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PSYC 1001, Week 1 and 2

by: Hayley Seal

PSYC 1001, Week 1 and 2 PSYC 1001

Hayley Seal
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About this Document

These notes cover classes from January 12 through January 21.
General Psychology
Ramezan Dowlati
Class Notes




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hayley Seal on Thursday January 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC 1001 at George Washington University taught by Ramezan Dowlati in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see General Psychology in Psychlogy at George Washington University.


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Date Created: 01/21/16
PSYC 1001 Dr. Ramezan Dowlati Class Notes for January 12-January 21 The Birth of Modern Psychology (January 12)  Aristotle’s psychology was based mostly on reasoning and writing, not scientific experiments  Wilhelm Wundt helped make psychology a science in 1879 when he added 2 key elements: o Carefully measured observations o Scientific experiments o His 1879 experiment involved measuring the time it took for people to ring a bell when they saw/heard a ball drop to the ground  Sensory and perception (psychoscience) were studied by Edward Titchener using introspection: self-reporting on sensations and other elements of experience such as pain o Considered non-objective and non-reliable today o Based on structuralism: studying the structure of the mind  Functionalism: studying the function of the mind o Introduced by the William James, the father of American psychology  Difference between structuralism and functionalism: chair example o Structure of a chair is a seat and 4 legs o Function of a chair is an object used to sit on o Both are correct but the functional definition is much easier to understand and identify th  Shifting definition of psychology with the start of the 20 century o 19 century studied consciousness (Wundt and Titchener) th o Sigmund Freud in the early 20 century shifted to unconsciousness (psychoanalysis) o John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner thought that neither consciousness nor unconsciousness could be measured, observed, or experimented on; instead introduced behaviorism  Behaviorism is an attempt to simplify psychology by studying behavior  Idea that all behavior is learned  No belief in instincts o Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers introduced humanism (humanistic psychology)  Optimistic focus on human potential  Idea that life can be consciously managed  Importance of self: self-actualization, self-worth, self-control Research Methods (January 14)  Goal of research is to find or disprove something, or to test “common sense psychology”  Descriptive methods: used to find the average by collecting data o Ability to compare different groups o No need to control the environment or situation or predict an outcome o Case study examines one individual or group in depth  Cannot be used to generalize about an entire population  In the medical field, case studies can work for generalizing because everyone’s bodies are the same (relatively)  However, human behavior and mind cannot be generalized  Can open the door to a new area of research if it describes something new and allows for further research to be conducted o Naturalistic observations provide natural or “organic” data without manipulation of the environment/situation  Desire to know “real” life or behavior  Realistically, mostly babies and animals are studied because permission is required to record someone’s behavior (i.e. with a camera)  Cons of naturalistic observation: not necessarily a random sample of the population, cannot control for variables, each situation is unique, and it is very time consuming o Surveys and interviews are the most common in social sciences because they easily produce mass data  Need for random sampling and careful wording to get best/most accurate results  Results can be engineered by wording questions in a certain way  Correlation technique goes beyond description to allow prediction o Correlation is not causation; causation could go either way (A causes B or B causes A) or there could be a 3 factor that causes them both (C causes B and A)  Example: murder rates increase as ice cream sales increase (they are correlated) but both are related to summer, not each other o Strength of a correlation is based on absolute value of the correlation coefficient (both -1.00 and +1.00 are the strongest possible correlation while the weakest is 0.00) o Range, especially of age, is important when predicting and examining correlations  Lines on graphs/trends can’t necessarily be extrapolated to include other ages/groups  Experimentation allows description, prediction, and control of variables o This is the only research method that shows causal relationships o Cause is the independent variable, effect is the dependent variable, and other factors are controlled (constant) o Manipulation of the independent variable and measurement of the dependent variable o Random sampling is the best way to get a representative sample of the population and random assignment is used to divide research groups equally o Placebos are used for the control group to avoid the placebo effect, where a false drug can work based on expectations alone (mental state can affect behavioral results) o Double-blind procedure eliminates bias: neither participants nor data collectors know who is getting which variable or who receives what The Nervous System (January 19)  Nerve cells (neurons) serve for communication; they are specialized cells that are extended to pass information along o Cell body = main part of the cell that performs housekeeping o Dendrites = hand-like extensions that receive messages/signals or external stimuli o Axon = passes messages to other neurons, muscles, or glands; covered with a fatty tissue called a myelin sheath that helps direct neural impulses so they go where they need to go  Glial cells are support cells for neurons that produce the myelin sheath  Neurons only understand electrochemical language; the job of organs like the eye is to translate (transduce) sensory signals into electrochemical language o Action potential means the neuron is firing o Resting potential is when the neuron is not firing o All-or-none response means the neurons are either firing or not firing; there is no in between o During resting potential, the outside of the neuron is positively charged and the inside is negatively charged  during action potential, positively charged ions flow through the neuron to the inside so that the charges outside and inside the neuron are equal  the refractory period is when the positive ions are pumped back outside to “recharge” the neuron and return it to resting potential so that it is ready for another action potential o Electrical signals for neuron transmission must be of a minimum strength (threshold)  Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that transmit messages from the end of one neuron to another since they don’t touch o They are found in sacs inside the neuron and they flow through fluid between neurons, called the synapse or synaptic gap o Receptor sites on receiving neurons can bind with some neurotransmitters but not all; neurotransmitters are keys and receptor sites are locks o Reuptake is when neurotransmitters return to the neuron after they are released – they don’t stay at the receptor site for long o Drugs are designed to stimulate neurotransmitters, block receptor sites, or block reuptake  Agonist = drug that stimulates a neurotransmitter  Antagonist = drug that calms/discourages neurotransmitters  Examples of neurotransmitters: o Dopamine: excess is associated with schizophrenia and shortage is associated with Parkinson’s disease o Serotonin: shortage is associated with depression o Endorphins: natural painkillers produced by the brain  Intake of outside endorphins (morphine, heroin, etc.) causes decrease of natural production of endorphins, which is why it is painful to stop taking painkillers  The endocrine system is another form of communication within the body o Glands and hormones work in coordination with the nervous system; the pituitary gland sits inside the brain next to the hypothalamus o Includes thyroid, pancreas (produces insulin), and adrenal glands, which are fat tissues on top of kidneys that secrete epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) o Sexual hormones include testosterone from testes and estrogen and progesterone from ovaries  Difference between the nervous and endocrine systems: o Hormones travel through cardiovascular system (released into bloodstream)  Blood tests can show hormones but not neurotransmitters o Nervous system is faster than endocrine system because blood travels slower than neurotransmitters o Hormones are good for actions that can be planned/require decisions or decision- making (reflexes) The Nervous System, continued (January 21)  Mind-body interaction = there is a need to study the body in order to study human mind and behavior, even though mind cannot be reduced to solely biological functions  Central nervous system is the center of command and location  Peripheral nervous system is divided into somatic and autonomic nervous systems o Autonomic nervous system is divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which are involved in fight or flight response  They work in opposition because of limited blood flow in the body; sympathetic brings blood flow to muscles for movement and parasympathetic brings blood flow back into internal organs for rest/calm  Sympathetic nervous system activates adrenal gland which is stimulated to secrete adrenaline/epinephrine o Some parts of the body have/need more sensitivity than others  Ex. Tip of finger is more sensitive than back  Brain service to body is distributed by function, not size/square inch  The brain accounts for 2% of body weight and uses 20% of energy (primarily glucose) o In newborn babies, brain accounts for a much larger percentage of body weight and energy o The brain is developed enough after 22 weeks in utero to control the body (autonomic functions)  Scientists can selectively destroy or electrically, chemically, or magnetically stimulate the brain o Historically the EEG (electroecephalagram) came first o Followed by MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which shows bad tissue in the brain o fMRI (functional MRI) can detect which parts of the brain are used for which functions by taking a series of successive pictures o PET (positron emission tomography) scan is more advanced; a machine detects energy emitted by ingested radioactive glucose to see distribution/concentration of blood flow in the brain o CAT (computer assisted tomography) scan uses x-rays; less used today because of danger associated with x-rays Brain Anatomy (January 21)  Brainstem is an extension of the spine that performs vital, lower functions o Medulla controls heartbeat and breathing o Thalamus directs sensory messages (everything except smell) to cortex and transmits replies to the cerebellum and medulla; like a switchboard for sensory messages  Cerebellum controls voluntary movement, balance  Limbic system controls memory and emotions o Growth and development is faster than cortex so rational control of emotions is more difficult; especially evident in teenagers o Amygdala is associated with emotion and memory; emotions cause memories to last longer o Hippocampus is involved in new memories; damage causes short-term memory loss o Hypothalamus is involved in motivations/drives; sits beneath the thalamus  The cerebral cortex is the “skin” of the brain o Frontal lobe is involved in thinking, especially prefrontal; motor cortex is for movement o Parietal lobe is involved in sensory information, especially touch o Occipital lobe is for vision o Temporal lobe is for hearing; the left hemisphere is involved in language  Damage at old age can be permanent, but damage at a young age (30 and below) can be recoverable because of neuroplasticity o Supply of neurons is much more than what is actually used o The brain always has room to learn more o Over half of neurons are “spare” because they do not regenerate; damaged neurons cannot recover, so function of damaged neurons is transformed to another area of the brain  Stem cells may possibly be able to produce neurons at some point in the future o Neurons that are never used are eventually discarded but continued learning/use of brain can help prevent Alzheimers, etc.  Hemispheric specialization: left is for language, right is for spatial understanding


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