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Mirror Therapy

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Phantom limb is a term for an amputated limb, a limb which a person has lost. People with an amputated limb often experience phantom pain, which is pain in the missing limb. This pain can be very excruciating but, fortunately, Vilayanur Ramachandran and colleagues have developed a treatment for it called mirror therapy. Patients positition the limb that they still have, in the mirror so it is reflected to the other side, appearing as though the amputated limb is still there.

This video is about a man who lost his right leg while serving in the war in Iraq. He says that the pains he experiences in his amputated limb are like he is getting stabbed between his toes with a knife, in the arch of his foot or heel, when your big toe is crossed over your second toe, or when you cut your toe nail too short and your sock pulls on it. For this man, sitting with a mirror in between his legs, reflecting his intact leg and foot, is his mirror therapy. As he moves his foot and looks in the mirror at the reflection, he says that it feels like he is really moving the amputated limb.

Adrenal Glands

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Adrenal Glands. What are they and why are they important? Adrenal glands are often referred to as giving you the "fight or flight" response. There are two that are situated right above each kidney. They produce adrenaline and cortisol hormones that boost energy production in muscle cells. You might have heard the story of a woman lifting a vehicle off of her baby. This feat is obviously impossible without the help of some adrenaline. How crazy is it that two little parts of our bodies can give you the strength to do something seemingly impossible? This topic stood out to me because my younger brother had major problems with his adrenal glands shutting down. It got to the point where he could not get out of bed. Most doctors thought he was faking it. Is it true since they are greatly affected by what's going on in our head? How do we decipher the difference between a mental illness and physical illness when they can be so closely related? If this part of our body is so important, why don't we know more about it? states that modern day living is very stressful which often puts the adrenal glands under constant stress that should be counteracted. I think more people need to learn about this part of our bodies in order to live a healthier lifestyle. Adrenal glands also affect the salt content of the body, which in turn affects the measure of one's blood pressure. They affect many aspects of our lives. Right now, I'm sure mine are pumping out stress hormones about this psych exam tomorrow..

Left Brain Vs. Right Brain

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Right Hemisphere vs. Left Hemisphere?

Is there such a thing as being "left-brained" or "right brained?" In class and through the Lilenfeld text, it has come up several times that the left and right hemisphere of our brain each controls different ways in which we think. The left hemisphere of our brain is known for its fine tune language skills, while the right hemisphere is better known for coarse language skills. Being known as "left brained" means that you are logical, objective, scholarly, and you look at the pieces before the whole picture. On the other hand, a "right brained" person is more random, artistic, emotional, and tends to look at the whole picture first. Even though being "left brained" and "right brained" is only a myth, many people revolve their life around it. It helps them understand what kind of person they are and how they learn best. For example, many schools focus on teaching in a "left brained" manor. They concentrate on the reasoning behind the basics and fundamentals rather than the roundabout ways to answer a question.
I took a quiz online to see whether I was "left brained" or "right brained," and my results showed me that I was 51% "left brained" and 49% "right brained!" My results were very similar. I'm not surprised to see this though because I already knew that I don't fall into just one category. Feel free to take this (short) quiz and find out whether you are "left brained" like me or "left brained!"
-Sarah Duever

To many, not feeling pain would be ideal; However, to individuals with pain insensitivity, the inability to feel pain threatens their safety as well as their life. Normally, the somatosensory system (the body's system that senses touch, temperature, and pain) would react to dangerous stimuli applied to the skin by producing the sensation of pain in order to warn the individual of the harm being done to their body. In contrast, a person who suffers from pain insensitivity does not have a normal somatosensory system to protect them from damaging their body.skinandnerves.png
In the figure above, you can see that the skin contains both specialized and free nerve endings that detect pressure, temperature, and pain. For example, the Pacinian corpuscle is specialized for sensing deep pressure and the Meissner's corpuscle is specialized for lighter touch. Sensing pain and temperature is done by the free nerve endings. Normally, if the free nerve endings detected pain, they would send a message to the brain that travels through the spinal cord. This activates spinal reflexes that pull body parts away from the object causing the pain to prevent further damage to the body. Unfortunately, as you will soon see in a video, the somatosensory system of people with pain insensitivity does not work properly and everyday activities may become life threatening.

The video talks of Gabby, a young girl who suffers from hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, which inhibits sensation. Her condition puts her in extreme danger of hurting herself. As a baby, she chewed her fingers and tongue until they bled and her parents were encouraged to have her baby teeth removed to prevent her from biting them off completely, as some children with this condition do. She must wear goggles at all times because she has problems with scratching her eyes, which caused blindness in one of them. Without a functioning somatosensory system, your life is a constant struggle for safety.

The video gives a visual of how serious pain insensitivity is. Without pain, your appendix could burst and kill you without giving any signs that something may be wrong. In reality, the ideal life without pain would be a life-long curse of severely damaging your body and possibly death. Pain insensitivity could cause premature death by something treatable in people with functioning sensory nerves. Though nobody enjoys the sensation of pain, it is incredibly important and keeps us both safe and healthy.

Salt water= free soda!?

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In psychology there are six scientific thinking principles that we can use to help us overcome our own biases. For this claim, I will first be using the first scientific principle, ruling out hypothesis. With this principle, we can ask ourselves is this the only good explanation for this finding? We need to think about other explanations and not rule them out right away. Do we really believe that pouring salt water into a vending machine will give us free product? Wouldn't we see a lot more people walking around with free soda and goodies if that were a true statement? With this claim, we can also use the fourth principle, replicability. Someone may get lucky if they try and pour in salt water and miraculously get free food, but could someone somewhere else have the same luck with this test? We can use replicability to see if the experiment can be duplicated, if it can't, then it increases the odds that the claim is false. The last principle that I will use for this claim is the sixth one, occam's razor. This principle state that with claims, we should generally pick the simpler one. In this case the two claims you can choose from are that salt water will give you free product, or it will not. If we would apply occam's razor, the simpler or more logical claim would be that salt water would not do this for us. We use these claims to help us generate the real claims vs. the false ones. In psychology this is a very useful tool to have because we are faced with these claims on a day to day basis. If we apply these principles, we may be able to decipher scientific claims and also ones from everyday life.

Selective Attention - Cocktail Party Effect
by Anna Kasinski

Selective attention allows individuals to select or focus on one process while tuning out others. Donald Broadbent's "filter theory of attention" explains this phenomenon by stating that attention is a "bottleneck through which information passes", which then allows individuals to focus on the important. Related to these phenomena's is the "cocktail party effect". This refers to one's ability to hear something significant or important to them in a conversation that they are not directly involved in. I believe these theories are important because they are evident in our everyday life, and are a good example of how psychology affects people. Most of society would not realize why or how they heard their hometown come up in a conversation across the room. Most of society does not realize why we actually do have selective hearing. But psychology opens up our brains and makes sense of things that we encounter daily. I think that this is one of the most relatable to me, and would be to others as well.

Just the other day, I was eating lunch and I overheard someone talking about an organization I had been involved with in high school, it turns out we had mutual friends and experiences! The lunchroom was a noisy place, and this person was a table away, but because the filter in my brain thought that organization was an important term to me, it recognized this out of the distant conversation. To me, this is fascinating!

The book goes into some details about Selective Attention and the Cocktail Party Effect, but I would like to know more. I would like to see more studies, and how this effect and theory can be applied in areas like business.

Below I have linked to several articles and images for further reading and entertainment! Enjoy!

Our Mind is the Medicine

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Before reading this blog, I suggest that you watch this video as a precursor.

This video really astounded me ever since the first time I saw it, as it really brings up some interesting points about the placebo effect. As the video states, a placebo pill can work half as effective as aspirin, while the same pill can work half as effective as morphine. One might ask, "how can this be possible?"

Our brain is a very powerful thing. It can trick us in many different ways, and a placebo effect is one of the many ways it can trick us. The placebo effect is a very interesting topic to me. Let's take for example someone who has depression. The doctor prescribes them a placebo drug, ie. a sugar pill. As long as the patient believes that the drug he is receiving is good at managing depression, chances are that he will actually feel a lot better, even though it is just a sugar pill. That is why I named this blog "our Mind is the Medicine." Our mind and mindset plays a huge role in the well being of ourselves.

One thing that can affect how powerful a placebo is, is how real the placebo looks. If a pill is larger, it will have a stronger effect. However if a pill is blue, it will have significantly different effects than a pill that was red. All of these go back to tricking our brains into thinking a placebo is real; the more real it looks, the more effective the pill will be.

One more thing that really intrigues me about this video is also mentioning that placebos could be addictive. It is crazy to me how that is really possible. It just goes to show how powerful they actually are, that our brain can get addicted to something as simple as a sugar pill, in order to treat many different disorders.

Placebo Effect

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The placebo effect is defined as any substance that is not known to have any pharmacological effects, meaning it produces no meaningful changes in an organism, either chemically, or biologically, and is made to look like an active drug. The placebo effect coincides with the phrase "mind over matter." In a test done at Oxford University, it was found that patients, who had positive expectations of the treatments they were receiving, therefore had positive outcomes of the treatments. Where as, patients that had negative expectations of the treatments, therefore showed no improvement or had negative outcomes from the treatment. Placebos may work for mental obstacles, such as pain or even depression, but is it possible that placebos could contribute to a cure for cancer in the future? Pharmaceutical companies are now distributing placebos, as one such company is distributing a placebo to treat depression, as the actual, active drug is still in clinical trials. The brain is very complex, but if it is able to be tricked by placebos, then there would be a minimum need for active drugs, therefore lowering the risks of side effects. The downfall to placebos, is that some patients may have negative thoughts about the treatment before starting it, therefore turning the placebo effect into the nocebo effect.

The Anatomy of a Male Brain

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Male Brain

Hoax/Claim: "On average, men think about sex every seven seconds"

For decades, there has been a misconception that men think about sex every seven seconds. As in the movie "Mars Needs Moms" men are viewed as overly physically emotional animal that care nothing more than physical interactions. This belief became prevalent because it was widely believed that men are more sexually motivated than women, which can be concluded from years of marriage. This claim is false supported scientific evidence. According to Kinsey Institute's FAQ, "54% of men think about sex several times a day, 43% a few times per week/month, and 4% less than once a month." Research like these hold very little reliability since it asked participants to backtrack and see how many times they remember they thought about sex.
Terri Fisher, Ohio State University, Mayfield psychologist conducted a study composed of both men and women, using clickers to track the number of sexual thoughts experienced. After conducting the experiment the results ranged from 1 to 388 sexual thoughts per day for men. Although 388 seems a lot, but applying the arithmetic 388/day is much less than sexual thought per 7 seconds (12342 times a day). This study is more reliable than Kinsey Institute's report like many others who relied backtracking and remembering the amount of sexual thoughts experienced by the participant.
Men do not think about sex every seven seconds, as proven by many research studies like the one conducted by fisher and Kinsey Institute. Although men are sexually motivated than women it cannot be correlated to the amount of sexual thoughts experienced by men or women. There are many factors/variable that influence the amount of experiences by the participant such as emotional and environmental factors. In these studies, it has shown women are influenced more by the social acceptability which may cause them to admit having sexual thoughts less.

The thought of being sexually aroused by the smell of a rodent is out of the question. The smell of most mammals, play a huge part in their sexual attraction towards each other. As humans, does our sense of smell plays a strong role in our sexual behavior?

For most mammals, pheromones play a huge role in their sexual behavior towards each other. They've developed a special sense called the vomeronasal organ, to help detect pheromones. Humans are able to detect pheromones differently through a nerve that is able to sense and trigger the arousal regions of the brain. This feature is unique to humans, for most other mammals the vemeronasal organ does this same job.

If you are one to purchase perfumes or colognes in order to satisfy others, don't you wonder why those other people are satisfied by your scent? Why are humans so satisfied by these fragrances?

Many companies producing perfumes and colognes believe that smell is the main trigger to sexual behaviors in humans. In fact, it is not the fragrance of products that triggers arousal, but it is the pheromones, an odorless chemical that sends social signals to one's species. Thus, the pheromones of monkeys will not sexually attract rats due to the distinct type of pheromone for each species.

The website,, sells pheromone induced cologne and perfume products. They claim that the addition of pheromones will help seduce, attract and drive others irresistibly crazy for you! Their extraordinary claims mean they need extraordinary evidence!
The evidence is shown through testimonials from consumers who say that it actually works!
"I went out last night and used pheromones and I couldn't believe the attention I was getting from women... Truly Phenomenal! " - T.C-California
"I have always wondered how it felt to become more attractive with a scent of seduction. Pheromones really do work, Thanks!" -Michael- New York

*How is this company's testing of their product proving that it works? Since they rely on the statements made by those using their product. The fact is that in some cases people get what they are looking for simply by looking, so what if the product is simply a placebo?
There could be a confounding variable with the other factors that may have attracted the opposite sex such as physical attraction or the way they approached each other. The product is not an exact cause to "increase in sexually attraction...attention...arousal, affection, confidence" There is way more to sexual attraction than the release of pheromones.

Are you attracted by someone distinctly because of their smell? Next time you purchase a bottle of perfume or cologne, think about I how much it will truly help you meet the girl of your dreams. Don't rely on a bottle of pheromones to get you that sexy person from across the room. They could quite possibly help, but the reality is that smell only goes so far. Appearance, likability, and personality will go much further than smelling good.
"A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks." ~Charles Gordy

Check out for an example of a company selling pheromone fragrances.

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