PSYC23H3S – Lecture 6 - 02-16-12
Early experiences set neuro independent systems, their systems are behaving differently. The subtle and
sometimes not so subtle changes brain function changes how they perceive the world. Low level
perceptual stimuli, there’s variation on how you perceive that that links back to these stressful
We can look @ extreme cases of abuse let’s say, and the effects are there. But it’s interesting the same
series of mechanisms may be in place for subclinical populations. It’s not just about someone who is
abused in institutions everyday but also people who are normal. The degree to which these systems are
altered may be because of their adversity.
There are certain parts of the brain that are activated when we do an action. It says that your own
motor activity causes certain neurons to fire that also fire when those neurons perceive that activity.
Why this is profound is because it allows us to have specific experiences and actions are mapped on to
other people’s experiences.
Neurons are adopting other persons view. There must be more than imitation and emulation.
The great leap forward mirror neurons
Theory of Mind
100 thousand years ago, all this happened fairly quickly. Darwinian is slow, but things like polar bear
skinning is fast
Culture and Civilization
The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST)
We want to know more specifically what is going on in that interaction with the parent. In TSST there
are three components: prepping for public event speaking; perform mathematical task in front of people
(subtracting from large number, mess up, start over; they may switch the task). You can do a virtual
reality version of it. Science proceeds very slowly. They already had a study where young girls get
stressed out (it is that young girls experiment). Years later, they ask what is it about the vocal quality or
what is really going on that may affect this increase this faster recovery or increase of oxytocin. What
about text messaging? Is that just as effective? Is it being recognized? Is it communicating effectively?
They thought that the human voice was a powerful regulator. They assumed that if talking on the phone
or in person with someone played this role, if the same content was communicated thru texting, it’s not
the same “vocal” effect. The first graph on the left is oxytocin. If you are just watching a movie, no
contact with anyone, then your oxytocin levels decrease.
Oxytocin and Social memory
It is about memory consolidation. What is social memory? Is it someone you met recently? Is it someone
you talked to? Do you remember them well? You remember their identity and there is certainly some
variation to that. Some people are better than others at remember people, faces, and expressions.
Oxytocin plays a big role in identifying…but identifying the facial expressions. In this study, they wanted
to give people a shot of oxytocin. One group was given the oxytocin by nasal spray, the other by saline
after they were exposed to a bunch of faces. Their memory would then be tested. It’s either a delay
before analyzing their memory of 30 mins to a day. They think that after you see faces that the oxytocin
will play a role in how you remember things.
For Example; You see someone that is very good looking, so there is an automatic arousal so to speak,
oxytocin is activated and elevated. This elevation will imprint that memory of someone’s face in your
Another example; you are asking couples when they first met; usually they will tell you the utmost detail
of it, that is the “romance” story.
Or let’s say you see a colleague as well as your boss at work. You want to recognize them. If you don’t,
the colleague or boss may feel offended.
So yes; nasal spray can identify that yes in fact I have seen that person before. You can remember faces,
emotions; oxytocin plays a significant role here.