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PSYC 342 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Menstruation, Endometrium, Corpus Luteum


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC 342
Professor
Jens C Pruessner
Study Guide
Midterm

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Lecture 16 - Mar. 20:
What is Cognition?
Cognition is a term referring to the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension, including perceiving, learning,
remembering, but also knowing, judging and problem-solving. These are higher-level functions of the brain and encompass language,
imagination, perception and planning.
Why should there be a role in hormones effecting higher order functions of brain?
oAt microlevel- hormones can manipulate synapse function involved to either facilitate or impair all these aspects (perception,
processing, memorizing, remembering etc.)
oIn general hormones determine how emotions are regulated because the brain structures that are involved with regulation of
hormones have to do with limbic system (emotional regulation) so whenever emotion is involved hormones could effect the
processing of anything that has to do with cognition to allow you to facilitate or impair the processing of the information coming in
oThis will guide us through todays lecture how emotions will taint your processing, how they will change the way you deal with new
information
oHow do emotions change or effect processing or general cognition?
Example: anger can inhibit rational thinking and cause us to react impulsively
Example: Stress and learning been looked at intensively, layman assumption is that stress impairs memory but not
necessarily!
Role for Hormones in Cognition?
1. perception
2. memory
3. moral decision main
4. general cognitive abilities
1. Perception
STUDY: Cutting Stress Off at the Pass: Reducing Vigilance and Responsiveness to Social Threat by Manipulating Attention
(Baldwin, Preussner)
oPART 1:
Dot Probe Task: Investigates all sorts of behavioral tendencies/preferences. A simple reaction task where you have to look for
a specific target (dot) either appearing on left or right side of screen and then must indicate which side it appeared on.
However, before target appears, two faces (either happy/positive or sad/angry/negative) appear on either side of the screen.
Reaction time: determines preference because if you were looking at the opposite side of the screen then where the target was
your reaction time will be longer (so if you were looking at the positive face on the left and subsequent target was on the right
it will take longer then if you were looking at negative face on the right)
We all seem to have a tendency to look for positive or negative information in our environment.
Depression is associated with the tendency/preference to look for negative information
In fact, if you have the tendency to look for negative information in the environment you are more prone to develop depression
(risk factor)
Measured Rejection Bias Scores:
Greater score= more tendency to focus attention of negative information from environment
Correlated rejection bias scores with cortisol levels while performing task:
If you have a tendency to look for rejection in environment is related to your levels of cortisol in association with this
task
Discussion/Interpretation: what does this suggest?
One possibility: when you are under more stress you look for negative surrounding you
However, visual dot probe tasks look at more of a trait then a state (not currently under more stress but how you
respond in general)
Interpretation (if this is more of a trait)? If higher rejection bias means you are more vulnerable to depression then this
is also correlated with higher cortisol levels (also a marked symptom of depression)
However, this is a correlation, not causation, so what is the cause and what is the consequence?
One possibility: higher cortisol levels make you more rejection focused
However cannot prove this from the study since it is correlational
What could a study look like to establish cause and effect?
oMust get the person in a state of stress and then use cortisol levels as a biomarker of this stressed state
(cannot artificially induce cortisol because this does not mean the person actually feels stressed and might
just induce a series of adverse effects)
oOne idea: expose to real like stressor (TSST) and measure cortisol levels as a response, then put in dot
probe test to see if that changes anything this has been done but is not yet published
Conclusion:
There is a link between rejection bias and cortisol levels but we don't know the cause and consequence (high
rejection bias leads to higher cortisol or higher cortisol leads to higher rejection bias?
oPART2:
Baldwin then showed that this rejection bias can be changed in that you can train people to systematically look for the positive
instead
Baldwin’s Matrix Task: matrix of grumpy negative faces with one happy face. Told to quickly look for the happy face and select
it and overtime you become better at it. so trained to actively look for positive information
3 conditions:
Flower (control) condition: matric task but told to look for the flower with 7 petals out of a matrix of flowers with 5
petals (nothing to do with positive or negative information)
Smile (experimental) condition: matrix task with grumpy faces and told to focus on smiling faces
Exposure (control) condition: matrix of grumpy faces and NOT told to focus on smiling faces (not told to focus on
anything, just told to look at it)
Then measured the change in reception/acceptance bias and subjective stress levels
RESULTS:
1. Effect on Rejection Bias (Dot Probe Task)

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oFlower (control) condition: not a significant change in either acceptance or rejection bias
oSmile (experimental) condition: huge change! Rejection bias decreases dramatically and acceptance bias
increases
oExposure (control) condition: negative effect, rejection bias dramatically increases and acceptance bias
dramatically decreases (Priming effect!)
2. Effect on self reported stress ratings (real life consequence)
oLooked at self reported stress ratings in conjunction with final exam period
oControl: subjective stress levels increased over 5 day study period
oSmile: subjective stress levels decreased over 5 day study period
oConclusion:
Can be conditioned/trained to look for positive information from the environment and this change will generalize to other aspects
of behavior (focusing attention) and can translate into real life consequence of lower stress levels.
STUDY 2: Follow up Study
orecruited telemarketers (get a lot of rejection as part of their job- rejection levels are high)
otrained them with this task to focus on the positive
ocontrol (flower) and experimental (smile) groups
oRESULTS: looked at various outcome variables…
A) self esteem: changes in control but clear tend for elevation is ones that played task
B) self reported stress: not diff from control at onset of task but lower throughout entire task
C) cortisol levels: on last day of experiment throughout the day most of the day was lower while they were at work doing their
telemarketing job
D) performance: positive outlook on the environmental also made them more successful as telemarketers, sales rate went up
significantly compared to pre testing period while this was unchanged in control group
oConclusion:
What is the mechanism once could speculate about how this training could have all these effects on self-esteem, cortisol,
stress, performance etc?
First example of how perception might be influenced by hormones, however, these hormone may be more of a consequence of
focusing on positive or negative information
2. Memory
Memory is a vast topic but the three components this lecture will touch on are:
1. Memory encoding (learning or acquisition of material)
2. Remembering (retrieval of material)
3. Reconsolidation (re-learning of material when it gets activated)
1) Memory Consolidation
oSTUDY: Glucocorticoid Effects on Memory Consolidation (Coursepack)
Animal studies Corticosterone in animals is cortisol in humans
Study done with rats with amygdala lesions
Why? emotional memories are stored better then neutral memories (shown repeatedly) when you learn emotional
material it gets better retained (both positive or negative) as compared to neutral material and likely because of
involvement of amygdala so amygdala facilitates or improves learning and memory of particular info. Why?
evolutionarily adaptive (fear memory is more relevant for survival)
Outcome: retention latency (the smaller the latency, the worse the memory is)
The measurement is how long rats stay way from a cage where they previously received foot shock, so the longer
they stay away the more they remembered thus it is an indicator of good memory
PART 1 (graph A):
3 groups:
osham lesion (surgery without inducing lesion)
ocentral amygdala lesion
obasolateral amygdala lesion
2 conditions:
ovehicle administration:
odexamethasone administration: synthetic glucocorticoid
* not a good ides to administer glucocorticoid to represent stress, because it does not increase
subjective stress level, but if you administer it in context of memory study you can at least see the
effect of glucocorticoid centrally at that moment
RESULTS:
oSham:
Learning rate greatly improves under administration of dex
Clear improvement of memory consolidation if stress hormone is present
oCentral:
Clear enhancement of memory under this condition !reduced from the original level but not
dramatically so
oBasolateral:
No significant difference between vehicle or dex administration
Conclusion: dex effect is most strikingly in basolateral aspect of amygdala because once this area is lessoned the
enhancing effect dex no longer exist. In general dex has an enhancing effect, which can be taken away if there is an
induced lesion in basolateral area of amygdala.
Part 2 (graph B):
Groups:
oCentral amygdala lesion:
oBasolateral amygdala lesion:
Conditions: (intra-amygdala infusions)
oVehicle:
oLowe level of Glucocorticoid agonist:
oHigh level of glucocorticoid agonist:

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RESULTS:
oEffects really occur in the basolateral amygdala and they are dose dependent ! so the higher the dose the
greater the effect
Conclusion:
oshow that the basolateral part of the amygdala is most important for memory learning and highest amounts
of glucocorticoid show the strongest amounts of memory enhancement
osteroid enter BBB and dock onto receptors and some are in basolateral aygdala and have a memory
enhancing effect through consolidation
Part 3:
Groups: basolateral amygdala infusions of various agents (so used in combo with dex)
oSaline: control condition, have something injection but not expected to have any effects
oPropranolol: beta-blocker, blocks receptors in SNS which prevents effects of SNS. Prescribed for people
who suffer high blood pressure to block the effects from perceived threat on any elevation of heart rate. It
also acts centrally in the brain and blocks the effects of SNS activation so that your central structures that
typically are involved with SNS activation will now no longer get signal from typical SNS messengers
(adrenaline and noradrenaline)
oAntenalol: also SNS blocking agent
oZinterlol: also SNS blocking agent
Conditions: (intra-amygdala infusions)
oVehicle
oDexamethasone (synthetic cortisol)
RESULTS:
oSaline: Get basic result, if you add dex in bilateral amygdala you see clear enhancement of memory
consolidation
oPropranolol: when dex is administered with propranolol injections the enhancement effects are completely
gone
oAntenalol: also sns blocking agents and see same effects
oZinterlol: also sns blocking agents and see same effects
Conclusion:
oSNS blocking agents, like propranolol, block the memory enhancements effects of dex
oThis suggests that dex works through the SNS system because if you block the SNS activity you take away
the effects of the dex
oif you block the ability of the SNS to modulate amygdala activity, dex admin does not have an effect
(propranolol negates the effects of dex because it blocs the way glucocorticoids act on the amygdala and
basically take away enhancing effect)
oTherefore, glucocorticoids, through facilitation of activity of the SNS seem to have a positive effect on
memory at the level of learning and consolidation.
2) Memory Retrieval
oSTUDY 1: Glucocorticoid Effects on Memory Retrieval
Paradigm: Morris water maze
Learn where platform is in training phase then remove platform and measure outcome
Outcome: time spent in quadrant(s)
Time spent in target area (indicator of memory retrieval)
Time spent somewhere else (poor memory)
RESULTS: interval after stress
Control condition (no stress): quickly learn where in the water maze the platform is located (simple retrieval effect
which serves as reference- spends more time in target area then any other area)
2 mins after stress: same effect on memory as in control (more time spent in target area)
30 mins after stress: memory retrieval is impaired (less time spent in target area then control)
4 hours after stress: same effect on memory as in control (more time spent in target area)
Conclusion: Stress induces memory retrieval impairment, which is greatest at 30 minutes after stress.
Recall: 30 minutes after the onset of stress the HPA axis gets activated, suggests this is a glucocorticoid effect
oStudy 2: Glucocorticoid Effects on Memory Retrieval
Demonstrates that this suggestion is correct
Part 1:
Groups:
oSham lesion
oCA3 (hippocampus) lesion
RESULTS: their is improvement overtime for both groups (decrease in escape latencies with time)
Conclusion: demonstrates that learning is still possible with this hippocampal lesion.
Part 2:
Groups:
oSham lesion
oCA3 (hippocampus) lesion
Conditions:
oVehicle
oMetyrapone: prevents any cortisol form being produced or released from adrenal cortex which prevents
HPA activity (basically turns off HPA axis)
oMetyrapone + vehicle
oMetyrapone + Cortisol: so Metyrapone takes away ability to produce cortisol but then synthetic cortisol is
added to replace it
RESULTS:
oVehicle: CA3 lesion has impaired retrieval compared to sham lesion group (obvious effect because CA3 is
region of hippocampus and the hippocampus is involved in memory)
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