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PSY252 Lecture 1 January 10.docx

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Robert Gerlai

PSY252 Lecture 1 January 10, 2014 - Tests: MC, T/F, SA and LA o 2 hrs. What is Behaviour? - Behavior is the subject’s movement in space and time (methodological definition) - Behavior is the window to the brain (experimental neuroscientist’s definition) o Measuring behavior allows you to analyze and ask question about brain functions - Behavior is the output of the brain o Consciousness, beliefs, etc. - Even the most complex behavioral phenomena are the result of the functioning of the nervous system Psychology and Biology - Psychology deals with numerous aspects of animal and human behavior. - Psychology traditionally belonged to Social Sciences and sometimes treated the brain as a “black box”. o Un-open able, un-investigable entity - Nowadays the discipline is regarded as part of Natural Sciences and psychology uses numerous concepts and methods of biology. Two fundamentally distinct questions - Proximate question (phenogenetic causation) o Concerns the biological & physiological mechanisms of behaviour. o That is: “How do things work?” - Ultimate question (phylogenetic causation) o Is it adaptive, why is it adaptive? o Always about evolution o Concerns the evolution and adaptive aspect of behaviour. o That is: “How did it come about?” Why study animal behavior when human behavior is most interesting? - Animal behaviour is just as interesting. - There are many species of animals with many different behaviours (comparative approaches). o Humans are only one species, whereas there is enormous diversity in animal species o Comparing species to understand evolutionary features (can create evolutionary tree). o Where these differences come from, what conditions cause these species to generate differences (ex. Different temperatures). - Ethical considerations. o Genetics: breeding experiments - There are many methods with which behaviour can be studied in animals but not in humans. - Medical research (model organisms and laboratory animals as tools for discovery). o Reductionist approach – focus on animals rather than humans, using simple animals to understand something rather than complicated human o Used to understand human cases (Alzheimer’s, can try different treatment options on animals before taking them to humans). How can we study animal behavior? - Two fundamentally different approaches in the past: o In the past: laboratory experimentation ignored experimentation in their natural habitat o Ignored unique features of organism o Importance was put on similarities between animal (ex. Rat) and human - Animal psychology o Controlled laboratory conditions o Nature blind o Focuses on genera
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