can easily dissuade you from an argument and blow off your anger.


    Don’t expect the ideal from your partner: Remember, your partner and you, are not the same persons. You both are different, so your habits and opinions are unique. Don’t expect your partner will always be like you want him/her to be. Respect each other’s views to avoid clashes.


    Be a companion, not a guardian: A wife usually thinks she can change her husband and force him to quit all bad habits in one day, somewhat like a gangster is often converted to a sage in our Hindi movies, because he is in love with our heroine. But real life is not so dramatic. The more you try to stop him, further he will be drawn towards it. Don’t just control because you have to control. Checking sms, scrolling through your partner’s mobile, enquiring each time he/she leaves house, interfering with his/her professional life, these are naïve activities, but can be frustrating for your partner. Moreover, a husband should remember that his wife is a grown-up person, she can take her decisions, or make her movements. So in both cases, try to be a companion not a guardian to your partner.


    Taking joint decisions together can be the remedy of many things: For in such cases, no one is dissatisfied with the other, each one in the relationship gets equal importance, and can take pride for it.


    Drop your ego: Finally, if you find the relation is sufficiently damaged, and strings can break down any moment, stop pretending as a victim, be the one to take the first step in mending, rather than thinking “why should I talk first, why not she." Remember, your relationship is important to you.

    Love will keep you healthy. Your partner is your only place of solace after the long day’s work.

    Don’t give up on your relation easily, even if you feel “she doesn’t care," you care, stop deceiving yourself; you do care, so go forward and save your marriage.

    Image source

    References: 1 2 


  • 03 Mar
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Is Money most Important in life?

    Is money most important in life



    A lot of us get up each morning to go to jobs that we may not find satisfying. The work itself is unappealing, or the hierarchy and politics are getting to you.

    What you’re really working for is the pay cheque at the end of the month. Sometimes, we need that money, sometimes; we could do with less money.


    Then, why do we choose to stay in jobs that may not be letting us do what we love doing?

    The reason lies in the popular notion that we would be happier if we were richer.

    We see this theme everywhere: most ads for products talk about how you would be happy if you bought those products – and to buy such products, one needs to have a constant in-flow of money.

    Another aspect that fuels this notion is that we grew up thinking that a good salary each month would translate into a whole lot of savings at the end of our working lives, and we will end up having a satisfactory retired life.


    So, does one actually need money to be happy?

    It turns money has a ‘transient’ effect on our happiness (Kahneman and colleagues, 2006). That is, money only makes us happy for a while- just like if you shopped today, you would be happy till you saw an ad and felt like purchasing again.

    Money makes a huge difference if you are at the income poles – i.e., extremely poor or extremely rich. In such cases, those facing absolute poverty would obviously be much unhappy compared to millionaires.

    But majority of the people do not lie at the poles, especially with GDPs of countries increasing each year. So, for most of forming the middle chunk, it’s actually a matter of thinking.

    This thinking may keep us in jobs where office politics kill all the creativity in us (Daud and colleagues, 2013). In order to make sure that the mirage of rich equals happy is maintained and people continue in rat-race jobs, people in positions of seniority are offered perks, increasing competition and envy.


    What would be the result of this?

    Stress, anxiety, depression and a fall in the level of satisfaction, as counterintuitive as that may sound. And of course – the carry over effects: the pervasive bad mood and workload that you carry home and to friends and which sours life beyond the office.


    So, what’s the solution?

    If you like the work type, join a company with a different culture, or a start your own startup! Did you know? Startups are providing and creating the most new jobs globally, compared to traditional companies. Or start over in a different field of your liking! Many people with engineering degrees in India have quit, joining the social or media sector – it’s never late!


    So, in a nutshell, if money does not satisfy us, what does?

    It turns out, that depends on the time spent doing things that matter (Stutzer and Frey, 2004). If being richer means you spend more time commuting to and from work, and at the job (because higher salaries mean more responsibilities), then it’s not surprising you aren’t getting happier. Happiness is about spending time reading a book, being with a loved one or just being: after all, money is the means to an end – a good life.

    Image source


  • 03 Mar
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Types of psychologists (In India)

    types of psychologist in india


    Psychology is a very broad field and within that, there are many subdiivisions that are aimed at in-depth understanding of one particular aspect.

    Some of the common psychologists are described below with what they do and help out with.


    Counsellor/therapists: This includes counsellors who have a general sort of background and can help to some extent with each type of issue, or this may also include specialists like deaddiction counsellor etc.

    These professionals have a background in human development or psychology followed by training in counselling.

    They may practice independently or as part of an organization or collective.


    School and college counsellors: Thankfully, these days many schools have at least one counsellor.

    These counsellors help out children with academic difficulties and also help them through personal difficulties and in detection and awareness of bullying and emotional issues.

    College counsellors also play a similar role and may also help the student deal with heartbreak and ragging related issues


    Career counsellors: Often school and college counsellors also have training for career counsellors.

    However, there are also specialized career counsellors who help the student to find out his aptitude and abilities and keeping that in mind, help them to find a suitable career.

    Counseling, aptitude testing and wide knowledge of colleges, universities and courses offered is their forte.


    Industrial psychologists: These psychologists work either in the HR department, in personnel management or with employee assistance programs as corporate trainers.

    They help with emotional health and stress reduction of employees as well as planning how appraisals, layoffs and selections should happen.


    Clinical psychologists: They have an M.Phil. or a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and help mainly with psychiatric disorders ranging from depression or stress right up to OCD and schizophrenia.

    They are licensed to do clinical testing and generate reports of the same.

    Along with a psychiatrist or independently, they help in changing thought and behaviour patterns that may be maintaining a psychological disorder.


    Marriage and family therapists: They work with families on issues or marriage, separation or child-related issues.

    Broken or dysfunctional families may need therapy for the family as a whole, because if the system is not functioning properly, it affects all members and it is not any one person’s fault.

    The whole system needs to be adapted to change. MFT do a special certificate post their masters in counselling or clinical psychology.


    Art Therapists: Art therapy is picking up in India, especially for special groups like children with hyperactivity or women undergoing domestic violence.

    Art therapists help to channel our energies, heal  and bring about change with the use of art.

    Art is a form of expression in which words are mostly not required and therefore, it helps to tap the unconscious and repressed emotions.


    Couple therapists: There are also dedicated couples therapists apart from the MFT who work specifically with couples who find it hard to get together and resolve problems on their own.

    This may include couples who have not yet moved in together too, because MFT looks at couples married and living in together and also focuses on other people like in-laws, whereas couples’ therapy is about the communication skills of the couple only.


    Rehabilitation psychologists: They need to have an M Phil. In Rehabilitation psychology or 5 years of work experience in the field before they can practice as rehabilitation psychologists.

    Typically, they help people with any sort of psychological or development issue to get rehabilitated back in life.

    They may help children with low IQ and other concerns as well adults, post-hospitalization for psychiatric issues.


    Applied Behaviour Analysts: This is a very small and specific area, but ABA help children with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders to communicate well and learn other skills.

    These children may not integrate easily into the mainstream and ABA are needed to help them express themselves properly and have a healthy emotional life.


  • 02 Mar
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Should divorcing parents make their child choose?

    should divorcing parents make their child to choose

    There are many factors deciding what a child thinks of its parents.

    Children may show a preference for any one parent because that parent is lenient with rules, allows them to stay out late, is more willing to let them consider some alternate career choices etc.

    But until children become mature and often, even after that, children generally think that they are made up of both parents.

    Unless there is a lot of hitting or emotional abuse by one parent, they love both, but in different ways.

    They may go to one parent for permissions, while the other for life advice.

    However, for this, they need to have some sort of bond with both parents.

    If one of the parent has been absent when the child was growing up, or was not present, even from a distance, for crucial moments of a child’s life, then the child only thinks of the absent parent in abstract, and the love becomes more like an obligation to that parent, with their loyalty turning more and more towards the parent who is present, even from a distance.

    Considering the role of the mother in home-making and child rearing, especially in societies that still feel that the mother should be the primary caretaker, the amount of time spent with the mother may make the child, regardless of gender, be close to the mother.

    Very often, you will find this structure in a family: the father is like the CEO who you go to for important things, while the mother is like the team leader or project leader to whom you tell about all your big and small crisis.

    This works out well most times, except the father-child bond can suffer if the father does not step out from the CEO role and become dad again.

    An interesting opportunity to know whether children can decide which parent they love more comes from divorce cases with custody arrangements.

    Often, the child may be asked for their preference, however, it is only one aspect along with many others that is taken into consideration in the court of law.

    Here’s what many lawyers will tell you though: don’t make the child choose. The child, at least before he or she is 14, imagines a world which is only complete with both parents. Divorce is hard as it is.

    Asking the child does not help because they simply don’t know what’s best for them in a situation like divorce.

    If they don’t voice their opinion in favour of one parent, they feel guilty of letting that parent down, and if they do say something, they feel they let the other parent down.

    Love is complex and should not be shredded down to choices.

    Children, then, have a worldview where love is present for both parents and the expression of it depends on the character traits of each parents’ personality.

    At least in this case then, choice means nothing but trouble and distress.

    Image source

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