February 2012 Archives

I found the BBC Horizon video extremely helpful in understanding our consciousness between being awake and being asleep and how it tells us about our sense of self. Marcus de Sautoy decides to be involved in an experiment that will help him understand consciousness while awake and asleep. The experimenters believes that "sleep is the key to unlocking the mysterious of what makes [us the way we are] (41:40)." The first step of the experiment is to put a "cap" on Marcus' head and that will have some electrodes (which are like little microphones) to listen to the different voices of instruments (inside of the brain). The second step the TMS process which is a machine that is put on top of Marcus' head and will give a slight electric shock to the head/brain. Both of these steps are happening while he is awake. The next step will be Marcus being asleep and the same process will happen while he is asleep, but unfortunately he couldn't fall asleep and couldn't finish the experiment. He did have a chance to look at the same experiment that other people did. What was interesting was that the different parts of the brain communicated with each other in response to the electric shock while he was awake. While he was sleeping, only the initial part of the brain that received the shock responded. It was like the other parts of the brain was shut down. With this experiment, we can say that the interconnections in our brains keeps us aware of our self and the world around us. We are conscious when are brain communicates and work as a whole.


Have you ever wondered how some people can learn to speak multiple languages when you are struggling to get through Spanish 1001? Well, while learning a new language isn't impossible for adults, the younger you are the more successful you are likely to be in learning one, two, or three other languages. One very interesting possible reason is the Experience-Expectant quality of language development. It is said that when we are born, we have the ability to identify (or at least differentiate between) all speech sounds that occur across cultures and languages. This ability is pruned away as we are exposed to the native language of the culture we are born into - for example, a French child will most likely lose the ability to distinguish between all sounds of Kikongo, the Bantu language spoken in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For this reason, it can be more difficult, as we age, to learn another language because we cannot always duplicate the tonal singularities of another language.

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This is not meant to dissuade you from learning a second language, however! Learning another language is not only beneficial professionally (it looks good on your résumé, and can help you reach higher levels in your professional workplace), and personally (traveling is more fun when you speak the language!), it also improves your cognitive language abilities. After eight years of Spanish, one year of Latin, and six years of French language courses (including studying abroad in France), I can confidently say that my metalinguistic insight - or my awareness of how language is structured and used - has improved significantly. Because a new language requires you to learn a new range of vocabulary, grammatical, and syntactic rules, your mind becomes more flexible and your ability to learn other difficult concepts improves.

So, if that Spanish class is giving you trouble, know that you might not reach a level of complete fluency but that it will ultimately be beneficial for your continued cognitive development!

PS Can you identify each language represented in the title of this blog?

Autism: Paranoid or Prepared?

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The awareness of autism has increased significantly which partially due to the increasing amount of research related to curing and understanding the disease. It is also partially due to famous celebrities with autistic children such as Jenny McCarthy and John Travolta. There is a growing fear that autism is becoming more and more common, based upon the growing percentage of children who were professionally diagnosed. Similar to McCarthy, both scientists, parents, and doctors alike have been trying to blame MMR vaccines, which are commonly given to children to prevent the catching of measles, mumps, and rubella. Others are speculating that it is merely a higher level of awareness for the disease that is causing numbers to go up. Is it something we're doing health-wise to give children autism, or are we simply becoming hyper-aware of behaviors that are related to it? Even so, these MMR vaccines given to children don't explain the kids who display signs of autism before receiving the shot. If they were born with autism, then perhaps the parents who received the same vaccine passed it on, which would indicate it is hereditary. Regardless, there is a growing paranoia in parents that their children may be autistic to a point where it seems more important for parents to discover if they are autistic instead of simply valuing their child's health. autism.jpg

Is the Dog Whisperer magic?

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Two years ago my parents let me pick out the family dog and gave me the responsibility of training him. Just to let you know, he is a beautiful Australian Shepherd named Bodie. At first it was very frustrating in many aspects, but classical conditioning seemed to be very effective because of one of my mom's favorite TV shows is the "Dog Whisperer." Ceaser Milan is dog trainer who works wonders correcting behaviors of our furry friends through perfecting the use of conditioning.

Personally his methods came very handy to me when we struggled with one of the most simple tasks a dog can do, going for a walk. While aussies are smart dogs, they are very energetic and friendly meaning everything from putting on the leash, to getting my dog to behave, was a challenge. Then I saw an episode on how Cesar trained a dog behave on a walk through using a treadmill.

Training exercise was simple. I would put my Bodie's walking collar on so he knew it was time to "walk". I would them lure him to our treadmill and allow him to walk there at a decent pace in a straight line. We would reward him for successful walking on the treadmill for a for an amount of time each day, rewarding him for staying focused on walking on the treadmill. His behavior was reflected into the real walking situation by using the same reward system. Now that he is a pretty big dog, it is nice to have him well mannered and behaved on walks as he leads us on the leash. Not to mention, when its too cold out he loves to get exercise on the treadmill, if we give him treats of course!

Mass media has become a powerful tool to mold people's thoughts and attitudes. It basically tries to define the norm to the mass. I'm not trying to say that advertising is an evil that is taking over society. However, my claim is that advertisers use the concept of classical conditioning to their advantage by manipulating our thoughts when we don't even realize. Advertising has advanced from informative advertisement to full fledged persuasive advertisement. No matter how hard you try to look for an informative ad, you'll find some persuasive tactics used to sell that specific product. There are many ads that aim to keep us from thinking, and instead, make a purchase decision as an emotional response.
Abercrombie & Fitch is a popular clothing company amongst teenagers and young adults. Abercrombie has been involved in many ad controversies because they use racy campaigns like photos of barely clothed models to send a message of sexiness. Their ads become racier every year. Abercrombie is a branch of the brand that targets juniors, or kids under 12. Their clothes are not that much different from their competition. In fact most of their clothes are not even "racy" or "sexy". They sell plaids and t-shirts with their logos, and a ripped jean is as "sexy" as it gets. However, their advertising tactic is the creation of a brand image that manipulates kids into believing they are grown ups. The huge posters in their store show 13 year old models wearing plaids with their bellies showing. When kids go into the store, they associate the clothes with the positive emotion of feeling grown up and looking cool like their older brothers or sisters in high school. The atmosphere in Abercrombie is the exact same as the atmosphere in Abercrombie & Fitch (the adult store). They play the same loud music and have the employees dress the exact same way that they dress in Abercrombie & Fitch. Employees wear an outfit comprised of the current Abercrombie stock and they are all thing and naturally good-looking. Many studies show that the average American desires being wanted and admired by their peers. Abercrombie uses this idea to suggest that their clothes are for sexy grownups and wearing their clothes will make the kids sexy. Abercrombie uses the concept of believability. Their "racy" ads not only influence their target market, but are also presented in a way so that the customers believe their message. They use the sex appeal in their barely-clothed models, loud pop music and dark lit stores to make the kids believe that when they enter the store they are transformed into grownups.

Classical conditioning develops our physiological associations to stimuli that signal important events or emotions. Advertisers like Abercrombie & Fitch use this concept to influence and manipulate kids into thinking that Abercrombie products make them look older and sexier. Kids were persuaded through sexy topless posters and models to purchase Abercrombie clothing through identification with the company image. Their campaigns create an unconditioned response of being grown up and cool among the kids, and a conditioned response of sexiness.

Mirror Self-Recognition

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While reading the portion in Chapter 7 they note the use of the 'Mirror Test' given to a number of mammals to test whether they realize that they are the one in the mirror being reflected as opposed to seeing what is perceived as another individual. This is done by placing small oderless dye spots on the subject in which they inspect in the mirror, and it is observed whether or not they will realize the spots are on their own body (Self recognition). What initially caught my attention was they listed a few of the mammals which have been able to discern this and included the Gorilla and had no mention of chimps. As an anthropology major focusing on human evolution and paleoanthropology, I decided to see if there was some difference in chimps that prevented them from making this perception.


Naturally of course, chimps are not at all excluded from this 'handful' of species which are able to exhibit this self recognition, in addition to the rest of the great apes being able to recognize one's self in the mirror, and strangely enough a single bird species (European Magpie). The issues however that arise with this form of testing for self awareness and self-concept is that most of the species who pass will typically assume the presence of a second individual instead of a reflection, and only after a good deal of investigation change their perception. Additionally some of the animals would continuously have this dilemma each time they are presented with the mirror, especially those outside of the great apes. Interestingly enough, experiments with the use of cameras have been done to show chimps and bonobos their 'reflection' in a screen. Many of these studies are negative for this effect, largely attributed to the discrepancy in viewpoint between a camera and screen as opposed to immediate and direct reflection from a mirror.

This study has also been done using young children and babies to try and determine the point in human development in which self recognition is present, but received heavy criticism as many of the results were inconclusive due to (and I'm not joking) lack of interest by the individual, or generally being oblivious to the presence of the mirror.

This relates to John Locke's concept of consciousness as it gives us a sense of how the individual interacts with their environment. The ultimate goal of these experiments is to outline animals which exhibit a behavior which may prove the presence of a 'consciousness' in an individual via a sense of self. From this can stem correlational studies regarding what physiological or neurological may be consistent in species which exhibit self recognition that other species may lack to make the distinction in reflection.

The gray matter

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Who is in charge of your decisions? Your conscious or ??? (Scene 47:53-end)
Based upon the scene the conscious mind is made up of a correlation of neurons that react by images and sounds. It is this interconnectivity of neurons that keeps the brain awake. It helps decide what you do and what you want. It helps provide free will to a person. However this scene demonstrates how much free will someone really has and if there is more to the conscious mind in making decisions. Marcus Du Satoy has a test to find out the real answer. He goes under a scanner and is given a right and left hand clicker. He is asked several questions and told to click the appropriate clicker in either hand. The scanner records where in his brain the decisions were made and the computer records when the decisions were made. The results were surprising. The computer could predict Marcus' decision six seconds before he was even aware of the decision he was going to make. This is amazing to me. It is unbelievable a machine can predict what the human brain is going to do before ourselves even know. The computer can't think. We are with our selves all day everyday and we don't know how we are going to respond and through imaging the computer is able to detect our response. Researchers think the conscious brain is second to brain activity, they also believe the conscious mind is encoded within brain activity in harmony with beliefs and desires. Researchers believe the conscious mind and brain perform different aspects of the same process. Research continues to provide new theories and evidence to discover more about the conscious mind and new technology helps make hypothesis reality. My question is if responses are believed to becoming from a gray unknown matter in the brain, what else could be providing the brain with these answers? There is no direct answer to the question and ultimately it is up to each individual person to decide who is in charge of his or her decisions or what theory to believe. Or is it really?

The Vaccine-Autism Scare

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Jenny McCarthy's crusade against routine childhood vaccinations, specifically MMR, began after her son was diagnosed with autism a short period of time after having been vaccinated. Her celebrity status has given her far more authority than she would have had just being an average mom, and despite having no medical training or background, people believe her rather crackpot pseudo-scientific stance.

The controversy largely revolves around recently discredited research from 1998, regarding a non-replicable link between MMR shots and autism. Even though the entire basis of the anti-vax crusade was literally torn out from under them, Jenny McCarthy has not retracted from her stance against childhood vaccination, demonstrating a close-minded disregard for the principle of scientific skepticism.

Despite the complete absence of evidence supporting their view, anti-vaccine proponents still cling to their pseudo-scientific view, and not only does this endanger their children who remain unvaccinated and die from diseases that have been largely kept under control for a century, the practice of non-vaccination endangers everyone, due to the fact that even just a small amount of people not being vaccinated threatens herd immunity for the entire population.

A Network of Consciousness

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The video, The Secret You, looks at the topic of the difference in consciousness between waking and sleeping. Marcus de Sautoy undergoes an experiment that measures the consciousness in our brain when we are awake and asleep. The experiment involves a cap of electrodes that is onto his head and a trans cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) that discharges electrical shocks. From this, we can measure how the electrical shocks spread and the difference of when we lose consciousness.The data recorded while we are awake showed different areas away from the stimulated side being active and are described as an interacting network. But, while we are asleep the stimulation remains local and ultimately the communication networks in the brain shut down. The researcher's results were both reliable and repeatable. Therefore, our consciousness can be explained as parts of our brain integrating and communicating together as part of a network. I found this really interesting because it shows the difference of consciousness between being awake and being asleep and that even though our brains are active while we are asleep, we are not nearly at the consciousness as we are when we are awake.

Shopping for Perfection

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Advertisements are everywhere. From the moment you hit snooze on your alarm clock, to the time when you lay your head back down on your pillow you have have probably seen close to 3,000 advertisements--in one day! More specifically, these advertisements try to cling to the human psyche in a way that is called "classic conditioning". Classic conditioning in advertising aims to target people buy pairing products with desirable or pleasurable objects, such as fame, fortune, beauty, or sex. These connections, though far-fetched, claim that if you buy the product, your life will be one less notch away from "perfection-status".


Women are greatly affected by this wave of beauty advertising, as shown in the photo above. The advertisement is selling mascara, but not just any old model is posing for the ad--it is endorsed by actress, Julia Roberts. Women are then left saying, "if Julia Roberts uses this mascara then it must be amazing! If I use it, then surely my eyelashes will look as full and sultry as hers!" And that, is where we are pulled in. Pulled in by the luxe fame of a celebrity, who endorses the product, when in full reality the celebrity themselves forgo major photo-shopping before the ad is put to print, as the video below depicts. Advertisers are pulling at precisely the right strings; as classical conditioning points out, if a product is associated with a pleasurable object then our chances of associating the product as being pleasurable raises ten-fold.

So in the end, we should ask ourselves: All gimmicks, packaging, and celeb endorsements aside, is this product necessary or even desirable to me?
Chances are, it's not.

Who is in Control?

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Who is in charge of your thoughts, words and actions? Do you have free will? The ability to make decisions for yourself? Or is there some high power or authority over you causing each of you to act without knowing? It may even be your own brain controlling your behaviors without your conscious awareness. Psychological studies in the field of consciousness and researchers on either side of the free will versus determinism debate have for years been searching for answers to these questions. As technology and research have progressed these studies have become more respectable and society is now more open to finding truth buried deep within our conscious minds. Recently, Marcus de Sautoy became a 'human guinea pig' in order to further research, and his own curiosity. Marcus was placed under an fMRI scanner that recorded his brain activity. He had a clicker in his right hand and one in his left and was asked to, at random, push the button of his choosing. Results showed that up to six seconds prior to de Sautoy's conscious decision to push a button, his brain was showing activity the researcher could use to predict what Marcus would do. The subject of experimentation was shocked at the findings. Could he really be under the control of his brain, unable to make any conscious decisions? The researcher explains that thoughts and brain activities are NOT two separate entities despite the fact that brain activity seems to dictate our thoughts. The unconscious mind is, rather, in harmony with your beliefs and desires. As his research continues, we may discover more about what it means to have free will, but for now, we are left to wonder: who really is in charge of our thoughts?

People have been training animals for thousands of years. Historically, horses have been trained for riding. Dogs have been trained for pulling sleds and herding livestock. Even, hawks have been trained by falconers for hunting. From these examples, we can see that animals can only be trained to do what they are physically capable of doing. At SeaWorld, experienced trainers, keepers and veterinarians apply the shaping and conditioning techniques to marine animals in order to educate people.The unique ability to observe and learn directly from live animals can increase public awareness and appreciation of wildlife. Killer whale calves follow their mothers and try to imitate everything they do continuously. This includes show behaviors. By a calf's first year, it may have learned more than a dozen show behaviors by just mimicking and observing its mother. Killer whale's mimicking In fact, there are more benefits than just the show behaviors. With the trained killer whales, researchers of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) were able to conduct studies on the vocal development of killer whale calves. With the help of trainers, researchers were able to record calf vocalizations and track the development of the calf's vocalization repertoire. They compared the calf's repertoire to its mother's and those of the other whales in its real environment (ocean). The results of the study proved that a killer whale calf learns vocalization types from its mother. Without training these marine mammals to perform certain behaviors regarding this research, researchers would not be able to conduct this experiment. This explains much that animals often learn through observation, that is by watching other animals. Instead of applying classical conditioning in which depending on just the stimuli and the involuntary responses, trainers apply operant conditioning where the response requires thought and action, to most of the animals. The fact that training an animal requires professional trainers is incorrect. With a little know-how and a lot of patience, people can train their own pets to perform many behaviors, as well as the cool one.
I'm sure we've all seen the DirecTV commercials where you learn not to take it stray animals, how to avoid having a grandson with a dog collar, or how to avoid ending up in a roadside ditch. I for one hand, am very thankful to know how to avoid all of life's greatest catastrophes; all I have to do is purchase DirecTV. The marketers in this ad use the fallacy of logic, sometimes known as hasty generalization. When your cable company keeps you on hold - you get angry, when you get angry you go blow off steam - leading you to an eye patch, which eventually causes you to be left to die in a roadside ditch. Each action seems to cause another downfall, getting progressively worse. The ad presents each situation like it is bound to happen, which messes with our emotions. Going along with the commercial as a fairly gullible user, we believe that each sequential event is proven to be caused by the one before it. If I play racquetball I will hurt my eye and be forced to wear an eye patch. This instills a sense of fear in us, and the commercial tells us to avoid these fears by purchasing the highlighted product. Assuming that the viewers of these commercials have a minimal level of intelligence, it's safe to think that they don't believe every hasty generalization in the sequence of events. This is why the commercial is funny to us, because these assumptions are so outrageous. But of course, buying DirecTV will actually safe your life. racquetball.jpg

Do you ever get the feeling that someone is behind you and you turn around to see no one there? Scientists believe that they have found an area of the brain that is responsible for that creepy feeling. It is called the angular gyrus. When scientists administered shocks to this part of the brain some interesting results were discovered. When the left side of the angular gyrus was given a mild electrical shock the patient experienced a feeling of a shadow or ghostly figure behind them. When the right side was shocked the patient then had an out-of-body experience and described the feeling that she was floating on the ceiling looking at herself from above. Doctors believe this area of the brain is associated with sensory nerves responsible for detecting our positions in space as well as our detection of pressure, heat, and temperature. So next time you feel that ghost behind you know that its just your brain. Psych blog pic.PNG http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/03/health/psychology/03shad.html?pagewanted=all

I have a second-cousin with mild autism, a cousin with aspergers, and a nephew that possibly has autism; Needless to say, I have a great interest in this condition. I have heard of all the hypes (including the one about vaccinations) and have also heard of many treatments (such as special learning setting, which was effective for my 2nd cousin I might add...). One treatment that has really spiked my interest, however, is the Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GFCF) diet. According to WebMD, "the gluten-free/casein-free diet is based on the theory that children with autism may have an allergy or high sensitivity to certain foods." Though little research has been done on this, many parents still give it a try in hopes it could ease symptoms.

This diet involves removing all foods containing gluten (wheat products being the most common) and casein (most dairy products). This diet is strict, hard to follow, and can lead to improper nutrition being so many foods are restricted. With these products removed from an autistic person's diet, other measures will need to be taken in order to make sure the nutrition is being gotten from elsewhere.

For more information on the GFCF diet visit: http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/gluten-free-casein-free-diets-for-autism

Watch this video for a brief overview on a book written about the GFCF diet (appeared on the Today Show):

In the video "The Secret You" from the BBC network, Marcus de Sautoy experiments with the question:
What makes decisions? Your consciousness, or "an unconscious mass of great matter?"

Sautoy introduces his thoughts on the subject matter with an interesting statement, "Science has a problem with free will." Looking at things from a scientific perspective, everything that is performed must have an explanation behind it. In science, free will has a tough time existing because in science there is always a reason behind thinking, feeling, and doing. We don't just do things because "we wanted to." The experiment that Sautoy undergoes helps prove this even more--when put in a brain scanner, he found that when making a decision, his brain unconsciously made the decision six seconds before he pushed the button. This helped prove that these decisions were generated in his brain unconsciously a whole six seconds before he consciously decided to push the button--making free will a definite problem.

So my question is, if we don't consciously make our decisions, is it really our fault for being obese? Or killing our neighbors? Or falling in love? Does our unconscious brain actually control our lives?
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psych blog.jpgAs defined in our psychology book, consciousness is our subjective experience of the world, our bodies, and out mental perspectives. In other words, consciousness is our awareness of self, of our environment, and of our thoughts. The BBC video, The Secret You, seeks out what consciousness truly is and where it resides in our brain. How does consciousness work, and where is it located? According to this video consciousness begins in the reticular activating system. This is located in the brain stem and is made up of diffuse nerve cells. The reticular activating system then sends projections to the thalamus, which acts as a sort of relay system. From the thalamus, the projections are sent throughout the entire cortex. Constant activation of the cortex is what activates consciousness. The question of where consciousness resides lead me to do a little more research. I read an article from TIME called, "The Mystery of Consciousness." This article asks what consciousness is, and goes into the science of consciousness. From this article, I have found that there are no concrete answers. Consciousness is located in the brain, and it is caused by activation of the cortex. However when is someone out of consciousness? How do we know this? How can we see this in the brain? Is there scientific evidence? These are all questions that can leave consciousness a mystery, and was addressed in the article I read, but gave no definite answers.

Based on the video posted on the psychology website, called The Secret You, we see that a man did a test to see what really was making the decisions about what he would do. He went into a machine to read his brain activity and was told to randomly press either the left or the right button when they were ready. When making his decision, they could see brain activity 6 seconds before he actually pushed the button. This is showing that his brain is making the decisions before he consciously pushes the button. But your brain is in line with what you desire, so it isn't necessarily going to make you do something that you don't want to do. But in the video, they said "your consciousness is your brain activity and that is what is leading your life." So essentially you can see what someone is going to do six second before that person actually becomes aware of what they are going to do by looking at their brain activity. I found this video to be very interesting and shocking. It is hard to believe that they can see your brain activity and know what decision you are going to make before you even realize it yourself. I found this video to be very interesting and would recommend it to everyone.


Sense of Smell

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Many studies are conducted testing whether different people and animals have a better sense of smell than others. Its been found that dogs and bunnies have a much greater sense of smell than humans. Pregnant mothers as well as infants have also been known to have a better sense of smell. It is also common for people to say that women have a better sense of smell than men. Many researchers have tested these comparisons to be true, while many have found that they do not relate. Why is it that researchers have found better sense of smell in different animals and humans? Do women have more olfactory nerves in their noses which allows them to carry more "odor" messages to the brain? Its been found that dogs have about 25 times more smell receptors in their nose which allows them to out-smell humans. It is interesting to learn about how humans and animals as well as different humans have different abilities to smell.

The Truth About Autism

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There has been a dramatic rise in the number of autism cases in the United States. About 1 in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism. It is not surprising that the causes of this rise are unknown due to the nature of the disorder. Children with autism are very different from each other. There is a multitude of disorders under the umbrella that we call autism spectrum disorders. The one thing that researchers and epidemiologists are confident about is the lack of correlation between autism and vaccinations. According to researchers and epidemiologist at the M.I.N.D. institute, autism probably has a number of genetic and environmental causes, but current vaccinations have not statistically shown correlation to autism cases. While there are more that 20 different genes said to be connected with autism, each of those only effects about 1- 2% of the autistic population. On the other hand, an opposing hunch is that lots of things that are environmentally overwhelming our ability to cope metabolically, thus depleting our protective systems and, perhaps, causing autism. The truth remains to be seen.

I myself and a snorer and have been told that it is pretty bad, but I didn't really think about it cause who cares if your sleeping right? Well it turns out that I quite possibly have a case of sleep apnea. This doesn't surprise me at all because a couple of years ago my mom was tested positive for sleep apnea and underwent some of these same tests Joe Rogan did in this article. I have a bad habit about going to bed early, which I'm sure a lot of us do unless you are over the age of 60. I also drink a lot of caffeine but still find myself tired during points of the day, and like Rogan I experience periods of feeling awake , then laziness, then coffee. But after reading this article I've realized that I could fix this problem and improve my life (sleeping and awake) vastly. If you snore like I do I strongly advise you to read this article and investigate your problem, possibly fix it at an early point in your adult life and have better sleep for YEARS to come, not to mention the fact that you are much more likely to have dreams that are memorable the next morning. It's essentially a win, win. I would also highly recommend reading and listening to Joe Rogan if you haven't heard him already and don't mind his use of profanity. Bottom line is if you snore frequently and loudly and want to get better sleep, have better dreams and save money on coffee make a doctors appointment find out if you have sleep apnea.

Do You Really Know Mary Jane?

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According to drugpolicy.org, more than 800,000 people are arrested for marijuana, otherwise known as Mary Jane, each year. Many of which are college students, maybe even many of you. But how many of you have thought about how marijuana affects your brain. How it works and what parts of the brain are affected? Probably not many, although you should probably at least know what it does within your brain if you do smoke marijuana. The chemical from the marijuana that affects the brain is THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. These chemicals can mimic or even block the actions of neurotransmitters in your brain, conflicting the normal brain functions. Your brain has groups of cannabinoid receptors that are bunched up in a few different locations in the brain, these sites include the Basal Ganglia, the Hippocampus, which affects your short-term memory and the Cerebellum, which can have an affect of your coordination. The THC itself, mimics a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which activate cannabinoid receptors. When the THC binds with the cannabinoid receptors, neurons and activated, neurons that have many effects on the mind and body. This was not written with a purpose of swaying you towards one side or the other on the marijuana debate. Just something to think about when you take your next trip to the clouds.

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(Even super-tasters would enjoy this super food!)

I believe that the reason these "super-senses" exist, such as insects' vision, dogs' olfactory sense, etc. is to permit their survival. For example, insects eternally need to be on high alert due to their relatively small size. Dogs needed a strong smell in order to find their pray. These traits would be more common in humans, too, if it helped for their chance of survival. For example, if most foods that humans consumed were poisonous and only a "super-taster" could use his tasting skills to test which ones, they would likely have a higher survival rate. This survival rate would lead to a higher reproduction rate and thus "super-tasting" would be standard among humans.

Yet in reality, this is not helpful. That is why the "super" genetic mutations of senses in humans are rare. An example of this, again, is the super-taster. There likely is no unique advantage to this skill. In fact, it could be harmful, because infants and other youth would be pickier about their food, which would potentially lead to poorer nutrition. Although these super senses are neat human bodily tricks, the lack of advantage means that they are not likely to spread in the near future.

Have you ever wondered why your dog tends to react so aggressively toward the vacuum? Maybe you've come to the conclusion that your dog sees the vacuum as an angry monster invading your home with its tail wrapped around your hands, and your dog, as it should, is just protecting you. But sadly, this is not usually the case. The vacuum releases a high pitched sound that only our dogs can hear. The sound that they hear isn't so much as annoying to them as it is painful. So we can infer that because dogs can hear more than we can and better than we can, that noises that hurt our ears would definitely hurt theirs but at heightened levels.

The physical makeup of the dog's ear allows them to hear at greater distances than ours, as well as at higher pitches. The range of hearing for dogs ranges from 40Hz to 60 kHz, compared to our range of 20Hz up to 20kHz. This explains the dog whistle situation. To us it sounds like air coming out of a tube, but to them it could probably be described as a sound that would make your ears bleed if you listened to it long enough. When the whistle is blown dogs can't help but stop whatever they are doing and bring their attention to the source of where the sound is coming from. The whistle is a powerful tool. Trainers use it all the time, it's almost like using "free food" on people, but less of a benefit for the dogs.

VIDEO :D ---> http://youtu.be/c2uD7bburaI

Have you ever wondered why your dog tends to react so aggressively toward the vacuum? Maybe you've come to the conclusion that your dog sees the vacuum as an angry monster invading your home with its tail wrapped around your hands, and your dog, as it should, is just protecting you. But sadly, this is not usually the case. The vacuum releases a high pitched sound that only our dogs can hear. The sound that they hear isn't so much as annoying to them as it is painful. So we can infer that because dogs can hear more than we can and better than we can, that noises that hurt our ears would definitely hurt theirs but at heightened levels.

The physical makeup of the dog's ear allows them to hear at greater distances than ours, as well as at higher pitches. The range of hearing for dogs ranges from 40Hz to 60 kHz, compared to our range of 20Hz up to 20kHz. This explains the dog whistle situation. To us it sounds like air coming out of a tube, but to them it could probably be described as a sound that would make your ears bleed if you listened to it long enough. When the whistle is blown dogs can't help but stop whatever they are doing and bring their attention to the source of where the sound is coming from. The whistle is a powerful tool. Trainers use it all the time, it's almost like using "free food" on people, but less of a benefit for the dogs.



Crazy Stairs Are Crazy

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Most people have seen the "Crazy Stairs" piece by M.C. Escher with the stairs going every direction imaginable. He's an artist known for making pieces that mess with our heads and make us think the impossible is real by manipulating our perception of his work. A link to the picture is below. In the Crazy Stairs piece, Escher is able to utilize both monocular cues and binocular cues to trick our brain into thinking a certain set of stairs are right side up. One monocular cue is linear perspective that uses vanishing points, something Escher commonly took advantage of by making more than one. The two vanishing points Escher uses often creates impossible figures like the crazy stairs or the building in "Belvedere," as seen in our book on page 144. One other monocular cue is the manipulation of light and shadow. Because our brains automatically perceive light coming from above whatever we are looking at, light and shadow can easily be manipulated to create a different sense of direction. That is why when we turn our head when looking at this picture, we automatically see a different set of stairs being oriented correctly. We also use binocular cues to judge the depth of the picture we are looking at. Some stairs will look closer than others due to binocular disparity and convergence. Disparity is the fact that our eyes view the world separately and then our brain takes those two different views and creates the one we see. Convergence is where our eyes converge on a point close to us. Our brain measures how much our eyes move and uses that to judge distance. Both of these cues allow us to have depth perception which can be manipulated by artists. One artist able to do that arguably better than anyone was M.C. Escher.

Crazy Stairs Link: http://de-bondt.eu/image.axd?picture=2009/9/mc_escher_reference.jpg

One day, my sophomore year of high school, some of my classmates and I were exploring the idea about how adults cannot hear high frequencies like younger people can. We were in a huge debate, some believed it was true and some didn't. Then we decided to do an experiment on if our teachers could hear high pitched noises. One of my friends pulled up an app on his phone that made the high pitched sound and we started our experiment. First, we tested it on our English teacher, a middle aged man. During class, my friend turned on the app which resulted in other students wondering what that noise was, as my teacher continued on teaching. He did not hear a thing! Next, we tested it on our science teacher, who was pretty young. The teacher could start to hear something, but told us it was not very loud and distinct, while everyone could hear it perfectly. Lastly, we experimented on our health substitute, who was fairly old. It was more like a study hall, so everyone was silent. When my friend started the high pitched noise, all the other classmates sat and watched to see if our substitute would look up. She did not. Then one kid asked if she could hear anything, and she said no. From the three tests we performed that day, we came to the conclusion that it is true: As you get older, it is harder for you to hear high pitched noises. This also resulted in a discussion about how insanely high-pitched dog whistles are and how great dogs' hearing must be if humans cannot hear a sound. My friends and I still talk about that day and how we could honestly say we learned something.

My picture would not post, but here is the link: http://img.anongallery.org/img/2/6/hipster-dog-i-like-dog-whistles.jpg

The Ames Room Illusion

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When I read the textbook about the Ames Room Illusion, it was first time to realize my favorite movie The Lord of the Ring used this trick to represent the Hobbits, the miniature people. The depiction of Hobbits did not seem any strangeness at all. As you can see in the video, the Ames Room shows such a surprising illusion. However, I think many of us have experienced to take or look at a photo with a big figure behind people, and they look in same sizes like the example photo.
The Ames Room illusion demonstrates the two same size figures in different sizes due to each position of viewing point and the two figures. The different heights of ceilings are a key point that deceives our eyes skillfully. Thus, it shows that the giant person and small person are standing in a normal room. By using this technique, the two different sizes figures can be shown in same sizes as the example picture. If you look at people walking next to the clock, you will notice how big it is actually. But the man is acting like he can hold it with one arm.
The Ames Room illusion is used to create a lot of amusing pictures. It tricks our eyes cleverly that we look at giant and small people in real. If we understood this technique, we can take creative photos by ourselves.


Video (Sorry, I did not know how to attach it so I leave the URL here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chxCNEsu3YU

Like Father Like Son...Kinda?

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Mmk so my blog post didn't show up from last week...so I'm just reposting this to make sure I get credit and to prove it actually IS in the blog.

One thing that absolutely astounds me about psychology is the never-ending
debate of nature vs. nurture. Although scientists, biologists,
psychologists, and everyone in between will at the end of the day have
their own opinions, when it comes right down to it nobody knows whether it
is the people we surround ourselves with or the genes we are born with that
actually define exactly what we are and who we are meant to be. Something
that I find completely stupefying is the idea that we are solely influenced
by our genes or our environment. In several articles I found, there were
some scientists that believed that we are almost 100% what our parents give
to us and that any alterations in looks or personality can be attributed to
recessive genes that were passed but non-dominant in our parents. Likewise
on the other side of the spectrum, there are some researchers that believe
that all of our attitude is altered and effected solely by the environment
we surround ourselves with and the people we socialize with. Obviously, the
environment we surround ourselves with doesn't affect our hair color, eye
color, etc. Although I do agree that genetics and science have a huge
impact on who we are and how we react to certain situations, it is
impossible to tell if that is the only thing that impacts us. Truth is -
without extensive human testing through years of potentially grueling
testing and failed experiments, there still remains a minute, slim chance
that we would be able to answer if nature vs. nurture is the true winner in
this debate. Unfortunately, science cannot answer everything.

As we move through life, it is natural that we grow increasingly cynical of the world around us. Relationships collapse, friends come and go, people we assumed we could trust stick us with a raw deal. However, there is some comfort in knowing we can always rely on our own consciousness and intuition, no matter how warped everyone else's may seem to be . . . or so we might think.
Turns out, our own mind is as shifty and manipulative (and conversely, manipulable) as our worst human enemy. It can be altered with chemicals, tricked into believing in things that never happened or existed and induced into a hypnotic stupor.
Although consciousness can be altered in a myriad of ways, hallucinations are perhaps the most striking example because they involve the mind perceiving realistic experiences without outside stimuli. The fact that the visual cortex becomes active when the mind is hallucinating speaks to the strength -- and vulnerability -- of the human consciousness. Self-professed "sane" individuals may comfort themselves by thinking only mentally unstable people experience hallucinations. But this is far from the case. According "Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding," the number of college students who have experienced a hallucination during the day at least once may be as high as 39%.
Thus, everyone at complete honesty with him or herself must eventually confront the truth that we cannot trust our own consciousnesses. True, not everyone will experience a visual or auditory hallucination in their lives, but everyone will be fooled with in some way by their own minds. Even something as innocuous as having a dream is technically an example of the "mind" lying to the "brain," so to speak. But rather than be unsettled by the fact that our brain does not always give us an accurate depiction of reality, we should embrace it. Some states of altered consciousness can be incredibly beneficial. Hypnosis has been shown to help some people (in conjunction with well-established treatment methods) to quit smoking. Dreams can aid in processing complex emotional memories and provide endless intrigue. By experiencing alternative vantage points of perception, we can better equip our minds to go about the business of life.


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Do you think coffee is too bitter, ice cream too rich, or perhaps chili peppers too hot? If you do, you may be a supertaster! Taste researchers say there are three groups of people: non-tasters (account for roughly 25% of the population), medium tasters (50%), and supertasters (25%). These groups differ because of their sensitivity to the bitter chemical 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). Supertasters along with children are the most sensitive to this chemical. The difference is that children will often grow out of this stage where as supertasters do not. Also, because of the dominant allele for the gene TAS2R28, supertasters can have up to twice as many taste buds as medium tasters. There can be positive and negative effects that come with this "supernatural" tasting ability. Beverly Tepper, a scientist at Rutgers University found that female supertasters in their 40's were 20% thinner than non-tasters. Due to their increased sensitivity they were less likely to crave junk foods and actually ate less food overall, lowering their risk of heart disease. On the other hand, supertasters are also more likely to avoid flavonoids which are healthy antioxidant chemicals that are found in fruits and vegetables. Whether it's for better or worse, there is no denying that supertasters have an unusual heightened sense of taste.


Sport's Psychology

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As a member of the University's men's gymnastics team, I have had the opportunity to meet with several "sport's psychologists". Much of what they have talked to my team about involves the mental preparation needed before going out and competeing at a meet. These psychologists believe that there are 3 mindsets a person can be in when they go to compete: underprepared, overprepared, and prepared.

Obviously, the ideal mindset they want us to have going into a competition is to just be prepared. They said there are several ways we can achieve what they call the ideal "arousal state". One way is through the use of breath control. By taking a long, deep breath, holding for a few seconds, and then slowly exhaling, a person is able to slow down their heart-rate. This is helpful when you get overexcited or nervous and too much adrenaline begins to be added to your system. Another thing one of them talked about was mental imagery: closing your eyes and picturing yourself doing a routine exactly like you have practiced and exactly how you want to do it in the future. He said that doing this would remind our bodies of what it feels like to do these skills. A combination of these preparations would prepare us for success.

The biggest problem that many people have before going out and competing is that they are either very excited or very nervous. Both of these things make our bodies pump adrenaline into our systmes, which then puts us at a higher "arousal state" than we should be at if we want to perform successfully. Also, a careless attitude can put us at a lower than the ideal state, which can then lead to laziness and careless mistakes.

I have to say that I probably agree with a lot of this. Excitement and nervousness in gymnastics are very detrimental to one's performance. Finding that ideal "arousal state" is key in going out and performing to the best of one's ability!

Grand Theft Childhood?

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Do violent video games make people violent? This question has been a topic of discussion for years. I was around 11-years-old when I first played "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" at my cousins' house. Neither me nor my parents were concerned about me becoming violent because we don't think video games can do that.

Oklahoma representative William Fourkiller disagrees. He claims, "violent video games contribute to some of our societal problems like obesity and bullying". Fourkiller cited an incident of a man who played "Grand Theft" and then stole a car. This isn't good evidence because it doesn't prove that the video game caused the man to steal a car. It could be that the man's tendency to steal caused him to the play the video game, or that a third variable made him do both.

Harvard psychologist Dr. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson conducted a two-year study on this topic. They concluded that kids who play violent video games do, in fact, have a higher risk of getting in trouble. However, they did not find evidence that video games directly make kids violent. Violence in schools has gone down in the past 20 years while video game playing has gone up, they say. William Fourkiller is proposing a bill to congress that would add a larger tax on violent video games. I'm surprised a hypothesis that has been proved wrong time and time again is still relevant today, and that such a bill is even being considered.




It seems like everyone is on Facebook these days, so when browsing through articles to write about, I was drawn to one addressing how social media affects friendships. The article addressed how these sites influence teens, and as I continued its claims seemed to strongly equate correlation and causation. It spoke of how online sites give shy people a voice, because it lacks the possibly anxiety-inducing experience of speaking face to face and making eye contact. It stated that quiet personalities find their voice online, promoting a feeling of connectedness and confidence that wasn't available before. I agree that this may be possible, but one excerpt particularly blurred the line between correlation and causation, saying that "the internet's capacity for social connection" benefits lonely teens. I noticed that were no studies listed in the article that absolutely proved that the Internet's social media causes all lonesome kids to feel more socially connected. The article seems to jump from correlation to causation in regards to social media and confidence, when other factors could influence this.
The writer also makes the extraordinary claim that "One of social networking's greatest benefits is its ability to bring meaningful friendships to people who might otherwise be shunned as outcasts." Although this may be true, there is not sufficient evidence to support this claim within the article. No studies were reported that rank the benefits of social networking. I also found it interesting that the article didn't address a potential negative effect on teens using social media: Internet bullying.

What do you think? How much does social networking boost confidence and friendships?

Source: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/02/friends.aspx

It seems like everyone is on Facebook these days, so when browsing through articles to write about, I was drawn to one addressing how social media affects friendships. The article addressed how these sites influence teens, and as I continued its claims seemed to strongly equate correlation and causation. It spoke of how online sites give shy people a voice, because it lacks the possibly anxiety-inducing experience of speaking face to face and making eye contact. It stated that quiet personalities find their voice online, promoting a feeling of connectedness and confidence that wasn't available before. I agree that this may be possible, but one excerpt particularly blurred the line between correlation and causation, saying that "the internet's capacity for social connection" benefits lonely teens. I noticed that were no studies listed in the article that absolutely proved that the Internet's social media causes all lonesome kids to feel more socially connected. The article seems to jump from correlation to causation in regards to social media and confidence, when other factors could influence this.
The writer also makes the extraordinary claim that "One of social networking's greatest benefits is its ability to bring meaningful friendships to people who might otherwise be shunned as outcasts." Although this may be true, there is not sufficient evidence to support this claim within the article. No studies were reported that rank the benefits of social networking. I also found it interesting that the article didn't address a potential negative effect on teens using social media: Internet bullying.

What do you think? How much does social networking boost confidence and friendships?

Source: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/02/friends.aspx

Nature Vs. Nurture Debate

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The age long debate of whether nurture or nature as the cause of how we are is still going on. Which one do I believe truly shapes who we are? Well I think it is a combination of the two, genetics cannot be the answer to every behavior we conduct in our lives. The same goes for how we are raised, some of how we are is embedded in our DNA. I believe instead of separating each side out and saying nurture or nature is the sole answer to how we are we should be looking at how each effect us and how. A great example in my life is how many in my family are prone to addiction, specifically alcoholism. The line of alcoholics starts with my great grandpa then my grandpa and lastly my uncle. All of them have had troubles with other abuses and addictions. So why should I be any different? Why am I not a raging alcoholic like them? Nurture would say it is because my mother took me away from an environment in which alcohol was around and I was unable to witness these behaviors but the nature side of the argument would say either I am an alcoholic but fight the urge or those genes may not have been passed down to me. Many studies have found alcoholism to be genetic but I think it has more to do with what a person's environment is like, full of people drinking away or clean. This has really gotten me to thinking about what disorders and addictions are genetic and which have been successfully proven to be due to a person's environment?

Many people in America need to spend more time exercising. But can anyone be exercising too much? The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that you lift weights twice a week and have either 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week. As a general goal they recommend aiming for 30 minutes of exercise per day with a higher goal of 300 minutes per week.
According the the Department of Agriculture they recommend 30 minutes of exercise per day. However, their viewpoint conflicts because they say that certain people may need up to 90 minutes of exercise per day to keep from gaining weight.
On another hand, the Institute of Medicine recommended that we should all engage in 60 minutes of daily vigorous activity. Comparing this to the observation made by the Department of Health and Human services, they recommend almost six times as much vigorous exercise per week. I tried to evaluate the accuracy of these articles by looking at the sources in which they claim to be from. I think that because the first two articles agree on the 30 minutes of exercise per day mark you can rule out the Institute of Medicine's finding that claims we need 60 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
Overall, I found no evidence claiming that you can exercise too much per week. The minimum amount you should exercise in one week if you want to be fit should be 30 minutes per day.

Fat kid.jpg

In the debate of nature vs. nurture, scientists, biologists, psychologists, and everyone in between has a different opinion about what makes us unique in our own way. As we have discussed in class, this debate comes from the idea that either genes (nature) or the way we were raised (nurture) makes us who we are. Although I find this argument totally interesting, I also kind of find it absolutely absurd. Many people fight their opinions and base their entire career and studies off of a single-sided argument. My question is - why can't it be a little bit of both? Genes obviously have a role in our lives on a biological level, but intellectual, social, and behavioral inputs on us by society, family, and friends also play a major role. In my humble opinion, I do believe that we are a culmination of nature and nurture. If we were just based off nature, we would all be exactly like our parents - likes, intellect, looks, etc. This, obviously, is not the truth. HOWEVER, we also are not solely nurture simply because of the fact that others' impacts on our personality cannot impact genetic traits such as eye color, hair color, height, weight, etc. In conclusion, I disagree with most scientists that say we are mostly one side or the other and instead propose that we as humans are an almost even mix of nature and nurture.


The other day my roommate, a third year nursing student, asked me "Do you know anything about diet pop?". I responded that I liked it and she continued to ask if I had done any research, because all of her nurse friends kept telling her that it was horrible for her to drink it. So here I am thinking of what to blog about and well, let's begin.
I think it goes without saying just what the rumor says, "Artificial sweeteners are just as bad as sugar", "Aspartame is poison!", "Fake sugar causes cancer". These misspoken mimes, not only violating our principles of scientific thinking, are far from the truth of what effect Aspartame really has on our bodies. Delving into the endless internet encyclopedias, I first found an article that explained some of the highly confrontational articles, one in particle, "Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods".
Woo there, that's a great claim requiring some great evidence. And honestly, there's tons of evidence that says aspartame will indeed cause cancer, weight gain and multiple sclerosis, but I think many of these cases have been skewed and tested in unnatural conditions (like giving a mouse 50x the aspartame that is in one diet soda within a short period of time and seeing a disease develop).
On further research, I didn't know what would give me honest answers so in my opinion, the FDA is a well trusted organization that most Americans assume has the facts. FDA online it is. "FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food". Personally, I hope that the FDA is safe and trustworthy but there are always people to challenge and oppose.
After review of these and many other sites one thing is clear to me: Aspartame causes serious controversy among nutritionists, scientists and doctors as to what health risks it really imposes. We know its sweet, we know it's free of calories, we know its associated with other artificial foods and flavors. What I have learned is that even in science, there is not always one clear answer, especially when a topic becomes heated and controversial the truth becomes more difficult to uncover. I would like to end this with an answer to what I proposed, but sadly all I can leave you with is an informative and lighthearted interview between my favorites: Oprah and Dr. Oz (he's real).

If you read this post:
I would be interested to hear what you know about Aspartame, what your opinion on diet pop is and if you know anyone suffering from an addiction or side effects from overuse?

The clip we observed in class about the two 35-year old women that were separated at birth helped us examine the nature vs. nurture debate. It was interesting to see that even though they lived apart for their whole life, they still had some of the same idiosyncrasies and personality traits.
The fact that they had some of the same personality traits gave more evidence to the nature side of the debate. It didn't matter that the backgrounds were different; these twins would've had the same characteristics either way according to the clip.
This study, that they unknowingly took part in, raised a few questions.
- How similar of an environment did they have while growing up?
- Are there any more similarities between these two women other than personality traits?

The way they performed this study seemed to be a bit unethical. Splitting up siblings at birth for an experiment doesn't seem to be a good reason for a family to be separated. Unless the mother was unable to support the children and was going to put them up for adoption, then I could see how the experiment idea would be somewhat plausible. Overall, it was interesting to see that these two shared the same characteristics even though they lived completely different lives.


Will this still be the case in 20 years?

         Two out of the three articles I viewed displayed the pros of using MDMA for psychotherapy by describing the positive effects for the use of MDMA as a medical and therapeutic drug. Obviously MDMA is a schedule I drug for a reason, the article MDMA - The Ecstacy exploits the negative long-term effects of the drug through research and studies. Countering these claims, McKie's article Ecstasy does not wreck the mind states that the data from these experiments shows that correlation is not causation. Mckie tells that the experiment "studied users who were taken from a culture dominated by all-night dancing...individuals (consistent with) sleep and fluid deprivation - factors that are themselves known to produce long-lasting cognitive effects." Through another experimental study, conducted by Professor John Halpern of Harvard Medical School, they carefully selected participants to single out and study the effects of MDMA alone; "When we did that, we found that there was no difference in their cognitive abilities."
        This doesn't mean that MDMA should be legalized and dispersed out to any patient who has symptoms of anxiety or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that would have to many flaws to the system.


It would be an easy system to fool

        But, under the right measures and precautions MDMA could be used in psychotherapy to help calm the symptoms of anxiety and PTSD. Palmquist's article The Ecstasy and the Agony includes an e-mail interview with a pair of Norwegian scientists who published a paper covering MDMA and its assistance with anxiety disorders. The benefits of using MDMA with psychotherapy, is that MDMA can aid the recovery of a traumatic event in someone's life by enhancing the confidence, openness and feelings that they are safe and in control. These feelings aid with the process of exposure therapy (commonly used for PTSD).
        All of these articles say they have evidence from studies and experiments. They say all of the data comes from Universities or experimental labs, which can be true, but the questions we have to ask are; were there any other factors that could affect these results? What guidelines did these studies have to follow, or how can we be sure that the results aren't from inaccurate data? Did any of these researchers have a bias, or a bias forced from a benefactor of the study? It could be any number of reasons, and we should keep these in mind as we investigate articles and information on any study conducted.
        So what's the conclusion? Should we start prescribing MDMA as a pharmaceutical anti-anxiety prescription? Or should it stay up in the ranks with marijuana, cocaine and heroin? The answer lies within the studies of course, although it is up to use to determine whether or not the studies are accurate.


Injuries in Sports

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In recent years and particularly in recent months injuries in sports have become a concern. It seems like more and more injuries are occurring in all levels of sports and according to unc.edu more injuries might actually be occurring. Approximately 4.3 million sports and recreation related injuries were treated in hospital emergency departments during July 2000-June 2001(NEISS-AIP). This is more than any other type of non-intentional injuries. Among children aged 10-14 years, 46.3% of all non-fatal unintentional injury emergency department visits were a result of a sports related injury. Almost of these kids injuries are coming from sports which is a major concern. Injuries by sport is actually quite shocking. Most would think that football and hockey would be the leader in injuries, but actually football and basketball are tied at the top with each having 20% of all the sport related injuries. In third place with 12% of all injuries is bicycling which was the biggest surprise to me because riding a bike isn't all that physical. It is amazing to see that many injuries happening to kids are coming from the sports they play, something needs to be done.

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One of the findings that I found very interesting and, to be honest, hard to get behind is that the "Hot Hand" in sports is actually an illusion. Practically my whole life I have witnessed what I thought was an athlete being "on a roll", "feeling it", "in the zone" and so on and so on. There are even times in my athletic pursuits when I am convinced that I have a hot hand and I just cannot miss. On the converse, I also believed that athletes can have a streak where nothing goes right. I am pretty sure that my athletic career has a lot more cold streaks than hot ones, but still, streaks happen, right? When I found out this was just not true I did not believe it. How can this be a myth!?

As we read in our text, Thomas Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University conducted a study that found no evidence for a positive correlation between the success of a player's previous shots to the success of their future shots. I decided to get a hold of this study so I could find out a bit more about their research.

Reading the article and thinking about my reaction to the initial findings actually helped me gain a deeper understanding of believe persistence. Our text has informed us science acts as a good safeguard against our own biases, and after reading this study, I could not agree more. My believe persistence kicked me in the butt initially. I read in our text that the "Hot Hand" is an illusion because a scientific study was done and it found no proof of it's existence. Yet, I did not believe it. My years of supposedly witnessing and feeling the hot hand caused me to doubt scientific data that suggested it was an illusion.

Another aspect that the article included concerns memory bias. The study suggests that people tend to believe in the hot hand because in athletic events a streak is a lot more memorable than a scattered handful of hits and misses. This also now rings true for me. I can remember several basketball games where Rasheed Wallace, my favorite player, was on fire. I also can remember a lot of games where he would not have been able to land a rock in the Grad Canyon. But can I remember one time when he made a few and missed a few, in no particular order? Nope.

So, FINE. I get it now. I did not want to accept the results of this study and now I know why. My belief persistence and memory bias got in the way. I am glad I decided to find out more about this study because it brought up some important things that I will be sure to look out for as I continue to study psychology and how my own biases might prevent me from approaching things in a scientific way.

I read an one article about the effects of caffeine on different aspects of the body and then watched a video discussing how much is too much. Of course it there are a lot of factors that contribute to how much is too much, for a large man it may be perfectly okay for him to consume twice as much caffeine than a small woman. Of course diet plays a factor in there too. But speaking of diet one question that was asked was does caffeine really help one loose weight? I'm sorry to report but from what I could find the answer appears to be no. Consuming caffeine before you work out may help you run faster and longer but consuming caffeine before, during, or after a meal will only make you feel more hungry and trick you into wanting more food. This is one reason why caffeine intake should be limited to a max equivalent of two cups of coffee a day, less is better. Caffeine may be efficient in keeping you up to complete that paper you put off till the last minute but it is a give and take relationship. It gives you energy but drops your blood sugar, giving you that "crashing" feeling of overwhelming sleepiness. Because, I, myself rely on it so much, I would like to see what other aspects caffeine effects, whether it be good or bad health issue related to caffeine...


I found so many things wrong with this article I am not sure where to begin. Well I suppose the explanation, or lack thereof, of how the geometric alignment of the planets affects human behavior and personality is a good place to start critiquing. The explanation I am referring to is "And it is the geometries of these planets which somehow affects us." The author continues on to say how a critic would put a hand up to this reasoning and recommends noting the geometric shape of the planets, and he is correct. The planets may form a geometrically accurate shape but how does that affect us? I didn't find the answer to that question in the article. With the lack of evidence comes the lack of falsifiability. There is no way to disprove these claims with a legitimate experiment. The author also cites another astrologist, Arthur Young, in which he calls astrology the "divine science of the ancients," seems to me a description like that is being used to replace actual support. Throughout the article the author continues to bash on scientists who don't support astrology by saying their lack of integrity is the reason they don't support...but I think what I found in this article is reason enough not to believe it. The very last sentence of the article is "Incidentally, Young invented and developed the world's first helicopter. What has the guy who had his hand up, done?" I'm sorry but what does that have to do with astrology? Sure I read my horoscope once and a while for fun but I wouldn't live my life by it.


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"Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives," as Newsweek quoted. Are dreams real? or are they unreal? A common question. According to ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, all believed that the dreams that we have are divinely inspired. Dreams should not be looked past, and should not be looked at as meaningless, because they are indeed manifestations of our unconscious fear and hopes, fundamental insticts and drives, and also possibly our real personalities.

Sleep is very essential and crucial in our every day living. Its well needed for our health and well-being that we are even believed to spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping. While we fall asleep we allow our bodies to relax and let our minds come into action and bring about our nightly dreams that range from here to there. There is so much that can influence our dreams, it can be the people that we see that day, the last movie that we saw, the last thought that you had in your mind, your stresses, happinesses etc, that help conform our unconscious state of dreaming.

Do you ever wake up wondering where that dream came from and why you had it? Do you ever try to unravel the true meaning as it pertains to your life and what is going around in it? I always do that with my dreams, thinking about everything around me that would have influenced my dreams.

There are so many different types of dreams from false awakening dreams to inspirational dreams, from nightmares to past life dreams, and out of body experiences to wish fullfillment dreams. There are many more types, but the one that interests me most about dreams is the re-occuring dreams.

It is often said that recurring dreams are about ongoing wakening situations. sometimes suffering from an actual phobia. Though in my case i beg to differ. I have this one vivid dream of my teeth falling out. Its a dream that Ive had numerous times. Ive come to conclusion that no, my teeth arent really going to fall out because maybe I didnt brush them enough, but that my teeth falling out stands for "new beginnings." Think of it, as children we lose our baby teeth, to let the mature ones come in...a new beginning, growing into a different stage in life. I see a "new beginning as a job opportunity, a new life, having children ect. I see it as something new and better to come. It is also sometimes said that recurring dreams is to help one come forward with their fears and consider them rationally, and soon they will be less intense and eventually go away.

Dreams are fun, interesting, and sometimes scary. Dreams are one area that I am very interested in learning about this semester in Psychology, its a secret life, that still is trying to be unraveled. What do your dreams tell you? What questions do you want answered about your dreams?

"The year will end on December 21, 2012." This claim is a common one these days; all of us have heard it. Many of us have heard these claims and know where they have stemmed from: The Mayan Calendar. Quite of number of people believe that the end of the Mayan Calendar also means the end of the world. The problem with this is the claim is outrageous and with other "doomsday" predictions such as Y2K and May 21, it is hard to believe.

When reading this article the evidence that the supporters give us isn't very helpful. The Mayan Calendar ending on this date: easily dismissible. Increased activity on the sun: not very alarming. The decrease in oil and other social problems: humans have always had problems before; one problem doesn't mean the end of the world. The problem with all these claims about the end of the world is there isn't any strong sign that shows an upcoming catastrophe.

I don't think the world is coming to an end soon. The Mayan Calendar idea most likely is being used as a reason to spout another claim. My reason for the calendar ending on December 2012 is they either didn't have time or a reason to continue forward with it. There is also little to nothing about the world ending in Mayan records.

Sure there may be a possibility for an upcoming apocalypse, but it cannot be proved by rumors or random findings. You need some outrageous evidence to support this claim.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=5301284&page=1#.Ty8mR08mwiw

How much should the average person exercise each day in order to stay healthy? 60 minutes right? I found three articles that argue different prognosis's. The first article from the Hear t Health Center talks about how assuming people can exercise for an hour is a joke and that a simple 20 minutes will do the trick. You may not be shedding pounds left and right but you will be doing your cardiovascular health a huge favor. The second article from ABC news argues a similar time although it gives profound results. ABC tested 400,000 study participants in a 12 year span and found that if you work out just 15 MINUTES A DAY you can increase your life expectancy by three years...how they found this statistic with all the other factors that play into health , I have no idea, but for the sake of my argument I'll take it. Lastly, my third link by Cardiff University Sports says at least 30 minutes a day is enough to maintain cardiovascular health. Cardiff's points out that working out doesn't have to mean bench pressing or even going for a 30 minute run...it can be something as simple as washing your car, or gardening. Point being, no one truly agrees with an exact time that should be allotted to exercising every day, but all the articles clearly say you should exercise at least 15 per day and the more time you allot, the higher your cardiovascular health will be in turn...DUH. These articles are trustworthy because they all studied heart patients and are from valid sources who have done studies over the years or took data from places who have. A couple possible fallacies this topic can fall under are the bandwagon and not-me fallacy. It is easy to compare oneself to another person and doing so can cause a bandwagon effect of not needing to exercise or just the opposite in the not-me fallacy.


I've never really been one for the nomadic life. Moreover, as a devoted student of the natural sciences, I have brushed off horoscopes, palmistry, and tarot cards as superstitious scams aimed to satisfy the curiosities and hopes of the desperate and feeble. However, the eerily 'coincidental' and 'psychic' happenings my roommate and I have experienced in recent weeks almost caused me to doubt whether pseudoscience really is pseudoscience. Almost. Allow me to explain.

I would far exceed the word count quota if I were to enumerate here all the predictions and coincidences I have encountered recently. Nonetheless, I will share a few. In the past three days, my roommate and I have collectively found six dimes on the ground at various locations around the U. During this time, we did not chance upon any other coins randomly lying around (no pennies, no quarters). Take, as another example, the following situation of apparent "jinxing": About an hour after mentioning to my roommate that a couple of our friends who were dating had "been together for a while," their relationship status on Facebook changed to "single."

More examples? While sitting in my biology class, I decided it would be neat to do a project on genetically modified cats. We have never specifically discussed cats in class, and I'm not particularly interested in cats, but the idea just came to mind for some reason. When I went on Moodle that night, the first sample article my professor had posted was exactly about that: a GMO cat modified to glow in the dark. Additionally, my roommate and I have recently been seemingly reading each others minds, finishing each others sentences, and encountering the same odd coincidences independently in the same day. We thought perhaps we should harness our psychic powers, drop out of school and become gypsies. Jokingly, of course.

While all these coincidences seem to suggest something supernatural, in all honesty, I realize that calling ourselves fortune-tellers or mind-readers is simply an example of apophenia, a phenomenon which our textbook describes as the "tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena." What are the chances that all of those coincidences and more would happen in the span of a couple of weeks? Perhaps not as low as we think! Most likely, these occurrences were due to chance, and our contrived isolation and analyzation of them was a result of not only apophenia, but also a number of logical fallacies-- namely, confirmation bias. Retrospectively, I realize that my roommate and I fell victim to confirmation bias and neglect of evidence that didn't lead to the conclusion that we were real-life Esmeraldas. For example, we never considered all the other times in our lives when we had found coins on the ground. We didn't think anything of the other changed relationship statuses on Facebook that week. I didn't point out the lack of coincidence in the other biology articles my professor posted. Et cetera.

It's interesting that while all these happenstances were taking place, I was reading about pseudosience, apophenia, pareidolia, and fallacies in my Psych textbook. COINCIDENCE?... probably.

Image from: http://www.lucknet.com/Horoscope_news/Horoscope.html

As a baseball player I have come upon several superstitions that belong to other players as well as some superstitions that I live by. When a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter or a perfect game, no one on the team is supposed to talk to the pitcher, who is usually isolated on one side of the bench. A superstition I partake in is having the same "batter's box dance." For as long as I remember before the first pitch to me, I dig out the back of the batter's box (even if the batter's box is turf!) then I touch the left corner of the plate with the bat , then lightly half swing the bat towards the pitcher. Every single time I come up to the plate I practice the same routine as if it makes me a better hitter. While there is surely no correlation between my routine and hitting the ball, it makes me feel more comfortable at the plate. If this were to be considered Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), I would have to say that 95% of baseball players have OCD. While it seems like a humorous thing for an average person, most baseball players absolutely live by their superstitions. Another example comes from Minnesota Twin Frank Viola. In 1984, a fan started to display a banner in the Metrodome that read "FRANKIE SWEET MUSIC VIOLA." Frank believed he pitched better when the sign was hung. In 1987, Viola pitched to a record of 15-0 when the sign was up and won the American League Cy Young Award (best pitcher). The Twins reached the World Series that year and Frank discovered that the fan that the banner belonged to did not have tickets. So Frankie bought the fan tickets for Game 1 and 7, Frank won both of those games and won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award. So next time you are at a baseball game and see a player doing something odd, realize that it is what makes that player comfortable, even if it is only a superstition that has an illusory correlation.

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