January 8 , 2013
(E.g. the infertile vs. adoption myth/theory & the increase of babies born on a full moon)
1. Propose a mechanism
2. What are some implications if the claim is valid?
3. What sort of evidence currently supports the claim?
- Humans are susceptible to erroneous beliefs.
- Interactions between Science, Media & Public can lead to erroneous beliefs.
Multiple Levels of Analysis (this term)
- Development, Evolution, and Neuroscience
Case Study: The Four Loko Effect
- What is it creating so many problems?
o Price (cheap)? Misconceptions? Marketing? The interaction and
misconceptions of the mixture between the ingredients?
o “First Time” with unusual (alcoholic) flavours. (Media Report)
o Situational – Specificity of Tolerance (Scientific Report)
- The Four Loko XXX Limited Edition
January 15 , 2013
- Nature vs. Nurture; genetics vs. environment.
o Questions; the relation between genetics and environment during a lifetime.
Considering a predisposition for alcoholism;
- Testing Predisposition for Alcoholism.
o Giving a young child under monitored environment and testing their
intoxication level (high)
o Giving someone who have had alcohol before and testing their intoxication
level (low) Special method must be used to answer research questions if Developmental Psychology:
- Preference Method; preference of one stimulus over another.
- Babies and faces... Is a preference for faces innate?
o Using the preference method; approximated a face like stimulus.
o Tested with face-like-stimulus vs. non-face-like-stimulus
o Results; child preferred the more face-like-stimulus
Sex & Gender:
- Meet “Gender Withheld” Storm; the parents of Storm withheld the sex/gender of the
baby from everyone (causing much negative responses).
- Sex, Gender and Society:
o The example of King George IV; babies initially were dress in pink (boy) and
blue (girl). However over time that changed.
o Babies dressed in pink tend to be treated with more care and more gently
whereas babies dressed in blue were treated with less care and a bit more
o Social/Gender Roles; society/cultural norms that society expects from us.
o Case Study of Sex & Gender:
Identical male twins born with the same genes and everything, but
due to a medical mishap of the penis of one of the twin (Bruce). In the
end the parents had to decide to change him to her (Brenda)
After puberty, Brenda started to identify herself as more of a male,
and changed herself/himself back to David.
o Head Start vs. Getting Ahead
The idea of creating a Baby Einstein and creating the right
• Biological Exuberance; the movement cites that a lot happens
in a young infants brain where there are more connects and
actions occur in that brain compared to an adult.
• Critical Periods: Visual deprivation period vs. Normal visual
input. Resulting to possible visual deprivation as an adult?
• “The Mozart Effect”: toys these days tend to play classical
music. The idea that classical music helps with a babies’ intelligence. Testing be presenting white noise vs. classical
The Orienting Reflex:
• Why do babies respond to things such as cartoon characters
• DVD Watching vs.
January 22 , 2013
Evolution and Human Behaviour: Sex Differences and
- Heritable variants lead to differential reproductive success.
- Outcome variance can drive different solutions to the same problem.
o E.g. low variance (more) and high variance (less) to which the mean score is
the same for both groups.
- Key Assumptions: Inputs → Decision Rules → Outputs
1. Behaviour = psychological/ cognitive mechanism (i.e. memory, problem solving,
etc) + input
2. Evolved psychological mechanisms coded in the brain. (i.e. the assumption that
evolution can interplay…?)
3. Evolved psychological mechanisms can be described as information processing
devices helping us make decisions.
- Genetic resemblance is something others are able to recognize.
- Genes and family resemblances.
o Generally comments of the baby resembling one of the two parents are
directed towards the father.
- Thought Experiment: What it is that men/women look in for a lover?
o As you look in depth, men and women values in relationship differ to an
- Romance in the Friend Zone? Can men and women just be friends?
o Men and women view their friendship completely differently. Men generally
would consider going into a more intimate relationship with their female friend
as compared to women who generally think that they ARE just friends. - Different Adaptive Problems:
1. Metabolic demands of reproductive (demands in women is much greater than for
2. Parental investment. (For women, if they give birth she will admit to being the
mother, but men don’t have to in a sense).
3. Genetic cuckoldry. (Men can’t be 100% sure that he is the father (in which they’d
invest much less compared to if they knew for sure that the child is theirs), where
women would have a higher chance of confirming/acknowledging that the child is
theirs (100%) (Therefore more likely to invest more into the child). (Could explain
why people perceive similarity between the baby and the mother, where the
mother would perceive more similarities between the baby and the father).
- Lifetime reproduction in a natural fertility human population.
o A population alive today that are not practicing artificial birth control.
- Likelihood of agreeing to have sex with someone you find attractive as a function of
time known (lecture graph):
o What relationship does this data demonstrate? How can you explain these
The costs/consequence isn’t as big of a deal for males compared to
Difference in reproductive strategies
Females generally take more time to evaluate.
Men are more likely to take risk for their pleasures compared to
- Contests driving lethal violence as competitive Risk-Taking;
o In a social context, men are more likely to engage in a fight (possibly due to
criticism of ego/pride or over a women)
o Homicide rates; men (especially during their young early 30s) are more
inclined to commit homicides than women.
- What factors promote competitive risk-taking?
o “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lost” – Bob Dylan (Nothing to
Men who are unemployed or encounter income inequality/racism are
more likely to take risks (e.g. scommit to a homicide.
o Homicide rates vs. Life expectancy (based on where you grow up or live
becomes a factor) th
January 29 , 2013
From Neurons to Thoughts and Behaviour:
- The Matrix Problem:
o “Are You Living In A Computer Simulation?” by Nick Bostrom.
o Welcome To The Matrix;
1. The brain Constructs your world
2. Hebbian learning provides a mechanism for neural coding.
3. Prior learning interacts with a collaborative functional process across
- The brain is a metabolically expensive organ.
- 3 Classes of Neurons:
o Motor Neurons
o Sensory Neurons
- A simple Neural Circuit; Knee – Jerk Reflex
o Works at a spinal cord level, doesn’t necessarily travel up to the brain….
- Reflex mechanisms process through neurons;
1. Sensory receptor(muscle spindle)
2. Sensory neuron
4. Motor neuron
- Heuristics & Prior Knowledge; the brain constructs the world for you
- Visual Tip down Processing
o Everything you think about prior entering an event …..
- Audio Top Down Processing: o “Languagestreamsegmentationproblem”
o “How to recognize speech” vs. “How to wreck a nice beach”
o Hearing something and processing it in the brain to something you want to
- Top down processing and meets sensory processing;
o How automatic your brain in processing information
- Thoughts & Behaviours
- Hebbian Learning; formed that the physical connections between neurons
contributes to our learning processes.
o “As they fire together they condition together..?”
- Sensory and Motor Homunculi
- Mirror Box Therapy;
o Phantom Limb and Neuroplasticity; the unclenching of the (imaginary) left
- Mirror Neurons:
o Accidental discovery; (instrumental conditioning/cognition of a monkey’s
brain) monkey reaching ou