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Understanding the Limitations of Brain Methods.docx

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University of Lethbridge
PSYC 3325
John Usher

Understanding the Limitations of Brain Methods ● strength of conclusion depends on quality of control ● must be careful when we interpret functional role of particular brain region, regardless of technique being used  Vanderwolf and Cain – point out many possible confounds that can occur in system as complicated as brain: modules within brain are highly interconnected with many feedback loops between different regions ● problems of generalizaiton – research is highly specialized and tasks that are used are developed for specific purposes; more study is needed before many of these findings can be applied to real-world problems  Mozart for Babies Biology and Culture: environmental effects on brain development ● Maguire, using fMRI found that taxi cab drivers in london brains' were physically different than other people Evidence for Effects of Experience on Brain Development: ● Rosenzweig began research study 25 eyars ago to exmine question:  delivered litters of rats and placed them in different environments – enriched or impoverished  brains of rats in enriched environment had thicker cerebral cortex, better blood supply, more protein content, and more acetylcholine (transmitter substance that appears to play important role in learning) ● subsequent studies found changes at microscopic level:  Greenough and Volkmar – neurons of rats raised in enriched environment had larger and more complex dentritic trees  Turner and Greenough – found synapses in their cerebral cortexes were larger and more synapses were found on each neuron  Black, Shafron, and Greenough – rats placed in enriched environment between ages of 30-60 days, capillaries in their visual cortex grew more branches and their surface areas increased, presumably to accomodate growth that was stimulated by experience ● David Hubel – if one eye closed during critical period of brain development that occurs shortly after birth, normal synaptic connections are not established between that eye and visual cortex and becomes blind and neurons from other eye have taken over region of cortex that would normally have formed connections to covered eye ● Field, Whishaw and Pellis – pattern of “dodging” while rat eats depended on exposure to testosterone around time of birth and injecting female rat pups with testosterone after birth produced male-like dodging in adults; males that had gonadal tissue removed at birth showed female dodging patterns but if later removed no change in behaviour ● Moore – indicates effects of heredity on sexual behaviour are sometimes indirect  rat mothers lick baby's genitals, more so rats and found that it effects their behaviour as adults: ■ male sex horm
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