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Placebo Brownies

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For those of you who have seen the movie Eurotrip, I bet you know exactly which clip I'm about to show. But first I should explain how I am connecting to this to psychology. We read about the "placebo effect" in our textbooks in chapter 2. The textbook states, "The placebo effect is improvement resulting from the mere expectation of improvement." Personally I think this definition can be modified to include any change noticed or felt simply due to the expectation that a change will occur. If someone is handed a pill that supposedly cures nausea, but are told that pill may cause them to be dizzy and lightheaded, that person may take it and report that they feel dizzy and lightheaded, even if they just took a placebo pill.
A placebo is commonly used to test drug efficacy when a new drug is developed. Most of these studies are "double-blind" meaning there is a control group that receives a placebo, an experimental group that receives the actual drug, and neither the participants nor the researcher knows which group is which.
In the case of the video I chose there is no actual research being done, but the two main people are a perfect example of the placebo effect. I suggest watching the video before I explain.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdhSChKX2zI
For those of you who have never seen Eurotrip, in this scene, the two characters shown are twin brother and sister and they are in Amsterdam at a bakery eating brownies. Clearly they think that since they are in Amsterdam, the brownies that they are eating have marijuana in them. They thought they were feeling under the influence until the baker told them they were just regular brownies. Basically, since they expected the brownies had marijuana in them they acted the way they thought marijuana would influence them. To me, this is a very clear example of the placebo effect.

We are all aware that our taste buds can detect the flavors of sweet, sour, bitter and salty. The tongue has millions of receptors to distinguish the different tastes. Who knew that we had a fifth receptor called umami. Apart from the basic tastes that our tongue senses umami detects the meaty or savory flavor of food. For a long period of time there have been debates about if this 5th taste existed. Not too long ago scientists have been able to replicate their past results and conclude that it does exist. A scientist of the name of Kikunae Ikeda did an experiment of separating the savory flavor of foods he found out that the foods contained monosodium glutamate in others words MSG. Umami is not directly MSG but, it has an abundant amount of it. The neurotransmitter is responsible for enhancing the flavors of wide varieties of food because it has no distinct aroma or texture. Umami can't be defined as one flavor like salty or sweet because it contains the tastes of broth, savory, or spicy. When you think about it glutamate excites things in the nervous system and monosodium excites the food by giving it more flavor. Umami has been widely accepted as an additional receptor. The video on the right shows an experiment of umami with people tasting different flavors.

Nature deals with the genetic and biological factors that make up a person an example being, eye color or blood type. Nurture is the environmental factors that go into a person's personality like their religion, culture and language. Both nature and nurture are important in the study of psychology.
ESPN wrote an article, "What if Michael Vick was white," explaining how his circumstances of who his parents were and what race he was born as affected the athlete that he is today. The article takes a nurture approach to his sport ability. The article writes that Michael Vick has an African-American feel to the way in which he plays quarterback in the NFL. The style that he has playing as well as the way in which he moves in many ways is said to have the "Black Athleticism." If he would have been white the path that he took may have not included sports or his style may have been different when he played. The privilege which he may have received is he were white could have also altered the decision to play football.
On the other end of the argument is nature, he could be genetically more athletic and gifted in sports than others making him a star athlete. He could also have a gift for learning at a quicker pace than other or quicker reflexes making him a strong quarterback.
I wonder if there will ever be a way in which we could completely isolate nature and nurture, though there are twin studies and family studies nature and nurture are never completely isolated.

http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/id/6894586/imagining-michael-vick-white-quarterback-nfl-espn-magazine

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Ethics in Research

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Nearly everyone is aware of how significant research is in the development of further psychological, scientific, and medical advances. However, there is currently the debate as to whether certain forms of research are ethical, moral, and fair. The counter argument to support these "unethical" forms of research is that dramatic medical and scientific strides could be made towards better understanding the human brain, locating cures for difficult diseases, curing cancer, and much more.

Ethics in research has long been up to debate. For example, In the early 1930's researchers at Tuskegee practiced cruel research methods by refusing to treat African American men with their diagnosed syphilis, the disease they were unaware that they had, instead choosing to merely observe the patients as the disease progressed. There is also unethical research being done on animals, in which animals are often damaged or even killed in order to reach better scientific conclusions. Groups such as PETA as well as many who are against unethical research of animals are standing up, however animal research continues today.

Probably the most pivotal of all the ethical research debate is whether or not the use of stem cell research can be justified. Many argue that the use of stem cells could cure memory disorders, allow for nerve repair, and even possibly cure cancer. However the use of stem cells in research is often deemed unethical by many individuals, who claim that it is destruction of human life.

As the debate goes on over which research methods are ethical and which are not, it is clear that the development of the issue has led to great strides in research ethics. For instance, a case like what happened at Tuskegee Institute will never happen again, and many guidelines and rules have been set in place for testing on humans. Every major institution has at least one major institutional review board which now enures that several ethical guidelines are met. These guidelines include the requirement of informed consent for participants, a debriefing of what the research will entail for participants, and protection from harm and discomfort.

Time will tell whether ethics or demand for scientific advancement will show victorious in the debate of certain research methods like stem cell research. As the majority of the population grows older and older, and new more innovative and liberal ideas are being taught to the youth, it would not surprise me if ethics are sacrificed for medical and scientific gains.

The field of Psychology prides itself on the use of empirical knowledge to discern the cause and effect relationship between phenomena. In order to achieve this, scientists utilize the experimental method. This method involves the manipulation of variables in order to determine cause and effect relationships. In doing so, there are scientists need to gather several pieces of information.

Random assignment- scientists make sure that participants have an equal opportunity to make either the control and experimental groups.
Control Group- This is the group exposed to normal condition.
Experimental group- This is the group that has its variables manipulated.
Independent variable- This refers to the variables that is being controlled
Dependent variable- This is the variable that is being measured.
This video shows these definitions in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7bpwbnged4&feature=player_detailpage

The field of Psychology prides itself on the use of empirical knowledge to discern the cause and effect relationship between phenomena. In order to achieve this, scientists utilize the experimental method. This method involves the manipulation of variables in order to determine cause and effect relationships. In doing so, there are scientists need to gather several pieces of information.

Random assignment- scientists make sure that participants have an equal opportunity to make either the control and experimental groups.
Control Group- This is the group exposed to normal condition.
Experimental group- This is the group that has its variables manipulated.
Independent variable- This refers to the variables that is being controlled
Dependent variable- This is the variable that is being measured.
This video shows these definitions in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7bpwbnged4&feature=player_detailpage

The field of Psychology prides itself on the use of empirical knowledge to discern the cause and effect relationship between phenomena. In order to achieve this, scientists utilize the experimental method. This method involves the manipulation of variables in order to determine cause and effect relationships. In doing so, there are scientists need to gather several pieces of information.

Random assignment- scientists make sure that participants have an equal opportunity to make either the control and experimental groups.
Control Group- This is the group exposed to normal condition.
Experimental group- This is the group that has its variables manipulated.
Independent variable- This refers to the variables that is being controlled
Dependent variable- This is the variable that is being measured.
This video shows these definitions in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7bpwbnged4&feature=player_detailpage

The field of Psychology prides itself on the use of empirical knowledge to discern the cause and effect relationship between phenomena. In order to achieve this, scientists utilize the experimental method. This method involves the manipulation of variables in order to determine cause and effect relationships. In doing so, there are scientists need to gather several pieces of information.

Random assignment- scientists make sure that participants have an equal opportunity to make either the control and experimental groups.
Control Group- This is the group exposed to normal condition.
Experimental group- This is the group that has its variables manipulated.
Independent variable- This refers to the variables that is being controlled
Dependent variable- This is the variable that is being measured.
This video shows these definitions in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7bpwbnged4&feature=player_detailpage

Inattentional Blindness

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I think that one of the most interesting things we have learned about
so far in psychology is the concept of inattentional blindness. I
think that this topic is particularly important because of the large
numbers of bikers in Minnesota. We watched that tv commercial about
inattentional blindness and how unaware we all are of our surroundings
when we are so focused on something else. Minneapolis is often cited
as the most biker-friendly city in the United States, but I don't
think that can ever be a true reality until more people see that
commercial and realized that bikers should be higher on their minds
while they drive.
After watching that video, I wondered how many things happen all
around me that I don't even notice because I am so busy paying
attention to other things. This article:
http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Inattentional_blindness also
states that talking on a cell phone has been show to increase
inattentional blindness while driving. Although I have seen many
public service announcements and commercials about how it is a bad
idea to talk on a cell phone while driving, I never really understood
why. I think that if they included information about inattentional
blindness or if more people were educated about this, they would
listen to the suggestions about talking on a phone while driving. I
know a lot of people that see those commercials and say "what are they
talking about, I can talk on my phone and drive at the same time just
fine; I'm a good multi-tasker." I doubt they would say that if they
learned about inattentional blindness.

Meow? & Whoa!

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cats_optical_illusion_scary.jpg How focus are your eyes? What do you see? A big cat or lots of cats? The answer lies within your visual perception on what you saw first. Either way, you are able to recognize those cats in the picture due to the neurons from the lower temporal lobe that responds in recognizing faces and etc. Our brain is able to interpret these images/ things into meaningful information that could help us understand what we are seeing or experiencing. In other words, due to our visual perception, we are often fool by these illusions when our brain is multitasking. As you have experience in the picture to the left, you either see the makeup of cats or one huge cat and trying to see both at the same time would be complicated since your focus would be unstable.
I think this is interesting because I find it remarkable that pictures like this can manipulate the eyes and the brain. This whole illusion of the Cat example and the concept reminds me of a quote that many of you know, "don't judge a book by its cover,'' because people tend to see what they want to see on the outside but once they look deeper in depth, it's amazing to what they find out just like this cat illusion.
To finish this visual illusion, check out this clip-->Impossible Balls Illusion! - YouTube it demo the same or a similar concept. Enjoy!

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