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University of Guelph
PSYC 1000
Dan Meegan

Lesson 2: Psychology as a Science and Experimental Research The scientific method:  important concepts: Theory: a set of principles, built on observations and other verifiable facts, that explains some phenomenon and predicts its future behavior Hypothesis: a testable prediction consistent with our theory Operational definitions: precise definitions of the relevant variables in the theory Replication: doing the research again using the same operational definitions of the concepts and procedures Methods of Data Collection:  three research methods for gathering this information: Case Study, Naturalistic Observation, Survey Case Study: An in-depth investigation of a single participant using a bunch of different data collection techniques Advantage: can be a source of support for theories about the cause of behavior Disadvantage: results may not generalize to the rest of the population Naturalistic Observation: observing and recording the participant’s natural behavior, without influencing the participant Advantage: behavior is studied under natural conditions Disadvantage: difficult to not influence behavior; requires a lot of patience Survey: participants are asked a series of questions about certain aspects of their behavior Advantage: good to study behaviors that can’t be directly observed; can collect a lot of data in a short amount of time Disadvantage: careful f wording effects; results depend on what the participants themselves say Experimental Research:  researcher manipulates a variable  performance is compared across different groups of participants  can make causal conclusions Definitions: Independent variable: the variable that is manipulated Dependent variable: the variable that is measured Experimental group: the group of participants that receives the manipulation Control group: the group of participants that does not receive the manipulation Experiments allow for causal conclusions because: If the only difference between the two groups is the independent variable, then any difference found between groups must be caused by the independent variable. While doing an experimental research, it is critical that the only difference between the groups is the independent variable. Random Sampling: each person in the larger population has an equal chance of being included in the study Random assignment: each person in your study has an equal chance of going into either of your groups Advantage: allows for causal conclusions Disadvantages: may be artificial and too simple, may have ethical and/or practical issues Lesson 3: Correlational Research and Basic Statistics  Researchers just measure two (or more) variables  the calculated statistic is called the correlation coefficient, and is symbolized by “r”  the value of “r” tells you how much the two variables you measured are related  correlation is NOT causation A relationship between two variables doesn’t mean that one variable caused the other Advantage: useful for studying topics that’s can’t be studied using experimental methods Disadvantage: does not allow causal conclusions Samples and Populations  researchers try to make conclusions about a population based on data collected from a sample Population: a large group of people whose behavior you’re trying to understand Sample: a subset of the population that you test in your society In order to make conclusions about a population based on a sample, you need SAMPLE = POPULATION HOW?? Random sampling: making sure that every individual in a population has an equal chance of being included in your sample Descriptive Statistics: Two types of statistics:  Descriptive statistics: used to organize your raw data into meaningful descriptions  Inferential Statistics: used to determine if your findings are; likely to be found in the population as a whole, genuine and not due to chance Definitions: Mode: the most common score Mean: the sum of the scores, divided by the number of scores Median: the number/ level that half of the people scored above and half of the them below Range: highest score minus the lowest score Standard deviation: a calculation of the average distance of scores from the mean Skewed versus normal distribution: Intelligence test distribution tends to form a symmetric “bell” shape that is so typical that it is called the normal curve Inferential Statistics: What are the factors that increase the likelihood of finding statistical significance?  large difference between the means of your groups  low variability within groups  using a larger sample of participants Lesson 4: Neural and Hormonal Systems Definitions: Cell body: the cell’s life support center Dendrites: receive messages from other cells Terminal branches of axon: form junctions with other cells Axon: passes messages away from the cell body to other neurons, muscles, or glands Neural impulse (action potential): electrical signal traveling down the axon Myelin sheath: covers the axon of some neurons ad helps speed neural impulses  Resting potential: If an axon is not sending or receiving any signals, then it is negatively charged at about -70mV Two reasons for the negative charge when a neuron is in this balanced, resting state: Diffusion: the tendency for molecules, which are always in motion, to distribute themselves evenly in their environment Electrostatic pressure: ions will attract or repel each other depending on their electric charge  Organic ions (A-): stuck inside the cell  Potassium ions (K+): flows relatively freely across membrane, diffusion wants to push K+ outside cell, but electrostatic pressure wants to keep K+ inside cell  Sodium ions (Na+): diffusion and electrostatic pressure want to push Na+ inside cell  action potential: a sudden and brief increase in the permeability of the cell’s membrane to Na+  voltage-gated sodium channel: detects the charge separation across the membrane and opens up channels for Na+ to cross the membrane Action Potential:  the membrane must be depolarized, or made less negative, by 10 or 20mV  if cell depolarization reaches a certain level, called threshold, then Na+ channels open  cell’s electric charge swings dramatically to the positive side, reaching a charge of +40mV  voltage-gated sodium channels close until cell returns to the resting state  potassium channels also open, but with a bit of a lag  diffusion and electrostatic pressure work harder to force K+ ions outside of the cell  causes cell to be hyperpolarized  Action potential reaches terminal boutons – each terminal bouton contains many synaptic vesicles, or small, balloon- like sacks of neurotransmitters  Causes some of the synaptic vesicles to open- neurotransmitters are released into the synaptic cleft  Some neurotransmitters reach the receiver neuron and bind with receptors- causes specific ion channels to open Depending on what ion channels open, can cause:  Excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP): brings the neuron closer to the threshold and makes it easier for that neuron to fire  Inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP): brings the neuron farther from the threshold and makes it harder for that neuron to fire Reuptake: occurs when the terminal boutons quickly remove the neurotransmitters from the synaptic cleft Two main divisions of the nervous system:  Central and nervous system (CNS): brain and spinal cord  Peripheral nervous system: connects CNS with muscles, glands, and sensory receptors The CNS makes the decisions for the body. The PNS gathers and sends information to and from the rest of the body. Sympathetic nervous system arouses (fight-or-flight). Parasympathetic nervous system calms (rest and digest). The central nervous system: Spinal cord:  most nerves enter/leave through spinal cord  spinal reflexes do not involve the brain The Endocrine System:  consists of numerous glands throughout the body  conveys information via hormones Definitions:  Hypothalamus: brain region controlling the pituitary gland  Thyroid Gland: affects metabolism, among other things  Adrenal gland: inner part helps trigger the “fight-or-flight” response  Testis: secretes male sex hormones  Pituitary gland: secretes many different hormones, some of which affect other glands  Parathyroids: help regulate the level of calcium in the blood  Pancreas: regulates the level of sugar in the blood  Ovary: secretes the female sex hormones Lesson 5: Studying the brain Lesioning:  surgical destruction of brain tissue performed on animals  yielded some insights about less complex brain structures  now we can chemically or magnetically deactivate brain areas to get similar information Electrical Stimulation:  parts of the brain, and even neurons, can be stimulated electrically, chemically, or magnetically  can result in behaviors such as giggling, head turning, or stimulated vivid recall Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan):  brain structure is mapped out using magnetic fields  different areas of the brain are made up of slightly different molecular compositions, which have different magnetic properties  produces a picture of the brain that is very clear Functional magnetic resonance imaging scan (fMRI scan):  relies on the fact that oxygen is sent to regions of the brain that are active  can measure difference in blood oxygen over time while the person is doing a task  functional map is then put on top of the structural map to get an overall map of how much each region of the brain is working on a given task Positron emission tomography scan (PET scan):  allow us to see what part of the brain is active by tracing where a radioactive form of glucose goes while the brain performs a given task Electroencephalogram (EEG):  a recording of the electrical waves sweeping across the brain’s surface  useful for studying seizures and sleep Areas of the brain and their functions:  the brainstem and cerebellum: coordinates the body  limbic system: manages emotions, and connects thought to body  cortex: integrates information The medulla:  controls the most basic functions such as heartbeat and breathing  someone with total brain damage can still breathe independently, but someone with damage in that area CANNOT The pons:  help coordinate automatic and unconscious movements (eg. swallowing, posture, facial expressions, eye movements) The thalamus:  the sensory switchboard  all sensory messages, except smell, are routed through the thalamus on the way to the cortex  also sends messages from the cortex to the medulla and cerebellum The reticular formation:  nerve network in the brainstem  enables alertness  filters incoming sensory information Cerebellum:  “little brain”  helps coordinate voluntary movement such as playing a sport  enables nonverbal learning and memory The Limbic System:  lies between the brainstem and cortex  involves parts of the thalamus and hypothalamus, as well as the hippocampus  processes emotion (fear and aggression)  basic drives (hunger and sex)  formation of episodic memories The Hippocampus:  processes conscious , episodic memories  works with the amygdala to form emotionally charged memories The Amygdala:  consists of two lima bean-sized neural clusters  helps process emotions, especially fear and aggression The Hypothalamus:  lies below the thalamus  regulates body temperature and ensures adequate food and water intake, and is involved in sex drive  directs the endocrine system via messages to the pituitary gland Lesson 6: The Cerebral Cortex The Cerebrum:  largest part of the brain  responsible for higher level mental activities (ex. learning, thinking, remembering)  two halves, called cerebral hemispheres, connected through corpus callosum  3mm outer layer called cerebral cortex  deeper grooves called fissures and shallower grooves called sulci  used to define regions of the four lobes (occipital, parietal, temporal, and frontal lobes) Occipital lobe:  processes visual information  contains primary visual cortex Parietal lobe:  processes body sensations  contains the somatosensory cortex Temporal lobe:  processes auditory information  contains the primary auditory cortex Frontal lobe:  processes speech and skeletal motor functions  contains the primary motor cortex  contains the prefrontal cortex Primary motor cortex:  controls movement on opposite side of the body of over 600 voluntary muscles  laid out in a pattern represented by a motor homunculus Somatosensory cortex:  receives sensory information from opposite side of the body Brain Lateralization: Refers to the fact that each hemisphere performs somewhat different functions Left hemisphere:  language, mathematical, logical abilities  positive emotions Right hemisphere:  spatial relations, non-linguistic sounds (music), facial processing  negative emotions Right visual field is processed in the left hemisphere. Left visual field is processed in the right hemisphere. Neural plasticity = change in structure and function of brain Three lines of evidence show that the brain’s potential for change can be substantial:  brain structure molded by experience  neural reorganization after amputation  adult brains can generate new neurons Lesson 7: Introduction to Development, Prenatal Development and the Newborn Prenatal Development: Begins with conception:  sperm and egg unite to bring genetic material together and form one organism  the fertilized egg is called zygote The zygote stage: first 10 to 14 days  from conception to implantation  cell division occurs at an exponential rate  cells already begin to differentiate into specialized structures and locations The embryonic stage: weeks 2 to 8  period when most vital organs are
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