Chapter 1: Psychology – The Evolution of a Science
- Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour.
o The mind refers to our private inner experience, the consciousness.
Consciousness is made up of perceptions, thoughts, memories and feelings.
o Behaviour refers to observable actions of human beings and nonhuman animals.
- Plato (428BC-347BC) argued in favour of nativism.
o Nativisim – certain kinds of knowledge are innate or inborn.
- Aristotle (384BC-322BC) believed that the child’s mind was a “tabula rasa” (blank slate), on
which experiences were written, and he argued for philosophical empiricism.
o Philosophical Empiricism – all knowledge is acquired through experience.
- René Descartes (1595-1650) is best known for his suggestion that the body and soul are
- Francis Gall (1758-1828) developed a theory – phrenology.
o Phrenology – specific mental abilities and characteristics, ranging from memory to the
capacity for happiness, are localized in specific regions of the brain.
- Paul Broca (1825-1880) worked with a brain-damaged person who could comprehend but not
produce spoken language. Him and Pierre Flourence were the first to demonstrate that the
mind is grounded in a material substance; namely, the brain.
- Physiology – the study of biological processes, especially in the human body.
o Stimulus – sensory input from the environment
o Reaction time – the amount of time taken to respond to a specific stimulus
- Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) estimated the length of time it takes a nerve impulse to
travel to the brain.
- Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) founded the first lab devoted exclusively to psychology at the
University of Leipzig in Germany.
o Also, his book “Principles of Physiological Psychology” was publicised in 1874.
o Believed that psychology should focus on analyzing consciousness.
Consciousness – A person’s subjective experience of the world and the mind.
o He adopted structuralism just like chemistry broke down matter into basic elements.
Structuralism – the analysis of the basic elements that constitute the mind.
o Wundt tried to analyze consciousness by using introspection.
Introspection – The subjective observation of one’s own experience.
- Edward Titchener (1867-1927) studied with Wundt for 2 years, travelled to the United States
and set up a psychology laboratory at Cornell University.
o Wundt emphasized the relationship between elements of consciousness, Titchener
focused on identifying the basic elements themselves.
- The structuralist approach gradually faded, due mostly to the introspective method, which could
never give valid results.
- William James (1842-1910) he disagreed with Wundt’s claim that consciousness could be
broken down into separate elements and developed functionalism.
o Consciousness was like a flowing stream than a bundle of separate elements.
o Functionalism – the study of the purpose mental processes serve in enabling people to
adapt to their environment.
o James set out to understand the functions those mental processes served.
o Inspired by Charles Darwin’s principle of natural selection. Reasoned that mental abilities evolved because they were adaptive, this also
means that consciousness must serve an important biological function.
o James’ functionalist psychology quickly gained followers, especially in North America.
- G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924) set up the first psychology research laboratory in North America
after studying with both Wundt and James. His work focused on development and education.
o Hall believed that as children develop, they pass through stages that repeat the
evolutionary history of the human race – the mental capacities of a young child
resemble those of our ancient ancestors.
- Illusions – Errors of perception, memory, or judgment in which subjective experience differs
from objective reality.
- Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) reasoned that the perceived motion could not be explained in
terms of the separate elements that cause the illusion (the two flashing lights) but instead that
the moving flash of light is perceived as a whole rather than a sum of its two parts.
o Wertheimer’s interpretation of the illusion led to Gestalt (whole) psychology.
Gestalt psychology – emphasizes that we often perceive the whole rather than
the sum of the parts
o Gestaltists’ claim was diametrically opposed to the structuralists’ claim that experience
can be broken down into separate elements.
- Dissociative identity disorder – the occurrence of two or more distinct identities within the
- Hysteria – temporary loss of cognitive or motor functions, usually as a result of emotionally
- Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), fascinated by the fact that the brain can create many conscious
selves that are not aware of each other’s existence, suggested that many of the patients’
problems could be traced to the effects of painful childhood experiences that the person could
not remember and that the powerful influence of these seemingly lost memories have on the
presence of an unconscious mind.
o According to Freud, the unconscious is the part of the mind that operates outside of
conscious awareness but influences conscious thoughts, feelings and actions.
o That idea led Freud to develop psychoanalytic theory, an approach that emphasizes the
importance of unconscious mental processes in shaping feelings, thoughts and
o From a psychoanalytic perspective, it is important to uncover a person’s early
experiences and to illuminate unconscious anxieties, conflicts and desires. This formed
the basis for a therapy that Freud called psychoanalysis – bringing unconscious material
into conscious awareness.
o Freud’s vision (psychoanalysis) of human nature was a dark one, emphasizing limitations
and problems rather than possibilities and potentials. He saw people as hostages to
their forgotten childhood experiences and primitive sexual impulses, and the inherent
pessimism of his perspective frustrated those psychologists who had a more optimistic
view of humans.
- Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and Carl Rogers (1902-1987) pioneered a new movement called
humanistic psychology – an approach to understanding human nature that emphasizes the
positive potential of human beings. Humanistic psychologists viewed people as free agents who
have an inherent need to develop, grow, and reach their full potential.
- Behaviourism is a new approach, which advocated that psychologists should restrict themselves
to the scientific study of objectively observable behaviour.
- Margaret Floy Washburn in 1894, became the first woman with a PhD degree in psychology. - Burrhus Frederick Skinner (1904-1990) built a “conditioning chamber” or what’s now called a
o He argued for the principle of reinforcement.
Reinforcement – the consequences of a behaviour determine whether it will be
more or less likely to occur again
- The emergence of the computer led to a re-emergence of interest in metal processes and it
spawned cognitive psychology.
o Cognitive psychology – the scientific study of mental processes, including perception,
thought, memory, and reasoning.
- Sir Frederic Bartlett (1886-1969) suggested that memory is not a photographic reproduction of
past experience and that our attempts to recall the past are powerfully influenced by our
knowledge, beliefs, hopes, aspirations, and desires.
- Jean Piaget (1896-1980) studied the perceptual and cognitive errors of children. He theorized
that younger children lack a particular cognitive ability that allows older children to appreciate
the fact that the mass of an object remains constant even when it is divided.
- Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) argued that one could best predict a person’s behaviour in the world by
understanding the person’s subjective experience of the world.
- Donald Broadbent (1926-1993) observed that pilots must actively move the focus of their
attention from one to another and showed that the limited capacity to handle incoming
information is a fundamental feature of human cognition. This limit could explain many of the
errors that humans make.
- Karl Lashley (1890-1958) surgically removed parts of the brain of mice that ran mazes to try and
find the precise spot in the brain where learning occurred. This led to the development of
o Behavioral neuroscience – link psychological processes to activities in the nervous
system and other bodily processes.
- Cognitive neuroscience – field that attempts to understand the links between cognitive
processes and brain activity.
- Evolutionary psychology – explains mind and behaviour in terms of the adaptive value of
abilities that are preserved over time by natural selection. (Charles Darwin – Natural Selection –
William James was a big fan of Darwin)
- Social psychology – studies how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of individuals can be
influenced by the presence of others.
- Cultural psychology – study of how cultures reflect and shape the psychological processes of
o Absolutism holds that culture makes little or no difference for most psychological
o Relativism holds that psychological phenomena are likely to vary considerably across
cultures and should be viewed only in the context of a specific culture. Chapter 3: Psychology – Neuroscience and Behaviour
Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system. They process information received from
the outside world, they communicate with one another, and they send messages to the body’s muscles
and organs. Neurons are composed of three major parts: the cell body, dendrites and the axon. The cell
body contains the nucleus, which houses the organism’s genetic material. Dendrites receive sensory
signals from other neurons and transmit this information to the cell body. Each neuron has only one
axon, which carries signals from the cell body to other neurons or to muscles and organs in the body.
Neurons don’t actually touch: They are separated by a small gap, which is part of the synapse across
which signals are transmitted from one neuron to another. Glial cells provide support for neurons,
usually in the form of the myelin sheath, which coats the axon to facilitate the transmission of
information. In demyelinating diseases, the myelin sheath deteriorates.
Neurons are differentiated according to the functions they perform. The three major types of
neurons include sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons. Examples of sensory neurons and
interneurons are, respectively, bipolar neurons and Purkinje and py+amidal cells.
The neuron’s resting potential is due to differences in the K concentrations inside and outside
the cell membrane. If electric signals reach a threshold, this initiates an action potential, an all-or-none
signal that moves down the entire length of the axon. The action potential occurs when sodium
channels in the axon membrane open and potassium channels close, allowing the Na ions to flow inside
the axon. After the action potential has reached its maximum, the sodium channels close and the
potassium channels open, allowing K to flow out of the axon, returning the neuron to its resting
potential. The sodium-potassium pump is activated after the internal membrane potential becomes too
negative to return it to normal resting membrane potential. (2 K in and 2 Na out) [-70~-55~+30~-90~-
70~-55~etc.] For a brief period, the action potential cannot be re-initiated. Once it is initiated, the action
potential spreads down the axon, jumping across the nodes of Ranvier to the synapse.
Neurotransmitter Function Examples of Malfunctions
Acetylcholine Enables muscle action; regulates Alzheimer’s disease – Ach-producing neurons
(Ach) attention, learning, memory, deteriorate
sleeping, and dreaming
Dopamine Influences movement, High levels of dopamine – Schizophrenia. Low
motivation, emotional pleasure levels of dopamine produce tremors and
and arousal decreased mobility of Parkinson’s disease
Glutamate A major excitatory Oversupply can overstimulate the brain,
neurontransmitter involved in producing migraines or seizures
learning and memory
GABA (gamma- The primary inhibitory Undersupply linked to seizures, tremors, and
aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter insomnia
Norepinephrine Helps control mood and arousal Undersupply can depress mood
Serotonin Regulates hunger, sleep, arousal, Undersupply linked to depression
and aggressive behaviour
Endorphins Act within the pain pathways and Lack of endorphins could lower pain
emotion centers of the brain threshold or reduce the ability to self-soothe The action potential triggers synaptic transmission through the release of neurotransmitters
from the terminal buttons of the sending neuron’s axon. The neurotransmitter travels across the
synapse to bind with receptors in the receiving neuron’s dendrite, completing the transmission of the
message. Neurotransmitters bind to dendrites based on existing pathways in the brain and specific
receptor sites for neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters leave the synapse through reuptake, through
enzyme deactivation and by binding to autoreceptors. Some of the major neurotransmitters are
acetylcholine (Ach), dopamine, glutamate, GABA, norepinephrine, serotonin, and endorphins. Drugs can
affect behaviour by acting as agonists, that is, facilitating or increasing the actions of neurotransmitters
or as antagonists by blocking the action of neurotransmitters.
Neurons make up nerves, which in turn form the human nervous system. The nervous system is
divided into the peripheral and the central nervous system. The peripheral nervous system connects the
central nervous system with the rest of the body and it is itself divided into the somatic nervous system
and the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system, which conveys information into and
out of the central nervous system, controls voluntary muscles, where as the autonomic nervous system
automatically controls the body’s organs. The autonomic nervous system is further divided into the
sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, which complement each other in their effects on the
body. The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for action in threatening situations, and the
parasympathetic nervous system returns it to its normal state.
The central nervous system is composed of the spinal cord and the brain. The spinal cord can
mediate some basic behaviour such as spinal reflexes without input from the brain. The brain can be
divided into the hindbrain, midbrain, and forebrain. The hindbrain generally coordinates information
coming into and out of the spinal cord with structures such as the medulla, the reticular formation, the
cerebellum and the Pons. These structures respectively coordinate breathing and heart rate, regulate
sleep and arousal levels, coordinate fine motor skills, and communicate this information to the cortex.
The midbrain, with the help of structures such as the tectum and tegmentum, generally coordinates
functions such as orientation to the environment and movement and arousal toward sensory stimuli.
The forebrain generally coordinates higher-level functions, such as perceiving, feeling and t