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Lecture 3

Lecture 3 - Biological Foundations, the Mind, and Consciousness - January 22.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

January 22, 2013. Lecture 3 – Biological Foundations and The Mind and Consciousness Memory Reconsolidation and Forgetting  Memories change as their brought out and stored o Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; interrupting reconsolidation of memories o Scientifically possible to interrupt reconsolidation so as to erase memories  Has important implications for PTSD, addiction, phobias, obsessive behaviours, eating disorders o All disorders that are extremely difficult to treat, reconsolidation and memory studies can help with this  Blocking reconsolidation in PTSD o Patient writes out script of traumatic event, including as many details as possible o Script is read aloud to patient to reactivate memory o Patient given propranolol (drug to block reconsolidation of memories in amygdala for humans) o Erases memories to some extent  Memory: chemical changes that make neurons more strongly connected  Stronger connection = able to communicate more efficiently  Neurons communicate by sending chemical messages that bind RECEPTORS  Therefore stronger connection = more receptors between 2 neurons  Memory = add more receptors between 2 neurons  Forgetting = lose receptors between 2 neurons  Memories are very malleable, every time you remember something it is a chance to: o Change information in memory o Update memory with new info o Erase memory o Strengthen memory  “Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need.” o Lauryn Hill Neurology Video: God is in the Neurons  Neural circuitry and fear, fear comes up when we feel threatened o Can be seen in poker players as well as stubborn debaters  Beliefs and self-esteem has a huge amount to do with brain chemistry and can effect it  Fitting in “normative social influence”, basis for much of social psychology  Empathetic mirror neurons: when we do certain things, neurons fire; but when we observe someone else doing those things or imagine doing those things, some of the same neurons will fire again; where empathy comes from  Self-awareness means we can change how we feel and act because we can change and be aware of them feelings that cause behaviour and states  When we’re not being self-aware we make impulsive decisions, which make us feel less secure and therefore less happy  Brain tries to rationalize making impulsive decisions which leaves negative emotions un-resolved and ready to be triggered at any point  Social environment creates our identity; perception of self, morality, behaviour, etc.  Neurons communicate through reaching a breaking point voltage, which fires an electrical signal to other neurons  When many neurons fire at once, this creates a measurable brainwave  Cognitive dissonance: too many neurons firing at once, frustration from holding two contradictory thoughts at once  Left hemisphere of brain “preserves the model” (sees things as they are) and the right hemisphere “challenges the status quo” (thinks critically about what is observed) o Left logical vs. right creative Neurons: Consciousness as an Emergent Property  One ant is no ant o Without a community an ant will wander pointlessly until it dies, basically. o A million ants is a viable community of organisms that exhibits coordinated, “self- directed” behaviour  One neuron is not neuron o 100 billion neurons is you  Afferent: sensory neurons, sensory receptors putting information INTO brain  Efferent: motor neurons, flow OUT OF the brain and into the body (effluent, flow out)  Interneuron: everything else o Interneurons vastly outnumber Motor and Sensory Neurons (several million of each compared to ~100 billion interneurons)  Structure of a Neuron o Dendrites: receive information from other neurons and transmit towards the cell body  The spiny/veiny looking things coming from the cell body o Cell body: keeps the neurons alive and determines whether it will fire  Makes decisions electrically, starts with a net negative charge and has to receive enough communications in order to reach a net
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