Live Lecture #1 – January 8 , 2013 th
1) Propose a mechanism
2) What are some implications if the claim is valid?
3) What sort of evidence currently supports the claim
Ex. Infertile couples are more likely to conceive after they have adopted a child Mechanism:
lack of stress (due to finally having a child). Implications: more couples may adopt, rumour
spreads. Evidence: no correlation between adoption and being able to conceive. In reality this is
an erroneous belief that is spread due to the saliency of the event (adoption), therefore people
remember the pregnancies after this event rather than the ones that happen eventually
without this event.
This is to help with CRITICAL THINKING.
Famous Example - Cello Scrotum
Found by Murphy in young boys when they would play the cello it would lead to a
malformation of the scrotum (1974). 1991 Shapiro questioned the claim. 2009 Murphy
and his wife admitted to lying about the original claim.
Many people believed this claim, because it was published in a scientific journal. Murphy had
the intention of the claim being rejected, he did not expect it to be accepted for fact by
Famous Example – Doomsday
The scientific facts showed that on December 21, 2012 the earth, sun and centre of the milky
way were in alignment. This date also aligned with the end of an era of the Mayan calendar.
These points together lead to supporting the belief of this doomsday, although the Mayans
never claimed this would be the end of the world, also the alignment happens every year on
the winter solstice. This claim was believed by millions of people.
Famous Example – Four Loko
Four Loko is a drink that’s supposed to get you drunk off of one can, and mixes caffeine and
alcohol. This rumour spread around college campuses, and lead to many alcohol poisonings and
even some deaths. This was because people did not experience the “drunk off of one can”
effect and because it was so sweet they didn’t notice how much they’re drinking, and kept
drinking because of this. Research shows that the unusual flavours shock your body and get you more drunk than another “expected” flavour, as reported by Bruni (New York Times Journalist).
Situational-Specificity of Tolerance, you develop a tolerance to a certain delivery of alcohol and
then drinking the unusual flavours of Four Loko makes the tolerance disappear.
Live Lecture #2 – January 15, 2013
Developmental Psychologist – Looks at how genetics and environment effect a person
throughout their life span. Asks who is drinking this alcohol? (in the case of the four loko effect)
May be a predisposition for alcohol consumption in the family (ie. Alcoholism runs in the
family). May be because you watch them drink and decide to do it too, may be because there is
a gene for alcohol consumption.
Longitudinal Study on Alcohol Predisposition
Take a young child and bring them into the lab in a controlled setting and give them their first
dose of alcohol. If they are a high responder (get drunk), then they are less likely to become
alcoholics. If they are a low responder (do not get drunk), then you are more likely to become
an alcoholic later in life.
Birth Order Effecting Life
First born – Parents direct more energy towards them and are more strict, higher expectations.
Shaped the personality of the first born to be responsible and a leader.
Middle born – A bit more easy going because the parents have already learnt what it’s like to be
a parent. Middle children often feel like scapegoats because they have an older and younger
Last Born – Even more hand-me-downs than the middle child, parents “baby” them, they get
away with a lot more than the first two. More “free-spirited”, take longer to mature and make
their own decisions because they are babied.
Methods of Testing Pre-Verbal Children
Preference Method – showing infants multiple stimuli and seeing how they respond, ideally the
experimenter would not be able to be seen. Oldest they can test this is 3 months old with eye
Is a Preference for Faces Innate? As soon as infants are born (within minutes), they are shown two stimuli, one that looks like a
face and one that has the same elements but does not look like a face. This study showed that
babies are born with the innate preference for faces. Study done at McMaster.
Sex and Gender
When babies are first born, it is hard to distinguish whether they are a male or female.
Storm the genderless baby – gender of storm withheld from the public, many people were
upset by this for many reasons – societal expectations, confusion for the child, etc.
Pink and blue – the way a baby is dressed may affect the way someone will react to the baby.
Famous study shows that babies dressed in blue are treated more rough and comment on how
big they are, while babies dressed in pink were cradled, sang to and told how pretty they were.
The gender of the baby effects the way others will treat your baby and what they will buy
2 Different Ways to Look at Sex and Gender:
1) Genetically identifying as a female (XX) or male (XY)
2) Social roles – how people react to male and female babies
Bruce/Brenda – proves gender and sex can be separate entities. Medical mishap turned Bruce
into Brenda, but later in life Brenda got gender reassignment and became David but never felt
comfortable and later committed suicide. Maybe there is some genetic component to gender.
Headstart (3 year movement) – nutrition introduced at school made children perform better at
school. Baby Einstein toys claim to make your baby a “super baby”. Three pieces of evidence
used towards these toys, but were misinterpreted:
1) Biological Exuberance more synapses in brain, but some are later pruned away into
adulthood, thought extra stimulation would enhance cognitive development.
2) Critical Periods less visual stimulation in young kittens leads to worse vision in fully
3) The Mozart Effect Babies will be smarter if they listened to classical music. Although,
this study was done with first year university students and inferred that it would work
with infants too.
These are examples of misinterpreting scientific findings. Live Lecture #3 – January 22, 2013
Heritable variance leads to differential reproductive success. This drives everything behind
Outcome variance – how spread out an outcome is (spread around a mean). Outcome variance
can drive different solutions to the same problems.
Inputs Decision Rules Outputs
1. Behaviour = psychological mechanism and input
2. Evolved psychological mechanism coded in brain (synapses, selected mechanisms that
favour certain genes moving on to the next generation)
3. Evolved psychological mechanisms can be described as information processing devices
People are very good at matching pictures of babies with their parents. Kin recognition is very
easy. Which parent does the child look like? People go out of their way to say how much the
baby looks like the father.
What do women look for in a potential romantic partner?
-Stability, Responsibility, Maturity, Honest, Trustworthy, Loyalty, Physical Attractiveness
Looking for certain personality traits in a potential lifelong partner
-Cute Smile, “Good Personality”, Nice Body
Physical attractiveness driving force
Romance and the Friend Zone
Are you attracted to your Yes No (and actually believes it)
Is your friend attracted to Yes -
Would you consider dating Yes (regardless of relationship -
your friend? status) Different Adaptive Problems:
1) Metabolic demands of reproduction - more metabolically costly for women
2) Parental investment demand – male may or may not be there when baby is born, for
the woman that is her child
3) Genetic cuckoldry – women gives birth, knows it’s her child. The male can never be
100% sure that the baby is his. Potentially investing resources into someone who is not
genetically related to them
Women more selective about romantic partners, men are not as much. This is why people
say that the newborn infant looks like their father. This insures father of their paternity,
classically conditioned response.
Men and women both have the approx. same average number of children on average (Men:
2.04, women: 2.14), but the variance is very different. Women follow normal curve, men are
very spread out. Men that have more than 10 children are more fit. Lower in hierarchy, less
likely to find a woman to mate with.
Likelihood of Agreeing to have Sex with Someone you find Attraction as a Function of Time
Men are simply more likely to agree to have sex with someone, but increases after time. Put a
lot of weight in physical attractiveness, can evaluate this in an hour.
Women’s likelihood to have sex is very low and only agrees after knowing the person for at
least 1 week. Trying to evaluate personality traits takes time.
This is driven by different reproductive strategies
Men tend to take higher risks (take higher number (1-100), less likely to win but will win more
money if they do). Women take lower numbers to ensure that they will win something.
Context for risk taking behaviour:
1) Can gain access to limited resources
2) In a social context (ex. Loss of status in social group, woman involved)
Homicide Rates as an Index of Aggression:
Almost all homicides committed by men in their early 20’s. Graph is similar no matter what
geographical area you are looking at. What Factors Promote Competitive Risk-Taking?
-“When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.” If you don’t have a resource and no
possibility to get it, then you have nothing to lose and are more likely to show risk taking
behaviour to gain these limited resources
Positive correlation between the inequality of household income and homicide rates. Negative
correlation between male life expectancy and homicide rate.
Live Lecture #4 – January 29, 2013
The Matrix Problem
- You assume that your interpretation of what is happening around you is real—but how
can you know for sure?
- “Are you living in a computer simulation?”
1. The brain constructs your world everything you think the world is is just your
brain’s interpretation of it (may or may not be accurate)
2. Hebbian learning provides a mechanism for neural coding (through action
potentials, neurons, synapses, etc.)
3. Prior learning interacts with a collaborative functional process across brain regions
Neurons are Communication Cells
- Drive all information processing in the brain
- 3 Classes of Neurons
o Sensory Neurons take in information from the outside world & sends signals
o Motor Neurons travel out from CNS to periphery to muscles & glands; directs
interactions with outside world
o Interneuron most common type; modify processes
- Simple Neural Circuit: Knee Jerk reflex
o sensory receptors in muscle spindles of leg
o travels to spinal cord
o 1) sensory process synapses directly to motor neuron and sends message to
quadriceps (agonist) & 2) sensory neuron synapses with interneuron in spinal
cord & sends message to hamstring (antagonist)
Heuristics and Prior Knowledge
A bat and a ball together cost $1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball.
Q. How much does each item cost? The ball costs $0.05 & the bat costs $1.05 - Why do so many people get this wrong? x + x + 1= 1.10
2x + 1= 1.10
- Small numbers mess people up? Numbers are not nice round numbers? The math above
is easy, but most people do not complete math like this in their head (more abstract)
Visual Top-Down Processing
- Child made a drawing saying “when I grow up I want to be like mommy” (picture was of
mother on a strip pole & people holding money) it actually shows a picture of the
mother selling a shovel and people trying to buy it
- Different visual inputs can be interpreted differently by different people
Audio Top-Down Processing
- How to recognize speech (brain hears this because it makes sense in the context)
- How to wreck a nice beach (what was actually said)
- Sound goes through filters in brain to make sense of sounds you are hearing
Top-Down Processing Meets Sensory Processing
- Two squares appear to be different colours, but are actually same colour (hard to
- Why? In order to fit the checkerboard pattern, B should be lighter than A (context from
- There is a shadow (appears light is coming from top right); area behind object is
receiving less light
- In order for these to give off same colour, it must be that B is lighter than A (but this is
Thought and Behaviour
- Hebbian learning
- “neurons that fire together wire together”
- US UR; CS CR
Sensory and Motor Homunculi - Certain areas of cortex control different parts of body (e.g. someone touches your hand
and there is activity in area of cortex corresponding to your hand for both sensory
- You can stimulate the cortex (and not touch your hand), it will feel like your hand is
- Therefore reality of what is happening in the brain can be different than what is
happening in the world
- E.g. Phantom Limb Syndrome lifetime of experience with a limb, lose that limb in an
accident, but can still “feel” that limb; sometimes can have actual coordinated
responses, sometimes people report weird things happening with that limb; worst
cases: people experience severe pain with a limb that is no longer there
- Phantom Limbs & Neuroplasticity person with pain (feels like amputated hand is
clenched); use a mirror to make it look like they have right & left hand, then imagine
that he is clenching and then unclenching his fists… experiences pain relief (patient was
responding to visual feedback)
Mirror Neurons: Accidental Discovery
- Experiment was measuring electrical activity in the motor cortex of a monkey (e.g.
reaching out to grab food)
- A researcher accidentally walked in with same reward food; monkey did not move, but
there was activity in the motor cortex (monkey wanted to eat food, so his brain was
activating as if he was eating it)
- Can this information be passed on to other individuals in the species? What are the
minimum requirements? need a mirror neuron system
- Ability to understand another person’s emotional state; humans can do this by reading
their facial cues (thought to be driven by mirror neuron system)
Theory of Mind
- Before children reach this stage, they think that whatever happens to them happens to
everyone else in the room (e.g. peek-a-boo)
Live Lecture #5 – January 5 , 2013
-Justifying every decision you make to yourself, why you are doing something -> Top Down
Processing – goals drive intentions, cognitive dissonance example is an example of a running
-Container with ice cold water bath, experiment is to place your arm in the cold water, most
people can keep it in for 7 or 8 seconds…experiment is testing to see if they can change tolerance for pain…told if they have a “type 1” heart they will have to keep it in a long time, or
cold tolerance is unhealthy (told 2 different groups different things) and the “cold tolerance is
healthy” participants kept their hands in longer and vice versa
-Type 1 heart = healthy, type 2 heart = unhealthy
-Participants don’t believe that they effected their second score…believe experimenter changed
3 Main Points About the Brain:
-the brain controls your world
-Hebbian learning provides a mechanism for neural coding
-prior learning interacts in a collaborative process across brain regions
-Could have a genetic malformation or an injury that causes a brain to not function properly
Problems with Case Studies:
-Hard to make causal solutions because chance could always cause something
Case of the Impostor Syndrome
- Dave was in a comma, he comes out and knows who he is and what is going on, but
when his parents come to visit he acts somewhat cold and distant, because he does not
feel they are his parents – look like his parents but he thinks they are not.
- Actual condition described 100 years ago
- Mechanism: had prior delusional beliefs and trauma made them surface, recognized his
parents but did not have an emotional connection with them
- Dominant solution: Freudian – unconscious physical attraction for his mother that he
could repress but after the accident he no longer could and this conflicted with what he
thought was right, so he led himself to believe that they were not his parents
- Capgras Delusion: When you see a person there are 2 stages: visual recognition and
emotional recognition, neurons in the FFG (temporal lobe) respond to faces (visual
recognition, then the Amygdala responds emotionally to a visual stimulus…conclusion is
that face recognition area in the brain is intact but the connection between the FFG and
the Amygdala is damaged – recognition without emotional significance
- Delusion occurs face-to-face but not on the phone (with auditory stimuli)
- Brain creates a running narrative to explain stimuli and events Case of Ignoring Half of the World
-Only pay attention to one half of their perception
-Told to describe everything that they see in a city square, and only describe the right side, but
if they are told they are on the left side they can explain that side too, so they do have the
memories of that side and they can perceive the opposite side
-Prior beliefs and superstitions may cause this
-Parietal lobe = spatial navigation and attention – hemispatial neglect – the other side of the
world doesn’t “count”, only do things on the right side
-When trying to remember objects and events from their past, they try to cram it into the right
-Left hemisphere attends to right side, Right hemisphere attends to both sides – asymmetrical
attentional representation of body and space – if left parietal lobe is damaged, right
hemisphere can compensate but if the right hemisphere is damaged then the left hemisphere
cannot help and that is why most people only attend to the right side and not the left
(inattention to left side of the world)
-damage directly to the brain so you can’t really overcome it
Live Lecture #6 – February 12 , 2013 th
-Eyes = “vision receptors”
-Sensation from outside environment turned into a nervous impulse (perception)
-less known about perception (just because it seems effortless does not mean it’s not
complicated), unconscious inference – good for navigation
-these assumptions can be seen in optical illusions
-sphere example shows that the brain assumes there is a single light source (ex. The sun is a
single light source) which allows us to be uniform in our assumptions of spheres and