October 2011 Archives

BBC Horizon- The Secret You

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BBC Horizon's video "The Secret You" was a very interesting and informative video.  I found the section where they talked about when humans become self aware to be very interesting.  Becoming self aware is when an individual can differentiate between other people, animals and the environment and itself.  This takes place during early childhood.  Psychologists are saying on average children become self aware between the ages of 18 and 24 months.  However, it is still unclear of how this transformation happens.

Most of the evidence given in support to children becoming self aware is from the Mirror-Self Recognition Test.  In this test a child will be placed in front of a mirror and is given some time to look at the figure in the mirror.  After awhile the child's mother will place a dot on the child's face without them knowing.  The child will then go back to the mirror and look at the figure.  If the child sees the dot on its face and takes it off then they have shown self awareness.
This video made me think back to my childhood and think of when I became self aware.  Of course I could not think of it but I am sure that I looked into plenty of mirrors thinking there was someone on the other side of the wall.  I also think its interesting that it still is a mystery of how the self awareness transformation happens.  The only question I have is if all animals have a time when they become self aware like we do.




Disgust Reactions Revised

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Disgust Reactions

I would describe disgust reactions as a feeling of displeasure/repulsion towards a person or object that causes you to withdraw from the situation.  I find disgust reactions to be very interesting.  I'm curious as to why we acquire disgust reactions with such ease?  Personally I know that I usually get disgusted by things very easily; like if I see something gory or a really bad wound my stomach gets a woozy feeling and I lose my appetite and can't finish what I'm eating, especially if it resembles what I just saw in any minute way.

After looking online I found that some disgust reactions are very serious.  For example on this site http://ask.metafilter.com/133232/How-to-stop-having-an-intense-disgust-reaction

 I read a story of a person who has a disgust reaction to people sniffling. He can't stand it and as he's gotten older it's gotten worse; at points it even makes him throw up.  He doesn't find it disgusting when people throw up or eat food off the ground, it is specifically with sniffling.  It may be a result of the fact that when he was young his mother would hit him for sniffling and that his nanny told him he was drinking snot.  These traumatic events may have resulted in his phobia.  After looking online I found a website that informed me that the disgust reaction is actually believed to arise as a method to avoid illness and disease. http://www.sound101.org/badvibes/horriblesound.php?factoid=disgust

We avoid other people's bodily excretions and secretions because they contain high concentrations of pathogens that can make us sick.  Also, we are more disgusted by strangers because they have the potential to carry new diseases that we're not immune to.  I definitely agree with this because whenever I'm exposed to a cough or sneeze I immediately worry about getting sick, especially when I don't know the person.  In addition, women have more of a disgust reaction than men do which is most likely due to them needing to protect their offspring in addition to themselves.  So if this is just a natural reaction for us humans is there any way to control these actions and prevent them from happening? Or is it something in our DNA that cannot be changed?

Image: http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile-ak-snc4/50316_311757535612_5292_n.jpg


Assignment 3: Revision, Narcolepsy

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I found this video of a narcoleptic dog, maybe you guys have seen it before, it is quite popular.  This week in discussion we were discussing stages of consciousness, we didn't get to talk about different sleep disorders, but it is within the chapter.  This video briefly describes a case of narcolepsy, in this case, with a dog.
 
Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder in which people experience sudden episodes of sleep.  Narcolepsy is especially unique because usually it takes an hour or longer after we fall asleep to enter REM sleep (or dream sleep), but those with narcolepsy fall into this sleep automatically during their episodes.  No matter how hard they try to stay awake they can't.

 What caught my eye about this video is that the narcoleptic dog is a medical mystery to it's family and the doctors that he has been to.  But from reading our psychology book it explains that narcolepsy can be caused by a couple of reasons. One of those reasons includes genetic abnormalities. The other is sometimes from brain damage caused by an accident.  It also explains that the hormone orexin plays an important role in triggering attacks of sleepiness. Those with narcolepsy have few brain cells that produce this hormone.

  It made me wonder, if dogs are capable of narcolepsy just like humans, then why is it such a medical marvel in this case?  If it is very similar symptoms between humans and dogs with narcolepsy, and human treatments improve those symptoms, why don't they work with dogs or why haven't they made one for dogs?

Here is the link to the video: watch[1]     (Hold ctrl and click)
URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0h2nleWTwI


Assignment 3: Occam's Razor and Advertising (Revised)

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As I was preparing for our first exam this past week, I began to think about how the course material related to my life.  While watching television it hit me: Advertisements.  It is very intriguing to me how creative firms create advertisements and the ways in which consumers are engaged.  I have personally noticed that the more successful advertisements are those that work off the principle of Occam's razor.  "The simplest explanation is usually the correct one."  This line of reasoning is best known as Occam's razor and is one of the six principles of scientific thinking.

In the article Occam's Razor Solves Marketing Misinformation, the author Jerry Bader explains how Occam's razor can and should be applied to advertising today.  He describes ways in which companies overdue their advertisements, when really they should be simplifying them.

"To paraphrase Ockham, features or options must not be multiplied beyond what it takes to get an order."

Bader goes in-depth talking about how companies should focus on the emotional benefits of their product instead of new features and options offered.  Using emotional benefits as the primary focus for advertising is such a simple approach to selling a product because everyone can relate to emotions, as we are all human beings. 

In the article, Bader specifically mentions how Old Spice used this ideology to their advantage with their successful advertisements featuring Isaiah Mustafa.  "... the one thing that actually drove its success was the emotional value proposition - Old Spice will make you more attractive to women, and sex is one of Maslow's basic needs."  Connecting to people on the emotional level maybe simply overlooked a majority of the time, but in this case, it worked extremely well without adding any flashy new features or options.

The next time you have the impulse to buy a new product after seeing an advertisement, ask yourself if the advertisement tried to engage you at an emotional level to increase your interest (and in turn, possibly increasing their profit).


Article Source: http://www.sitepronews.com/2010/09/16/occams-razor-solves-marketing-misinformation/

Blog 2 Revised: Mirror Self Recognition Test

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In the BBC video, "The Secret You," Oxford Mathematician Marcus de Sautoy poses the question "At what point do we understand that we are ourselves?" Researchers use the Mirror Self-Recognition test to discover when children begin to recognize themselves in a mirror. In this test, a small dot is surreptitiously placed on the child's face.  If the child immediately recognizes the dot is on his or her face and touches a finger to it, then the child "passes" the test and is considered to be able to recognize himself/herself.  Professor Gordon Gallup, who developed the test, also tried it on animals. No animals except chimpanzees and orangutans were able to pass the test.  However, does this really mean that other species have no self-awareness?  I wanted to find out how the test is done on animals that do not have fingers to touch a dot with.

    I found that, in an experiment conducted by researchers Diana Reiss and Lori Marino focused on dolphins, they either marked, pretended to mark, or did not touch the subject.  The marks were made with non-toxic black ink on parts of the dolphin's body that it could not see without the use of a reflective surface.  The dolphin's behavior was then examined to see if it positioned itself to see the marked areas in a mirror placed in the pool. As many dolphins did exhibit this type of behavior, these researchers believe that the results of their experiment provide convincing evidence that the bottlenose dolphin is, in fact, capable of mirror self-recognition.

More information on these experiments and a video of one of the trials can be found be below:

Mirror Self Recognition in the Bottlenose Dolphin

Video of dolphin subject exhibiting mark directed behavior

Video Source: The Secret You

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8Biv_8xjj8E?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Blog 2 Revised: Mirror Self Recognition Test

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In the BBC video, "The Secret You," Oxford Mathematician Marcus de Sautoy poses the question "At what point do we understand that we are ourselves?" Researchers use the Mirror Self-Recognition test to discover when children begin to recognize themselves in a mirror. In this test, a small dot is surreptitiously placed on the child's face.  If the child immediately recognizes the dot is on his or her face and touches a finger to it, then the child "passes" the test and is considered to be able to recognize himself/herself.  Professor Gordon Gallup, who developed the test, also tried it on animals. No animals except chimpanzees and orangutans were able to pass the test.  However, does this really mean that other species have no self-awareness?  I wanted to find out how the test is done on animals that do not have fingers to touch a dot with.

    I found that, in an experiment conducted by researchers Diana Reiss and Lori Marino focused on dolphins, they either marked, pretended to mark, or did not touch the subject.  The marks were made with non-toxic black ink on parts of the dolphin's body that it could not see without the use of a reflective surface.  The dolphin's behavior was then examined to see if it positioned itself to see the marked areas in a mirror placed in the pool. As many dolphins did exhibit this type of behavior, these researchers believe that the results of their experiment provide convincing evidence that the bottlenose dolphin is, in fact, capable of mirror self-recognition.

More information on these experiments and a video of one of the trials can be found be below:

Mirror Self Recognition in the Bottlenose Dolphin

Video of dolphin subject exhibiting mark directed behavior

Video Source: The Secret You

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8Biv_8xjj8E?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Assignment #3: Perception and Illusions

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An example of phi phenomenon

         A topic that has interested me over the past couple weeks has been the topic of sensation and perception.   Sensation is the detection of physical energy by sense organs, which then send information to the brain. Perception is the brains interpretation of raw sensory inputs.  So basically sensation happens (touching or looking at something for example) and then your brain attempts to make sense of that information which is perception.  In general Sensation is the first step in the process and Perception is the last, and there are other steps in between, for example transduction. 
        What I found most interesting about this topic was the part on illusions.  Illusions are when the way we percieve something does not match the physical reality.  The interesting thing about illusions is that they are not always bad.  An example would be the phi phenomenon.  Which is when we percieve movement from succesive frozen images.  This illusion is very useful in our daily lifes.  It is useful when we watch videos or read signs with moving (we percieve it to be) text.  This is one of many examples of where illusions can actually be beneficial.  This illusion allows us to make movies and cartoons, and since are brain is not able to process all the individual still images it percieves motion.  If we did not experience this illusion we would not be able to enjoy flipbooks.


Sleepwalking and how it can make for a good story

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Sleepwalking.png




Sleepwalking is an interesting phenomenon where your body is able to operate all of the functions of locomotion while the body is still completely asleep. Despite popular belief it is safe to wake an individual that is sleepwalking but there is a stranger reality that should make its way into the public eye. People are capable of many unconventional things while sleeping including,but not limited to, cooking, sexual intercourse, and murder (No known cases of sleep-moonwalking yet though). More than that all acts committed under the sleepwalking condition are not punishable by law. In this article there are many a great examples of what a human is capable of and what is acceptable in this condition.

http://www.cracked.com/article/145_the-7-most-insane-things-people-have-done-while-sleepwalking/

Blog post 3: Super Power Memory!

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Please tell me you get this joke? Elephants are supposed to remember everything, remember? Well either way if I could have any super power it would be to remember anything and everything! Now today it may actually not be so much a super power anymore but an actual condition that some of us may have. Below I have a link to a video further explaining this. There are two parts, the second part can be found below the video. Memory video (PSTT if the vid link doesn't work let me know!!)

Me on the other hand, do NOT have this amazing ability, unfortunately. I have to learn and remember (and forget) like the most of us, after all I am human. So i'd like to further discuss in my own words how we as humans remember.

First there are three systems which mesh with each other. Too help me remember I've named it "SSL" for Sensory, Short and Long term.  Now memory loss which is a whole new discussion only occurs with the S's Sensory and Short. Sensory deals with our perception and every day experiences where short term takes material that is significant that is received from the sensory and only hands off some to the long term which is memory stored anywhere from minutes to years. Now as some of it is "lost" this brings up the idea of what is it in the people's brain in the video where hardly any to none is ever loss. This video really made me ponder the idea of the difference between the majority of peoples memory extent compared to theirs and what truly causes that. Of course, my best guess would be it is something biological which then brings me to the idea of if more is learned about this phenomena would we be able to harness it to allow the majority of people to have better memory or even patients with Alzheimer's? think about it. this is definitely something you won't want to forget. 

Freud's Dream Protection Theory 2

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Freud introduced his Dream Protection Theory in his book The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900. Freud believed that the ego was unable to push down aggressive and sexual thoughts as well as it could during the day. If it weren't for our dreams our thoughts would be so disturbing that our sleep would disrupted. Dreams do this by manifesting themselves in to other images. The images was see, the details in our dreams are the manifest content. What our dreams really mean is the latent content. 

Using Freud's theory to explain our dreams, the latent content are small symbols in our dreams, many that we would not remember. Here is one artist interpretation of manifest and latent content coming together. Where are the symbols exactly and what do they represent? This artist is able to draw their dreams, but can they really interpret them? 

ocean_dreams.jpg 

How exactly did Freud get from his patients manifest content to its latent content? He did so by free-association. Free association is having the patient relate the manifest content in their dreams to whatever comes to mind. What we "associate" the manifested content to is the true meaning of what we are dreaming according to Freud. Try this for yourself. Everything you think of sexual, aggressive and completely disturbing?

Blog 2 Revised

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I found the BBC documentary fascinating to watch. In particular I enjoyed the section on consciousness. Here they discussed at what age people develop their sense of self. Watching the babies take the Mirror Self Recognition Test was particularly interesting . This test attempted to identify at what age people start to recognize themselves in the mirror. I do  not recall a time when I could not recognize myself in the mirror so watching some of the babies fail this test was astonishing. This test showed that 22-month-old child could recognize themselves while the 18-month-old could not. So somewhere in the gap between 18 and 22 months is when people most likely become aware of themselves, or so this test would have us think. 

When the narrator showed that only animals most similar to humans could identify themselves the idea that this concept of self-recognition seemed to resonate with me. I do believe that we are unique as humans because we are the only species able to shape our environments to fit our needs and I thought this was an interesting point to make.

If you look at how we are constantly increasing our carry capacity on this earth it shows that humans more than any other animal can change their surroundings. However I think I need a little more clarification as to how be able to recognize yourself leads to this phenomena.

Sleepwalking - What causes it? (Revision)

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After reading the text in Chapter 5 and doing some research, the most interesting concept to me was sleepwalking and why people do it. Sleepwalking is basically where a person walks while they are fully asleep and may involve some activity. There have been stories reported of people driving a car and even killing others while sleepwalking. While most sleepwalking isn't this intense, it is still an interesting sleep disorder to be aware of. The question that always comes to my mind is: What causes a person to sleepwalk?

 

Sleepwalking usually occurs during non-REM, stages 3 or 4 of sleep and many people link it to physiological factors. Some other factors that I found in research were very surprising to me. They were genetic and environmental. This brings us back to the nature/nurture debate in a different form. Genetically, sleepwalking actually occurs more frequently in identical twins, and is ten times more likely to occur if a first degree relative has a history of sleepwalking. As for environmental factors the most common are sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, stress, and alcohol intoxication to name a few. I also found that the chemical messenger in the brain, GABA, has a role in a person sleepwalking. It has been speculated that a lack of this, or an underdeveloped system which inhibits the activity of the brain, could be a cause.

 

While all or one of these factors may play a role in a person sleepwalking, it is very hard to pinpoint why a person sleepwalks as it can happen to an individual on any given night. You can't predict the night before whether or not you will sleepwalk, so really there is no definite answer to my question of what causes a person to sleepwalk. The one thing I think we have to keep in mind is whether sleepwalking is caused by something specific (sleep deprivation, alcohol, GABA, etc.) or whether it's our genes or environment that plays a role.

 

Sleepwalking happens most often in children and this video I found shows a good example of a young child sleepwalking.

  

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX6U4yXQt6M

 

Research:  http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sleepwalking/page2_em.htm

http://www.howitworksdaily.com/science/%EF%BB%BFwhy-do-we-sleepwalk/

Lucid Dreaming - Dan Hodac - Assignment # 3

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I found chapter 5 of the Lilenfeld textbook to be quite intriguing. One part that really stood out for me was when they talked about lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when a person is dreaming while being aware of the fact that he/she is dreaming, thus giving them some to total control of their dreams as well as an improved dream recall due to its realness and vividness. The reason for my giddiness is that I have recently been trying to practice lucid dreaming. And yes, you heard me right! One may actually practice it. Turns out that lucid dreaming is actually a skill and not an inherent trait or disorder. The link below has instructions and tips to help one practice lucid dreaming.


Despite it being considered a skill, there are also some that have a "knack" for it. In other words, they don't need practice in order to achieve the ability to dream lucidly. Because many of these people do not even know what lucid dreaming is, some psychologists have theorized that lucid dreaming could be the cause of people's claims of an out-of-body-experience. For out-of-body-experiences, it may be possible that that person had a lucid dream instead of actually having their soul leave their body. Since lucid dreams are very vivid, the person may have been confused and thought that it was a real out-of-body-experience, and when their "soul" returns to their body, that is when they awake from the dream.

The only problem for these claims is that they can't be proved, neither the claims nor the explanations. With the current technologies, scientists are unable to tell whether or not the person is having a lucid dream. Therefore, there is no way to tell if the person who claimed to be abducted by aliens actually had a lucid dream or not.  

Diseased Text (Revision)

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 Girl Reading.jpg               In The Onion, A Hoax News Source, a recent article claimed that a correlation between ocular and brain cancer from reading text on a computer screen has been found .  The article states that the main culprit is, "reading a headline followed by three to four sentences" and "while it is treatable, if one encounters the sort of icon marking the end of an article, it is incurable."

                While the Onion is not a reliable source of news, it prides itself on providing articles that could be misinterpreted as real news if an individually didn't use critical thinking skills to examine what was actually being said. While many critical thinking skills could be used to bring into question the validity of this study and its findings, we will examine the two that will be the most helpful in this scenario.

                The first critical thinking skill that this article does not satisfy is extraordinary claims, which states that amazing claims need a large amount of evidence supporting them to be taken seriously. Computers are a critical necessity for the average undergraduate student in the modern world, so if computer text was actually causing a form of cancer, it could be extremely detrimental to our youth's health. There is, however, virtually no evidence into how this correlation has been found. The article provides no details on the actual research performed, and does not provide a link to examine the study. This leaves a gap in supportive information to the article's claim of computer text causing various cancers.

                The second critical thinking skill that is not satisfied is correlation vs. causation, which states that a relation between two occurrences doesn't necessarily mean one causes the other.  In this instance a third variable, such as the overall usage of all electronic screens including computers, cell phones, and mp3 players could be tied to the cause of the diseases.

                While this article is blatantly fabricated and untrue, certain electronics have been found to give off small dosages of x-ray radiation (U.S. EPA). The effects of radiation from digital items such as computers could be explored further.

Conciousness Re-Write

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Whenever I'd hear of people discussing consciousness, I thought they were weird philosophical types. That is, I thought that until I took Psychology this semester. Reading Chapter 5 has changed my perspective - consciousness is not only a valid topic but a very interesting one. I still think that people who question our existence are strange, however!

The intro to Chapter 5 explains this well. Throughout the day, we have varying states of alertness. This stuck out to me because recently I was eating lunch one day and all of a sudden I had one of those extremely vivid moments - it was like I was seeing everything for the first time. Colors lit up, the scenery through the window was vivid, I looked around at who I was with, people who are just thinking about their next class or about their food, and I just took it all in.

This is interesting because, to be honest, most of the time I am either lost in thought or preoccupied with my day. I don't really pay much attention to what other people might be thinking. The textbook talks about how consciousness is just like a stream. We live through subtle to profound levels of consciousness all the time. The only time our consciousness stays at the same level for an extended period is sleep, another interesting consciousness topic.

Another state of consciousness is sleep. Polyphasic sleeping is an extremely interesting topic about a method of sleep where people multiple times throughout the day for shorter periods of time instead of a typical eight hours of sleep per night. Some people might sleep four times a day for an hour and a half each time. It can save time, and you can into REM sleep faster, thus making sleep more efficient.

Finally, another topic of consciousness to consider is when people are in vegetative states. Most people that I talk with agree with me: if we are ever in a vegetative state, we want to be cut off. However this article from Time Magazine talks about how people in these vegetative states show at least some response in their brains as to what we say. Yes, a nightmare could be true: at least some people in vegetative states can probably understand what we say without being able to actually move or say anything. Future ethical debate makes the Terry Shiavo case look like child's play, as the article puts it. 
 
So overall, I came from thinking that consciousness studies are hocus-pocus to thinking they are very interesting. But yes, I still think it's weird to question whether we exist.


Being Crazy is Noisy (Revision)

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For those not familiar with website stumbleupon.com, it is a sort of search engine in which the user selects from a wide variety of personal interests, and the engine takes the user to various web pages based on those interests. It is a great way to pass the time and even learn more about subjects you are passionate in. Stumbling through my 'psychology' interests, I came across a very interesting article about a man who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, chronic depression and chronic anxiety.

John Sterns, the author and subject of the article, talks about his many difficulties he faces in life. Schizoaffective disorder, according to John, is a co-diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In my high school psychology class and even a little bit in this semester's course, we've talked about disorders, hallucinations, and other disorders related to the brain. What's really refreshing about this article, is the fact that it is written through the eyes of one of these patients and how his disorders impact his life. It's a breath of fresh air seeing the more "human" side to psychology.


Since John was four years old (he is now in his forties), he's heard voices (auditory hallucinations) in his head that tell him to do rather disturbing and hateful demands. Most of the voices tell him to kill himself or attempt to influence him that he shouldn't be alive. He mainly talks about one particular stay in a mental hospital and his difficulties finding any meaning or purpose in an art therapy class. Although he never really personally cared for any of his work, it was the hope and determination to return to his wife and son that really pushed him. Despite his still frequent hallucinations and thoughts of suicide, he "passed" his class and was moved to an open ward so that he may see his family.


I found some comfort, as well as distress in this article. Coming from a rather large skeptic of the scientific community, again, I found this article incredibly refreshing. As helpful as medication and therapy can be to those with serious mental illnesses, it can only do so much. It was Sterns' inspiring inner strive to be with his family again that got him through his stay in the hospital. If you read on to the comments section below the article, you can see just how inspiring this man is to those with other mental illnesses and disorders. A lot of these other readers say how they no longer felt alone after reading the article and praised Sterns for his brevity.


Here is a link to the original article if you are interested: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story/being-crazy-noisy

Assignment #3 - Samantha Chan

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When you get sick, it is a natural instinct to search the medicine cabinet for some sort of remedy that will make you feel better. I would normally reach for a dose of Tylenol or Nyquil, depending on how bad I feel at the moment. I am definitely not a biology or health sciences major or anything so sometimes I'm curious as to what exactly is in the medicine that makes me feel better? Is it actually the medication that's helping my massive headache? Or could it just be a way of making me THINK that the medication is making things better? This state of mind is called the placebo effect. 

According to an article found on the ABC News site, Dr. J. Alexander Bodkin of Mclean Hospital of Belmont, Mass, a placebo is not just a temporary remedy to curing temporary problems. Psychiatrists from UCLA have done studies where they would record the results of patients who responded to medication, non-medication (placebo), or whether they responded at all. Results showed that many of the placebo participants showed more activity in the prefrontal cortex than those who used actual medication. 

In a normal case, placebo responders relapse over a short period of time. Recently, research has shown that these placebos have had long term effects. As of right now, the Food and drug administration has stated that any new psychiatric medication must be proven superior to a placebo in at least two multi-center, double-blind clinical trials.

Assignment #3 - Man Without a Memory

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Clive Wearing was born in 1938, and became a successful musicologist, conductor, and pianist. Tragically in 1985 a virus destroyed the part of his brain responsible for storing memories, the hippocampus. He now suffers from a disorder called Anterograde Amnesia. His brain can not transfer new information into short-term memories, therefore he has no recollection on the past and no idea of the future. He is stranded in the present which can last from 7 to 30 seconds at the most. 
Memory is a powerful thing that shapes who we are and what we will become. But for Clive, the past and future are voids. The only person he remembers is his wife Deborah and every time she comes to visit him in his care home he feels as if its been years. Fortunately, he still remembers how to play the piano and that still brings him joy. 
This case could be seen as the opposite of A.J. who is mentioned in our textbook. She suffered from hyperthymestic syndrome meaning she could remember almost everything that she experienced. She could not dull some memories or choose which memories shaped her. She was completely and totally herself. It is almost unbelievable that memories could be so dramatically different, and it opens a lot of questions as to how our memories work. More about how life is for a man without memories can be found in this video link here

Operant Conditioning Edited

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After reading about Skinner's Operant Conditioning, it got me thinking about the many tests  used to demonstrate this technique. The thing that comes to mind right away is my dog, a 3 year old Border Collie. I have used the Operant Conditioning techniques to train him to do various things. Since I am very interested in animals and plan to go to school to be a vet for small animals, I think this part of psychology is very beneficial to me. I looked into the training aspect of Operant Conditioning a little more to discover more about the steps and how to use them with my dogs.

I have seen an example of this in a psychology class I was in last year called Educational/Developmental Psychology. We actually did an experiment on a computer game where we trained a rat to press a button in his cage to get his own food. We had to first train him with the steps used in operant conditioning. It was very realistic and interactive, it took a while to get the rat to get used to the steps, which would be true if I were to do it with an actual operant conditioning rat experiment. I found an example of this game online to refresh my memory of the task. http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&source=hp&q=classical+conditioning+rat+in+cage+game&pbx=1&oq=classical+conditioning+rat+in+cage+game&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=16415l26024l0l26199l39l30l0l2l2l4l2465l13469l0.4.11.3.3.5.1.0.1.1l31l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=287cb8a321ceab01&biw=1366&bih=575

Skinner also developed "clicker training" which is involved with training dogs. My family and I use this method with our two dogs frequently. We have trained them to do many things with positive reinforcement, which is key for a positive training experience.  One example of this, I trained my dog to roll over. First I trained him to appreciate the sound of the clicker, meaning he was doing it right, and we would praise him. When I got him into the laying position on the floor I would click, lure him to the next movement so he would roll and click again, then praise him. We also used this technique for training the dogs on walks, they have a clear routine for their daily walks now, they stop at every street and wait for a demand to cross. I think the operant conditioning technique is a very beneficial aspect of psychology that I will use in the future.

Assignment 3 ( redo of assignment 2)

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Shana Mcdonald
Section 26

     Assignment 2 I chose to watch the video entitled "The Secret You" for this weeks blog entry. I watch the part pertaining to the question, what does the difference in consciousness between waking and sleeping tell us about our sense of self ( 41:25 - 47:52 minutes). In this section of the video, scientist use a functional MRI to determine what is the difference in brain activity when awake and while sleeping. A functional MRI or fMRI is a technique that uses magnetic fields to visualize brain activity using the BOLD (blood oxygen level dependence) response. It does this by measuring the change in blood flow to the different part of your brain. 
      This measurement is taken by electrodes to the man's head attached to the head. In this repeatable experiment, uses TMS transcranial magnetic stimulation. In this process, a series of mild shocks are sent to the portion of the brain. The affect of the shock is then measured. The location and sequence of activity is then recorded. This experiment shows that while conscious, the part that is stimulated lights up first. This is then followed by a "complex pattern" of other stimulated regions. Other parts of the brain are said to be communicating with other regions of the brain. 
      The funny thing is that when you are asleep, one the part stimulated by the TMS lights up. The brain does not have communication of the cerebral cortex, and therefore does not have consciousness. The thought of your being you because the different parts of your brain are communicating seem like an obvious answer. 
      This seems obvious to me, because when you are awake, your brain is taking in your surroundings by collecting information from your senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hear. Your brain then takes all this information and build a simplified mental picture of what is going on. 
      Because in the second portion of the experiment, the subject is sleeping, his senses are powered down. They are not taking in information of sight, sound, touch, taste, or smell. Without all these portions picking up any stimulation and, therefore, not being able to communicate what they know about what is going on--you cannot understand your surrounds.  The brain can only detect the stimulation of of the electric shocks felt by the TMS. 
     This causes me to wonder if this experiment was performed in REM sleep if this would influence the subjects dreams since the brain is active during dreaming. Would the subject experience the same pattern of brain activity they did when fully conscious or would it be a new pattern? 

Dr. Briggs did not know why the video was showing up. She said maybe it is just my browser, so I hope you can see the video.

When do we become aware of ourselves?

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     I have watched a video named "the secret you" which is on the homework board. It is a video about a mathematician Marcus who has done several experiments aiming to find out the when people become aware of themselves.

     The first part actually captured my attention. Marcus wondered when we start to be aware of ourselves. To illustrate this part, he met the professor who used the famous "mirror self-recognition" test to test if the baby can recognize themselves in the mirror. They first let the babies look at themselves in the mirror and then asked their parents to put a mark on their face without telling them. After that, they have been sent back to the mirror to see if they can find and catch the mark which is a signal of recognizing themselves. And the test later proved that babies through 18 to 24 months begin to have self-awareness.

     Yes, that is the beginning of the self-awareness. After watching this part of the video, I cannot help flashing back to the time when I was sitting with my mom and dad looking at some old photos. They asked me whether I could remember the time when I was one years old and they were holding me taking a family picture. And I was so naughty that I didn't even look at the camera. I didn't answer the question at that time because I remembered nothing about it. Now I think I have the answer. I didn't aware of myself at that time not to mention looking at the camera or intended to be naughty.

Sleep Apnea and Consciousness (Renae Roehl)

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I listened to Prof. Peterson's lecture on consciousness before I began reading Chapter 5, which means that I wasn't yet thinking about sleep when I was learning the biological basis of consciousness.  I then read the chapter and saw that the text begins with discussing sleep.  This got me thinking about what relationship may exist between sleep and consciousness.

Previously, I would have said that being asleep and being conscious were two very different states.  However, the relation between sleep & consciousness is one of my daily experiences.  Five years ago, during a typical sleepless night next to a snoring husband, I noticed that his snores often stuttered, and sometimes stopped altogether.  sleep-apnea.jpgI watched him closely and realized that he was actually stopping breathing, which led to doctor's visits, sleep analyses and an eventual diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea (p. 172-173 in our text).  At first no one believed him and even joked with him when he talked about his sleep issues, because he is thin (the vast majority of sleep apnea sufferers are overweight).  However, after his breathing and brain activitycpap.png were monitored during several sleep studies (using a nocturnal polysomnogram in a lab setting and a portable monitor at home), the physician prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to keep his airway from collapsing during sleep. 

Aside from the fact that we need sleep to live and function, and anything that interferes with sleep can therefore inhibit our ability to function, how else does sleep apnea relate to psychology and consciousness?  Our textbook mentions that people used to believe that consciousness was like an on/off switch (page 168), but I've observed the transitions between the five stages of sleep and wakefulness (page 169).  My husband, before he had the CPAP machine and on nights when he forgets to use it, would experience apnea episodes, and therefore wake up just enough to start breathing again (but rarely awaken completely), called an arousal.  He has these arousals all night long, which leads to 8-10 hours in bed, but waking up completely exhausted, because he hadn't received quality sleep.  Sleep patterns are disrupted by the arousals, changing the amount of time spent in each of the five sleep stages (Stages 1-4 and REM sleep), leading to periods later in the day when he would spontaneously fall asleep due to sleep deprivation.  I have since changed my thinking about consciousness, due to observing a person who seems to be asleep but is actually partially awake, and therefore the two states might not be mutually exclusive after all. 

 

               


The World Of Physics May Change As We Know It

 

Our world is governed by the laws of the past.  Albert Einstein was one of the greatest physicists our world has ever known.  His laws are still used to this day to explain relativistic physics.  However, a recent experiment has been conducted that could possibly disprove one of Einstein's greatest concepts.  Einstein has stated that nothing can move faster than the speed of light.  In an article published in the Washington post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/neutrinos-may-have-traveled-faster-than-the-speed-of-light/2011/09/23/gIQAo04HqK_blog.html) a group of European scientists have completed an experiment to see how a fast a particle, called the neutrino, can travel.  Based on their results they have said that neutrinos can travel faster than light.  Could this mean that our world of physics could be changed forever  as we know it?

If there is one thing we can say about science, it's that nothing is set in stone.  However, we must also remember that just because a group of scientists have come to a conclusion it doesn't mean that it must be considered fact by everyone.  One criteria of critical thinking that we have discussed in Psychology is that experiments need to be replicable.  It's hard for us to consider something as fact or for everyone to accept, if only a few can come to the same conclusion.  This part of critical thinking has become an issue for the scientists at the CERN facility (http://public.web.cern.ch/public/). 

                This experiment with neutrinos has been done before in Chicago in the fermilab facility, where they came to the same result.  However on subsequent analysis these results were proven to be false.  So it is possible that this CERN experiment could very well be proven false after closer analysis is made.  Our foundation of science has come so far since the ancient days of Greeks, the laws established by Johannes Kepler and even Albert Einstein himself.  Perhaps this is the next step in our understanding of science and our world of physics could be changed forever.   


 

The Salem Witch Trials and LSD

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http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/history/ergot.htm

To what extent can drugs affect one's actions? How much of what one does under the influence of drugs, or alcohol can one claim to be caused by the substance? It has been replicated through research that people who believe that they are drinking alcohol act as though they were under the influence of alcohol, even through they weren't. A more drastic, and complicated example of this is the Salem Witch trials of 1690's.

It was recently found that, during the time of the Salem Witch trials, there was an ergot poisoning break out. Ergot poisoning, found in rye, is very similar to LSD in chemical structure and effects. It causes violent muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions, hallucinations, and crawling sensations on the skin, among other things. Many of these symptoms were similar to those described in the Salem Witch trials. The young and the old were most susceptible to ergot poisoning. Because young girls often helped out in the kitchen, making bread, they had the highest chance of contracting ergot poisoning. This explains why all the "witnesses" in the Salem Witch Trials were girls.

Yet, the effects of ergot poisoning generally fade within two or three months, while the Salem Witch Trials lasted over a year. While it is possible that the Salem Witch Trials were instigated by the ergot poisoning, the continued prosecution of the so-called "witches and wizards" for over a year could not have possibly be caused by ergot poisoning. It is more likely that the Salem Witch trials lasted as long as the did because the prosecutors were afraid to admit they had been wrong. No matter what our actions may be when we are under the influence of alcohol, or even drugs, we are completely responsible what what we do, just as the "witnesses" of the Salem Witch Trials were.


Where does consciousness reside? Consciousness, from what we know, resides physically in the cortex (outside part of the brain). What allows us to stay active and conscious is through a series of projections from diffused nerve cells. In the brain stem you have the reticular activating system, which is a group of diffused nerve cells that project up into the thalamus. The thalamus then relays the projections out to areas of the cortex. This allows us to be conscious.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8Biv_8xjj8E" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

CONSCIOUSNESS.jpg

I found this segment of the video (12:30 - 15:50 minutes) to be very interesting and helpful. Before watching this video, I had no idea where consciousness was found in terms of the anatomy. The questions that still remains for me is how do you measure consciousness? (through some sort of machine that shows conscious activity?) 

Some people are pronounced dead when they are constantly unconscious for years or a long extended period of time. Is their evidence to support the fact that a given person is technically dead if they remain unconscious for a long period of time? If so, what and how is this determined?

Extraordinary Claims (revised)

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It is a common fact that about one third of U.S. adults are obese, and the weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. From those statistics alone, we can see that diet supplements and diet plans use extraordinary claims in order to sell their products. People fall prey to the anecdotal evidence given to them from these companies. 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. Anyone can fall prey to these extraordinary claims. 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 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 eating meals. The supplements also recommend that you drink a glass of water before taking the supplement (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.

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.

When "weight loss aids" is seached, there are 111 million search results. As an example I have chosen http://www.consumerpricewatch.net/ as an example which makes extraordinary "scientific" claims about its effectiveness.

 

Amanda Sjolseth assignment 3

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Being students, I'm sure many of us feel that the information we learn in many couses is incredibly profound, and has little connection to the news stories or events that we encounter daily. This is of course not the case with many of the psychological terms, theories, and phenomena that we have encountered in this course. 

There has recently been many news stories in the Twin Cities regarding the Vikings, and a stadium proposal. Many of the stories tell of the economic impact of the tax that will be imposed to build the stadium, and the impact if the Vikings leave Minnesota, but the prior have been much more abundant. These reports, however, did not take into account the just noticeable difference.

One report, done by KSTP Channel 5 on October 12, 2011, stated that because of the sales tax that would be imposed if the plan for a stadium in Arden Hills passed, $80 would be added to the price of a $15,995 car with this new tax. There is no doubt that $80 is a lot of money on it's own, but when buying such a large ticket item, it will be much less noticeable than if an item that originally cost $100 would have an increased price of $80. This is all due to the psychological idea of just noticeable difference.


The story mentioned above can be reached by the link below.


Sleep all about it! (Improved)

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Last week in discussion we talked about sleep.  I became very interested in this and thought about what happens on other college campuses and with the general public.  There's a professor at Stanford University named William Dement MD PHD who teaches a seminar on sleep and dreams once a year.  He wrote an article called "What all undergraduates should know about how their sleeping lives affect their waking lives". 

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This title caught my eye right away, because it is true, not many college students really know what it's like to be on their own and responsible for their own sleep habits.  The idea present in this article is that incoming students are told about nutrition and physical activity but not many are told about sleep.  I thought this was interesting and wondered why that was the case, because I believe that sleep is just as important as anything else.

 

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One of the main points from this article was that "Drowsiness is a red alert!"  Many people don't realize that drowsiness is the last step before sleep, and take this warning for granted.  This is especially important for commuter students who have had a long day of classes and are now behind the wheel of a car.  They probably think that it doesn't matter that they are tired and just try to stay awake the whole way home.  But as stated in this article 55% of fatalities from drowsy drivers occur under the age of 25.  You only have to fall asleep once to become part of that 55%.

Overall I believe that people need to be more informed on sleep and how it affects our bodies.  Many believe that it's ok to not get much sleep now, because they will sleep more later and gain those sleep hours back.  But it is dangerous to your health and sometimes the people around you if you're not getting the sleep you need.  Sleep is taken for granted and people need to start becoming more aware of what it really means and what it does for you.

http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/sleepless.html

Extraordinary Claims and Apophenia - Revised - Toan Chu

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According to the Lilienfeld text, the Scientific Thinking Principle #5 is Extraordinary Claims require Extra Ordinary Evidence.  David Hume, the founder of this principle explains that the more a claim contradicts what we know, more persuasive evidence is needed before one accepts it. An interesting article that may support this Thinking Principle is the UFO Abduction stories. 

Here a husband and a wife claims to be abducted by Aliens several times. But where is the evidence that proves this claim? Sure, Alien abduction stories may be common but scientific evidence has not shown that such lifeforms exist. How can someone believe this claim? Well they have fallen into the trap of the extraordinary claims. For this claim to be accepted, convincing photographs or probes may be needed, but none of these stories have real evidence to support their claims. To get to the gist of it, to evaluate a claim, convincing evidence must be provided in order for people to believe that its true, otherwise what we already know has been contradicted.

Contributing to the Extraordinary Claims principle is the phenomena of Apophenia. Apophenia is the perceiving of meaninful connections among unrelated events. People may claim to see UFO spaceships flying over their heads but many fail to think that these "spaceships" could be airplanes or just a frisbee. This could lead people to believe that Aliens exist, creating extraordinary claims of abduction. Events such as UFO sightings and Abductions stories are created by this phenomena, but in reality, these connections may not exist because people fail to notice the general things that may cause these sightings.

In all, the principle of extraordinary claims and apophenia have close relations to each other in the way they connect. People tend to point out similarities and relate it to unrelated objects/events. 

Assignment #3 Learning Process

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Everyone learns in a completely different ways.  Some people are visual learners and need to see what is being presented to them.  Others are physical and need to touch and do something to remember while others are verbal learners.  Children with developmental disorders such as autism learn and develop in different ways than other children. It is much harder for children with autism to learn effectively because a major symptom of autism is the inability to communicate. 


Tradition methods of teaching children with autism include, "one-on-one therapy or tutoring sessions outside of the mainstream classroom or, alternatively, a program, class or school purely for children with disabilities."  However a new school of thought is being introduced.  In an article done by the Washington times, "Inclusion in school requires a shift in the paradigm; instead of getting the child ready for the regular class, the regular class gets ready for the child, says Beth Pellowitz, a special education teacher and co-founder of Give Autism Hope, a nonprofit organization founded with the mission of opening an inclusive school in Alexandria. It is about being included in life and participating as a member of the community."  I believe that this thought process is a better way of going about things.  What kid wants to be in a segregated school with only other autistic children?  Being around only autistic children could limit their ability to enhance their communication skills since the surrounding children have poor communication skills themselves.  By putting them into the community they have more chances to learn, grow and develop.  It may be harder at times for regular classes, but the children without the disorders learn empathy and how to get along with other children.


 In conclusion children with autism should not be excluded from daily classes in a regular school.  Being in these classes will allow autistic children to interact with their peers more and become better communicators.


Learning With Autism-Link to Journal Article

Music Taste and Intelligence: Correlation vs. Causation

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MusicthatmakesyoudumbHuge.png


 

As I was surfing the Internet, I came across the image at left. When the caption stated that the image tried to correlate music preferences and composite SAT scores, my psychology training immediately kicked in. The conclusion the image seems to draw is that lowbrow popular music hurts a student's SAT score, and that classical music and intellectual alternative music raise a student's SAT score.

 

However, as we have all learned, correlation DOES NOT equal causation (Lilienfeld). This graphic doesn't take into account other factors that might affect SAT scores. For example, a student's socioeconomic background dictates their music preferences simply because their music preferences reflect the soundtrack of their life. Hip-hop is the soundtrack of the inner city in the same way that country is often the soundtrack of rural America, and the same way that classical music is often the soundtrack of the educated middle class (Alper-Leroux). These socioeconomic factors also affect how much background knowledge a student may be exposed to, which directly affects their SAT scores. Students who are not exposed to a wide vocabulary or practical mathematical applications at a young age are less likely to do well on standardized tests (Alper-Leroux).


The graphic also doesn't take into account the outliers of the data set; namely, the students with high SAT scores who enjoy gangsta rap, and the students who listen exclusively to classical music but score low on the SAT. This discrepancy is much more a result of how well students do on standardized tests: the SAT is less a test of knowledge than a test of logic, and students who do poorly on such tests will score lower no matter their music preference.

 

The temptation to make conclusions based on a correlation is a great one, but empirical thinking helps us to resist assuming that correlation is causation.

 

Alper-Leroux, C. (2011, October 8). Interview by N. Alper-Leroux [Personal Interview].

Lilienfeld, Scott. Pyschology - From Inquiry to Understanding. Custom Edition for the University of Minnesota. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Print.

 


Derren Brown is one of the more popular icons in British television today. He is best known for his seemingly psychic abilities in his TV show Trick of the Mind. Many of you may remember him from the video we watched in class recently. While Derren provides entertainment by baffling audiences around the world, he makes it clear to the viewer that his demonstrations are simply the result of trickery and psychology. He further notes that magic and psychic abilities probably don't exist, and are the result of similar techniques. One such technique, Cold Reading, is a favorite of phony psychics and mentalists.

                Cold Reading is a practice used to convince someone that you know much more about them than you actually do. According to Brown, It starts with vague statements that could apply to a wide range of people (called Barnum Statements). Generally these are nothing more than educated guesses based on a subject's race, clothing, gender, etc. The cold reader quickly ignores missed guesses and emphasizes the ones they got correct. The subject pays more attention to the "hits" rather than the "misses", and will respond to the cold reader by divulging more information about themselves. The end result is a cold reader with the seemingly supernatural ability to know all about you despite never having met you before.

                In listening to Brown's explanation, I thought back to how we could use some of the six principles of scientific thinking to debunk psychic readings. For example, we could apply Occam's razor, which states that there may be a simpler underlying cause for what we observe. In others words, the concept of Cold Reading is a far more suitable explanation than ESP/mentalism. Another principal that could be used is extraordinary claims. This principal asks whether the evidence is a strong as the claim it supports. In this regard, the inconsistent testimonies of a few self-proclaimed psychics and their subjects hardly qualifies as reliable evidence.

 

Procrastination Revised

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The irony of me writing this is that it took me about three hours to even begin this blog entry. In fact, many people suffer from procrastination in their every day lives. Procrastination is a form of what psychologists call "self sabotage". It is known as the gap between what we intend to do, and how we act upon our intentions. We plan to act, but when we finally set ourselves down to work, we find an excuse to cause unnecessary delay. The following video shows an example of what someone could do to avoid their homework or making payments. 

Procrastination link 

I can honestly say that I myself procrastinate all the time. In the first sentence of this post, I mentioned that it took me three hours to even start typing from when I opened the "Create->Entry." But since I posted that link above, I was subject to many distractions. These included checking my Facebook or Twitter, eating, playing Catch Phrase with the family, and now I find myself another three hours later continuing this post. This example is one of the reasons why people procrastinate. They tell themselves "oh I'll just do it later," but later never shows up until the last minute.

procrastination.jpg

Because procrastination is not only common in college students, but middle school and high school students as well, it is important to know ways to over come procrastination and get stuff done. One example would be to create a list of things that you need to have done for the week. Assign deadlines for each task. Tell someone what your goal is for each task. This will provide you with a motivation to complete it and not have to face a sense of failure. Lastly you could reward yourself. Go do something like checking Facebook or browsing YouTube after you finish your task. However, do not over reward yourself because it will be difficult to continue your work. Following these easy steps is an example on how to overcome procrastination.

Sleep Paralysis/Hallucination

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Sleep Paralysis/Hallucination   

I find sleep paralysis interesting because I always acknowledge it as evil spirits. After comprehending the scientific perspective of sleep paralysis I feel more confident about myself. To be able to understand how my mind is processing during the intense event. In my cultural I believed that when I am asleep my spirit roams around in the other world. If a person has hallucination in my cultural then they are considered gifted or chosen to be a shaman. I heard many generations of stories about spirits interfere with the human body while they are asleep. My sister-in-law has experienced something related to the event; she told me that she keeps seeing things around the house like little kids running around and hiding. One night something approaches her bed and grabbed her ankle and pulls her toward the end of her bed. Then she felt like something grabbed her by her shirt and her pant.  All of the sudden she was being lifted 3 in. high and was slammed repetitively. When she escaped she was at the end of the bed and her blanket was near the door on the floor. She was frightened and soon a ceremony was held and she found out that a spirit of a little girl has been following her from camp. Another myth my parents told me is that pregnant women have a higher chance of being hallucinated more than women who is not pregnant. I partially disagree, due to my own experience I have two kids and I didn't hallucinate but I had a lot of nightmares. But after reading chapter 5 it gave me a different perspective of how our brain works during sleep paralysis and it also provides evidence.

In my life I had experience many sleep paralysis that frightened me until today. One night my husband woke me up in the middle of the night, saying that he was scared. He told me to switch place with him, which is closer to the edge of the bed. I assume that he had a bad dream and decided to switched place with him. That night I felt scared like something was near the edge of the bed watching me. When I was about to get up to wake my husband I was about to look behind me. Right when I turn behind I saw a dark human figure. Then I felt pressure on me and I was pushed down onto the bed. I screamed on the top of my lungs and tried to move my arms and fingers. As my fingers got closer and closer to my husband's back I pinched him multiple times until he yelled out.  Everything happened so but I escaped and it left me with memories of fear and confusion. The figure that I saw was like a shadow of a muscular man about 5'3". After the incident my husband told me he didn't hear me scream nor pinch him multiple times, only once. I thought the best thing to do was to forget about it. But I lived in fear, thinking that it will happen again and that there are actually spirits roaming around. After learning about sleep paralysis and hallucination it made me understand how the brain process during this situation. It made me feel relief that spirit is just a myth and to overcome my fear. 

Last entry redone- Midgy Santana

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In chapter five we learned that hypnosis helps people alter their perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. Most of the time a hypnotist will use an induction method, the  "You are getting sleepy" kind of stuff.
I think hypnosis is pretty interesting and fun to learn about. At my high school's all night grad party, we had a hypnotist come and hypnotize some of the kids in my class and it was extremely funny, but I had no idea how it worked! I really liked learning about the myths of hypnosis in this chapter and other aspects of hypnosis! I was very shocked to learn that hypnotized people aren't unaware of their surroundings, I thought they had no idea what was going on, but when my classmates were hypnotized they all knew what was around them and didn't get hurt and run into things.

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The article I chose to read about was how people with chronic pain could use hypnosis to help get rid of their pain by influencing the cortical areas of their brain. Some people are afraid to try a new approach, but I think that if it can help them get rid of their pain, then it's worth a shot!The only question I have left about hypnosis after this chapter is why do some people say that once you have been hypnotized it is easier to be hypnotized again?

Lead Poisoning(Revised

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 Lead (graphs 18 and 19) and the whole Lead part.

 

Here Is a link to graphs I that we came across in class in my Global Environment class. The topic of lead was brought up in this class.

 

Everyone knows that the amount of lead in your blood stream is a very dangerous thing to have in very high concentrations in your body. As it has been shown to cause many detrimental problems, one such thing that was brought up was that lead in your blood stream correlates with violence seen in society. As you look at the link I provided and look at the graphs under the "lead" portion, you may see why they have came up with these conclusions. However, the graphs are maybe not as accurate as they may have seemed to be at first. For one, it shows that African Americans have a substantially higher amount of lead in their bloodstream than white people. Another graph on this link shows that the poverty rates at the lower tercile of society have also been shown to have higher rates of lead in their blood stream. These results show the stereotypical findings that African Americans and poor people have higher crime rates than white people who have money, and they have been shown to have high amounts of lead in their bloodstreams.

            When looking at these graphs it may seem astounding, but does the correlations represented shown here seem to be the right causation, or is this a nature vs. nurture situation? I feel the environment had a way higher affect on the amount of violence then the lead. The correlations provided show crime as in terms of lead blood level concentration, but they do not grasp the fact that more crime occurs anyways within populations of poverty and there is more violence as well accumulated with poorer parts of society.Here is an article that further shows this relationship. (Causes of Violence) The rival hypothesis I bring to attention is that it would make more sense that lead isn't the cause of poor black people causing crimes, but that people were going to commit these acts anyways by growing up in the environment they were born into. 

Alan Berube's report on concentrated poverty

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references: www.moodle.com

www.wikipedia.com

www.youtube.com

 Lilienfeld,Scott,Steven Lynn,Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf. Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding. Second ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. Print.

Assignment 3: Hypnosis: Not Just Pseudoscience (Rewrite)

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       People still believe that hypnosis is nothing but pseudoscience with a placebo like effect. The truth is that hypnosis has been proven to work, it is just the understanding of what it is that causes people to doubt it. Hypnosis is nothing but suggestions presented to people, not commands that force people to do actions against their will. 
       A thing that plays a big role in the misconception of hypnosis is limited exposure to it. Most exposure to hypnosis is to entertainment hypnosis such as the type shown in the video embed below. While my only real exposure to hypnosis is this type as well, I can attest to it's validity as I was one of the participants. The power that the suggestions have on you are real, but hypnosis cannot make "amazing things happen." If at any time I would have been told to do something I didn't agree with I wouldn't have done it as I had control.
   
      
      What people have to keep in mind with hypnosis is that while it is real, it has limitations and when used for help it is best when used with other forms of help. The reason that people use hypnosis is because it increases our willingness to take suggestion. From my experience you take suggestion because you are taken to a relaxed state and the suggestions given to you seem like a good idea. 
       The power of hypnosis has definite limits, but the applications of it's power is almost limitless. People who still doubt the validity of hypnosis need to reexamine how they define hypnosis and what they think it can do. I would doubt how real it is too if I had not personally been hypnotized. But I would say that it is pretty universally accepted now that hypnotism is not pseudoscience but rather a way to slightly alter our ways of thinking

Nature vs. Nurture Debate Revised

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Nature_vs_Nurture2.jpg
One of the topics that we have gone over in great detail in discussion is nature vs. nurture. The debate about this topic seems rather inconclusive to me. I am a biology major and throughout the classes I have taken/am taking, we have gone in depth about different genetics and cell biology. Throughout the courses, nature vs. nurture has been slightly touched on, but once again there was no solid agreements or facts.

 I decided for this blog entry I would try and research more substantial evidence or opinions. I was quite frustrated when I did not find many. I came across this article (At-Risk Children and Teens:Nature vs. Nurture) which discusses different theories about nature and nurture in criminals, specifically their upbringing or genetic tendencies. This paper did not have any conclusive ending to it, like I was looking for, but the ending or it sort of summed up my frustration with the topic. Mauro, the author, said, "It's just a hunch, but I believe that when we uniformly decide to make these choices for our children I'll need to find a new specialty," this meant to me that in her mind (as well in mine) that there will never be a definite answer to many nature vs. nurture debates.

I continues my search into another media outlet, YouTube, to try and see if there were any strong opinions about when nature plays the strongest role and when nurture does. I wanted to get a feel of the strong opinions about this debate rather than the results that I had found that ended somewhat neutrally. I found a video called The Nature-Nurture Debate (see below), that explained this topic. The video said that nurture was thought to be the main contributor in the past, but that new evidence about genetics has been changing the thought.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/26wQgAfTwA4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


CAR_spring2005.jpgOn Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids, MN -- a couple blocks from the Park & Ride I frequent -- are two adjacent, competing child care centers: "Success By Six" and the "Krayon Box Kids".  Many commuters hurry by in their weekday flurry without recognizing the wonderful paradox these two day cares create. 

"Success By Six" is an elite child care center composed of grey cement stone; its roof is flat and industrial; its logo is printed in crisp professional, mono-colored lettering; and its succinctly abbreviated as "SB6" in their online advertisements.  SB6 is run by United Way Capital Area, which nobly collaborated with numerous other organizations to provide quality child care in attempt to address reported deficiencies in early childhood education and experience.  SB6 bases their claims on recent scientific research on "brain development, quality child care, and successful early intervention" (1).  SB6 insists that their "Theory of Change" is based on "strategies that have been proven to work" (1).

Each SB6 parent receives a developmental report card documenting their child's progress.  The children play in a sterile, structured environment.  They have facilitated access to a outdoor play area surrounded by a tall chain-link fence, entirely covered with grey small-pellet gravel.  Their play equipment is clean and metallic.  The children are also transported by a small fleet of white 15-passanger vans garnished with SB6 magnetic logos.

Directly adjacent to SB6 is the "Krayon Box Kids".  From its exterior it is smaller and covered in yellow panel siding with a brown singled roof.  Its siding is broken up by two windows facing the play area.  A tall sign facing oncoming traffic displays its name, 'Krayon Box Kids", and its logo is scribbled, as if written by a child, with backward rainbow letters. 

Krayon Box Kids' playground is littered with colorful second-hand toys; the play area is surrounded by a short fence; and the play set is wooden with a faint worn stain. Krayon Box Kids provides no website detailing their child development approaches, and the children are transported by a set of two short and rusted yellow buses with spray-painted logos.

The long-winded description of these two establishments is meant only to describe what I feel are two different sides in the debate of "nature vs nurture," or perhaps just the debate on the varying severity of "nurture".  SB6, of course, represents an involved and (possibly) hyper-concerned contemporary parent; whereas, the Krayon Box Kids encompasses a less controlling parental philosophy, focused on the enjoyment of children, not strictly their development.

An article from the New York Times presents the topic well, describing two of the main philosophies on parental involvement.  Motoko Rich's 4/17/2011article, "Nature? Nuture? Not So Fast ...", briefly overviews Amy Chua's and Bryan Caplan's psychologies behind "nurturing".

Chua
, a Yale law professor, is the author of ''Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother."  In her book, she instructs parents to form a strict and organized environment for their children focusing on education and liberal exposures.  Rich said Chua's diction "sent legions of parents into a tizzy with her exacting standards for piano practice and prohibitions against sleepovers" (2).  Chua represents a parental psychology much similar to SB6.

Bryan Caplan, however, is an economist at George Mason University.  His recent book ''Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think'' explains that parenting is much less complicated and should require less extensive involvement than extremists think.  Rich insists that the best parenting method is one that is much more moderate -- a balance between extreme mediation and no involvement. 

The "Krayon Box Kids" seems to me to be a good middle ground.  Besides, if I were a kid, I think I'd want to go there anyway -- it seems more fun.


__
References:
(1) "United Way's Success by 6", http://unitedwayhelps.org/pages/SuccessBy6/
(2) Rich, Motoko, "Nature? Nuture? Not So Fast ...", New York Times, 17-April-2011, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp1.lib.umn.edu/ehost/detail?vid=2&hid=14&sid=06002b25-de59-444c-b0cb-a584d1d4f0ec%40sessionmgr4&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=60006344



Areas of the brain linked to God? (Revised)

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Scientists believe that there are spots in the brain associated with thoughts about God. These spots, collectively known as, the "God spot", become highly active when a person engages in spiritual thoughts. The God spot is not thought to be linked to God in particular but, rather, belief in a supernatural higher power. The God spot may have a function for improving survival when having beliefs might keep a person going strong in tough situations. In this sense, would the God spot be an advantage, in the scope of Natural Selection, to having greater fitness?


The actual existence of the God spot may be hard to prove considering that the result of high activity in the proposed areas of the brain may be a result of a cognitive function not directly related to just thinking of God, but a wider range of thoughts.  A religious person who prays for hope may elicit high activity in the God spots and, thus, the person feels more motivated or comforted. But, is it possible that the same effect could be produced in the same areas of the brain by meditating, by thinking of any inspirational figure, an inspiring quote, or anything else, possibly even unrelated to inspiration? 

Dr. Persinger from the Laurentian University of Ontario developed a helmet that stimulates the God spots of the brain using magnetic fields, which, in a study, produced religious feelings in 8 out of 10 volunteers. When tested on an evolutionist, Professor Richard Dawkins, no spiritual or religious feelings were produced. If the study was replicated and performed with reliable and valid experimental techniques, including the placebo effect, it might solidify the idea that God spots exist. But, if the God spots do exist, were they put there by God or are they a product of evolution? Did God create us or did humans create God?

The search for the God spot has in the past led scientists to many different regions of the brain.

Info and image source:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html


Areas of the brain linked to God? (Revised)

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Scientists believe that there are spots in the brain associated with thoughts about God. These spots, collectively known as, the "God spot", become highly active when a person engages in spiritual thoughts. The God spot is not thought to be linked to God in particular but, rather, belief in a supernatural higher power. The God spot may have a function for improving survival when having beliefs might keep a person going strong in tough situations. In this sense, would the God spot be an advantage, in the scope of Natural Selection, to having greater fitness?


The actual existence of the God spot may be hard to prove considering that the result of high activity in the proposed areas of the brain may be a result of a cognitive function not directly related to just thinking of God, but a wider range of thoughts.  A religious person who prays for hope may elicit high activity in the God spots and, thus, the person feels more motivated or comforted. But, is it possible that the same effect could be produced in the same areas of the brain by meditating, by thinking of any inspirational figure, an inspiring quote, or anything else, possibly even unrelated to inspiration? 

Dr. Persinger from the Laurentian University of Ontario developed a helmet that stimulates the God spots of the brain using magnetic fields, which, in a study, produced religious feelings in 8 out of 10 volunteers. When tested on an evolutionist, Professor Richard Dawkins, no spiritual or religious feelings were produced. If the study was replicated and performed with reliable and valid experimental techniques, including the placebo effect, it might solidify the idea that God spots exist. But, if the God spots do exist, were they put there by God or are they a product of evolution? Did God create us or did humans create God?

Areas of the brain linked to God? (Revised)

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Scientists believe that there are spots in the brain associated with thoughts about God. These spots, collectively known as, the "God spot", become highly active when a person engages in spiritual thoughts. The God spot is not thought to be linked to God in particular but, rather, belief in a supernatural higher power. The God spot may have a function for improving survival when having beliefs might keep a person going strong in tough situations. In this sense, would the God spot be an advantage, in the scope of Natural Selection, to having greater fitness?


The actual existence of the God spot may be hard to prove considering that the result of high activity in the proposed areas of the brain may be a result of a cognitive function not directly related to just thinking of God, but a wider range of thoughts.  A religious person who prays for hope may elicit high activity in the God spots and, thus, the person feels more motivated or comforted. But, is it possible that the same effect could be produced in the same areas of the brain by meditating, by thinking of any inspirational figure, an inspiring quote, or anything else, possibly even unrelated to inspiration? 

Dr. Persinger from the Laurentian University of Ontario developed a helmet that stimulates the God spots of the brain using magnetic fields, which, in a study, produced religious feelings in 8 out of 10 volunteers. When tested on an evolutionist, Professor Richard Dawkins, no spiritual or religious feelings were produced. If the study was replicated and performed with reliable and valid experimental techniques, including the placebo effect, it might solidify the idea that God spots exist. But, if the God spots do exist, were they put there by God or are they a product of evolution? Did God create us or did humans create God?

Music and Perception- Assignment 3 David Cesnik

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Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427101606.htm

 

A recent research from the University of Groningen claimed that listening to cheerful music rendered the participant to perceive the world around them as a happier place, and listening to gloomy music as a more depressing world. The participant listening to a song while identifying smiling and frowning faces tested this. The results were not only that happy music persuaded the participant to see more happy faces (even when there were not as many smiling faces), the participant saw more unhappy or frowning faces when listening to the sad music. What this means is that certain music can instill a perception for the listener that the world around him or her is more positive or negative. Their conclusion from this experiment was that "that the brain builds up expectations not just on the basis of experience but on your mood as well."

 

(http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150190898717996)

 

I firmly believe that this is a valid claim and the experiment is completely legitimate. The test offered a consistent result that was only changed by the independent variable, the kind of music playing. This matters to the real world because this now opens the doors to possible treatment for many kinds of attitude diseases or disorders. Listening to positive music could possible assist in the treatment of depression for example. This personally makes sense to me as well because I always feel better about my day when I walk to class listening to music that makes me happy, like Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Some possible further research could be made as to what effect other kinds of music could have on a person, or how effective positive music can have on a sick or depressed person. If there is some medical merit to listening to positive music, there could be major changes to the treating of certain diseases or disorders. However, knowledge of this perception can also lead to making a person's day more cheerful simply by listening to cheerful music. This awareness of the music's effect on our brain entails endless possibilities with improving our daily lives.

 

No Connection Made

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The corpus callosum is the bridge connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. When we see or touch something, our right hemisphere is usually the one to recognize the object and our left hemisphere is the one to verbally represent what the object is. When the corpus callosum is partially or completely severed, the two hemispheres of the brain aren't able to properly communicate and although a person may appear to function normally, when presented with specific tasks (including those specialized to one visual field), decreased function is obvious.

 

In adults, the corpus callosum can be surgically severed as a last resort to treat epilepsy. However, damage to the corpus callosum can also occur naturally. Agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) is a birth defect in which the corpus callosum doesn't fully develop as it should.

 

Patients with ACC tend to have more developmental problems than patients whose corpus callosum has been surgically severed. Individuals with ACC can have many problem solving and social impairments as well as poor motor coordination and difficulties with multidimensional tasks (especially those in which language is involved). These characteristics often become more pronounced around age 12, when the corpus callosum of children without damage to the corpus callosum is almost fully developed. There is no specific treatment of ACC, however, through therapy and support, individuals with ACC can learn to live with their disorder and attempt to have as normal a life as possible.

 

More information on corpus callosum disorders:

http://www.nodcc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=27

 

Interesting video about a person born without a corpus callosum:

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

Insomnia (edited version)

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 I have always been really interested in sleep disorders because I have troubles getting to sleep and staying asleep at night. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes people to have troubles getting to sleep at night, wake up to early in the morning, or wake up during the night and cannot get back to sleep. I have all three of these symptoms on a regular basis, so I decided to start trying things the book suggested as a treatment when I started reading the chapter.

The first thing that James Maas suggests in our book is to hide all the clocks in the room so you do not constantly check the clock to see how long its been, I decided that this was a good place to start so I hid all the clocks in my room every night so I couldn't see them. To my surprise I actually woke up feeling much more refreshed the first few days, however I still did not sleep well. I thought it was very interesting how just not being able to look at a clock all night improved my sleep, I am really curious why that is. What in the brain causes us to sleep better not worrying about the time? Is it because the brain can slow down the activity when not thinking about how little sleep we are getting?

I think that it probably has to do with our brain not slowing down, we know from the book that when we sleep our brains start to shut down all but our vital functions. Maybe our brains cannot shut down if we are processing a thought and so even just thinking about the time causes our brains to continue functioning all the way.

Dreaming (edited version)

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Dreaming 

The concept of consciousness, especially sleep and dreaming is something I find very intriguing. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams revealed hidden wishes and desires. He described dreams as the guardians or protectors of sleep. During sleep, the ego, which acts as a sort of mental censor, is less able than when awake to keep sexual and aggressive instincts at bay by repressing them. If not for dreams, these instincts would bubble up, disturbing sleep. Freud distinguished between the details of the dream itself, which he called the manifest content, and its true, hidden meaning, which he called the latent content.

Freud wrote a book, The Interpretation of Dreams, describing all aspects of dreaming, including psychological characteristics of dreams, moral sense in dreams, dreaming and its functions, etc. When I was younger, I got a version of this book for my birthday that included common dream themes and described what they meant. It was so fun to wake up in the morning, remember my dreams, and try and figure out what they meant. Of course, a lot of dreams we have are about everyday life situations, like taking a test, going shopping, running into someone you know, etc. But some dreams, likely occurring in the REM stage of sleep, are mystical and frankly, quite weird. Sigmund Freud believed these types of dreams symbolized our hidden wishes and desires.

Most of the time, I don't remember my dreams when I wake in the morning. If I do, I find that the most common dreams include something chasing me, being in an uncomfortable situation, or something simple like hanging out with my sister. According to dreamsymbolism.info, dreams about being chased can have several meanings. If you feel under pressure, inhibited or singled out in any way then you feel you will feel that people are chasing you. If your not accepted or being blamed then you will feel a similar sensation. Also, dreaming about a sister can symbolize emotional openness. Obviously, these dream interpretations are no way 100% accurate. There is no way to figure out what our subconscious is thinking and processing while we're asleep. However, it is entertaining and fun to read about dreams and try and guess what they mean.

After learning more about consciousness and dreaming in this class, I was even more intrigued. There are more things I want to explore regarding this topic and more things I still have questions about. For example, why do we sleep? Why do we dream? What do dreams really mean?

To find out more about dreams and dream symbolism: go to dreamsymbolism.info

 

 

Sleep

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I chose an article about sleep because I found it interesting. It is amazing how many different ways sleep can affect your body.
 
In class this week we discussed sleep. We conducted surveys to look at the correlation between sleep and other factors such as, gender and number of credits a student is taking.  There was no correlation between the number of credits a student is taking and the amount of time they sleep. 

I believe that everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Sleep is very important. There are many health risks associated with sleep deprivation. The article below discusses a few of the health risks. 

Oneironauts

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About a year ago I saw a movie titled the Waking Life, a movie based on contemporary philosophy and random interesting conversations the main character has during a series of false awakenings and lucid dreams throughout a night. This concept fascinated me and I began to keep a dream journal to better understand my dreams. I also wrote a message in permanent marker on my mirror in my bathroom: "You are awake" This not only was funny to look at in the morning, but after a while it helped reduce my chance of waking from a false awakening. The hardest part of lucid dreaming is not to immediately wake up once realizing one is dreaming. A common type of lucid dream is when you wake up and go through some normal routine until your alarm rings or something alerts you to the fact you are dreaming, and then the body reacts by immediately waking up. Writing that message allowed me to realize whether or not I had falsely awoken because if nothing was written on my mirror then I was actually not awake, hence the phrase.

The practice of lucid dreaming is fun because not only does it allow control of your dreams, it allows "rational" waking self introspection on what is appearing in your dreams at the moment they occur as opposed to trying to interpret them after with hazy recollection. This ability drastically changes the oneironaut's (Lucid Dreamer) self perception. Layers of thought which were buried in your subconscious are now as clear as day. The practice of lucid dreaming could also be useful to psychotherapy patients, because to know thyself is key to changing oneself. I highly recommend everyone to keep a dream journal and attempt to remain lucid in a dream.


The movie the Waking Life can be seen here, I highly recommend it though it is rather long (98 minutes).
The section about Lucid Dreaming is from 47:17 to 53:40
The Waking Life

Assignment #3: Subliminal Messages (revised)

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Think about what a person does on a daily basis; wake up, take a shower, get dressed, walk out the door, walk to class, so on and so forth. Now think about all the little things that we do in between, that's a lot to think about... According to the text book, "over the past few decades, scientist have discovered that we process many of the sensory inputs to which we're exposed to unconsciously, and that many of our actions occur with little or no forethought or deliberation."

Subliminal perception describes the processing of sensory information below the limen; or the threshold conscious awareness.  Strong evidence has helped support the concept that subliminal stimuli can influence people into making certain decisions and choices. Research has been conducted to record the effects of subliminal persuasion on a group of test subjects. In one study, Group 1 were shown words such as "church, saint and preacher," while group 2 were given unrelated words; both groups were then given the chance to cheat on different tasks. The results were shocking; 0% of group 1 cheated while 80% of group 2 cheated.

Though it is possible to subtly influence a person's decision making; according to studies, we can't engage in in-depth processing of the meaning of subliminal stimuli; which prevents major changes in a person's attitude and decisions. However this has not stopped people from looking for subliminal messages in movies, advertisements and everyday life.

Some of the most compelling evidence for attempted subliminal messages is found in classic Disney movies; the link below depicts sexual references that can be found in these movies. The second link shows a couple of images that have "subliminal" messages...though I feel you would really have to be trying hard to find all these examples. 

http://www.artistmike.com/Temp/SubliminalAd.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73fCLx-mFLg

 

Ken San Juan

Baby sleep.jpg

As the textbook clearly states, sleep is a large part of human life, and during that time, people experience the phenomena of dreams.  The people of the world have had very different views and ideas about what dreams are and why they occur.  However, there are now just a few theories in psychology today that are considered relevant or are not outright rejected.  Why is it, then, that many people still have a fascination with dreams?  Why does the average human often believe their dreams can be interpreted?  

Although the meaning behind dreams cannot be explained or acknowledged by any of the current possible explanations for dreaming, it did exist at one point, and was suggested by Sigmund Freud.  Feud thought dreams are a sort of mental protection, and they are heavily encrypted.  Even though this is no longer a popular scientific believe, the thought that dreams represent deeper cognitive meanings and require interpretation has never faded.  

Dream interpretation never, in fact, lost its popularity.  This is made evident by the large number of dream interpretation website, such as http://www.dreamforth.com, and the huge number of books written on the topic. These writings preach the idea that certain symbols represent an area of stress or emotional importance in a persons life.  For example, a dream about drowning "indicates that you are investing too much in some situation that you cannot control" whereas having a dream about a snake "implies that you are afraid and anxious about some issue in your life (dreamforth.com)." 

dream-interpretation-zzz.jpg

            It seems that this is also a good example of pseudoscience: even with no scientific evidence to back up the idea of dream interpretation and with a few alternate theories for why dreams occur and what they mean, such as the activation synthesis theory, it is still a belief that many people subscribe to. But the real question still reamins unproven by science: if dreams aren't messages, why do we dream?



6 Ways to Save your Memory!

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Activation Synthesis Theory Take Two

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                The activation-synthesis theory was created in the 1960's and the 1970's by Alan Hobson and Robert McCarley. This theory states that during REM sleep, random neural signals are generated in the pons area of our brain, which are then interpreted by the forebrain. Diving into more detail, REM sleep is turned on by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  This neurotransmitter activates nerve cells in the pons, which sends signals to the thalamus. The thalamus then sends signals to the forebrain which attempts to interpret the signals in the form of a dream. Prior to this theory, scientists such as Sigmund Freud had proposed theories that believed dreaming was a subconscious approach to wish fulfillment, how we wish things could be. It was also theorized that dreams contained manifest content, the details of the dream itself, and latent content, the underlying meaning of the dream. These theories were scientifically hard to prove, and took a vague approach to dreaming.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/J7nn_stI4oI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

                I often notice that dreams tend to be unpredictable, and hard to recall in the morning, supporting the theory that randomly generated neural signals are the meaning behind my dreams.  However, this still leaves me with a few questions about dreaming. Why do our brains send out these random neural signals? Are the signals sent randomly or in unidentified patterns? Is there any relation between our dreams and our emotions? Why did we evolve to incorporate dreams? More recently, PET scans have been able to disprove the activation-synthesis theory. Images of the dreaming brain show that very selective parts of the dream are activated, including the expectation circuit. These scans show that dreams may reflect emotions, as suggested in Freud's theory, but that they may in fact reflect our anxieties about the future. Neither of these theories can be proven to be 100% correct, but both include hypotheses that help us further understand the process of dreaming.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7nn_stI4oI

Assignment 3

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Déjà Vu is one of the most widely argued aspects of psychology. Déjà

Vu can be described as a flash of familiarity. It is the feeling that you get when you feel like you've been to a place, done something, or seen a situation play out once before. In our textbook, it is scientifically explained as "an excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the temporal lobes." (Lilienfeld p. 180)

 

Many scientists argue about Déjà Vu because some examples could be defined as an example of Subliminal Perception, as we learned about in chapter four. People could have seen the place before but not noticed it, but we know that your mind processes many things without our knowledge.

 

Our media has a lot of examples of Déjà Vu. However, some of them may be misleading examples. The movie Déjà Vu is based on a concept similar to Déjà Vu. It is about a system of science that allows a man to travel back in time to save a woman's life. It is misleading because it has nothing to do with his mind seeing something before, but rather science assisting him in traveling back in time. Beyonce and Jay-Z have a song titled Déjà Vu, and the lyrics include lines like, "Know that I can't get over you, 'cause everything I see is you", And "I don't want no substitute baby, I swear its Déjà Vu." This is clearly not a form of Déjà Vu either, because she is talking about how she can't get a man out of her mind.

 

So what is Déjà Vu? We have examples from science and from the media, but the public still doesn't seem to know if this is a paranormal phenomena or just a chemical imbalance. Either way, we all can say that we have experienced Déjà Vu at one time or another. I believe, that until it is proven differently, it will always be a this questionable phenomena and the truth of the matter is that no one really wants to know the truth. The public will always find unanswered questions more interesting than a chemical reaction.

Blog 2 Revised: Sending Texture Messages

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monkey.jpg
Sensation and perception work together. Without the proper ability to sense something hot, you won't be able to perceive the pain and remove your hand from the burner. The inability to match sensation with perception often occurs with people who have become paralyzed in any way. Without the ability to feel their legs, they cannot perceive how the ground feels and in turn aren't able to stand up or walk, until now.  

        The newest technology for sensation and perception is a robot-like device. The technology was tested on monkeys and was found to be very successful. The scientists connected a device to the somatosensory cortex of the brain which caused the monkeys to move the virtual arm when they consciously thought about moving it. It took some time to adapt, but soon their brain used the virtual arm without conscious thought because when the arm was moved to the right place they received a reward. This has been used on humans and worked very well but did eventuall
y fail and some"robot limbs" had a few glitches. The researchers from Duke University now think they've got all the bumps smoothed. The paralyzed patients will wear an entire exoskeleton-like suit. A similar device that was placed in monkeys will be placed in the brain corresponding with the sense receptors on the outside of the suit. Then the signals the brain 
sends to move a limb will be sent to those receptors and the limb will move. It will soon become natural just as movement is natural to you and I. 

      This device is revolutionary and will change the lives of many people. There are many questions that I raise, though. How would you go to the bathroom? How will you scratch an itch over the suit? And if the suit is removed, will the person be able to feel that itch? There are so many what-ifs that can be raised and kinks that will have to be worked out. This invention works with sensation and perception and has used the critical thinking principle of ruling out rival hypotheses
Thumbnail image for paralyzed.png
 because they tried different forms of the invention until they figured out what would actually work. This was also an experiment that was performed very well under controlled conditions. It also raises questions about what's ethical when it comes to animal testing.

Links:



Sleep Debt and Gender

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Sleep Debt and Gender

    As a college student, sleep debt is nothing new to me. A busy, demanding school schedule and work week can lead to this condition, which develops when an adequate amount of sleep is not continually met. When the condition worsens, a variety of mental and physical problems can occur. According to this article, teenagers generally require about nine hours of sleep, while adults require slightly less, about seven to eight hours of sleep. Of course, individual needs can fluctuate over a lifetime, according to different factors like personal schedule, food and metabolism, and environmental factors. The most common way that most people handle sleep debt is to find time for additional hours of rest, referred to as make-up sleep. This rest is usually made up on the weekend, but that doesn't always solve the problem.
    A new factor to consider, especially when coping with sleep debt, is the relation between gender and sleep. In a study where gender differences and deep sleep were being examined, women appeared to manage better with what was called mild sleep deprivation during a work week. After two nights of make-up sleep, these women also seemed to recover better compared to men under the same conditions. This could suggest that even if women don't get the required amount of sleep a night, but at least experience some deep sleep during the night, they may fare better and perhaps a little longer under mild sleep debt than men do.
    I would like to see more studies addressing the relationship with deep sleep, sleep debt, and gender. First of all, do men and women have drastically different or relatively similar sleep patterns? What would the study define as extreme sleep deprivation compared to mild sleep deprivation? How long is the average time of deep sleep needed to cope well with the average case of mild sleep deprivation? Also, what is the optimal age to manage or recover from sleep debt? These are all questions that I think could improve the study's findings and improve our knowledge of sleep debt.

 




Internet article: http://blog.cncahealth.com/post/2011/06/21/Chances-of-Recovering-from-Sleep-Debt-Linked-to-Gender.aspx
 

Sleep Debt and Gender

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Sleep Debt and Gender

    As a college student, sleep debt is nothing new to me. A busy, demanding school schedule and work week can lead to this condition, which develops when an adequate amount of sleep is not continually met. When the condition worsens, a variety of mental and physical problems can occur. According to this article, teenagers generally require about nine hours of sleep, while adults require slightly less, about seven to eight hours of sleep. Of course, individual needs can fluctuate over a lifetime, according to different factors like personal schedule, food and metabolism, and environmental factors. The most common way that most people handle sleep debt is to find time for additional hours of rest, referred to as make-up sleep. This rest is usually made up on the weekend, but that doesn't always solve the problem.
    A new factor to consider, especially when coping with sleep debt, is the relation between gender and sleep. In a study where gender differences and deep sleep were being examined, women appeared to manage better with what was called mild sleep deprivation during a work week. After two nights of make-up sleep, these women also seemed to recover better compared to men under the same conditions. This could suggest that even if women don't get the required amount of sleep a night, but at least experience some deep sleep during the night, they may fare better and perhaps a little longer under mild sleep debt than men do.
    I would like to see more studies addressing the relationship with deep sleep, sleep debt, and gender. First of all, do men and women have drastically different or relatively similar sleep patterns? What would the study define as extreme sleep deprivation compared to mild sleep deprivation? How long is the average time of deep sleep needed to cope well with the average case of mild sleep deprivation? Also, what is the optimal age to manage or recover from sleep debt? These are all questions that I think could improve the study's findings and improve our knowledge of sleep debt.

 




Internet article: http://blog.cncahealth.com/post/2011/06/21/Chances-of-Recovering-from-Sleep-Debt-Linked-to-Gender.aspx
 

Assignment 3-assignment 1 redo

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As we grow up, we look at our parents and think," God, I hope I don't turn into my mom/dad." But what ends up happening in most cases, we do turn out just like them. This "phenomenon" refers back to the idea of nature vs. nurture. According to the Lilienfeld text, (Lilienfeld 115). 60 percent of our traits are from our genes, and 40 percent is due to our environment. But how do we determine which traits are from our genes or environment?

 

http://www.hulu.com/watch/280266/modern-family-when-good-kids-go-bad#s-p1-so-i0

 

Modern Family is my favorite television show. It is about three families, who are all related in some sort of way, and their family dysfunctions. In this particular episode, it is filled with possible traits that have been passed from parents, to their kids. One example is Claire, her brother Mitch, and their father Jay, went out of their way to prove that they were right in their own situations. Claire wanted to prove that her husband Phil did cause her to fall into the cans of peaches. Mitch wanted to prove to his partner that his coddling was affecting their daughter Lily. And Jay wanted to prove that his wife Gloria and his stepson, Manny did not confess his "crimes". All took measures to prove that they were right.  Since Mitch and Claire are Jay's biological children, we can have an argument whether this was genetic or environment. 

Two examples of when traits were clearly due to environment was 1) when Manny "stole" the girl's necklace. Even though his mother raised him to be smart and polite. He grew up (at first) in a very poor neighborhood of Columbia. That part of Columbia was known for its crime and murders. He could have picked up the idea of stealing. And the second example of when the environment developed the trait, was Lily and her sharing problem. She was adopted by Cam and Mitch, and had developed a bit of a sharing problem. Which her preschool teacher had mentioned most kids get from other kids or their parents. 

Each of these traits could have developed due to genetics or environment. But how are we truly able to tell which it is? Which is why i believe the discussion of nature vs. nurture isn't a "big" topic in the psychological community.

Studying human behavior The Rewrite

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Watching the Psychology lectures, I recall a set of concepts that I often misinterpreted: the descriptive method and experimental method of studying human behavior...we are observing in one and observing in the other, what is the difference?

The two basic approaches to studying human behavior are the descriptive method and experimental method. The descriptive method, also called the observational method, is a non-manipulative observational technique involving observing a subject with no interferences by simply observing what we see with no background knowledge, surveys, or case studies. The experimental method involves manipulation to a subject to create a cause-effect relationship.

Relating this to my personal life experience I can relate this to childbirth and lifestyles of the mother. For example, both my sister-in-law and a friend of mine had a baby in the past few weeks. My sister-in-law did not smoke during pregnancy, but my friend did smoke during pregnancy. Say, I was trying to determine if smoking had a negative effect on the baby later in the baby's life and I observed both the kids as they were growing up and found that my friend's baby tended to complete tasks at a slower rate. This is an example of using the descriptive method. However, I could not automatically conclude that my friend's baby completed tasks slower because of the exposure to smoking; it could have also been other confounding variables and it is too small of a sample to determine such a strong conclusion. So I propose an experiment with a larger sample to observe. In this experiment I find a group of pregnant women and assign half to smoke and the other half to not smoke and then observe the mother's children as they grow. This is an example of an experimental method because I am manipulating the subjects to determine an outcome. Which method of studying human behaviors do you think is more ethical; the descriptive or experimental method?  

To further examine the descriptive and experimental method I found this video that demonstrates how much parent's actions impact on their child's lifestyles as the child develops. In this video, it shows how parents are smoking and drinking and how the children see that as they are growing up and once the children grows up they are doing similar actions as to what they were raised with, such as smoking and drinking. Before the video begins there is also statistics that say how much children are more likely to buy drinks and cigarettes if their parents did as they were growing up. To come to these statistics the observer had to have used the descriptive method. I argue that the descriptive method was used in this study because it would not be ethical to force children to buy cigarettes and drinks because their parents did as the child was growing up.

In conclusion, the experimental method is easier to study human behavior because we can manipulate the subject, however it is less ethical than a simple observational study where we only observe a subject.Think of a time you were in an experiment, were you made to do something you did not feel comfortable doing or were you just being observed living your regular daily lifestyle?   

References:

http://cloud.globalgiving.org/pfil/2739/ph_grid7_2739_10763.jpg


OBE - Reality Wonders Part 2

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"There is no brain damage that we've detected. Technically, yes, he's in  a coma. He doesn't react to stimuli. He has no sleep-wake cycle. But there's no brain trauma or infection. His scans are all normal. To be honest, I've never seen anything like it," quoted Dr. Sercarz, who was a fictional character in the 2011 movie Insidious.

The movie Insidious displayed a topic that was in our psychology textbook, out-of-body experience, or OBE for short. According to the Lilienfeld textbook, an out-of-body experience is an extraordinary sense of our consciousness leaving our body. Surprisingly, it's a common experience for people. Many people have reported that when they had an OBE, they were floating above their bodies, watching themselves calmly while they were sleeping. In other cases of OBE, some people have even reported encountering other unusual experiences such as hallucinations, strange body sensations, and lucid dreams.

The same thing happened to the main character in Insidious. Dalton, the main character, was an average kid who ended up going into a coma one day. Even the doctor was unsure of the cause behind it. But what really happened was that Dalton was experiencing an out-of-body experience. His parents didn't believe him when he explained to them that sometimes he would find himself floating above his own body and would wander around at night and come back to this body later on before morning. But one night, he couldn't find his way back to his body, and that's what caused him to go into the sleeping coma.

I believe that psychologists should continue studying and researching about people having an out-of-body experience because it draws a very fine line between reality and dreams. In my opinion, studying the human consciousness is difficult and complicated, but it's a study worthy of learning new discoveries and connections. Even though studies have shown to falsify the claim of the human consciousness floating freely outside of the human body, those who believe they have experienced it say otherwise.

I would still like to challenge the question of having an out-of-body experience. Does our consciousness actually leave our solid body without having real acknowledgement or proven evidence? Also, what else lurks at night while we're sleeping? You should watch Insidious as a fun and exciting experience that clashes psychological concepts and realistic fiction into an extraordinary terrifying movie that will leave you with many more questions and wonders like it did to me.

Confirmation Bias Take Two

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Confirmation bias describes how we as humans think that what we believe is always right and what others believe is wrong. Intentionally, we only seek out evidence that conforms to our beliefs and according to Lilienfeld, we "deny, dismiss, and distort evidence" that doesn't support our beliefs (8). I believe confirmation bias is one of the most important concepts that we have learned about thus far because it is a part of our lives on a daily basis and can affect how we make our decisions.

A personal example of confirmation bias takes place while I am taking exams - even the psychology exam we took a couple weeks ago. When reading a question that I don't know the correct answer to, I will select an answer that randomly pops out at me. Then I proceed to write down any information that I remember which supports my answer; this is my way of talking myself into thinking I have picked the right response. I don't look at the other answers and try to prove them correct and I certainly disregard any information that pops into my head saying that my answer could potentially be wrong.  I believe my response is correct and only take into account the evidence that supports this, not evidence that supports a different answer.

Here is a fun YouTube video that provides us with another example of confirmation bias. The "banker" believes that this woman has a lot of money because she is a doctor; however, in this video we see that this is not the case. A mistake like this is crucial and could be detrimental to the banking company she works for. Do people notice that they are falling victim to confirmation bias? During exams I know when I am falling victim, but what about other parts of my life? What I am still wondering is how can we break this nasty habit of only believing what we think is the right answer and disregarding other information?

 

References:

Cline, Austin. "Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments: Confirmation Bias." About.com. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 7 Oct 2011.

Lilienfeld, Scott. Pyschology - From Inquiry to Understanding. Custom Edition for the University of Minnesota. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Print.

 

             When I was growing up I was surrounding by this thing called alcoholism. Mostly my male relatives always had a beer in their hand when at family conjunctions. Closer to me though was my dad and he was the worst of them all. He started drinking in the morning and didn't stop till two a.m. Yeah I was a child during this but you'd be amazed with what all I did remember. I remember vividly the loud shout outs after I had gone to sleep and the crazy colored juke box always blaring. In the basement there was also a bar that when my friends came over we wouldn't play with dolls instead we would play bartender and drunken buyer.        

           Our society has had a long intimate relationship with alcohol. Can you name one movie where alcohol is not shown or mentioned? The usual answer would be no because that's not just what I was raised with but what our society was as well.  Even music has been surrounded around alcohol for quite some time. In country it's whiskey and rum, rap it's the booze and babes that go together hand in hand to make their song to the billboards. Like Kenny Chesney says in his song "You and Tequila Make me Crazy"... while woman and tequila make him crazy, one is one too many but ONE MORE IS NEVER ENOUGH. What message is he putting out to the listeners? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8XkLrErSHw&ob=av2n

What about Tech Nine? In their song "Caribou Lou" they don't just give you directions to a strong drink but also gave you the confidence that if you give this to a lady it might go somewhere. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P8JkaLN0ug&feature=fvst

            The drinking among college students has grown significantly in the last twenty years. Binge drinking and blackouts are risky parts of drinking that college students are at a particularly high risk of experiencing. These such states of mind raise the percentages among college rapes and sexual assaults. The awareness about drinking in college is talked about and brought up but never really addressed and discussed. I know from experience that drinking in Dinky Town is fun and super easy to get away with. If you're not making a commotion the police don't even take a second glance at you.  These things all lead to worst things and could all be prevented with one thing. Talking more about it, raising more awareness, or avoiding it completely could better yourself and keep your stress level lower making you more perceptive to the discussion in class and in the end raising your test scores. You can choose which path you want to lead but ultimately if you make the wrong decision in the first place the decision may be made for you.

Many people believe that alcohol is a stimulant because the effects upon you include loud personality, increase talkativeness, and impair judgment. While in reality it is indeed a depressant causing more effects to the body than a good feeling for one night. Alcoholism is very easy to get caught up in as my dad did. Originally he started drinking to numb himself from the pain of losing my two little brothers to a miscarriage. Finally it got to be too much and my mom made him choose between us or the booze. He thankfully chose us and has been clean ever since. I couldn't be more proud of him and couldn't ask for more in a dad but I still have to watch my drinking just because of him I know where it could lead me. I have him as a red flag reminder and I'll never take that for granted.  

Illusions and Our Interpretation of Them

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Illusions occur within our brain's, not our eyes. We perceive a complete pattern and fill in the missing spots. There are many different types of illusions that we've discussed in the Lilienfield text. Some of these included the moon illusion and the Muller-Lyer illusion

Moon Illusion
Moon Illusion above
There are many different explanations for why the moon illusion occurs but none of them have been universally accepted. Some scientists believe it has to do with our atmosphere, but most scientists dismiss that theory because they say the atmosphere only effects the color of the moon and the horizon. 
Illusions are popular because they have an interest factor and are generally amusing to most people. We definitely see them in every day life without even realizing that we are experiencing an illusion. We perceive something that doesn't quite have the full picture painted and our brain fills in the missing information to give us the illusion that we are seeing everything that we should be. A form of this is a blind spot, which is when you reach a certain distance while looking in the mirror where your lens cannot focus properly. Our brains fill in the missing information using the environment around us to fill in the gaps. There are many illusions that use the combination of shapes and colors to make you believe an object is moving when its not. Here is an example of one: Optical Illusion

Illusions are a very interesting aspect of psychology that many people ignore while perceiving one. They don't think about how your brain is actually working during this psychological process. Illusions are just another reason why they human brain is so advanced and adaptive.
Check Out these additional illusions:
   Animated Illusion 

The Psychology of Dexter, Part Two.

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"Dexter" is a popular TV show based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay. The namesake of the show, Dexter Morgan, is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer.  After watching the last episode, I began to wonder. What makes this show so enjoyable? Is it mildly disturbing that I enjoy this so much? Probably, but, I am not alone. 
I came across this article from Psychology Today which I think, describes this phenomena very well. According to Burkley, Dexter and other famous killers are so exciting to us, "normal" people, because it gives us a chance to see something usually kept behind closed doors (or behind an air conditioner). Another exciting topic she brought up was that of "successful psychopaths". Not much is known about these types of psychopaths, because by the definition of successful, they have kept their psychopathy a dark secret from friends, spouses, family, etc. Which in turn, leads to her conclusion, that any one of us could be the next Dexter...
One interesting thing about Dexter, is that he had to be "trained" from a very young age on how to be normal. His father, Harry, a detective at Miami Metro, created a set of laws for Dexter to follow so as not to attract unwanted attention.  These laws also allow him to give in to his homicidal tendencies, by killing only those who "deserve" it. Working at in the forensics department allows him to do extensive research, just to make sure.  Throughout the seasons, he has become so successful at playing the part of the charming, friendly, husband and father, he has left even his own sister oblivious to his "dark passenger". I think it will be interesting to see, as the show progresses, if Dexter's love for his son will overthrow his dark passenger.


On a lighter note...

Assignment #3- Disgust Reactions

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Disgust Reactions

The text book does not provide a definition for this but based off of the section written in the book for it I would describe it as a feeling of displeasure towards an object due to negative conditioning over a period of time.  I find disgust reactions to be very interesting.  I'm curious as to why we acquire disgust reactions with such ease?  Personally I know that I usually get disgusted by things very easily, especially scrambled and hard boiled eggs for some reason.  I'm not sure if it's the texture or the smell of them but take one bite and my stomach turns which is weird because I used to refuse to eat eggs if they weren't scrambled.  So how do you go from really liking something to being unable to stand eating it when they haven't changed in taste?

After looking online I found that some disgust reactions are very serious.  For example on this site http://ask.metafilter.com/133232/How-to-stop-having-an-intense-disgust-reaction I read a story of a person who has a disgust reaction to people sniffing. He can't stand it and as he's gotten older it's gotten worse; at points it even makes him throw up.  He doesn't find it disgusting when people throw up or eat food off the ground he doesn't have a problem with it, it's specifically with sniffling.  It may be a result of the fact that when he was young his mother would hit him for sniffling and that his nanny told him he was drinking snot.  These traumatic events may have resulted in his phobia.  I found blog of his (I guess you would call it) interesting because as people responded to his cry for help to fix the problem with their own stories and suggestions of alternatives such as spitting it out, I imagined someone snuffing up a lot of snot getting ready to spit and it turned my stomach.  I think the fact that such strange disgust reactions can affect us so strongly is very intriguing and I'm wondering what in our body/mind causes such reactions and is there any way for us to control these reactions without having to get professional help?

I recently stumbled upon an article at Labspaces.net that outlined a study at John Hopkins University. The study consisted of subjects taking a hallucinogen which then caused their personalities to drastically change permanently.

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My first reaction was interest but as I read through the study I began to think about the subjects, who were described as "Psychologically Healthy" and more than half had post graduate degrees. These people have unknowingly altered their personalities forever. What happens when due to this change they no longer get along with their spouse or significant other? What if their job performance decreases, or they become so close-minded that the life they have built up doesn't seem applicable to their thinking anymore? All of these questions flooded my head as I read this article. Although the drug may have a great amount of usage in the future of treating depression due to cancer diagnosis or curing addiction, these subjects do not have those ailments and were perfectly fine before the study. I am sure that John Hopkins followed the ethics codes and let the subjects know they were in an experiment, but not for what and what the lasting effets could be. So although all the ethics codes were followed, was this an ethically correct way to perform this study? It is obviously an effective way but is changing the 51 unknowing subjects' personalities worth the possibility of using this illegal drug as a treatment in the future? I don't believe it is, and I believe what they did in this study is unforgivable.

The Following is the link to the article:

And a Link to John Hopkins

Super Senses- Second Try

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While driving to my grandma's house this weekend a DJ on the radio station I was listening to said a celebrity that was pregnant had a heightened sense of smell since being pregnant. This got me thinking about chapter four in our psychology book, and how when a person is blind their sense of hearing could become more vigilant. If one of our senses starts to lose its full potential does it automatically mean that one of our other senses will become a super sense?

Dr. Bradley Voytek, from the University of California, Berkeley, seems to think humans have the ability to develop super senses. According to Voytek, humans have super senses we just do not use our senses to their full potential. In order to make our senses become super senses we need to consciously give our full attention to the one specific sense, which is overwhelming for most people.

Voytek has studied individuals who have lost a sense and have shown spectacular increases in the use of their other senses. Ben Underwood and Terry Garrett are two men who have lost their eye sight, but have gained a super sense of hearing. Both men can play video games just based on sound alone, and Underwood is able to skateboard and roller blade using echolocation, the use of clicking sounds to navigate.

Voytex's research gives insight into the idea of bringing out our dormant super senses that lie within. I do not know about others, but I feel it would be fantastic to be able to have a super sense. 


Activation-Synthesis Theory Hunter Henke Post 2

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                The activation-synthesis theory was created in the 1960's and the 1970's by Alan Hobson and Robert Mccarley. This theory states that dreams reflect brain activity in sleep. During REM sleep our brains generate random neural signals. These signals activate different parts of our brains. According to the activation-synthesis theory, dreaming is our body's way of interpreting these signals. Diving into more detail, REM sleep is turned on by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  This neurotransmitter activates nerve cells in the pons, which sends signals to the thalamus. The thalamus then sends signals to the forebrain which attempts to interpret the signals in the form of a dream. This theory was important to psychology because it took a more reasonable approach to explaining why we dream. Prior to the activation-synthesis theory scientists such as Sigmund Freud believed that dreaming used symbols to illustrate how we wish things could be.  The development of the activation-synthesis theory allowed us to approach dreaming in a more scientific manner, and disproved any incorrect assumptions about why we dream.

                The activation-synthesis theory applies to many dreams I have encountered. I often notice that dreams tend to be unpredictable, and hard to recall in the morning. The idea that dreaming is simply randomly generated neural signals explains the haphazard pattern in my dreams.  This leaves me with a few questions about dreaming. Why do our brains send out these random neural signals? Are the signals sent randomly or in unidentified patterns? Is there any relation between our dreams and our emotions? Why did we evolve to incorporate dreams? We may not be able to answer these questions, but some scientists have developed hypotheses that better make sense of dreams. The link below shows short sections of a lecture in which a professor explores some theories of dreaming. One interesting idea is  that Freud's Dream protection Theory may still play a role in dreaming. The pattern of dreaming could be related to our emotions.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7nn_stI4oI

Lucid Dreaming - Dan Hodac - Assignment # 2

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I found chapter 5 of the Lilenfeld textbook to be quite intriguing. My favorite part was when they mentioned Lucid Dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when a person is dreaming but is aware that he/she is dreaming, thus giving them some to total control of their dreams as well as an improved dream recall due to its realness and vividness. The reason for my giddiness is that I have recently been trying to practice lucid dreaming. Yes! you heard me right! One can actually practice it. Turns out that lucid dreaming is actually a skill and not an inherent trait or disorder. Below is a link with some steps on how to practice for lucid dreaming.


Despite it being considered a skill, there are also some that have a "knack" for it. In other words, they don't need to practice to achieve it. Because many of these people do not even know what lucid dreaming is, some psychologists have theorized that lucid dreaming could be the cause of peoples claims of an out-of-body-experience or alien abductions ( 1 and 2 ). For out of body experiences, it is possible that a person had a lucid dream. Since lucid dreams are very vivid, the person may have been confused and thought that it was a real out of body experience, and that when they wake up, it is when their "soul" has returned to their body. An explanation for the claims of alien abductions could also be lucid dreaming. After watching a movie on aliens, such as that awesome Steven Spielberg movie about aliens :D , that person might have had a dream about being abducted by aliens. And that dream just happened to be a lucid dream. Being that the person would have some controls over their dreams, if they had expected to or are afraid of being abducted by aliens, its very possible that they could have had a lucid dream about it. 

The only problem for these claims is that they can't be proved, neither the claims nor the explanations. With the current technologies, scientists are unable to tell whether or not the person is having a lucid dream. Therefore, there is no way to tell if the person who claimed to be abducted by aliens actually had a lucid dream or not.  

Post 2

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Hypnosis has always been such a fascinating topic for me. A part of me has always wondered how are the hypnotists actually get a hold of our brain? Lilienfeld states that the hypnotists use an induction method. But how do the chemicals in the brain respond to it? Does complete relaxation give people access to our brain? I suppose that is a question that we'll never know the answer to.

            Another thing about hypnosis that makes me curious is the fact that some "victims" remember the experience under hypnosis, while others do not. Lilienfeld suggests that spontaneous amnesia is rare and causes people to forget the experience. But as several peers of mine experienced hypnosis, they claimed that they have no idea what happened, and are always shocked when videos of them are shown. Does that mean spontaneous amnesia is becoming more popular? Or people just claim to have forgotten what happened to live down the embarrassment.

            Lastly, how long does hypnosis actually affect one's mind? According to a friend, the hypnotist told her she would not be embarrassed after the hypnosis. She was able to feel the embarrassment brew inside of her, but unable to verbally state that she was embarrassed until two days had passed. Does that mean she was still somewhat hypnotized all that time? It's fun when something is so fascinating, yet so confusing.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_OtWFqFC7c


It's also such an entertaining thing to watch.  

I listened to Professor Peterson's first lecture before I began reading Chapter 5, which means that I wasn't yet thinking about sleep when I was learning about the biological view of consciousness.  That sounds unimportant (why does it matter which part to think about first?), but I found it intriguing.  I then read the chapter and saw that the text begins straight away with discussing sleep.  This got me thinking about what relationship may exist between sleep and consciousness.

Previously, I would have said that being asleep and being conscious were two very different states.  However, this chapter got me thinking about how sleep & consciousness relate to my experiences.  About five years ago, during a typical night of being unable to sleep because of a snoring husband, I noticed that his snores often stuttered, and sometimes suddenly stopped.  I watched him closely sleep-apnea.jpgand realized that he was actually stopping breathing, which led to a long process of him having sleep studies and eventually being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (pages 172-173 in our text).  At first no one believed him and even joked with him when he talked about his sleep issues, because he is thin (and the vast majority of sleep apnea sufferers are overweight).  However, after his breathing and brain activitycpap.png were monitored during several sleep studies (using a nocturnal polysomnogram in a lab setting and a portable monitor at home), the physician prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to keep his airway from collapsing during sleep. 

Aside from the fact that we need sleep to live and function, and anything that interferes with sleep can therefore interfere with our ability to function, how else does sleep apnea relate to psychology and consciousness?  When considering brain function and consciousness, our textbook mentions that people used to believe that consciousness was like an on/off switch (page 168), but I've observed the transitions between the five stages of sleep and wakefulness (page 169).  My husband, before he had the CPAP machine and on nights when he doesn't use it, would experience an apnea episode, and therefore wake up just enough to start breathing again (but rarely becoming completely awake), called an arousal or awakening.  He has these arousals all night long, which leads to him being in bed for 8-10 hours, but waking up completely exhausted, because he hadn't received quality sleep.  His sleep patterns are disrupted by the arousals, changing the amount of time spent in each of the five sleep stages (Stages 1-4 and REM sleep), leading to periods later in the day when he would spontaneously fall asleep due to sleep deprivation, despite having spent at least eight hours in bed the night before.  Therefore, I have since changed my thinking about consciousness, due to observing a person who seems to be asleep but is actually partially awake, and therefore the two states might not be mutually exclusive after all.

Music Changes Perception- David Cesnik Section 26

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Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427101606.htm

  A recent research from the University of Groningen claimed that listening to happy music rendered the participant to perceive the world around them as a happier place, and listening to sad music as a more depressing world. This was tested by the participant listening to a song while identifying smiling and frowning faces. The results were not only that happy music persuaded the participant to see more happy faces (even when there were not as many smiling faces), the participant saw more sad faces when listening to the sad music too. Their conclusion from this experiment was that "that the brain builds up expectations not just on the basis of experience but on your mood as well."
  I firmly believe that this is a valid claim and the experiment is completely legitimate. The test offered a consistent result that was only changed by the independent variable, the kind of music playing. This matters to the real world because this now opens the doors to possible treatment for many kinds of attitude diseases or disorders. Listening to positive music could possible assist in the treatment of depression for example. This personally makes sense to me as well because I always feel better about my day when I walk to class listening to music that makes me happy, like Israel kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
  Some possible further research could be made as to what effect other kinds of music could have on a person, or how effective positive music can have on a sick or depressed person. If there is some medical merit to listening to happy music, there could be major changes to the treating of certain diseases or disorders.

BBC Sense of Self

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I found the BBC documentary fascinating to watch. In particular I enjoyed the section on consciousness. Here they discussed at what age people develop their sense of self. Watching the babies take the Mirror Self Recognition Test, which attempted to identify at what age people start to recognize themselves in the mirror, was particularly interesting because I do  not recall a time when i could not recognize myself in the mirror. This test showed that 22-month-old child could recognize themselves while the 18-month-old could not. So somewhere in the gap between 18 and 22 months is when people most likely become aware of themselves, or so this test would have us think. 

When the narrator showed that only animals most similar to humans could identify themselves the idea that this concept of self-recognition seemed to resonate with me. I do believe that we are unique as humans because we are able to shape our environments to our vision and I thought this was an interesting point to make.

If you look at how we are constantly increasing our carry capacity on this earth it shows that humans more than any other animal can change their surroundings. However I think I need a little more clarification as to how be able to recognize yourself leads to this phenomena.

The Secret You

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When do we become aware of ourselves?

     At first, he wonders that when do we start aware of ourselves. To illustrate this part, he met the professor who use "mirror self-recognition" test to test if the baby can recognize themselves in the mirror. They first let the babies look at themselves in the mirror and then ask their parents to put a mark on their face without telling them. After that, send them back to the mirror and see if they can find and catch the mark which is a signal of recognizing themselves. And the test proved that babies through 18 to 24 months begin to have self-awareness.

Where does consciousness reside?

     The surface of the brain is consisted of the cell bodies of the nerve cells. There might be a hundred billion nerve cells in a brain. We have a highly developed cortex. And this is probably the part that allows us to be self-aware.

Can we know whether someone still has conscious awareness?

     Marcus wondered that how would the scientists measure the consciousness. The professor said that the only way is to indicate that to them. So he used the measure called "Mental imagery", which is, "If you are imaging doing something, you will activate the same part of your brain as if you are actually doing them." The research tells us that even if our body can't response to certain stimuli, our brain can response to that, which means that we might still have consciousness.

What evidence is there that single neurons are involved in consciousness?

     The scientists are able to see what happens when the conscious patient is shown different images. They can now pick up some fancy techniques which allows them to amplify and visualize signals which are the way that the neurons speaking to each other. And strikingly, the cells deep inside the brain seem only to responds to very specific individuals. Later they also found out that usually it was some abstract ideas that neurons are responded to.

What does the difference in consciousness between waking and sleeping tell us about our sense of self?

     The professor tested the situation that stimulating certain parts of the brain while the person is awake, they found that once one area has been stimulated, different areas will be active as well. However, when the person is sleeping, stimulate to one area of the brain will only resulted in activation in that certain area. So consciousness might be resulted in interconnecting between different areas of the brain.

 Who is in charge of your decisions, your conscious self?

     Before people's mind being conscious and making a decision, the brain has already made the decision. It might also means that people's brain activity shapes the decision that the conscious would make and the conscious mind is the realization of brain activity. I am convinced about the conclusion. Because according to the experiment related to this result, the pattern of the brain activity did emerges that have told them the result before Marcus decided which side he is going to choose.

Illusions and our Interpretation of Them

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Illusions occur within our brain's, not our eyes. We perceive a complete pattern and fill in the missing spots. There are many different types of illusions that we've discussed in the Lilienfield text. Some of these included the moon illusion and the Muller-Lyer illusion

Moon Illusion
Moon Illusion above
There are many different explanations for why this occurs but none of them have been universally accepted. Some scientists believe it has to do with our atmosphere, but most people dismiss that theory because they say the atmosphere only effects the color. 
I believe illusions are important because they definitely have an interest factor and are generally amusing to most people. We definitely see them in every day life without even realizing that we are experiencing an illusion. We basically wrongly perceive something and our brain fills in the missing information to give us the illusion that we are seeing everything that we should be. I for of illusion is a blind sport which is when you reach a certain distance while looking in the mirror where your lens cannot focus properly. Our brains fill in the missing information using the environment around us to fill in the gaps. (192) There are many illusions that use the combination of shapes and colors to make you believe an object is moving when its not. Here is an example of one: Optical Illusion

Illusions are a very interesting aspect of psychology that many people ignore while perceiving one. They don't think about how your brain is actually working during this psychological process. Illusions are just another reason why they human brain is so advanced and adaptive. 

Post 2: "Success by Six" and the "Krayon Box Kids"

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On Foley Boulevard in Coon Rapids, MN, just a block or two from the Foley Park & Ride are two adjacent competing child care centers. Many people pass by without noticing the wonderful paradox these two day cares create. 

"Success By Six" is an elite child care center composed of grey cement stone; its roof is flat and industrial; its logo is printed in crisp professional, mono-colored lettering; and its succinctly abbreviated as "SB6" in their online advertisements.  SB6 is run by United Way Capital Area, which has nobly collaborated with numerous other organizations to provide quality child care in attempt to address reported deficiencies in early childhood education and experience.  SB6 bases their claims on recent scientific research on "brain development, quality child care, and successful early intervention" (1).  SB6 insists that their "Theory of Change" is based on "strategies that have been proven to work" (1).

Each SB6 parent receives a developmental report card documenting their child's progress.  The children play in a sterile, monitored and structured environment.  They have facilitated access to a outdoor play area surrounded by a tall chain-link fence, entirely covered with grey small-pellet gravel.  Their play equipment is clean and metallic.  The children are also transported by a small fleet of white 15-passanger vans painted with the SB6 logo.

Right next door to the elite SB6 is the "Krayon Box Kids".  From the exterior it is smaller.  It's covered in yellow panel siding with a brown singled roof.  Its siding is broken up by two small windows facing the play area.  The logo is displayed on a tall sign facing oncoming traffic, and 'Krayon Box Kids" is scribbled with backward rainbow letters.  Their playground is littered with colorful second-hand toys; the play area is surrounded by a short fence; and the play set is wooden with a faint worn stain. Krayon Box Kids offers no website detailing their child development approaches, and the children are transported by a set of two short rusted yellow buses with magnetic tack-on logos.

The long-winded description of these two establishments is anecdotal evidence summarizing the debate of "nature vs nurture," or perhaps just the varying severity of "nurture".  An article from the New York Times presents the topic well, describing two of the main philosophies on parental involvement.  Motoko Rich's 4/17/2011article, "Nature? Nuture? Not So Fast ...", briefly overviews Amy Chua's and Bryan Caplan's psychologies behind "nurturing".

Chua
, a Yale law professor, is the author of ''Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother."  In her book, she instructs parents to form a strict and organized environment for their children focusing on education and liberal exposures.  Rich said Chua's diction "sent legions of parents into a tizzy with her exacting standards for piano practice and prohibitions against sleepovers" (2).  Chua represents a parental psychology much similar to SB6.

Bryan Caplan, however, is an economist at George Mason University.  His recent book ''Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think'' explains that parenting is much less complicated and should require less extensive involvement than extremists think.  Rich insists that the best parenting method is one that is much more moderate -- a balance between extreme mediation and no involvement. 

The "Krayon Box Kids" seems to me to be a good middle ground.  Besides, if I were a kid, I think I'd want to go there anyway -- it seems more fun.


__
References:
(1) "United Way's Success by 6", http://unitedwayhelps.org/pages/SuccessBy6/
(2) Rich, Motoko, "Nature? Nuture? Not So Fast ...", New York Times, 17-April-2011, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp1.lib.umn.edu/ehost/detail?vid=2&hid=14&sid=06002b25-de59-444c-b0cb-a584d1d4f0ec%40sessionmgr4&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=60006344


Does Your Taste in Music REALLY Affect Your SAT Scores?

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MusicthatmakesyoudumbHuge.png

As I was surfing the Internet, I came across the image at left. When the caption stated that the image tried to correlate music preferences and composite SAT scores, my psychology training immediately kicked in. The conclusion the image seems to draw is that lowbrow popular music hurts a student's SAT score, and that classical music and intellectual alternative music raise a student's SAT score.

 

However, as we have all learned, correlation DOES NOT equal causation (Lilienfeld). This graphic doesn't take into account other factors that might affect SAT scores. For example, a student's socioeconomic background dictates their music preferences simply because their music preferences reflect the soundtrack of their life. Hip-hop is the soundtrack of the inner city in the same way that country is often the soundtrack of rural America, and the same way that classical music is often the soundtrack of the educated middle class (Alper-Leroux). These socioeconomic factors also affect how much background knowledge a student may be exposed to, which directly affects their SAT scores. Students who are not exposed to a wide vocabulary or practical mathematical applications at a young age are less likely to do well on standardized tests (Alper-Leroux).

The temptation to make conclusions based on a correlation is a great one, but empirical thinking helps us to resist assuming that correlation is causation.

 

http://musicthatmakesyoudumb.virgil.gr/mtmyd/MusicthatmakesyoudumbHuge.png

Alper-Leroux, C. (2011, October 8). Interview by N. Alper-Leroux [Personal Interview].

Lilienfeld, Scott. Pyschology - From Inquiry to Understanding. Custom Edition for the University of Minnesota. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Print.

The Sixth Sense

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Everyone can recall the iconic scene in the movie "Sixth Sense" where Haley Joel Osment whispers to Bruce Willis, "I see dead people." The camera then does a slow close-up of Bruce's face, and it's all dramatic. While this "sixth sense" is debatable, the other five: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, have been established since the time of Aristotle. However, they are far from the only senses we possess; they are just the most evident. In fact, neurologists today are unsure of just how many sense there are, or even exactly what is a sense. One point on which they do all agree, is that there are more than five. Among these, I find one, proprioception, to be the most interesting and most worth of further examine.  


The Lilienfeld text gives it but the briefest mention, and defines it simply as, "a perception of our body's location." Not at all exciting, but try this experiment. Close your eyes, and then touch the tip of your nose with your index finger. How did you do that? Your eyes were closed, so how did you know which finger was your index finger? Did you hear the air rushing past your hand as it moved toward your face? Or maybe, somehow smell your hand as it approached your nose? Unless you are in fact a very lame superhero, probably not. It was your sense of proprioception at work. But so what? This is all trivial. Consider then, that were it not for this sense you would have to constantly monitor your feet to make sure that they are, in fact, still on the ground. Or perhaps, you would need to watch your torso so you don't start walking off in the wrong direction. Evolutionarily, this would have been a huge deal. When confronted with some giant predator in the woods, imagine that instead of running as fast as humanly possible, you also had to make sure you weren't running toward said tiger/bear/dinosaur. You can see then, how those who had a more developed sense of proprioception had a better chance of survival.


Your five primary senses may allow you to interact with the world around you, but proprioception allows you to function as a coherent unit. The ability to interact with the deceased may be discovered one day, it certainly won't be the sixth sense.  

Hypnosis! Midgy Santana

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Hypnosis takes your mind off chronic pain

In chapter five we learned that hypnosis helps people alter their perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. Most of the time a hypnotist will use an induction method, the classic "You are getting sleepy" kind of stuff.
I think hypnosis is pretty neat. At my high school's all night grad party we had a hypnotist come and hypnotize some of the kids in my class and it was extremely funny but I had no idea how it worked! In the chapter I really liked learning about the myths of hypnosis! I was really shocked to learn that hypnotized people aren't unaware of their surroundings, I thought they had no idea what was going on, but when my classmates were hypnotized they all knew what was around them and didn't get hurt and run into things.
The article I chose to read about was how people with chronic pain could use hypnosis to help get rid of their pain by influencing the cortical areas of their brain. Some people are afraid to try a new approach, but I think that if it can help them get rid of their pain, then it's worth a shot!254573_10150206777598542_520078541_7285687_5085261_n.jpgThis is a picture from my all night grad party. In it, the hypnotist just told my classmates that they were all extremely cold!

Assignment 2 I chose to watch the video entitled "The Secret You" for this weeks blog entry. I watch the part pertaining to the question, what does the difference in consciousness between waking and sleeping tell us about our sense of self ( 41:25 - 47:52 minutes). In this section of the video, scientist use a functional MRI to determine what is the difference in brain activity when awake and while sleeping. A functional MRI or fMRI is a technique that uses magnetic fields to visualize brain activity using the BOLD (blood oxygen level dependence) response. It does this by measuring the change in blood flow to the different part of your brain. This measurement is taken by electrodes to the man's head attached to the head. In this repeatable experiment, uses TMS transcranial magnetic stimulation. In this process, a series of mild shocks are sent to the portion of the brain. The affect of the shock is then measured. The location and sequence of activity is then recorded. This experiment shows that while conscious, the part that is stimulated lights up first. This is then followed by a "complex pattern" of other stimulated regions. Other parts of the brain are said to be communicating with other regions of the brain. The funny thing is that when you are asleep, one the part stimulated by the TMS lights up. The brain does not have communication of the cerebral cortex, and therefore does not have consciousness. The thought of your being you because the different parts of your brain are communicating seem like an obvious answer. This seems obvious to me, because different parts of the brain decipher what you see, hear, taste and touch. Without all these portions communicating what they know about what is going on--you cannot understand your surrounds. I was also wondering why there is not increase blood flow to your brain when you are dreaming.

Procrastination

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The irony of me writing this is that it took me about three hours to even begin this blog entry. In fact, many people suffer from procrastination in their every day lives. Procrastination is a form of what psychologists call "self sabotage". It is known as the gap between what we intend to do, and how we act upon our intentions. We plan to act, but when we finally set ourselves down to work, we find an excuse to cause unnecessary delay. The following video shows an example of what someone could do to avoid their homework or making payments. 

Procrastination link 

I can honestly say that I myself procrastinate all the time. In the first sentence of this post, I mentioned that it took me three hours to even start typing from when I opened the "Create->Entry." But since I posted that link above, I was subject to many distractions. These included checking my Facebook or Twitter, eating, playing Catch Phrase with the family, and now I find myself another three hours later continuing this post. This example is one out of three reasons why people procrastinate. They tell themselves "oh I'll just do it later" but later never shows up until the last minute.

procrastination.jpg

Because procrastination is not only common in college students, but middle school and high school students as well, it is important to know ways to over come procrastination and get stuff done. One example would be to create a list of things that you need to have done for the week. Assign deadlines for each task. Tell someone what your goal is for each task to give yourself a motivation to complete it and not have to face a sense of failure. Lastly you could reward yourself. Go do something like checking Facebook or browsing YouTube after you finish your task. Following these easy steps is just one example on how to overcome procrastination.

Blog Post 2: Sleep

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It's easy to say that most of us don't get enough sleep which was most convenient when this chapter literally kept me up at night reading it. Perfect example. Well while reading this article what really caught my eye was the section on sleep walking especially since if you look at the news someone just died due to sleepwalking less than 4 hours ago. 

The concept of sleepwalking is simple, I mean the word explains it self. But the psychology behind it is fascinating. The brain allows people while they are sleepwalking to go through everyday actions such as driving or going for a stroll although it may be without the grace of a fully conscious person. I found this to be a significant concept in the text because I find it so interesting for the brain to allow movement at such a low level of consciousness. Although it doesn't happen to all of us, it's still important when the concept is correlated to expanding our knowledge of how the brain functions. The other thing that I found important of the concept of sleepwalking was the possibility of commiting harm not only to oneself but to others while sleepwalking. Although typically sleepwalking can be very harmless there is still the possibility of otherwise. And this is where a psychological concept such as this comes in with the law. The level of consciousness that a person has during sleepwalking is little to none so then the debate is raised about the level of responsibility that should be bestowed for their actions. The article cited below, discusses how a man plunged from a 4th floor of a hotel to his death and it's presumed that he was sleepwalking. As tragic as this is, many people jump from balconies to end their lives. If he was truly sleepwalking would you consider it then to be suicide or a simple accident?  And as the text discuss if someone murders another during sleepwalking would you agree to declare a man innocent due to the claim that he was sleepwalking when the crime was commited? 


http://www.smh.com.au/national/geelong-tourist-killed-in-sleepwalk-balcony-plunge-20111010-1lgap.html

Assignment 2: Hypnosis: Not just Pseudoscience

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     There are still a lot of people that believe that hypnosis is nothing but pseudoscience and more or less a trick of the mind with a placebo like effect. The truth of the matter is that hypnosis has been shown and proven to work, it is just the understanding of what it is and how it effects people's behavior that causes people to doubt it. As it is formally defined in our text book hypnosis is a set of techniques that provides people with suggestions for alterations in their perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The definition clearly states that they are all suggestions for people not commands, and that is where the bulk of people get tripped up in the thinking that people can be forced to do things against their will which is far from the truth.                             
      Another thing that I believe plays a big role in people's misconception of hypnosis is their limited exposure to it. While a lot of people have no real exposure to hypnosis, the ones who have had some have been exposed to comedy or entertainment hypnosis such as the type shown in this video (URL included below in case the link doesn't work). While I will admit that my only real exposure to hypnosis is this type as well, I can attest to it's validity as I was one of the participants in the show. I confirm the power that the suggestions have on you, but I can also confirm what the book says that hypnosis cannot make "amazing things happen. While durring the show I wanted to listen to his suggestions if at any time he would have told me to do something I completely didn't want to do or went against my moral values I wouldn't have done it as I truly knew what was going on and had control of the situation. It is this experience that I had that made me personally realize the usefulness and limitations of hypnosis.
       I think the main thing that people have to keep in mind when talking about hypnosis is that while it is real, it has limitations and when used for help it is best when used with other forms of help as hypnosis alone will not work. The reason that people use hypnosis and why it does work especially when used with other treatment is by increasing our willingness to take a suggestion. For example if you wanted to quit smoking you already have the desire to try and by adding the hypnotic suggestions and possibly nicotine patches the odds that you actually will quit will most likely increase. From my personal experience the only real reason hypnosis works is because you are taken to such a relaxed state that the suggestions given to you seem like a good idea because all the stresses around have been artificially removed. 
      The power of hypnosis has definite limits, but the applications of it's power to influence is almost limitless. For people who still doubt the validity of hypnosis need to reexamine how they define hypnosis and what they think it can do. To be honest I would doubt how real it is too if i had not personally been hypnotized because it is so hard to understand the idea of having control but also wanting to take suggestion. But I would say that it is pretty universally accepted at this point that hypnotism is not pseudoscience but rather a way to slightly alter our ways of thinking.

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djcFAbOo8z8

Freud's Dream Protection Theory

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In Chapter 5, one of the most interesting topics I thought was Freud's Dream Protection Theory. Freud believed that during sleep, our unconscious urges and impulses are able to be released because we have less of a censor on our thoughts. However, the images we would see in our dreams if all of our aggression was able to come to the surface would be very disturbing. But most nights we don't wake up saying we had disturbing, disgusting dreams? According to Freud, the dream-work is what changes the dreams into acceptable images. The images we see are the manifest content and the dreams true meaning in latent content. The manifest content is a symbolic representation of what dreams are actually saying. Many scientist do not except this theory. One reason for this, according to the Lilienfeld text, is because many times dreams do not a appear to be disguised at all. There are many alternative, contradicting theories to Freud's but yet I found it much easier to explain my dreams in that way. I practiced talking about the "symbols" of my last dream with my roommate and instantly I could connect objects in my dreams to other things to get it to what could be the so called latent content. Despite critically evaluating the other dream theories I fell notion to explaining my dreams as Freud did. I believe that dreams are very emotionally. I suppose I am falling in to the emotional reasoning fallacy, and will continue to do so as I interpret my own dreams. 

Assignment #2- Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

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 Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Many people have near death experiences, yet scientists chalk it down to changes in brain chemistry because they can't prove with evidence that it happens.  I don't think it's right for scientists to make such claims because they cannot know for sure that people don't actually experience the afterlife.  All they see is that they cannot find any evidence of it and they can't replicate the experience so therefore it didn't happen, yet most scientists don't believe in higher beings such as God because they have no evidence of him, so why are we trusting them to determine if something Godlike has happened? They're just going to try to prove that it's a wrong perception of what really happened or make up something to explain it because if they didn't then they would have to accept the idea that higher beings exist. 

In addition to this, if our minds are so advanced that they're able to do all the things scientists say they can, including things such as doing activities while we're sleeping and having all these strange images appear in our minds that we call dreams, then why is it so hard to believe that we can experience death and the afterlife when we almost die or literally die for a few minutes?  In the link that I've attached there is a story of a girl, Robin Michelle Halberdier, story 2, who had a NDE when she was born prematurely.  She remembered this experience and told her parents about it as soon as she was able to talk.  She even pointed to Jesus in the bible and told her mom that that's who she saw in the light.  Another NDE was Bryce Bond a man who had a violent allergic reaction to pine nuts. He reported having seen former dogs that he had in his lifetime and his stepfather and other relatives who died before him.  He was told it wasn't his time yet then woke up to a hypodermic needle in the arm. The doctor told him he had been dead for over ten minutes.  If these experiences weren't real then how do we explain Robin seeing Jesus before she'd even been exposed to the world?  On top of that, Bryce actually died, which if I'm not mistaken means his body and brain were not functioning, so the statement in our book saying that scientists say it's a result of chemistry in the brain wouldn't make sense because the brain wasn't functioning to make that chemistry or even formulate those ideas. 

It's possible that these experiences could have been a result of chemical changes but it's also possible that they are actual godlike experiences and it's not right for scientists to just dismiss the idea because they can't find evidence of it or because they can't replicate it because if you think about it how would you find evidence of it? Go into a person's brain and contract their memories and watch them?  And as for replicating it what are they going to do? Hook a person up to a machine that monitors them and almost kill them or kill them and bring them back to life?  No you wouldn't because these ideas are horrendous therefore further investigation is needed before scientists jump to such a conclusion.

http://iands.org/nde-stories/17-nde-accounts-from-beyond-the-light.html

The Mirror Self-Recognition Test

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    In the BBC video, "The Secret You," Oxford Mathematician Marcus de Sautoy poses the question "At what point do we understand that we are ourselves?" Researchers use the mirror self-recognition test to discover when children begin to recognize themselves in a mirror. In this test, a small dot is surreptitiously placed on the child's face.  If the child immediately recognizes the dot is on his or her face and touches a finger to it, then the child "passes" the test and is considered to be able to recognize himself/herself.  Professor Gordon Gallup, who developed the test, also tried it on animals. No animals except chimpanzees and orangutans were able to pass the test.  However, does this really mean that other animals have no self-awareness?  I wanted to find out how the test is done on animals that do not have fingers to touch a dot with.

    I found that, in an experiment conducted by researchers Diana Reiss and Lori Marino focused on dolphins, they either marked, pretended to mark, or did not touch the subject.  The marks were made with non-toxic black ink on parts of the dolphin's body that it could not see without the use of a reflective surface.  The dolphin's behavior was then examined to see if it tried to position itself to see the marked areas in a mirror placed in the pool.  As many dolphins did exhibit these types of behavior, these researchers believe that the results of their experiment provide convincing evidence that the bottlenose dolphin is, in fact, capable of mirror self-recognition.

More information on these experiments and a video of one of the trials can be found be below:

Mirror Self-Recognition in the Bottlenose Dolphin

Video of dolphin subject exhibiting mark-directed behavior

BBC Horizon "The Secret You"

Sleepwalking - What causes it?

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After reading the text in Chapter 5 and doing some research, the most interesting concept to me was sleepwalking and why people do it. Sleepwalking is basically where a person walks while they are fully asleep and may involve some activity. There have been stories reported of people driving a car and even killing others while sleepwalking. While most sleepwalking isn't this intense, it is still an interesting sleep disorder to be aware of. The question that always comes to my mind is: What causes a person to sleepwalk?

 

Sleepwalking usually occurs during non-REM, stages 3 or 4 of sleep. Many people link sleepwalking to physiological factors and the length and depth of slow wave sleep, which happens to have an increased frequency in children. The other two factors that I found in research were very surprising to me. They were genetic and environmental. This brings us back to the nature/nurture debate in a different form. Sleepwalking actually occurs more frequently in identical twins, and is ten times more likely to occur if a first degree relative has a history of sleepwalking. As for environmental factors the most common are sleep deprivation, chaotic sleep schedules, stress, and alcohol intoxication to name a few.

 

While all or one of these factors may play a role in a person sleepwalking, it is very hard to pinpoint why a person sleepwalks as it can happen to an individual on any given night. You can't predict the night before whether or not you will sleepwalk, so really there is no definite answer to my question.

 

Sleepwalking happens most often in children and this video I found shows a good example of a young kid sleepwalking.

 

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX6U4yXQt6M

Research:  http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sleepwalking/page2_em.htm

Déjà Vu

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Déjà Vu is one of the widely argued aspects of psychology. Déjà Vu can be described as a flash of familiarity. It is the feeling that you get when you feel like you've been to a place, done something, or seen a situation play out. In our textbook, it is scientifically explained as "an excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the temporal lobes." (Lilienfeld p. 180)

Many scientists argue about Déjà Vu because some examples could be defined as an example of Subliminal Perception as we learned about in chapter four. People could have seen the place before but not noticed it before. But we know that your mind processes many things without our knowledge.

Our media has a lot of examples of Déjà Vu. However, some of them may be misleading examples. The movie Déjà Vu is based on a concept similar to Déjà Vu. It is about a system of science that allows a man to travel back in time to save a woman's life. It is misleading because it has nothing to do with his mind seeing something before, but rather science assisting him in traveling back in time. Beyonce and Jay-Z have a song titled Déjà Vu. The lyrics include lines like, "Know that I can't get over you, 'cause everything I see is you, And I don't want no substitute baby, I swear its Déjà Vu." This is clearly not a form of Déjà Vu either, because she is talking about how she can't get a man out of her mind.

Sleep Paralysis/Hallucination

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Sleep Paralysis and Hallucination   

I find sleep paralysis is interesting because I always acknowledge it as an evil spirit but after comprehending the scientific perspective I feel more confident about myself and how it's process. In my cultural we believed that when we are asleep our spirit roams around in the other world. Also if a person has hallucination then they are considered gifted or chosen to be a shaman. I had heard many stories about people getting sat on and they could actually see a human form on top of them. My sister-in-law had experienced something like that; she told me that she keeps seeing things around the house like little kids running around and hiding. One night someone sat on her as she was sleeping and she would fight so hard to escape. She actually saw a woman figure right on top of her and staring right back at her. My parents also told me that pregnant women have a higher chance of being hallucinated more than not pregnant women. I disagree with that theory because I have two kids and I didn't hallucinate but I had a lot of nightmares. But after reading chapter 5 it gave me a different perspective of how our brain works during sleep paralysis and it also provides evidence.

In my life I had experience many sleep paralysis that frightened me until today. One night my husband woke me up in the middle of the night, saying that he was scared. He told me to switch place with him, which is closer to the edge of the bed. He didn't tell me that he got sat on so I switched place with him. That night I feel scared like something was near the edge of the bed watching me. When I was about to get up to wake my husband up I was about to look behind me and right when I turn my head a little I saw a human figure. Then I felt pressure against me and was pushed down quickly on to the bed. I screamed on the top of my lungs and tried to move my arms and fingers. As my fingers got closer and closer to my husband's back I pinched him many times until he yelled out.  I was finally free but it left me with memories of fear and confusion. The figure that I saw was like a shadow of a muscular man about 5'3". After the incident my husband told me that he didn't hear me scream nor pinch him multiple times, only once. I thought the best thing to do was to forget about it. But I lived in fear, thinking that it will happen again and that there are actually spirits roaming around. After learning about sleep paralysis and hallucination it made me understand how the brain process during this situation. It made me feel relief that spirit is just a myth and I overcame my fear. 

Classical Conditioning

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After reading about Skinner's Operant Conditioning, it got me thinking about the many tests we use to demonstrate this technique. Since I am interested in animals (I'm going to school to be a Vet) I looked into the training aspect of operant conditioning.

I have seen an example of this in a psychology class I was in last year (Educational Psychology). We actually did an experiment on a computer game where we trained a rat to press a button in his cage to get his own food. We had to first train him with the steps used in operant conditioning. It was a very interesting and fun process. http://www.google.com/#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&source=hp&q=classical+conditioning+rat+in+cage+game&pbx=1&oq=classical+conditioning+rat+in+cage+game&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=16415l26024l0l26199l39l30l0l2l2l4l2465l13469l0.4.11.3.3.5.1.0.1.1l31l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=287cb8a321ceab01&biw=1366&bih=575

Skinner also developed "clicker training" which is involved with training dogs. My family and I use this method with our two dogs frequently. We have trained them to do many things by positive reinforcement which is key for a positive training experience.  One example of this, I trained my dog to roll over. First I trained him to appreciate the sound of the clicker, meaning he was doing it right, and we would praise him. When I got him into the laying position on the floor I would click, lure him to the next movement so he would roll and click again, then praise him. Pretty soon my dog Chopper became a pro at rolling over.

Assignment #2: Subliminal Messages

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Think about what a person does on a daily basis; wake up, take a shower, get dressed, leave their house walk to class, so on and so forth. Now think about all the little things that we do in between, that's a lot to think about... According to the text book, "over the past few decades, scientist have discovered that we process many of the sensory inputs to which we're exposed to unconsciously, and that many of our actions occur with little or no forethought or deliberation."

Subliminal perception describes the processing of sensory information below the limen; or the threshold conscious awareness.  It is said the subliminal stimuli can influence people into making certain decision and choices; even though this sounds ridiculous it has been backed up with strong evidence. One research recorded the effect of subliminal persuasion on a group of people; the first groups were shown words such as "church, saint and preacher" while the other group were given random unrelated words; both groups were then given the chance to cheat on certain tasks. The results showed that 100% of the first group did not cheat while only 20% of the second group did not cheat.

Though it is possible to influence a subtle choice in a person; According to studies, we can't engage in in-depth processing of the meaning of subliminal stimuli; which prevents major changes in a person's attitude and decisions. However this has not stopped people from looking for subliminal messages in movies, advertisements and everyday life. Some of the most compelling evidence of subliminal messages I have seen are from Disney movies; the link below depicts sexual references that can be found in these classic movies. The second link shows a couple of images that have "subliminal" messages...though I feel you would really have to be trying hard to find all these examples. 

http://www.artistmike.com/Temp/SubliminalAd.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73fCLx-mFLg


Ken San Juan

Sending Texture Messages

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        Sensation and perception work together. Without the proper ability to sense something hot, you won't be able to perceive the pain and remove your hand from the burner. This often happens with people who become paralyzed in any way. Without the ability to feel their legs, they cannot perceive how the ground feel and in turn aren't able to stand up or walk, until now.  

        The newest technology for sensation and perception is a robot-like device. The technology was tested on monkeys and was found to be very successful. The connected a device to the somatosensory cortex of the brain which caused the monkeys to move the virtual arm when they thought about moving it. It took some time to adapt but soon their brain used the virtual arm without conscious thought because when they moved it to the right place they received a reward. This has been used on humans and worked very well but did eventually fail and some had a few glitches. The researchers from Duke University now think they've got all the bumps smoothed. The paralyzed patients will wear an entire exoskeleton-like suit. A similar device will be placed in the brain that will correspond with the sense receptors on the outside of the suit. Then the signals the brain sends to move a limb will be sent to those receptors and the limb will move. It will soon become natural just as movement is natural to you and I. 

        This device is revolutionary and will change the lives of many people. There are many questions that I raise, though. How would you go to the bathroom? How will you scratch an itch over the suit? And if the suit is removed, will the person be able to feel that itch? There are so many what-ifs that can be raised and kinks that will have to be worked out. This invention works with sensation and perception and has used the critical thinking principle of ruling out rival hypotheses because they tried different forms of the invention until they figured out what would actually work. This was also an experiment that was performed very well under controlled conditions. It also raises questions about what's ethical when it comes to animal testing.

Links:




Areas of the brain linked to God?

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Scientists believe that there are spots in the brain associated with thoughts about God. A reason to believe such a claim is that these areas of the brain become highly active when a person engages in spiritual thoughts. The spots in the brain, collectively called the "God spot," are not believed to be linked to God in particular, but, rather, belief of a higher power and supernatural forces. The existences of such spots are also thought to have sensitivity for beliefs that may improve chances of survival. For example, a person experiencing hardships may find strength in their beliefs to endure. In this sense, would the God spot be an advantage, in the scope of Natural Selection, to having greater fitness?

The actual existence of the God spot may be hard to prove considering that the result of high activity in the proposed areas of the brain may be a result of a cognitive function not directly related to just thinking of God, but a wider range of thoughts.  A religious person who prays for hope may elicit high activity in the God spots and, thus, the person feels more motivated or comforted, but is it possible that the same effect could be produced in the same areas of the brain by meditating, by thinking of any inspirational figure, an inspiring quote, or anything else, possibly even unrelated to inspiration?  Dr. Persinger from the Laurentian University of Ontario developed a helmet that stimulates the God spots of the brain using magnetic fields and religious feelings are produced in 8 out of 10 volunteers. When tested on an evolutionist, Professor Richard Dawkins, no spiritual or religious feelings were produced. If the study was replicated and performed with reliable and valid experimental techniques, it might solidify the idea that God spots exist. But, if the God spots do exist, were they put there by God or are they a product of evolution? Did God create us or did humans create God?

The search for the God spot has in the past led scientists to many different regions of the brain.

Info and image source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html

Conciousness

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Before psychology class, whenever people talked about consciousness, I pegged them as weird philosophical types. But reading Chapter 5 has changed my perspective. While I still think it's weird that people talk about whether we exist, consciousness is an interesting topic. Actually the intro to the chapter explains it well - throughout the day, we experience varying states of alertness. This stuck out to me because recently I was eating lunch one day and all of a sudden I had one of those extremely vivid moments - it was like I was seeing everything for the first time. Colors lit up, the scenery through the window was vivid, I looked around at who I was with, people who are just thinking about their next class or about their food, and I just took it all in.
This stuck out to me so much because most of the time I guess I don't pay attention to what other people might be thinking or doing. The textbook talks about how consciousness is just like a stream. We live through subtle to profound levels of consciousness all the time. The only time our consciousness stays at the same level for an extended period is sleep, another interesting consciousness topic.
I've read online about polyphasic sleeping and I think it's fascinating. Some people don't necessarily sleep eight hours at night. Some people might sleep four times a day for an hour and a half each time. It saves time, and you can get into REM sleep faster, thus making sleep more efficient. But I don't want this post to be too long so I have just one more topic that I think is necessary to mention.
First off, if I ever go into a vegetative state I want to be cut off, as per most people. But this article from Time magazine (<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580394-2,00.html>) talks about how people in vegetative states can still understand what we say sometimes. Yes, our nightmare of understanding someone talk to us but not being able to respond is a possibility. We don't know if it's a constant consciousness or if it's drawn up with what a beckon, but it's scary. Future ethical debate makes the Terry Shiavo case look like child's play, as the article puts it.   
So overall, I came from thinking that consciousness studies are hocus-pocus to thinking they are very interesting. But yes, I still think it's weird to question whether we exist.

Diseased Text

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 Girl Reading.jpg               While reading in The Onion, A Hoax News Source, I came across a recent article claiming that a correlation between ocular cancer as well as brain cancer from reading text on a computer screen has been found .  The article goes on to state that the main culprit is, "reading a headline followed by three to four sentences" and "while it is treatable, if one encounters the sort of icon marking the end of an article, it is incurable."

                While the Onion is not a reliable source of news, it prides itself on providing articles that could be misinterpreted as real news if an individually didn't use critical thinking skills to examine what was actually being said. While many critical thinking skills could be used to bring into question the validity of this study and its findings, we will examine the two that will be the most helpful in this scenario.

                The first critical thinking skill that should be taken into account here is extraordinary claims. Computers are a critical necessity for the average undergraduate student in the modern world, so if computer text was actually causing a form of cancer, it could be extremely detrimental to our youth's health. There is, however, virtually no evidence into how this correlation has been found. The article provides no details on the actual research performed, and does not provide a link to examine the study. It is suffice to say that extraordinary evidence has not been provided for the findings.

                The second critical thinking skill I would examine is correlation vs. causation.  Even if a link had been found between certain types of computer text and cancerous diseases that does not necessarily mean the two are directly related. A third variable, such as the overall usage of all screens including computers, cell phones, and mp3 players could be tied to the cause of certain diseases.

                While this article is blatantly fabricated and untrue, certain electronics have been found to give off small dosages of x-ray radiation (U.S. EPA). The effects of radiation coming from items such as computers could be explored further.

               

BBC Horizon: The Secret You - Assignment 2 - Pat Bodnia

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I decided to do watch segment 2 and answer the question Where does consciousness reside? Through watching the segment I learned that consciousness, from what we know, resides physically in the cortex (outside part of the brain). What allows us to stay active and conscious is through a series of projections from diffused nerve cells. In the brain stem you have the reticular activating system, which is a group of diffused nerve cells that project up into the thalamus. The thalamus then relays the projections out to areas of the cortex. This allows us to be conscious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Biv_8xjj8E&feature=player_embedded#!

CONSCIOUSNESS.jpg

I found this segment of the video (12:30 - 15:50 minutes) to be very interesting and helpful. Before watching this video, I had no idea where consciousness was found in terms of the anatomy. The questions that still remains for me is How do you measure consciousness? (through some sort of machine and that shows conscious activity?) 

Some people are pronounced dead when they are constantly unconscious for years or a long extended period of time. Another question id like to ask - Is their evidence to support the fact that a given person is the technically dead if they remain unconscious for a long period of time? If so, what and how is this determined?

Sex is not Love

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I have been in a serious relationship with a man for two and half years. The thing that brings us closest is sharing our faith, and one way we do this is by remaining abstinent before marriage. It seems that people today mistake love for sex. A sexual attraction or infatuation with a man or woman is not love, although, this may be where it all begins.  I think Dr. John R. Bori puts it well by saying, "They may say, "I love you," but what they really mean is, "I love the passion I experience with you."  Their experience of love is really more about them than it is about you."

This passion or "the sex" is so easy to mistake as love because sex is the greatest way to express love.  Yet, this expression is a lot more than just our psychological thoughts. No love can actually be pinpointed back to a chemical release in the brain. Bio-chemically speaking, what happens is that when we engage in new experiences(sex), the pleasure circuits in the brain are activated and large amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals --- for example, dopamine , norepinephrine, endorphins --- are released into the nervous system.  So every time you experience something new with someone you create this bond, and you call this bond love. Think about your best friend, there must have been something that you experienced together to create this "love " for one another.

Findings like these can be hard to take in when you begin to realize that our dreamy Love from the fairytales is really just a psychological "trick" and a chemical reaction. This doesn't mean that love isn't real, because I can vouch that it is. The only point I bring up is that we all need to be careful that we aren't just creating this "love".

 >Buri, John R. "Mistaking Passion For Love | Psychology Today." Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness Find a Therapist. 03 Nov. 2009. Web. 09 Oct. 2011. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-bytes/200911/mistaking-passion-love>.

Insomnia

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 I have always been really interested in sleep disorders because I have troubles getting to sleep and staying asleep at night. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes people to have troubles getting to sleep at night, wake up to early in the morning, or wake up during the night and cannot get back to sleep. I have all three of these symptoms on a regular basis, so I decided to start trying things the book suggested as a treatment when I started reading the chapter.

The first thing that James Maas suggests in our book is to hide all the clocks in the room so you do not constantly check the clock to see how long its been, I decided that this was a good place to start so I hid all the clocks in my room every night so I couldn't see them. To my surprise I actually woke up feeling much more refreshed the first few days, however I still did not sleep well. I thought it was very interesting how just not being able to look at a clock all night improved my sleep, I am really curious why that is. What in the brain causes us to sleep better not worrying about the time? Is it because the brain can slow down the activity when not thinking about how little sleep we are getting?

BBC Horizon- The Secret You

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This video covered many interesting ideas.  I am going to talk about when we humans become self aware.  Becoming self aware is when an individual can differentiate between other people, animals and the environment and itself.  This takes place during young childhood.  Psychologists are saying on average children become self aware between the ages of 18 and 24 months.  It is still unclear of how this transformation happens.

Most of the evidence given in support to children becoming self aware is from the Mirror-Self Recognition Test.  In this test a child will be placed in front of a mirror and is given some time to look at the figure in the mirror.  After awhile the child's mother will place a dot on the child's face without them knowing.  The child will then go back to the mirror and look at the figure.  If the child sees the dot on its face and takes it off then they have shown self awareness.

This video was extremely interesting to me.  It made me think back to my childhood and think of when I became self aware.  Of course I could not think of it but I am sure that I looked into plenty of mirrors thinking there was someone on the other side of the wall.  I also think its interesting that it still is a mystery of how the self awareness transformation happens.  The only question I have is if all animals have a time when they become self aware like we do.

No Connection Made

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The corpus callosum is the bridge connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. When we see or touch something, our right hemisphere is usually the one to recognize the object and our left hemisphere is the one to verbally represent what the object is. When the corpus callosum is partially or completely severed, the two hemispheres of the brain don't communicate properly. While a person with a severed corpus callosum may appear to function normally, when presented with specific tasks (including those specialized to one visual field), decreased function is obvious.

 

In adults, the corpus callosum can be surgically severed as a last resort to treat epilepsy. However, damage to the corpus callosum can also occur naturally. Agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC) is a birth defect in which the corpus callosum doesn't fully develop as it should.

 

Patients with ACC tend to have more developmental problems than patients whose corpus callosum has been surgically severed. Individuals with ACC can have many problem solving and social impairments as well as poor motor coordination and difficulties with multidimensional tasks (especially those in which language is involved). These characteristics often become more pronounced around age 12, when the corpus callosum of children without ACC is almost fully developed. There is no specific treatment of ACC, however, through therapy and support, individuals with ACC can learn to live with their disorder and attempt to have as normal a life as possible.

 

More information on corpus callosum disorders:

http://www.nodcc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=27

 

Interesting video about a person born without a corpus callosum:

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

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Sleep is a phenomenon that has always interested me. About a year ago I saw a movie titled the Waking Life, a movie based on contemporary philosophy and random interesting conversations the main character has during a series of false awakenings and lucid dreams throughout a night. This concept fascinated me and I began to keep a dream journal to better understand my dreams. I also wrote a message in permanent marker on my mirror in my bathroom: "You are awake" This not only was funny to look at in the morning, but after a while it helped reduce my chance of waking from a false awakening.
 (The hardest part of lucid dreaming is not to immediately wake up once realizing one is dreaming. A common type of lucid dream is when you wake up and go through some normal routine until your alarm rings or something alerts you to the fact you are dreaming, and then the body reacts by immediately waking up. Writing that message allowed me to realize whether or not I had falsely awoken because if nothing was written on my mirror then I was actually not awake, hence the phrase.)
The practice of lucid dreaming is fun because not only does it allow control of your dreams, it allows "rational" waking self introspection on what is appearing in your dreams at the moment they occur as opposed to trying to interpret them after with hazy recollection. Another thing I realized was that color is a very obscure things in dreams, and many objects appear in impressionist style (at least for me)
The problem with dream analysis in a scientific way is the complete lack thereof objectivity. For example, if in a dream I am fleeing at any point, I take that to mean I am anxious, whereas the running away dream (a common archetypical dream) can also be taken to mean conflict.

The movie the Waking Life can be seen here, I highly recommend it though it is rather long (98 minutes)
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7583894250854515095

 When I was growing up I was surrounding by this thing called alcoholism. Mostly my male relatives always had a beer in hand when at family conjunctions. Closer to me though was my dad and he was the worst of them all. He started drinking in the morning and didn't stop till two a.m. Yeah I was a child during this but you'd be amazed with what all I did remember. I remember vividly the loud shout outs after I had gone to sleep and the crazy colored juke box always blaring. In the basement there was also a bar that when my friends came over we wouldn't play with dolls instead we would play bartender and drunken buyer. Our society has had a long intimate relationship with alcohol. Can you name one movie where alcohol is not shown or mentioned? The usual answer would be no because that's not just what I was raised with but what our society was as well.  Even music has been surrounded around alcohol for quite some time. In country it's whiskey and rum, rap it's the booze and babes that go together hand in hand to make their song to the billboards. Like Kenny Chesney says in his song "You and Tequila Make me Crazy"... while woman and tequila make him crazy, one is one to many but ONE MORE IS NEVER ENOUGH. What message is he putting out to the listeners? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8XkLrErSHw&ob=av2n

What about Tech Nine? In their song "Caribou Lou" they don't just give you directions to a strong drink but also giving you confidence that if you give this to a lady it might go somewhere. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P8JkaLN0ug&feature=fvst


Although many people believe that alcohol is a stimulant because the effects upon you include loud personality, increase talkativeness, and impair judgment. While in reality it is indeed a depressant causing more effects to the body than a good feeling for one night. Alcoholism is very easy to get caught up in as my dad did. Originally he started drinking to numb himself from the pain of losing my two little brothers to a miscarriage. Finally it got to be too much and my mom made him choose between us or the booze. He choose us and has been clean ever since. I couldn't be more proud of him and couldn't ask for more in a dad but I still have to watch my drinking just because of him. I have him as a red flag reminder and I'll never forget that.  

Assignment #2: Cold Readings & Scientific Thinking

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                Derren Brown is one of the more popular icons in British television today. He is best known for his seemingly psychic abilities in his TV show Trick of the Mind. Many of you may remember him from the video we watched in class recently. While Derren provides entertainment by baffling audiences around the world, he makes it clear to the viewer that his demonstrations are simply the result of trickery and psychology. He further notes things such as magic and psychic abilities probably don't exist, and are the result of similar techniques. One such technique, Cold Reading, is a favorite of phony psychics and mentalists.

                Cold Reading is a practice used to convince someone that you know much more about them than you actually do. According to Brown, It starts with vague statements that could apply to anyone (called Barnum Statements). A generic name, a place, or a popular event may be starting places. Next, the reader picks up on cues that one of their statements applies to a particular subject. The reader will then make educated guesses about the subject based on what they can see (race, gender, clothing, etc.). They quickly ignore missed guesses and emphasize the ones they got correct. The subject pays more attention to the "hits" rather than the "misses", and will respond to the cold reader by divulging more information about themselves. The end result is a person with the seemingly supernatural ability to know all about you despite never having met you before.

                In listening to Brown's explanation, I thought back to how we could use some of the six principles of scientific thinking to debunk psychic readings. For example, we could apply Occam's razor, which states that a simpler explanation may fit the data just as well. In others words, the fact that the cold reader is good at guessing your personal traits is a better explanation than ESP or other mystical powers. Another principal that could be used is extraordinary claims. This principal asks whether the evidence is a strong as the claim it supports. In regards to cold readings, semi-accurate details about a person isn't strong evidence for psychic ability.

 

Assignment 2: Studying human behavior

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In lecture we discussed the two basic approaches to studying human behavior. There is the descriptive (observational) method, which is non-manipulative, describing objects as we see them, and involves observing with no interference, surveys, and individual case studies. Also there was the experimental method in which the experimenter manipulates a subject to create a cause-effect relationship. In each of these methods there is pros and cons. However, of the two which do you believe is more effective?
smoking-child-200_sxL8p_16298.jpghttp://www.google.com/imgres?q=forcing+someone+to+smoke&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&biw=1439&bih=764&tbm=isch&tbnid=vqSjST9A4zLAnM:&imgrefurl=http://myhoustonmajic.com/news/kandieastman/woman-accused-of-forcing-son-to-smoke-in-lesson
Looking at the picture above, it seems so wrong to make a child smoke, but for experimenters that are able to find participants to participate in a manipulative study, the experimenters just want to get the data.
 For example, putting this in my life, my sister-in-law just had a baby and another woman I know, Jill, as well just had a baby in this past week it makes me think of both their lifestyles and how the baby will become when he/she grows up. My sister in law did not smoke during pregnancy, however, Jill did smoke during pregnancy, so now we want to determine if smoking had an effect on the baby when it grows up. Using the observational method we are only able to observe if smoking had an effect or not throughout the kids lives. This is a clean and ethical observation, but on only two mothers we would not be able to get much of an accurate result. So we decide to make this an experiment, and we find many pregnant women and assign half to smoke and half to not smoke during their pregnancy and then we observe the results of the children. This is a much easier way to find and get quick data, but it is not ethical because it would not be right to make mothers smoke while they are pregnant. Overall, while observing human behavior it is important that we think of the subjects well being and what is a more effective method, observational vs. experimental.
Through the experimental method it is easier to study human behavior because we are able to change situations to see what an outcome will bring, whereas in an observational study we wait for results, and we cannot tell if it was more than one variable that effected the outcome, however, an observational study is more ethical because there is nothing that is being changed. Think of a time you were in an experiment were you made to do something you did not feel comfortable doing or were you just being observed living your regular daily life style?

Caffeine and Sleep revised

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There are many factors, both internally and externally, that can influence the quality and quantity of sleep. Some of these factors include smoking, alcohol, stress, pain, caffeine, etc. The factor that I was intrigued by and wanted to learn more about was caffeine.

How does caffeine really affect the body and, more specifically, sleep? I have been very curious about the science behind this question. I have heard opposing hoaxes: 'Caffeine keeps you up all night; don't give it to children before bed!' or 'It's not caffeine that affects sleep, it's sugar.' From hearing these two different claims, I wasn't sure what I believed, because neither had any scientific information backing them up. This is why I decided to find out which claims were correct, by backing one claim up with proven scientific information, and being able to falsify the other.

After researching online, the following is what I found to be true from this video. We have many neurotransmitters that trigger the actions of our bodies. Adenosine is one neurotransmitter that promotes our bodies to sleep. It builds up in the brain during wakefulness and as levels increase, adenosine begins to inhibit brain cells that promote alertness. This is why we become tired after being awake for long hours at a time. Interestingly, caffeine works by temporarily blocking adenosine, thus, blocking the ability to sleep. Caffeine can keep one up for four to seven hours, and not only affects the length of time one continues to be awake, but also affects sleep itself. It causes one to get less deep sleep and will also cause one to wake up periodically during the night. From this I have learned and proved that caffeine does and will affect the ability to sleep. This information reveals the latter hoax to be false.

Extraordinary claims and Apophenia

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  While perusing Snoops.com I found an amusing article. The article from UPI.com, under it's odd news section had found an oddity on eBay. A man by the name of Jack Mord was selling an old photo. The strange thing was that the man in the photo resembles actor Nichols Cage. Since Nicolas-Cage-vampire-ebay.jpgthis photo was taken during the Civil War era, Jack concludes that this is proof that Cage is a vampire. In order to help support his claim he listed the price for this picture at an exorbitant 1 million dollars and said "Any serious potential buyer will be allowed to have a photo expert of their choice examine the original photograph before any money changes hands".
  As everyone who follows the 6 principles will know, this is an extraordinary claim. Does he offer extraordinary evidence to support this claim? Simply put, no, he doesn't The only evidence that he has supports only that the photo indeed originated from the Civil War era by a photographer by the name of Professor G.B. Smith. Another thing that may come into play here might be apophenia - the tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena. The phenomena, in this case, is that they look very similar, the man in the picture and Nicholas Cage. However I think that because our facial recognitions focus is on the similar parts of the facial features, it ignores the parts that are not similar.
  In all, I don't think that he is really trying to make anyone believe that this truly is Nicholas Cage, but rather to point out the striking similarity that they do have. This, along with a small story that made it go viral, is an attempt to make a large amount of money off of something that otherwise may be considered nearly worthless.

Extrodinary claims and Nicholas Cage

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     While perusing Snoops.com I found an amusing article. This article from UPI.com, under it's odd news section, is about a specific photo that was being sold on eBay. Jack Mord was selling the photo and decided to point out a major similarity in hopes that it would sell for a little more than normal. The strange thing was that the man in the photo highly resembles actor Nichols Cage. Since Nicolas-Cage-vampire-ebay.jpgthis photo was taken during the Civil War era, Jack came to the conclusion that this is proof that Cage is a vampire. In order to help support his claim he listed the price for this picture at an exorbitant 1 million dollars and said "Any serious potential buyer will be allowed to have a photo expert of their choice examine the original photograph before any money changes hands".

     As anyone, especially those who follows the 6 principles of scientific thinking, will know, this is an extraordinary claim. Does he offer extraordinary evidence to support this claim? Simply put, no, he does not The available evidence only supports that the photo originated from the Civil War era by a photographer by the name of Professor G.B. Smith. Apophenia may come into play here - the tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena. The phenomena, in this case, is that certain features look very similar between the man in the picture and Nicholas Cage. However, just because our facial recognitions focus is on the similar parts of their facial features, it ignores the parts that are not similar.

     I don't think that he is really trying to make anyone believe that this truly is Nicholas Cage, but rather to point out the striking similarity that they do have. This, along with a small story that made it go viral, is an attempt to make a large amount of money off of something that otherwise may be considered nearly worthless.

Dreams: Harmless or Parasitical? (revised)

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       I have always been puzzled by the fact that on frequent occasions, having just awoken from a sufficiently long night of sleep, I have found that I feel just as exhausted as I did the night before. Considering a susceptibility to dreams of mine (I often experience and remember multiple dreams each night), I concluded that perhaps a negative correlation exists between the frequency and intensity of dreams, and the amount of mental rest gained during sleep. It seemed logical to me to infer that since dreaming is a mental and emotional process, it must require mental and emotional energy to produce--energy that should be being replenished for the upcoming day. If sleep is supposed to be a time for the brain to down-shift and recollect itself, why would it trouble itself with processing artificial and typically meaningless scenarios?

sleepy brain.gif

       While exploring this possible relationship, I did a double take. I had failed to apply an important principle of scientific thinking: correlation versus causation. Given my frequent dreaming and seemingly unwarranted feelings of exhaustion, common sense caused me to jump to the conclusion that the correlation indicated a causal relationship. I had forgotten the advice of our textbook, which says, "the fact that two variables are correlated doesn't necessarily mean that one causes the other (Lilienfield 23)". Perhaps a third variable such as a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, which would account for the tiredness in the morning, is to blame--and the exhaustion and frequent dreaming are unrelated.           

        Though my initial theory remains unresolved, the application of scientific thinking principles has brought to light a noteworthy consideration: perhaps the proposed relationship was not an indication that one caused the other, but rather that the two are both results of a third variable. What could this variable be?

Lead Poisoning: Is it really the cause of delinquency?

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https://moodle.umn.edu/mod/resource/view.php?id=1387695 (graphs 18 and 19) and the whole Lead part.

Here Is a link to graphs I that we came across in class in my Global Environment class. The topic of lead was brought up in this class.

Everyone knows that the amount of lead in your blood stream is a very dangerous thing to have in very high concentrations in your body. As it has been shown to cause many detrimental problems, one such thing that was brought up was that lead in your blood stream correlates with violence seen in society. As you look at the link I provided and look at the graphs under the "lead" portion, you may see why they have came up with these conclusions. However, the graphs are maybe not as accurate as they may have seemed to be at first. For one, it shows that African Americans have a substantially higher amount of lead in their bloodstream than white people. Another graph on this link shows that the poverty rates at the lower tercile of society have also been shown to have higher rates of lead in their blood stream. These results show the stereotypical findings that African Americans and poor people have higher crime rates than white people who have money, and they have been shown to have high amounts of lead in their bloodstreams.

            When looking at these graphs it may seem astounding, but does the correlations represented shown here seem to be the right causation, or is this a nature vs. nurture situation? I feel the environment had a way higher affect on the amount of violence then the lead. The correlations provided show crime as in terms of lead blood level concentration, but they do not grasp the fact that more crime occurs anyways within populations of poverty and there is more violence as well accumulated with poorer parts of society. The rival hypothesis I bring to attention is that it would make more sense that lead isn't the cause of poor black people causing crimes, but that people were going to commit these acts anyways by growing up in the environment they were born into. 

references: www.moodle.com

www.wikipedia.com

 Lilienfeld,Scott,Steven Lynn,Laura Namy, and Nancy Woolf. Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding. Second ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2010. Print.



Narcolepsy

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I found this video of a narcoleptic dog, maybe you guys have seen it before, it is quite popular.  This week in discussion we were discussing stages of consciousness, we didn't get to talk about different sleep disorders, but it is within the chapter.  Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder in which people experience sudden episodes of sleep.  Narcolepsy is especially unique because usually it takes an hour or longer after we fall asleep to enter REM sleep (or dream sleep), but those with narcolepsy fall into this sleep automatically during their episodes.  No matter how hard they try to stay awake they can't.
 What caught my eye about this video is that the narcoleptic dog is a medical mystery to it's family and the doctors that he has been to.  But from reading our psychology book it explains that narcolepsy can be caused by a couple of reasons, including genetic abnormalities and sometimes from brain damage caused by an accident.  It also explains that the hormone orexin plays an important role in triggering attacks of sleepiness. Those with narcolepsy have few brain cells that produce this hormone. It really is amazing that people with this sleep disorder physically cannot keep themselves awake, as if their body just shuts down and their muscles go limp.  There is a picture showing a dog with narcolepsy in the book and it shows similar symptoms to the dog in this video.  It made me wonder, if dogs are capable of narcolepsy just like humans, then why is it such a medical marvel in this case?  If it is very similar symptoms between humans and dogs with narcolepsy, and human treatments improve those symptoms, why don't they work with dogs or why haven't they made one for dogs?

Here is the link to the video: watch[1]     (Hold ctrl and click)
URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0h2nleWTwI


Assignment #2: Senasation & Perception

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An example of phi phenomenon

         A topic that has interested me over the past couple weeks has been the topic of sensation and perception.   Sensation is the detection of physical energy by sense organs, which then send information to the brain. Perception is the brains interpretation of raw sensory inputs.  So it basically sensation happens (touching or looking at something for example) and then your brain attempts to make sense of that information which is perception.  In general Sensation is the first step in the process and Perception is the last, and there are other steps in between like transduction. 
        What I found most interesting about this topic was the part on illusions.  Illusions are when the way way we percieve something does not match the physical reality.  The interesting thing about illusions is that they are not always bad.  An example in my opinion would be the phi phenomenon.  Which is when we percieve movement from succesive images (frozen images at a certain speed).  This illusion is very is very useful in our daily lifes.  It is useful when we watch videos or read signs with moving (we percieve it to be) text.  This is one of many examples of where illusions can actually be beneficial.  This illusion allows us to make movies and cartoons, and since are brain in not able to process all the individual still images it percieves motion.



I recently stumbled upon an article at Labspaces.net that outlined a study at John Hopkins University. The study consisted of subjects taking a hallucinogen which then caused their personalities to drastically change permanently. My first reaction was intrest but as I read through the study I began to think about the subjects, who were described as "Psychologically Healthy" and more than half had post graduate degrees. These people have unknowingly altered their personalities forever. What happens when due to this change they no longer get along with their spouse or significant other? What if their job performance decreases, or they become so close-minded that the life they have built up doesn't seem applicable to their thinking anymore? All of these questions flooded my head as I read this article. Although the drug may have a great amount of usage in the future of treating depression due to cancer diagnosis or curing addiction, these subjects do not have those ailments and were perfectly fine before the study. I am sure that John Hopkins followed the ethics codes and let the subjects know they were in an experiment, but not for what and what the lasting effets could be. So although all the ethics codes were followed, was this an ethically correct way to perform this study? It is obviously an effective way but is changing the 51 unknowing subjects personalities worth the possibility of using this illegal drug as a treatment in the future? I don't believe it is, and I believe what they did in this study is unforgivable.

The Following is the link to the article:

Assignment #2-The Need for replicability in science

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                Our world is governed by the laws of the past.  Albert Einstein was one of the greatest physicists our world has ever known.  His laws are still used to this day to explain relativistic physics.  However, a recent experiment has been conducted that could possibly disprove one of Einstein's greatest concepts.  Einstein has stated that nothing can move faster than the speed of light.  In an article published in the Washington post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/neutrinos-may-have-traveled-faster-than-the-speed-of-light/2011/09/23/gIQAo04HqK_blog.html ), a group of European scientists have completed an experiment to see how a fast a particle, called the neutrino, can travel.  Based on their results they have said that neutrinos can travel faster than light.  Could this mean that our world of physics could be changed forever as we know it?

                If there is one thing we can say about science, it's that nothing is set in stone.  However, we must also remember that just because a group of scientists have come to a conclusion doesn't mean that it must be considered fact by everyone.  One criteria of critical thinking that we have discussed in Psychology is that experiments need to be replicable.  It's hard for us to consider something as fact or for everyone to accept, if only a few can come to the same conclusion.  This part of critical thinking has become an issue for the scientists at the CERN facility. 

                This experiment with neutrinos has been done before in Chicago in the fermilab facility, where they came to the same results.  However on future analysis these results were proven to be false.  So it is possible that this CERN experiment could very well be proven false after closer analysis is made.  Our foundation of science has come so far since the ancient days of Greeks, the laws concluded by Johannes Kepler and even Albert Einstein himself.  Perhaps this is the next step in our understanding of science and our world of physics could be changed forever.                     

OBE - Reality Wonders

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Insidious-Movie1.jpg"There is no brain damage that we've detected. Technically, yes, he's in a coma. He doesn't react to stimuli. He has no sleep-wake cycle. But there's no brain trauma or infection. His scans are all normal. To be honest, I've never seen anything like it," quoted Dr. Sercarz, who was an actor in the 2011 movie Insidious.

How many of you have seen the movie Insidious? Frankly, I just watched it about a month ago, and it really got me questioning the reality of dreams, the spiritual world, and what happens at night while I'm sleeping.

Insidious displayed a topic that was in our psychology textbook --> out-of-body experience, or OBE for short. According to the Lilienfeld textbook, an out-of-body experience is an extraordinary sense of our consciousness leaving our body. Surprisingly, it's a common experience for people. Many people have reported that when they had an OBE, they were floating above their bodies, watching themselves calmly. In other cases, there were also reports of other unusual experiences such as hallucinations, strange body sensations, and lucid dreams. 

The same thing happened to the main character in Insidious. Dalton, the main character, was in a coma. He was actually experiencing an OBE, but his parents didn't believe him when he explained to them that sometimes he would find himself floating above his own body and would wander around at night and come back to this body later on before morning. But one night, he couldn't find his way back to his body, and that's what caused him to go into the coma. I don't want to spoil the movie for you, so you should definitely watch it.

I believe that the concept of having an OBE is relevantly important to psychology to continue studying about because it has a connection to our consciousness. In my opinion, studying the human consciousness is difficult and complicated, but it's worth the while to learn new discoveries. Even though studies have shown to falsify the claim of the human consciousness floating freely outside of the human body, those who experience it say otherwise.

I would still like to challenge the question of having an out-of-body experience. Does our consciousness actually leave our solid body without having real acknowledgement or proven evidence, or what else lurks at night while we're sleeping? 

You should watch Insidious as a fun and exciting experience that clashes psychological concepts and realistic fiction into an extraordinary terrifying movie that will leave you with many more questions and wonders like it did to me.



Psychology and Architecture

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When designing a building, architects need to consider psychological questions in order to better accommodate the occupants and the processes involved in the structure. These ten questions below posed by Maria Lehman delineate some philosophical ideals that should be considered during the design process.

1.     How do you get your occupants attention?

2.     What will occupants remember most about this design?

3.     How will this architecture impact their real-time experiences?

4.     Is this architectural environment coherent?

5.     Can this architectural environment be explored?

6.     Will occupants enjoy the variety and complexity of this design?

7.     Does my design promote opportunities for occupant discovery?

8.     Can occupants manage and escape from stress in this environment?

9.     Does my design promote healthy social interactions?

10        10.  Is there a sense of community fostered in this architecture?

http://sensingarchitecture.com/1456/environmental-psychology-what-every-architect-should-ask-themselves/

By realizing how much the designed environment can impact a human being, architects can then employ design elements to essentially control the experiences of the buildings. An example of the covert power design has over humans is the Panopticon jail. The cells are located on the outer edge of the building, arranged in a circular plan, many stories high. In the center, there is a tower where one guard can sit and have a panoramic view of the entire jail--able to see each cell. The prisoners experience a psychological problem; they feel like they are always being watched. It's human nature to despise that feeling. The ingenious design displays how architectural design can have quite an influence over people. It is ironic that prisoners in this jail had a higher rate of suicide than those in normal prisons. The elimination of privacy causes prisoners to go crazy. There are many examples of how architectural designs have an impact on the behaviors and experiences of the occupants. Architects need to embrace this, not take advantage of this power.

Image of Panopticon: http://www.thinkingshop.com/AIP/ethics/images/Benthampanopticon9-22-02.jpg

Being Crazy Is Noisy

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For those not familiar with website stumbleupon.com, it is a sort of search engine in which the user selects from a wide variety of personal interests, and the engine takes the user to various web pages based on those interests. It is a great way to pass the time and even learn more about things you may have never heard of before. Stumbling through my 'psychology' interests, I came across a very interesting article about a man who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, chronic depression and chronic anxiety.

John Sterns, the author and subject of the article, talks about his many difficulties he faces in life. Schizoaffective disorder, according to John, is a co-diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In my high school psychology class and even a little bit in this semester's course, we've talked about disorders, hallucinations, and other disorders related to the brain. What's really refreshing about this article, is the fact that it is written through the eyes of one of these patients and how his disorders impact his life. It's a breath of fresh air seeing the more "human" side to psychology.


Since John was four years old (he is now in his forties), he's heard voices (auditory hallucinations) in his head that tell him to do rather disturbing and hateful demands. Most of the voices tell him to kill himself or attempt to influence him that he shouldn't be alive. He mainly talks about one particular stay in a mental hospital and his difficulties finding any meaning or purpose in an art therapy class. Although he never really personally cared for any of his work, it was the hope and determination to return to his wife and son that really pushed him. Despite his still frequent hallucinations and thoughts of suicide, he "passed" his class and was moved to an open ward so that he may see his family.


I found some comfort, as well as distress in this article. Coming from a rather large skeptic of the scientific community, again, I found this article incredibly refreshing. As helpful as medication and therapy can be to those with serious mental illnesses, it can only do so much. It was Sterns' inspiring inner strive to be with his family again that got him through his stay in the hospital. If you read on to the comments section below the article, you can see just how inspiring this man is to those with other mental illnesses and disorders. A lot of these other readers say how they no longer felt alone after reading the article and praised Sterns for his brevity.

Dreaming -- Blog Post 2

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Dreaming 

The concept of consciousness, especially sleep and dreaming is very intriguing to me. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams revealed hidden wishes and desires. He described dreams as the guardians (protectors) of sleep. During sleep, the ego, which acts as a sort of mental censor, is less able than when awake to keep sexual and aggressive instincts at bay by repressing them. If not for dreams, these instincts would bubble up, disturbing sleep. Freud distinguished between the details of the dream itself, which he called the manifest content, and its true, hidden meaning, which he called the latent content.

He wrote a book, The Interpretation of Dreams, describing all aspects of dreaming, including psychological characteristics of a dream, moral sense in dreams, dreaming and its functions, etc. When I was younger, I got a version of this book for my birthday that included common themes for dreams and described what they meant. It was so fun to wake up in the morning, remember my dreams, and try and figure out what they meant. Of course, a lot of dreams we have are about everyday life situations, like taking a test, going shopping, running into someone you know, etc. But some dreams, likely occurring in the REM stage of sleep, are mystical and frankly, weird. Sigmund Freud believed these types of dreams symbolized our hidden wishes and desires.

Most of the time, I don't remember my dreams when I wake in the morning. If I do, I find that the most common dreams include something chasing me, being placed in another culture, or hanging out with my sister. According to dreamsymbolism.info, dreams about being chased can have several meanings. If you feel under pressure, inhibited or singled out in any way then you feel you will feel that people are chasing you. If your not accepted or being blamed then you will feel a similar sensation. Also, dreaming about a sister can symbolize emotional openness. Obviously, these dream interpretations are no way 100% accurate. There isn't a way to figure out what our subconscious is thinking and processing while we're asleep. However, it is entertaining and fun to read about dreams and try and guess what they mean.

After learning more about consciousness and dreaming in this class, I was even more intrigued. There are more things I want to explore regarding this topic and more things I still have questions about. For example, why do we sleep? Why do we dream? What do dreams really mean?

 

 

6 Ways to Save your Memory

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Have you ever walked into a room and immediately forgotten why you were there? Or completely forgotten the name of someone who just introduced themselves to you? Memory is a big part of our lives that fades as we age. But this doesn't necessarily have to happen to all of us! Although genetics is a huge component of our developing diseases like dementia or Alzheimer's, studies have shown that living a healthy lifestyle and challenging our mind can decreases the risk of memory loss. Here are 6 ways to save your memory:

1. Get Active - Research has shown that people who work out- especially light working out like walking - have better memory than people who are inactive. A recent study found that exercise counteracts the brain from shrinking due to age. The older subjects who exercised gained two percent of their brain volume while the non-exercisers lost brain tissue.

2. Eat your Fruits and Veggies - Fruits and Veggies contain loads of healthy vitamins for us but they also contain a lot of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Since oxidative stress and inflammation are thought to be involved in dementia, these food groups can help with controlling memory loss.

3. Reduce your Risk Factors for Heart Disease - By exercising and controlling your diet you decrease your risk for heart disease which has been linked to dementia.

4. Got Culture? - Being open to new ideas and being curious leads to a stronger mental activity. Those who participate in cultural activities and reading have been shown to have a delay in dementia.

5. Brush your Teeth -Going to the dentist actually does pay off! Twin studies have found that the twin with more tooth loss have a higher increase of having dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

6. Got a Difficult Job? Perfect!- Having a stressful job dealing with people boosts your mental activity which helps prevent memory loss. Jobs that deal with persuasion, mentoring, instruction, and supervision have been shown to protect memory.

The Psychology of Dexter

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"Dexter" is a popular TV show based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay. The namesake of the show, Dexter Morgan, is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department, who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer.  After watching the last episode, I began to wonder. What makes this show so enjoyable? Is it mildly disturbing that I enjoy this so much? Probably, but, I am not alone. 
I came across this article from Psychology Today which I think, describes this phenomena very well. According to Burkley, Dexter and other famous killers are so exciting to us, "normal" people, because it gives us a chance to see something usually kept behind closed doors (or behind an air conditioner). Another interesting topic she brought up was that of "successful psychopaths". Not much is known about these types of psychopaths, because by the definition of successful, they have kept their psychopathy a dark secret. Which in turn, leads to her conclusion, that any one of us could be the next Dexter...

Sleep

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 In class this week we discussed sleep. We conducted surveys to look at the correlation between sleep and other factors such as, gender and number of credits a student is taking. There was no correlation between the number of credits a student is taking and the amount of time they sleep. I believe that everyone needs a different amount of sleep. Sleep is very important. There are many health risks associated with sleep deprivation. The article below discusses a few of the health risks.

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/not-enough-sleep-7-serious-health-risks

Assignment #2 Consciousness - Toan Chu

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The concept of consciousness refers to an individuals awareness of awareness, thoughts, memories, feelings, emotions, and sensations. Our conscious experiences are always changing in ways that seem effortless and smooth. Early psychologists in the structuralism branch and cognitive psychology studied consciousness by analyzing experiences, thoughts and sensation through a process known as introspection. There are many aspects to the study of consciousness; sleep, dreams, and hypnosis are only a few. These are actually altered states of consciousness since most of the time we can't control or are not aware of what we are dreaming or doing when in an altered state of consciousness. When we are in the altered states, our perceptual, cognitive and sensation abilities change.

 The concept of Consciousness is important in psychology because it allows us to think about how our minds work when we are awake and aware, or how our cognition is different when we are sleeping or in a trance of hypnosis. This concept allows us to think about how our thought processes work, or how sometimes we ponder about what we think about, if that makes any sense. This concept applies to our everyday lives and decisions we make. We may not be aware of all the decisions we make during that time but we always look back and think about why we made that decision. This shows our awareness of consciousness. 

This is an interesting collaboration of videos describing consciousness, some of them confusing, some of them makes sense. It depends on how well we understand consciousness or how aware we are of this concept. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ud1id81apiQ


Mary Jane and Me - Redo

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marijuana-06.jpgFeeling drowsy, hungry or an out-of-this-world experience?  Well you just might be high.  This "high" feeling could have been the result of the marijuana you just smoked, more specifically the THC found in that weed that just entered your bloodstream.  Let's explore more about what marijuana is, shall we?  Marijuana also called, Mary Jane, weed, bud, kush and many other names is one of many psychedelic drugs that can produce altered perceptions of reality, changes in mood as well as other effects.  The main ingredient in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol otherwise known as THC.  THC travels from your lungs which then passes into your bloodstream and makes its way to your brain which contains cannabinoid receptors that are stimulated and then create a plethora of cellular reactions.  The reactions then result in external reactions such as increased hunger, enhanced sensations, and exaggerated emotions.
Marijuana also has more detrimental effects especially at higher doses resulting in increased heart rate which can put users at a higher risk of heart attack.  Marijuana use also causes more damage to brain cells when compared to other drugs such as tobacco.  The brains interpretation of signals is also altered which causes poorer judgement.  THC in marijuana interferes with neural communications causing them to react in different manners, in some cases the opposite of what they are triggered to do.  When marijuana affects your memory, usually short-term memory, the THC ingested affects the way your hippocampus interprets information it receives which then results in information being lost.  Along with THC, marijuana contains 400 chemicals of which 60 are cannabinoids.  All the studies that have uncovered the effects of marijuana have lead to it being banned in the United States and it seems that won't be overturned for quite some time.

Other information regarding effects of marijuana:

Testimonial of ex-marijuna user:


Sources: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1808

Sleep Debt and Gender

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  As a college student, sleep debt is nothing new to me. A busy, demanding school and work week can lead to this condition, which develops when an adequate amount of sleep is not continually met. When the condition worsens, a variety of mental and physical problems can arise. According to this article, teenagers generally require about nine hours of sleep, while adults require slightly less, about seven to eight hours of sleep. Of course, individual needs can fluctuate, according to different factors like personal schedule, food and metabolism, and environmental factors. The typical way that most people cope with sleep debt is to find time for additional hours of make-up sleep, usually on the weekend, but that doesn't always solve the problem.
    A new factor to consider, especially when coping with sleep debt, is the relation between gender and sleep. In a study where gender differences and deep sleep were being examined, women fared better with mild sleep deprivation during a work week. After two nights of make-up sleep, these women also seemed to recover better. This could suggest that even if women don't get the required amount of sleep a night, but at least experience some deep sleep during the night, they may fare better and perhaps a little longer under mild sleep debt than men do.
    I would like to see more studies addressing the relationship with deep sleep, sleep debt, and gender. Do men and women have drastically different or relatively similar sleep patterns? How long is the average time of deep sleep needed to cope well with the average case of mild sleep deprivation? The answers to these questions may explain how to sleep "smarter" instead of longer for each gender to recover from sleep debt.


Internet article: http://blog.cncahealth.com/post/2011/06/21/Chances-of-Recovering-from-Sleep-Debt-Linked-to-Gender.aspx

Sleep All About It

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This week in discussion we talked about sleep.  I became very interested in this and thought about what happens on other college campuses and with the general public.  There's a professor at Stanford University named William Dement MD PHD who teaches a seminar on sleep and dreams once a year.  He wrote an article called "What all undergraduates should know about how their sleeping lives affect their waking lives".  This title caught my eye right away, because it is true, not many college students really know what it's like to be on their own and responsible for their own sleep habits.  The idea present in this article is that incoming students are told about nutrition and physical activity but not many are told about sleep.  I thought this was interesting and wondered why that was the case, because I believe that sleep is just as important as anything else.  I understand that this article was written in 1997 and so things have changed since then, but as a college freshman I don't see very many people making sure that they are getting adequate sleep.

sleep.gif One of the main points from this article that I thought was interesting was that "Drowsiness is a red alert!"  Many people don't realize that drowsiness is the last step before sleep, and take this warning for granted.  This is especially important for commuter students who have had a long day of classes and are now behind the wheel of a car.  They probably think that it doesn't matter than they are tired and just try to stay awake the whole way home.  But as stated in this article 55% of fatalities from drowsy drivers occur under the age of 25.  You only have to fall asleep once to become part of that 55%.  In the end I believe that students need to be more informed on sleep and what it really does with your body.

http://www.stanford.edu/~dement/sleepless.html

Why Rest?

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During discussion this week we talked about sleep deprivation. After becoming interested in this topic I did a little more research and found an excerpt called "Why We Don't "Get" Rest" which was published on October 6, 2011 by Matthew J. Edlund, M.D.  in his book The Power of Rest . From this excerpt I learned how important rest really is.

 

Sleeping is only one form of resting, although it is probably the most important form of rest. Resting like napping in the middle of the day, or just lounging around doing "nothing" is seen as lazy to most of our society. Yet when we are resting our body is enormously active. When you're sleeping you're also entirely rewiring your brain by making new neural pathways, slowing down existing pathways, or ending others. You're also learning, remembering, and thinking out new responses to problems. You're remaking your athletic capabilities by renewing and remaking your bones and muscles, as well as rapidly growing new skin, much faster than when you're awake.


Another extreme example of why we need rest is because the pumping proteins in your heart, according to Ana Maria Cuervo of Albert Einstein Medical College, are made, used, repaired, pulped, and recycled inside 60-90 minutes. This is an amazing feat that would be impossible without rest. Rest is ultimately a means to live. Click here if you want to learn more about rest and what it means for you then follow this link and happy resting! 

Assignment #2-Learning Process

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Everyone learns in a completely different ways.  Some people are visual learners and need to see what is being presented to them.  Others are physical and need to touch and do something to remember while others are verbal learners.    Children with developmental disorders such as autism learn and develop in different ways than other children. It is much harder for children with autism to learn effectively because a major symptom of autism is the inability to communicate.  Communication is key to learning process. 

Tradition methods of teaching children with autism include, "one-on-one therapy or tutoring sessions outside of the mainstream classroom or, alternatively, a program, class or school purely for children with disabilities."  However a new school of thought is being introduced.  In an article done by the Washington times, "Inclusion in school requires a shift in the paradigm; instead of getting the child ready for the regular class, the regular class gets ready for the child, says Beth Pellowitz, a special education teacher and co-founder of Give Autism Hope, a nonprofit organization founded with the mission of opening an inclusive school in Alexandria. It is about being included in life and participating as a member of the community."  I believe that this thought process is a better way of going about things.  What kid wants to be in a segregated school with only other autistic children?  Being around only autistic children could limit their ability to enhance their communication skills since the surrounding children have bad communication skills themselves.  By putting them into the community they have more chances to learn and grow.  It may be harder at times for regular classes, but the children without the disorders learn empathy and how to get along with other children.

 In conclusion children with autism should not be excluded from daily classes in a regular school.  Being in these classes will allow them to learn better how to interact with their peers and become better communicators then relying solely on one-on-one tutoring. 


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/13/schools-fight-autism/?page=all

Nature vs. Nurture Debate

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One of the topics that we have gone over in great detail in discussion is nature vs. nurture. This is a topic that catches my interest because it is hard to determine how much of each subject creates the characteristics of a person. I am a biology major and throughout the classes I have taken/ am taking, we have gone in depth about different genetics and cell biology. Throughout the courses, nature vs. nurture has been slightly touched on, but once again there was no solid agreements or facts. I decided for this blog entry I would try and research more substantial evidence or opinions. I was quite frustrated when I did not find many. I came across this article (At-Risk Children and Teens:Nature vs. Nurture) that discusses different theories about nature and nurture in criminals, specifically their upbringing or genetic tendencies. This paper did not have any conclusive ending to it, like I was looking for, but the ending or it sort of summed up my frustration with the topic. Mauro, the author, said, "It's just a hunch, but I believe that when we uniformly decide to make these choices for our children I'll need to find a new specialty," this meant to me that in her mind (as well in mine) that there will never be a definite answer to many nature vs. nurture debates.

Occam's Razor and Advertising (Assignment #2)

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As we finished up our first exam this week, I noticed one of the six principles of scientific thinking while watching all the commercials on T.V. nowadays.  It intrigued me how many different ways companies advertise and try to sell their own product. I noticed usually the most successful advertisements were one that included Occam's razor. In psychology Occam's razor is basically described as the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. 

http://www.sitepronews.com/2010/09/16/occams-razor-solves-marketing-misinformation/

Inside this article the author Jerry Bader talks about how Occam's razor can be applied into advertising. He talks about how some companies overdue their advertisements, when really they just need to simplify them.

 "To paraphrase Ockham, features or options must not be multiplied beyond what it takes to get an order."

 He also goes in depth in talking about how companies should focus on the emotional benefits of their product compared to new features and options. Using emotional benefits as the focus for advertising is a simple approach to selling a product because everyone can relate to emotions, as we are all human beings.  In the article Bader talks about how Old Spice used this to their advantage. "... but the one thing that actually drove its success was the emotional value proposition - Old Spice will make you more attractive to women, and sex is one" Connecting to people on the emotional level maybe simply over looked a majority of the time but in this case it worked extremely well, needless to say without any flashy new features or options. So next time when you have the impulse to buy a new product, ask yourself did they use your emotions to get the sale?

LSD and the Salem Witch Trials

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Article: http://www.hbci.com/~wenonah/history/ergot.htm
I'm guessing we've all heard of the Salem Witch Trials. Several girls in the town of Salem accused many of the town of being witches or wizards. Many were killed either through torture of hanging. It has long been debated as to why this occurred. It was probably influenced by the Church movement of the time. But at the same time, one wonders, how were those girls able to keep up their story of seeing witches and evil so constantly? The answer may be ergot poisoning. Ergot poisoning is very similar to LSD, a psychedelic drug that causes hallucinations. In fact, ergot alkaloid ergotamine, the substance that causes ergot poisoning, was a precursor to LSD, a more refined and concentrated version of the ergot alkaloid ergotamine.

The Salem witch trials began when several of the girls in the town, including the pastor's own daughter, came down with an unknown illness. The girls suffered from "delirium, violent conclusions, incomprehensible speech, trance-like states, and odd skin sensations." These symptoms are surprisingly similar to the symptoms of ergot poisoning, which cause "violent muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions, hallucinations, crawling sensations on the skin, and a host of other symptoms." In addition, the young are most susceptible to it. The chance of catching the illness was increased if one was a girl, because they handled most of the bread making.The ergot poisoning was spread through rye and other grains. Hence why all the 'victims' of the Salem Witch Trials were young girls.

It is likely that the Salem Witch Trials were instigated by the ergot poisoning. However, just like in the nature and nurture debate, the ergot poisoning couldn't have accounted for all of the events of the Salem Witch Trials. It is possible that once the girls began accusing people of being witches, they couldn't stop, for fear of their own lives. The nature was the fact that there had been ergot poisoning in the town and it had seriously affected the young girls. But the nurture was that it was continued, even after the girls were better from the poisoning.


Confirmation Bias - Nicole Louden

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I believe confirmation bias is one of the most important concepts that we have learned about thus far. Confirmation bias is a description of how we as humans always think what we believe is the "right" answer and what others believe is wrong. We think this because we intentionally don't seek out the evidence that contradicts our side and supports the other side's beliefs. According to Lilienfeld, we "deny, dismiss, and distort evidence" that doesn't support our beliefs (8). This is a very important concept because it is a part of our everyday lives. We are subjects to confirmation bias very regularly and this can affect how we make our day to day decisions about pretty much everything.

An example of confirmation bias from my life is when I am taking exams - even the psychology exam we took this week. When reading a question that I don't know, I will randomly select an answer that pops out at me. Then I proceed to write down any information I remember that supports this answer; this is my way of talking myself into thinking I have picked the right answer. I don't look at the other answers and try to prove these answers correct. I certainly disregard any information that pops into my head saying that my answer could potentially be wrong.  I believe my answer is correct and remember evidence that supports my answer, not evidence that supports a different answer.

Here is a fun YouTube video that provides us with another example of confirmation bias. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZrRW6z7XUQ> The "banker" believes that if this woman is a doctor, she must have money; however, we see that this is not the case in the video. A mistake like this is very crucial and could be detrimental to the banking company she works for. Do people notice that they are falling victim to confirmation bias? I can definitely tell when I am doing it on my exams, but what about other parts of my life? What I am still wondering about is how can we break the habit of believing only what we think is right and disregarding other information?

 

References:

Cline, Austin. "Flaws in Reasoning and Arguments: Confirmation Bias." About.com. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 7 Oct 2011.

Lilienfeld, Scott. Pyschology - From Inquiry to Understanding. Custom Edition for the University of Minnesota. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Print.

 

The Interpretation of Dreams

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As the textbook clearly states, sleep is a really large part of human life, and during that time, dreams tend to occur.  The peoples of the world have had very different views and ideas about what dreams are and why they occur since the beginning of humanity.  However, there are now just a few theories in psychology today that are considered relevant or are not outright rejected.  Why is it, then, that many people still have a fascination with dreams?  Why does the average human often believe their dreams can be interpreted?  Although this idea cannot be explained by any of the current possible explanations, it did exist at one point, and was suggested by Sigmund Freud.  Feud suggested that dreams are a sort of mental protection, and that they are heavily encrypted.  Even though this is no longer a popular scientific believe, the thought that dreams represent deeper cognitive meanings and require interpretation has never faded.  An example of this is the large number of dream interpretation website, such as http://www.dreamforth.com, and the huge number of books written on the topic.  These writings preach the idea that certain symbols represent an area of stress or emotional importance in a persons life.  For example, a dream about drowning "indicates that you are investing too much in some situation that you cannot control" whereas having a dream about a snake "implies that you are afraid and anxious about some issue in your life (dreamforth.com)." 

            It seems that this is also a good example of pseudoscience: even with no scientific evidence to back up the idea of dream interpretation and with a few alternate theories for why dreams occur and hat they mean, such as the activation synthesis theory, it is still a widely held belief that many people subscribe to. 

dream-interpretation-zzz.jpg

 

Synapses/How Drugs Work

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Synapses/How Drugs Work

The important psychology concept I want to highlight is synapses and how drugs work. From my understanding, a synapse is communication between neurons. There is a nerve impulse in which neurotransmitter molecules bind to the receptor molecules. Ions, made of sodium or chloride, pass through the channels, which generates a small electrical current that spreads along cell membrane. The current can be negative or positive, which either encourages a nerve impulse or inhibits the cell making firing less likely. The neurotransmitter molecules are then recaptured by the presynaptic cell. If the sum of synaptic currents exceeds a certain threshold, a nerve impulse will be generated. Each neurotransmitter acts on multiple receptors and has different effects depending on which receptor is activated. Synapses are a very important and fundamental concept to psychology because many psychological disorders are caused by dysfunctional synapses and imbalances of neurotransmitters. There are many antidepressants on the market that help regulate amounts of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. They also regulate synapses, either causing them to fire or preventing them from firing, whichever is applicable to the patients disorder. I am eager to learn more about psychological disorders and how these drugs work. As I was learning about this concept, a few questions came to me. First, how much of an electrical current is going on in our brain? It seems mind-blowing that we have electricity flowing inside our heads. Also, why don't some drugs work for people? Some patients still have problems with psychological disorders even if they are on antidepressants. Are these medicines not developed enough yet? I came across a YouTube video that helped me understand the concept of synapses a little better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2tMBHdx--ZI The girl that explain neurotransmitters and synapses did it with interesting pictures, and her accent was cool too. I think this video solidified the concept of synapses for me.  I am excited to learn more about synapses, drugs, and psychological disorders. 

Bogle Family continued?

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After reading the story about the Bogle family and their history of violence and aggression, I was interesting into digging deeper into their story. I thought about each family member, and I wondered if maybe a few were different than the rest, I wondered if they were embarrassed. It also got me wondering if maybe there are similar situations like this elsewhere. So I investigated the other Bogle family a little bit more, searched for a similar story, and took a deeper dive into the psychology aspect of this mess.

First of all I wonder if knowing a little more about psychology could better my understanding about this family. I know that the environment these family members grow up in plays a huge role, but I wonder if there's anything else. Is there something similar in their brains that causes them all to have aggression? From what I understand about family studies in psychology, the researchers examine how a certain trait or characteristic runs in the family. The family members are raised in the same home, therefore they come accustomed to the violent actions. But what else is there?  Is it attributable to their genes at all? How can that many family members in a long history of the family name "Bogle" all be violent? It just seems so bizarre.

I found an article about Chris Brown, the famous R&B singer, after he was imprisoned for abusing his girlfriend, another famous R&B singer Rihanna.  After being interviewed he explained that after growing up with a step dad who continuously abused his mother, he became accustomed to it. He had hate for him, but after speaking to his mother, she wouldn't leave him even though she was getting hurt.  So his violence was said to be a "learned behavior" from growing up in his mothers house. He went to get help for it because professionals said it could be "unlearned." Chris Brown article

I wonder if the Bogle family could have gotten some help with their problems, if they wanted it of course.  Can this behavior learned from living with family members be unlearned?







psychology 1001 Blog Post #1 (attempt to post 2)

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Aspartame: A Not so Harmful Drug and Its Correlation with Psychology


As we have all been lead to believe previously that aspartame carries many negative health effects, this belief is more than urban legend. After much dispute and debate the FDA has declared that aspartame does not cause any health problems as they are aware. Previously many have come to believe that aspartame causes anything from MS to Gulf War syndrome and brain tumors. The problem with this statement hear is the word "causes" which brings us to one of the six principles of scientific or critical thinking. Correlation does not prove causation. Although many people with any of the  accused health problems may drink their favorite cola two or three times daily which would cause a correlation between health problems and cola drinking this does not however prove that one causes another. This is because there are many lurking variables such as lifestyle age genetics or gender that may have contributed in the development of their health problems. And so with so many variables and confounding factors its impossible to say that any single one caused the other.

Another way to think about it is through the lens of falsibility. Can this claim really be disproven? Since so many factors go into what causes someone to have health problems how can an effective experimental design be developed in order to disprove it. It would be a very difficult task to prove that the one exactly caused the other. 

The principle which is most useful for evaluating this particular claim is the causation is not proven by correlation. 

The website I was www.snopes.com

aspartame-poison.jpg

ASSIGNMENT #1

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© Photodisc / Thinkstock

                Sometimes it's hard for us to see enjoyment or worth in our lives.  With all of the activities we have lined up in a day, it's important to have fun in the mix.  For myself and many others, I spend free time playing video games.  A lot of people ask why people play video games.  Why would you put hundreds of hours into staring at a video screen?  An article by the KTTC news center talks about research that discusses the point that people play video games to live the life of a person or character they would want to be in an ideal world (http://www.kttc.com/story/15229602/trying-out-new-identities-key-to-video-games-appeal-study).  The study involved asking people who put hundreds of hours into video why they were determined to play video games.  We all still have our childhood memories trapped inside of us that want us to fly off or do something amazing that we can't do on our own.

                Studying how or why people play video games is an interesting topic.  There are many different things that can be researched on this topic.  With our new knowledge of the importance of designing a well-controlled study, it was interesting to evaluate this article for what it was lacking!  For instance, the study doesn't mention what types of games the children played or the ages of the children.  I can imagine that different ages of children or teenagers would have different answers to this question.  As well as different gamers who play online games or console games may have differing opinions on why they play.  Of course no study is perfect, but I am surprised that they didn't mention that some people just play the video games for fun.

                I feel that video games have so much to offer us that many other activities don't.  For instance, I play video games after a long day of school work because it's so easy to do; whereas many other activities can take quite a bit of energy to accomplish.  Also, the many different types of genre for games are so broad that anyone who wants to can find something to play.  I felt if everyone gave video games a chance, we all would play video games.  People should start appreciating the many benefits that video games contribute to millions of lives.  Don't you think?

       

Super Senses

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While driving to my grandma's house this weekend a DJ on the radio station I was listening to said a celebrity that was pregnant had a heightened sense of smell since being pregnant, which got me thinking about chapter four in our psychology book and how when a person is blind their sense of hearing could become more vigilant. If one of our senses starts to lose its full potential does it automatically mean that one of our other senses will become a super sense?

Dr. Bradley Voytek, from the University of California, Berkeley, seems to think humans have the ability to develop super senses. According to Voytex, humans have super senses we just do not use our senses to their full potential. In order to make our senses become super senses we need to give our full attention to the one specific sense, which is overwhelming for most people.

Voytex has studied individuals who have lost a sense and have shown spectacular increases in the use of their other senses. Ben Underwood and Terry Garrett are two men who have lost their eye sight, but have gained a super sense of hearing. Both men can play video games just based on sound alone, and Underwood is able to skateboard and roller blade using echolocation, the use of clicking sounds to navigate.

Voytex's research gives insight into the idea of bringing out our dormant super senses that lie within. I do not know about others, but I feel it would be fantastic to be able to have a super hearing sense.

http://www.newsytype.com/6372-human-super-senses/

Assignment 1 (HA I FINALLY FIGURED OUT THE SITE!)

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 Earlier we talked about nature vs nurture, probably one of the most famous debates of all time. Nature vs Nurture is an on going debate on whether or not people's personalities are more influenced by their genetics or their upbringings. This debate seems to have no end in sight but both sides seem to agree that both of these factors contribute to the make up of a person.  We try to answer this question by observing different types of upbringings from a variety of genetic backgrounds. One way of studying this is to observe a family over time and see how they act and who they are as a person, however this has a big flaw as everybody will have the same environment and very similar genetics. A second way is to observe twins as they are genetically identical and can attribute any differences to their environment. Third is observing how an adopted child acts. This one is the most interesting because the person we observe will grow up in an environment with no knowledge of the genetic parents lifestyle and can give good answers as to what traits we pick up from the people around us and those we have encoded in our DNA.  In fact a good example of this would be my brother and my self. We both had the same mother and grew up in exactly the same way, but our genetic fathers were different. He ended up as a factory worker with a substance habit and I am a psych student at the University of Minnesota.  Make of it what you will but I am on the genetic side of this argument.

Assignment 1--lipstick

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http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/lipstick.asp
This article states that women swallow approximately 6 pounds of lipstick in their lifetime. This is untrue. However, you would have to use 454 to 1,512 tubs of lipstick (see calculations in article). The problem with this claim is that it is to falsifiable. There are many contributing factors to weight gain and to determine it's source to be a single thing is impossible. Not to mention weight varies greatly simply throughout the day. A lifetime is also a very long time to monitor someone's lipstick application amounts as well as their weight. Therefore, you cannot test this hypothesis with experimentation. This also seems to be an extraordinary claim. Someone using that much lipstick in their lifetime seems like an absurdly large usage amount. I do not see how anyone can believe this statement. 

Facial feedback hypothesis

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Facial feedback hypothese focuses on whether the facial muscles affect the humor ratings. Before the test, students are told to put the pens in mouths but to hold them in different ways. One way is hold it with lips, another is biting the pen horizontally with the teeth. For this research, independent variable is facial expression and how funny students thought the cartoon is. Dependent variable is the extent of the humor.

The facial feedback hypothesis claims relevant facial movement can influence emotional experience. The students who is biting the pens horizontally are actually forced to use face muscles that they might use to smile. While holding the pens with lips, this would prevent to use the smiling miscles, which might affect the humor ratings. Indeed, most emotions are associated with some facial expressions. However, we cannot just simply conclude that making some relevant smiling faces will cause the different ratings of humors. The relationship between the facial expressions and emotions is not causation but correlation.

There may be some other rival elements that will influence the humor ratings. For example, when we are doing this experiment with a group of people, we may be influenced by other students. Because they may laugh before you which might make you laugh even you don't think the cartoon is funny. Besides, as a international student, there is some cartoons I cannot understand, I will just choose zero no matter what kind of facial expression I am. So I would suggest the research group can just set a rule that this research just allows american or change the content of the text into multiple languages.

Midgy Santana Assignment 1

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article: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/10percent.asp

So, in the first couple weeks of class we talked about causation vs. correlation. It's pretty much just because two things are associated with each other does not mean that one causes the other. So if two things that are unrelated seem to correlate, then there is probably a third variable.

Correlation vs. causation would be like saying I didn't do my homework this weekend because I was back in my hometown. That is assuming I just didn't have time to do my homework, but really I just procrastinated.

The article I read was about your brain and how you only use ten percent of it. Lots of psychics claim that they can use the other part that isn't being used to like, tell the future or whatever. That is just crazy! If the other 90% of your brain was used to be psychic, I guess we all can be psychic because we all use a lot more than 10% of our brain everyday. How can someone actually believe that only a tenth of your brain gets used?

brain.png



We all learned in chapter three that our brain has different parts for different actions or functions, so it would be pretty hard to use all of them at the same time, right? Here is a guy explaining more in depth how this myth is false.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=anmYBpWxxag

Now, don't you think you have used more of your brain today than the myth says?



Amanda Sjolseth assignment1 Pareidolia

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          Pareidolia is one of the most intriguing concepts that I found in the first three chapters, because it can be very subjective. Pareidolia is the tendency of people to find patterns or meanings where none exists. We can notices examples when a news station reports that someone found a face in their morning toast, and also in UFO sightings. In some cases, the media can cause people to see these patterns, and/or exaggerate the claims. People can see in the media what the main characteristics of UFOs that are sighted are, and then when they see a stimulus of a flashing light, they are likely to assume that it is from a UFO. 
         Pareidolia also explains the tendency of people to make things they see to seem like them rather than truly as they are. Every child has found a face, object, or person in cumulous clouds, and many adults say they've found faces in their toast, car, and many other fixtures. It is possible that seeing faces in furniture brings us comfort, by seeing something familiar and relatable.

Clean slate or genetically determined?

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The debate of Nature vs. Nurture is a question that people are curious about, but, at the same time, could be troublesome if answered. In the 1960s, identical twins born in New York City, Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein, were separated at birth as part of a Nature vs. Nurture study. The study followed the twins until it ended in 1980. A year later, New York City required that adoption agencies keep siblings together. Peter Neubauer, a child psychiatrist who headed the study, felt that a majority of the public opinion would be against the study. Thus, he decided not to publish the findings, but, instead, locked it away at Yale University until 2066.

The results of a single study, that is very unlikely to ever be replicated again, but may shed some insight on the Nature vs. Nurture debate, lies in waiting for another 55 years. I would like to mention that this is only one case study that is very difficult to replicate. As much as people's curiosity hunger for an answer about what determines who they are, the reliability of this one study may not be a fitting generalization to the rest of the world. Also, some questions are sometimes best left unanswered.

The reason why answering the Nature vs. Nurture question could be troublesome is if it leaned more to one side than the other. Depending on which side is more dominant, people would either have to come to the realization that they must deal with the cards they are dealt, good or bad--nature--or that they have complete responsibility for who they become--nurture.

I would like to attribute some, not all, of my good qualities as hereditary from my parents, because I also have two other brothers and would be comforted to know we are not all destined to have the same strengths and weaknesses. Instead, I would prefer being mostly unique from each other in traits and capabilities.


-There is no gene for the human spirit.

Article Source:

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

Picture Source:

http://mr-l-science9.wikispaces.com/Gattaca+Nature+vs.+Nurture

Heuristics and Biases: How We Are Fooled - Dan Hodac

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Heuristics are a type of mental shortcut that people use to simplify information harvested from our surroundings. Scientists have identified several kinds of heuristics including (but not limited to) Representativeness Heuristics and Availability Heuristics. This concept can be found in chapter 2 of the Lilienfeld text book. The reason why our brains use heuristics is because it will conserve mental energy (which our body does naturally) if we simplify the information that we intake from the world.

Ever since watching the "Witch Village" video from the movie Monty Python in the lecture, it has really stuck with me. It just baffled me that people could be so ignorant. Even though it was just a movie, the idea behind this scene can be applied to our world.


I believe that the concept of Heuristics is important because our society keeps telling us to not "judge a book by its cover." But after learning about heuristics, it seems that our brain does this naturally. So to what extent is it alright for us to "judge a book by its cover", especially if we have mentally evolved (stance is one is a functionalist) to do so naturally. 

Going back to the "Witch Village" video, the mob firmly believes that the woman they wish to burn is a witch! Their justification for this is that she fits their heuristics for what a witch should look like, or in their words "She looks like one." They classify her as such because she dresses like one, she has a long pointed nose, wears a pointed hat, possesses magical powers, and weighs as much as a duck. This makes me ask myself more question, how would we know when our heuristics are wrong? Are they more wrong than right? Should we live our lives vigilantly trying to protect ourselves from our heuristics (because society tells us to). 

The principle that I believe to be the most useful for the evaluation of this claim would be Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is because although the theory that the woman is a witch is one that goes against what society would consider normal, and thus the proof required to determine that the woman is a witch should be much more thorough and have extraordinary evidence instead of simply weighing the woman. 

Assignment 1

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As we grow up, we look at our parents and think," God, I hope I don't turn into my mom/dad." But what ends up happening in most cases, we do turn out just like them. This "phenomenon" refers back to the idea of nature vs. nurture. According to the Lilienfeld text, (Lilienfeld 115). 60 percent of our traits are from our genes, and 40 percent is due to our environment. But how do we determine which traits are from our genes or environment?


         Modern Family is my favorite television show. It is about three families, who are all related in some sort of way, and their family dysfunctions. In this particular episode, it is filled with possible traits that have been passed from parents, to their kids. One example is Claire, her brother Mitch, and her father Jay, went out of their way to prove that they were right in a certain situation. Since Mitch and Claire are Jay's biological children, we can have an argument whether this was genetic or environment. 
          Two examples of when traits were clearly due to environment was 1) when Manny "stole" the girl's necklace. Though his mother raised him to be smart and polite, etc. He grew up (at first) in a very poor neighborhood in the cities. He could have picked up the idea of stealing. And the second example of when the environment developed the trait, was Lily and her sharing problem. She was adopted by Cam and Mitch, and had developed a bit of a sharing problem. Which her preschool teacher had mentioned most kids get from other kids or their parents. 
         Each of these traits could have developed due to genetics or environment. But how are we truly able to tell which it is? Which is why i believe the discussion of nature vs. nurture isn't a "big" topic in the psychological community.

CNigh_Asgn1_01.jpgWhen I was younger, just before I woke up from sleep completely, I would sometimes get the sensation that someone or something was holding my chest down or sitting on top of me.  Of course I never shared this experience with anyone -- thinking it was weird or unusual.  Matter-of-fact, it wasn't until I recently heard a caller on 101.3 describe the same sensation that I finally admitted to anyone that I had experienced this before.  A guest psychic on the radio show described this sensation as a visitation from a demon!?

It turns out ~20% of people experience the same thing!  This sensation is medically known as "sleep paralysis" and it is correlated with a premature gain of consciousness before the completion of a REM cycle.  During REM sleep motor neurons are not activated and the body is in a state of paralysis. People often experience dreaming during this period (as a natural result of their REM sleep), while simultaneously being conscious and feeling paralyzed.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis for more info.

Many institutions, however, including the Spiritual Science Research Foundations (SSRF), insist that these sensations are result of spiritual phenomenon.  Folklore actually blamed this experience on a supernatural relative of the werewolf, called the "Mare", which sat on the chests of sleepers.  Dr. Samuel Johnson thus birthed the term "Night-Mare". 

The SSRF offers interesting statistics on Sleep Paralysis, in attempt to legitimize spiritual claims.  This may well be a good example of "confirmation bias".  Check out their pie chart attempting to describe the breakdown of the origin of sleep paralysis.  They link over 60% of sleep paralysis to supernatural influences, and insist that only a person with an activated "sixth sense" could discern the true origin of sleep paralysis.

View image

Another figure the SSRF offers is the one pictured below.  It would be interesting to read how this data was gathered. 

CNigh_Asgn1_03.jpgPerhaps this figure suggests a strong correlation -- if the data is actually acquired in a legitimate fashion.  It would be interesting to see a replication of this experiment.  Regardless, from class we know correlation does not necessarily mean causation.

More info on SSRF can be found: here.

As most things in life, it's difficult to segregate physical, psychological and spiritual phenomenon.







Nature vs. Nurture Debate

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One idea or topic that I found interesting over the past couple weeks was the nature vs. nurture debate. The nature vs. nurture debate tries to answer the question, how are we physiologically shaped, by our genes (nature) or by our environment (nurture)? I find this topic to be important because many people want to know why we act the way we do, and whether it's our genes or our environmental surroundings that affect it. One specific study that I think can help us understand the nature vs. nurture debate a little better is the twin study.

 

The most common twin study that I found through research is the one of Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein. Bernstein and Schein were part of a secret study in the 1960's and 70's that separated the identical twins at birth. Their behavior was then monitored throughout the following years. It wasn't until the mid 2000's that they were reunited and told of about the secret study. Although they noticed some similarities in the two women, the official results are held at Yale University until 2066. The twin study is a good study to use in this case. Obviously with identical twins, their genes are going to be very similar but it's the environment they grew up in at separation that we want to look at and determine whether it affects how they are shaped. Many people believe that nature and nurture both play a role in how we are shaped.

 

I think one principle we can use to evaluate this claim is replicability. Does the study need to be replicated with more identical twins separated at birth to get a definite answer on whether it's nature or nurture that shapes us? One question I have for when the results come out in 2066 is: Will there be more differences than similarities between the two women that will contradict evidence in the nature vs. nurture debate? Or which factor, genes, environment, or both will be most noticeable in the results?

 

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

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

The Great Debate: Free Will and Determinism

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Screen Shot 2011-10-01 at 8.07.32 PM.pngOne of the great debates of psychology is the free will and determinism debate. This debate presents the following question: To what extent are our behaviors freely selected rather than caused by factors outside of our control? Freedom of choice is one of the most important of human rights, especially in a country like America. But are we really choosing our actions or is everything already determined for us? There are psychologists that agree everyone has free will, but many others maintain that our free will is just an illusion. 


Determinists believe that our actions are caused by preceding influences. Even if there are seemingly two or more possible outcomes in a situation, there is really only one, which is determined by everything that came before it. Simply put, everything we do is a result of what we did before, not a result of free will. Everything that will happen in the future is unalterable, and so are all the things that have happened in the past. Although this may sound outrageous, it is quite logical. If you knocked down the first domino in the picture below, would the rest fall as well? If you answered yes then you are correct. You also admitted that the first domino determined what happened to the following dominoes. So how can we have free will when the rest of the world is deterministic? Psychologists argue that our sense of free will stems from the fact that we aren't consciously aware of the thousands of environmental influences that determine our behavior. 



Nature/ Nurture

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           In discussion class, nature vs. nurture was one of the topics that interested me the most because it made me think about my family tree and how everyone turns out the way they are. After reading the "Bogle Family, a multi-generation clan," I decided to focus on this topic.  I observed my family tree and my fiancée's family tree and compare them to see if it's more of nature or nurture. After my observation I think that it's more of nurture because I was exposed to second hand smoking and drinkers and I had done neither of them because my father quit smoking and drinking less. But my fiancée was exposed to smoking and drinking and he does both, which his father had quit smoking but still drinks. The other thing is that his older siblings all smoke and drink. We both came from a father who drinks and smoke and a mother who don't drink or smoke. About the same genes but we turn out two different ways because of our nurture.

            I also observed my son and his close cousins because they are all exposed to the same environment. As I watch my son grow with his three other cousins he is different from them because of how I nurture him. The other parents yelled at their child to command them to do things or let them do whatever they pleased. The child turns out to be commanding, yells a lot, hit others, and don't like to share. As for my son I taught him to share, ask nicely, time out, and no hitting since he was nine months and now four. Some of the parents' also smokes and are drinkers. I decided to ask their children that, "when they grow up are they going to smoke and drink?" and two of girls respond, "Yes." and both are exposed more to second hand smoking and alcohol than the other two children. I think that a positive nurture will make a person think positive by guiding them but they will still have the negative nature in them. 

Somatosensory System - Assignment #1 - By Pat Bodnia

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A topic that I found very interesting was the Somatosensory System. This is a great topic to discuss because i believe that many of us have experienced pain and have physically touch things, but we don't understand and know how we are able to do so. This system is about how we sense touch, pain, and temperature. The process that occurs in this system starts out when information from touch, temperature and pain stimuli travel in our somatic nerves before entering the spinal cord. After activating spinal reflexes, it eventually travels upward through the stem and thalamus to reach the somatosensory cortex. Information about touch travels more quickly than pain stimuli. Many of you may have experienced this sensation when you stub your toe for example. You may hit your toe against the wall and than you finally feel pain a few seconds later.


ACL Bro.jpg

 

A specific real life experience that relates to this topic is when I had ACL reconstruction surgery last June. Obviously this system was in work after the surgery because i experienced a severe amount of pain coming from my right knee area. But what i found even more interesting was the fact that i had no feeling in an area of the right part of my knee. I found out that this was due to the fact that nerves were cut during the surgery. Nerves serve as connections between you spinal cord and brain and to the rest of your body. So because of the fact that these nerves were cut their is no way that signals relating to touch or pain that i get in this area can be detected. To this day i still have no feeling in that small area of my knee.

 

Regarding the Somatosensory System there is a myth that when you get a "brain freeze" your brain literally freezes. This is false. What actually happens is that a constriction of blood vessels occurs in the roof of our mouths due to cold temperatures and therefore, through this system, causes pain.

 

Question :  Why and how do people develop pain insensitivity?



Assignment #1: Witchcraft and Scientific Thinking

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According to Jesse Blumberg of the Smithsonian Media, "the Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft-the Devil's magic- and 20 were executed." The Devil was blamed for things that could not be explained; a majority of the time there were clear explanations. The suspected witches, a majority of whom were women, suffered public hangings, being stoned to death as well as other types of torcher due the era's religious extremism.

The first accounts of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials were that of 2 young girls, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams. The girls were said to have been having unexplained fits, local doctors diagnosed their fits as caused by demonic possession. Not knowing who to blame the townspeople blamed the possessions on a local slave, Tituba, for witchcraft and attracting the girls with stories of sexual encounters with demons.

First of all, these claims were not falsifiable, according to the principles of scientific thinking for a claim/theory to be meaningful it has to be falsifiable or it would be impossible to test. How would you test for demonic possession using science? Not only are the claims not falsifiable, but these extraordinary claims are not backed up with concrete evidence. Unexplained "fits" cannot support such claims as demonic possession. The principle of parsimony states that the simplest explanation usually does a good job accounting for the evidence. If these girls were diagnosed by doctors today it would have been obvious that they were suffering from epilepsy.


 Ken San Juan

Assignment #1 - Samantha Chan

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The placebo effect is where one finds a reaction to something that should have no result, our minds just make us believe that there was a result. In this article provided by ABC News, they found that there have been lasting effects of a placebo that should not have occurred.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Depression/story?id=117057&page=1

In normal placebo/non-placebo studies, there have been people that reacted to the placebo. For most, the placebo will have a short term effect due to the fact that psychologically, some humans will feel a reaction to a placebo. What researchers are finding is that there have been a couple cases where the effects have lasted long term. Normally, effects will occur, and within a short amount of time, the original symptoms will occur again, hence the placebo. Individuals undergoing this lasting effect of the placebo are currently being examined for causes of this placebo. Researchers are implementing imaging testings for these individuals. They may potentially need additional therapy.

Ethical Experimentation - Dave Xue (Assignment #1)

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Vaccines cause autism. If you've heard this statement recently, it's probably because of the recent social movement incited by Jenny McCarthy, to warn of the dangers of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. The vaccine in question does not actually cause autism, and studies done by various scientific organizations have shown that no such relationship exists.

                This story came to mind when we were reading through chapter two in the Lelienfeld text. The text focused on experimental design and evaluating scientific findings, and stressed the importance of differentiating between a study and an experiment. To paraphrase, an experiment is comprised of two core components: random assignment and manipulation of an independent variable. Random assignment is the process of distributing experimental subjects into groups. An independent variable is the variable that is altered by the experimenter to elicit a change in the dependent variable (wich is then measured and recorded).

                Thinking back to Jenny McCarthy case, I remember repeatedly hearing about a study that "proved" that vaccines can cause autism in infants. This seemed worthwhile to investigate, and a simple Google search revealed that the study was horribly constructed and later retracted by the medical journal where it was initially published. The leading researcher, Andrew Wakefield, was found to have skewed his research methods and findings in order to support his platform that vaccines were dangerous. Presumably, this same platform, would lead to a profitable business in diagnosing patients with autism. It was also revealed that Wakefield performed several needless invasive procedures on his subjects without the required ethical approval of an institutional review board.

Needless to say, Wakefield has been publically denounced for his actions, and May 24, 2010 he was stricken off the UK medical register. His actions demonstrate the importance of constructing a solid experiment, with strict adherence to ethical guidelines and the basic requirements of scientific research.

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003673,00.html

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-02-02/health/lancet.retraction.autism_1_andrew-wakefield-mmr-vaccine-and-autism-general-medical-council?_s=PM:HEALTH

Assignment #1 Nicole Dailey

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The Dangers of Pseudoscience

In the first Chapter of the Lilienfeld text pseudoscience was examined. Pseudoscience are claims that seem to be scientific but actually are not. Pseudoscience claims are not metaphysical claims that can not be tested, but claims that are not free from biases and belief perseverance.  There are three warning signs to pseudoscience, the first is ad hoc immunizing hypotheses. This is simply using a loophole to avoid having the pseudoscience be disregarded, an explanation if others disprove the theory. A second is lack of self-correction. Pesudoscience often is not updated by their reporters even if new claims that go against the pseudoscience is discovered. Another sign of pseudosicence is evidence that is backed up often by anecdotal claims. This evidence is not scientific and is often dramatic.

Pseudoscience can be very dangerous. If we don't think critically about a claim we can fall pray to its dangerous either indirectly or directly. We can indirectly be effected by missing out on a claim that could have actually helped us while we were engaged in pseudoscience. in the mean time our condition could very well be getting worse. But pseudoscience can also directly harm us. No persons should be involved in medical or psychological treatment that is not backed up with actual scientific evidence. For this reason the knowledge of pseudoscience and its warning signs are very important.

It took only a few minutes for me to find a claim that stuck me as pseudoscience. The title reads, "Light Therapy for Depression". http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/LightTherapy.htm

Light therapy, as it claims, can cure seasonal depression just as well as patients on an anti-depressant. My initial thought to this was if it worked that well why wasn't everyone using light boxes? One reason that seems obvious to me is because most research has been inconclusive. But the researchers, of course, have a reason to explain this. They claim that you can't have a control group because they will just "sneak" in extra sunlight without meaning to. This simplification for being unable to test seriously a claim that can fix something so serious is an example of ad hoc immunizing hypothesis. Using light therapy or any therapy that hasn't been tested and retested could result in a dangerous outcome.

Not to my surprise, the article was updated two years later with examples of dangers that light therapy holds. The list is long but some examples are eye damage, macular degeneration, mania and suicide in extreme cases.

     I grew up with ADHD, which created many problems in school and social relationships.  Psychologists were familiar to me, both at school and at family counseling, because it seemed the people in my life needed to learn how to deal with a challenging child.  I was intrigued by our textbook's handling of the subject matter, which is located in the section about the Reticular Activating System (RAS).  I was surprised to see that the psychological community had located some of the problems within the brain in ADHD sufferers, because when I was young, they had opinions and ideas, but no concrete proof for what happens inside brains like mine.

     Our textbook says that "ADHD is marked by inattention, overactivity, and impulsivity" (Lilienfeld 100).  Most people know of Ritalin, a name brand for methylphenidate, and perhaps they've heard of it in a less than flattering light.  It's often the subject of drug abuse discussions, because it is a powerful stimulant for the common brain, but it has the opposite effect in an ADHD brain.  It creates order out of disorder, clears away background distraction, or as the textbooks says, it appears "to increase the signal-to-noise ratio in the prefrontal cortex,"  (Lilienfeld 100-101).  It was a very effective treatment for me, and it changed my life.

     I found a blog post that tells what it feels like to be diagnosed, learn that your forgetfulness and failures may have a cause, and then suddenly experience relief thanks to the wonder of pharmacology.  However, sometimes there are reasons that require a person to stop taking medications, and I had to learn how to cope with my ADHD without the aid of a stimulant pill.  I still struggle with it every day, but I'm happy to say that I've been able to succeed without medication.  I'm not the only one either, this article talks about a multimodal approach to overcoming ADHD struggles, including parenting skills training, behavior therapy, monitoring, organizational skills, etc.  I was able to find a way to overcome (in my opinion) a disorder that was debilitating for me as a child, first with and eventually without medication.  The big question I have is this: If I was able to learn how to manage my ADHD without medication by simply focusing on "mind over matter," what does that mean biologically?  Does that mean a person is able to retrain his/her brain to function in a different way?  If ADHD is known to be centered in a malfunction of the RAS, how is it possible to change the function of an actual body part?

-Renae Roehl

Ideomotor Effect

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The Ideomotor effect was presented through a story about a young girl with Infantile Autism.  Autism is a neurological disorder that causes the inflicted persons to have deficits in social interaction and behavior. The treatment consisted of the application of facilitated communication which is based on the idea that autism is a motor disorder rather than a neurological disorder or mental retardation. A proctor held the hands of the child with Autism on the computer keyboard. The idea was with the help of the proctor's support of their hands, the child would be able to type. The treatment had amazing results but the treatment was a short-lived excitement for the Storch family when Jenny started to type allegations of sexual abuse. After further investigation, researchers found that after they tested the methods of facilitated communication thoroughly, they found the proctors were inadvertently typing the messages themselves. This is the Ideomotor Effect. This entire story is really important to me because my brother was also diagnosed with infantile autism, and I understand the need to know that they love you. The Ideomotor effect makes me curious about how a similar theory could be applied to things such as Hypnotherapy and the retrieval of lost or buried memories. So instead of the effect being physical movement of a hand, it is the mental persuasion of words or images that convince a patient or a patient's family of something horrible. Below is a link to an interview with someone who was told she recovered memories and the horrible things she had done in her past that she had no recollection of. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRW-m_8nZzw
 

Illusory Correlation, My Experience.

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