While doing some random cleanup, I recently came across some of my old exams from my undergraduate days, including the ones from Professor Wolfe’s Introduction to Psychology (9.00) class. Professor Wolfe was a dedicated teacher (so much so that MIT had to deny him tenure the year after he won the Baker Foundation Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching aka “The Kiss of Death” in 1989), and every year he created entirely new mid-terms and final exams that were just fun to take. Some examples from the 1987 final exam, which was entirely based on Tolkien’s “Two Towers”.


The Riders of Rohan had just come from a battle with the orcs. Most of the orcs had been killed. No hobbit bodies were found. The riders turned out to be quite a civilized bunch and loaned two horses to Aragorn and Legolas (Dwarves don’t “do” horses so Gimli rode in the rumble seat behind Legolas.) Eventually, the three came to the scene of the battle. There they found evidence that the Hobbits had escaped into the forest, and to their immesne surprise, they found Gandalf. They had thought he had died when he fought the Balrog and fell into the pit.Gandalf described part of his adventures as follows. “Long time I fell… Then darkness took me and I strayed out of thought and time… When I came back I had both anterograde and retrograde amnesia. Over time islands appeared in the retrograde amnesia and eventually that amnesia vanished. The anterograde amnesia is still with me.”

Please translate this into simple English. What did Gandalf remember and when? What can he still not remember? Make sure we know that you know what all the terms mean. (10 points).

Gimli remembered that Balrogs generated an electric current sufficient to produce electro convulsive shock (ECS). He asked Gimli if this was true in his confrontation with the Balrog. Gandlaf said that he couldn’t remember but that this was not surprising since ECS tended to disrupt memory of itself.

Pick the most accurate statement: (5 points)

  1. ECS is hard to remember because it is a subliminal stimulus
  2. ECS is hard to remember because it interferes with the consolidation of memory.
  3. ECS is hard to remember because it is an aversive stimulus.
  4. ECS is hard to remember because it produces a state dependent memory
  5. ECS is hard to remember because it looks like EECS

It looks like some of Professor Wolfe’s newer exams are available here. (A few years later, MIT realized what stupid thing they had done and invited him back — as a visiting professor from Harvard; apparently his research was good enough for the Harvard Medical School but not for MIT’s Brain and Cognitive Science Department — to teach 9.00 again.) Does anyone have copies of any of Professor Woolfe’s older exams? In particular, it would be really cool to get my hands on the ones that were based around the Fellowship of the Ring and the Return of the King, just to complete the set.