cognitive study

6 Ways to Improve Your Study Habits That Are Backed by Science

Study in the same format that your test will be.

The research: In a study done by Morris & Coworkers, participants’ retrieval performance, which was a rhyming task, depended on whether or not their encoding task was that of processing for meaning or for rhyming.  In other words, participants who had an encoding task that required processing for rhyming had a better retrieval performance than did participants who had an encoding task that required processing for meaning. This is known as transfer-appropriate processing.

How it applies to your studying: If you know your exam is going to be exclusively short answers, then study by answering short answers and not by completing practice multiple choice tests. If you know a set of terms will be tested in a matching format, then create a study guide that involves you having to match terms to definitions or examples.

Match the context.

The research: Godden and Baddely really worked hard to prove their point about encoding specificity.  They had half of their participants study, or encode, underwater while diving and half study on land.  Recall for all participants was underwater and those from the diving condition had a higher recall than those who studied in land.

How it applies to your studying: Study in the same room that your exam will be in.  If your exam is in the same room as your class, it’s even more beneficial.

Match your internal state.

The research: Eich and Metcalfe measured the impact of state-dependent learning by having subjects listen to happy or sad music and think thoughts that matched the mood of the music.  They rated their mood and once it reached “very pleasant” or “very unpleasant”, the encoding aspect of the study began and they studied lists of words.  The participants returned two days later, followed the same procedure to put them in happy or sad moods, and were then given a memory test.  Those whose mood at retrieval matched their mood at encoding had higher rates of recall. 

How it applies to your studying: Try to match your moods when studying with your mood during your exam.  This does not mean stress yourself out at all times, but if you’re relaxed and content when studying and during the exam, that is better than being sad while studying but content during the exam. 

Relate the material to yourself.

The research: Rogers and coworkers presented participants with a question for 3 seconds and then a word who then had to answer if the word answered the question or not.  Questions included “Printed in small case? Rhymes with happy? Means the same as happy? Describes you?”  During recall tests, subjects remembered 25% more words that they had rated as describing themselves, as compared to only 5% recall for size, 8% for rhyme, and 14% for meaning. This is known as the self-reference effect.

How it applies to your studying: Try to find things in your material to remind them of you.  For instance, I had an exam on the endocrine system recently and my dog has an endocrine disorder so I related the flow of hormones to my dog. By writing this article, I’m relating long term memory to myself in preparation for my Cognition exam. 

Use visual images.

The research: Bower and Winzenz used paired-associate learning (a list of word pairs is presented) and later presented only the first word.  Participants were tasked with recalling the word it was paired with.  One group was instructed to silently repeat the pairs while the other group was told to make a mental image of the word pairs interacting.  Subjects who created visual mental images remembered twice as many word pairs than those who silently repeated words.

How it applies to your studying: Assign different concepts to different things in the room.  This works whether you are studying in the exam room or if you’re studying in your dorm.  If I were doing this for my bio exam, I’d “hang up” the idea of the systemic and pulmonary circuits of the heart in my closet, put the idea of homeotherms and poikilotherms on my key hook, and microwave the concept of action potentials, etc.


The research: Muller and Pilzecker had two groups of participants; one group learned one list of words and immediately learned a second list while the other group learned one list of words, waited six minutes, and then learned the second list.  When asked to recall the first list of words, the six minute delay group were able to recall 48% more than the immediate group.  By having a delay, it allowed for the formation of a stable memory of the first list, otherwise known as consolidation.

How it applies to your studying: Study in chunks of time.  Don’t stay up all night studying! Not only is it bad for your health, but it also disrupts the consolidation of memories.  Instead, study for smaller amounts of time and take short breaks.  Take a 15 minute walk, stretch, read a book, watch a Youtube video, etc.  But don’t study all in one shot.  A 48% increase in recall could do wonders for your grade!

The Functions and Writing Fictional Stories
  • **How much of the subjects/themes of each function gets used in writing will vary, and mostly depend on how developed the function is; and/or where it lies in the type's function stack.**
  • Fe: May implement strong humanitarian themes and/or undertones within their stories. Revolutions, riots, and uprisings included. They'll take care not to accidentally offend any of their readers, and consider their audience's feelings a lot when writing.
  • Fi: May focus most on character development and defining their characters as much as they can. Self-Discovery journeys, whether symbolic or literal, may be present as well. They might be more interested in writing how they feel about their planned stories' themes/subjects and not be concerned as much about their audience.
  • Ne: Will focus on multiple themes and possibilities in their stories, whether for good or bad. The good writers manage these multiple focuses without it being overwhelming, and keep the fictional ideas and themes consistent. There might be symbolic undertones of their characters exploring these possibilities, however, if the Ne writer decides to go for subtlety and symbolism in their stories.
  • Ni: Will focus on one or two themes in their stories and plan extremely far ahead with the world they're using. Foreshadowing, symbolism, and subtlety are likely routes they follow in their writing. They'll also most likely write about their inner worlds, dreams, and imaginations; in which they build upon in their own minds.
  • Se: Adventure and action galore! The focus will be on living in the moment and taking risks, which might be how they'll write as well. Their stories may include more physically pleasing themes such as providing the reader with believable and artistic visuals that satisfy the senses. Improvisation and/or retcons might be common amongst Se-written stories.
  • Si: Draw inspiration from the valuable traditions and cultures that they grew up with or learned about from real life history. Whatever writing techniques or themes worked in the past, they will use again in the present. They have a strong memory of their personal history and practices; and may instead implement that into their stories. May most enjoy taking writing inspiration from old stories that they, their family, and/or their culture/society grew up with and shared for generations.
  • Te: The planning/organization process for their stories consists of various checklists, limitations, and multiple changes of concepts to make sure things make as much concrete sense as possible. Will likely make their own rules on how the world of their stories work by drawing inspiration from other fictional worlds and their believable natural laws. If not fictional worlds, they include real world natural laws into their stories. They often, if not always, consider the consequences and aftermaths of each and every action in their stories.
  • Ti: The planning/organization process for their stories consists of laying out their internal models, and applying abstract yet objective logistics to the systems of their stories. Will set up categories for the various pieces they're using for their stories, and make certain there aren't inconsistencies within their fictional systems. May use a lot of what they've learned thus far for what they're writing.

You know, a lot of people don’t realize this but….

The animals at the zoo represent so many opportunities for biologists around the world to learn basic information about, well, animals! We get research proposals all the time from researchers, both among our own staff and globally, seeking permission to include the animals in their research. We approve the proposals that are of the greatest scientific value, that have potential to help us even further improve our qualities of animal care, and that are certain to cause no harm of any form to the animals. Recently two papers were published in major academic journals by scientists from regional universities that contribute some fascinating information to the global body of knowledge about animals.

Dr. Bonnie M. Perdue (Department of Psychology, Agnes Scott College) published: Perdue, B.M. 2016. The effect of computerized testing on Sun Bear behavior and enrichment preferences.            Behavioral Sciences 6, 19; doi:10.3390/bs6040019

The field of comparative cognition investigates species’ differences and similarities in cognitive abilities, and sheds light on the evolutionary origins of such capacities. Dr. Perdue realized that, while cognitive studies commonly are conducted with animals such as dogs, elephants, primates, and even giant pandas, many animals have never been studied. So, she applied some standard methods, using an ingenious rugged computerized touchscreen apparatus, to our sun bears. Bears typically use their tongues to explore and manipulate their environment and, she found that the bears actively engaged the touchscreen menus with their tongues.

The screens had dabs of honey on them in the earlier trials, to draw the bears’ attention to these novel objects. Once familiarized with the screens, the bears proceeded to learn to interact with specific color- or shape-targets on the screen in exchange for treats. Soon, the bears were preferring to interact with the computer screens more than any of the other enrichment items available to them. This study discovered a new method by which bears can be studied and showed that the experiments were preferred by the bears who actively involved themselves at every opportunity. This is fascinating stuff!

Alexis Noel (a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech) and her colleagues published: Noel, A.C., Guo, H-Y., Mandica, M., Hu, D.L. 2017 Frogs use a viscoelastic tongue and non-Newtonian saliva to catch prey.           Journal of the Royal Society Interface 14: 20160764. 

Frogs can capture insects, mice and even birds using only their tongue, with a speed and versatility unmatched in the world of synthetic materials. How can the frog tongue be so sticky? In this multi-faceted study that included some frogs here, used high-speed films of frog feeding to understand the behaviors involved in tongue-feeding. Then they used high-tech measurements and characterizations of frog tongues at Georgia Tech to investigate the structural properties of frog tongues and saliva.

They found that the tongue’s unique stickiness results from a combination of an incredibly soft and stretchable anatomy soft and a saliva that simply does not follow the normal rules of how liquids respond to pressure. The tongue acts like a car’s shock absorber during insect capture, absorbing energy and so preventing separation from the insect. The unique saliva spreads over the insect during impact, grips it firmly to the tongue, and yet it slides off easily once it is back in the mouth. This combination of properties gives the tongue 50 times greater work of adhesion than known synthetic material (such as everyone’s favorite, the sticky-hand toy). These insights offer many new ideas and models for applications in industry and engineering. Yet more proof that frogs are the coolest animals on Earth!
To learn more things people dont realize about zoos here ~>  Zoos Queues

Whoa. It’s been a while. Like 3 or 4 months? Sorry for being MIA for so long! I’d like to say my New Year’s resolution was to update this blog more, but that hasn’t really been working out, as evidenced by my inactivity. So I apologize profusely. But I bring a gift: some notes about motivation. Enjoy :) Hopefully there will be more to come! 


B. F. Skinner and Howard Marks

Studying tips for ENFPs


- Turn lessons into stories : you have a great imagination use it to make studying more entertaining. Making up stories will help you memorize you’re lessons easily and it will make the studying process less boring.

- Try to connect the new information to your existing knowledge : even if it was some weird connection only you get.

- Learn the general concepts first before learning the details.

- Write down notes : ENFPs daydream and space out a lot and the best solution to prevent this from happening while studying is writing down the piece of information you want to memorize. ( saying it out loud helps too )

- Go over what you studied once in a while to make sure you remember everything and if you forget something write it down over and over again till you memorize it as if it is the first time you’re studying it.

- Avoid the Internet while on break.

- Test yourself : to mentally prepare for the pressure of the exam.

- Eat snacks and keep a water bottle beside you.


- Don’t study in groups : I know some people highly recommend studying in groups for enfps but honestly it doesn’t work you will get distracted either by helping your studying mates and forgetting about yourself or by observing them while studying.

- Don’t Highlight : Highlighting is a form of procrastination because you are saving taking notes for later.

- Don’t keep your cell phone close to you.

I believe it is safe to say that much of the studyblr community has heard of or used Cornell notes at some point in time.  However, few likely realize the very interesting ways in which this particular type of note-taking method applies various elements of cognitive psychology.  Below are examples of what those elements are.

What are Cornell notes?

Cornell notes are a type of note-taking system created by Walter Pauk.  Effective use of Cornell notes apply the principles of the “five r’s” including: 

Record: the process of writing notes during classes/lectures

Reduce: following lectures, the resulting summarization of information contained within the initial set of notes; creation of the “cue-column”

Recite: usage of the cue column as a testing tool, where the notes are covered, and the questions in the cue column are answered in the student’s own words

Reflect: considering how the information contained within the notes applies to your own life or other concepts that you know already

Review: revising/studying from the notes a little bit each day (10 minutes/day generally)

Cornell notes are based upon creating three distinct sections within your class notes.  

The largest section of the page encompasses the notes taken on the material that is being learned.  

In the left margin is the cue section, where questions pertaining to the information within the notes section is recorded.  The cue section of Cornell notes requires that students create questions pertaining to the information contained in their notes that will serve as a retrieval cue for the answers that are necessitated by the question.  The formation of questions within the cue column allows for a test to be constructed for the student to study from, and allows for repeated testing of the important concepts that need to be remembered.

The bottom third of the page is reserved for a summary of all of the material written down.  

How do Cornell notes apply cognitive psychology?

Before explaining how the note-taking method applies cognitive psychology, it is important to know the following terms:

Testing effect:  the concept where repeated testing of material following the initial learning or study period improves memory for the information, as well as enhances retrieval for said information.

Transfer-appropriate processing:  details that effective retrieval depends on the level and type of processing that incurred during encoding.  When encoding conditions and retrieval cues align, memory tends to be better than in situations where there is a mismatch between encoding and retrieval contexts. 

In relation to the testing effect, if information will need to be retrieved in the context of a test, then encoding should closely resemble the testing conditions in order for the transfer of memory to be appropriate.  This operation is representative of the encoding specificity principle (memory is improved when information available at encoding is also available at retrieval). 

Much of the time, students attempt to use maintenance rehearsal as a means of studying, in which passive engagement with information is used to study for exams.  However,  the repetition of studying the material is only useful when information is retrieved after a short period of time, but does not enhance retention following the initial retrieval period.  In other words, cramming for tests does not allow for information to be remembered long-term, and may not help in the short-term either.

The testing effect requires that repeated testing or questions surrounding the information intended to be learned is employed. The retention of information is improved when implementing repeated testing, and information is remembered over a longer period of time than when simple repeated study of the material is utilized.  When the testing effect is evident, material is remembered better, forgotten less, and is retained for a longer period of time.  (Which is exactly what students should aim to do!)

Once questions are devised within the Cornell notes system, the “notes” section containing the answers can easily be covered so that the cue column initiates a memory test of the information on the page, and thus incorporates the testing effect.  

The questions created should be representative of not only the material, but the perceived level of involvement dictated by the instructor who will be creating the real exam.  If deeper-level questions will be present on the exam (i.e. open-ended or application questions), then the questions created on the Cornell notes should reflect that so that deeper processing can occur, and the information can be better transferred. 

However, if an exam requires that more shallow processing be applied (for example, multiple choice questions pertaining to strict vocabulary definitions), then the cue column can reflect that as well.  (Essentially, try to make the questions or main ideas in the cue column reflect what and how your instructor will ask questions on an exam; try not to write “what is the meaning of life?” when you are going to be asked “explain the relationship between ______ and ______”.  For mathematics/engineering or other more math-based subjects, use the cue column for equations or concepts as well.)

The goal of Cornell notes is that the cue column serves as a memory test for the information encompassed within the notes.  When used on a regular basis through repeated exposure to the questions within the cue column, the testing effect comes to fruition.  Rather than rote memorization or maintenance rehearsal, Cornell notes allow students to formulate their own questions and test themselves on a regular basis over the information.  

When exam time comes, the context of encoding (i.e. repeated questions that test the student’s comprehension of the topic) will be replicated through the actual exam, and retrieval of the information will be improved due to the superior transfer of information and matched contexts.  This is a process that any student can incorporate to be better prepared for exams through improved study methods that emphasize proper encoding and retrieval.

Does this mean I have to use Cornell notes?

Absolutely not!  Studying is an individual process, and whatever allows you to learn information best should be what you use.  I created this guide simply to shed some light on why Cornell notes are effective in terms of memory encoding/retrieval.

i usually dislike those “uwu humans are special, look how weird we’d be to aliens” posts because you know what? buddy idk how to tell you this but if anything were out there that could build a vehicle capable of taking them all the way out here, they’ve probably got plenty of courage and curiosity of their own and i doubt they’d be surprised by a microwave or ice cream

you know what would be kind of interesting? what i’d be curious if, compared to some other sentient thing would turn out to be uniquely human among sentient races?

how damn social we are

now, sure, if you’re an evolutionary psychologist or biologist you might be thinking, hold up yo! there’s overwhelming evidence that our highly social natures drove our evolution. and i’d say, yeah. that’s exactly right. a fascinating combination of competition and cooperation resulting from our social structure led us to becoming as intelligent as we are. and we are, after all, the smartest things on the planet–in light of recent political events, it might seem questionable, but I assure you it’s true.

but my question is: what if that isn’t a pre-req for intelligence? what if there are other paths to sentience? if you think i’m purely speculating, let me tell you something: there are things that live in the depths of the ocean, and they are deadly hunters, largely asocial, and terrifyingly intelligent, yet very alien to us.

yeah, i’m talking about the octopus. octopus are mollusks. they have few hard parts in their bodies (to the point they can squeeze themselves through nearly anything they can fit their beak through), they have, in effect, tiny “brains” that control each tentacle–their arms truly are semi-autonomous in a way that our arms are not, because we do not have such complicated reflexes; our limbs are limited to largely “avoid-pain” while their limbs aid in hunting and feeding. Many species can control the texture and color of their skin and are speculated to use this as a form of communication. they live in the depths of the ocean, in darkness and water. in short, it’s hard to imagine a creature more alien to us.

and yet they are incredibly intelligent. anecdotally, while i work in human cognition, i have colleagues who study animal cognition. one worked in an octopus lab. i was asking about what it was like, and she told me that honestly, it was a huge pain–anyone who has worked in an animal lab knows that this is not unique, but her reasons were. “they could be kind of unnerving,” she told me. “sometimes during feeding it just felt like they were watching me. i mean they were, but it felt very intentional,” and then she laughed. “but they were very smart, even outside of the research. we had difficulty keeping them contained or getting them to do things they don’t want to. they were scary good at escaping, and they seemed to have memorized our schedules to time their escapes that way.”

while at a conference in chicago two years ago, my colleagues and i decided to visit the aquarium. i was able to speak briefly to a trainer about the octopus there: when i saw the exhibit, i was surprised at first to see this enormous grayish thing in the water, tentacles flowing like smoke, carefully manipulating colorful shapes in its tank. it had several of them, along with what appeared to be foam blocks, and something that might have been a puzzle. they looked like baby toys, or the kind of enrichment i’d expect with apes, but i’d been surprised to see that they gave them to an octopus.

it seems that the best theory as to why octopuses evolved such intelligence has to do with the difficulty of their native environments. they are hunters, but they must be effective at catching a variety of different prey types in order to survive, and so they must be able to come up with a variety of different strategies–and have nearly as many strategies to evade any predators of their own. these are very different reasons from our ancestors’ social pressures. yet they are intelligent, and effective (check out the mimic octopus sometime, a particularly clever animal with some particularly clever strategies) hunters, and anecdotally, i hear they seem to be curious about the world around them sometimes.

imagine then if alien life resembled them more than us. what would they be like? intelligent enough to get here, and able to at least tolerate each other’s presence and cooperate for a common goal. but they’d probably see us, and our intensely social nature, and maybe find that a little strange. because sure, talking to other people can be interesting, but then we go home…and like to live around other people? to keep in contact with our families as often as humans do, and not just that, but work for the good of the family unit? to not just tolerate, but enjoy each others’ presence? and the degree to which we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for others–now that would just be beyond their understanding, that would be a weird alien mindset (there’s evidence, by the way, that even on earth, in reality, our degree of altruism may be unique to us. while altruism commonly varies as a degree of relatedness in social animals–in essence, the more related, the more of your own genes are in that other being, and so you’re more likely to help them, which is ultimately helping your genes survive–even our closest simian relatives don’t seem to take altruism as far as we do).

so if you were looking for something uniquely human, regardless of hypothetical aliens, something really beautiful about us, the fact is that humans love each other a whole lot. we have such strong affiliative bonds that we seek each others’ company all the damn time and unlike crows and dogs and bonobos and every other social animal on the planet, we alone really know what we’re doing. we make sacrifices that we understand for one another because that is the depth of our love for humans. we find meaning in each others’ existence.

and just think: people use the term “humanity” as a synonym for compassion for other people. is that interesting or what?

26.10.2016// This morning I went to the coffee shop in the local arts centre to study for cognitive evolution. It’s a really nice, peaceful atmosphere and almost everything the sell is locally sourced, plus it’s run by the district council rather than a private corporation so all the money goes into the local community. 10/10 study spot, definitely will go again! [16/100]

thelivingautomaton  asked:

Здравствуйте! I was wondering if you could explain to me the difference between the verbs "изучать", "учить", "учиться", and "заниматься"? I have been taught that all mean "to study" in some way, but I'm confused about where you would use one vs another. Спасибо!

Здравствуйте, sure!

Изучать - to research, to explore. Я изучаю когнитивную лингвистику - I study cognitive linguistics. Я изучаю болгарский - I study Bulgarian (as a scientific phenomenon, I don’t plan to speak Bulgarian). 
Учить - to study as in I study English - Я учу английский. (and I hope to reach some fluency in it). 
Учиться - to attend a school or any other educational institution. Я училась в Хогвартсе  - I studied at Hogwarts. 
Заниматься - as a process of learning. Я занимаюсь пением. I learn/study singing. In other words, I spend my time on singing. 

May 7th {21/100}

Day 21 of my 100 days of productivity! Today I went back to my psychology notes, reading through them all as well as reading through the revision guide and textbook. I’m aiming to start making flashcards now, as I’ve rewritten all the notes I need so far :) Psych exams are in less than 2 weeks ahhhhh the stress
Memorizing MBTI Functions and Stacks

The page is finally complete! It took a few days and a lot of adjustment to get all of those “highlight blocks” of text in there. I hope I explained my memorization methods well enough. And, well, I hope most that I didn’t make writing errors. Been lacking sleep a bit again. -shrug-

- Werewolf

What is Looping, and Have I Mistyped Because of It?

In response to an anon I received a few days ago on how to determine what type you are if you are looping. More specifically, if they themselves were a looping INFJ or ISTP.

What is a Loop?

A loop, by cognitive definition, is when you skip over your auxiliary function, going directly from your dominant to your tertiary, without the auxiliary coming into play at all. 

For example, in, say, an INFP. A looping INFP would go from Fi to Si, skipping over Ne completely in the cognitive process to use Si and then Te.

This state of mind is very common, often happening due to stress, internal conflict, or simply because the situation calls for it.

Loops are usually completely normal, and very common. Everyone loops at some point, but it usually happens very briefly(a few minutes/hours). These loops are comfortable and can be even enjoyable for the subjected party, often coming into play for important decision.

However, sometimes, one may go into an extended loop, lasting several days or even months. These types of loops are very unhealthy for the subjected party, often resulting in poor mental health. 

When someone talks about loops, the latter(unhealthy) ones are generally what is being spoken of, and will be what I am discussing.

How Am I Looping?

Whether or not you are looping, at least in the sense of an extended and unhealthy loop, is generally pretty self evident if you know what it is.

If you already know your type/functions, either due to typing in a healthy state of mind or by deductive reasoning and knowledge of how the entire function stack works, then the lack/loss of your auxiliary function may come as a bit of a surprise, or as a massive source of confusion.

So, in reference to the original question(s), which is ‘How do I know if I’m a looping (insert Type here), or a looping (insert type here)?’

Four Ways to Determine Your Type while Looping

1. Make sure you are, indeed, looping.

This does seem rather counterproductive, but keep in mind that looping is not the only thing that can mess up your cognitive processes. You could be gripping, or you could have a toxic dominant function, or you could simply be using your functions in an unhealthy manner.

Or you could simply have mistaken one combination of cognitive functions for another, and may need to study cognitive processes and how they work together more.

Before determining your type based on a loop, make sure that there is, indeed, a function ‘missing’ as it were. Otherwise, you could very well mistype, and potentially mess with your cognitive processes by attempting to break out of a nonexistent loop.

2. Examine your dominant function

The obvious question to ask yourself, first, is exactly what you would expect it to be. Which function of the two you think are looping do you use first? 

No, not which is strongest. This is a common misconception in MBTI, that the strongest function is your dominant function. However, considering the environmental factors in determining one’s type, it is entirely possible that one may be forced to use certain functions more. (For example, a strong Fe type in an environment where expression of one’s emotions is forbidden/taboo may mistype due to Fe being suppressed.)

So, that misinformation aside, which function do you go to first

 I’ll use the example of a looping INFJ vs. a looping ISTP. 

 In an ISTP, their primary function is Ti, or Introverted Thinking. When they process something, they do it via their internal logical processes, THEN it goes to Ni. 

 In an INFJ, their primary function is Ni, or Introverted Intuition. They process things by intuitively extrapolating a conclusion, and THEN it goes to Ti. 

This example given, examine yourself and try to think of whether or not you are more comfortable using one function more than another, and which one you use first. Once you’ve got your answer, therein lies your type.

3. Examine your inferior function

The Inferior Function is the fourth in your function stack. Now, normally it is fairly weak due to a lack of use. 

However, despite its weakness, it does still work, contrary to popular belief. Though it tends to still be weak when you use it, it serves a purpose. 

Now, out of the two functions that are not in the loop(Fe and Se in the previous case of the INFJ and ISTP), which one is weak, and which one is nonexistent? 

While looping, one skips over the auxiliary function, therefore it does not come into play whatsoever. It is virtually nonexistent due to the loop.

An Inferior function still works despite its placement, and is therefore stronger than the auxiliary function while looping. 

In the case of the INFJ vs. ISTP:

The INFJ would skip over Fe, making it nigh nonexistent, directly to Ti, then Se. Se would still come into play, weakly, but it would very much still be there.

The ISTP would skip over Se, making it nigh nonexistent, directly to Ni, then Fe. Fe would come into play, weakly, but more strongly than Se, because, obviously, Se isn’t there.

The one that is nonexistent is your auxiliary, the one that is weak would be your inferior. If you are unsure what a function looks like when it is nonexistent, I would suggest looking at PoLR descriptions of the two functions you are struggling with understanding. 

4. Read up on/examine your Shadow Functions

The Shadow Functions are the four functions not in your primary function stack. They come into play, just like the primary stack, but generally do so entirely unconsciously. 

They fall in the same order as your primary function stack, but with introversion and extroversion reversed.

Example: An ISTP would have the primary functions Ti-Se-Ni-Fe. Then, Shadow Functions Te-Si-Ne-Fi.

Put simply, The 5th(Opposing Personality) function works as an unconscious inferior function, or ‘argumentative’ function as it were.

The 6th(Critical Parent) function is actually quite strong, but used entirely unconsciously. 

The 7th(Trickster or Point of Least Resistance(PoLR)) function is very, very weak, to the point of nonexistence.

Now, with this knowledge, you can examine your PoLR function. In INFJs, it’s Te, in ISTPs, it’s Ne. Look up PoLR functions and how each function works in that place. You can potentially decide between the two types by determining your PoLR and Critical Parent function, if all else fails.

In addition, and on a final note, please keep in mind that some loops do stem from mental illness. If this lasts for too long or drastically decreases your quality of life, your ‘loop’ may indeed be something else entirely, and it may be in your best interests to seek out psychiatric help. However, as this is usually not the case, don’t stress about it.