moell127: October 2011 Archives

For years and years, the slightest thought of visiting the dentist has sent a feeling of uneasiness into the hearts of many. The associations of pain, discomfort, and dislike for the dentist at work have created a bad rep for the dental business ever since the days of no Novocain. What many people have yet to realize is that the dental industry has been working incredibly hard to help reduce the factors that create fear in patients by applying the concepts of conditioning.

By unraveling the Two-Process theory, we can take a closer look at why people hold such bias against dentists.

First of all, the Two-Process theory is a combination of classical conditioning and operant conditioning. In this case, the classically conditioned stimulus, visiting the dentist, gets paired with the unconditioned stimulus of a bad experience, whether it be the extracting of a tooth, a root canal, or even just a story from someone a person knows who has had a bad experience. The dentist is then linked with a sense of fear because people do not want harm to come to them, especially in their mouth where there are a lot of nerve endings.


In order to reduce the unpleasant feeling, a person may avoid the dentist for as long as possible, which is a bad idea because they are Operantly negatively reinforcing the feelings. This many times only leads to more and more problems with going to the clinic, even when they are in dire need of dental attention.

I know that as a child myself, I was terrified when the dentist brought out the giant needle to numb my mouth, it seemed like it was a foot long. I was even so afraid of the dentist as a child that I had to be medical sedated for them to work on me. After that episode I was brought to a child specialist and that's where I saw the change.

Dentists and dental hygienists were actually using certain techniques to calm down children before working on them. They were conditioning the children with positive reinforcement. The more the children behaved and remained calm, the more rewards they would get for their behavior, teaching the children that going to the dentist and getting regular checkups comes with two perks: healthy teeth and the occasional toy or trinket. Some clinics also have movies that play on the ceiling to distract the children and the walls are painted with whimsical designs, all further enforcing the positive environment of a dentist's office.


If only this would work on the older generation that had to deal with the not so ideal conditions of dentists' offices before the discovery of dental anxiety was recorded. That generation has a large number of elderly folks who are afraid of the dentist because all through their lives it was a deeply rooted fact that going to the dentist involved pain, and a lot of it. Hopefully the dental profession will continue to make all levels of dental care at all ages safe and worry free by applying more concepts of psychology to the field of work.

You're walking with your friends down a street in your town and you hear a dog bark, followed by the screeching of tires at a stop sign, and then your friend says something to you, and you feel like you can tell what's going to happen next, and sure enough, it does. It's almost as've experienced this entire happening before. Well, chances are, you probably are not a reincarnated soul, and this whole effect is just a phenomenon called Déjà Vu.
This strange sensation that you may have witnessed this event before is actually quite common. Our textbook claims that 2/3 of the population has encountered a sensation such as this one. Also, it says that this is due to an excess of dopamine in the temporal lobes, which holds significance in the feeling of familiarity, so we are almost tricked into believing that we have seen this all before, when in reality, the situation might be similar, but is never the exact same. Our brain, without our knowing, takes in so much information and stores it into our brain, so when we see something and actually spend time looking at it, it may seem familiar, but only because we have been unconsciously seeing it forever. Additionally, dreams may be similar to a situation that actually happens, and so the person may firmly believe it has happened before.

a good example of Déjà Vu coupled with a time loop effect is in the movie "Groundhog Day". starring Bill Murray, he continues to relieve the same day over and over again, and knows exactly when things are going to happen, from a platter of dishes being dropped to a boy falling from a tree

unfortunately no clips exist of these two occurrences. :( just watch the whole movie!


This occurrence may seem very overwhelming for some individuals, and others may enjoy the little trick played on them by the upper half of their CNS. I myself, like to experience Déjà Vu. It reminds me that although i consider myself an observant person, I can still miss out on things that my brain picks up for me. If we didn't have this function in our brain, we would probably not live nearly as long as we do now, for we would be focused on one task at a time and our brains would struggle to even keep us away from harm, like if we were too busy reading a magazine and didn't notice the car veering off the road toward us. Thank goodness for unconscious multitasking!

The other day my friend and I were having an argument whether someone was wearing a shirt that was "red" or "deep orange". This made me think back to the concept of color constancy in our textbook. This concept seems intriguing to me, especially because I am very involved in art and I use the concept of arranging colors all the time. For a person to perceive a color to be something other than what it truly is due to the color of its surroundings astounds me. This picture from our book really surprised me and I honestly could hardly believe that it was true.

color constancy.doc

In this block of multicolored squares, it seems as if the color of the brown square on top is dramatically different than the yellow square in the middle of the shadowed side. For our eyes to receive color cues as exactly the same, but perceive them to be two different colors, is so interesting. The shading of the cube makes the colors exposed seem like radically different hues, but that is because we are unknowingly basing our perception of color around the surrounding colors, it seems to us that they are different. I find that almost "zoning out" and staring in the median distance between the two points of color and keeping both of them in my peripheral vision helps the truth become clearer. My eyes are playing tricks on me. To relate this concept back to my story of argument over a t-shirt color, my friend and I were both viewing this person in front of a building that was light blue and green. Because of the colors surrounding the person, the true color red was not observed and so our eyes perceived a sense of red, but not one of complete certainty. This shows how our eyes can definitely trick us when it comes to perceiving color. To finish my story, it turns out the person was actually wearing an orange shirt, and unfortunately, I was wrong in the argument. :p however, I did see a realistic view of how perceptions can differ from the external stimuli we are actually receiving.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by moell127 in October 2011.

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