Recently in Assignment 2 Category

The Stages of Sleep and It's Disorders

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This week I've found the consciousness chapter very interesting, especially sleeping patterns. I never realized there are steps in the sleeping process. There are five stages in the sleeping cycle. Stages one through four include non-REM sleep, and stage five is the REM sleep cycle. Different brain waves occur in each level of sleep. While a person is still awake the brain produces beta waves, these waves are produced during alert states only, and occur thirteen plus times per second. Alpha waves arise eight to twelve times per second and are produced in calm wakefulness. Theta waves occur four to seven times per second. Both Alpha waves and Theta waves take place during stage one of sleep. During stage two, waves are absent, but electrical activity happens instead. Sleep spindles and K-complexes appear during this time. Delta waves appear twenty to fifty percent of the time in stages three and four. During REM sleep, there are low-amplitude waves resembling those of wakefulness. This is also when dreams take place. This has been interesting to me because before I knew about the different levels of sleep, I always wondered how I had so many dreams in one night. Now I know it is a result of each cycle lasting approximately ninety minutes during the night.

I also found the sleep disorders interesting to learn about. I've always heard of insomnia, night terrors, and sleepwalking, but never really heard of narcolepsy or sleep apnea. I feel like the most dangerous disorder is narcolepsy. People who have this disorder really aren't capable of driving, operating machinery for their jobs, or taking part in recreational activity. It would also be a very hard lifestyle to get used to.

Chapter five has probably been my favorite chapter to learn about so far in Psychology 1001. I wish we could have spent more time on the subject, but I'm looking forward to learning more for this unit.

Assignment 2

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I watched a bit of a documentary from BBC which covered questions on human consciousness. One of the questions asked was, "Where does consciousness reside?"

A doctor in the documentary explained that, anatomically, consciousness seems to rely on cortex activity, and cortex activity relies on the brain stem. The brain stem contains the reticular activating system, which projects brain activity to the thalamus. The thalamus then spreads out those projections throughout different areas of the cortex. This allows our cortex to be constantly stimulated and active, and that allows people to remain conscious.

Now is it really that simple? Cortex activity? I wish they would have gone deeper into depth on answering the question, but I should remember that the human brain is one of the most complex machines in the universe and that we still have so much to learn about it.

As fascinating as consciousness is, I would love to learn more about the subconscious mind. How important is it? Is it over-exaggerated? How much do we know about it?

Amir Bajramovic

Signal Detection Theory

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Signal Detection Theory (SDT) is the point in which almost all reasoning and decision making takes place in the presence of some uncertainty. In other words SDT is the process for someone who needs to decides between different classes of an items and their bias to favor a particular type of response. if a signal is present and a person correctly identifies the signal, then she/he has made a 'hit.' However, if the signal is absent and she/he says that the signal is present, then she has made a 'false alarm.' I believe this is one of the most important theories because it tries to help explains why we tend to lean on one type of guess rather than the other even when we are in doubt about both. On real life exapmle is talking on the phone with someone and there is a lot of static in the background. If the person on the other line has a good stimulus present they will not need you to shout over the phone in order for you to understand them (true positive). One question I am left with is "How does the applet define a receiver-operating characteristic?"

Thank you,

Blog #2

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In the past few weeks of class and through the readings I was intrigued by the idea of echolocation. Echolocation is using sound and listening to the echos off of the objects to determine the distances to them. This concept is astounding to me because of a young boy named Ben Underwood. This young man, mentioned in the text book, is blind but can "see" using echolocation. Upon reading this I watched a few videos about Ben Underwood and his use of echolocation and it was outstanding. He uses a series of clicks and can determine where objects are around him based on the reverberations he receives back off the objects. I believe that this concept is important because people have been able to put this concept of echolocation into practical use through submarines. Sonar is used in subs to find and navigate throughout the ocean floor. Without the ability to do this the submarines would crash into rocks and other objects in the ocean.
The thing I wonder about this concept is to the extent this can be mastered, in the case of Ben Underwood he is able to navigate through his surroundings while still being blind, but with some troubles at times. But is there a way to master this ability so that blind people could "see" so to speak?

one this is a link to a ben underwood video

Consciousness or neurons?

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Viewing the BBC video

The question is, are we conscious of our decisions, or are our neurons conscious and they tell us what to do? In a shocking study, Marcus de Sautoy is put into an fMRI machine with 2 buttons in his hands. His job? Simply choose which button to push, and push it. After several times of this, he is removed and they go over the results. Using the fMRI, Doctors can tell us what Marcus is going to pick 6 SECONDS before he knows what he's going to pick. Thats real mind reading.
The brain scans give a picture of what Marcus is thinking, if he is going to choose left, the left side turns blue, if he is going to pick right, his right side turns yellow. It's pretty amazing how far technology has gotten us.

The man, Marcus, makes a comment, "am I conscious or are my neurons conscious?" I think the answer is both. Your neurons are you; they are a part of you, they are still your choices.
I like what Professor John-Dylan Haynes says "brain activity is a part of conscious activity. They are encoded... Your conscious is your brain activity." It is much more calming to think about and understand.

So which will you choose? Door number one, or door number two?

-Dana Fisher

Blog Entry 2

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What does the difference in consciousness between waking and sleeping tell us about our sense of self? Most basically the trans-cranial stimulation tells us the mechanics behind consciousness, the physiological reactions and interconnectedness among all the different parts of the brain are what distinguish consciousness from unconsciousness. On another level it lets us see where our sense of being comes from, all these firings of different neurons in separate parts of the brain is what allows us to synthesize the information into an awareness of ourselves. This step is crucial in our understanding of the human brain and of the brains of animals. We can know more about the functional capacity for a sense of self in biological terms. I would also like to know more information on his ability to detect consciousness in animals and computers. The methods needed to distinguish between what is actually a fully functioning consciousness like humans possess and lower levels of data integration would be very interesting.

Assignment 2

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Consciousness is believed to be brought about from your cortex, and it is believed to be the part that makes you self aware. The reticular activating system acting with the Thalamus is believed to give you self-awareness. This is very interesting, as you believe that you should just know, but it is required to understand it.

Assignment 2

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Marcus de Sautoy wanted to find out when we develop self awareness. In order to investigate this question he engaged in a search for consciousness... the search for "me." Sautoy makes some intriguing observations about the simple things in life that humanity does not typically think about. He is right in saying that we take these things for granted, like the feel of sun on our skin and mental time travel: the ability to focus on the past by searching through memories or focusing solely on the present.
Sautoy goes Portsmith University to observe the well known mirror self-recognition test. It becomes evident that children between 18 and 24 months become self-aware. They connect themselves to the reflection in the mirror by noticing that a sticker is on their face that isn't usually there. Humans, chimps, and orangutangs are the only creatures that have proved to have self-awareness. However, death-awareness is the price we pay for self-awareness.
I really enjoyed this video --I could not help, but watch other sections of it too! It's true that the average citizen does not think of the simple things in life, such as self-awareness. This documentary presents Sautoy's results in an informative but interesting way, which I believe is the best way to bring my attention to the incredible things that our brains are capable of.
My biggest question is what would happen if all mammals were self-aware? If with self-awareness comes death awareness, then how would the animals react to hunting, poaching, and slaughter houses? If a cow is completely aware that it is being raised in order for it to be slaughtered for meat...would more people consider it cruel? Would we have more vegetarians? Would hunters be as successful at hunting if their prey is aware of its surroundings? It's mind-boggling to think about

Assignment #2

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I chose to write my assignment on the concepts of sensation and perception. These two concepts are important in our everyday lives. Sensation and perception could be considered as one concept, because they work together in every situation we encounter. We first experience the sensation and then we make sense of that sensation, which is perception, therefore you do not place perception on anything if you do not first have a sense for anything. Sensation is what we use to pick up signals in our environment using our eyes, our nose, our tongue, our ears, and our skin. Perception allows us to take in all these inputs and make sense of them, or make them into something meaningful. One reason why I believe that sensation is important is because of pain. For example, if a person lacks the capability to sense pain and places their hand on a hot stove, they are in serious danger of severe burns. Perception is important, because the sensation of a burn would normally motivate a person to create the perception that they need to remove their hand from the hot stove before they receive physical, or permanent, damage. In this case, since this person does not feel the sensation of the burn from the hot stove, they do not have the ability to create the perception to make sense of what's happening, and therefore they have no reason to remove their hand from the hot stove. This is just one example of how sensation and perception work together in a given situation and why it is essential to our everyday lives to have the capability of detecting these concepts, or concept.

Assignment #2

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I chose to write my assignment on the concepts of sensation and perception. These two concepts are important in our everyday lives. Sensation and perception could be considered as one concept, because they work together in every situation we encounter. We first experience the sensation and then we make sense of that sensation, which is perception, therefore you do not place perception on anything if you do not first have a sense for anything. Sensation is what we use to pick up signals in our environment using our eyes, our nose, our tongue, our ears, and our skin. Perception allows us to take in all these inputs and make sense of them, or make them into something meaningful. One reason why I believe that sensation is important is because of pain. For example, if a person lacks the capability to sense pain and places their hand on a hot stove, they are in serious danger of severe burns. Perception is important, because the sensation of a burn would normally motivate a person to create the perception that they need to remove their hand from the hot stove before they receive physical, or permanent, damage. In this case, since this person does not feel the sensation of the burn from the hot stove, they do not have the ability to create the perception to make sense of what's happening, and therefore they have no reason to remove their hand from the hot stove. This is just one example of how sensation and perception work together in a given situation and why it is essential to our everyday lives to have the capability of detecting these concepts, or concept.

Assignment 2 3:30-12:30

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In this segment of the video, Marcus de Sautoy wants to point out that sensation to surroundings and self makes people more aware. There are many things in our life that we take for granted that help shaped who we are now. But when exactly do we become aware of self? In the study with a 16 month old child, a sticker is placed on the child's cheek and there is a mirror that will reflect an image of the child. The objective of this experiment is to see if the child will realize that a sticker has been placed on his cheek and touch it. The child however failed to realize the sticker. In another experiment, a 22 month child performs the same experiment but notice the sticker placed on her. This shows that between the month 18-22 months , the children will finally start to become aware of self. This experiment was a well devised experiment to see if the children were self aware. However, what part of environment plays a role in this? Have the children been exposed to mirrors before the experiment? There are still many questions about when people become self aware however this experiment have helped to narrowed it down into a smaller group. If we are not self aware what happens? Sautoy's son said in the video that he had no memories of ever going to the Grand Canyon. Does being self aware play a role in memory?

Sleep Deprivation Score

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I found the exercise we did in our discussion sections in which we discovered our own sleep deprivation scores and tested them in one way or another against the rest of the class was very interesting. My own score was 10 which is very high. (Perhaps part of the reason that I am writing my blog entry two days late?) My group surveyed 20 other members of the class, 10 males and 10 females, in order to see which sex is more sleep deprived. We found that females on average were far more sleep deprived than their male counterparts, contrary to our groups hypothesis. This exercise was interesting to me because I have always had trouble with my sleeping habits for as long as I have remembered and I was shocked to see just how high my score was, since one is considered sleep deprived at a mere score of three.

Assignment #2

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After watching the BBC video, more in depth during 12:30 through 15:50, I found the subject of consciousness more interesting due to what I have learned so far in Psy 1001, like the parts of the brain. It was very cool to be able to understand what Dr. Gentleman (funny last name, I think) was saying regarding the thalamus, brain stem, and lobes of the brain. Marcus de Sautoy, however, has a more raw sense of emotions when it comes to handling the brain rather than Dr. Gentleman's more scientific view of the human machine. Sautoy was really taken aback when handling the brain, and felt very privileged that he could hold something that made man human. I found it odd how consciousness could be quantified and labeled as the outer layer of the brain; I always have pictured consciousness as some sort of mystical thing that couldn't be pictured physically, rather it be some sort of imaginary holographic enigma-thing.

Assignment #2 The Secret You (3:30 - 12:30 minutes)

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Prompt #2 Henry Price

When do we become self-aware is the question the first portion of the BBC video: The Secret You (3:30 - 12:30 minutes), attempts to answer. Most people are not aware of when they became self-aware; they only know that they are conscious of themselves currently. When does this change from only having sensations, to actually having a sense of oneself in relationship to other things occur?
According to Professor Gallup there is a simple test that assesses self-awareness, the mirror self-preservation test (originally designed for animals). In the test the subject locks eyes with itself in a mirror, and then a person secretly adds a mark to the subjects face. If the subject gestures to the mark they are measured to be self-aware, by perceiving the image of themselves in the mirror as themselves.
Humans pass the test somewhere between 18 and 22 months. This means that according to the test human become self-aware in this time period. Self-awareness for Gallup, and the test, means that the subjects can "engage in mental time travel" and "see themselves in relationship to things that happen" in the past present and even future. This also means that humans, and the few other primates that pass the test, must also confront the inevitability of their own death.
While it is hard for me to believe that almost all other intelligent mammals are not self-aware, it is not hard to believe that they have no concept of the past or future. They cannot see the image as themselves because it is an alternative view of them. They cannot see themselves as eventually dying because they cannot see themselves from the outside. But what I still don't understand is how they can develop complex thoughts about their world, are they even capable of such thoughts?

Synthesia (Assignment 2)

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I think not only one of the most interesting, but also relevant, topics we have discussed so far in class is the idea of synthesia. What synthesia means to me is the reception of an external stimulus by a sensory organ being used to perceive a different sense. For example, some people can report being able to "hear" smells. Basically, they can smell something and then in their mind perceive the smell as a noise. Although it sounds impractical for use, this concept is being used to treat people with different kinds of physical disabilities. Take for example the work done by neuroscientist Paul Bach-Y-Rita. He constructed a machine that blind people would sit in, with a camera that recorded objects in front of them. The camera would then send electrical signals to the back of the seat. The seat would have hundreds of vibrating stimulaters that would vibrate in accordance to what the camera was recording. The people's sense of touch was synthesized into their sense of "vision".

And the research is only getting better. Which leads me to some questions. If the research is getting better and better and the technology more advanced, will there ever be a time when blind people can not only see, but see in color? What does the future hold for people who have lost their sense smell, hearing, or taste?

Alcohol - Writing #2

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Most of us know that alcohol displays a big concern throughout the United States. Most underage students and kids drink when they are not supposed to. In the text on page 189 it states, "Today, alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug." So since this is widely used across the U.S. and the world, I wonder why this is so appealing to people when all it does is cause people to forget what happened, or hurt other people. Well, it also states in the book that it can be appealing because alcohol is a depressant, which leads people to drink when they are upset and want to forget about their problems. I believe this issue is so important because so many people are effected by this and causes deaths to many innocent people in the world.
A real life example dealing with alcohol consumption is when kids get drunk on the weekends. Most of them know that what they are doing is illegal and isn't ethically or morally right. Yet they do it anyways and risk getting jail time just to be more happy with themselves? It is ironic that you cannot feel or know much about what is going on around you when you drink in the first place to have a "good time." Here is a video link that I found talking about alcohol in four kids lives hosted by Matt Damon: You may have to copy and paste into a URL in order for it to work.

So after watching this video, you can tell that students realize the effects of how bad alcohol consumption can be. The question in mind that I still ponder is why people keep doing it if it has such bad effects.

Importance of Selective Attention

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Selective attention is the ability to ignore all unimportant information and focus more on the information that you are trying to receive. This especially helps a lot in a situation where there is a lot of action going on. Say someone is trying to talk to you. If you do not have selective attention, you would have a hard time listening to what he/she is saying because all the sounds around you would be pounding at you from all directions. This applies to my life because I have been a musician since the 3rd grade. Being able to listen to the key parts in the music has helped me become a better musician. For example, there are parts in music where the trombones are important. Being able to single out the trombones enables me to figure out where I have to be quieter so the trombones are heard by the audience. I do have a question about this topic though. It says in the textbook that people randomly hear information from a conversation that he/she is not even involved in. Why does our brain do that?

Survival of the Fittest?

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An astounding 30-50 percent of people report having some sort of sleep problem (Althius et al., 1998; Blay, Andreoli, & Gastal, 2008). Almost everyone is affected by a sleep disorder at some point in his or her lives. There are different types of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, night terrors, and sleepwalking. Many accidents can arise from being sleep deprived. For example a man was declared innocent after killing his mother-in-law and injuring his father -in-law with a knife, due to sleepwalking (Lillienfield, 2011; McCall, Smith, & Shapiro, 1997). That may have been a rare case where lives of other people were in that much danger, but it is possible to put yourself in danger from lack of sleep. When people think of insomnia they usually don't have death in mind, but can someone die from insomnia?

Insomnia is when someone has difficulty of falling asleep or staying asleep. It's the most common sleep disorder among people.In this article from Psychology Today, they asked 2200 Wisconsin state workers about health and sleep. People who answered yes on more than two questions were considered chronically insomniac. Out of the 2200 workers, 46% of them were considered chronically insomniac. This specific study used the survey approach in collecting their data. They can find a correlation between lack of sleep to whether the workers are considered insomniacs or not, but they didn't take into account if the workers had any illnesses such as depression. The article also didn't state what types of questions they asked the workers and just assumed because they were shift workers, they probably got less than 7 hours of sleep. From taking into account whether the workers had any illnesses, asking the actual amount of sleep they get, how frequently they have trouble sleeping, etc., could perhaps rule out any rival hypotheses. Also, instead of assuming that lack of sleep causes insomnia, there could be a third variable that causes this.

Although this article may not have fully answered the question if insomnia can kill someone, we can conclude that sleeping disorders can affect our health in negative ways. Not only are we hurting ourselves from not getting the recommended hours of sleep each night, we are depriving ourselves of what we need for survival.

Inability to control oneself.

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On Wednesday, our weekly professor talked about epilepsy and the various forms of this disorder. It was shocking to hear of intractable epilepsy, or the inability to control the episodes. Having no control over one's body is heartbreaking, and the problem is further exacerbated by the means of not being able to find some momentary cure for it. In this rare case of not finding a way to control it, the solution (after many guidelines are met) is to sever the corpus callosum which transmits messages from right to left or left to right hemispheres. As was shown, this can severely effect perception.

This surgery is called corpus callosotomy. Before one undergoes this type of surgery, they have to go through an assessment that includes an EEG scan, MRI, seizure monitoring, and a PET. Once the patient is verified as an acceptable candidate, the operation will take place. Eventually the person is able to get back to a life where their seizures will be 50-75% less severe. While there are several short-term side effects, they typically go away on their own. As was described in class, risks like a "lack of awareness on one side of the body," infection, coordination, speech problems, and more can occur.

This surgery, and the information that have come out of the observation and testing of its risks, have given the world a deeper insight into how far one has to go in order to control their bodies. One of my own good friends from school has been severely affected by epilepsy; she has been in and out of college. While most days of a teenage life are spent daydreaming about how wonderful college life will be, she has had to deal with the reality of things not going as planned, body and all. While this surgery is not for everyone, and still doesn't give a patient 100% satisfactory, it's still effective in some ways that it's enough to those who are effected by epilepsy.

Information on corpus callostomy taken from

The Placebo of Alcohol

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In chapter 5 of the Psychology book there was a section on the physiological effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain. The section outlined an experiment that investigated the effects of alcohol from a social standpoint. The experimenter told people they were receiving one of four drinks.
z) Told they were receiving alcohol and received alcohol
y) Told they were receiving alcohol and received a placebo
x) Told they were receiving a placebo and received alcohol
w) Told they were receiving a placebo and received a placebo
Interestingly, the people who received a placebo but were told they received alcohol acted just as "drunk" as those in group z, and more intoxicated than those in group x. In addition those who were in group x acted just as sober as those in group w. This study shows a rather important aspect of alcohol's social connotation. The textbook described alcohol as a depressant but socially people are conditioned to believe that alcohol make you rowdy and therefore act rowdy. Other social constructions such as liquid courage, may later be proven to be nothing more the the product of what is considered appropriate behavior be society while under the influence of alcohol. This is an important study because it not only exposes a misconception but points at a more important message of being responsible for per behavior

Selective Attention

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The concept that I found most interesting from Chapter 4 was selective attention. Our ability to use selective attention is the reason that we can hold conversations in a crowded room at a party. Other examples from my life could be how it is possible for an orchestra to create such beautiful music. If each member of the orchestra listened to every single instrument playing and didn't focus in on their instrument, it would not be as beautiful. The textbook definition of selective attention is: the process of selecting one sensory channel and ignoring or minimizing others.

An interesting example that the book gave was the cocktail party effect. At large parties with multiple conversations are going on, we are often able to pick up on a conversation nearby when we hear our names. This shows that even though we may not be aware that we were processing the conversation, our brain can pick up on these cues and avoid filtering these conversations out. Shortly after reading chapter 4, I was in a large classroom which was split up into separate groups. While in conversation with my group, I heard the group next to me say my name, which prompted me to listen to their conversation. I thought of the example of the cocktail party from our reading and found this very interesting.

I think that this is an important concept to know about, because it pertains to our every day lives, and is something of interest to people since they can relate to it. I would guess that many people can think of a time when that has happened to them and they would be interested in knowing that it isn't just coincidence, or an eerie sensation, but that it is scientifically supported as a known concept.

Can a person train themselves to have better selective attention?
Do some people have higher abilities of selective attention than others?

Assignment 2

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The one idea that has had an abundance of real life applications is the idea of maintaining a circadian rhythm. As a refresher, the text defines your circadian rhythm as the cyclical changes that occur on a roughly 24-hour basis in many biological processes. This is an idea that I have tried to address in my life, because I think it is very important for my body to be on par with what it needs to do. In other words, it's essential that I get enough sleep to be alert for the next morning. The way I do that is by getting to bed at about the same time, and getting up roughly around the same time everyday. Unfortunately, I am breaking my habits of getting to sleep right now.
Earlier this year, I had the fortune of going to Europe for a one-week vacation. Our plane left on a Friday morning, and after a few connections, was scheduled to arrive in Switzerland that next morning, that Saturday. Through all of the flights there, I stayed awake, too excited to get to sleep. As a result, I had already stayed up about 18 hours by the time our plane arrived. When we arrived, it was morning in Switzerland, just as I began to feel tired. Yet, we had a day of sightseeing planned, and I had to stay awake till 10:30 that night, when we would return from dinner. This was a case in which my circadian rhythm was thrown off dramatically. After slouching over my food at a fancy restaurant and being seen as impolite by the locals, I decided that it was important to maintain my circadian rhythm, because it truly is necessary to being happy, alert, and healthy.
Today, I do my best to get to bed and wake up at set times, because I understand the importance of this psychological idea. It helps me stay awake, and has made me more healthy.
I have noticed that this idea must impact celebrities like athletes, actors, and the president. It must be difficult for them as they travel around the world to adjust to time zones while also getting enough sleep. In fact, below is an article about tennis star Novak Djokovic not feeling up to playing in a tournament due to the vast amount of flying he had done in the prior few days.

Assigment two: Correlation vs. causation

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Correlation does not always equal causation. That is one of the many very important things that I learned in Psychology 1001 so far. There can always be a third variable involved. Smoking and lung cancer has a high correlation, however how can you tell if the people that smoke aren't just genetically predetermined to get lung cancer? There would have to be studies done to figure that out, but most people probably wont even take that seriously because smoking and lung cancer are so highly correlated and have so much cause/effect evidence. Another example that's highly ridiculous is the number of ice cream sold and crimes committed is correlated. How would that be logical? Does ice cream cause crime? Highly unlikely, so there must be a third variable involved. The third variable is: hot weather. When it's hot outside, people want to buy ice cream, and also people are more irritable which may cause more crimes. Correlation and causation aren't always related. I feel like this is very important because they happens to everyone on a daily basis. You drink to much liquid therefore you have to use the bathroom, or if you haven't slept for an entire day (due to studying for midterms) you will be extremely tired the next day. I don't really have any questions about this, I think it's very interesting how things can be correlated but not always be directed related.

The Search For Consciousness

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When do we become aware of self? Well, that is a common question that lingers among our minds. But first of all, what exactly is self-awareness? Gordon Gallup says, "to be self-aware means that you can engage in mental time travel." He goes on to explain that with self-awareness, "you can think about yourself in relationship to things that happened in the past, the present, and may even happen in the future."

In a study done by Oxford mathematician Marcus de Sautoy, consciousness is examined in many different levels. The level that I found most interesting was when we first become aware of ourselves. In order to discover the real answer to this question, Marcus de Sautoy took a look at an experiment called the Mirror-Self Recognition Test.

In the Mirror-Self Recognition Test, young children are placed in front of a mirror with an unknown mark on their face. If the child recognizes the unusual mark on their face, then they are considered to be self-aware. In the demonstration that I watched, a 16-month old boy was put to the test first. After looking in the mirror, he showed no signs of noticing the unusual mark on his face. Next, a 22-month old girl was put in the same situation. This time, the girl almost immediately drew her hand to her face, noting the unusual mark. This proved that she had self-awareness. In conclusion, the usual time frame that we as humans acquire self-awareness is between the ages 18 and 22 months.

Marcus de Soy was interested in the making behind the Mirror-Self Recognition Test, so he went to talk to the inventor; Gordon Gallup. Gordon Gallup explained that he initially devised the Mirror-Self Recognition Test for animals; specifically chimpanzees. Through many experiments, he found that chimpanzees, orangutans, and humans are the only to pass the test so far.

Gordon went on to explain how self-awareness goes deeper, and gets more complicated than just recognizing oneself. He says, "the price you pay for being aware of your own existence is having to confront the inevitability of your own individual demise. Death awareness is the price we pay for self-awareness."

I found all of this information very interesting because I believe that at one point, everyone wonders when they, themselves, become self-aware.The question now, is that does everyone agree on the same thing? Are these findings correct?

BCC Horizon: The Secret You

Afterlife So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

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Since the beginning of civilization, humans have been obsessed with hypothesizing about what occurs after death. The Egyptians, Mayans, Romans, Chinese and others all speculated about life after death and what it would be like to die. Each culture lived and prepared for death in a way that corresponded with their constructed image of the afterlife. But what shaped the beliefs of each culture? Where did these assumptions originate?


One assumption that seems to be ubiquitous regardless of religion or culture seems to be the "light at the end of the tunnel". Despite the variety of places this claim could have originated, one major contributor is the testimonies of those who have had near death experiences. NDEs are explained as out of body experiences which occur when one is about to die, often depicting a transition into the afterlife. In religion, the flash of light is meant to depict a transition to heaven. However, scientists believe that an overload of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream may be to blame for the perceived "flash of light" (see here for more on this hypothesis).

Regardless of the true reason for this phenomenon, it is important to seek explanations to justify these experiences instead of blindly dismissing these claims. In an attempt to prove these explanations, we consequently will find out much more about how the brain functions when the body is in a critical condition. We can also answer questions about the correlations between religious teachings and NDEs. Did these experiences shape the idea of heaven and the afterlife or are these perceptions a result of top-down processing influenced by religious and cultural teachings? Accounts like these play an important role in answering these questions.


Although we can examine how the principles of critical thinking apply to this case in particular, the greater application is that examining these cases provides a model of the process in which we comprehend the human thought process. We still don't understand how one can have visions while displaying zero brain activity, or why NDEs consist of visions of bright light and passed memories. However, we can use this evidence to hypothesize about our beliefs and how our brains work. We strive to find evidence to support our claims, but as the brilliant psychology students we are, we will continue to ask questions until extraordinary evidence is presented to us. Is this the only case in which a process in our body manifests itself as an experience? Is it possible that our beliefs are shaped only by the biological processes in our body? Do we control our brains or do our brains control us? I guess our only hope is to research these experiences to death -and back again.

Assignment 2

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One concept that we have learned about within the last two weeks that really struck me was the topic of insomnia in chapter 5 in Lilienfeld. Insomnia is a sleeping disorder where people have difficulty falling and staying asleep. This is the most common type of sleep disorder out there. According to the text, insomniacs have "trouble falling asleep (regularly taking more than 30 minutes to doze off), waking too early in the morning, and waking up during the night and having trouble returning to sleep." I think that this is an important topic since so many people suffer from it. Roughly 9%-15% of people suffer from severe insomnia. Sometimes I think I am part of this percentage because I occasionally have problems falling asleep. It takes me a while to fall asleep at night and then once I do doze off, I sometimes 'twitch' and it wakes me up; then I have issues falling back asleep. And I am a super light sleeper so I wake up from people slamming their doors in the hallways in the morning and then can't fall back asleep. But luckily, this doesn't happen every night, otherwise I think I would be totally sleep deprived.
Here is an example of a severe case of insomnia:
I didn't think that a loss of sleep could cause someone to actually murder someone else, but this article proves me wrong. He was so sleep deprived that he hyped himself up on caffeine and that drove him to do insane things.
As far as questions go, I don't have very many. Most of them have been answered in the text. Like how to somewhat prevent insomnia (hiding clocks, sleeping in a cool room, going to bed and waking up at regular times, etc.)

Differences In Consciousness While Awake and Asleep

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Like many others I watched the BBC's "The Secret You" video (I chose to watch the section regarding the differences in consciousness while awake and asleep.) In the video, the host travels to a lab at the University of Wisconsin Madison and has his waking brain activity monitored by an EEG while the researcher also administered low-level electrical shocks to certain areas of his brain. The purpose of this was so they would be able to compare how the shocks travel and are transmitted through a waking brain versus a sleeping brain. Unfortunately, the host was unable to fall asleep in the sleep lab so they had to explain the results that they obtained from previous volunteers. Apparently, when the shocks are administered to a waking brain they travel from the point where the shock occurred to other parts of the brain while the same shocks administered while asleep stay localized and were not transmitted throughout the brain. This led the researchers to conclude that a large part of consciousness is the ability of the brain to communicate within itself. This makes sense to me, but I wonder what brain activity would look like when a sleeper was experiencing lucid dreaming. Would the brain act as if it were fully conscious, unconscious, or somewhere in-between? For that matter, if different areas of the brain are unable to communicate during sleep, how exactly does dreaming work?

BBC "The Secret You" - Consciousness and Sleeping

Writing #2

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On October 15, 2009, in Fort Collins, Colorado, the infamous balloon boy hoax occurred. Six year old Falcon Heene was believed to be stuck in a homemade gas balloon resembling a UFO saucer. (An image of the gas balloon can be found at The saucer floated uncontrollably over Colorado for two hours before it landed. It was believed that Falcon was in the balloon due to eyewitness account by one of his brothers and his parent's accounts. (A more detailed account of the Balloon Boy Hoax can be found at
However, instead of the boy being discovered inside the saucer, he was found safe at home, hiding in the attic. Meanwhile, authorities and volunteers searched for the boy, thinking he may have fallen out of the aircraft. After the boy had been found, things began to settle down. The family was not held responsible for criminal charges or cost of the search.
However, during an interview on CNN, a reporter asked Falcon why he did not come out of hiding when he his parents were looking and calling for him. The boy simply answered, "You guys said that we did this for a show."(A video for this interview can be found at With this new evidence, the incident now seemed more like a publicity stunt. Both of the parents were then penalized with jail time and restitution fees.
A scientific thinking principle that should have been used in determining whether Falcon was in the helium balloon is extraordinary claims. The extraordinary claims principle requires extraordinary evidence. There must be tangible proof for a claim. Instead of believing that a child was trapped in a helium balloon floating uncontrollably thousands of feet in the air, one could use the extraordinary claims principle and deduct that the whole incident was a hoax, and the child was not in the balloon. Just because somebody says that they saw Bigfoot does not mean that we have to immediately believe them.
Another principle that could have been used is the ruling out rival hypotheses principle. Authorities excluded the alternate explanation for the incident such as: the boy was not in the balloon. Therefore, by overlooking other findings, the authority wasted manpower and finances. Either the ruling out rival hypothesis or extraordinary claims principle would have shown the balloon boy's hoax's errors.

Works Cited
Diaz, Jesus. "Boy Flies Away Uncontrollably in Homemade Flying Saucer." Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide.
Balloonbrat, 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 09 Oct. 2011.
Goldman,Russell, and James, Michael S. "Balloon Boy Found, Falcon Heene Safe After Runaway Hot Air
Balloon Scare - ABC News." Daily News, Breaking News and Video Broadcasts -
ABC News. 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 09 Oct. 2011.
PoliticsNewsPolitics. ""Balloon Boy" Falcon Henne Admits: "We Did This For The Show" -
YouTube." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 15 Oct. 2009. Web. 09 Oct. 2011.

Gestalt Principle of Closure

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Gestalt's principles were particularly interesting, especially closure. It is used a lot in daily life and is extremely important. People never think about it when they do it, but it happens quite frequently. To summarize closure, it is the mind assuming that something is a whole even though all the lines aren't connected or in view. It can be that the edges aren't connected, yet we perceive it to be closed. It could also be that something is obstruction our view of part of the object, yet we also see it as a whole. This link shows an example of closure. the panda isn't completely outlined, however the mind perceives it as a whole.

This is a very basic example, but there are many examples of closure during an average day. Companies tend to use this technique a lot when they create their logos. IBM's logo is a perfect example of this. The reason they use closure is because they know that people will have to look a little harder at it to figure out what it is. This obviously makes their name brand more recognizable. Another, more important, example is when we drive. Many times the road will be blocked by another car or object. Our mind can't see that there is road, but we perceive it to be a whole so we can continue to drive without stress. It would be extremely hard to go through life without knowing whether the road you were driving on was in tact or not. The point is that closure is more than just seeing a couple lines as a square. It is a vital part of our perception of the visual world.

Assignment 2

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The topic I chose to explore is the sleep disorder, insomnia from the book. Insomnia is the difficulty to fall asleep and stay asleep. Insomnia can also include having trouble falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning, or waking up during the night and having trouble falling back to sleep. I believe this is important to understand because a lot of people's lives, including my own, are disrupted by sleep disorders, especially insomnia. It is also important to understand that brief bouts of insomnia can often be due to stress, medication or sickness, working late, jet, caffeine, or napping. If one can possibly figure out the cause of their insomnia, they can possibly improve their sleep patterns, or beat insomnia completely. Here is a youtube video that I found discussing a couple ways to break the pattern of insomnia. This video draws a parallel to Pavlov's dogs and how they began to recognize that the ticking noise meant food while in real life possibly a bedtime routine like brushing your teeth can trigger your brain to expect to have difficulty falling asleep or insomnia. One example given in the video to try and reverse insomnia is changing your bedtime routine. The brain needs to be "tricked" into not thinking it's almost time for bed and I'm going to have difficulty falling asleep. Another example to try and combat insomnia is taking a warm shower before bed. The body cooling down after a shower is very conducive to sleep. Those are just two examples and there are many more ways to try and deal with insomnia. After discussing this topic I wonder if you actually have to be diagnosed with insomnia or a person can just claim to have insomnia? I know I certainly feel like I suffer from a slight case of insomnia. I also wonder how many people claim to suffer from insomnia and how often doctors prescribe medication?

Assignment #2

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One of the experiments which I found particularly was Ivan Pavlov's experiment regarding his dog. In the experiment. Pavlov began the experiment by realizing that his dog reacted to food by salivating. In the experiment the food was the unconditional stimulus while the response (the salivation) was the unconditional response. Pavlov then introduced the metronome which would make sounds before his dog was fed. The metronome was the conditioned stimulus. After periods of time, Pavlov's dog began to salivate after the metronome was making sounds even when the food was not present. Hence, the conditional stimulus is the salivation by the dog in response to the metronome. Because the dog associated the metronome with food, Pavlov's dog responded by salivating.
Picture of Pavlov:
A youtube video which shows a simple version of Pavlov's experiment is in this link:
I believe this experiment is crucial towards learning because it explains how humans and animals can learn naturally. Consequently, it demonstrates how humans can be trained towards different things. The natural reflexes which the dog learned can be applied to our personal lives. Last year, in one of my psychology classes, we experimented with classical conditioning firsthand. In class, the teacher gave us all cups of Country Time Lemonade Mix. (Picture in link below) We were all given cups of the lemonade mix and every time he played a beep sound on the board, we were allowed to stick our finger into the cup and have a taste of the lemonade mix. After 30 minutes, the majority of us began to salivate after the same beep was played. Similarly, in history class, we had a student sit in front of the class while the teacher read an article. Every time the word "the" was said, the student would be squirted with a spray bottle. Eventually, the student flinched after the word "the" was said. After these learning experiences, I still question the extent to which we can use the method of classical conditioning for learning. Furthermore, I wonder how long classical conditioning can last on a human. After a couple weeks, will the student who was sprayed with a spray can still react to the word "the"? In general, I would like to learn more about how classical conditioning could possibly impact how we learn in the future and how long the classical conditioning effects us.

The Dangers of Lacking Critical Thinking

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Apologies in advance, but I'm going a bit away from the given prompt.

I was browsing the listings, looking for a hoax or other claim that I could evaluate. I came across one that caught my eye, as I had some personal experience with it. I'm referring to the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO).

"Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of people every year. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Symptoms of DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating and urination, and possibly a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting and body electrolyte imbalance. For those who have become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means certain death." (

DHMO is, of course, H2O: water. The snopes article goes on to give a few examples of people being fooled by these claims. All of the claims are accurate, albeit cleverly phrased, and they have fooled many people since this trick has been circulating. The fact that it continues to fool people demonstrates a few issues.

The first issue is lack of critical thinking. Almost all the people fooled by this have had at least a basic chemistry course, and certainly would recognize the chemical formula: H2O. However, when presented as "Dihydrogen Monoxide", it sounds much scarier, and people forget to use critical thinking to analyze the claims. If they stopped and thought about what DHMO really is, it would quickly become obvious that it is actually harmless water.

As I mentioned earlier, I've had some first hand experience with this trick. When I was a junior in high school, I helped start a petition to ban DHMO, similar to the student referenced in the Snopes article. I don't have the hard data anymore, but overwhelmingly students were in favor of banning it. This is partly due to lack of critical thinking, but is also likely due to the second issue of this trick, peer pressure.

When forming the petition, we put a few fake names onto the list to start with. We figured that people would be more likely to sign it if they weren't the first one to do so. We also tried to approach people in groups, so that they all would sign up for it. People seemed much more easily convinced of it when their friends were convinced of it as well. If your friends support it, you probably should to.

This fairly harmless trick is an excellent example of where critical thinking is useful. If you can be convinced that water is a dangerous chemical that should be banned, what else could you be convinced of?

Conscious Awareness

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In the video BBC Horizon- The Secret You, professionals explained how there have been cases where they have detected brain responses to stimuli in a physically unresponsive person. In a case of a woman in a vegetative state, when she was told to imagine playing tennis, the parts of the brain that are responsive when a conscious person plays tennis, responded. This shows that the woman's brain was somehow able to respond to an outside stimulus, even though her body was not.

This reminded me of Locked-in Syndrome. Locked-in Syndrome is when a patient is seemingly in a coma but they are actually able to sense their surroundings. Someone with Locked-in Syndrome can not respond physically to the outside stimuli. This article is an example of a patient with Locked-in Syndrome:

It is interesting to me how people can seem completely unaware but their brain is actually sensing and responding, but the signals are not reaching their body.

assignment 2

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I chose to write about physic mediums after watching the show Long Island Medium on TLC, which fits into what we learned about pseudoscience. I have never truly believed in ghosts and loved ones being contacted by the dead. Watching this show makes me wonder about this. The star, Theresa Caputo, claims that she is constantly contacted by the dead, and they usually ask her to deliver messages to their loved ones who are still alive. Instead of just predicted the future she can hear and see the dead. I find this to be very interesting since their is no scientific proof that this is actually possible. I connected this to the section in chapter 4 about ESP. The way she knows things about the people she meets with just isn't possible, there is also no proof that she is actually being contacted by these spirits. I would like to see this tested to see if certain parts of her brian have higher functions then others when the "spirits" contact her. I still find it hard to believe that she is actually being contacted by the dead, yet some of the things she knows about people makes it seem like she's telling the truth, but without scientific proof its easy to be skeptical.

assignment 2- Significance of Higher-Order Conditioning

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From the Lilienfeld textbook, I found the concept of higher-order conditioning surprisingly applicable to every day events in a more direct way than some of the other ways of classical conditioning, because of how it works to activate a new branch of an already learned pattern of association. Higher-order conditioning works to create a habitual response to a repeated pattern of stimuli through nature of a previously acquired reaction to another stimuli- related or unrelated. I found this example of classical conditioning to be reenacted through my actions through the issue of addictions, but unknown addictions, formed through positive connections made from other actions. It's easy to see how individuals who don't usually smoke cigarettes, but in a social setting, with positive stimuli from other cigarette smokers, feel the desire to take part in the same activity. The mind is a simple tool in the addictive sense, because social events are generally positive stimuli, yet can be associated with anything to create a positive, almost parallel sensation in the brain leading to a negatively addictive cycle if not fundamentally recognized. Although addictions are often hereditary issues, or long-term consequences of abuse, I find it fairly easy to see how simple the mind is to deceive with associating certain actions with positive things in specific situations. The ability to associate and categorize certain things and actions into groups is a magnificent human action, but can lead to great trouble when self-control and occasionally health are not taken into consideration. Higher-order conditioning is just another example of mistaken perceptions of the mind due to a 'blind spot' or rather an unintentional connective pathway. I feel that the mind is able to overcome such tendencies if they are discovered, but often these pathways are just associated with character and not stimuli from certain settings- it would be interesting to see which plays a greater role in determining the outcome action given a particular situation.

When do we become aware of our conscious self?

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When do we first become aware of ourselves? Is it when we first are conceived or when we first pop out of the womb? Or is it after we make our first friend and notice they look different from what we do and we are two separate people? What a good question that I never really thought about.

In the section of this video, Professor Vasu Reddy performed the mirror self recognition test, developed by Professor Gordon Gallup Jr., to determine whether or not a toddler was consciously aware. The test involved putting the toddler in front of a mirror and allowing them to look at their face and then their mother would take them away from the mirror, pretending to wipe their nose with a tissue but actually put a dot on the child's face near their nose. Then the child would be allowed to go to the mirror again at their will and if the child looked into the mirror and realized that there was a dot on their face (shown if they looked at their face and immediately went to touch the dot), they were considered to be consciously aware because they were able to realize that the body that they feel is the same one that is reflected into the mirror. From this experiment it was determined that we become consciously aware anytime from 18-24 months.

Professor Gordon Gallup Jr. originally developed this test for determining if animals were consciously aware. In result of doing this experiment to hundreds of different animals, it was shown that only orangutans and chimpanzees, along with humans, were the only ones to show significant evidence that they were consciously aware. In order to be consciously aware, the subject needs to be able to think about themselves in the past, present, and even in the future. The downfall of being consciously aware is that you know that one day your conscious will no longer exist. In the words of Professor Gallup Jr., "death awareness is the price we pay for self awareness".

This video made me think about my siblings and when they first started becoming consciously aware and how I was able to watch them change, becoming their own little people with personalities of their own and it made me think about myself. I uploaded one of my favorite pictures of my dad and I and looking back at it I wonder if I was aware of my conscious. It's remarkable to think that at one time things were so much simpler and carefree when I had no idea of my conscious self. It's also mind-boggling to think about my cat looking into the mirror, as she often does, but she has no conscious of who she is or what happened to her in the past. This video was extremely interesting and enjoyable. It made me think about things in a whole other perspective, in ways that I never thought of.


Catching some zzzzzzzzzzzzz

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The biology of sleep refers to the significance of rest for the body and mind as well as discussing the science of the mental state while sleeping. There are many ideas of just what sleep is good for but most psychologists would suggest sleep helps to process memories, boost the immune system, conserve energy, and restore strength. There are five stages to a healthy sleep cycle. Interestingly enough, a person does not just go through these five cycles and then wakes up, but rather, goes in and out of cycles throughout an entire night's rest. REM sleep, the most commonly known stage, is actually experienced five or six times throughout an entire sleep cycle. This stage also grows increasingly longer as the sleep cycle progresses. Scientists describe each differing stage by the state of consciousness being experienced and the wave lengths occurring in the brain (Lilienfeld 167).

Sleep is such an important concept for all college students today to understand. There is a huge pressure in society to be busy, to constantly have things going on, and to get involved in numerous activities. When trying to keep up with this pressure many people add more and more to their daily schedules. Because the day is always twenty-four hours long and never wavering the first thing people cut from their schedules is the amount of sleep they get. College students are thought to need nine hours of sleep a night. But is that possible with the course load that many sign up for and the amount of homework assigned in a typical college class?

What are the impacts of not getting enough sleep on a day to day basis? While one may be getting more done in a day with an hour less sleep does their work lack in quality? Furthermore, there must be a point when a person crashes either by underperforming, emotionally breaking down, or losing energy. These are all consequences that can be experienced when a person is not getting an adequate amount of sleep at night.

Assignment 2

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The existence of a "bigfoot" or "sasquatch" has been a popular national and international debate topic for years. People who think the idea of a sasquatch is bogus hold strong opinions, but people who believe in sasquatch also hold strong opinions. There is even a group of researchers who call themselves a "scientific research organization" called the "Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization," or "BFRO."
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The difference between people who believe in sasquatch and those who don't is that people who don't believe in sasquatch have strong evidence backing their points. People who believe in sasquatch have only photos and stories.

We can use various critical thinking principles to analyze the existence or nonexistence of sasquatch. For example, the most obvious (and probably most useful) principle we can use is the "extraordinary claims" principle. The existence of a sasquatch creature is an extremely bogus, extraordinary claim, but the only supporting "evidence" found so far consists of photos and word-of-mouth stories; both of which could easily be formulated. Some of the "evidence" found by sasquatch-believers has been falsified by non-believers, which can be analyzed using the "falsification" principle. Here, the BFRO acknowledges the fact that some "sasquatch sightings" have been falsified, proven to be nothing more than costumes.
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One concept we learned about in Psychology 1001 is the confirmation bias. Although the BFRO acknowledges that some sasquatch sightings have indeed been falsified, they continue on to disregard those facts and treat the findings as insignificant in their research, illustrating confirmation bias. Their entire website is littered with bits and pieces of confirmation bias. The following few links are from the BFRO website and are quite amusing - enjoy them!
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The Trichromatic Theory

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The Trichromatic Theory explains our color vision depends on three different cones receptors within the retina of the eye. Each cone has a different sensitivity to certain wavelengths of light and interpreted by the brain as visible color. Our color vision is based on the primary colors: blue, green and red and the mixture of all three of these primary colors creates a complete color spectrum. I think this theory is important because it helps the world understand color vision. If all three cones were absent, our eye would only perceive things as gray. The Trichromatic Theory helped explain vision disorders such as color blindness, which is resulted from absence of a type of cone.
My uncle, Don, was diagnosed with being colorblind when he was younger. When he was around 6 years old, his mother started noticing he couldn't detect various colors. When Don would pick out his clothes for school, she would ask him " pick out the red shirt", he would simply pick up a green shirt instead. They took Don to the doctor and he was diagnosed with color blindness. The doctor told them he was born with it and usually patients don't realize that they are colorblind that's why Don's family just started recognizing symptoms. Don has an absence of a cone and he struggles with telling the difference of red and green. Also, another example to understand the history and a more in depth explanation of the Trichromatic Theory is by this youtube video URL:
I'm wondering if a person who is colorblind, can distinguish all the colors of the spectrum in their dreams or if cone receptors are even related to what colors you perceive in dreams?

Assignment #2

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I decided to evaluate the claim of Pele and Lava rocks. This claim states that visitors that have taken lava rocks or sand from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park have experience bad luck until they have returned the sand/rocks back to Hawaii. A principle of thinking that could be used to evaluate this claim is correlation vs. causation. Even though some people may have experience back luck after taking the rocks it can not be proved that everyone who has ever taken a rock from Hawaii has had bad luck. People that took the rock(s) as a souvenir and did not experience any bad luck had nothing to report to in this case the media, whereas people that did experience bad luck were more likely to report. It has not been proved scientifically that taking a rock will result in bad luck. A second principle of of critical thinking that could be applied to this hoax is extraordinary claims. The hoax says that everyone who has taken a rock has had bad luck but has the media asked the people who have taken rocks and not been affected? This claim extra ordinary claim that everyone that takes a rock has bad luck cannot be considered a fact until everyone that has taken a rock has reported about their life afterwards and whether they experienced bad luck or if life carried on normally. Doc1.doc.

Pavlov's Classical Conditioning

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One important concept from our lectures that I found interesting was Pavlov's Classical Conditioning. This procedure was conducted by Ivan Pavlov and his assistants who would introduce various items and measure the saliva production created by those products. For example, the experimenters would expose dogs to the constant ticking of a metronome and then immediately present them with food. The food was the unconditioned stimulus because it creates an automatic response. The metronome was considered the neutral stimulus, which eventually became a conditioned stimulus, provoking a conditioned response such as salivation. He concluded that salivation was a learned response, because test subjects responded to the sights they saw within their environment. This discovery led to the formation of behavioral psychology, which is helpful today in treating many disorders.

Sleepwalking: Harmless or Dangerous?

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Have you ever woke up and found yourself just standing in a random room of the house? Chances are you probably got there by sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is exactly what it sounds like: walking while fully asleep. Sleepwalking occurs in 15 to 30 percent of children and 4 to 5 percent of adults. It does not happen every time they fall asleep though. Although sleepwalking may seem harmless, it can be extremely dangerous in some situations. When most people sleepwalk they just wander around their room or house, but there have been some instances where people have climbed out of windows, wandered into the street, or even driven a car. When this happens people have no idea what they are doing so they cannot control their actions. The most extreme case of sleepwalking accidents happened when a young man drove to his in-laws' house, killed his mother-in-law, and injured his father-in-law, when he was supposedly asleep. When this case was brought to court, the man was eventually declared innocent because the jury and judge believed he was actually asleep. This story and other incredible sleepwalking stories can be found at
When I was younger I used to sleepwalk all of the time. I would usually just wander around the house and then fall asleep on the stairs, but one time I walked out of the house and ended up sleeping under a tree. After that my parents made sure to lock the doors so I would not hurt myself somehow. Now that I am older I rarely sleep walk, and if I do, I never leave the house.
I think sleepwalking is important to understanding humans because as stated above, sleepwalking can be very dangerous. Sleepwalkers do not know when their next episode will happen so they have to always lock the doors and windows to ensure they will not hurt themselves. I wonder if psychologists will ever find a way to stop sleepwalking. If not, maybe they could find what exactly causes people to sleepwalk and then be able to predict when the next episode will be.

Uberman's Sleep Schedule

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As we've read in chapter five, our sleep cycle consists of five stages. This sleep cycle, which repeats approximately every ninety minutes, consists of non-REM sleep (stages 1 - 4) and REM sleep (stage 5). REM sleep is the deepest period of sleep throughout this progression and is essential to our health. We cycle back to the REM stage about five or six times throughout the course of the night, encompassing about an hour in its entirety. If the REM stage is so important to our health, is there a way to take full advantage of this portion, and lessen our amount of non-REM sleep?

The typical person sleeps for hours at a time, but the Uberman's Sleep Schedule, however, views sleep on a different timetable. Spaced evenly throughout the day, Uberman's method states that sleeping six times a day for twenty to thirty minutes at a time is a sufficient amount of rest. Granted, one must immediately skip from stage one to stage five, the REM stage. Training one's body to enter REM sleep instantly is done under conditions of sleep deprivation, and is typically mastered over the course of a week. Under this method, it is believed one's body still benefits from healthy sleep, but can be active twenty-one to twenty-two hours out of the day. Vivid dreams are a key characteristic specific to the REM stage, and occur frequently within Uberman's routine.

The capabilities of the human brain amaze me. Sleeping for two hours a day seems extreme, but by applying definitions and concepts learned from our text, I can comprehend how this is possible. Though long-term health risks are still unknown and under investigation, the claims that people can survive on such a minimal amount of sleep and still feel rejuvenated when they wake up is fascinating. Clearly it truly is possible to maximize vital stages of sleep, and efficiently nap our time away.

Pavlov's Classic Conditioning

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One concept that has always been very interesting to me is Ivan Pavlov's conditioned reflex research finding. The way he figured out the phenomenon of the conditioned reflex is the classic experiment where Pavlov surgically attached tubes to dog's saliva glands to measure the amount and when saliva is produced. First he showed when food was brought to the dogs that they would salivate. He then showed that when a metronome was set randomly there would be no salivation from the dogs. The next part of the experiment involved having the metronome tick, and then present food to the dogs; making them salivate. After numerous times of "conditioning" the dogs with the metronome and food, they would begin salivating after just the sound of the metronome tick regardless if food was presented or not. The experiment shows how after an animal is "conditioned" with a stimulus, a conditioned reflex occurs. The picture below shows the concept, but with a bell ding instead of a metronome tick.

Pavlov dog.gif

I believe this proof is very important because it is possibly considered to be one of the main ways people learn.

As shown in the You tube video in the first link, the first roommate presses a button and then shoots his roommate with an air-soft pistol. After numerous times of being shot after hearing the first roommate press the button, the second roommate flinches even without the gun being shot. The second video, is a more staged test from the TV series "The Office" where Jim makes a sound on his computer and then asks Dwight if he wants an altoid. After multiple times of giving Dwight an altoid after Jim makes the sound on his computer, Dwight begins to crave an altoid when he hears the sound. These are just a few examples of how classic conditioning works.

After watching the Youtube video, I was curious to see if I could come up with a similar experiment and get the same result. This past weekend when I was home, I made a timer ding and then fling a rubber band at my brother. I proceeded to do this for an entire day. The next morning, right when my brother came out of his room I dinged the timer, and he immediately ran back in his room to protect himself. I then asked him why he ran into his room, and he answered by saying he thought I was going to shoot a rubber band at him after the timer dinged. This showed me that classic conditioning is a viable form of learning from past experiences, and proved the Youtube video wasn't just acted out.

I am still very interested in finding other ways that the conditioned reflex technique can possibly teach people. I wonder if a stimulus is used before some sort of physical therapy process is done, if eventually after hearing/seeing a stimulus the body possibly heals itself. A stimulus could be used something like a placebo, where if the body/mind thinks it will be healed, it may possibly heal itself. I wonder to what extent can humans/animals learn from Pavlov's classic conditioning technique.


Mitch Gutzman

Hypnosis and the Truth

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As I begun to read chapter five about sleep and consciousness I was especially interested in the topic of hypnosis. Hypnosis is defined as a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. As a part of my graduation celebration the school hired hypnosis for entertainment. I remember being so amazed as I watch my friends being controlled by the hypnotists. But as I read the book I realized that there was a very clear explanation into how the hypnotist was able to influence the participants. The book explained that the first step in stage hypnosis is to choose people who have high suggestibility. As I think back to the event, I remember the hypnosis starting by performing a trick on the entire crowd. He asked us to outstretch our hands as he began to talk to us in soothing relaxing and persuasive words. In the end of the trick there were about ten people who were stuck with their hands in the air, and these same ten were the ones that he invited on stage. That was the use of the technique of high suggestibility. Next the hypnotist used an induction method, or a technique to increase people's suggestibility by using suggestions for relaxation and calmness. This allowed him to more easily influence their actions because they were relaxed and more suggestible. This all began to explain why my friends seemed to be hypnotized. The book states that the Sociocognitive theory says that people's attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and expectations about hypnosis, as well as their ability to respond to imaginative suggestions shape their response to hypnosis. This theory drives home that people who are expecting and willing to be controlled by the whole act of hypnosis are more likely to be affected by the suggestions. All this explains that hypnosis is not magic it's just the use of psychological methods to persuade people. This video I attached shows en event similar to the one I witnessed at my graduation party. All the parts explained above are depicted in the video.

Aliens Working at Area 51?

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I decided to evaluate the claim of the existence of aliens, because I feel like it is one of the strangest claims to be made by such a large number of people. It's been reported in the media repeatedly, and many have claimed to have had an encounter with these "extraterrestrial" beings. I found a video on YouTube that promotes the existence of aliens by interviewing a man who supposedly worked at Area 51, which has been known for its numerous reports of alien encounters. The makers of the video rely heavily on the anecdote of this alleged employee to support their claim that aliens helped work on a top secret military project. I would place this claim into the extraordinary category, and for such a claim there just isn't the extraordinary evidence to support it. A claim this extreme requires much more concrete evidence than just the stories of an ex-employee from Area 51. Also a claim like this can't be tested, and this therefore is incapable of being falsified. There's no way to actually evaluate the claim that aliens allegedly helped these employees build a flying craft of their own. Not to mention the fact that Occam's razor has been completely overlooked. There could be a much simpler explanation to this entire story that has absolutely nothing to do with extraterrestrial life. An alternative explanation to this claim of aliens helping Area 51 employees with construction could be that the men of Area 51 were told to keep their project a secret and came up with the alien story to frighten others away. Also basing a claim solely on anecdotal evidence alone is risky because the person could be lying about their story. Therefore it's very possible that the man in the video is making up his story about his alien encounter or perhaps confusing it with a dream he had. Regardless, a claim this extreme requires hard evidence to back it up, which is clearly lacking from this video and therefore the claim cannot be considered as truth.

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When do we become aware of self?

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I decided to watch the video entitled The Secret You. Sensations of the world like sounds, feelings etc. are something we all take for granted. We never realize how much we use them each and everyday and without them we all would disappear. The immense capabilities that goes on in our heads is miraculously changing with age. When we become aware of our self, we become aware of our surroundings. Our self changes with time, age, and experiences we face. In this video they did a test to figure out when we initially become self aware. They used two little children, one baby boy and the other, a little bit older girl, when the little boy had a sticker put on him he looked into the mirror and didn't even notice it, but when they out it on the girl, She noticed it right away. According to this test, between the ages of 18 and 24 months we become self aware.

Green Tea Helps Lose Weight?

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Four days ago, my dad sent me an article about how drinking green tea can help a person lose weight successfully and decrease the rate of obesity throughout the country. According to the study, a certain compound in the green tea was linked to slowing down the rate of body weight gained in mice. Since mice are similar to humans, researchers used an experimental group of obese mice and control group of mice to test the effects of the green tea compound by feeding both groups a high fat diet and only giving the obese mice the compound. It was seen in the study that "Mice that were fed Epigallocatechin-3-gallate -- EGCG -- a compound found in most green teas, along with a high-fat diet, gained weight 45 percent more slowly than the control group of mice eating the same diet without EGCG." (Science Daily 1).The EGCG compound was also shown to limit fat absorption and enhanced the ability to use fat, but didn't suppress the appetite.

But at the same time, you have to wonder: how effective is this treatment in keeping weight off? Researchers have been saying for years that green tea is an effective way to keep weight off. According to WebMD, previous studies showed that thermogenesis, the generation of body heat that occurs because of digestion, absorption and metabolization of food, occurred faster than normal when green tea was fed to rats. In humans, consuming green tea has shown to increase thermogenesis, energy expenditure, and fat loss just by drinking it regularly. The study mentioned above (with the mice) was supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH), but as consumers, can we really trust it? Despite the success of the study, are there any factors that haven't been considered that might change how the results are viewed?

As a result, an important scientific critical thinking skill that consumers need to consider is that correlation doesn't mean causation. According to WebMD, rats have been found to have a specific kind of tissue that seems to be specifically affected by green tea, but since human data is currently limited on what the effects of green tea are, it's unknown how much of this fatty tissue we have, so green tea might affect rats differently that it would affect us. Despite giving the mice a high fat diet that would induce weight gain, the food the mice consumed may also be completely different from the type of fats that we consume and gain weight from. At the same time, mice could also absorb fat differently than we do and use it more efficiently. In conclusion, consumers, including psychologists, need to be aware of studies that are claiming to have such dynamic effects. A lot of the time, correlation doesn't indicate causation, since there could be other variables that may account for this association.

Works Cited:
Lillenfeld , S. et. al. (2011). Psychology: from Inquiry to Understanding . (2nd ed.). Boston : Pearson

ScienceDaily. (2011). Green Tea Helps Mice Keep Off Extra Pounds. Retrieved from

Kelly J. WebMD. (2000). Drinking Green Tea May Help You Lose Weight. Retrieved from http://

Assignment 2 - Change Blindness

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The concept of how the change blindness happens when we are concentrating on a specific event and we don't realize when that event is altered or changed. If we recognize a person selling hotdogs on the street corner, when we walk by the street corner a few minutes later, we perceive that the same person is there selling the hotdog, but in reality, the person who was selling the hotdog was done with their shift and was replaced by someone else. Having this glitch in our minds doesn't make it look like the brain is a perfectly running organ of the body.
Change blindness can be a very bad thing. If people cannot realize something is different in their environment then what it was a few seconds ago, horrible things can happen. In the video, what if the person giving the consent form ducked down and was stabbed by a terrorist and the person that can back up was not recognized by the person signing the consent form. The person signing the consent form could potentially be harmed. I wonder why our brain makes us do this. If our brain is focused so hard on one thing and then that thing changes within a second, how come our brain doesn't realize what's happened? If the brain is our main source of everything we know. I feel like it shouldn't have a flaw of not recognizing if something changes right in front of our nose. Our brain helps us make the best choices, but not realizing something that happens right in front of us, throws a curveball into how the brain operates.

Localization: Putting all your eggs in one basket

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I believe that an important concept we discussed in the past few weeks was the idea of localization. Localization is the idea that brain functions are "localized", or found in a specific part of the brain. For example, Broca's and Wernicke's areas are localized areas of brain function responsible for processing/understanding speech and for creating it. I believe this concept is important because it's a kind of defined phenomena that most people realize doesn't explain fully where in the brain functions happen. To elaborate, scientists believe that most (if not all) brain functions are NOT localized, i.e., multiple parts of the brain attribute to each function. An example is the experiment where scientists cut out different parts of a rats brain and ran tests. The tests determined that no specific brain area was more important for storing memories than any other. (an interesting, even if slightly unrelated, story on potential amazing long term memory (tested on rats) can be found at So, if scientists think some brain functions are localized while others are not, what is the answer? Are some functions simply localized and others not? Are no brain functions truly localized? Or do they all have some area of "centralized" function, but all need other parts of the brain to be completed? Hopefully these questions are being answered now, or will be in the near future.

While at the Mall of America today with my sister, we walked past a small stand selling bracelets and watches claiming to improve your balance and health We stopped the woman and asked her to demonstrate how the bracelet and watches work but were not satisfied enough to purchase one. After coming home and seeing this assignment, I decided to pursue this balance bracelet idea for my second assignment.

In the media and society today, Power Balance Bracelets have become a popular phenomenon made popular by various athletes and celebrities, similar to the LiveStrong wristbands and silly bands craze.

Many Americans are seen wearing them on their wrists and comment on how their lives have greatly improved due to these bracelets. The makers of the Power Balance Bracelets claim that these breakthrough bracelets are in fact life changing and "can perform miracles in terms of boosting the energy levels and improving balance, thus making us faster, leaner and overall better" (Softpedia 1). The claim the company makes and the reason why their bracelets better people's health is due factors that have "been used for many years in practices such as acupuncture and acupressure" (Softpedia 1). However, this claim is largely untrustworthy. As consumers, we must ask ourselves: has our life improved more due to the sole fact of wearing a Power Balance Bracelet on our wrists, or is there another variable involved, such as working out more, eating healthier or sleeping longer that has contributed to our well-being?

As a result, a very important scientific critical thinking skill that needs to be applied by consumers is that correlation does not always equal causation. There we many positive outcomes and responses reported, however not all assessors of the Power Balance Bracelets provided a positive response. Alternate explanations stated that this entire power balance idea is all hype and that this may only "be a case of wishful-thinking or what one can accomplish solely on the power of the human mind" (Softpedia 2). In conclusion, consumers, as well as psychologists, need to be aware that correlation does not always mean causation; there are numerous other factors that can influence people's well-being.

Power Balance Bracelet Image:

Works Cited:

Lillenfeld , S. et. al. (2011). Psychology: from Inquiry to Understanding . (2nd ed.). Boston : Pearson

Gorgan, E. (2009). Power Balance Silicone Wristbands for Increased Energy, Flexibility and Balance. Softpedia News , Retrieved from

Terrors of the Night

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Although I have no known history of having a night terror, it is not something I'm unfamiliar with. Night terrors, which occur mostly with children, are a sudden awakening that involves screaming, confusion, trashing about and perspiring, and ends with the child returning to a deep sleep. These terrifying experiences are harmless and the child usually has no recollection of it. This sleeping disorder is important because of its intensity and its disturbing impact on parents. Those who see their children experience night terrors need to know that the short episode is fairly harmless and their child will be okay.

A few of my younger siblings have had night terrors. They are nearly impossible to ignore, especially if it is severe. In one instance, my brother was in the hallway outside the bedrooms, banging on the walls and screaming the entire time. All that my helpless parents could do was watch and make sure he did not harm himself. After several experiences, my parents have learned not to overreact, and to ignore minor episodes. The one having the night terror always falls back to sleep (although never in the right place), and has no memory of the event.

Since my first witnessing of a night terror, I have wondered what causes them. Is it something the child ate the day before, or a food intolerance? Is something troubling the child, such as being bullied at school? I have read that adults can also experience night terrors, but why do children experience these most? My biggest question is: can children be calmed during an episode? Or is it uncontrollable by onlookers?

Pic Source:


The mysterious sleep paralysis can be interpreted in many ways. According to the Lilienfeld textbook, "Sleep paralysis is a state of being unable to move just after falling asleep or right before waking up." Sleep paralysis is more common than most people imagine. Changes in the sleep cycle sometimes cause these occurrences which are associated with anxiety and fear. During this state, the victim can be experiencing strange feelings such as vibrations and eerie noises.

This phenomenon varies from culture to culture. In the Vietnamese culture, people spread the idea that if you cannot move while either falling asleep or waking up, that means a ghost or more may be laying on top of you.

I grew up with this idea impounded into my head. As far as I can remember, I have experienced sleep paralysis more than one or two times. Each time seemed to be more severe than the one before. These occurrences usually happen as I am falling asleep. I would attempt to open up my eyes, but my lids felt like they were glued shut. I wanted to open my mouth to scream, but nothing would come out. I could not move my arms or leg. I could feel my heart beat increasing faster and faster. Then all of sudden, I was wide awake and not feeling tired at all. All I felt was fear and sweat. I was terrified.

After actually reading and researching about sleep paralysis, I learned I am not alone. According to WebMD, four out of ten people experience this phenomenon (1). Although I have learned ways to prevent sleep paralysis, such as getting enough sleep and relieving stress (1), a part of me still believe that a spirit may be paralyzing me.

I still have many questions on sleep paralysis. During one of my episodes, I was able to squint my eyes open a little and I thought I saw someone/something staring back at me. Is my mind playing tricks on me or am I going crazy? After my episodes, I do not know if I was truly paralysis or if it was all a dream. What part of the brain is active during sleep paralysis? Is the same areas active as if the brain is in REM sleep?


Rising Epidemic - Marijuana

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Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States. Marijuana damages brain cells, distorts perception, increases the heart rate, and is associated with memory and learning problems.
Also, studies on marijuana show that it is a 'gateway' drug, or in other words, it leads people to try other more serious drugs. Nevertheless, evaluating whether it is a gateway drug isn't easy. I feel more studies needs to be done on this important topic. With such negative effects, why is it still the most frequently used drug? More studies and results need to be done in order to show the country this is a rising problem that should be taken more seriously.

Are you on crack!? Cocaine in depth

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I decided to chose an important concept found in the book. Reading about drugs in chapter five was very interesting to me especially the stimulant group and that is the concept I decided to work on. Stimulant drugs such as cocaine have been a popular topic in my house for most of my life, (my dad works for the DEA) and learning more about them is always interesting to me! I decided to do more research on the drug.

Cocaine is the most powerful natural stimulant, just as the textbook says and it is also one of the most popular illegal drugs on the market for sales presently. A survey from 2008 states that 15% of Americans had tried cocaine and the number has grown (NIDA). Cocaine is composed of many substances, however the main two ingredients are hydrochloride and coca. There are a few popular ways that cocaine is taken, they are intranasal (snorting), intravenous (injection), inhalation, and oral. Intravenous creates the largest reaction because the drug is inserted directly into the bloodstream, increasing the speed and intensity of its effects. Cocaine traps dopamine in the synapses of the brain, which causes the initial euphoric effect.

Short-term psychological effects of the drug are felt withing minutes and can include euphoria, energy, talkativeness, over-alertness to sight sound and touch, and a temporary reduced need for sleep and food . Physiological short term effects include raised heart rate and blood pressure and body temperature. The larger the amount of cocaine the more of a reaction mentally and physically. Physically a large quantity of cocaine can produce bizzare violent behavior and irritablity. Users may also become twitchy and may imagine bugs crawling underneath their skin, they are known as "crack bugs".
Long-term effect of cocaine use are much more severe. Users generally build a tolerance to the drug and have to use more to gain the initial high. The psychological effects are the same, it just takes more to get them. However there are more that appear, they include panic attacks, paranoia and sometimes complete psychosis, when the user loses touch with reality and may experience visual hallucinations as well as auditory hallucinations, "hearing voices". The physiological effects become much more severe due to the increase in substance taken in. Complete loss of the sense of smell is common, along with high weight loss and malnourishment, and of course there is always the chance of death due to overdose.
I believe this concept is important because cocaine is a popular drug on the market currently and is present for all of us no matter where we live. It is being produced and sold for profit as it ruins and consumes lives. This concept relates to my life because my dad works for the DEA and works with both dealers and addicts of this drug and I hear the stories about how it rips lives and families apart. Questions that occured to me during research were, how did this drug come to be in the first place? If people know the effects why would they try it in the first place? And, if current users knew how their lives would turn out would they still start using? Those are the questions I have about cocaine.

** My primary source is NIDA, All information was gathered and cited from NIDA (The National Institute on Drug Abuse) and can be found at ***



Faces of Cocaine




Scary, isnt it?

Dogs may be smarter than you think!

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Pavlov's classic conditioning describes how a subject can respond to an unconditional stimulus without being aware of it. It is an unconscious response that animals and people alike generate when they are repeatedly given some kind of stimulus, followed by a reward like food or a treat. First off, the subject is placed face to face with a conditional stimulus like food and produces a response such as salivating when given the food. Over the next trial, an unconditional stimulus is presented primarily such as a bell or ticking sound generated by a metronome. In the first trial, the subject does not produce the same response when they hear the audible stimulus, but then starts to respond once the food is shown. Over the next couple of trials, the subject starts to associate the audible stimulus with the food and salivates before seeing the food. Therefore, the animal generates a response to the unconditional stimulus. This research finding is very important to the world of psychology because it explains how animals and humans behave. They are able to adapt to their current situation without even knowing that they are continuously learning.

This research finding relates to my life with my dog, Gracie. In the beginning, when Gracie was outside and we called her inside, she would immediately come and follow our orders. Eventually, we would reward her for coming inside and give her a treat to let her know that she is doing the right thing. After a couple of months, Gracie would not come inside until we would say "treat" and reward her for following commands. Gracie has now learned only to respond with the unconditional stimulus of a treat, rather than to the conditional stimulus of the sound of our voices. Dogs are much smarter than they seem. They know when their owner says commands such as "sit", "stay" and "come", yet sometimes decide to ignore the conditional stimulus and wait for the unconditional stimulus such as a dog treat.

The king of drugs

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I found reading about Narcotics really interesting in this chapter and decided to do a little more research on the so called "king of all drugs", Heroin. Heroin is the most abused opiate in America. Heroine is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance taken from the seed of poppy plants. It is very similar to heroine but a lot stronger. In its pure form heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste. It is usually sold along with other drugs or substances like sugar, powdered milk, starch or other drugs. This is called "cut" and can be very dangerous because users don't know actually know the true contents of what they buy or how strong it can be, leading to many overdoses and deaths. Another form of heroin known as "black tar" may be sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal, and its color may vary from dark brown to black. Heroin is most commonly ejected but in its pure form it can be snorted or smoked. Some users inject into the tissue under the skin, called 'skin popping'.

Skin popping.jpg

-Black Tar Heroine

The effects of heroin are instantaneous, immediately entering the blood stream and arriving at the brain rapidly. After an injection, users feel a surge of euphoria and experience dry mouth, flushing of the skin, and experience "heavy" arms and legs. After the initial rush, users will go into an alternately wakeful and rosy state sometimes called "on the nod."

The body responds to heroin in the brain by reducing production of the endogenous opioids when heroin is present. Endorphins are released to weaken pain, creating a dependence on the drug. This is why, when people stop injecting the drug, they feel pain even when there is no physical trauma.

heroin brain.png

Heroin users spend upwards 100-200 dollars a day to feed their addiction. People can become addicted the first time they use. My question is why would anyone every risk something like that.


Alexandra Behrens

Out-of-Body Experiences Do They Really Occur?

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While trying to decide what I should write my blog on this week I started to think back to all the concepts presented in chapter five, to see if I could relate any of them to a personal experience I had or have heard of. When I came across Near-Death Experiences my mind began to race. Many people always through out the words near death. Just talking to friends they will say things like "I almost died" when really it was nothing like an out-of-body experience. An out-of-body experience is an extraordinary sense of your consciousness leaving your body. I once watched the movie Ghost that is from the 1990's that had an example of out-of-body scene.Youtube Video
I never used to believe in these concepts of out-of-body or near death experiences until I read the book Heaven is For Real. This book touched me more than I ever thought a book could. If you haven't heard of it, it is about a little boy that made it through an emergency appendectomy. The unique thing that happened though is Colton the little boy traveled to heaven and back. Now when we first say he traveled to heaven and had an out-of-body experience you say no way that couldn't have happened. Until Colton started to explain things that no four year old would ever know. He described heaven in full detail to exactly how the bible portrays it even though he had never touched a bible. Or how he knew at four years old that his mom had miscarriage years before Colton was born.

Heaven is For Real Youtube

heaven is for real.png
This book is a must read. Ever since I have read Heaven is For Real believe in out-of-body and near death experiences. I think that research and studies on these phenomenons could help us to begin to learn many new things about the brain and how drugs can trigger these experiences.

Assignment #2-Kyle Wong

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According to an article online at, health professionals in Britain claim that Facebook is a probable cause for the recent growth of syphilis in Teesside, Durham and Sunderland. This accusation, although it may initially seem shocking, has failed to abide by all of the 6 principles of scientific thinking. Although it may break even more than one of the principles, the one that I believe to be the most apparent is correlation vs. causation. There are a number of confounding variables that the study failed to take into account or report. One concept that I believe to be a more likely scenario is that people who are meeting through Facebook are mostly of a younger age group and have less knowledge of how to ensure safe sex. Therefore even though they met through a social networking site like Facebook, the spread of syphilis is due to the inexperience of the users of Facebook not the website itself. Because correlation vs. causation requires you to delve deeper into what may have been cause of the correlation between two separate variables, I found that principle of scientific thinking the most useful in figuring out what might be a better explanation.

Facial Feedback Hypothesis: Does it really work?

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Do facial muscles really impact on how you perceive things? The facial feedback hypothesis was designed to evaluate how facial muscles affect humor ratings. In class, half of the students were instructed to hold their pens sideways using their teeth while the other half was told hold their pens straight out using only their lips. The class was then shown a series of cartoons and had to rate how humorous each one was. The hypothesis of the experiment was that people holding their pens with teeth would have a higher average humor ranking than those holding pens with lips because they would be utilizing the same facial muscles attributed to smiling. I found this test to be very interesting, and questioned even further how your facial muscles could make you change your view on how funny something may be?

The idea that facial muscles would have a substantial impact on how you perceive a cartoon seems to be saying the correlation means causation. Though it is true that holding a pen in your lips creates the feeling of frowning, it would not directly affect your mood. In fact, I believe it has the opposite affect because the set up of this experiment is somewhat silly. Another reason you could not state that facial muscles cause humor ratings is that certain comics would be more funny to people with particular past experiences. For example, one of the comics had a man talking on his cell phone saying, "hold on, I think I just took another picture of my ear." Most people I talked to ranked this cartoon as a 2 where I gave it a higher rating of 6 because I have previously taken pictures unintentionally on my phone. Our past experiences have more influence on our humor ratings than our facial muscles. This study might be more convincing if each person was randomly assigned cartoons to rate holding the pen in their teeth, than given different cartoons to evaluate while holding the pen in their lips. If researchers were able to find consistent results showing that most individuals rank higher with the pen in their teeth, I would favor the hypothesis.

Hair Loss and Divorce Correlation

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While looking for an article to write about for my blog, I came across this article about how women who have had multiple marriages suffer more hair loss than those who are happily married. After reading the article I begin to think about the six principles of critical thinking. I feel that I could connect this article to four out of the six principles. One, ruling out a rival hypothesis because in the article it talks about how men's marital status did not appear to impact hair loss patterns and how going through a divorce may not be as troublesome for males as it is for females. Therefore, Dr. Bahman Guyuron who is the lead author of this study ruled out the chance of this connecting to men also. Secondly, this could possibly be disproven because we need to take into consideration sleep duration, smoking habits, and sun exposure that would also impact hair loss. Thirdly, Occam's razor deals with finding the simplest explanation and I believe we can say that stress from divorce is the simple explanation for hair loss in divorced women. Lastly, correlation vs. causation is definitely represented in this article because divorce doesn't cause women to lose their hair, stress from divorce can. There is a third variable that helps back up the study.

I believe the critical thinking principle of correlation vs. causation is the most useful when reading an article like this. From what I have learned in Psy 1001 I was able to read this article and understand that correlation does not prove causation. Therefore, it is not divorce itself that "causes" women to lose their hair; it is the stress that comes along with divorce that may result in some women losing some hair. Being this is a correlational study; we cannot draw a cause and effect response.

I found this article to be very interesting because of Dr. Bahman Guyuron's selection of participants in his study because he chose to use 66 identical male twins and 84 female twins to determine which external factors contribute to hair loss. Besides the fact that the number of female and male participants is different, I would have never thought to use twins in this kind of study. After reading this article I feel very bad for women who have gone through divorce because all of the stress it puts on them and the effects that it may have on their hair!

Circadian Rhythm #2

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Throughout this semester, I have continued to learn functions that my body participates in without ever really letting me know. They are essential to my survival and well-being, but in my everyday routine, they are way above my head. One of the most fascinating of these is the Circadian Rhythm that our bodies work to stay on top of. However, often times our conscious minds decide to rule against its benefits. I generally work my very best to obey my body. When I begin to get sleepy at night, I start making my way towards bed. Because of my obedience towards this greater power embedded in my brain, I generally feel energized and alert when i wish to be. However, it is unavoidable to at least occasionally rule against your brains urges. Sometimes it's from a night of staying out too late, which most college students can attest to. Other times it's due to cross country or international travel. Perhaps one of the most confusing days of my life was when I got home from Hawaii after an 8 hour flight. My body was still on island time, which would have been the middle of the night. The sun and the rest of the people around me however, were perky as can be. I did not accomplish much that day.
I have also had times where my biological clock feels as if it has moved on to the next day without me getting any real sleep. My body was tired for a while, but once i pushed through that long enough, its like my energy comes back. This is often called your "second wind". It's like running a marathon and pushing hard for the first few miles, but once you get past ten or eleven, every step just feels the same.
Anyways, I find the idea of the Circadian Rhythm fascinating. Along with that, the idea that our brain keeps us alive in ways that we only discover through psych textbooks is pretty radical.

The Interesting Condition Called Synesthesia

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When I first read about synesthesia in the Lilienfeld text, I was intrigued by the strange condition. I had never heard of such a condition before, and I immediately wanted to learn more about it. According to the text, synesthesia is "a condition in which people experience cross-modal sensations". Basically, people can hear colors, taste shapes, and even taste words. I wanted to know how people were able to have such a condition, so I found a video that explains what happens in the brain of people with the synesthesia.
The video explains that the condition takes form in the brain during childhood, and cannot be controlled or prevented. From childhood, every letter is related to a certain color because of "cross-talk" going on in the brain. This condition is important in psychology because it demonstrates how unique the mind is. In psychology, we have been learning about the brain and how complicated it can be, and synesthesia is just another example of how that is true. The condition relates to my life because as a nursing major, I may encounter cases of synesthesia in the future. Synesthesia also inspires me to want to learn about the research side of nursing as I have many questions about the condition. What part of the brain is affected for synesthesia to develop? Why do people develop it at a young age? And how many people actually have synesthesia? The condition of synesthesia makes me look forward to learning more about the brain in future chapters.

Someone tell me what my dreams mean!

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After learning about the 5 Stage sleep cycle, I can understand why many people don't remember their dreams - they wake up in a completely different cycle. I love when I can remember my dreams, even though it doesn't happen very often. Although many biologically based theories, such as the Activation-Synthesis Theory and the Neurocognitive Theory, are probably more accurate, I like to believe that Sigmund Freud's Dream Protection Theory has some truth to it as well. I am particularly intrigued by Freund's idea of the manifest content versus the latent content of dreams. The dream itself (manifest content) was to be used to discover the true or hidden meaning (latent content) that the dreamer should realize. The manifest content tends to be very abstract while the latent content is more metaphorical. Some interpretations of dreams can be far-fetched, but some ideas are quite intriguing.
Therapists and psychologists tend to work with their clients to use the manifest content of their dreams to figure out the latent content and then help the client figure out what in their life caused this dream to occur. This video created by Dr. Elligan from minutes 4:15 to 7:00 discusses Freud's Dream Protection Theory in great detail and Dr. Elligan also uses one of his own dreams and interprets it as an example of this theory in action. (watch 4:15-7:00).
After researching Freud's theory more, I am still wondering how dream interpreters can say what a dream represents. Doesn't it depend on each individual person's life experience? How can someone interpret a dream about someone else and claim that there is truth to it? And, how can people be sure they are interpreting their dreams correctly?

Crazy Diets

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I was reading an article the other day for one of my other classes and it was discussing crazy diet plans that people actually try. There were several ridiculous ideas such as stapling your ear, eating tapeworms, and pretended to consume food while you are actually just breathing in the smells from food. The one that caught my attention, however, was the cotton ball diet. Reading briefly about this diet made me think critically about it and made me want to research it a little more. I have copied a link to a video that I found, that briefly describes how you do this diet.

So basically what you do is eat cotton balls before your meals or in place of normal food to lose weight and become healthier. First of all this seems like a very extraordinary claim so I was looking for a lot of evidence to support it and prove that it works. The only evidence I could really find was from supermodels. Basically they lose weight and no longer feel the need to binge because they feel full all the time. Now of course eating cotton balls is going to make you feel full because they are very fibrous, but that does not mean that it is a healthy thing to do. The other articles that I found in my Google search basically just said that this is unhealthy and the fiber in cotton balls is definitely not the kind of fiber we need to live. Another thing that I was thinking about is the principle of correlation versus causation. People who eat cotton balls tend to lose weight; there is a definite correlation there. Eating cotton balls does not directly cause weight loss though. It causes people to feel full. Therefore, they aren't hungry and will not eat food. This third variable of not being hungry and not eating is what causes the weight loss. All in all i would definitely not recommend this diet to anybody.

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