September 2011 Archives

Barack Obama leading light or casting shadows?

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"The book or Revelation describes the Anti-Christ as someone with characteristics matching those of Barack Obama."  This one man, of many who made the claim, stated that the anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40s, of Muslim descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a massive Christ-like appeal. The prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, will destroy everything. The man that wrote this apparently didn't take the psych 1001 class because he doesn't know that his claim is about to be disproving in about six different ways! Being a Catholic I know my stuff!                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

The actual bible verse states that (Revelation 13:3-18) "And I saw one of his heads...wounded to death; and his fatal wound was healed and all the world was in wonder over the beast. And they worshipped Satan which gave the beast his power He was gifted with a mouth that could speak great & convincing things and blasphemies; and he was empowered to continue forty-two months. (3 1/2 years)  He was empowered to make war with the saints, and to overcome them and power was given him over all races and languages and nations. Whosoever leads others into captivity shall go into captivity himself. He that kills others with the sword will also be killed with the sword. By confidence in this fact, the saints will receive patience and faith to endure their hardships.... He performs great wonders, even to make fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of all mankind. He causes everyone, the unknown and the famous, rich and poor, free and those imprisoned, to receive a mark either in their right hand, or in their foreheads. So that no one may buy or sell, except for those that have either the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. In this lies wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast for it is the number of a man; and his number is 666."

The man that wrote this forgot that because there is a tiny coincidence between the Bible verse and his view upon it doesn't mean that our 44th president is the Anti- Christ. He had no proof whatsoever backing this up except his misinterpretation of Christ's words. I'm assuming that if you read the Koran or any other religious script he could pick something out making Barack and his family not good enough to serve our country. As for Occam's Razor (Is there a simpler version that would fit his claim just as well?) I would have to say no there isn't a less complex version. I believe that he made it sound as straightforward as he could so that any American would be able to interpret this claim and make the choice to fallow him or not.   

 

Stadin, Ray. "Bible Verses about the Antichrist." Angelfire: Welcome to Angelfire. 1995. Web. 30 Sept. 2011. <http://www.angelfire.com/realm/ofstardust/ANTICHRIST.html>.

Mikkenson, Barbra. "Snopes.com: Politics (Barack Obama)." Snopes.com: Urban Legends Reference Pages. 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2011. <http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/obama.asp>.

Extraordinary Claims

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It is a common fact that about one third of U.S. adults are obese. Which makes it no wonder that the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. From those statistics alone, we can see that diet supplements and plans who use extraordinary claims do not work. People fall prey to anecdotal evidence. We have all seen them; commercials that show accounts of many people using this product and losing tons of weight in short amounts of time (which by the way isn't healthy at all). Our brains are constantly trying to make "order out of disorder" and "find sense in nonsense" When we see a weight loss claim, we usually are trying to find sense in it, maybe 1 out of 20 makes sense to us, so we try it. I personally have fallen prey to two separate weight loss aids. I first ordered an exercise regimen. It seemed much more reliable and attainable than other weight loss aids. I got the plan in the mail and I noticed that the TV commercial failed to mention that you must also follow their diet plan and do additional exercise in order to lose the inches they promised. I (and I'm sure many others) fall prey to these extraordinary claims.

I have also fallen prey to another weight loss product due to an anecdote. My friend was taking a diet supplement and she lost 30 pounds! I thought, well if it worked for her, I might as well try it. Turns out, she failed to mention that she was taking these supplements in replacement of meals. The supplements also recommend that you drink a glass of water (which prevents overeating) and recommends that you engage in a diet and exercise plan along with taking the pills. I probably lost a pound or two, but that was only because of my extra water intake, which we all know is a great way to manage a healthy weight. Again, I fell prey to anecdotal evidence and extraordinary claims.

Finally I decided to take charge of my life and finally listen to scientific evidence and basically eat healthy and exercise. I lost 40 pounds over the course of 9 months (which is perfectly healthy in comparison to the 40 pounds in a month that weight loss companies advocate). I could go back to these two companies and get paid a lot of money for saying that their products caused it, but I could not contribute to such a horrible thing!

Americans fall prey to these pseudoscientific claims because weight loss claims are motivational factors. Overweight people often feel hopeless, and when we see claims that will give us hope, we embrace them. This is also an example of transcendental temptation: our anxiety is alleviated when we embrace the supernatural (the supernatural in this case is the extraordinary claims of weight loss aids). As a society, if we engage in critical thinking and stop falling prey to pseudoscience, we may be closer to solving the obesity epidemic in America

Extraordinary Claims

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It is a common fact that about one third of U.S. adults are obese. Which makes it no wonder that the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. From those statistics alone, we can see that diet supplements and plans who use extraordinary claims do not work. People fall prey to anecdotal evidence. We have all seen them; commercials that show accounts of many people using this product and losing tons of weight in short amounts of time (which by the way isn't healthy at all). Our brains are constantly trying to make "order out of disorder" and "find sense in nonsense" When we see a weight loss claim, we usually are trying to find sense in it, maybe 1 out of 20 makes sense to us, so we try it. I personally have fallen prey to two separate weight loss aids. I first ordered an exercise regimen. It seemed much more reliable and attainable than other weight loss aids. I got the plan in the mail and I noticed that the TV commercial failed to mention that you must also follow their diet plan and do additional exercise in order to lose the inches they promised. I (and I'm sure many others) fall prey to these extraordinary claims.

I have also fallen prey to another weight loss product due to an anecdote. My friend was taking a diet supplement and she lost 30 pounds! I thought, well if it worked for her, I might as well try it. Turns out, she failed to mention that she was taking these supplements in replacement of meals. The supplements also recommend that you drink a glass of water (which prevents overeating) and recommends that you engage in a diet and exercise plan along with taking the pills. I probably lost a pound or two, but that was only because of my extra water intake, which we all know is a great way to manage a healthy weight. Again, I fell prey to anecdotal evidence and extraordinary claims.

Finally I decided to take charge of my life and finally listen to scientific evidence and basically eat healthy and exercise. I lost 40 pounds over the course of 9 months (which is perfectly healthy in comparison to the 40 pounds in a month that weight loss companies advocate). I could go back to these two companies and get paid a lot of money for saying that their products caused it, but I could not contribute to such a horrible thing!

Americans fall prey to these pseudoscientific claims because weight loss claims are motivational factors. Overweight people often feel hopeless, and when we see claims that will give us hope, we embrace them. This is also an example of transcendental temptation: our anxiety is alleviated when we embrace the supernatural (the supernatural in this case is the extraordinary claims of weight loss aids). As a society, if we engage in critical thinking and stop falling prey to pseudoscience, we may be closer to solving the obesity epidemic in America

 

Loch Ness Monster

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     We have all heard rumors about the Loch Ness Monster. You may have also heard an actual story about someone witnessing a very rare Loch Ness Monster sighting. According to the article I read, the first monster sighting was overseas in the water of Loch Ness which is a lake located in Scotland - this is how the monster got its name the "Loch Ness Monster." There was only one photograph taken and it definitely isn't the most promising being that it was taken back in 1934.

     This brings us to the first of two principles of critical thinking; "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" (Lilienfeld). This claim definitely does not have great evidence. "The waves surrounding the creature are not in the correct proportion for a large monster" (Rieske). This leads us to believe that the "creature" was a toy sized carving.

     A sighting in the United States was at Lake Champlain. The people here make money off the tourism that the Loch Ness Monster brings; they make toys and statues of the monster, along with selling other small tourist items. Because all of the locals claim to have seen the monster, we tend to believe them. They could be saying that because they want to increase the city's business incomes and make their town more famous.

     The second principle is replicability. Ask yourself, can the study's finding be duplicated consistently? For this hoax, yes there are many people that have said they've seen the monster, but what little proof we do have - two extremely unreliable pictures - is not good enough to account this hoax as being replicable.

     This hoax can be described with the term pareidolia. We believe there is this giant monster that lives in our lakes while it is most likely a tree stump sticking out of the water or a Bufflehead diving duck (Rieske). The diving duck provides the same exact description as those "Nessie" sightings do. We see ducks diving or tree stumps sticking out of the water often, but these images are leading us to perceive meaningful images in these meaningless visual stimuli - pareidolia (Lilienfeld).

 

http://www.biblelife.org/ufo.htm - article

http://www.wild-facts.com/wild-fact-649-the-search-continues-loch-ness-monster/ - supposed appearance of monster

 

Lilienfeld, Scott. Pyschology - From Inquiry to Understanding. Custom Edition for

     the University of Minnesota. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Print.

Rieske, Kent R. "Media Myth No. 3 - Loch Ness Monster "Nessie"." Top Ten

     Media Myths. Bible Life Ministries, n.d. Web. 30 Sep 2011.

     <http://www.biblelife.org/ufo.htm>.

Expect the Unexpected

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            The concept behind the Experimenter Expectancy Effect, also called the Rosenthal Effect, caught my eye while reading through the textbook. The idea behind the "EEE" as I will call it, is that a researcher with a hypothesis looking for a certain outcome from a particular experiment may alter the data unintentionally to support their hypothesis. While we have the double-blind method, which shields both the experimenter as well as the participants, to help avoid this potential problem, a lot can be gathered by applying it to real-life situations and ways of thinking.

            The example of the EEE given in the book was about a German teacher, one Wilhelm van Osten and his horse Clever Hans (Lilienfeld 64). Osten claimed that his horse could respond correctly to mathematical equations, including square roots, by tapping his hooves on the ground. While the horse was shown off in public with the same effectiveness, Osten's fault of falling prey to the EEE was revealed when Clever Hans could not answer arithmetic questions better than chance when it was not exposed to experimenters and spectators that could give away the answer unintentionally with muscle-tensing body movement.

            What could possibly be gained as an off-branch of the Experimenter Expectancy Effect is outcomes in real-world situations relating to confidence or belief of an event happening. While playing sports, for instance shooting baskets, I have for a long time believed I perform better when thinking I will get the desired outcome. For instance, if I think I'll make a shot, it is more likely I will. While this hypothesis may be skewed by a personal availability heuristic of recalling instances where this happened, it could be explored more thoroughly. To test my hypothesis a difference, most likely in the brain, would have to be found between when a participant believes and doesn't believe they will achieve their desired outcome.

            Do you think there is something to the idea of "The Clutch Shot"?

Fructose and the 6 principles

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Sugar_BitterTruth.jpg.png
An MD by the name of Robert H. Lustig gave a lecture about 2 years ago called Sugar: The Bitter Truth. This video has a reasonably extraordinary claim - that fructose is a poison that is the significant cause of Metabolic syndrome. In this lecture he shows correlation from a large number of sources including historic data on sugar levels to a study that he co-authored. As we know correlation does not mean causation. He shows proof of falsifiability through the sequencing of how the body breaks down glucose verse how it breaks down fructose. It might be possible that a part of the body does use fructose that he does not have information on which allows for falsifiability. If the sugars are not broken down as described a different result may found to occur through retesting of the enzymes. This allows for replicability. MD Lustig also shows data explaining the conversion from a higher fat diet (~40%) to a lower fat diet (~30%) that coincides with the increase in fructose consumption, namely from adding sugar or HFCS to a now bland food product. By doing this he rules out a major rival hypothesis, that fat is making us fat. By the nature of occam's razor higher intake of a single substance(fructose) from 15gms per day in pre-WWI to a current level of 72.8gms per day result in a dramatic changed effect.
  In all, Md Lustig has the evidence required to stand up to his claim. He shows where each disease stems from in the process of the breakdown of fructose in the liver. His evidence is as strong as the claim.
If you don't have time to watch the 90 minute video there is also an MP3 version as well as a fan shortened version(11 min) to make this easier.

How much weight could you lose just by decreasing your intake? Is fructose consumption something that you would consider changing in your life?

Assignment #1 Chris Thompson

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One of the concepts we have been looking at over the past two weeks is that of Naturalistic Observation.  It has increased my interest in psychology more than anything else we have covered so far.  Naturalistic Observation is when a person watches how humans/animals behave in their natural habitats without being involved.  I prefer the use of this research design over bringing people into lab settings for a few reasons.  The first is that when people are brought into lab settings they are forced to do certain activities or answer specific questions that are relevant to the test they are taking part in.  However in Naturalistic Observation we can watch people or animals do what they actually do in their lives without forcing them into certain situations.  The second reason is that when people are brought into lab situations they can change how they act or answer questions because they realize they are part of a test.  However in the real world these same people may choose to answer or act in a different way when posed with the same situation.  The only disadvantage to Naturalistic Observation is that it usually is low in internal validity.  This means that its hard for researchers to tell what the causes of peoples actions are.

A real life example of Naturalistic Observation is Jane Goodall and her research of the chimpanzees in Gombe, Kenya.  They relate because Goodall out into the chimpanzees habitat to observe them instead of taking the chimpanzees and forcing them into a lab setting.  The result of Goodall using Naturalistic Observation is that she got important information that she could have gotten nowhere else.  Goodall increased our knowledge of chimpanzees for the sole reason that she went out into the wilderness and watched them.

One question I have is:  To what point is it okay to perform incognito Naturalistic Observation on humans?    


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKyrLFyOi04

Replicability and the Beach?

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Replicability is a very important part of psychology and  is often over looked when talking about the six principles of scientific thinking. Replicability basically means can you test a hypothesis multiple times while still getting the same results. A study in 1972 conducted by Thomas Moriarty tested what bystanders would do if they watched a stranger steal your unattended radio.

"when a member of a research team left his beach blanket unattended while another member stole a radio, 1 out of 5 people intervened if the victim had made no previous exchanges with his neighbors. However, when the owner of the radio directly asked his neighbors to keep an eye on his belongings while he stepped away, people intervened 95 percent of the time. "

This was very interesting to me because it really shows what a few words can really do, even if you are talking to a complete stranger. One thing to keep in mind though is this study was tested in 1972. Do you think this study would still hold up today? This is the most important part about replicability. Can you test the same hypothesis over and over again while still getting the same results?

In 2009 they conducted this same study on "What Would You Do?" an ABC television program. This study over 37 years later showed almost the exact same results as the 1972 beach study. This definitely shows replicability at it's finest, considering 37 years have passed from one study to the next and the results are still the same! So next time before you leave anything unattended will you ask a nearby stranger to keep an eye on it for you?

http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/story?id=7091942&page=2


Nature vs Nurture

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Why are we the way we are?  Is it biological or environmental?  This question has brought on the never ending debate of the idea of "Nature Vs. Nurture".  In the 1960's one psychiatrist decided that he had the perfect way to test this theory by using twin studies.  Twin studies is where you look as a set of twins and follow their similarities and their differences, because identical twins have the same genes scientists are able to compare them to see if personality is biological or environmental.  A child psychiatrist Peter Neubauer and his colleague Viola Bernard are the ones who started their own twin study through the Louise Wise adoption agency.  Bernard thought it was better to separate twins at birth, because people would always treat them as the same person which would interfere with their "independent psychological development".  Through this study 13 children were separated at birth (5 sets of twins, 1 set of triplets) only 9 of them have found their siblings and the other 4 don't even know their twin exists.  No one will know the results of this study until 2066 because they are sealed documents being held at Yale University.

This whole study just blows my mind.  The fact that is was allowed to happen is crazy to me but at the same time it is one of the most interesting studies I have heard about.  I am extremely curious about what the findings are.  Some people think that nature won in this debate, because of the two sisters that found each other and had lived very similar lives.  But I want to know about the differences these women have, because no one is reporting on the differences.  Also I'm curious why the documents have been sealed until 2066.  Why that date?  Over all I think this study is clearly pushing the limits on what is ethical, but what they found in their study might be very useful to the scientific community.  If you are interested in hearing more I have posted a video of these 2 sisters that were part of the study.  Also is a link to the article, and a book written by the twins Bernstein and Schein called "Identical Strangers".

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15629096

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yTCShemS_0

~Rachel Starkman

Lose 10 pounds - Instantly!

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kate.png


   Being a woman, when I think optical illusion, I think: couldn't my body play one of those mind tricks so I can just appear thinner? I wish! 


   Ladies, it's our lucky day. That beautiful optical illusion is here. In the photo above, Kate Winslet is wearing the almost $1600 Stella McCartney Bicolour Octavia dress. It consists of three different colors to play a trick on your eyes. The bust area is a slightly different color than the front body of the dress. Why? So you'll focus up there, and not on the waist, of course! If that isn't a good enough idea, The back "half" of the dress is a sleek and slimming black. But don't be fooled! That black fabric extends beyond the side seam and right over those lovely love handles we all wish we didn't have to make them look as if they're not even there! If the color of the fabric doesn't do enough to make you look stunning, they've got a secret. The fabric that it is made from is something super stretchy. It acts just like a girdle! Sounds comfortable, right? I doubt it. I just hope the poor girl can breathe. 

    Backing the focus off of the dress itself, let's talk about that illusion. By definition, an illusion is a perception in which the way we perceive a stimulus doesn't match its physical reality. Simply, an illusion is a trick your eyes play causing you to not see what's actually in front of you (or vice versa: seeing something that's not really there.) In this case the illusion is really not that complicated. The fact that the black wraps around more than half of the body but is in such stark contrast to the white makes the white appear as the color of the dress while your black sides just fade into the multitude of colors in the background. 

    Although "Lose 10 pounds - Instantly!" is quite the extraordinary claim, people often fall into these traps through subliminal weight loss tapes or taking pills that have contents that even Einstein couldn't pronounce. Extraordinary claims can sometimes make people believe things and can sometimes be unsafe, but in this case, a simple illusion safely does the trick! 


Thanks Stella, for safely helping women "lose weight". If you weren't rich before, (which I'm sure you were) you soon will be, because I know I'm not the only one wishing I could drop a few pounds before a big event.



Links:


VIDEO:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGiapWs58go


STELLA MCCARTNEY SITE: http://www.stellamccartney.com/default/shop-products/Dresses#!{"page":{"href":"/cotton_stretch_octavia_dress/804549255,default,pd.html?format=ajax"},"products":{"0":{"size":"34","color":"9300"}}}


ABC NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/miracle-dress-optical-illusion-shrink-waistline-14631670



Assignment #1

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watson.jpeg        A topic that has interested me over the past two weeks has been the ethical boundaries of psychology.  The book describes how since psychology deals with humans we have to take into account the well-being of the human that is being experimented on.  Psychology is faced with an ethical dilemma unlike chemistry, physics, and other sciences that deal mostly with inanimate objects.  For this reason it is difficult to test many hypothesis in psychology.  This subject brings to mind the quote by John B. Watson "Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select - doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years. [Behaviorism (1930), p. 82]"
        Since psychology like all other science is neutral, there are ethical and unethical way of searching for truths, and unfortunately there are many instances of where the unethical approach was taken.  The Guatemala syphilis experiment comes to mind when talking about unethical experiments that happened in psychology.  This experiment was a United States led one that happened in the 1940's.  The experiment consisted of infecting prisoners, prostitutes, soldiers, and mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases  without their consent, and then treating them with antibiotics.  The goal of the experiment was most likely to test the effectiveness of penicillin in the treatment and prevention of venereal diseases.  HERE IS A LINK TO A VIDEO ABOUT THE EXPERIMENT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwTwefKjh1s  .   In my opinion the aftermath of the experiment outweighed the benefits gained by it.  
        In think a scientist who is able to solve a problem without resulting to unethical methods is much better then one who resorts to unethical methods.  What is your view on ethics in psychology?

Nature vs. Nurture

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             The topic of psychology of which I will be elaborating on is the Nature-Nurture debate. I know that our textbook states that this debate really doesn't exist anymore because it is clear that both nature and nurture play a huge role in human development and behavior (Lilienfeld 34).

             Nature can be defined in psychology as our natural behavior; this is caused by our genetics, or what we have inherited from our birth parents and ancestors. Nurture, can be defined as how we are brought up and raised. Our behavior has a lot to do with both of these subjects and the use of adoption, family, and twin studies help to understand both nature and nurture much more. 

            In my high school Intro to Psychology course, my teacher showed us an NBC Dateline news episode about the topic of nature vs. nurture. It featured two twin men, separated at birth, living at opposite sides of the country and having the same occupation, and many of the same attributes of their lives. Cases like these show us that nature is a huge component in how humans behave. I couldn't find the Dateline episode on the Internet anywhere, but happened to come across this link.

This blog includes many cases of twins similar to the men I originally learned about. However I do not have any stories of this that personally relate to me, hearing about cases like these makes me very interested in the whole debate. There are some firm believers in the world of both sides of this debate. 

Which do you think plays a bigger factor in human behavior?

Nature vs. Nurture Blog #1

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Nature vs. Nurture

Brittany Rennich 

Article: http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/courses/classes/NE-24%20Olander/Equalitarinism_vs_Hereditarinism.htm

 

In class we discussed the nature vs. nurture argument. This argument will probably never be solved. I believe that nature and nurture play a big part in a person's personality. The author of the article also believes this way. In the nature argument a person's genes are inherited. These genes develop your personality. In the article it says that the genes you inherit make up about one half of your personality. In the nurture argument environmental influences also affect your personality. The people you hang out with will have a great impact on the way you act. There are many environmental influences such as drug and alcohol abuse, modeling, and social norms. I can't see how this argument will ever be solved because it is clear that both nature and nurture impact who you are as a person.


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Confirmation Bias

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       I believe that confirmation bias is a very important term that we've learned so far and can be applied to everyday life. Confirmation bias, by definition, is the the tendency to seek out evidence that supports our hypotheses and deny, dismiss, or distort evidence that contradicts them. Just think about anytime that you've ever gotten in an argument over something. Chances are good that both sides had valid points but you automatically supported your own views while telling the other person that they are incorrect even though their points may be valid as well. 
       For example, my brother and I got in an argument over him breaking my xbox. I was so sure that it is him that I dismissed any evidence that may have indicated that it wasn't him. I ended up finding out that my mom was the one who had accidentally broke it. This is a good example of confirmation bias because I automatically pointed the finger at my bother just because he is prone to breaking things. I ignored the evidence that showed he probably didn't do it. 
       We see confirmation bias in everyday life, anywhere from political views to arguments. Politics is a great example because every politician believes that their own views are the better, and they seek to destroy other politicians by only talking about their downside. Have you ever seen a campaign commercial that builds up a rival politician telling you how great they are? Chances are very good that you haven't. Here's an example:

 
       After watching this video you would probably think that Tim Pawlenty is the best guy ever, and the perfect fit to be our next president. They just happened to fail to mention that Pawlenty raised sales tax as Minnesota's governor and cut down health care funding. People do things like this all the time to make themselves look good and dismiss any evidence that would make them look bad. 
       Confirmation bias is a very common theme in science and everyday life. People believe what they want to believe and are often so confident that the dismiss contradicting evidence. My only question regarding confirmation bias is what makes people actually believe something so strongly that they unintentionally ignore obvious evidence against their beliefs. Where does this thought process come from?


Identical Twin Studies

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video

One important behavioral genetic design we have learned about in class and in the Lilienfeld text is the concept of twin studies. This concept is very important in understanding the "Nature vs. Nurture" concept. By completing these studies, we can isolate genetics or the environment to determine which is influencing an individual to behave a certain way or to have a certain psychological characteristic.

            The study that intrigued me most was identical twin studies. Identical twins share almost 100 percent of their genetic polymorphisms. They are known as monozygotic by researchers because they form from one zygote. In identical twin studies, researchers may be able to answer important questions as said in the video: What are you born with and what can you acquire as a function of your experiences? Researchers try to answer these by placing twins in MRI machines, machines that use magnetic fields to visualize the brain. They then ask the twins simple "yes" or "no" language and math questions. They observe which parts of the brain are active when exposed to a certain stimulus. Researchers conclude that if the brain has similar patterns between the twins, the skill is most likely a genetic behavior.

            What the researchers do not take into account in this video is the fact that the identical twins are exposed to the same environment, thus both genetics and environment could be playing a role. Although the brain activity may be similar in the twins, the cause of this similar activity may also be due to learned experiences. The only way that this could be accurately tested is if the twins were exposed to completely different environments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egXIk_4-qMY

 


Neurotransmitters

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As a student in the College of Biological Sciences, I really enjoyed reading Chapter 3 on Biological Psychology. I'm a freshman; so most of the information was new except some because of my Anatomy & Physiology class. I especially thought that the neurotransmitters section was interesting. Scientists have discovered that simple chemicals in our body directly affect on how we feel. Scientists can inject or suppress these chemicals to change our own moods.
I recently landed a research job in a neuroscience lab. The lab talks about how acute pain, or pain that lasts a short while, can be extremely helpful: the pain from touching a hot stove tells us to get away. However, chronic pain serves no useful purpose. I will be researching how different compounds can help block pain. In fact, one of the things we specifically research is anandamide, the neurotransmitter on pain reduction and increase in appetite. I also found it interesting that the book uses THC from marijuana as an example; this is another thing that the neuroscience lab researches. I am still learning a lot about what we do but soon I will be able to really get into the mechanics of neurotransmitters. Basically neurotransmitters communicate among neurons. They bind to the receptor sites of neurons. Only specific receptor sites work for each neurotransmitter. The book uses the analogy of a lock and key. If the synaptic vesicle reabsorbs the neurotransmitter, the neurotransmission is halted. This is reuptake, which recycles the neurotransmitter.


here is a video about the blocking of reuptake

Monkey See, Monkey Do

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jane goodall.jpg

Jane Goodall is a researcher out of London, England who has been working in unusual circumstances to study behavior in communities of chimpanzees which she feels shows a close relationship to how humans act. Her method of research is known as naturalistic observation which involves going out into the wild to take a first hand look at her subjects, families of chimpanzees. This form of study provides more personal and extensive observations and data that cannot be seen inside a laboratory. With her research she has been able to see how chimps communicate within a family or large community. Her findings have shed new light on the age old debate of evolution.

Jane Goodall's findings have proven old theories in the scientific community false, namely one which stated that only humans fashion and use tools. With her time spent in the Gombe Stream National Park, Jane saw how chimpanzees would strip leaves and branches from sticks in order to use them to obtain termites from holes in logs. She has also observed how chimpanzees show many emotions that closely resemble human behavior. Without scientists like Jane going into the world and performing naturalistic observation, many findings like her own would not be known to the scientific community. Her studies have shown just how important it is to get outside the lab and experience the actual environment and our surroundings. With examples such as this, what other means can naturalistic observation in the real world to further science?

A YouTube video that gives some information on Jane Goodall and her life's work:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Q6-hh49mU&feature=related

Twin Studies

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One of the concepts that we went over in class recently is the idea of twin studies. This seemed to have only a normal amount of significance to me until we got to the topic of nature vs. nurture. It seems to me that a twin study would be as close to perfect as one could achieve when studying this psychological debate about whether or not it is genes or the environment in which one is raised that effect them the most. Since identical twins have the same genes, the environment would be the only independent variable, and would allow for a more complete study of the effects of nature vs. nurture. The only problem is that for a study such as this to be complete, it seems to me the twins would have to be separated at birth. This seems like a completely inhumane concept to me. However, it happened. In 1968, Peter Neubauer and Viola Bernard conducted what they thought was a nearly perfect study. And it seems to me that's the case. They separated a pair of identical twins at birth and gave them to two different adoptive families. They continued to study the twins as they grew up. The study was never published because one of the leaders of the experiment thought the general public would be upset about it. Therefore, the results are in a file somewhere at Yale until 2066. But, personally, I think the results of such a study would provide a valuable insight into this ongoing debate.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15629096


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Love does what?

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Awhile back ago I heard the phrase, "a face only a mother could love," upon further discussion of this phrase with my roommate we both decided this phrase is ridiculous and holds no validity. Unfortunately, as I was on StumbleUpon trying to find inspiration for this blog I stumbled onto a page that supports the existence of "a face only a mother could love."

As we learned last week reading the chapter on biological studies, the brain is an intricate organ and has many parts that serve specific actions. These sections can in turn be turned on and off by the release of chemicals/ hormones. According to
Love Deactivates Brain Areas For Fear, Planning, Critical Social Assessment /a> love causes parts of our pre-frontal cortex to switch off. The parts that switch off deal with aggression, fear, planning, the evaluation of trustworthiness, and critical social assessment. On the other hand regions of the brain related to the reward system are activated, regions high in oxytocin and vasopressin receptors. Essentially this means that when a person is around a loved one their negative emotions are deactivated, and the person cannot see the flaws in the object of their affection, instead they only feel a sense of reward.

Researchers in the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience, University College London tested this phenomenon by using fMRI, an imaging technique that uses magnetic fields to look at brain activity. The researchers took images of mothers' brain activity while the women looked at images of their own children and children they were acquainted with. The images showed both the activation and deactivation of certain parts of the mothers' brain, based on the images the women were viewing.

Upon further research of the phrase, "a face only a mother could love," I have concluded that the phrase is correct only with a slight adjustment, "a face a mother could always love." Mothers will always have the need to love their children, but that does not mean other people cannot love the face of another.

Outliers

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People often wonder how famous people go from ordinary to extraordinary. Some debate that it is due to the environment in which they grow up in. Others say that it is due to the hereditary genetics of the parents passed down to the children. I believe that the genes I were born with do affect my future, but they do not limit it. I believe that the environment can influence our morals, or beliefs, but they do not determine them. But if I had to choose a side, I would choose nurture.

I've recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The author explores many possible reasons as to why certain people go from ordinary to extraordinary. One example that caught my attention was that of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Christopher Langan. While both had extraordinary IQ levels, Oppenheimer became the famed father of the atomic bomb, while Langan ended up working on a horse farm in Missouri. The IQ level was the nature of Oppenheimer and Langan. This was nearly the same in both. The difference was their social class.

Langan grew up with an abusive stepfather in poverty. If he'd tried to fight back against his stepfather, he would have been beaten more. So, Langan learned to keep his head down. This likely influenced the rest of his life. In contrast, Oppenheimer grew up in a wealthy family. As a child, he was taught to stand up for himself and to voice his opinion.

Langan and Oppenheimer had nearly the same IQ. However, the environments in which they grew up was correlated to their legacy. While having a higher IQ gave Oppenheimer a head start on all the other people of his age, the environment in which he grew up was the ultimate factor in creating his legacy as the father of the atomic bomb.

I believe that one's nature, such as IQ or height, can influence one's future, but, the ultimate, deciding factor is the environment in which one is raised, or the nurture.

Testing, testing: Moon illusion version

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Screen shot 2011-09-26 at 12.18.58 AM.pngI am just confirming that I can post pictures and write posts on section 26's blog. I thought this was a stunning example of the moon illusion about which we will learn more during Sensation & Perception lectures this week.

In order to post, the trick seems to be to get to the system overview. That involves starting at UThink (you can google it!) then "start blogging'. Once on the system overview, you can use the "Create" menu in the system overview and choose "entry" (that option gave me a full array of functions--post links, post photos, upload articles.) A second way seems to be to use the tab for "write entry" but I don't know (and can't check at the moment,) if that gives the full array of post options--images, links and so on.

Welcome!

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This is the space on which you will be entering your blog assignments. I look forward to reading your posts!
Michal

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