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General Psychology: Week 2 Notes

by: Ali Friedman

General Psychology: Week 2 Notes

Marketplace > Georgetown University > Psychlogy > > General Psychology Week 2 Notes
Ali Friedman


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Notes from lectures during the second week (on 1/19 and 1/2)
General Psychology
Class Notes
psych, notes, Psychology, Empiricism, nervous system
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ali Friedman on Wednesday February 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to at Georgetown University taught by in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see General Psychology in Psychlogy at Georgetown University.


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Date Created: 02/03/16
Week of 1/19: Lectures on Empiricism and The Nervous System Lecture #1 on 1/19: Empiricism I. Empiricism  Empiricism: the belief that accurate knowledge of the world requires observation of it o Galileo= first to look at night sky; shattered theory that everyone revolved around the earth (through empiricism) o Dogmatism: knowledge can be gained through theorizing; now has negative connotation (someone who clings to their beliefs)  Empirical methods: rules/techniques for observation that allows observers to avoid the mistakes that observation can produce o Must use empirical methods as framework to prevent us from drawing false conclusions solely based on our observations o Defining variables measuring variables identifying relationships drawing conclusions about relationships among variables o Humans are more complex, variable, & more reactive II. Defining Variables  Step 1: operationally define the properties to be measured o Ex: Can spending money cause happiness? o Independent variable= spending money o Dependent variable= happiness (what we’re measuring)  Step 2: select a device/technique to reliably measure these properties o Spending- report of $ amount and what was purchased o Happiness- usually self-reported  Step 3: Formulate a hypothesis- a specific falsifiable proposition about the relationship b/w variables III. Measuring Variables  The population: the complete collection of people whose properties we wish to know  Sample: the people whose properties we actually measure to represent the group as a whole o Sampling guidelines: sample randomly & sample amply o Law of large numbers: as sample size increases, the average property of the sample more closely reflects the average property of the population  Observer bias: observers tend to see what they EXPECT to see o Solution: the “double blind” technique, where true purpose is hidden from the observer as well as from the subject  Subject bias: demand characteristics- aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think an observer wants or expects them to behave o Solutions: ensure anonymity, measure involuntary behaviors in a nonobvious way, keep the subject blind to the hypothesis (the true nature/purpose of the study) IV. Identifying Relationships  Variables are correlated when variance in one is synchronized with variance in the other o Correlation enables prediction  Introspection feels like an accurate indicator/way to measure, but it’s problematic bc you’re only considering yourself (1 dot)  Line of best fit: regression line (R) o If R=0, there’s no correlation between the 2 variables o If R=1, there’s a perfect positive correlation (doesn’t happen in real life) o If R=negative, regression line goes down (as 1 variable goes up, the other goes down)  ****CORRELATION DOES NOT ESTABLISH CAUSATION o Variables can be correlated for many other reasons besides causation V. Drawing Conclusions  Could be a 3 variable that hasn’t been taken into account (having bigger families, living closer to stores) o When just looking at a correlrdion, there’s ALWAYS a chance that there was a 3 variable involved, so we can never assume a causal relationship based on correlation  Experiments give us the info that correlations NEVER can rd o =The “magic wand” that gets rid of the 3 variable o Key elements of experiments= manipulation & control o 1) Manipulate the independent variable  Give the sample $ to spend on other people o 2) Control other possible causal variables (e.g. randomize or hold constant)  Randomly assign people to either group 1 or 2; results in 2 groups being equal in effectively all possible 3 variables  When not possible to manipulate, you hold all possible constants o 3) Measure the effects Lecture #2 on 1/21: The Nervous System I. The Brain-Mind Relationship  We actually use our entire brain  Descartes’ Dualism: mind and body= separate entities that operate under separate principles  Hobbes’ Materialism: mind and body have a causal relationship (reductionism); events in the mind= caused by changes occurring in the brain o Brain= where all the important stuff is happening; mind just= the icing on the cake  Spinoza’s Parallelism: mind and body have an identity relationship; the brain and mind= the same thing (identical) o Mental & physical events= different modes of a single kind of substance o Mind & body=same thing; just depends on how you’re looking at them o Most scientists recognize parallelism as the more effective way of thinking II. How Neurons Work  Neurons= basic units of the brain; neurons are cells that carry information around the body o Takes in info using dendrites (the branches) o Send out information using the extensions, the axons (“line”)  Axons= wrapped in myelin sheet  Neurons are electrical: operate using electricity o Info moves through neuron as electrical energy changes from negative positive & then back again o Resting potential= -70 mV (when it’s not moving since there are more positively charged ions outside rather than inside the neuron) o Threshold= -55 mV; when neuron reaches threshold, starts to allow positively charged sodium ions the neuron o Action potential= +40 mV; =an electrical signal conducted along the length of the axon  Action potential is ALWAYS the same  Info can fire faster but not bigger o Refractory period: balance of ions= so out of whack neurons can’t fire (they don’t fire continuously)  Communication between neurons= chemical (much more controlled way) o Any chemical that can be released from 1 neuron that transmits info to another neuron= a neurotransmitter o Summation: the sum of all information III. Layout of the Nervous System  Divided peripheral and central nervous systems  Central: brain & spinal cord  Brain itself= divided o Cerebellum= the tiny chunk in the back (“small brain”) o Cerebrum  **Layout= like an archaeological dig o Lowest part of brain like medulla oblongata= processes really essential to survival (breathing, movement) o Middle where hypothalamus and pituitary gland control emotion, motivation, & hormone regulation o More luxurious stuff= at the top like the cortex (complex judgment, voluntary action)  Forebrain= the cortex & most of the things we’re interested in in psych  Peripheral system= divided autonomic and somatic nervous systems o Somatic: made up of sensory and motor neurons; interneurons connect 2 kinds of neurons  Somatic system mostly= under our control o Autonomic: mostly not under voluntary control; dividedthe sympathetic & parasympathetic systems  Sympathetic: prepares body for action in threatening situations; “fight for flight”  Parasympathetic: come back to a normal state; “rest and digest” IV. How Scientists Learn About the Nervous System  Simplest way to learn is by observing the somatic nervous system o Just observe behavior  More direct: measure sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity o Observe breathing rate, heart rate to determine if someone’s scared o Polygraphs detect sympathetic (detect fear, NOT lying)  People used to measure the amount of brain damage because they couldn’t look inside them  Measure electrical activity across brain surface (EEG) o EEG, FMRI are all correlation techniques; by looking at them you don’t know anything about causation  Our ability to draw conclusions= limited unless we ourselves manipulate experiments  MRIs measure blood flow inside of the brain since it changes in active areas o But don’t want it to be the only technique you’re using; harder to measure blood than neurons  Manipulating brain activity= good way to learn Physical & Electrical Forms of Manipulation: o Trepenated skull= 1 way (cutting a hole) o Guillotine: supposed to execute people in relatively painless way since death was immediate o Frontal lobotomy; not used anymore: brain is picked to get rid of emotions  Many child like or inappropriate o Wilder Penfield: gently stimulated diff regions of brain while conscious to determine what parts of the brain did what  Since brain itself doesn’t have pain receptors  Discovered there’s a map of your whole body that runs down the sensory strip (on side of cortex)  Right next to sensory strip is the motor strip (movement going out); easy for the 2 to communicate/coordinate o Modern techniques: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)  Chemical manipulations:  Schizophrenia usually begins during adolescence (=time of pruning of the brain) Key Ideas:  Neural activity represents the world  Tiny switches make up the workings of entire nervous system  Brain= organized like archaeological dig  Multiple techniques can be used to understand workings of the brain


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