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Psychology Notes

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Western University
Psychology 2036A/B
Yves Bureau

Psychology NotesJan 3112 HPA axishow is it linked to stress perceived or real The hypothalamus releases CRF which stimulates the pituitary The pituitary releases ACTH which goes to the adrenal glands and forces the release of cortisol Cortisol releases nutrients and it shuts down the system that activates it pituitary It is a feedback system HPA stands for hypothalamic pituitary adrenal Cortisol affects our brain and it affects stress The cortex is where we experience our subjectivity The hippocampus makes memory The amygdala is important for fear expression These things stimulate the hypothalamus There is directed behaviour the amygdala has a behaviour plan Psychoneuroimmunology PNI Is the study of the relationship between psychological states and the functioning of the immune system Consists of psychology the nervous system and immunity Immunocompetence is the extent to which ones immune system is functioning properly to ward off disease The more immunocompetent you are the more resistant you are to disease PNI in health psychology It links psychology and health and bridges communication between social scientists and health care practitioners PNI is interdisciplinary research that examines and explains immune function in terms of biological factors psychological factors and social factors Social factors include social support and the environment Maternal stress can influence the development of the hypothalamus in fetuses Measuring immune system function The dependent variable is the variable we measure to determine if our treatment or manipulation has had any effect In PNI research it is usually a measure of immunocompetence such as looking at NK cells in the blood In stressed people NK cells would have lower efficacy The independent variable the manipulation is some psychological state and is naturally occurring or experimentally induced such as stress We can measure immunocompetence by counting cells or measuring cells in action Measuring immunocompetence 1 Enumerative assayCount cells for minimum number and balance among types You can stress people then vaccinate them with an antigen People who were stressed will have fewer antibodies against the antigen but they are still protected A stressful event can very quickly reduce immunocompetence 2 Functional tests of immunity look at cells in action and can be in vitro or in vivo In vitro tests combine a blood sample with a substance called a mitogen A mitogen is a harmless substance that stimulates immune cell activity as though the immune cell were acting against an invading cell or antigen In vivo tests measure antibody production commonly through herpesvirus or antigen injection or nasal spray Herpesvirus is dormant but when the immune system is compromised the virus will replicate and a cold sore will form In herpesvirus studies higher antibody counts indicate immunosuppression In injection studies more antibodies indicate better immunocompetence Methodical issues in measurement There are several challenges in PNI research The shortterm and longterm effects of stress may be very different Most stressors are chronic or longterm and it is much harder to develop a causeandeffect relationship because there are so many other variables that cannot be controlled An acute stressor shortterm is immediate in its duration and proximity There are many forms of immune system function so there is no single measure of immunocompetence Statistical significance vs clinical significanceStatistically significant means whether or not youre able to reject the hypothesis Clinical significance means whether the effect is large enough to use a certain treatment on patients or whether its large enough for it to be meaningful for a certain group of people A certain treatment may have an effect on statistical significance but will it have an effect on a group of people The greater the number of samples the greater the power in statistical significance To prove that some aspect of immune functioning has been affected we must be able to show that the difference in cell count or activity between groups of
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