#2: October 2011 Archives

Why do we sleep?

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Title: Why do we sleep?

The biology of sleep is a fascinating subject. The author of the text starts the discussion of sleep with a fact stating that humans spend as much as 1/3 of their lives sleeping. As we determined in our last discussion section, unfortunately, many college students are deprived of this mysterious, yet wonderful phenomenon. However, do we really understand the long term effects of sleep deprivation? What is the significance of sleep?

We know short term effects include drowsiness, trouble concentrating, and a possibility of increased vulnerability to irritation and frustration. However, are there long term consequences? In the text it states different ideas as to why sleep is so critical. It may be for memory consolidation, important for the immune system, or merely a conservation of energy. Yet, if the purpose of sleep is to help with a basic biological function, why do we dream?

Probably one of the most mysterious yet intriguing topics is dreaming. Why do we remember some and forget others? Do they have meaning in our everyday conscious lives? Is it possible to control our dreams? Or make conclusions from them?

So far, it doesn't seem that any type of dream analysis is commonly accepted by the scientific community. Yet, there is research on dreaming. Research is being more accessible because of technology such as EEG and fMRIs. We are able to determine the electrical activity in the brain and see differences in brain waves. It has been determined that the area of the brain most active during dreaming is also the area that controls emotion. (There are still other areas of the brain associated with dreaming.) Yet, even with today's technology we have much to discover. However, the good news is that today people are less likely to make conclusions similar to ancient societies in which dreams were viewed as prophetic messages.

Animals and time.

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In lecture last week Dr. Gail Peterson showed us a video of a mouse demonstrating instrumental conditioning. This was not the video of Skinners work, but one that compared the mouse's behavior to that of someone gambling at the end of the video. I do not want to talk about the gambling comparison, instead I want to discuss how the mouse reacted when the reward was given due to different circumstances.
In the video the mouse hits the lever, that activates a light and a food piece gets dispensed. The experimenter than changes the rules for the food reward. Now instead of being controlled by the mouse's actions, the food tablet is on a timer of 30 seconds. The mouse is now uncertain why his actions do not lead to the reward of food. He frantically presses on the lever, still illuminating the little light, but no food is dispensed. The experimenter claims that the mouse could just sit back and wait for the reward with no work, but instead he just puts in a lot of work for little reward.
I think there is something else to the mouse not just sitting back for the predetermined time and waiting for food. Animals do not understand the concept of time that humans have made. The little mouse has no clue that if he sits back for 30 seconds another piece of food will come out because it is set on a release timer. Time, like many other things, is human created. Money, time, freedom, art, these are just a few things humans have come up with that animals do not share. The mouse just thinks that he is doing something incorrectly, and that is the reason he is not receiving a reward.
When Skinner demonstrated his experiment on a mouse, the light was separate from the lever. When the light lit up, the mouse was then able to use the lever to activate the food dispenser. If the light was off, the lever had no effect.


I am still trying to find a link to the video that I am talking about. When I have found it I will link it as a comment.

covert-hypnosis.jpg After my senior prom, some friends and I decided to go to the post-prom party that our high school hosted. At this party, there were refreshments, pizza, and many activities, including a hypnotist that came in right before the party ended. In his act, he asked students to perform multiple tasks after putting them into a "deep sleep." Some students obliged and others left the stage for the hypnosis did not work for them. But while watching, I couldn't help but to consider whether this performance put on by this man was actually hypnotization done by a hypnotist or a performance done by a fraud.
There have been many debates over the topic of hypnosis and whether or not hypnotists have the ability to truly hypnotize people. But to truly understand this debate, one must know what hypnosis really is and how it is performed amongst humans. Hypnosis, essentially, is a method of using deep relaxation and focus to communicate with the subconscious part of the human brain. During this relaxed state, a person tends to feel at easy physically but mentally awake and the person is highly susceptible to suggestion. This is where hypnotist comes in to suggest ideas or performances for the person to act on.
But there are two different types of hypnotists; there are stage hypnotists and hypnotherapists. Stage hypnotists focus on stage performances and having people perform odd tasks. This is the type of hypnotist talked about in my opening statement. But there are also hypnotherapists who use hypnosis for therapeutic purposes.
Also to look into this debate further, we must consider the following principal of critical thinking: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Is there actually evidence to support that these participants in hypnotic performances are actually being hypnotized or whether they are simply a performance by both the hypnotist and the participants. It is a very difficult subject to gain evidence on; especially considering evidence to support stage hypnotists true abilities. But there have been a great amount experimental evidence to support the abilities of hypnotherapists and their successes in their patients through therapeutic processes. So next time you are attending a performance done by a stage hypnotist, I would not suggest to fall for his fraud.

http://www.bt.com.bn/health_fitness/2008/01/15/hypnosis_fact_or_fiction
http://ezinearticles.com/?Is-Hypnosis-Fact-or-Fiction&id=510616

Anencephaly

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Today I came across a neurological disorder that I found both interesting and disturbing. The name of this horrifying disease is Anencephaly. It is a cephalic disorder that consists of a defect in the closure of the neural tube during fetal development. It occurs when the head end of the neural tube fails to close, which leaves the fetus with an absence of a large part of the brain, skull, and scalp. They have no forebrain and no cerebrum. What's left of the brain is usually uncovered by skin or scalp. Babies born with this disorder are usually blind, deaf, unable to feel pain, and/or unconscious.
The physical effects of Anencephaly are quite severe and unpleasant. These poor babies have a large part of their brains exposed and large, frog-like, and protruding eyes (as a result of no forebrain).
This disorder effects one in one-thousand pregnancies, and the lifespan on the baby spans from a few hours to a few days, if it survives the womb. In the end, the baby will not survive. It's controversial with many people whether or not people should abort the baby, knowing it has 0% chance of survival. 50% of fetuses with anencephaly are aborted, yet the other half of mothers believe there might be a miracle.
Scientists believe that anencephaly can be contributed to both genetic and environmental factors. It has been confirmed, however, that it can be prevented by folic acid. Drugs that lower the amount of folic acid, such as anti metabolic drugs, lowers this, hence increasing the risk. Anencephaly can also be the cause of high exposure to toxins such as lead, chromium, mercury, and nickle.
Sadly, there are no treatments. It's difficult to think of what parents experience when finding out their bundle-of-joy won't be able to survive, and that they will have to overcome the horrifying experience of losing a child.

"The customer is always right" is by and large the golden rule in the food service industry. But the longer I have worked as a waitress, the more clear it has become to me that customers, whether doing so intentionally or not, find pleasure in having control over servers and often see how much they can get away with. They take advantage of the fact that in general a server must remain respectful if they expect a tip. This is a real life example of operant conditioning. In the Lilienfeld text operant conditioning is defined as learning controlled by the consequences of an organisms behavior. So with money/a tip as a reward, over 4 years I have been shaping my behavior in ways I have found I can get the most money out of people (it sounds greedy, but it is my wage). The difference between waiting tables and the example given in the text of pigeons discerning Monet's from Picasso's paintings is that the pigeons were either right or wrong, with waiting tables there is a large amount of gray area. Some people wish they didn't have to talk to you at all, and others find it disconcerting that the person who is going to bring them their hamburger doesn't want to know their life story. So I have to resort to picking up cues based on my initial impressions of customers and past experience and act accordingly. My acting how I think they want me to is termed in psychology as "demand characteristics" and psychologists constantly try to prevent it with "distractor" tasks or "filler" items. I think customers do the same- many people try to catch me off guard, asking me for a knife and then asking me a personal question. I've also found they will watch me take orders at other tables and watch me interact with my co-workers. Sometimes people will shake their ice in their empty glasses to send me a "discriminative stimulus," I find this incredibly rude and respond not by immediately getting them another drink but walking to their table and insolently asking if they would like a refill. I can be cheeky with this person because I have already judged the probability of them leaving me a good tip as slim using "representativeness heuristic," and I'm not going to waste my time trying to please them when I have 7 other much more pleasant tables. Unlike classical conditioning, where a reward is provided unconditionally, reward in operant conditioning is contingent on the behavior. What makes being a waitress difficult is that desired behavior varies from each table, and you can't always get it right. A story from the radio and TV show "This American Life," investigated a restaurant in one episode that turns the operant organism into the customer- if you want your food and you get out of line the servers will get out of line with you too and you might not get what you paid for. The free for all going on at this place actually becomes pretty frightening-all inhibitions and taboos of how to act in society seem to be forgotten. If you want to see the video it is on youtube and can be found using the keywords "This American Life" and "Wiener Circle," I chose not to post it here because there is extremely inappropriate language and a lot of crude comments- but it shows how really terrifying people can be when they feel like they have no control over a situation.

According to the description and video in the lecture as well as lack of efficient evidence to support the explanation of existence OBD and NDE, more scientist assume that two phenomenon is illusion caused by our sensory mistake.

Current NDE research, as read in the text, are based on description of people who believed that the experienced OBD and NDE, as far as I know, I think it is more like the introspection because it depend heavily on personal description instead of valid and repeatable data base.

In personal opinion, I believe, that OBD and NDE is the illusion caused by overload information from our sensory. It is just a guess inspired by the text. As far as I concern, based on the situation which OBD and NDE phenomenon happened, it might because that under certain situation, especially emergency, our sensory become extremely sensitive which enable us catch even the smallest changes around. Tons of information then pass our nerve system and processed by our brain which may lead some mistakes because of the amount of information needed to be analysis simultaneously.

I personally don't have any experience and have never do any research in the field and the theme This guess needs sufficient evidences to supported because OBE and NDE involves mental activities a lot which is hard to accurately measured even us EEG. If I could conducted a experiments, I would like to inmate the few different situations under which NDE and OBE are mostly occurred and then detected the electronic wave changes in one's brain. Then according to the different reflection areas , we might could figure out whether the brain is actually super "busy" at that time. By analyze the data and MRI graph, more information could be provided and evidence might be founded as well.

Cortex of Consciousness

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Where does consciousness reside in our brains? Well, our brain has over 100 billion nerve cells in the brain. But are all of those cells or just some of the cells used in consciousness? (With consciousness being our subjective experience to the world and ourselves, our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, events, and actions). In a BBC video, "A Secret You", Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy becomes a human guinea pig and subjects himself to a series of experiences to seek when we become aware of ourselves as unique individuals. When de Sautoy went to visit Dr. Stephen Gentleman from Imperial College London, Gentleman explained that consciousness resides in the cortex. The cortex is the outside of the brain and is highly developed. In order for your consciousness to be activated, the feelings need to be put through a relay system. The reticular activating system in the brain begins in the brainstem with reticular activating cells: a group of diffused nerve cells that project into the thalamus and are then spread out into all areas of the cortex. This system activates the cortex and creates consciousness. Consciousness is all about constant activation of the cortex. This is only the anatomy of consciousness. It is valuable, yet, it doesn't tell how or what consciousness is. Although we have the definition of what consciousness is, it is hard to think about. Since it is our thoughts and emotions and everything we do, it is hard to think that it only resides in the cortex. If something happened where our brain got injured our bruised, would our consciousness change? Technically, it would because of what happened to Phineas Gage, when the tamping rod passed through his frontal lobes. His personality completely changed, but does that mean his consciousness changed? Are they the same thing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Biv_8xjj8E&feature=player_embedded#!
12:30 - 15:50 minutes

Unconventional Sleep Diet

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Recently in Reader's Digest, I came across this article about some of the most recent (and craziest) diet fads in the states. Many people are trying to get skinny fast, but some of these ideas were ridiculous and just plain dangerous. They ranged anywhere from the 'baby food diet' where one only eats jars of baby food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to the 'cotton ball diet' in which you consume cotton balls 30 minutes prior to eating, so you eat less because your stomach is already pretty full. It's not even necessary to get into the details of how easily falsifiable these anecdotal diets are- if babies weigh very little, then I'll lose weight? If I fill my stomach with inconsumable cotton balls, therefore I'll be full and eat less? Some research and scientific thinking is required before trying these out. From the diets listed, there was one that I believe had some truth to it. It was called the 'sleep diet' in which you slept right before every meal, so your hunger subsided, because the hypothalamus would not be able to alert your conscious body of hunger. When you woke up, you'd eat less. From there, every time you felt hungry you'd try to sleep and somehow take a nap. sleep.jpg
Every single diet trend in the article was a joke, but I did see an ounce of truth to this one. I do not condone 'sleeping away' your hunger and therefore starving yourself, depriving your body of nutrition, putting your sleep schedule in disarray and missing life. However, aside from their claim that sleeping reduces hunger, (and also the fact that if you don't eat, you will obviously lose weight rapidly and in an unhealthy manner) I came to the conclusion that you might lose weight because sleep also happens to burn a large amount of calories. losing-weight.jpg
An average woman about 5'5" and 130 lbs, who sleeps 8 hours a night, burns about 425 calories, according to the calorie counter on the webMD site: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-fitness-calorie-counter. Based on this, I'd say that the 'sleep diet' has definitely been falsified. An extra two hours of sleep within the day for this average person amounts in an additional 120 calories burned. If they are sleeping an average of eight hours a night, that's 545 calories burned. This diet is neither safe nor healthy, but part of your weight loss aside from under eating and forcing away your hunger, is the additional calorie loss. I hope these diets all remain a joke as the article portrays them, but if not, perhaps the participants will do their research first.

During one of my favorite shows, Criminal Minds, one of the FBI agents, Spencer, tries to remember a crime taking place during his childhood. He has reoccurring dreams about this murder that he may or may not have encountered when he was a young child. To try and get him to remember these vivid dreams, he goes to a hypnotist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-XGNbo-uYA

Hypnosis is a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. So in other words, a person is put under a sleep like sort of state, and this ensures that the mind is relaxed and will respond to commands that the hypnotist says to do. When I first saw this episode of criminal minds, I wanted to know if it was actually possible to recover memories. If that was possible, then why aren't criminal investigators able to do it more often? Mythbusters did an episode to find out if this actually can happen in real life.

Below is a link from a scholarly journal from 1983 that investigates whether or not hypnotics is able to enhance the memory of witnesses.
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/94/3/387.pdf

"Despite the publication of a large number
of case studies in which hypnosis has apparently
been invaluable in the solving of a crime,
experimental attempts to demonstrate improved
memory under hypnosis have thus far
not been successful. It has been suggested that
the failure of laboratory studies to demonstrate
hypnotic memory enhancement may result
from the absence of certain essential features
present in the crime situation, such as meaningful,
dynamic stimulus materials, high emotional
arousal, and the realization that a human
life may depend on what is recalled. Furthermore,
the study of stimulus events in the
crime situation is rarely done intentionally, as
it is in the laboratory. However, several recent
laboratory studies that have attempted to include
these very characteristics nonetheless
persist in failing to demonstrate hypnotic
memory enhancement. One exception worth
pursuing is the suggestion of improved recall
under hypnosis for incidentally learned materials.
What these studies do demonstrate
quite clearly, however, is that when witnesses
are interrogated under hypnosis they are more
suggestible, showing a greater tendency to agree
with the interrogator. Because of this problem,
and an apparent trend for the courts to reject
the testimony of witnesses who have undergone
hypnosis, a search for nonhypnotic procedures
of memory enhancement appears warranted.
Three factors that may be responsible for the
improved memory under hypnosis reported
in so many anecdotes were suggested: (a) encouraging
witnesses to lower their criterion
level during memory retrieval; (b) contextual
reinstatement via a guided memory procedure;
and (c) repeated testing sessions that allow for
the occurrence of experimental hypermnesia.
If witnesses to a crime may be helped to remember
the details of the crime through the
application of these procedures without hypnosis,
the benefits of memory enhancement
could be achieved without the problematic effects
of bias inherent in hypnosis. Future research
to investigate these factors is required."

Woah. So the studies couldn't be taken in for account because they need more research. This needs replicability. I worked in Mythbusters, and in Criminal Minds, however, in an actual research setting, the experiments were not able to provide complete information. So, sorry criminal case solvers, but your job may have just gotten harder.

Stem Cells:

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Among one of the most controversial issues in the science world today is that of stem cell research. A stem cell is "a cell, often originating in embryos, having the capacity to differentiate into a more specialized cell" (Lilienfeld 92). In other words, these cells have the ability to transform themselves into nearly any type of cell in the body, from skin to lung tissue etc.

http://biochem118.stanford.edu/images/Stem%20Cell%20Slides/04%20Pluripotent%20Stem%20Cells.jpg

Furthermore, there are two type of stem cell research used widely today; adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research. The clear difference between these two is that embryonic research requires the manipulation of cells in developing embryos to create different types of cells, while adult stem cells are already developed in each individual's body that can be recreated into other types of cells. The main debate between the two is that embryonic stem cell research is essentially destroying embryos or potential lives to further research, an element that is considered extremely unethical. People not in support of embryonic stem cell research also claim that there have been few if none cases of cures or improvements in patients who use the embryos cells, and instead that embryonic cells can multiply at such an excessive rate that they have tendencies to turn into cancerous tumors. Meanwhile, adult cells do not divide as quickly so they don't cause tumors and the success rate of it is tremendously higher in patients than embryonic. This causes those in opposition to embryonic to also become upset with the fact that a large number of scientists spend their research and experiments on embryonic stem cells which have little or no success while they could instead be using their time and resources to further the success in adult stem cells. Those in favor of embryonic cells say that success is on its way and that in most cases, embryonic cells are being used from eggs in females that would otherwise go unused. In terms of psychology, the issue of stem cells can be applied to the use of using these cells to be recreated into different brain cells that may have been lost or severely damaged from various diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's or even accidents such as a car crash. I found this topic extremely intriguing especially after watching the second video attached below because Dr. Oz claims in this video that cures for diseases such as Parkinson's may be possible within the next ten years, and in being in close relationships in my life with people diagnosed with Parkinson's this cure could be monumental and life-changing. Will this extraordinary feat be made in this decade? We'll have to wait and see.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Axkn8G18t8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDFJOzu9SyM&feature=related
*Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Scott Lilienfeld, etc.

Insomnia

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An estimated 9 to 15 percent of people report severe or longstanding problems with insomnia. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, waking up throughout the night and having trouble going back to sleep,waking up too early and feeling tired upon waking. There are two types of insomnia. The first, priamry insomnia, is in which a persons sleep problems are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem. Secondary insomnia means that a persons sleep problems are due to health conditions such as asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer or heartburn. Also pain, medication, or substance usage(alcohol). Brief insomnia is often due to stress and relationship prblems, medications and illness, long work hours, caffeine or napping during the day. Insomnia can be recurent if we become fristrated or anxious when we cant fall asleep at first. The most recommended treatment for insomnia is regular sleep patterns. Other recommended treatments include hiding clocks, sleeping in a cool room and avoiding caffeine, napping, reading, watching tv or surfing the web before going to sleep. Over the counter sleeping pills have undesired side effects and lose their effectiveness over time. Research has shown that brief psychotherapy is a more effective treatment than sleeping pills. The biggest question that I have about insomnia is how many of the reported cases of insomnia are legitimate, and how many are just people who dont have a regular sleep pattern?

Hypnosis is a set of techniques and suggestions that alter one's perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Today, it is widely used therapeutically, for entertainment, or getting over addictions. There have always been misconceptions of the power of hypnosis and the trance in which the person being hypnotized succumbs to. Chapter 5 of Lilienfeld's text, Consciousness: Expanding the Boundaries of Psychological Inquiry goes into greater details of the myths behind hypnosis on pages 182 and 183. For my senior class party in high school, we invited a hypnotist to come in for part of the night's entertainment. It was definitely funny, but I always wondered what really went on when someone was under the hypnotist's spell. The following Youtube video gives an example of what we experienced at our senior party:

Are they really under a spell? Does the hypnotist have complete control over the person being hypnotized? What does the person being hypnotized feel/experience?

Although hypnosis is still very much used as an alternative way to treat many aspects of mental and physical disorders, most of the results can be disputed by ruling out rival hypotheses. According to our textbook it can be a great tool when used therapeutically depending on how susceptible the person is to suggestiveness, but we also have to rule out the fact that the success of hypnotic treatment could be because of the relaxed state one becomes or the suggestibility of the person being hypnotized. Either way, I think that one of the reasons that hypnosis is a great therapeutic tool is the fact that the mind is very powerful when it truly believes it can fight an addiction or overcome fears. Hypnosis is a good tool to help the person believe that they can achieve their goal of quitting smoking, losing weight, getting over their fear of flying, etc; therefore, enabling itself to overcome obstacles that a negative thinker would otherwise be defeated by.

So can hypnotism scientifically be proven to cure diseases and ailments? No. Can it aid in the recovery of certain mental blocks like addictions and fears? I think there are too many variables to determine what is actually causing its effectiveness, but it doesn't hurt to try. It's the right tool for some people and others, no.

While learning about Pavlov's classical conditioning and his experiments i got interested in looking at related topics. Subliminal perception got my attention. The fact that we can subconsciously pick up messages that are presented all around us and that those affect our behaviors is fascinating. I looked at subliminal messaging in advertising in this video:

Think of all of the ads that we see everyday. Every ad is persuading us somehow if it's by the ad's colors, words, images, music, etc. We hardly notice many of these things, but they do affect us. I always think that ads don't make me want to buy their products, but when i think about it I remember so many logos, slogans, color schemes, and jingles and isn't that the goal of an ad?

Now back to the video. Most of those images and messages were sexual in nature, which says a lot about how we as a population respond to sex appeal. I also use my skepticism to ask-Are these all intentional?
I have no doubt that many are, but our minds, as we've learned, are amazing and can perceive things that aren't really there. I think as humans we look for these things that aren't intentional. However, I do agree that most of these messages are intentional because the ad wants our minds to perceive them even if we don't realize it.

And why not? The products have to be appealing for us to buy into it, and they try to do that any way they can.

Crack is Wack

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Drugs of all kinds, including cocaine, are very often glorified in movies, music, and Hollywood. In college, students are swayed to believe that these four years are meant for experimentation with all sorts of drugs. Many students are influenced to believe that doing drugs makes you "cool", "edgy", and "rebellious". The Lilienfeld text in chapter six called cocaine the most powerful natural stimulant. Even classifying cocaine a stimulant, because it increases activity of the central nervous system, gives it a positive connotation. Cocaine gives users a sense of euphoria, an increase in energy, a decrease in appetite, and a more positive self-image, while they are high off the drug. However, whether snorting, shooting, or smoking cocaine, the effects are detrimental to the brain. If frying eggs and Clint Eastwood cannot convince you to stop using cocaine, then maybe the following information can.
Cocaine prompts neurons to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, which we learned about in chapter three of Lilienfeld text. The drug then prevents the dopamine from being absorbed, prolonging the sensation of euphoria. The high concentration of dopamine affects the user's consciousness as well. The euphoric feeling makes the user not as aware of his surroundings and actions. The high from cocaine can last anywhere from 5-30 minutes, depending on the amount of cocaine used and the way it was injected into the body. However, the brain does eventually absorb the dopamine, leading to an abrupt comedown off the drug, which includes moodiness and restlessness. Users can experience the after effect of cocaine for days where they are highly susceptible to headaches, irritability, and depression. Long-term effects of cocaine are very serious. Memory loss, learning problems, attention deficits, lung problems, and strokes may occur. Last, but certainly not least, there is the high chance of addiction, which can lead to an array of health and personal problems. Cocaine use is very serious and can rarely be handled "recreationally". Since cocaine is a stimulant, many users want to take it over and over again to regain that same euphoric feeling. When they do this, the users usually increase the amount of cocaine, which can lead to an overdose and/or death.
So do not pay attention to movies and music that glorify the euphoric feeling as a result of taking cocaine. The high never lasts as long as the regret and long term negative effects. Remember, hugs not drugs.


http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/1998/03.12/ResearchersSeeH.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voAntzB7EwE&feature=player_embedded

Magicians use the audiences' brains against themselves. It is the error in perception, change blindness, and misconception to fool the brain into piecing together "reality." Magicians will look in one direction, causing the audience to also look away from what is actually happening on stage. When people aren't looking, the "magic" takes place. Magicians will also focus the attention of the audience solely on one area of the trick, thus completely missing what is truly happening. When people focus their attention exclusively on one aspect of life, other events are happening and changing, but people are "blind" to them.

The above link is card trick; however the trick itself is not about the card number or suit. Instead, the real trick is when the magician flips the cards over and the color of the deck changes from the beginning of the trick to the end. Simple trick, right? Did you notice the other changes?

The viewer is so contently focusing on the cards that they will not notice the color change of the shirts, table cloth, or backdrop. When going through the video myself, I fell subject to change blindness. In discussion, we watched a video about change blindness. I thought, "How could someone not notice the man changing?!" And then I failed to notice what I thought previously would be an easy thing to pick up on. It would be a challenge to oneself to attempt to train your brain not to fall victim to change blindness. If one was able to do this, they would most likely be able to understand more magic tricks, and not fall for the deception the magician does throughout their act.

Rosemary Hopcroft, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, has made the claim that "intelligence is negatively associated with sex frequency". Her claim is proven true by the most recent National Survey of Family Growth, in which men with college degrees reported to have had a significantly lower number of sexual partners in the past year than men with only a high school diploma.
A health scientist at the Center for Disease Control, Anjani Sandra, and a professor at UNC, Carolyn Halpern, have both looked into this observation. Halpern's studies have shown that many teenagers with the highest intelligence are also virgins, and she assumes these tendencies carry on into adulthood. She says that the reason for this tendency may be because these teens are aware of the consequences promiscuity might have on their future. Chandra, however, says that while this makes sense for these teens not having sex, it does not account for the fact that the same teens are also less likely to have kissed someone, since kissing would obviously not have a negative effect on their future. Chandra also says this reasoning only makes sense for scholarly teenagers, not intelligent adults who already have jobs and are also having less sex.
In my opinion, it is incredibly hard to make assumptions based on the observation that smarter people have less sex. Halpern may be confusing causation with correlation in that the assumes these individuals are having less sex because they are intelligent, when in fact a third factor could account for both. For instance, it is entirely possible that these people felt pressured my authority figures growing up to do well academically and abstain from having sex, and these tendencies stayed with them through adulthood. It also could be that the more intelligent people spend more time doing other things, such as studying or working, and feel like they have less time for engaging in sexual behavior.
It is also a possibility that in the case of the national survey, men with college degrees were for some reason less likely to admit to having as many sexual partners as men with only high school education, or maybe the men with a high school education lied and said they had more sexual partners than they actually had.

The link to the article can be found here

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Nightmares

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If asked to describe the most frightening nightmare ever experienced, most people would be able to recall it, in detail, and might even get goose bumps. Nightmares are those dreams that bring up our worst fears, most pressing anxieties, and nerve pinching insecurities.
Although we are most likely to be plagued by these bad dreams as children, fifty percent of adults continue to be shaken by an occasional nightmare. Given that the textbook didn't talk much about nightmares I did some research online for some better insight. Nightmares occur most commonly during REM sleep, particularly in the later cycles towards the morning. This explains why it's so easy for people to remember the shaking nightmare that woke them up in the morning, but completely forget about that pleasant dream we had when we first fell asleep.
Although nightmares are often caused by nothing more than our busy minds, I did find some interesting things that trigger bad dreams. These include having a late night snack, certain medications, alcohol withdrawal, sleep deprivation, and certain sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
If you find yourself having more frequent nightmares than normal, have no fear; in my research I found several easy fixes to promote a safe and sound sleep. The website suggests keeping a consistent sleep schedule, exercising regularly, and making your bedroom a tranquil, relaxing place.
This last suggestion made me wonder a little bit about the kind of sleep that college students living in dorms (such as me) are getting. Does sleeping in the room associated with cramming for a stressful exam cause less restful sleep? Does the new environment and drastic change that comes along with starting college cause more nightmares? I've never had serious issues with nightmares, but I hope that the stresses of college do not make me prone to these terrors.

What we actually see

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Inattentional blindness is an extraordinary event where we unconsciously "forget" to pay attention to small details. This often occurs when we are extremely focused on a task or some sort of event that we become blind to the simplest of perceptions available. This concept really strikes me as important because of how we could miss the smallest of things which in turn could wind up affecting us in a much greater way. This video is a great example of this phenomena in progress ( http://youtu.be/Ahg6qcgoay4 ) because unless you have already done it and know about it most will be shocked to find what they missed. There are other examples such as the "Disappearing Card" trick where the user simply swaps every card after asking the subject to focus solely on one, or this video http://youtu.be/vBPG_OBgTWg where the subjects are so determined to help the person in need that they forget about the person themselves. It simply fascinates me that we humans are constantly ruling our events and objects that our sub-conscience declares as unimportant. And I truly begin to wonder, "To what extend will our brain rule our things as unimportant but we the consciously determine important at a later time". I also wonder since Marc Green declares it normal for this action to occur at http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/inattentionalblindness.html, what it takes for the few people that overcome this even feel and observe on a daily basis. Is it a ridiculous overload on information? Or is only linked with disorders such as ADD?

When a researcher thinks about testing their hypotheses they think about how they are going to perform their experiment. They consider what type of experiment to perform, what variables are going to be used, and what exactly is going to be tested. However, if animals or humans are involved in the experiment, the researcher must also be aware of the ethical issues involved.

Things for researchers to consider, but are not limited to, involve: honesty, integrity, objectivity, carefulness, openness, respect for intellectual property, confidentiality, responsible publication, responsible mentoring, respect for colleagues, social responsibility, non-discrimination, competence, legality, and human subjects protection (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences).

The institutional review board (IRB) requires researchers to exercise informed consent, which requires researchers to inform their subjects of what is involved in a study before asking them to participate. The IRB also requires researchers to inform subjects of any form of deception involved in the experiment along with a debriefing of the experiment. It's also notated that any deceit involved in an experiment may not cause the subjects physical pain or emotional distress. (Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding).

A very notable example of the breaches in ethical standards involved in research is the unfortunate occurrence of the Tuskegee study. In this study, African American men who had been diagnosed with syphilis were observed and experimented on in order to find out how syphilis reacted without treatment. However, the men involved in this study were not aware that they had syphilis, were not informed that there were antibiotics available to treat the disease, and were not aware that they were even subjects in an experiment.
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On a lighter note, here's a cartoon of a more humorous incident.
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Are We Really A Blank Slate?

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Are we born pre-programmed or are do we start as a blank slate? This is the question that Steven Pinker looks at in his book "The Blank Slate". The Blank Slate theory of Pinker's states that the human mind is an empty vessel with nothing in it but a few basic instincts at birth.
This simplification of the mind has raised a lot of controversy over the years. The idea of the blank slate went against the age old theory of divine right of the king or that people are inherently better than other people. Pinker argues that a person's mind and demeanor are shaped by their environment and experiences rather than a pre-programmed mind. This idea of Pinker's can apply to anything from violent tendencies to the level of intelligence in a person.
There are a lot of people that argue against Pinker's theory of the Blank Slate, saying that much of the processes in the mind are hereditary and unchangeable. This way of thinking has been studied for many years in twin studies. The twin studies can be used for many different things from intelligence studies to behavioral studies, but the ultimate goal of these is to find out whether the differences are caused by the environment or inherited at berth.
With no clear cut answer in the field of psychology, the answer to are we a blank slate may never be answered. So this I leave up to you, are we inherently different or is it the world around us that makes who we are?

http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ff0616S.pdf

On May, 23 1987, Kenneth Parks, a twenty-three year old man with a wife and an infant daughter, drove 10 miles to his in-laws house and killed his mother-in-law as well as injuring his father-in-law. In court he was found NOT GUILTY of murder because he was "unaware of his actions" due to sleepwalking. Now this seems ridiculous. How can someone walk out of their house, drive a car 10 miles, and kill someone?


http://www.oddee.com/_media/imgs/articles2/a96680_a448_killedinlaws.jpg

Usually when people sleepwalk, they do not engage in any other actions other than walking. When someone is sleepwalking, it usually looks like they are walking normally (maybe a little more clumsily). So for someone to drive a car and commit murder is something extremely uncommon. But with 6 billion people in the world and with 4 to 5% of adults and up to 30% of children having experienced sleepwalking, there are some cases of "extreme sleepwalking."

One man is able to create beautiful artwork (but only when he's sleepwalking.) One women has sex with strangers in her "sleep". People have sleepwalked out of their bedroom windows. This website has more examples of extreme sleepwalking. http://www.oddee.com/item_96680.aspx

Sleepwalking occurs in the non-REM stages of sleep. Usually in stages 3 and 4 (the deepest stages of sleep.) Sleepwalking is a real thing and occurs naturally. It even occurs with animals. My dog run while he is sleeping, and here is a funny video of a sleepwalking dog.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2BgjH_CtIA

Whether you believe that a man could really drive a car and kill someone while still being asleep, or believe that there must be other motives, you cannot deny that sleepwalking is a real, psychological phenomenon.

Self Awareness

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In the BBC video, one of the scientific experiments in the beginning is trying to find out when human beings become aware of themselves: the mirror self recognition test. At first as you can see, there was an eighteen month old tested in front of a mirror to see if he can realize that it is himself in the mirror and notice the mark put on his face. The experimenter, a professor from Portsmith University, and Marcus de Sautoy came to the conclusion that the child did not have a sense of self because he didn't move his hand up to touch the mark placed on his face. The next participant was a twenty-two month old girl. When her mother put the little mark on her cheek and she looked into the mirror, she immediately put her hand up to her face and tried to remove the dot. The experimenter stated that "she(the child) recognized that the person she feels in her body is the same as that visual image." They concluded from replicable data that between the age of eighteen months and twenty-four months that we become self aware. Chimpanzees and Orangutans were also shown to be aware of themselves in the mirror test. It is incredible that we have this way of knowing who we are and being aware of our surroundings and everything that makes up our lives.
In a piece by P. Rochat, Conciousness and Cognition, the five levels of awareness are being described in accordance with the mirror test.
Level 0: Confusion
At this degree of self awareness, the individual is oblivious to any mirror reflection and perceives the image in the mirror as an extension of the world.
Level 1: Differentiation
At this level, the individual notices that there is a perfect contingency between what is being seen in the mirror and felt movements.
Level 2: Situation
The individual goes beyond the awareness of matched surface characteristics of seen
and felt movements. They explore the image being seen on the mirror and they know that it is unique to the self.
Level 3: Identification
In this level, the individuals understand that what is in the mirror is themselves. This is expressed when children refer explicitly to the self while exploring their own specular image. The behavior depicted in the video when the little girl went to pick the spot off from her face is considered by developmental psychologists as the "index of an emerging conceptual self."
Level 4: Permanence
The individual can identify themselves in pictures and movies taken at different times in their lives and in different locations. A permanent self is expressed.
Level 5: Self-Consciousness or Self- Awareness
Individuals are not only aware of what they are but how they are in the mind of others. This results in self conscious emotions.

http://www.psychology.emory.edu/cognition/rochat/lab/5%20levels%20of%20self-awareness.pdf

We can recognize a friend instantly, from any view. We can distinguish millions of shades of color, and over 10'000 smells. We can feel the cool breeze rush over our skin, or hear the leaves rustle in the distance. It seems so effortless; we just open our eyes and ears and let the world stream in.

Yet everything we sense requires billions of nerves cells to flash instant messages along cross-linked pathways in our brains. Performing intricate calculations that scientists have only begun to decipher.

Anthony Movshon, an investigator at New York University stated, "You can think of the sensory system as a bunch of little scientists. They make hypothesis about the world." The brain makes an educated guess about the information on hand and some simple assumptions.

The illusions in this video demonstrate how our brain is making these assumptions. Initially looking at most them one is asking how that is done.
Such as the Revolving Teeth, our brain perceives them to be different sizes. But as the guy in the video show upon rotating them in the same directions they will cover one another up. They are the same size but by setting them at a different depth our brain perceives one (the top) to be of a different size.
Another one that shows our brain making simple assumptions is the checkerboard wall. As it is move we assume that ever other row starts off small on one side and grows as it goes to the other. When in all actuality they are the same size.
In the end the brain is a magnificent vessel. It can do so many incredible and complex things, yet it can get fooled by the simplest of illusion.

We can recognize a friend instantly, from any view. We can distinguish millions of shades of color, and over 10'000 smells. We can feel the cool breeze rush over our skin, or hear the leaves rustle in the distance. It seems so effortless; we just open our eyes and ears and let the world stream in.

Yet everything we sense requires billions of nerves cells to flash instant messages along cross-linked pathways in our brains. Performing intricate calculations that scientists have only begun to decipher.

Anthony Movshon, an investigator at New York University stated, "You can think of the sensory system as a bunch of little scientists. They make hypothesis about the world." The brain makes an educated guess about the information on hand and some simple assumptions.

The illusions in this video demonstrate how our brain is making these assumptions. Initially looking at most them one is asking how that is done.
Such as the Revolving Teeth, our brain perceives them to be different sizes. But as the guy in the video show upon rotating them in the same directions they will cover one another up. They are the same size but by setting them at a different depth our brain perceives one (the top) to be of a different size.
Another one that shows our brain making simple assumptions is the checkerboard wall. As it is move we assume that ever other row starts off small on one side and grows as it goes to the other. When in all actuality they are the same size.
In the end the brain is a magnificent vessel. It can do so many incredible and complex things, yet it can get fooled by the simplest of illusion.

Not Just Your Imagination

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How do we recognize the present, without confusion from the past? Our visual perceptions of the world each day are composed of both unconscious inferences from sensory information, as well as knowledge we have gained from past experiences in life. When first encountering a situation or new information, our brain forms a sort of predictive hypothesis or relies on our most 'immediate reality' to understand visual perceptions. (Gregory) When our brain is relying on our most immediate reality, it is filling in the gaps to complete the full picture of what we are visually perceiving.
As an interior design major, I find perceptions and illusions an intriguing and important way to create stimulating yet safe environments for users. Designers can use simple methods to alter our perception of interior spaces. Things like color, lighting, interior element placement, integrated (horizontal or vertical) lines and even mirrors can have a huge impact on the size, proportion and mood of a space.
Color can have a huge impact on a space and has the ability to change a space in all three dimensions. Colors can make a space seem smaller or larger, higher or lower, or even make you see something that isn't really there (filling in the gaps). Color can also effect the mood of a user. Brighter bold colors like orange and red are stimulating and can promote action or stress from over-stimulation, while lighter, less saturated colors are calming and can relieve stress.

Unconventional Sleep Diet

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Recently in Reader's Digest, I came across this article about some of the most recent (and craziest) diet fads in the states. Everyone is trying to get skinny fast, but some of these ideas were ridiculous and just plain dangerous. They ranged anywhere from the 'baby food diet' where one only eats jars of baby food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to the 'cotton ball diet' in which you consume cotton balls 30 minutes prior to eating, so you eat less because your stomach is already pretty full. It's not even necessary to get into the details of how easily falsifiable these anecdotal diets are- if babies weigh very little, then I'll lose weight? If I fill my stomach with inconsumable cotton balls, therefore I'll be full and eat less? Some research and scientific thinking is required before trying these out. From the diets listed, there was one that I believe had some truth to it. It was called the 'sleep diet' in which you slept right before every meal, so your hunger subsided, because the hypothalamus would not be able to alert your conscious body of hunger. When you woke up, you'd eat less. From there, every time you felt hungry you'd try to sleep and somehow take a nap. Every single diet trend in the article was a joke, but I did see an ounce of truth to this one. I do not condone 'sleeping away' your hunger and therefore starving yourself, depriving your body of nutrition, putting your sleep schedule in disarray and missing life. However, aside from their claim that sleeping reduces hunger, (and also the fact that if you don't eat, you will obviously lose weight rapidly and in an unhealthy manner) I came to the conclusion that you might lose weight because sleep also happens to burn a large amount of calories. An average woman about 5'5" and 130 lbs, who sleeps 8 hours a night, burns about 425 calories, according to the calorie counter on the webMD site: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-fitness-calorie-counter. Based on this, I'd say that the 'sleep diet' has definitely been falsified. An extra two hours of sleep within the day for this average person amounts in an additional 120 calories burned. If they are sleeping an average of eight hours a night, that's 545 calories burned. This diet is neither safe nor healthy, but part of your weight loss aside from under eating and forcing away your hunger, is the additional calorie loss. I hope these diets all remain a joke as the article portrays them, but if not, perhaps the participants will do their research first.

Speed-Reading

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As college students, we are all used to individuals interrupting our busy, college lives by standing on our busy, college sidewalks and trying to peddle some crap (with the exception of free food) that busy, college kids don't need. After hypothetically attending Psych lecture last week, I received the following flyer: View image, View image

I was surprised that the University, especially the Psychology Department, would allow such a seminar to take place Coffman. Speed-reading does work, in the sense of being able to read a page of text in two mintues rather than three. The error in critical thinking is that correlation isn't caustion. People assume that reading speed ultimately means reading comprehension, but in fact, studies have shown that reading faster than 400 words a minute reduces the rate of comprehension by less than 50%. Techniques such as skimming, as know as not reading everything, allow you to read massive amounts of text in record time, but significantly hurt the amount of that text you actually understand. In this case, being an average college student (reading 200-300 words per minute) is perfectly acceptable.

I hope your Wednesday and Thursday was better spent, say by game-planning (not to be confused with pre-gaming) for the Zombie Pub Crawl.


The key to consciousness

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Consciousness is the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings but can you still have a sense of consciousness while sleeping that tells us about our sense of self? The simple answer is no. The essence of consciousness is integration; the ability of our brain to jump communication pathways and share information with other parts of the brain.

While you are awake and conscious your brain has the ability to utilize integration. This is shown in the BBC Horizon: The Secret You video. In this video they conduct an experiment where they shock one part of the participants brain and watch the areas of the brain that light up with activity. In the awake brain you see that the initial area where the shock was given is the first spot to light up but from there the lighted areas jump to many different parts of the brain. This is because while the brain is in a conscious state it can use interact in a network and interconnect between different elements of the brain.

However, while you are asleep your brain is still function just not at a conscious state. In the experiment when the shock is given the initial site of the shock is lit up but that is the only area. There is brain activity but it stays localized. They describe it by saying the modules are active and reactive but stay isolated. While you are sleeping the communication channels in your brain shuts down for a while.

This study helps prove that the essence of consciousness is in fact the integration that takes place. To have a conscious awareness your brain needs to be able to talk to different parts to process information and make connections.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Biv_8xjj8E

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The Journal of Family Communication published an article concerning a study done at the University of Michigan on anger suppression and life span. This was a longitudinal study done over a 17 year period including 192 couples. Each couple was placed in one of four groups: both partners communicated their anger; one expressed while the other suppressed (and vice versa); and both suppressed their anger. The findings suggest that those who suppress their anger have a shorter life span than those who express their anger. The results of the study are as follows:

"Preliminary analysis shows that there had been 13 deaths among the group of 26 couples in which both suppressed their anger (one partner in 27 per cent and both in 23 per cent). There had been 41 deaths among the remaining 166 couples (one partner in 19 per cent and both in 6 per cent). Researchers adjusted for age, smoking, weight, blood pressure, bronchial problems, breathing, and cardiovascular risk. They are currently collecting 30-year follow-up data."

This claim is extraordinary! But, is the evidence just as extraordinary? The study included 192 couples but only 26 of them were placed in the group in which both suppressed their anger. In order for the results to be more representative of each category, each group should have had close to 48 couples (one-fourth of 192). Forty-one other deaths were recorded from the study. Although it is not listed as to which groups had a certain number of deaths, one-third of 41 is 13.67. This suggests that while the group in which each couple suppressed their anger may have had the most deaths and the highest percentage of deaths, in comparison to the other groups the data is not so impressive.

There are many factors that cause death. The suppression of anger would lead to a heightened stress level which would cause adverse health effects but cannot explain alone the cause of death. Were there any car accidents, severe illnesses, old age etc. that led to the death of anyone participating in this study? There may be many other causes unrelated to the suppression and/or expression of anger that would explain these deaths.
http://www.psyarticles.com/inter-personal/couples-fight.htm

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"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..." --Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (AKA Title IX)
In 2006 the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, or as it is more commonly known by, Title IX, was amended to more easily allow public gender separated classrooms and schools. Recently, there has been growing resurgence of classrooms and schools being single sex. Professionals and political groups lie on both sides of this highly debated resurgence. Each side demonstrates strong reasons either for single-sex education or co-education, however the studies conducted in this field of education are not very convincing for either side.
Advocates of single-sex education display that gender separated education allows gender specific teaching, like providing the extra moral encouragement needed to ensure girls learn math at the same rate as boys. Gender segregated education also capitalizes on brain and developmental differences between genders, such as the more rapid development of the occipital lobe and language areas of the brain in girls. Single-sex education advocates also point to studies which show that gender separated schools lessen gender roles, as boys in single-sex schools are more likely to be involved in nontraditional gender role activities. Finally, proponents argue that single-sex education removes the complications that typically arise between members of the opposite sex during this time, such as the desire to impress the other gender.
Co-education proponents point to studies that have shown that single-sex education leads to greater gender discrimination in students as differences in boys and girls are exaggerated; for instance when boys are taught using techniques that encourage aggressiveness while girls are taught using techniques which promote passivity. Advocates also list studies that show that coeducation reduces gender roles by encouraging more blending between genders. Proponents claim that co-education teaches students how to interact with the opposite sex, an important skill for later life that single-sex education does not develop. Advocates of co-education also prove that separate resources for girls and boys are rarely equal, an observation that was also proven in other circumstances.
The Department of Education has not moved to all single-sex education but is letting it become more popular because there is little evidence for which works better. The primary fault of studies on gender separated classrooms and co-education is that variables are not held constant in studies. For instance, when schools switch from co-educational to gender separated, they often change many other teaching approaches at the same time. Another way in which variables are not held constant is that most studies of single-sex education occur in private schools, which already have an advantage over public schools in resources. However, both sides of the debate agree that education is not one size fits all and each child requires unique attention. This error in the scientific method of the studies conducted in this field of education must be corrected before any further decisions can be made regarding this aspect of schooling.

Musical Memory

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While going through the expanses of my iPod I will often stumble upon a song that will trigger a memory from years ago in vivid detail and leave me wondering why music couldn't trigger answers to test questions when I start singing it in my head. With music possessing such a powerful ability, it made me wonder how exactly this process occurs within the brain and whether or not a specific part had control over this odd "musical memory".

In class the topic of brain stimulation causing projections of vivid images came up. These projections have not been proven to be more than fantasies made up by the brain, which leaves them essentially useless in any practical sense. Music, on the other hand, has been proven to help the regaining of memory by those affected by brain injuries that inhibit recollection of memories. Often researchers have found that a simple verse from a familiar song will cause subjects to remember things that they previously thought they would never remember again. It is also used with those who have had damage to the part of brain that allows speech, by playing a melody and allowing victims to fill in the verses. With such an amazing ability to rehabilitate I immediately expected there to be some area of the brain completely dedicated to music. I was wrong, for just as memory does not seem to have one specific area of the brain it resides in, neither does music.

With music being something exclusive to humans, it would make sense that we would have some part of the brain that was unique to our species. It would also explain how some people, such as those affected by autism, sometimes have an unnatural talent for music while others are musically inept. Yet with this complex process requiring multiple areas of the brain and still not being completely understood, testing the applications of music and its rehabilitation powers still fall into the hands of those conducting the experiments.


The article can be found here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,46157,00.html

Narcolepsy

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Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder often identified by an excessive urge to sleep at inconvenient and inappropriate times. Work, school, while showering, and while driving are just a few examples of when this disease can click in and begin to affect the victim's life in a negative way (and others' lifes too). Not only can it be embarrassing for this to happen in the first place, but it often makes it even harder for the individual when the sleep lasts more than a couple seconds. Narcolepsy has been known to make the victim fall asleep for a few seconds, a few minutes, or even a few hours at a time.

While being affected by this disorder, one will often experience something called cataplexy which causes complete and total loss of muscle tone (causing them to fall to the ground). This is most common to happen for people with Narcolepsy when engaging in activities that cause strong emotions to emerge such as laughing or engaging in sexual intercourse. Cataplexy is a daily occurrence to most people on a daily basis while in REM sleep, however in those cases the person being affected is unconscious and also laying down for support, preventing them from falling to the ground. When a Narcoleptic patient is affected by cataplexy they often fall into REM sleep immediately.

Some of the common causes of Narcolepsy are genetic abnormalities, or a severe accident of some sort that results in brain damage. Within the brain there are certain cells that create a hormone called orexin, which is one of the main triggers for the sudden sleepiness. People affected by Narcolepsy are often treated with medications that either replace this hormone or mimic it in some way that has equal results that minimize the amounts of sleep attacks throughout daily life. These medications help victims live mostly normal lives again, resulting is happier patients overall.

Link to view the effects of Narcolepsy in a puppy:
http://youtu.be/wN1_yS6_5T4

Samantha Wojta

Sleepwalking

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Sleepwalking is the act of walking while one is fully asleep. Some sleepwalkers have been know to drive cars, turn on computers, or even have sexual intercourse, according to our text, From Inquiry to Understanding. Sleepwalking can be a very scary phenomenon when it occurs to you. One evening I slept walked. I was in the town of Chatfield sleeping over a friend's house. I remember going to sleep on the couch. The next thing that I remember is waking up because I stubbed my toe. I was very confused as to how I ended up walking barefoot around town. I was very confused and it took me some time to piece together the puzzle. As scared and estranged that I was to my situation, I was very happy that I at least had clothes on. Till today my mother worries me to not sleep naked. Just in case I have another sleeping promenade! Little is known as to why we sleepwalk. Strangely, sleepwalking normally doesn't occur throughout the REM sleep. REM, stands for Rapid Eye Movement. REM sleep is a period of time when the brain is most active while sleeping. Throughout the REM period it is almost as if we are awake. Logically, we could draw the conclusion that people sleep walk during REM sleep because of the fact that they are so active, almost awake. This is an incorrect assumption. Our text explains that "Contrary to popular misconception, sleepwalkers aren't acting out their dream, because sleepwalking almost always occurs during non REM (especially stage 3 o4 4) sleep. Sleepwalking is also know as Somnambulism, a subject of study that in our time may become less of a mystery.

Lilienfeld gave us a lot of good information about marijuana on pages 193-194, but after reading this section I asked myself "How exactly does marijuana work?" I turned to the Internet, and this is what I found.
Most of us are aware that the main chemical found in marijuana that affects users is called THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). THC mimics the effects of anandamide, a neurotransmitter found naturally in our brains, by binding to the cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoid receptors are vast in the hippocampus, cerebellum, basal ganglia, and the hypothalamus. As we have learned in previous chapters the hippocampus is responsible for memory, the cerebellum is responsible for balance control and coordinated movements, the basal ganglia is responsible for movement control, and the hypothalamus is responsible for motivation, emotion, and hunger regulation. Within seconds of inhaling THC, it has reached the brain and begins to attack these areas. This is why users have a hard time remembering things, controlling their emotions, and controlling their appetite.

Consciousness

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Consciousness is the awareness of our selves being exist, which is our subjective experience of the world and ourselves. But the important question is what is consciousness exactly? Is it fire power of the neurons? Is it the reaction of the chemicals? Or is it god? We can't measure the consciousness , but we can tell our existence by feeling and react with the world around us. The feedback from the outside world is the reflection of our consciousness. But What is exactly is it? We are nothing but trillions of atoms piled up items in this world, which is no difference than a rock. However, it is consciousness makes us feel our existence and feel our value. But that value is nothing and that existence is nothing. Because those are just different chemicals react with each other in our brain. And the sequence and patterns of those reactions is our awareness and our consciousness. Maybe that 's the reason why when we compare to each other we think we are so much powerful and yet when looking into the real world just feel so small and powerless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyKDHIFXeVA

Remembering Dreams

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I rarely remember my dreams when I wake up in the morning, and I have always wondered why this was so. I heard a while back that REM sleep had a lot to do with dreaming. Most nights I usually wake up 4-6 times a night for short periods of time. I always thought that I was waking up right before REM sleep and that's why I wasn't dreaming. After reading the Stage 5: REM Sleep and Dreams section in chapter five in the Lilienfeld text, I found out a little more about my predicament.

According to the Lilienfeld text, REM Sleep is the stage of sleep during which the brain is most active and during which vivid dreaming most often occurs. In a study where rats were deprived of REM sleep, the rats ended up dying within a few weeks. So my hypothesis already seems bogus because if I were actually being deprived of REM sleep I would eventually die. In the textbook, Lilienfeld talks about REM Rebound: when humans are deprived of REM sleep, the amount and intensity of REM sleep increases. When we have REM rebound, our dreams are very intense and vivid. So there is this natural response to REM deprivation that causes us to have even more vivid dreams. These REM rebounds are associated with great nights of sleep and I have had these, but I usually don't remember my dreams.

In the text it says, a lot of people say they never dream. The text also says that when someone is woken up out of REM sleep, most of them report having vivid dreams. Maybe I don't wake up that often when I am in REM sleep. So I do not remember dreaming. In the text, there is a statistic that says that "children under the age of seven or eight recall dreaming on only 20-30% of occasions when awakened from REM sleep compared with 80 to 90 percent of adults. So this probably shows that I usually don't awaken during REM sleep, so I don't remember dreams I was just having.

In the early twentieth century a school of thought arose in Germany that explored how people organize visual information into patterns and forms. This school of thought was known as Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychologists described several principles people use to make sense of what they see. These principles include figure and ground, proximity, closure, similarity, continuity, and simplicity.

Today, companies have mastered these principles and heavily incorporate them into their advertising. Gestalt principles keep the logos interesting and tend to catch peoples attention. Many of the logos and ads you see everyday consist at least one of the Gestalt principles. I will explore many of the principles and find real life examples of advertising applications that apply to each.

Figure and Ground: People often divide visual information into figure and ground. Figure is what stands out, while ground is the background. This effect is used in one of the Macintosh logos. As you see below, the logo can be viewed as a regular happy face and as a happy face in profile looking at a computer screen.

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Proximity: When people see objects that lie close together, they often perceive the objects as a group. In 2002 the MTV European Music Awards used an ad that demonstrated the law of proximity. We perceive the two logos in the top left as a group and the logos of the sponsors in the bottom right as a group. The white space and the proximity of the logos indicate that the logos are meant to be groups, without MTV needing to identify it.

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Closure: People tend to complete objects that are in fact incomplete by filling in gaps. The IBM logo is actually only blue lines of different length, but we perceive the letters I, B, and M.

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Similarity: People tend to group similar objects together. The company Lega-Lega used this principle in their website design. They use the orange color for all the icons at the top right of the webpage so that people group the icons together.

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Symmetry: When we perceive objects we tend to perceive them as symmetrical shapes that form around their center. When we see two unconnected objects that are symmetrical, we unconsciously see them as one object. Since the U's are symmetrical to one another, we automatically group each U with the one it is next to, leaving us with four objects rather than eight.

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When We Know Who We Are

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After watching the BBC Horizon: The Secret You, I was better able to understand when we become aware as we are as ourselves. Marcus was trying to recall the point where he became conscious, but was not able to do so. He then was able to recall when he realized that his son became self aware, which happened at around 18 months. The most common test for self awareness is the mirror self recognition test. In this test a toddler will be put in front of a mirror. They will first be given the chance to see their reflection and become familiar with it. Their parents would then pretend to wipe their nose and while doing so place a sticker on the toddler's cheek with out them knowing. The test is then to see whether the toddler will recognize that they have a sticker on their cheek. The signs of recognition are if the toddlers attempt to remove the mark. If they do, this shows that they realize that it is them who they see in the mirror. These are the first signs of self recognition. This usually happens between the ages of 18-24 months. After this realization, Marcus began to question whether animals could recognize self, or even a single cell. After research we have been able to conclude that those who are members of the Great Apes family (Humans, Chimpanzees and Orangutans) are able to recognize themselves. He puts it as "we engage in a mental time travel."

I find self awareness to be very interesting, but also very tricky. Even today when I look in the mirror, I can recognize myself, but I feel I look different every time I look. It makes me realize that our subconscious mind is very complex and hard to understand. I think it is very worthwhile and interesting to study further on the interworking of our consciousness.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I face a major problem every time I sit down at a computer. When I go to Google, with the full intention of doing something productive, I unconsciously begin to type "f-a-c-e-b..." oh wait, that's not what I wanted to do right now. I wanted to do something important, like research for a class. Not go on Facebook.

A lot of people now just naturally go onto facebook.com without even realizing their doing it. The unconscious mind notices habits and looks to continue them because it feels natural. To sit down at a computer, open up the Internet browser, and immediately go to Facebook has become second nature to many people around the world.

Looking more into the phenomena could be extremely useful. If we could understand why the mind attempts to repeat habits over and over, we may be better be able to understand why habits are so hard to break. Possibly habits go down to the deepest sections of the brain: the unconscious. We also may be better able to understand how mental addictions work and why the mind desires to continue these addictions or trends. Or maybe it's as simple that using Facebook is just an addiction.

Perhaps the greatest question of all is: Why does the brain unconsciously do something like return to Facebook when it knows the body has more important things to be doing. It's as if our unconscious intentionally wastes time by automatically performing actions that will waste time. We may one day be able to answer these questions and better understand why the brain appears to have a desire to waste time.
Speaking of which, I had Facebook open for the entire duration of writing this blog post.

REM Sleep

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1) Identify one important concept, research finding, theory or idea from Psy 1001 lectures or the Lilienfeld text from the past two weeks (Sensation & Perception and Consciousness.) Summarize the concept in your own words and explain why you believe this concept research finding, theory or idea is important. Apply this to some aspect of your life (real life example are an excellent way to learn. Photos, You-tube videos, etc. are encouraged.) As you reflect on this concept, research finding, theory or other idea, what other questions occur to you? What are you still wondering about?

REM sleep is the 5th stage in the sleep cycle and it is when the brain is most active and the most vivid dreaming occurs. Each night a person spends about an hour in REM sleep.

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I think REM sleep is important because our bodies physically need it. It is also interesting because it is such a strange thing. Why does REM sleep happen? Why do our brains get so excited and why are are dream more vivid? What is the point of REM sleep? I can apply the finding of REM sleep to my life by making sure I get it every night. It is important to be well rested to live healthfully. REM sleep is considered to be biologically important, and most likely essential. When people don't get enough REM sleep their bodies rebound, and the amount and intensity of REM sleep increases. I know when I don't get enough sleep I feel terrible the next day and cannot concentrate on anything. I think it's important for me and others my age to go through the entire sleep cycle which allows good REM sleep to happen.

I wonder why REM sleep happens? What is the reason our bodies do it? Why do we dream more vividly in REM sleep? Why do some people get more REM sleep than others?

#2 Hypnosis

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At my high school senior lock in, a hypnotist performed in front of us and used our own classmates as test subjects. Some responded well and others did not; all in all it was quite entertaining and proved to be what I expected of hypnosis. Hypnosis has always peaked my interest, although I've never known that much about it until I had read the psychology book. It is defined as a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. An induction method is used to increase people's suggestibility, which often includes suggestions for relaxation and calmness.

Prior to reading the text, I had believed in nearly all of the myths that I read about in the book. These are all preconceived notions that popular culture has taught us about hypnosis, yet all are untrue. I learned that hypnosis does not in fact produce a trance state in which "amazing" things happen. It all depends on how suggestive the subject is. Hypnotic phenomena are not unique. The same tricks we see in hypnosis shows can be replicated without hypnosis. Hypnosis is nothing like a sleeplike state. People who are hypnotized don't show brain waves similar to those of sleep. Hypnotized people are aware of their surroundings. Contrary to the popular idea that hypnotized people are so entranced that they forget about their surroundings, some people can recall whole telephone conversations they overheard while hypnotized.

While hypnosis shows may be more entertaining when you believe in the myths surrounding hypnosis, it is still just as interesting after learning more about it. Its wide range of clinical applications also make it worth researching more.

http://www.deeptrancenow.com/myths.htm

Hypnosis Simply a Hoax?

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Growing up in America, many of us have heard of the crazy "phenomena" of Hypnosis. If not, check out this video clip: http://youtu.be/jGlYg2UENQI Hypnosis is a "set of techniques that provides people suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors". Hypnosis is especially prevalent in Hollywood movies and during big events. If you have ever seen someone get "hypnotized" you may have been instantly amazed! However, have you ever stopped to think about exactly how hypnosis works? Can it really make people unconsciously quack like a duck or completely change personalities? The following ideas may change your perception on hypnosis and challenge your beliefs about it.

Last year I went to the "Senior All-Night Party" at my high school. One event of the night included a hypnotist that called up 20 of my classmates and proceeded to "make" them do CRAZY things like driving fake cars, singing popular songs, and literally crying over the fact that their kitten had just died (there were no real kittens, apparently the hypnotist imposed these feelings on the students). This whole act was very skeptical and did not seem real.

Looking farther into hypnosis I found out that hypnotists actually choose their participants based on their personality features. Some people respond to waking imaginative suggestions. These are highly correlated with response to hypnotic suggestions. So, hypnotists choose people because they will more easily obey what they say. Does this suggest hypnotism really works, or is it just tricks that work with certain people? Many people think that people that are hypnotized are completely unconscious and unaware of their surroundings. However, people that are hypnotized are actually hyper-attentive and can later completely recall things that happened when they are in a "trance". This makes me think that people convince themselves into entering a hypnotized state. Both of these things lead me to believe that the students at our All-Night Party were simply faking their unconscious state while being hypnotized. Although it would take extensive research and countless numbers of studies to show the true effect of hypnosis, as of now, hypnosis simply seems like a hoax.

Sources: http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/extrasensory-perceptions/hypnosis.htm
Psychology 1001 From Inquiry to Understanding, Scott Lilienfeld

I would have never classified myself as having a sleeping problem, that is until I read chapter 5 of our Lilienfled textbook and discovered that Insomnia can take multiple forms including: Having trouble falling asleep, Waking up too early in the morning and waking up during the night and having trouble falling back to sleep. Scared that I fell into all 3 of these categories of Insomnia I did some more research on Insomnia in the adult population and discovered that most adults have experienced Insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives, an estimated 30-50% of the general population are affected by Insomnia (Wow! that's half), and about 10% affected by Chronic Insomnia. I went on learning that Insomnia is also classified by the duration of the problem, and not everyone agrees on the definition. I would also have to agree with this statement seeing as there have been times in my life, particularly the stressful periods were I did experience all the symptoms listed for Insomnia. I do love my sleep and didn't think that I had a sleeping disorder so I blamed it on stress which was altering my sleeping patterns. This brought rise to my next question, can stress cause Insomnia?
Researching a bit further I discovered that Insomnia affects woman more so than men and that the incidence tends to increase with age. It is typically more common in people in lower socioeconomic groups, chronic alcoholics and mental health patients. Stress most commonly triggers short term and acute Insomnia, and if not treated or address can turn into Chronic Insomnia. Although stress and Insomnia seem to have a real strong correlation, I don't believe there is enough statistical evidence to actually prove the causation of Insomnia due to stress, many other factors can contribute to irregular sleeping patterns, whether it is stress or simply what you ate right before you went to bed. So is it accurate to diagnose someone with Insomnia because they've had a couple of rough nights of sleep? I don't believe so, however symptoms lasting for less than one week would be diagnosed and defined as Transient Insomnia, symptoms lasting anywhere between one to three weeks would be diagnosed as Short-Term Insomnia and anything longer than that would be considered Chronic Insomnia.
They did come out with a new drug that is supposed to help those experiencing all the above categories of Insomnia, but is more geared towards people who are suffering from Transient or Short-Term Insomnia. I have added the link below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqN49Dy7Mgw

One concept we have been learning about that i find interesting is the how our brain interprets what our eyes sense. When we see things, we aren't seeing the actual image, our eyes pick up light bouncing off objects and convert it to electrical signals. These signals then go to our brain which concocts an image of what it believes we were seeing. Our brain is fooled in this way all the time. An example is when you look at a painting of a landscape. The painter purposefully makes objects smaller to give them the illusion of being farther back than other objects in the painting. This simple technique almost completely tricks your brain giving the painting the illusion of having real depth. Below are some examples of different illusions that confuse your brain's perceptions of what it is seeing. http://historygroupnine.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/paintings-by-gustave-caillebotte-2.jpg
http://www.moillusions.com/

The article "Teenage Mind: First Time Evidence Links Over Interpretation of Social Situations to Personality Disorder" published by Science Daily discusses a relationship between borderline personality disorder traits and hypermentalizing in adolescents. This is an example of behaviorism the school of psychology that focuses on uncovering the general laws of learning by looking at observable traits. The goal of the study was to answer: "why does someone with borderline personality disorder do certain things" for example why they might key a car if doing so will lead to bad consequences? Focusing on what happens in the brain of these patients. The study consisted of 111 adolescent inpatients between the ages of 12 to 17 they were asked to watch some movie scenes and report what the character was feeling based on four options. Based on this information I am still unsure which part of the brain is responsible for personality disorder. And this correlation between the responses to the movie are not very persuading for me are their MRI scans that demonstrate similar findings? This is an example of using scientific skepticism it does not look though the articles author used scientific skepticism in writing this. Also as mentioned in class the right hemisphere is responsible for social behaviors but how do these disorders come to be? In addition it stated that there is a relationship between the answers the participants had chosen but not why they believe there is a correlation. In my opinion I think this article needs to be replicated and further explained to be persuasive. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928142454.htm

Blog #2 Faith vs Thinking

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An article published by the American Psychological Association provides an interesting look at the relationship between intuitive thinking and faith. Scientists at Harvard University studied the hypothesis that more intuitive thinkers have stronger religious beliefs. The article explains that intuitive thinking means going with ones first guess and coming to conclusions quickly. In opposition, a reflexive thinker is one who thinks deeply about a decision before coming to a conclusion. For example, reflexive thinkers are the type who would second-guess their initial answer to a question on a test. Researcher Amitai Shenhave explains that they were testing to see how religious beliefs were influenced when a person relied on instincts or if they required more thinking beyond what their instincts originally tell them. In a sample of 882 U.S. adults, participants were asked to take a survey about their beliefs in God before taking a cognitive test that rated how intuitively they thought. They were asked trick-like questions that tested how much they relied on intuition. The study shows that individuals who replied intuitively to the questions were one and a half times more likely to have strong faith in God. Intuitive thinkers were also shown to have increased belief in God over their lifetimes. In another study of 373 participants, scientists noticed that faith levels could be temporarily influenced when intuitive or reflective thinking was focused on. One group was asked to write about a time in which they used intuition, the other, a time in which they used reflective thinking. The group who wrote about intuition showed a greater belief in God after writing the essay than the group who was asked to write reflectively.
At the end of the article the author brings up an important point that should be considered in all correlational studies; that correlation does not show causation. He reflects that the studies show a causal link between intuitive thinking and faith but not which causes which. Although these studies tested the effects of intuitive thinking on faith, they acknowledge that an opposing situation could be true. In this case, faith could actually cause intuitive thinking. This study is an example of the importance of remembering that correlation does not show causation. There is an obvious correlation between intuitive thinking and faith but we cannot be certain of which causes which.

article link: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/09/thinking-god.aspx

Gateway Drugs

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Many articles have been written about Marijuana being the "gateway drug" into many other harmful drugs. A gateway drug is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as a drug (as alcohol or marijuana) whose use is thought to lead to the use of and dependence on a harder drug (as cocaine or heroin). I am firm believer in this theory. I am from a small town in Minnesota where I see this happen all the time. Many students from my high school first got involved with alcohol and marijuana, which led to the usage of other drugs. It also led to some becoming dealers of the drugs. I have seen it happen in person as well. I have been around some of my friends when they start experimenting with these harmful drugs. It's not just drugs either. I have seen alcohol lead to smoking cigarettes regularly. Getting involved with the harmful drugs can lead to trouble. Trouble with the law as well as trouble with education and career. The harmful drugs harness someone from succeeding in what they do. The students from my high school that used the harmful drugs ended up dropping out of school. The others that graduated did not go on to college. There are just too many consequences of getting involved with alcohol and marijuana. You do not want to get sucked in to the gateway for other harmful drugs. I feel that there is a lack of effort in trying to stop kids getting involved with gateway drugs. I want there to be more programs and awareness of this problem.

Gateway Drugs

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Many articles have been written about Marijuana being the "gateway drug" into many other harmful drugs. A gateway drug is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as a drug (as alcohol or marijuana) whose use is thought to lead to the use of and dependence on a harder drug (as cocaine or heroin). I am firm believer in this theory. I am from a small town in Minnesota where I see this happen all the time. Many students from my high school first got involved with alcohol and marijuana, which led to the usage of other drugs. It also led to some becoming dealers of the drugs. I have seen it happen in person as well. I have been around some of my friends when they start experimenting with these harmful drugs. It's not just drugs either. I have seen alcohol lead to smoking cigarettes regularly. Getting involved with the harmful drugs can lead to trouble. Trouble with the law as well as trouble with education and career. The harmful drugs harness someone from succeeding in what they do. The students from my high school that used the harmful drugs ended up dropping out of school. The others that graduated did not go on to college. There are just too many consequences of getting involved with alcohol and marijuana. You do not want to get sucked in to the gateway for other harmful drugs. I feel that there is a lack of effort in trying to stop kids getting involved with gateway drugs. I want there to be more programs and awareness of this problem.

Thorndike's Instrumental Conditioning is what we learn from the relationships between behavior and consequences. An important aspect of this type of learning is that behavior can change due to the effects or consequences that the behavior has had on the individual. This is a very important aspect of psychology because it shows that we are able to adapt to situations and read patterns within our own lives and circumstances. I'm going to share with you my own experience with Instrumental conditioning and the law of effect.

I have two miniature wiener dogs; dachshunds are notorious for not being able to be fully potty trained. After months upon months of accidents in the house, we decided to try out using a signal for our dogs to tell us when they wanted to go outside. The signal we used was a bell like those at front desks of office buildings. The dogs were showed the bell and initially they would not go near it unless I tapped the bell with their paw. After the bell made a ringing noise, I brought my dogs outside and if they went potty they got a treat. My family and I continued this training with a positive consequence of a treat and eventually the dogs started ringing the bell on their own when they had to go to the bathroom, as we continued to give them a treat afterward. It took months to train these dogs, but after some time had passed, they became independent in ringing the bell and they were also doing it on a regular basis.

This example is a demonstration of how living things are able to adapt mentally and learn from their environments, especially when there is a consequence or effect attached to that action.

Brief video of a random dog, same training: http://youtu.be/Fn5TtyDIRAM

SOURCES: Gail Peterson Lecture Oct 5, 2011 (UMN-TC PSY 1001-F11)
http://youtu.be/Fn5TtyDIRAM

Sleep Apnea

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According to our textbook, Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding, Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects roughly 2-20% of the general population. It is caused by a blockage of the airway during sleep resulting in fatigue, weight gain, night sweats, and irregular heart beat. Of course this is only some of the affects of sleep apnea and there are many more short and long term effects.

What I am most interested in is what are the most popular and/or effective treatments for sleep apnea? Again, according to the textbook, most doctors recommend weight loss because this disorder is associated with being overweight. But, also mentioned in the book is the use of the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. I was curious as to how it worked so I found a simple video on sleep apnea and how CPAP works:
http://youtu.be/6QcmK24ZNyQ

Still curious as to what treatment was better, I found an article from the American Sleep Association on CPAP and other sleep apnea treatments. They stated that the CPAP machine is the more popular treatment and potentially the most effective. Weight loss, as pointed out by the ASA, is still a very viable treatment, but it is a very slow process. So, most patients who are trying to lose weight are also put on CPAP to help open up their airways right away.

So I guess, in a way, I've answered my question. CPAP is the more popular and effective treatment for sleep apnea if it's essentially being used not matter what.

article from the American Sleep Association: http://www.sleepassociation.org/index.php?p=whatiscpap

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Schadenfreude is a term used to describe pleasure taken from other people's pain. It is a feeling that we all have experienced, me especially, when celebrities have highly publicized break-ups, and in children's cartoons when one of the characters is involved in a dynamite explosion or trips on a banana peel.

According to the article, "Malicious Pleasure: Schadenfreude at the Suffering of Another Group ," "John Heider (1958) argued that schadenfreude is malicious because pleasure is a "discordant" reaction to another's misfortune. Unlike the "concordant" reaction of sympathy, schadenfreude establishes an antagonistic relationship to the unfortunate other. For this reason Heider saw schadenfreude as harmful to social relations." In other words, where we should feel sympathy for other people when they suffer, we instead feel glee and happiness.
One of the hypotheses for the cause of schadenfreude is that of perceived identity and inferiority. An experiment conducted in 1996 by RH Smith et al included a male subject who was portrayed as being much superior/inferior to an experimental group. The male subject then suffered the misfortune of being denied admission into medical school. The group who perceived themselves inferior felt more pleasure at his suffering. The study suggested that feeling inferior to the successful peer is what led to schadenfreude in response to the adversity.
When people feel threatened by another group, schadenfreude tends to increase in between groups. An example of this is apparent in the world of sport. One researcher studied German and Dutch football fans. The threat of the Netherlands's chronic inferiority in football increased Dutch schadenfreude toward Germany's loss in the world cup. To make it more relevant to us, Packers and Viking fans experience joy when the other team makes a fumble or suffers a penalty.

Dreams are stories that keep us entertained while we are sleeping and our body is relaxing. Most dreams occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, yet they can also take place during non-REM sleep. Dreams can be both logical or outlandish depending upon what stage of sleep they occur during.

Many people enjoy having crazy dreams and they cannot wait to tell their friends about them the next day. These people should thank their forebrain because without it we would not be able to dream. Dreams that occur during REM sleep are usually ridiculous and involve situations that would never happen in real life, such as flying. When I was younger, I had a dream that I was with my family in a mysterious, foreign country. There was a strict leader there that would send his guards to kill you if you ever made eye contact with him. Within seconds, I was at my elementary school in Minnesota. Wait, what? How did this happen? I had just become living proof that REM dreams do indeed consist of erratic shifts in plot. The new part of my dream brought me to my elementary school where I was watching an airshow with my family. This makes absolutely no sense because the nearest airport is over five miles away and it would be dangerous to perform stunning loops with airplanes if there was no where to land safely if they had an emergency. As a result, this supports the theory that REM dreams tend to be unrealistic. However, the bizarreness did not end there. All of a sudden, hundreds of alien-filled spaceships appeared. As the crowd tried to rush inside the school, my alarm clock went off. Although this dream happened years ago, I still remember it since it was so strange. Dreams are known to contain more negative emotions than postive ones. My dream that night definitely backed this claim up because I was frightened that one of my family members would fall prey to the leader's violent ways or I would be abducted by aliens and never see my family again. Let's just say that I kept a close eye on the sky whenever my mom dropped my brother and I off at school for many days to come.

ufos.png

Other dreams involve situations that occur in everyday life, such as homework or going to school. These dreams take place during non-REM sleep. Personally, I have had numerous dreams in which I am in the hallway at my junior high school. This reinforces the theory that non-REM dreams are repetitive. Every time I have this dream, I always have trouble finding where my classrooms are and the hallways are endless. In addition, I am always late to class because I keep getting distracted by my friends that I stop to chat to in the hallway. This dream always leaves me frustrated because one of my biggest fears is being late to class and getting detention. Again, this dream supports the idea that dreams are more likely to be full of misfortune than luck. It seems that whenever I am about to start a new school year, I get one of these dreams. This makes me wonder if a dream's topic involves what a person was worried about right before they dozed off.

hallway19.jpg

Dreams come in a variety of different types. Some are out-of-the-ordinary while other dreams involve everyday problems. This makes me wonder if we have any control over what events occur in our dreams. Are our non-REM dreams focused on problems that we are currently facing in our lives? However, we should try not to lose any sleep over this question. Instead, we should head off to bed early and hope the answer appears to us in our dreams.

UFO picture courtesy of:
http://www.popfi.com/wp-content/uploads/ufos.png

Hallway picture courtesy of:
http://www.photographyblogger.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/hallway19.jpg

Narcolepsy is "a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep." In this case(video), a dog is suffering from narcolepsy. At first, I found it somewhat funny because, ironically, every time the dog got too excited, it would fall asleep. But by the end of the video and through the textbook reading, I realized that narcolepsy is a serious sleep disorder that dramatically affects people's lives.
Some people with narcolepsy experience cataplexy, which is a complete loss of muscle tone. This can happen from surprise, excitement or any strong emotion. When I imagine my own life being affected by narcolepsy/cataplexy, I realize how problematic this condition would be. You couldn't drive, safely anyways, which for me growing up would have made life difficult. Thinking back on birthdays, Christmas, and just other happy moments in my life, suffering from narcolepsy would completely change all of these memories. I think it's really unfortunate that it seems to affect people during the more exciting or significant moments of their life.
While some people are born with narcolepsy, (some with a genetic abnormality that increases the risk) others develop it after sustaining damage to the brain. So, unfortunately, everyone is susceptible to developing narcolepsy.
Complications that come with narcolepsy include: a misunderstanding of the disorder, an interference with close relationships, and physical harm. People can mistake the side effects of narcolepsy with laziness and apathy. Because extreme emotions can trigger narcolepsy or cataplexy, people sometimes refrain from forming close relationships that would be affected by the disorder. Physical harm may result from many activities that are interrupted by a sleep attack. Clearly, narcolepsy affects people on a personal and everyday basis, changing the way he/she lives. In the case of the dog from the video, narcolepsy has made a normal, happy life impossible.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcolepsy/DS00345

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

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Have you ever walked up to a door like this and then tried to push the door open to get to the other side?

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The next time that I do it, I will probably not feel as silly about it because of having read about the new research that delves into the human brain's ability to understand mirror-image words.

It turns out that we actually process chiral (mirror-imaged) words, presented individually, automatically and unconsciously at least for a few instants. The visual system rotates the words reflected in the mirror and recognizes them at a very early stage of 150 - 250 milliseconds. The brain then realizes that there is something different about this scene and changes the processing steps accordingly.

The research was conducted at the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Languages in Spain and involved the monitoring the brain activity of 27 participants by use of encephalograms. The subjects were shown words for 50 milliseconds on a computer screen in one of two ways:

- words where some of the letters or other information were rotated or

- words where the entire word was rotated as in
HTUOM instead of MOUTH

The encephalogram results show that, at between 150 - 250 msec, the brain's response was the same in both cases as when the words are read normally. This means that the visual system sees both forms as equivalent.

The researchers believe that this helps explain why a lot of children have trouble distinguishing p from q, d from b, and write their 's' in the mirror-image form. They further hypothesize that the acquisition of reading skills somehow inhibits the processing of chiral words as normal words in most of us. The scientists believe that further investigations will help us understand dyslexia and dysgrafia better.

Research by other scientists is not in complete agreement with this study and there have not been many investigations in this field. More studies have been done comparing normal pictures with their mirror-image counterparts and have found similar brain activity in those cases. Studies using fMRI by Stanislas Dehaene at the French medical research agency, INSERM, does not show the same brain activity with mirror-image words as the Spanish research does but they believe that if they were to have children or illiterate adults as the subjects, the findings would be different. Again, they believe that the acquisition of reading skills changes the way we process words.

Most of the time, anyway. I am sure that I will still have occasions when I will be pushing a door instead of pulling it.


Sources: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331080037.htm
http://www.economist.com/node/16537618

I have. I used to experience sleep paralysis in middle school. It usually happened when I woke up from a nap or fell asleep for a short time. When I experienced sleep paralysis, I was able to hear ghosts calling my name in my ear or felt them on my chest. Although I tried to get some help I could not move my body or say anything. It made me so frightened that I was even afraid of sleeping sometimes. I did not know what it was back then, but now I know that it was sleep paralysis.


Here are other people who have experienced sleep paralysis and one of explanations for sleep paralysis.

So what is sleep paralysis?
As you can guess, you feel paralyzed when you falling asleep or awakening. You can see or feel things but you simply cannot move your body or say things.

Sleep paralysis occurs in two different ways.

1. If it occurs while you are falling asleep it is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis. When you fall asleep your body normally relaxes and you become unconscious. However, if you still remain conscious you may experience sleep paralysis.

2. If it occurs while you are waking up, it's called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis.
When we sleep, we go through 5 stages of sleep. The stage one through four is considered non-REM(NREM). During these stages your body relaxes and these four stages take up the most of sleeping time. The last stage is called REM(rapid eye movements). You have more dreams at this stage as your eye move rapidly. When your body remained relaxed from NREM but enter REM and become aware before the REM cycle finishes, you may experience sleep paralysis.

What are the possible causes?


  • Disruption in the sleep cycle

  • Anxiety, stress

  • Sleeping with your face up

  • Sudden changes in lifestyle

So if you have ever experienced sleep paralysis and are afraid of it, I hope you no longer worry about it. It is very unlikely to be caused by ghosts or aliens.

Thanks for your time!


Reference : Wikipedia, Google, Textbook, and youtube

Scientific Smackdown

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I have to say, this is by far one of the most interesting articles I have seen in a long time. First off, this article is almost like the "WWE smackdown" of science. There is a man named Martin Lindstrom, a respected opinion page contributor to the New York Times. He wrote an article about the effects of the iPhone on the brain. He used functional magnetic resonance imaging to test how people react to things they love, such as electronics and their religions. What he did in this test was he showed a subject a picture of an Apple product, and then showed the same subject a picture of the Pope. He found that there were some striking similarities. When subjects viewed the Apple product, and a picture of the Pope the brain activity was similar. It seems Lindstrom has done some extensive tests (though he has not provided any link to his tests) even with babies and Blackberrys.

He even goes as far as saying:
"I enlisted eight men and eight women between the ages of 18 and 25. Our 16 subjects were exposed separately to audio and to video of a ringing and vibrating iPhone. In each instance, the results showed activation in both the audio and visual cortices of the subjects' brains. In other words, when they were exposed to the video, our subjects' brains didn't just see the vibrating iPhone, they "heard" it, too; and when they were exposed to the audio, they also "saw" it. This powerful cross-sensory phenomenon is known as synesthesia."
Honestly, there are a few problems. First off, did he randomly assign? He didn't seem to clarify this, but with that he only had 16 people. Secondly, this is not a representative sample of the population. There needs to be more than sixteen people. Third, it seemed like he diagnosed quickly. A few days after this was published (originally published on September 30th, 2011), Russel Poldrack a Psychology and Neurobiology professor from University of Texas at Austin that wrote to the editor. Poldrack said: 'The brain region that he points to as being "associated with feelings of love and compassion" (the insular cortex) is active in as many as one-third of all brain imaging studies.' It seems Lindstrom not only conducted a poor test, but also made an extraordinary claim he had no clear evidence for. In the end, the fact that Lindstrom thought he had found a case of synesthesia, cross-modial sensation, didn't really matter. More importantly however Poldrack made sure to "punch hard" by adding a list of 44 other neuroscientists that signed his letter to the New York Times. Poldrack even stated how disappointed he was in the New York Times. That list had name of neuroscientists from Duke, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, Columbia, and more. Ironically, the population of neuroscientists was larger than Lindstrom's sixteen subjects.

No matter what, we all make mistakes.

So what is a better conclusion than Lindstrom's conclusion? Here is a simple equation:
+=

Also, I happened to pick this article because of the iPhone and in memory of Steve Jobs.

Thanks,

Ishan

Websites Used:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/opinion/the-iphone-and-the-brain.html?_r=1&ref=brain
http://www.foxnews.com/images/377822/0_61_etrade_blackberry_baby.jpg
http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/brain-intro.gif
http://mos.futurenet.com/techradar/classifications/gadgets/phones/mobile-phones/iPhone/iphone4_2up_front_side-420-90.jpg
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/opinion/you-love-your-iphone-literally.html
http://www.russpoldrack.org/ (Full list of neuroscientists available).
http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/1973/060127rmkickdonkeytn.jpg

Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and P&G recently unveiled the results of a study they conducted about perceived trustworthiness, competence, and likability.

In the study, 149 adults were shown images of 25 women wearing various "stages" of makeup. A professional makeup artist applied makeup to the women, with "natural" and no makeup, "professional", and "glamorous".

The images were flashed for 250 milliseconds to one group subjects and asked about first impressions, and another group was shown the images for a longer length of time and asked whether they would hire the woman and whether she would be competent.

In both groups, the subjects rated the women wearing makeup higher approval compared to the bare-faced women.

Apparently, this was the first study ever done to explore the long-standing belief that attractive people are more successful in their careers and are more successful in getting jobs.

"For the first time, we have found that applying makeup has an effect beyond increasing attractiveness - it impacts first impressions and overall judgments of perceived likeability, trustworthiness, and competence," said Nancy Etcoff PhD.

While I think that part of the study was to research better ways to effectively market cosmetics, it definitely touches into perception. From what I read, the study only explored the surface of the issue--they did find that people find makeup-wearers more attractive, but I want to know why.

Since this is the first study ever done, there could be many other explanations. Such as why does someone who is makeup free appear to be incompetent? The study didn't seem to answer that. It has been said that humans are wired to be drawn to more attractive people because of evolution and such--but how does this factor into job search? That wasn't explored either. Ruling out rival hypotheses is really important when considering this study.

People have different tastes and preferences when it comes to makeup on women, too. Does every employer share the same tastes? Speaking of which, maybe they should've gotten their sample from a group of hiring managers if that's part of the reason why they conducted the study. Hmm...

So like with any study, people shouldn't just jump to conclusions--women shouldn't just go out and buy lots of P&G makeup because of the results.


Source: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/52087-p-g-harvard-study-reveals-cosmetics-alter-instinctual-perception

Narcolepsy

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In the 2001 film Rat Race, a group of people are picked by another group of millionaires to race for a large sum of money. As the group departed on their journey, racing down the halls of the hotel, one of the characters suddenly stops and starts sleeping in the middle of the hallway! He does this throughout movie, falling asleep during important parts of the race. At the end of the movie, he ends up being the first one at the money safe, with his key in the lock, only to fall asleep as he was about to unlock the door! The other members of the group catch up to him, resulting in a big fight for the money.

Picture of character in Rat Race:
http://www.ahafilm.info/mimg/pictures/556.jpg

Though the film pokes fun at this character's disorder, narcolepsy is nothing to make fun of. Narcolepsy is characterized by the fast and usually unexpected arrival of sleep. This sleep can last a few seconds to even an hour. Imagine not being able to control when you fall asleep. You could sleep through the most basic of everyday activities such as being at work, going to class, cooking dinner at night, or even going to the bathroom!

Cataplexy is also associated with narcolepsy and is the complete loss of muscle tone. This means that the muscles go limp and one can fall very easily. People with ordinary sleeping habits are afflicted by cataplexy too during their REM sleep. However, because these people are normally in bed, cannot tell. People with narcolepsy, because they sleep at random times, are more prone to falling simply because they could fall asleep while standing up.

Narcolepsy can occur if there are any abnormalities in genetic information. Orexin, a hormone, plays an important role in wakefulness. Abnorallites in the brain cells that produce this hormone can result in narcolepsy. People that have this strange condition can take medications to help to regulate orexin and wakefulness, though it may not work for everyone.

As I was looking up information about this condition, I came across a blog written by a narcoleptic woman. She posted that," Everyday is such a struggle for me... no one understands what I am going through. Even my husband gets so frustrated that I am practically disabled and cannot do many things that normal people do... I feel very lonely and sad... I wish I can be alert and refreshed after sleeping just 8 hours like other normal people". I cannot even fathom not being able to control when I do and when I don't want to sleep. Narcolepsy sounds like a tough condition to deal with, not just for the one afflicted with it but also their family and friends. I thought it was hard staying up all night studying, only to get a few hours of sleep for the next day. Now that I know what narcolepsy is and what it entails, I feel lucky to be a normal sleeper.

http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Have-Narcolepsy/294178

Perception Deception

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There are many illusions that are known to us that force us to perceive things as different then they really are. (http://visualfunhouse.com/wpcontent/uploads/2009/03/flaming-street-ofchalk.jpg)
The ponzo illusion makes things look smaller the farther away they are. Railroad tracks look as though they run into each other far away but they are really the same distance apart all the way down. They also make the wooden planks between the tracks look shorter and shorter but they are also all the same length all the way down.
(http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/11000/velka/railroad-tracks-23521292901749uK0.jpg)
There are many real life instances where we perceive things as different then what they really are. It is important for us to know about illusions that effect our real world perception so we know that things aren't always what they seem. These illusions can be especially important with driving. It is important to know how far away things and people are from you. There is that little message in your side mirrors also "objects in mirror are closer then they appear"
(http://www.jcsnotebook.org/wpcontent/uploads/2010/01/objects_in_mirror_are_closer_than_they_appear1.jpg)
which is another way that your perceptions trick you. Things can be close but look further away in the mirror which can be dangerous when driving. This is why it is so important to be aware of illusions that can be tricking you in sometimes dangerous ways. There is also the perception related to the ponzo illusion that people who are further away look smaller than they are. They are still a normal sized person but from a distance a person close to you looks much bigger than them although the two people could be the same or very close to each other in actual size.

Perception Deception

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There are many illusions that are known to us that force us to perceive things as different then they really are. (http://visualfunhouse.com/wpcontent/uploads/2009/03/flaming-street-ofchalk.jpg)
The ponzo illusion makes things look smaller the farther away they are. Railroad tracks look as though they run into each other far away but they are really the same distance apart all the way down. They also make the wooden planks between the tracks look shorter and shorter but they are also all the same length all the way down.
(http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/pictures/11000/velka/railroad-tracks-23521292901749uK0.jpg)
There are many real life instances where we perceive things as different then what they really are. It is important for us to know about illusions that effect our real world perception so we know that things aren't always what they seem. These illusions can be especially important with driving. It is important to know how far away things and people are from you. There is that little message in your side mirrors also "objects in mirror are closer then they appear"
(http://www.jcsnotebook.org/wpcontent/uploads/2010/01/objects_in_mirror_are_closer_than_they_appear1.jpg)
which is another way that your perceptions trick you. Things can be close but look further away in the mirror which can be dangerous when driving. This is why it is so important to be aware of illusions that can be tricking you in sometimes dangerous ways. There is also the perception related to the ponzo illusion that people who are further away look smaller than they are. They are still a normal sized person but from a distance a person close to you looks much bigger than them although the two people could be the same or very close to each other in actual size.

Mysterious Nightmares

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Sleep paralysis, known as nightmare, is a kind of mystery of our daily life because most of us have to encounter it at least once in a lifetime. The statistics show that 20% to 60% of individuals reported having experienced sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime in Canada, China, England, Japan and Nigeria.Sleep_Paralysis.jpg
Mystery around the world
The original definition of sleep paralysis in English is a nightmare, and is mainly considered as demons sitting on the chests of sleepers. It is similar in North American folk belief, that sleepers suffer breath difficulty after waking and are unable to move, because of perceived heavy invisible weight of demons on their chest. Also, It is considered a sign of an approaching tragedy or accident. In Mexico, it is believed that this is caused by the spirit of a dead person. Swedish people think sleep paralysis is related to a damned woman who has a super power to make nightmares when she visits villagers at night. However, Most Asian cultures consider that sleep paralysis is a ghost or dark spirit pressing on the bed.modern-art-prints.jpegfairy1.jpg
What is sleep paralysis?
Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being conscious but unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes. It occurs either at sleep onset, which is called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis, or upon awakening that is hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis. For example, one cannot move on the bed but he or she can hear or see things that do not exist. There are other symptoms like skeletal muscle paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations or dream-like mentation during sleep.nightmare.jpg
What causes "nightmares"?
The factors that influence sleep (SP) paralysis are studied by J. A. CHEYNE at the university of Waterloo. He set two situational conditions for sleep paralysis, different body position and different timing of sleep (beginning, middle or end of sleep ) as independent variables, and the number of SP occurred during an individual's sleep as the dependent variable. In addition, the sample size was 6730 subjects. He measured REM during sleep time to examine when SP episodes occurred and compared the difference of dreams between REM and NREM, as well as the intensity of SP hallucinations.
The results showed that more subjects reported SP in the supine position, lying down on their back, than all other positions combined; SP occurred more at the middle and end of sleep than at the beginning; SP Hallucinations were found for SP timing more body position. He summarized that body position and timing of SP episodes both appeared and affected the quality of the SP experience. There is the article by J.A.CHEYNE 6726710.pdf
Do we need to worry about nightmare?
As most articles mention most of us do not need treatment for sleep paralysis. But there are some suggestions that can help us escape from nightmares. We need to improve sleep habits like getting enough sleep every night. Furthermore, we need to find doctors to treat any mental health problems and other sleep disorders that may contribute to sleep paralysis, such as narcolepsy or leg cramps.sleeping_peaceful.jpg

Article links: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-paralysis
http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/paralysis.html

Every year there are numerous accounts of people reporting that an alien or something strange visited them in their sleep. These people often wake up from their sleep and report that they had feelings of something pressing down on them, or they felt an eerie presence in the room. This phenomenon is known to psychologists as sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis in short is the inability to move after falling asleep, or immediately waking up. The condition is often associated with feelings of extreme anxiety and fear.

I think this concept of psychology is a very important one to study because so many people suffer from it, and do no not know what to do about it. In my personal experience I have had numerous accounts of waking up in the middle of the night, and not being able to move because I was so terrified that something was in my room. I thought I was going crazy until about a month after when a friend of mine reported having very similar experiences. It was good to know that this isn't an abnormal experience, but I was still inquisitive to what was going on.

After some basic studying in the text and some support online, it seems that a basic hypothesis to what happens during sleep paralysis is available. In the simplest terms, what happens is, part of your brain wakes up from the sleep cycle, giving you conscious awareness, but the rest of your brain that controls motor functions is still sleeping. This results in the inability to move which can seem so terrifying, especially in the middle of the night.

So next time if you wake up in the middle of the night and think there is something in your room watching you, try to remember that you are most likely suffering from sleep paralysis, and there is nothing to really fear.

One thing we have learned in the past two weeks is conditioning. Ivan Pavlov discovered the process of classical conditioning. Classical conditioning, also known as Pavlovian conditioning, is a form of learning that involves animals automatically responding to an action. Basically, classical conditioning is the act of an animal doing something in response to a stimulus that was previously neutral. An excellent example is Pavlov's dogs. Pavlov used the sound of a metronome to trigger salivation in a dog by turning a metronome on whenever the dogs were fed. After many trials of this, the dogs would salivate whenever the metronome was turned on because they were expecting food to appear before them. The metronome acted as a signal that announced food.
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Another example of Pavlovian conditioning, which is likely to be more familiar, is the conditioning that middle- and high school students undertake. Many schools use bells to indicate the beginning and end of classes for students. Those students are classically conditioned to either leave class or be in their seats when the bell rings between classes. I thought this was interesting because there were a few times in high school when the bells would go off at incorrect times, and students would get up to leave class before realizing that it was a false alarm. The bell meant leaving class, and now that there are no bells in college, it's weird leaving class without that proper indicator.
What are other examples of classical conditioning used? The zipping of multiple backpacks? The shutting of the door when people leave the lecture early?
In an episode of The Office, there is an excellent example of how classical conditioning works.

The Office - Pavlov's dog from Rauno Villberg on Vimeo.

Stages of Sleep

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In 1951, an important discovery was made at the University of Chicago. Nathaniel Kleitman's grad student monitored a sleeping boy's brain waves and eye movements and discovered that, every so often, the boy's eyes darted from side to side and his brain activity fluctuated. From these findings, Kleitman concluded that there are five stages of sleep.

Stage 1 sleep is the lightest stage of sleep, lasting anywhere from five to ten minutes. During this stage, the brain relaxes by about 50% and produces theta waves, which occur four to seven cycles per second. If you've ever jolted awake due to a sudden sense of falling or felt very confused after waking up, chances are you were in this stage of sleep.

Stage 2 sleep is where we spend 65% of our sleep time. Although the brain continues to relax, occasional bursts of electrical activity, called sleep spindles, occur twelve to fourteen cycles per second. Also, K complexes appear. During this stage, heart rate and body temperature decrease, muscles relax, and eye movements stop.

Sleep stages 3 and 4 are the deepest stages of sleep. In these stages, delta waves become prevalent and occur one to two cycles per second. In stage 3, these waves happen 20% to 50% of the time, and in stage 4, they happen over 50% of the time. In order for us to have a fulfilling night's sleep, we have to experience these two stages of sleep.

Stage 5 sleep is called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Here, we dream vividly and more often than in any other stage. During this stage, the brain kicks into high gear and produces waves that look like those of wakefulness. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, and rapid and irregular breathing occurs. We're in this stage for about 20% to 25% of our night's sleep.

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Stages of Sleep video

As college students, most of us don't get enough sleep due to homework assignments, studying for tests, and participating in extracurricular activities. We might think that sleep isn't as important as getting good grades in our classes, but we're wrong. It's important that people get enough sleep each night, because sleep reduces stress, improves our memory, and reduces our chances of developing a physical or mental disorder.

Sources:
http://www.better-sleep-better-life.com/benefits-of-sleep.html
Chapter 5 of our Lilienfeld Psychology book

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