PSY 100 Lecture # 1 Fundamental insights of psychology
#1 Reality is a story told to us by our brains
-“the matrix” a representation of a world. We interact with a reality that our sensory receptor has
picked up & is then neurologically constructed in our brains.
“our brains are artists not mirrors” Takes bits of info and puts it a story together . A construction of
1) This construction process involves a lot of guesswork – filling in the gaps. Make sense of what we
have to create a narrative.
2) This subjective representation occurs within the brain. ( Psych is not all in the brain, we have neurons
all throughout the body) Inherited experience, programmed by genes & environment. Its predisposed
to function in a certain way.
“fred” We are bombarded with experience all the time
We only have acess to a subset of all these experiences.
Limitations: the sensitivity of our sensory mechanism our attention capacity. U can only absorb
so much info.
Perception- brain trying to figure out whats going on.
“dark black furry, in Toronto > dog”
perceptions drive behaviours.
Sometimes reality doesn’t agree with the perceptions
“dark black furry, in Toronto > wolverine”
Your brain is making guesses all the time but sometimes systematic errors occur and we are wrong.
BUT it’s a time saver when we make guesses. So we can respond to danger very fast and pretty accurate.
Perception is a process of pattern matching ( patterns built in through experiences)
- - > the brain uses pre-existing info/patterns to decode incoming sensory signals.
“sometimes your brain will see what it wants to see or is blind to things that don’t fit into your previous
* ant vs water buffalos example
Lack of pattern = different reality.
Carpenter – world hypothesis – we construct our world by the tools we have.
Stereotypes have been programmed into you weather you like it or not
Predisposed biases programmed into your brain = biases
which is useful to some extent. CUZ perception > behaviour, our biases can actually create their own
realities Self-fulfilling prophesies.
(Prejudice/racism0 you create the situations that will confirm your beliefs)
*violinist gender prejudice example
*Pygmallan effect What we are motivated to changes what we pay attention to our biases construct the realities that will
confirm our biases’
* your love vs your ex example
Humility- if everyone come together we can uncover our own blind spots (multiple perspectives)
Empowerment- when we know these things we can practice different ways of thinking, perceiving etc.
we can change.
The primacy of attention
Most are not good at directing attention even though we actually can control our attention very
effectively. KEY to well being. We can control and enhance how far we can push these boundaries , we
*Music listening Prof D. experiment in uni example
larger rhythms of instruments. Girl in anxiety mode at first when asked to close her eyes > gets into the
song > becomes one with the music. It’s the same song but thanks to attention she could experience the
song differently the second time. How u touch & how u see determines the quality of your life >
People had peak experiences doing just about anything you could imagine, so it seems to be content
independent doesn’t matter what u are doing . So similar descriptions of the feelings of peak
experiences > Flow states
“inner psychological state- merging of action and awareness
” No discrimination of you and the thing u r doing. Everyone has the capacity to do this theoretically
#3 Everything is the same
Knowledge= biological process. Whatever you think of the same thing happens in your brain,
Ypur brain- network of neurons
Neurons form bonds- not random things – very ordered patterns > xxx of the brain
Yes- nodding has communicated so many times that automatically they are connected. Similarity =
LIKE > neural patterns are activated
PSY 100 Lecture # 2 History and methods
CNS- where consciousness exists or part of it?
- Dilemma from the past that’s still not dissolved totally, before they had different theories like
consciousness is in the heart , liver etc. People don’t like to think they evolved from other slimy creatures and we are just a 7 billions years
product of evolution, and not fundamentally different at all.
Post-enlightenment the rise of the supposed rational, self interested humans; deep divide between
cognition and emotion; emphasis on the individual as the unit of analysis.
Post-biological revolution & neuroscience > the re-emerging of cognition and emotion; emphasis on
interdependence b/w the individual and the group.
We separated cog & emotion in enlightenment then merging them back together in biological
revolution. We now consider them as interdependent processes.
Before different subgroup & dualistic debates > now we start seeing things as more interdependent and
Human psych as mechanistic process ( network based metaphors, information- processing)
Physiologist extremely curious and careful experimentalist. Wondered whether two stimuli that struck
the senses at the same time would be perceived simultaneously.
Most of our present is determined by our past…..
If you face yourself cold bloodingly xxxx you will change. A simple matter if practice. > CBT is very much
coming from this thinking.
God is in the neurons – youtube
Neuroplasticity- The changing ability of the brain in the biological sense. Neural connections get
strengthened and weakened. As you practice you build the infrastructure of your brain. Crossing levels
of analysis. When you are afraid, norepinephrine is released and certain areas of the brain (limbic
system) take over. We are evolutionary programmed to respond very quickly to fear & certain areas of
our bodies are shut down ( digestion ex)
- - > Discussion with a person who is disagreeing with you can evoke the same response as when you are
afraid, and certain things shut down, like rationality ( creativity , openness) , and fast emotional
responses occur. It is like you are being attacked by a bear. Used to be functional, even though it is not
On the other hand if your opinion is accepted the fear respond shuts down and we feel rewarded (
dopamine) instead. Our beliefs have a profound impact on our body chemistry.
“CNS mediating matrix, 1 set of circumstances refers to a different set of neural chemistry that make us
feel good vs bad. “
Social validation = dopamine and serotonin > more self aware etc.
Empathetic mirror neurons – neurons that fire when a certain action is performed by us or by seeing
someone else doing it. “How ppl act towards you > programs how you will behave “
If you see a bunch of ppl act in a certain way you tend to start to act in a similar way cuz your brain
programs u to. Your self isn’t just u, cuz the functioning of your neuro system is so influenced by other
Self observing profoundly changes……
When not self aware we are just reacting….
we make ourselves think we were in charge “ backward rationalisation”
Self-aware, we strengthen areas of self-control, rationality etc. areas that give us freedom. Meditation
or mindfulness help us strengthen these areas, if not the areas become weakened. A person that is not
self-aware tends to be governed by other peoples influences but we don’t experience it this way, “we
did it, we believe, we were in control of our behaviour” Backward rationalization. ( impulsive,
emotional, basic neurological centers)
Causal change how ppl treat other ppl…..
If you receive negative criticism > more negative > determines which brain areas impulsively activates >
Bring into question where consciousness is in the brain..
Split brain ? fundamentally change your consciousness not just sensory distribution.
Action potential; consciousness is not just one unit. Brain has all these connections that parallels process
simultaneously ( parallel distributional system) i.e. no specific are for concourses its all over the place.
Identity exists in multiple places.
Cognitive dissonance- 2 ideas that don’t fit together. ( Incompatible neural firing patterns) will emerge
when your brain is seeking harmony to get away from dissonance
We don’t end anywhere , nothing is external we are at the neural lvl. We don’t function independently
of that. Takes apart the notion of individualism. “nothing is not the self”
As negative self-consciousness goes down we become better . it is easier to be in the moment & u don’t
separate yourself from what’s going on.
What I hope you take away from this video
* extended nature of consciousness.
“mind is what the brain does” – not bad but what the brain does isn’t a closed system. What it does
depends on what happened outside the brain. So if the mind is what the brain does its so much more.
Mind Brain Body other people ( empathy etc)
Where is the mind, nowhere
*Insecurity vs security activates certain negative neurological systems.
Insecurity dominates ppl > less open minded towards other ppl, closed of. Which gives them an even stronger need to be attached to this belief system. Conditions and builds. Current experiences to fit into
old belief system NOT actively challenging it.
Security influenced by genes and early childhood parenting which will open you up so much more and
you are programmed accordingly.
Plasticity allows for change “current functioning of neural circuitry, but it is not definite with practice
you can change”. It’s a choice to strengthen different brain areas.
“mind sight” by Daniel Siegel – collection of case studies
PSY 100 Lecture # 3 Methodology
Tutorials: 2 kinds of tutorial. Midterm based/ Test review/ after midterm opportunity to look over
your test. TA’s go over Key info and there is a Q & A.
History > schools of thought > people of importance> integrated perspective > multiple levels of analysis
Big gap between the tools we have versus what we used to have to do experiments. Randomly assigned
subjects is key, not on an individual level but on a group level. But we only have a relatively small group
of people, we are very limited to small variables but we have a big thinking perspective.
Ex of multiple lvls of analysis on depression,
- Cognitive psych> faulty belief system > behaviours> learned helplessness theory ( dog and electric floor
with no escape) they believe thay just cant do it > leads to a feeling like a failure and depression which
will reinforce the faulty beliefs.
- Family > depressed people tend to withdraw from family and friends> expect ppl wont/don’t like you >
negative interpersonal expectations/ attributions > “they don’t like me” explanatory style> reinforces
depression > withdraw even more.
- Emotions> sad all the time> becomes withdrawn> you experience a worse health> interferes with your
- Not enough serotonin
Before they only took one perspective, but now its more of a “connect the dots”
But we still often fall back to simple explanations, with less variables.
“writing a book and found this study”
- The peer review process is very important for a study to go through, which this study had not.
-They are claiming they have causation, a big no no, especially since they don’t have proper evidence to
back it up.
- They had a big sample size which is a good thing
- They had well known organizations and high importance people behind it - comparing the extremes
- correlation does not equal casuation
- Interpretation problems;
Age difference might be the key factor not weather or not they eat dinner at home ( usually older kids
eat less dinners at home, and its usually older kids who smoke and drink)
Also seems like they have an “agenda” – they have the casue and they are just working to prove it.
Perhaps the kids who are not eating dinner at home are not doing so for a good reason, perhaps they
have an abusive family situation and then they are forced to spend more time in that environment and
making things even worse, so it could potentially even be counterproductive to eat dinner at home.
- The data doesn’t tell you anything about this at all
- There are 3 different plausible effects 1. It has the positive effects that they claim 2. Could do nothing