February 2012 Archives

Emotion and Advertising

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After looking at ads on youtube by which sellers manipulate emotions to sell products, I stumbled upon a Google commercial from 2010 that was rather interesting. For this blog, first I will give a quick summary of the ad. The entire commercial does not leave the google search page and the advertisement is about a young man who is searching for love. He goes on google and decides to search a number of things. He begins his journey by searching to study abroad in france, then he searches how to impress a french girl and translate french. He continues to search using google for things like locating restaurants and chocolate shops in Paris. Eventually the young man searches how be in a long distance relationship, but erases that line and replaces it with "jobs in paris". This leads to him searching for churches (to get married) and how to assemble a crib. Overall, the advertisement leaves the viewer with a warm and happy feeling because we witnessed a love story in under a minute.

The happy emotions created by this ad carry over to our opinion of google. I feel that google effectively manipulated people's emotions about love to create a positive view of their product and company. In addition, the advertisement shows how quick, easy and broad google is to use. One could argue that this also plays to our emotions because society is moving towards an "I need to have it right now" mentality. Google can help you get what you need quickly. All things considered, I think that google earned a lot of people's hearts because of their manipulation of emotion. Because of this, their marketing team was successful in the creation of this advertisement. Do you agree? Also, the link to the ad is at the bottom of the page


Different Perceptions of Time

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One would think that all people see and perceive time the same way, but there have been some studies suggesting that people who live closer to the equator view time a little differently. Since all of the seasons are pretty much the same the closer you get to the equator, time doesn't really look like its passing all that fast. This is why psychologists theorize that people closer to the equator aren't as future-oriented as us Northerners.

There are also thought to be time perception differences between people of different religions. Some religions teach people to think that they need to work extremely hard to prove their worth to their deity. This changes how those people perceive time and how much time they have to do as much as they can.

So this just makes me wonder, how does my time perception as an atheist and someone who lives in a place where all the seasons are very distinct differ from other people?

There are also some places that don't have any words for the future tense. How crazy would it be to go to those places and live there?

Note: All information is from this video, its pretty interesting if you have 10 minutes to spare.

In chapter 5 the book talks about hypnosis and common myths about it. I have always been intrigued by this concept, though I’ve never witnessed it in person. Hypnosis is something I’ve only seen on TV but I had no reason to doubt it. It made sense that somebody could convince me that I am a duck and make me act like one just by waving a watch back and forth and snapping their fingers. I obviously hadn’t put too much thought into it. What it says in the book makes even more sense, that many of these assumptions and images media has put in my head is all made up to amuse me. This just made me think about all the other things that I may “know are real” just because that’s all I’ve known previously.

Alzheimer's disease is a devastating form of dementia that hinders brain functioning. There are several risk factors that are correlated with Alzheimer's disease. The first risk factor is that you are older; an interesting myth is that AD is not part of normal aging which many people believe. A second risk factor is if you have a close blood relative that has AD. The third major factor is if you have the gene (APOE). This allele is connected to AD. Some factors that increase your risk but have not been proven are, if you are female, have high blood pressure and have had head trauma.


There are absolutely no cures for AD which is terrible. The goal is to slow progression of AD. The only medications and therapies that are being used right now are to treat the symptoms. Such as Aricept that is used to increase hippocampus functioning so that the patient can have a better chance at remembering information. An interesting fact about Aricept (donepezil) is that it is in the running to start becoming one of the major drugs being used by college students just like Ritalin or Adderall. Aricept can increase "normal" people's memory which can be a clear advantage for taking tests. Before you go run and look for some make sure you look at the side effects. Neuroenhancements can be very dangerous if not taken properly.



While watching TV it can be easy to get sucked into advertisements, especially when it is one that you can relate to. Proactive targets people who suffer from bad acne, which in most cases, consists of teenagers. They claim that you will have "noticeably different skin within a few weeks", however, what is Proactive's view on "noticeably different". As you may have seen, Proactive uses celebrities in their commercials to help sell and promote their product. They star celebrities well known by teenagers like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to help draw their attention to the commercial and therefore the product. The celebrities talk about their success with Proactive while looking absolutely flawless and zit free. Seeing a star with radiant skin after using Proactive, would make it easy for one to assume that "if I use Proactive, I will have perfect skin like a celebrity!". Acne tends to be a personal sensitivity for some people causing the celebrities to seem very relatable and believable. However, the catch here is that in real life, those celebrities do not always look as flawless as they do in the commercial. This is due to airbrush, professional makeup artists and complementing lighting when shooting the commercials. While staring at the TV becoming greatly influenced by the celebrity and commercial, a teenager would not think this way. Therefore, Proactive does a great job of getting teenagers' attention and interest to buy their product based off the influence of popular celebrities and their looks.

American Psychiatric Association has announced that diagnostic manual of Autism will alter its criteria rigorously at the end of this year and hot debate over the issues is attracting people's attention. Fred R. Volkmar, M.D. of Yale Child Study Center, has diagnosed 372 adults and children, who were diagnosed with slight autism in 1993, by applying the new diagnostic manual and discovered only 45% of the people had autism. As Volkmar felt the necessity to adopt novel diagnostic criteria, he integrated autism and similar but distinct symptoms such as Asperger syndrome or PDD-NOS into one category called "Autsim Spectrum Disorder". He also suggested revising the former way to diagnose with autism if six out of twelve criteria were satisfied.
However, many psychiatrists are opposed to Volkmar's suggestion, as the research materials are too old and objects of study were limited to people with slight autism. Besides, if new manual is to be applied, original patients could be exempted from government's financial support so tens of thousands of patients will encounter difficulties.
But I support the revision of the diagnostic manual. During class we saw children with autism developing language ability and social skills by application of operant conditioning. Children were divided into two groups. Among the children there were couple of children, who were improved well enough to attend schools with ordinary students and they were included in experimental group which received intensive treatment. None of the children in the control group was dramatically improved to normal state. The ultimate purpose to identify diagnostic manual of mental disorder is not to label those people abnormal or extraordinary but to treat detrimental effect. Equivocal criteria that apply to too many cases don't lead to proper treatment. In my opinion, patients who satisfy the strict manual are needed to be attentively treated.

Get Fit, Don't Quit

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I decided to research an advertisement on the new Gatorade G Series. These advertisements usually portray professional athletes in their intense workout situations, which generally would make viewers feel more inferior than anything. But this new commercial showed a very average, yet athletic young male in his daily workout routine. It starts out showing him waking up very early, and then starting his day out with 2 protein bars and the first part of the 3-pronged drink, Prime. After this, he jogs to the gym and grabs a Perform, the second step in the series, which is crafted to keep one hydrated and performing at their best. It shows the man working out using a treadmill, free weights, and a medicine ball. It also shows him continuing to drink Perform throughout his entire workout. When he finishes, he grabs the final step in the series, Recover. He walks back to his house and stretches out while drinking Recover, and hears his neighbor's alarm go off and smiles, looking as though he feels accomplished.
This advertisement tugs at an emotion that many Americans struggle with every day, the desire to get up and work out. In the ad, this normal guy gets through his workout using the G series to get him "pumped up," get him through his routine, and recover properly. The biggest shock is how he is still able to get back in time to hear his lazy neighbors alarm go off, giving him a personal sense of accomplishment.

Do you ever wonder, what's the difference between being unconscious/asleep and being conscious/awake? Marcus de Sautoy explores this question in one part of his documentary: The Secret You. Of course, there are some obvious differences between being asleep and being awake, such as when awake we're aware of what we are doing: however when sleeping, we are left alone with our unconscious thoughts and dreams. Sautoy visits a doctor to be tested in an experiment looking for the answer to the question of what happens when we go to sleep? In terms of our brain waves, the study found an obvious difference. When the brain received mild electrical shocks while the person is consciously awake, different parts of the brain communicated with each other and the fMRI visuals showed the different areas of the brain being stimulated at that moment. However, when the subject was asleep, in other words unconscious, the electrical shock was received in only one part of the brain. The brain waves and reactions were seen in a localized area of where the stimulation was received. This shows that although brain remains active while we are asleep, the communication channels are temporarily shut down. Unlike when we are conscious, the brain does not have complete communication throughout its different parts.
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Is this a dream?

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In Marcus de Sautoy's video, The Secret you, he volunteers himself for a sleep study based on brain activity and consciousness. For the study he was given mild shocks to his brain while wearing equipment that measured his brain activity. While he was awake and conscious many different locations in his brain were active, even when the shock was distributed to a small area. Unfortunately, he couldn't fall asleep in the lab so they used a different subject's information while they were asleep. The results were that while sleeping, only small locations of the brain were active; whereas awake many were active.

This leads me to think that because we use less of our brains while we are unconscious, that might be why we tend to dream very unrealistic situations and think they are real, when in reality they are only a dream. The same goes for hypnosis, supposedly people become unconscious when hypnotized, therefore using less of their brain. All the hypnosis acts that I've seen, people tend to do extremely embarrassing and crazy things, nothing they would dream of doing while conscious. This, in part, may have to do with fact they are using less of their brain. If we were able to utilize our entire brain while asleep or hypnotized we may be able to realize what is happening and act accordingly; like realize we are dreaming and not be afraid or realize we are being hypnotized and not react to the hypnotist.

Have you ever had a dream that was unrealistic but seemed very real to you?

Advertising/Marketing and Psychology have a strong correlation. Because of this, many companies and marketing firms use the concepts of classical conditioning to make their advertisements successful. They often manipulate the consumers' emotions. Cigarette companies, such as Camel, are a good example of this. During the mid-1900s, Camel endorsed popular athletes to appear on/in their advertisements. One example of this was when they used Roger Maris to sell their product.


By using Maris, a successful professional baseball player, to sell their products, Camel made people think that, although cigarettes aren't good for you, you can still be successful even if you use them. This is an example of how Camel manipulated your previous emotions/views towards cigarettes. Obviously, this was an effective method because cigarettes are now a large part of our economy.

I decided to look up some cool things animals have been trained to do. In doing so I discovered this article that talks about how one dolphin taught other dolphins tricks in the wild. The one dolphin was in captivating for a while and trainers taught it how to perform various stunts. The dolphin was then released back into the wild where now it teachers other dolphins these same tricks. I thought that was very cool that not only can humans train dolphins to do certain tricks, but dolphins can actually teach one another.
When talking about training we usually offer some sort of reward to the animal to make it learn what we want it to. In other words respond in the way we train it to. That leads me to question how the wild dolphins learn how to do the tricks. What reward do they get to encourage them to try the trick again? Without that reward and response pattern they must still learn how to repeat the tricks that the one dolphin is in a way "teaching" them. The article talks about the popular social group idea, that when the other dolphins see such behavior they want to act that way as well. That is my guess on how they learn without the rewards. To make it simple, they see the one dolphin doing tricks and they want to be able to do them too. Overall I thought it was an interesting story.

Is It Really Your Decision?

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While watching the BBC video on the human mind called The Secret You, Marcus de Sautoy delves into the question of whether our conscious self is responsible for our decisions or if it is our unconscious mind that makes decisions for us. He starts with a simple experiment that explores the source and timing of his choices. It involves Sautoy pressing either a right or left button while lying in a brain scanner that monitors when his brain actually made the decision. After the test, it is revealed that the brain knew what button he would press an astonishing six seconds before he actually pressed it. In other words, Sautoy's conscious decision is secondary to his unconscious brain activity. This leads to the question of whether or not we as human beings are making our own choices, or if this "gray matter" of our brain is. Some questions I have after watching this discovery revolves around those convicted of crimes. Is it possible that people could blame their bad decisions, say murder, on the unconscious activity of the brain? Or do we still have enough control to decide right from wrong, and good from bad? Overall, I found the discoveries of Marcus Sautoy to be very interesting.

Have you ever had the experience that you have done something before or been to a certain place before? I have had this crazy experience before and i have never been able to explain it. After I read chapter five, i understand this weird experience as deja-vu. But is this feeling real and do you actually relive what you are experiencing at that moment? After reading the section and chapter i have come to the conclusion that a person is in some way reliving or remembering a past experience. As the book says, it can even be an information that is unconsciously processed; so a person could possibly not even remember that memory. This makes a lot more sense compared to what other people want to and have hypothesized. The other hypothesis is that a person is reliving past experiences from another life. Although that is an interesting concept, and there is a slight chance this could be correct, there is no way to prove this so it has to be ruled out. This is a very interesting topic, and one with limited knowledge on, which makes it so fascinating. If someone has other comments or things to add, or other explanations, feel free to comment and share your stories or hypotheses. Thanks!


When do we become aware of self?

The short answer to this question is that: We become self aware around 18-24 months. This was concluded from the mirror self recognition test with babies from the "Secrets of You" video. Unfortunately I believe that that alone would not be sufficient to get a good grade on my blog. So I must say more about what I think about this particular topic. But I have to put it out there: 200-250 words is not enough to explain my thoughts about consciousness. I find the idea of a conscious mind compelling and believe it is impossible to define. I believe it is not only a scientific thing but also very spiritual. So in my perspective Descartes had a point to "duel-ism". The mind and the body are two very separate things, the body has a known life span but the mind a soul does not. So how does one know that they are self aware, that they exist? I think therefore I am, meaning you have to be able to understand that you are thinking to know that you exist. But what about the children who are not self aware? In the mind of a non-self aware person, do they believe that they exist? Does that mean that they do not have a consciousness? Haven't you ever wonder what it would be like if you can turn off our consciousness? What would it be like if you were not self aware or not stimulated by the outside world? Why do people, even as adults, have this notion that we must find ourselves? When are we really ever self aware?

Have you ever wondered if what you're seeing is really it makes itself to be? Everyday you probably experience or see the same events on a regular basis. You become so used to something that it becomes second nature that you don't even have to think about it. Take for example gravity. You know that when you throw something or slide down a slide that the object will move towards ground until making contact with it or something on it. This video creates an interesting perception of what we would normally expect.


When you first see the constructed object, it appears to be a ramp of some sort that goes up and down. However, once the person starts placing toy balls at what appears to be the bottom of the ramp, the balls seem to travel up the ramp! You probably were not expecting that, were you?

But how can this be? This event went against to what you have believed in. At around 0:27 seconds into the video, the camera rotates around the object to show that it was not what it was initially made out to be. But why did you believe it was a ramp that went up? You see you have already developed a perceptual set that the ramp went up and the balls would just roll down it when placed on it. This is an example of top-down processing in which your expectations of things will affect the way things are perceived.

Are You in Control?

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When you make decisions, are you consciously aware of them? Most of us would say yes, but have you ever thought that possibly your decisions have already been made for you by your subconscious self?

After watching the video "The Secret You" by BBC Horizon, professor Marcus du Sautoy took part in an experiment to analyze how we truly make our decisions. After taking a fMRI scan of his brain activity while he was making decisions, he was surprised to discover that his brain had already decided upon his actions six seconds before he executed them. Du Sautoy then began to ponder about if our decisions are truly made with our conscious self, or rather with our subconscious self. If an external source monitoring our brain can see our decisions six seconds prior to when we act upon them, who is really in control?

I personally believe that we do make every decision subconsciously, and that the brain goes through a serious of neuronic processes to tell our bodies to convey these decisions. The fMRI analyst said to du Sautoy that "the unconscious mind is in harmony with your beliefs and desires." This brought me to my own belief that we as humans are incredibly subjective to the power of influence, that we are directed in life by a series of external sources in our environments. Thus we already have various preconceived notions/beliefs/values set within our subconscious self based on these experiences. Where do you believe our decisions come from? Is it all subconscious, or are you in control?

(1) Decision Sign. N.d. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. http://www.true-motivation.com/images/decision_sign.jpg
(2) The Secret You. BBC Horizon. 24 Nov. 2009. Youtube. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. http://youtu.be/8Biv_8xjj8E

Got Sleep?

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Chapter 5 touched on the concepts of circadian rhythm, as well as the various stages of sleep. This made me remember an article I came across thanks to Stumbleupon. Below I have included the link to the specific article. It talks about nontraditional sleep cycles, and the success thereof. One of the cycles listed is called the Biphasic sleep cycle. This is the sleep cycle that most college students use. It consists of a shorter night's sleep, and a midday nap. The sleep cycle that I find most unique is called the Dymaxion sleep cycle. It involves four naps, 30 minutes each, perfectly evenly spaced. A diagram of this is shown below. What is so shocking is that people on this sleep cycle only get two hours of sleep each night. However, according to believers and users of this lifestyle, as long as they adhere strictly to the plan, they have few to no negative effects. It simply seems shocking to me that it is possible to get such little sleep and still be able to focus and succeed at day to day living.



What makes our decisions?

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I watched the last segment of the BBC video clip, and I found what I learned to be very interesting. The question was who is in charge of our decisions? Is it our conscious self? Or our unconscious mass of gray matter that we cannot control? The mathematician Marcus de Sautoy undergoes a quite simple experiment to test this question by randomly deciding and then pushing a left or right button. A scanner will record when you made the decision, and the computer will record when you physically pushed the button itself. What they found was that up to 6 seconds before he made up his mind they could predict which button he was going to decide to pick. We are told there is a pattern of brain activity that emerges before we make a decision, so they could tell whether he was going to click with his left or right hand. What we can conclude from this is that our unconscious self has control of our decisions. This can make us question whether this means our decisions are out of our control or whether we still have control over them. They stated that our unconscious brain activity is in harmony with our wants and beliefs, so we should still decide and do things we want to do. This is where I became confused as to how this is possible, and what would happen if we lost this harmony between the two. When we do things we don't mean to do, those things we wish with all our might we could take back, are they due to the harmony being off between our conscious and unconscious mind? Also, if our minds are made up before we even realize it, how could we make ourselves stop making the wrong decisions and start making the right ones? These were some questions that I resulted with after watching the video clip, but overall I found what I learned to be very fascinating like many others did.


The article above is about the 25% of the population that have a dramatically increased number of taste buds on their tongues. These people are known as supertasters. Now, I, personally, am not a supertaster, but I'm pretty glad of that fact. Why? Well, because it seems that being a supertaster isn't really that super. According to the article above, supertasters have a high sensitivity to intense flavors because of the increased number of taste buds they have. It's important to note here that when I say intense flavors I don't mean that really spicy Chinese or Mexican food you had the other day, I mean pretty much anything that isn't considered bland. In fact, if a supertaster had what you considered to be really spicy, they would probably literally feel like their mouth was on fire. The increased number of taste buds on their tongue leads to an increase in the amount of sensory information that they can obtain, which is why they can detect things in food that the other 75% of the population can't. Eating things that most people love like coffee, alcohol, strawberries, and most fatty foods are, to a supertaster, unbearable. The adaptive advantage to being a supertaster would only seem to be relevant if we were having a problem with a very bitter poison being put into our McDonald's hamburgers, but I'm guessing that won't be a problem anytime soon. So, it seems like being a supertaster isn't really all that 'super'.


Sidewalk Illusions

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Ever since one of my high school art teachers showed my class images of sidewalk art, I've been fascinated with the concept. The artists who use the sidewalk rather than a canvas create illusions using depth. The picture below is of a drawing of a dungeon that appears to be three-dimensional. The artist utilized a few pictorial cues in order to make and illusion of a three-dimensional dungeon on a two-dimensional surface, the sidewalk. The artist used light and shadow as well as linear perspective, even though there is no vanishing point for the lines. The lines at the bottom of the dungeon are shorter than those that are supposed to be the top. Even though they are all on the same surface, this makes the lines that appear to be at the floor of the dungeon appear farther away than the lines that bring the dungeon to the surface. Light and shadow are also very important monocular cues that lead to this illusion. The artist used shadows and lighting to create much of the depth we see even though there is no depth to the sidewalk. The pictorial cues in this work of art are what create an illusion in our minds. Because we see depth, our brains are tricked into thinking that this is image three-dimensional rather than a two-dimensional drawing.



This painting by Rene Magritte, displays illusions of depth perception. When you first see it you probably think you are just looking out the window and see two pinnacles and some houses. Then you look closer and next either notice the strange wood object or the fact that one of the "pinnacles" is actually a road. The strange wood object turns out to be a frame for a canvas, and you are really seeing a picture in front of the window. The artist used depth perception cues to cause the illusion of it all being out the window. The relative size of the buildings and trees on the canvas and out the window make it look like they are at the same distance, but really the ones on the canvas are much closer. In the painting, the texture gradient changes as it meets the horizon causing fuzzy images in the distance. The vanishing point at the end of the road gives illusion of distance. The light seems to come from the same location in the painting and outside the window giving the shadows in the painting a more realistic look.


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Many students who recently graduated high school would have heard the "Teen Buzz" ringtone sometime throughout high school. As cell phones have become more popular, adults have tried to get their kids off of phones and schools have banned them from class. This obviously hasn't stopped us "kids" from using our phones during school; we have just found a sneakier way to use them! The Teen Buzz is a high frequency tone that many people have been using as a text message alert because older adults cannot hear it. As we age we lose the tiny hair cells in our ears which cause us to lose some of our hearing abilities, including hearing high frequency noises.
The "Teen Buzz" being used as a ringtone is a creative idea but for those that can hear it... OUCH. If you hear that high frequency noise for loud enough it can really start to get under your skin. Some kids from my high school even claimed to have gotten headaches after hearing the noise for more than a minute or two. I have noticed this phenomenon in my house on unintentional occasions such as when the television is on. Normally, I can tell from the other room that the T.V. is on even if it is on mute because it produces a high frequency noise that my parents never notice but it drives me crazy. Whoever created "Teen Buzz" sure was sneaky but can also successfully annoy many people!



Inattentional Blindness

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Last week in discussion, we talked about inattention blindness and not seeing things right in front of our faces. We were shown an example of some people passing a basketball back and forth, while a bear moonwalked across the screen.
While on Facebook this week, a post came up with an article about a musician. He played six Bach pieces on the violin for about 45 minutes in a metro station during rush hour. Roughly 1100 people were in the station during that time. A few people stopped and listened for a few minutes, and children were pulled away from listening by their parents to keep walking. In his 45 minutes of playing, he made $32 and received no applause or recognition after he finished.
The violinist was none other than Joshua Bell. He is one of the most talented musicians in the world, and was playing one of the most intricate pieces ever written on a 3.5 million dollar violin. Two days earlier, Bell sold out at a theater in boston where the seats averaged $100.
If one of the top musicians in the wold can play one of the best pieces of music on an instrument that expensive and not be noticed for who he really is, what else is happening in the world that we are simply passing by without a second glance?

Dead to the World; All at Once

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While reading chapter 5, I came across a sleeping disorder which particularly struck me. It is referred to as, Narcolepsy. People who have this disorder experience an overwhelming urge to sleep at any given point during their day. Due to this urge, they participate in unexpected and rapid sleep episodes. These episodes can range anywhere from a few seconds to an hour.
Anything and everything can trigger these urges. It has been noted that people with this disorder have fell asleep while in the shower, driving, watching their favorite movies, working, laughing, having sex, etc etc. During the moment of these urges, people with narcolepsy are involved with cataplexy, meaning all their muscles become completely limp. Cataplexy occurs when everyone sleeps, but with narcolepsy people, they are fully alert but just can't move. In addition, normal sleepers do not fall into REM sleep ("stage of sleep during which the brain is most active and during which vivid dreaming most often occurs") till about an hour after dozing off, where as a narcolepsy person falls directly into REM sleep. This often times causes the person to have vivid hypnagogic hallucinations.
In addition to the hormone orexin contributing highly to this disorder, narcolepsy often times occurs after brain damage is done in an accident. Today there is not a specific medication out that will cure these sudden sleep urges, but narcolepsy patients are often times proscribed a medication called modafinil, which pushes wakefulness throughout their day.

An example of a man with narcolepsy, he falls asleep during the duration of a work meeting.

The Boy with Cat Eyes

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While having the ability to fly or being able to lift an elephant with just your pinky finger may be a desire many of us have (well, perhaps the second one is irrelephant to you), unfortunately we will probably never obtain these skills. Although humans don't have superpowers, there are a few people who have super powered traits that nearly compare to those of a superhero. Such is the case with a young Chinese boy by the name of Nong Yousui.

He was born with blue eyes, which is very uncommon in the region he lives in. While doctors at first thought it was simply a change in color from the usual brown eyes of Chinese people, instead it turns out that he was blessed, or perhaps cursed, with cat eyes. His blue eyes may not be exactly like a cat, but they have the incredible ability of enabling Nong the ability to see in the dark. He is able to go outside and catch crickets in the middle of the night, and even read words on paper in pitch black lighting. Unfortunately for this young boy, it comes at a price. During the day he suffers from how intense the sunlight is on his very sensitive night vision eyes.

Being able to see in the dark and move swiftly about, while others fumble around and stub their toes, sure would be handy. Yet he may almost have to live a life much like a vampire, hiding from the sun, and going out only in the night. Having the ability to see in the dark is indeed impressive, but is it worth it? Would you prefer to be like Nong, and have cat eyes, or stick with your good ol' fashioned day time eyes?

cat eyes.jpg

A link to the video: http://www.wimp.com/cateyes/

The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  A corpus callosotomy is a surgery that severs the corpus callosum, therefore preventing nerve impulses from being transmitted between the hemispheres.  Now you're probably wondering what kind of surgeon would do such a thing.  A mad scientist, or perhaps an extensive research laboratory?  Actually, this isn't quite the case.  While this is an extreme surgical procedure, corpus callosotomies are used in the treatment of severe, debilitating cases of epilepsy that generally don't respond to medical treatment.  When seizures occur in both hemispheres of the brain, the seizures can be very dangerous and difficult to manage.  If medications don't prevent the seizures, this procedure may be the only option to prevent seizures being transmitted throughout hemispheres.  While a corpus callosotomy is not the best option, the surgery is generally effective, and has very few side effects.  While the surgery is effective, it does not stop the seizures all together, and the patient will still need to take anti-seizure medications.  Also, when the hemispheres are split, there are sometimes difficulties with the patients being able to find the words for some objects.   


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In chapter five, the book briefly touches on the concept of sleepwalking. I have always found this concept interesting, though I have never personally been caught sleepwalking, my little sister used to all the time. I can’t wrap my head around the idea of walking and doing things while sleeping. It says that people have been known to drive cars, have sex, and even commit murder all while sleeping! asleep-at-the-wheel.jpg One time my sister was at a sleepover and she got out of bed, went downstairs, put on her friend’s dad’s slippers, and started walking outside. Who knows how far she would have gotten had the dog not started barking when the door opened. She remembers waking up and seeing the slippers on her feet but not knowing how they got there. I never thought that sleepwalking could be something concerning until I read this section and saw how far it can go!

I thought this video was very interesting. People are self-aware, but where in the body does "i" live? Thats a question that people have been wondering for thousands of years. Marcus' s study covered a lot of different topics involving this question. He started by going to a doctor from Oxford who ran tests on his brain when he is under going sedation from anesthetics. He was told to imagine playing tennis while he is being injected with these imperative drugs. The doctor wanted to find the point where Marcus is still self-aware and he would b focusing on the area's of the brain that are still functioning under this heavy sedation. This, theoretically, should point us in the direction of which area of the brain our soul resides. They found that there is a "resonant loop" between the Thalamus and Basil Ganglia that is required to maintain consciousness. The doctor didn't say that this is where the consciousness resides, but it is one of the main components in being self-aware.

Unconscious thought

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I found the lecture today very interesting and it got me thinking a lot
about the possibility that I do things without thinking about them, but
then justify the action if asked about it later or if I happen to be
thinking about it later. It also makes me wonder what kinds of cues we see
in the real world that cause us to make a choice one way or another. I can
think of a lot of things where I probably had different motives than the
ones I thought I had, whether it was picking out classes at school, where I
decided to get food for lunch, what way I walked home on a particular day,
deciding to read outside for the day, etc etc. I'm not saying that
everything I do is for some reason besides the one I give, but when I look
back on a lot of choices I've made many of the reasons I can give for why I
did them make perfect sense, but they also probably don't address the
entire reason. In a youtube video I found, there is a guy with his corpus
callosum severed. The two halves of the brain aren't connected, so he isn't
able to communicate what his right brain sees (our speech is in the left
brain), so he is asked to point to a picture instead. He points to the
picture his right brain saw, but since his left brain didn't see it, he
makes up a reason for why he chose it.

Chapter 5: Lucid Dreaming

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Lucid dreaming is when you are not only dreaming, but when you are doing so you know you are dreaming within your dream. Most people have experienced this sensation, while up to 20% of Americans say that they have these types of dreams on a monthly basis. 72% of people that do or have had a lucid dream say they have the ability to manipulate their dreams to their favor. With the ability to control your dreams, that gives the individual the ability to make lucid nightmares have a more desirable outcome. However, there is no evidence suggesting that improving our dreams outcomes have any significant effect on the outcome of depression, anxiety or any other adjustment problems, despite some researchers making those claims.
One interesting point is that researchers have yet to conclude if one is actually sleeping during a lucid dream or if it is just that people say that their dream had a lucid quality to it after they awoke. While lucid dreaming isn't as interesting of a concept as "Inception", it is still somewhat of a mystery and a very unknown experience.

Until recently, a child living in Great Britain lived without the constrictions, stereotypes, or regulations of gender. Raised as "gender-neutral", Sasha Laxton's parents kept Sasha's gender a secret. As he is now five years old, and beginning school, they have revealed that he is a male. Having lived an early childhood free of gender stereotypes, Sasha has preferences that are not necessarily specific to that of a young boy. He plays with dolls, as well as trucks. He enjoys playing dress-up, and laughs at the idea that pink is a girl's color, and blue is a boy's color. When asked if he thinks boys and girls are different, he said "No." Sasha shows that without a gender identity, a child's perspective on the differences between male and female are significantly affected. Although at such a young age, a child's understanding of gender and sexuality are quite minimal and mostly developed due to appearances and personality differences.
Sasha's story demonstrates the strength of the effect that nurture has on a person. Children are more prone to have the perspectives, stereotypes, and overall view on their society shaped. Sasha's parents actively influenced his views on gender roles, by omitting the issue of gender from his personal identity completely. By nature, Sasha is male. However, when nurtured to be gender-neutral, he made no more personal effort to act as a male than to act as a female. This example proves that, in children, nurture is more important than nature in instances of gender.article-2090169-1160FED9000005DC-627_468x703.jpeg

Free will and Determinism are two ways that we view the world as humans. The determinism assumes that you had some per-determined cause or influence to make a decision or you did it because you thought it was best. Great minds have discussed this topic for years and there has not been able to be a sufficient answer with evidence. An article that I found agrees with the explanation that I have given

This article shows some of evidence but still not overwhelming to side with their beliefs. The article believes that determinism is more of what we use and do rather than free will. Free will according to this source is something that can never be obtained unless you are not from this world. Choices towards free will mean you need to make choices from the start, which is argued that it never is because of the fact of laws and other authority figures.

I do agree with this article to an extent. It still seems that there is free will in many regards such as this blog I am typing right now. Its my choice to do it and there will be consequences whether I do it or not. The question begins is it worth it?

What Lead You to Read This?

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Free will vs. Determinism has been one of Psychology's greatest debates. The question is whether you made the choice on your own to bring up this blog post, or whether there is some pre-determined notion that lead you to it. The debate still goes on because there is an insufficient amount of evidence to prove one way or the other, but many people have chosen their side.


The article alludes to the point that most of psychology is based off of determinism. It says, that most scientific theories are based off of the notion that one thing directly causes another. This supports determinism, which is why I was confused about how the debate is still alive today if psychologists generally agree that their theories are based off of determinism. Then I found the point, that many people want to believe that they have some say in the matter, that they have their own free will to choose what they want.

Likely, the most plausible explanation is that there is some sort of combination between free will and determinism. Our genes and subconscious behavior has already "decided" how to react in certain situations but we likely have some amount of choice when we have time to sit down and think things through before we act on them.

The article also posses an interesting phenomena that might be worth looking into, the butterfly effect.

One thing I found truly compelling from the textbook was from Chapter 2, when prefrontal lobotomies were discussed. A lobotomy was long considered the solution for many severe mental disorders. Before this class, I had been exposed to lobotomies (or at least their effects) through television and movies. In both the movie 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and in an episode of 'The Simpsons', the patients that had a lobotomy performed on them appeared extremely incapacitated, almost as though entire brain had been removed. After actually reading the effects of a lobotomy, I discovered that it had been a tragic case of confirmation bias for far too long.

Lobotomies nearly always ended in the patient being rendered in a catatonic state, not curing the mental illness so much as disabling the brain as a whole. But since researchers could prove that the mental illness was no longer visible in the patients behavior, they credited themselves. The developer of the prefrontal lobotomy was even awarded a Nobel Prize! I can only wonder if the victims of lobotomies and their families ever pursued lawful action against those doctors that administered them, since it created more problems than it helped. Lobotomies have long been portrayed as a slight form of torture or punishment in mass media.

Pin The Blame on Vaccinations

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Andrew Nardi
Vaccines and Autism

I would just like to start out by saying this claim is preposterous. The articles that do show a correlation between early life vaccinations and ASD (autism spectrum disorders) are sparse at best. Proponents of the notion use confirmation bias to try and skew the statistics in their favor. As it is, autism spectrum disorders are incredibly hard to diagnose until social interactions are much more common. With that being said, some autism spectrum disorders can be detected as early fourteen months. Another point I would like to bring up is the difficulty in directly connecting the vaccines because there is a long time between the time a child receives the vaccines and the time that autism is diagnosed. Another thing that is troubling is there is no evidence to decipher what actually causes autism and autism spectrum disorders let alone a single direct cause. There was a certain study done on twelve children in 1998 by a doctor by the name of, Andrew Wakefield, which showed evidence of a correlation between Autism and vaccines. However, in 2011 the article was completely discredited due to the fact that Dr. Wakefield had falsified the data, as well as the results of the study rendering the conclusion moot. Autism is a big deal for parents as well as children, and it makes sense that people are trying to put the blame on something but vaccines are not the culprits.



According to this article, a research team believes they have found a genetic link for ADHD. In a genetic study they did, 15% of the kids diagnosed with ADHD had significant differences in their DNA as opposed to 7% of the control group (kids without ADHD). The main problem with this data is that 85% of the kids diagnosed with ADHD do not have a clear difference in their DNA. This would show that the problem could be partially genetic, but there is a clear nurture side to it. The argument given by the article is that the current ADHD screening isn't as thorough as it could be and that many other disorders are being diagnosed as ADHD. While this could be the case, until there is further evidence to back it up, I agree that ADHD is probably caused more by environmental factors than genetic. The rate of kids diagnosed with ADHD without the DNA difference (85%) is just too high to ignore. Until it is clearly shown that many of the kids diagnosed with ADHD do not have the disease, the environment argument seems more scientifically sound than the genetic argument to me.

A concept from biological psychology that I found particularly interesting was the case of London taxi-drivers and the size of their hippocampi versus non taxi-drivers. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that plays a role in consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory, spatial memory and spatial navigation. When you have a mental map of the area you live, you have your hippocampus to thank. I found it fascinating how scientists could measure the size of taxi-drivers hippocampi in comparison to non taxi-drivers and that there was a significant difference in size. Even though it is unknown whether the hippocampus grows in result of memorizing streets and other duties taxi drivers take on, or if people with large hippocampi just seem to be drawn to this career.

This study particularly interested me because I know someone who had brain damage and I didn't know a lot about the location of the damage to his brain. However, I know one of his major struggles is remembering simple locations and putting together a simple route from A to B, even if it was just around his block. From learning more about the brain and what certain parts do, I am starting to assume some of his brain damage must have occurred in his hippocampus. Although I cannot be sure, it seems to me that it is a reasonable guess.

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Ive had way too many people slap their sweaty power balance bracelets on me and prove to me how much more flexible i am. The idea of hologram energy enhancement is fun and all, but it doesn't take a scientist to see through the smoke on that claim. There was absolutely no scientific evidence supporting anything this product was reported to offer. This is a prime example of the placebo effect in marketing action. To have so many people utterly convinced that they were faster and stronger is impressive in itself. Are people really this gullible? Or is the larger problem the decline in critical thinking? But im sure that theres something i can buy that will fix that..

Little Meals, Big Boost?

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Many people have started eating six smaller meals throughout the day rather than three, hoping to boost their metabolism. Health professionals have differing opinions, making this a subject of much debate.
According to an article from 101weightloss.com, eating 5 to 6 smaller meals daily will "definitely boost your metabolism." This is a very confident claim for a subject that hasn't been heavily studied. I noticed many magazine articles also claimed mini-meals as their secret to a faster metabolism. While they backed up their claims with some general science, they did not go into detail. Other sources had different opinions. Writer, Krisha McCoy, from Everyday Health concluded that your metabolism will be maintained no matter how many meals as long as you don't go too many hours without food and enter in starvation mode. An article on Medicinenet.com says that while there is not enough evidence to determine if there's a difference, one thing we do know is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Both of these sources said at the top that they were reviewed by health professionals.

So, while there may not be a clear answer, it seems that we can rely more on the last couple sources that say multiple smaller meals throughout the day do not boost your metabolism as some sources claim. Whether you're eating 3 meals or 6, what's important is the total number of calories consumed and making sure to start your day off with a healthy breakfast.


In chapter 3, one key topic that struck me was learning about acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in arousal, selective attention, sleep, and memory. When someone has Alzheimer's disease, these transmitters are getting destroyed. They have had medication that can alleviate some of the symptoms, but can that lead to a pathway of treatment, or at least, prevention?

This struck me because my grandma has Alzheimer's. Although it is still the early stages of the disease, I am really interested in anything that can help. But so many questions still remain; if they could find a cure, would it reverse the effects? Or would the patient still have some memory loss? Is there specific activities that can boost acetylcholine production in the brain? And are we moving towards a cure, or just prevention?


Nature vs. nurture; is it logical to choose one over the other?

It's been proven that your genetic makeup (nature) can carry genes that put you at a greater risk for developing certain diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, and diabetes. Inevitably those are genes we inherit but they are also linked to our environment (nurture). In other words the decisions you or the people around you make such as where you live, how much you exercise, if you smoke, or what your occupation you have all play a role in developing or avoiding certain diseases.

But what about developing our personality or behavior?

According to Kevin Davies of PBS's NOVA, it is likely the root of our psyche is an "inextricable combination of both". I personally believe that while our genes can predict the physical aspects of our lives, nurture plays a larger role. I've come to this conclusion because of my own personal experience being adopted. I didn't know my biological parents very well considering the young age I was adopted. My adoptive parents have certain personality traits that we do not share in common like my dad's short temper and my mother's slight neuroticism. However there are some traits I feel I've adopted (pun intended) as my own because of their influence on me. Some examples would be my sense of sarcasm, empathy, compulsiveness, and extraversion. I believe I would have been a different person if I had never been adopted, but in reality it's hard to prove that.

What do you think?

Chapter 11 - Emotion and Motivation

This chapter seems to focus a lot on the interdisciplinary studies surrounding emotions and body language: how they differ between cultures and across time and space, and how one can observe and study these interactions. It also seems to go into depth into the physiological reactions and motivations of behavior based on emotions. It also goes into depth on motivations and describes the myths surrounding certain areas of this field.

Personally, I found the most interesting part to be the sections talking about motivation and sexuality. I think the debates and research found on these topics to be infinitely interesting, and there's always something new to be said and a new perspective formed. It's also vastly interesting to talk about motivation alone, because of its controversy on the topic. One can believe that one's behaviors are completely decided for them based on genetic traits, or one can believe that they decide their own choices regardless of dispositions, or one can be in-between, or even neutral, on the topic. It's immensely interesting to try to decide what sort of behaviors are really 'pre-determined' and what behaviors are 'complete choice.' It's all a complicated mix of things, but most of psychology is that way. That is also why topics like sexuality interest me, because of the nature-nurture debate, and because of its evolving interest in the fields of science.

None-the-less, this whole chapter looks very interesting, and there's enough diversity to interest virtually anyone with at least one topic.


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Did you know that most statistics out in the media is deceiving? Most people think they have a pretty good idea about something if they look at charts or numbers. However, most data is skewed or made not be presented in the most accurate way possible. An example of data is correlation. Correlation is a number used to describe a graphical representation of a relationship between two variables. While its purpose is to give a statistical means of showing how two variables could be related, it does not mean that one variable causes another variable to happen. I see it often in classes and other places were people will use the word "cause" to describe a correlation. A scatter plot of the relationship between two variables does not include any underlying variable that may cause the relationship. So it is not technically correct to use the word "cause" when describing correlations.

I've taken statistics classes in high school and here at the U. In all classes, the teacher or professor would be very picky about our word choices when explaining data. It took some time to get used to thinking about data a certain way because usually the way data is presented can be deceiving and made to believe it is one way.

Link to the article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2089474/Beck-Laxton-Kieran-Cooper-reveal-sex-gender-neutral-child-Sasha.html

Sasha, a five year old from the UK was finally proclaimed to be a boy by his parents just over a week ago. For the first five years of Sasha's life, only a very select few were aware of his actual sex, and everyone else was left in the dark. With this decision, they've attempted to raise a child that is unaffected by gender stereotypes and allowed Sasha's interests to be uncensored and unguided by gender throughout his life. Sasha has chosen both boys' and girls' clothes so far and now that he is in primary school, is wearing the girls' shirt part of the uniform.
Though I find this concept of raising a child gender-neutral absolutely fascinating, I wonder if this is something that can actually work throughout Sasha's life. Though I think it's easy to mix gender as a young child, I think that this will become excruciatingly difficult once Sasha and his peers begin to reach puberty. Even though Sasha has been raised gender-neutral, will the onrush of hormones through puberty transform Sasha into an average male with masculine qualities? Or will the nature side of things be unable to best his neutral rearing and will he remain in a gender "gray area?" I think it's very progressive that these parents are trying to work outside the system and give their child a choice, but I have to be skeptical and wonder if this will make Sasha a comfortable, confident young adult, or set him up for an outrageously difficult life of confusion and questioning.

One weekend, I got a call to hang out with some friends. I got to the house, and one of my friends was clutching a bottle of red wine.
"Hey", I asked, "is that all for you?"
"Heck yeah, it's good for me, I read an article on it", she replied.

I was skeptical... if there's anything I've learned from health classes, it's that alcohol pretty much destroys you from the inside out. So, which is it?

The first pro-red wine article I found pretty much already disproves my friend's notion that an entire bottle would be good for her.
(link: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/21478144/ns/today-today_health/t/wine-good-you/#.TywkQ-NWp9k)
The article stresses that, in moderation, red wine can indeed help your health, though it fails to cite any numbers or actual statistics, making me skeptical that the differences are anything more than minor, especially when I read this phrase:
"Although some studies which have focused on the health benefits of resveratrol use much greater dosages than you'll find in an average glass of wine, resveratrol has been shown to prevent blood clotting and plaque formation in arteries by altering lipid profiles and plasma viscosity".
The article seems to be just tossing around big words, and it says right there that resveratrol "has been shown" (I.e. a study showed it but did not necessarily conclude anything) to prevent clotting in "much greater doses" than in wine. That's not very convincing.
This second article (link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-514234/A-second-glass-red-wine-bad-heart.html) says that one glass is good, two is downright bad for you. I find this article shoddier than the first, because A. it makes claims that there is a drastic difference between 1 and 2 glasses without getting specific about what constitutes a "glass", and B. the first sentence says that this data is based off of "a study". That's only one study, and it's not specific at all, and we don't know anything about that study. I didn't pay much attention to what this article was trying to say, though it does agree with the first one that a small amount of red wine is good for your heart.
And this third article (link: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089) I found to be the most useful, because it comes from a reliable source (our very own Mayo Clinic), and it does not jump to conclusions. The article is very neutral, and essentially states what I'd gathered from the last two being poorly reported: it's unclear as to whether or not red wine is really all that good for you. It also notes that the aforementioned chemical resveratrol that's in red wine has never really been tested on people, which makes the other article lose more credibility.
Because this last article comes from a respected source and covers all of what the other articles talked about while remaining neutral and refusing to conclude anything, I choose to believe it more than the others, and conclude that there is no real conclusion on this issue.

Sorry guys, "it's good for me" isn't quite a valid excuse in my book.


Blog # 2: Adrenaline

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I found the section about adrenaline fascinating. Something exciting happens outside of our body and our body reacts. First, the sympathetic nervous system ramps up and the parasympathetic system shuts down. Then, the sympathetic nervous system activates the adrenal glands and the fight or flight response is under way. These glands send armies of hormones into the bloodstream. One of these hormones, adrenaline, causes a terrific transformation in the body functions. Energy production in muscles skyrockets as fats are broken into fatty acids and glycogen into glucose. The heart muscle contracts, blood vessels constrict, and the bronchioles open up, all which help pump more oxygenated blood to the larger muscles in the body. In addition, the pupils open up and any sense of appetite disappears. This is amazing because our bodies are ready to run or fight for our lives.
I experienced this reaction when someone scares me. Blood seems to rush to my heart and I can feel it pounding away. Everything instantly comes into focus and all weariness is gone. My entire body becomes alert and I could easily run a mile if I had to.
One thing that I am curious about is the way that increased sympathetic nervous system activation affects a person. Does this mean the same as being stressed out all of the time? Could it contribute to high blood pressure and other problems? Is there a disease that causes people to have no adrenaline?
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Have you ever been debating a friend and as the debate becomes more in depth you realize that you are completely wrong? Once you do realize you are wrong you usually don't give up do you? I know I don't, this part of what psychologists and scientist as a whole need to be able to recognize. Continually arguing a point that clearly has flaws does no good. The only real accomplishment is your pride and ability to waste valuable time. Scientist have to realize that being wrong may be a good thing, it may cause the outcome to occur quicker and identifying what does and does not work in any given experiment.
This chapter focused on how easily humans are able to misinterpret basic information. Confirmation bias, naïve realism and many others concepts is what chapter 1 discusses. Sometimes at first glance you might feel that you have the right idea which may be right in certain scenarios but as a whole something we as humans struggle to do so because of such a strong belief in our common sense.
An example that I found quite interesting was the one given on page 5
1.) Birds of a feather flock together 6.) Opposites attract
2.) Absence makes the heart grow fonder 7.) out of sight, out of mind
3.) Better safe than sorry 8.) Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
4.) Two heads are better than one 9.) Too many cooks spoil the broth
5.) Actions speak louder than words 10.) The pen is mightier than the sword.
This is a fine example of how common sense gets the best of us. As you can see if you have not already read the book that most if not all of these examples are seem true. After reading on it is seen that the examples on the left are pretty close to opposites to the ones on the right. So how can all of these be true when there saying very different things? That is the mystery of psychology and how easily our minds can become manipulated by a few simple words.

chapter 5

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Chapter 5 focused on the consciousness of the human brain. The first half of the chapter discusses sleeping and dreams. First they describe the different stages of sleep (stage1o stage 5, from light sleeping to rapid eye movement). There is a long part where they try to give us information about what dreams mean and how people experience them. In my opinion one of the most interesting parts in this section was about lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is when you are dreaming and you recognize you are in a dream. The cool part about it is that once you come to that realization you can do anything you put your mind to in that dream. I personally have had lucid dreams before and the experience is like no other. Where most of my dreams are blurry these ones are vivid with extreme detail and a sense of realness to them. Someone can train themselves to have lucid dreams by repetitively doing a simple action like flicking your bedroom light switch a few times before going to bed. If you flick a light switch in a dream most of the time the lights won't turn on (at least not right away) and you might be able to realize that you are in a dream. However when most people experience a lucid dream for their first time they may wake up right after they realize they are in a dream because their mind gets startled. One of the benefits of being able to have lucid dreams is that you can change the outcome of a bad dream and have less nightmares.

This chapter also dedicates a section to drugs and consciousness. They describe the different effects depressants, stimulants, opiates, and psychedelics have on the brain. A misconception that most people have is that a drug can be addictive and dangerous only if it is illegal. But that fact is that even legal drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and pain killers can be destructive and addicting if not taken with care. Also we have all heard that there are families that are more prone to developing issues like alcoholism because of genetic traits. But What I hadn't really thought about is that there are families that have very low chances of having addictive problems. For example 40% of people of Asian decent have a genetic mutation called aldehyde 2 which, if alcohol is consumed causes red flushing in the face, nausea, and a faster paced heart beat. While it may be hard to systematically prove that culture can have a direct effect on genetic mutation, most of the observations seem to hint that it does

When being assigned to read this chapter, I was confused at first. Shouldn't we start at the beginning of the book, and move on from there? But then I realized that psychologists appreciate well-rounded individuals, and I think that learning this way is a good way to just be submerged in the entire subject of psychology. Anyway, going over this chapter was very interesting to me. I really enjoy learning the history of psychological disorders, and the improvements to treat them that we have made over the years. It really struck me in the first few pages, when we read about how tortured people were in the past for having any kind of psychological disorders. Many were thought to be witches, others were considered to have "too much blood" in their system, so their blood was drained, many times killing the individual. Even though society has made a lot of progress since these dark times, one underlying factor remains the same to be something we still struggle with today: people who are different from "the norm" have yet to be completely treated as equals. High schools have cliques, society has classes, and everyone is constantly being divided. Many people don't realize what kind of struggles people can go through through simple classifications of society. It is really important that we continue to evolve from these awful stereotypes and divisions in society.


Chapter 9 - The Flynn Effect

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The Flynn effect is a phenomenon that James Flynn observed in the 1980's. He observed that the average IQ increases by three points every decade. When looking back in time to past generations, this is a strong distinction between the IQ's of modern society, and the IQ's of ancestors. Flynn concluded that the genetic make-up of human intellect did not change significantly enough over such a time period to account for these changes in IQ. Because of this, the Flynn effect holds environmental changes accountable for increases in IQ.
Four main environmental influences Flynn recognizes are an increase in test-taking ability, an increase in technology, better diet, and modernization of home life and education systems. The Flynn effect recognizes these external influences as the cause for an overall upward trend in intellect. According to the Flynn effect, external influences in society create a visible impact on the intellect of generation after generation. The Flynn effect represents societies with such upward trends, although some psychologists believe that the recent trend has not been moving up, but rather reversing.
I agree with the notion that intellect is influenced by external factors, rather than biological or genetic make-up. As society changes and develops, the people that make up the society must change as well. The most outstanding of the four main influences on the increase of IQ over the past several generations is the change in technology. I see this as the strongest external influence on education systems, and overall attitude that children have on learning. For example, education games and toys are marketed towards children as fun and modern. The LeapFrog LeapPad is an interactive learning device similar in appearance to an iPad. It has apps for math and reading. The technological appeal to kids, and parents is said to be "a new way to learn, a new way to play." This is an observable aspect of the Flynn effect, as it demonstrates how the external influence of technology on intellect begins as attitudes are changed.


Chapter 4 is about sensation and perception. Here is an interesting concept called extrasensory perception (ESP). According to the textbook, extrasensory perception is divided into three types, which are precognition, telepathy and clairvoyance. Precognition is an ability to predict what will happen in the future. Telepathy is like mind reading. People with clairvoyance have "x-ray" eyes, which help them detect hidden things. The three types of phenomena sound like supernatural powers. However, the examples of extrasensory perception are everywhere in daily life. I went to Madison during the winter break for the first time. One night, I went out to buy some fruits but I lost my way. I did not bring my phone and I could not find anyone for help. I was about to cry. Interestingly, I felt I was under the same circumstances in one of my dreams. I found myself standing in a strange street and I was so scared that I woke up immediately. This experience was amazing and unbelievable. This might be an example of precognition and it is called déjà vu referred to a subsequent chapter. Another example of precognition mentioned in the textbook is some people know what others are going to say. I have to admit it happens a lot but as the textbook explained, this kind of situations only happens to intimate people. A similar case would be my mother even gets what I am saying when I brush my teeth at the same time. None of my words are pronounced correctly. I do not think her right understanding is due to extrasensory perception. However, it is because my mother knows me so well that she understands me by my body language and facial expressions. Perhaps that people you just meet can also have an idea about what you mean or going to say. Yet as the book says, you do not notice times they have no idea happen much more often. Prediction.jpg

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5 deals mostly with conscious states of being. They talked about Sleeping, Dreaming and they also touched upon Drugs and their effect on us. I guess what struck home the most for me, in this chapter, was the section about substance abuse, specifically alcohol. I think this part is most pertinent, and to college students especially. I have done some shadowing at the St. Cloud Hospital and there is a time in specific, which stands out to me. We rounded on a patient in the Cardiac Care Unit, which essentially is the ICU for Cardiac problems. He had been admitted because he had, had a cardiac arrest and was without a pulse for about a minute before his wife had gotten his heart to start beating again. He was doing okay, and making good strides the first day or so and then he started to go through delirium tremens, or alcohol withdrawal. He was completely disoriented, and it was a little unnerving to say the least. He was buying a new bottle of scotch every third day, so if you do the math, that is a lot of alcohol.

Chapter 11, Emotion and Motivation, describes how our emotions and motivations influence our thoughts and actions. Emotions; mental states or feelings associated with our evaluation of our experiences; influence us to respond in specific ways, and to make decisions in our everyday lives. Chapter 11 discusses emotions, how we express them, where emotions originate from, and how cultures view emotions. It explains the various theories (cognitive, James-Lange, somatic marker, Cannon-Bard, two-factor) of how emotion and action coincide. The general consensus is that the James-Lange theory, that emotions result from bodily actions, seems to be the most accepted in the psychology world.

This chapter also discusses happiness, and the misconceptions based on general opinions. The misconceptions are that happiness is determined by what happens to us, money makes us happy, happiness decreases with age, and people from the West Coast are happiest. All of these assumptions are inaccurate. What makes people the happiest (which could be due to correlation of success) include: marriage, friendships, attending college, religious beliefs, political affiliation, exercise, gratitude, giving to others, and having a life that flows smoothly. With affective forecasting, a technique we use to predict the happiness of ourselves and others, we are consistently wrong. Instead, it is better to get to know someone in order to determine their happiness, which is important within motivation. Happiness is a strong motivation, which is a drive that leads us in certain directions. A general consensus is that our motivations generally coincide with Maslow's hierarchy (above) , though this is just a generalization, or a rough template. The basics of chapter 11 describe emotions, happiness, motivations, love, hatred and the importance of emotions and motivations in our daily lives.

Chp. 5 Consciousness

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Have you been sleeping and known for a fact you were dreaming? If I have, I don't remember it. The phenomenon is called lucid dreaming, which means the experience of becoming aware that one is dreaming. Scientists say most people have experienced lucid dreaming at least once in their lifetime and some even experience this phenomenon monthly. When I awake from my sleep I am lucky to even remember if I had I had a dream or not. It is said that the thing that tips lucid dreamers off, that it is a dream they are experiencing is anything truly out of the ordinary or so crazy that it could not be real.
One point that was made in the chapter really caught my attention and intrigued me. "Lucid dreaming opens up the possibility of controlling our dreams" (171). The ability to control what we dream is almost like a superpower in some way. Well, maybe not but it is for sure an incredible gift. Lucid dreaming is just one of the topics covered in chapter 5. Throughout the chapter there is a vast amount of extraordinary concepts they cover such as stages of sleep, disorders of sleep, and hypnosis.

Chapter 10 Human development

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Approximately 80 years ago, quadruplets Nora, Iris, Myra, and Hester Genain were born. All four sisters were diagnosed with schizophrenia. This scenario highlights some key points in the battle of nature vs. nurture. Even though they were identical sisters, they varied in weight. Two of them, Iris and Hester, weighed significantly less than the other two, Nora and Myra. Three of the four sisters were hospitalized due to their disorders, leaving Nora to be the only "strong" sister. Whether it was because Iris and Hester severely weighed less or not, their mother favored Nora and Myra. She would even go to the extent of punishing Iris and Hester for inappropriate behavior. Myra was her favorite though, to the point where she said that she thought Myra was psychologically healthier and smarter than the other three. Myra went on to get married and held a job position for many years. I see different ways of nurture every day. Had the Genain family only had twins or triplets, the way they raised them would have been very different. Had Myra not been born, the parents would have treated each of the other three daughters a lot better, and not have caused as muc stress on them later in life. My brother and I are, even though a few years apart, very similar. We are about the same height, have similar personalities, and like many of the same things, but we act differently because of how our parents raised us with the knowledge they had. He is older than me, so my parents had a few years to raise him before I was born. They learned things while raising him that they did differently with me. Humans develop differently based on their nature and nurture, and no person can be raised the exact same way.

Cognitive Biases are a very common part of our everyday lives. It can be broken down into a couple different categories. The first one i want to point out is the "Hindsight Bias". The Hindsight Bias brings out a couple of really interesting points. First, it points out that we tend to overestimate how well we could have successfully forecasted known outcomes. I thought it was really interesting how they tied this back into the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how everyone was very quick to point fingers at people who "knew" how to avoid it, but did not. Another aspect the cognitive bias is overconfidence. The book showed a study on how a survey revealed that 94% of college professors believed that they were better scholars than their colleagues. This goes to show that the majority of people believe that they are "above average" when, by definition, only 50% of people can technically be above average. Biases can make us sure that we are right when in-fact we are not. This leads us to not only draw false conclusions, but even become convinced of them. The scientific method accounts for these naturally misleading factors and allows us to draw better conclusions.

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