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Steve Joordens

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PSYA01 - VOCABULARY AND DEFINITIONS Psychology – the scientific study of mind and behaviour Mind - our private inner experience of perceptions, thoughts, memories, and feelings Behaviour – Observable actions of human beings and nonhuman animals Nativism – the philosophical view that certain kinds of knowledge are innate or inborn. Philosophical empiricism – the philosophical view that all knowledge is acquired through experience Phrenology – a now defunct theory that specific mental abilities and characteristics, ranging from memory to the capacity for happiness, are localized in specific regions of the brain. Physiology – the study of biological processes, especially in the human body. Stimulus – sensory input from the environment Reaction time – the amount of time taken to respond to a specific stimulus Consciousness – a person’s subjective experience of the world and the mind. Structuralism – the analysis of the basic elements that constitute the mind. Introspection – the subjective observation of one’s own experience Functionalism – the study of the purpose mental processes serve in enabling people to adapt to their environment Natural selection – Charles Darwin’s theory that the features of an organism that help it survive and reproduce are more likely than other features to be passed on to subsequent generations Hysteria – a temporary loss of cognitive ore motor functions as a result of emotionally upsetting experiences Unconscious – the part of the mind that operates outside of conscious awareness but influences conscious thoughts, feelings, and actions. Psychoanalytic theory – Sigmund Freud’s approach to understanding human behaviour that emphasizes the importance of unconscious mental processes in shaping feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. Psychoanalysis – a therapeutic approach that focuses on bringing unconscious material into conscious awareness to better understand psychological disorders. Humanistic psychology – an approach to understanding human nature that emphasizes the positive potential of human beings. Behaviourism – an approach that advocates that psychologists restrict themselves to the scientific study of objectively observable behaviour Response – an action or physiological change elicited by a stimulus Reinforcement – the consequences of a behaviour that determine whether it will be more likely that the behaviour will occur again. Illusions – errors of perception, memory, or judgement in which subjective experience differs from objective reality. Gestalt psychology – a psychological approach that emphasizes that we often perceive the whole rather than the sum of the parts. Cognitive psychology – the scientific study of mental processes, including perception, thought, memory, and reasoning. Behavioural neuroscience – an approach to psychology that links psychological processes to activities in the nervous system and other bodily processes. Cognitive neuroscience – a field that attempts to understand the links between cognitive processes and brain activity. Evolutionary psychology – a psychological approach that explains mind and behaviour in terms of the adaptive value of abilities that are preserved over time by natural selection. Social psychology – a subfield of psychology that studies the causes and consequences of interpersonal behaviour. Cultural psychology – the study of how cultures reflect and shape the psychological processes of their members. Empiricism – the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation. Scientific method – a set of principles about the appropriate relationship between ideas and evidence. Theory – a hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon Hypothesis – a falsifiable prediction made by a theory. Empirical method – a set of rules and techniques for observation. Operational definition – a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms. Measure – a device that can detect the condition to which an operational definition refers Electromyograph (EMG) – a device that measures muscle contractions under the surface of a person’s skin. Validity – the extent to which a measurement and a property are conceptually related Reliability - the tendency for a measure to produce the same measurement whenever it is sued to measure the same thing. Power – the ability of a measure to detect the concrete conditions specified in the operational definition Demand characteristics – those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think they should Naturalistic observation – a technique for gathering scientific information by unobtrusively observing people in their natural environments. Double mind – an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the person being observed Frequency distribution – a graphical representation of measurements arranged by the number of times each measurement was made. Normal distribution – a mathematically defined frequency distribution in which most measurements are concentrated around the middle. Mode – the value of the most frequently observed measurement Mean – the average value of all the measurements Median – the value that is “in the middle “ – i.e. greater than or equal to half the measurements and less than or equal to half the measurements. Range – the value of the largest measurement in a frequency distribution minus the value of the smallest measurement. Standard deviation – a statistic that describes the average difference between the measurements in a frequency distribution and the mean of that distribution. Variable – a property whose value can vary across individuals or over time. Correlation – two variables are said to “be correlated” when variations in the value of one variable are synchronized with variations in the value of the other. Correlation coefficient – a measure of the direction and strength of a correlation, which is signified by the letter, r. Natural correlation – a correlation observed in the world around us. Third-variable correlation – the fact that two variables are correlated only because each is casually related to a third variable Matched samples – a technique whereby the participants in two groups are identical in terms of a third variable. Matched pairs – a technique whereby each participant is identical to one other participant in terms of a third variable. Third-variable problem – the fact that a causal relationship between two variables cannot be inferred from the naturally occurring correlations between them because of the ever-present possibility of third-variable correlation. Experiment – a technique for establishing the causal relationship between variables. Manipulation – the creation of an artificial pattern of variation in a variable in order to determine its causal powers. Independent variable – the variable that is manipulated in an experiment Experimental group – the group of people who are treated in a particular way, as compared to the control group, in an experiment. Control group – the group of people who are not treated in the particular way that the experimental group is treated in an experiment. Dependent variable – the variable that is measured in a study Self-selection – a problem that occurs when anything about a person determines whether he or she will be included in the experimental or control group. Random assignment – a procedure that uses a random event to assign people to the experimental or control group. Internal validity – the characteristic of an experiment that establishes the causal relationship between variables External validity – a property of an experiment in which the variables have been operationally defined in a normal, typical, or realistic way. Population – the complete collection of participants who might possibly be measured. Sample – the partial collection of people drawn from a population Case method – a method of gathering scientific knowledge by studying a single individual. Random sampling – a technique for choosing participants that ensures that every member of a population has an equal chance of being included in the sample Informed consent – a written agreement to participate in a study made by an adult who has been informed of all the risks that participation may entail. Debriefing – a verbal description of the true nature and purpose of a study. Neurons – cells in the nervous system that communicate with one another to perform information-processing tasks Cell body – the part of a neuron that coordinates information-processing tasks and keeps the cell alive Dendrite – the part of a neuron that receives information from other neurons and relays it to the cell body. Axon – the part of a neuron that transmits information to other neurons, muscles, or glands. Myelin sheath – an insulating layer of fatty material Glial cells – support cells found in the nervous system. Synapse – the junction or region between the axon of one neuron and the dendrites of cell body of another. Sensory neurons – neurons that receive information form the external world and convey this information to the brain via the spinal cord. Motor neurons – neurons that carry signals form the spinal cord to the muscles to produce movement Interneurons – neurons that connect sensory neurons, motor neurons, or other interneurons. Resting potential – the difference in electric charge between the inside and outside of a neuron’s cell membrane Acting potential – an electric signal that is conducted along a neuron’s axon to a synapse Refractory period – the time following an action potential during which a new action potential cannot be initiated Terminal buttons – knoblike structures that branch out from an axon Neurotransmitters – chemicals that transmit information across the synapse to a receiving neuron’s dendrites Receptors – parts of the cell membrane that receive the neurotransmitter and initiate or prevent a new electric signal Acetylcholine (Ach) – a neurotransmitter involved in a number of functions, including voluntary motor control. Dopamine – a neurotransmitter that regulates motor behaviour, motivation, pleasure, and emotional arousal. Glutamate – a major excitatory neurotransmitter involved in information transmission throughout the brain GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid) – the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain Norepinephrine – a neurotransmitter that influences mood and arousal Serotonin – a neurotransmitter that is involved in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness, eating, and aggressive behaviour. Endorphins - chemicals that act within the pain pathways and emotion centers of the brain. Agonists – drugs that increase the action of a neurotransmitter Antagonists – drugs that block the function of a neurotransmitter. Nervous system – an interacting network of neurons that conveys electrochemical information throughout the body. Central nervous system (CNS) – the part of the nervous system that is composed of the brain and spinal cord Peripheral nervous system (PNS) – the part of the nervous system that connects the central nervous system to the body’s organs and muscles. Somatic nervous system – a set of nerves that conveys information into and out of the central nervous system Sympathetic nervous system – a set of nerves that prepares the body for action in threatening situations. Parasympathetic nervous system – a set of nerves that helps the body return to a normal resting state. Spinal reflexes – simple pathways in the nervous system that rapidly generate muscle contractions. Hindbrain – an area of the brain that coordinates information coming into and out of the spinal cord. Medulla – an extension of the spinal cord into the skull that coordinates heart rate, circulation, and respiration. Reticular formation – a brain structure that regulates sleep, wakefulness, and levels of arousal. Cerebellum – a large structure of the hindbrain that controls fine motor skills. Pons – a brain structure that relays information from the cerebellum to the rest of the brain. Tectum – a part of the midbrain that orients an organism in the environment. Tegmentum – a part of the midbrain that is involved in movement and arousal Cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain, visible to the naked eye and divided into two hemispheres. Subcortical structures – areas of the forebrain housed under the cerebral cortex near the very center of the brain. Limbic system – a group of forebrain structures including the hypothalamus, the amygdala, and the hippocampus, which are involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. Thalamus – a subcortical structure that relays and filters information from the senses and transmits the information to the cerebral cortex Hypothalamus – a subcortical structure that regulates body temperature, hunger, thirst and sexual behaviour. Pituitary gland – the “master gland” of the body’s hormone producing system, which releases hormones that direct the functions of many other glands in the body. Hippocampus – a structure critical for creating new memories and integrating them into a network of knowledge so that they can be stored indefinitely in other parts of the cerebral cortex Amygdala – a part of the limbic system that plays a central role in many emotional processes, particularly the formation of emotional memories. Basal ganglia – a set of subcortical structures that directs intentional movements. Corpus callosum – a thick band of nerve fibers that connects large areas of the cerebral cortex on each side of the brain and supports communication of information across the hemispheres. Occipital lobe – a region of the cerebral cortex that processes visual information. Parietal lobe – a region of the cerebral cortex whose functions include processing information about touch. Temporal lobe – a region of the cerebral cortex responsible for hearing and language. Frontal lobe – a region of the cerebral cortex that has specialized areas for movement, abstract thinking, planning, memory, and judgement. Association areas – areas of the cerebral cortex that are composed of neurons that help provide sense and meaning to information registered in the cortex. Gene – the unit of hereditary transmission Chromosomes – stands of DNA wound around each other in a double-helix configurations. Heritability – a measure of the variability of behavioural traits among individuals that can be accounted for by genetic factors. Electroencephalograph (EEG) – a device used to record electrical activity in the brain. Synesthesia – the perceptual experience of one sense that is evoked by another sense Sensation – simple stimulation of a sense organ Perception – the organization, identification, and interpretation of a sensation in order to form a mental representation. Transduction – what takes place when many sensors in the body convert physical signals form the environment into encoded neural signals send to the central nervous system. Psychophysics – methods that measure the strength of a stimulus and the observer’s sensitivity to that stimulus. Absolute threshold – the minimal intensity needed to just barely detect a stimulus Just noticeable difference (JNB) – the minimal change in a stimulus that can just barely be detected. Weber’s law – the just noticeable difference of a stimulus is a constant proportion despite variations in intensity. Signal detection theory – an observation that the response to a stimulus depends both on a person’s sensitivity to the stimulus in the presence of noise and on a person’s response criterion. Sensory adaptation – sensitivity to prolonged stimulation tends to decline over time as an organism adapts to current conditions. Visual acuity – the ability to see fine detail. Retina – light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eyeball Accommodation – the process by which the eye maintains a clear image on the retina. Cones – photoreceptors that detect colour, operate under normal daylight conditions, and allow us to focus on fine detail. Rods – photoreceptors that become active under low-light conditions for night vision. Fovea – an area of the retina where vision is the clearest and there are no rods at all Blind spot – a locations in the visual field that produces no sensation on the retina because the corresponding area of the retina contains neither rods nor cones and therefore has no mechanism to sense light. Receptive fields – the region of the sensory surface that, when stimulated, causes a change in the firing rate of that neuron. Trichromatic colour representation – the pattern of responding across the three types of cones that provides a unique code for each colour. Colour-opponent system – pairs of visual neurons that work in opposition Area V1 – the part of the occipital lobe that contains the primary visual cortex. Visual-form agnosia – the inability to recognize objects by sight. Binding problem – how features are linked together so that we see unified objects in our visual world rather than free-floating or miscombined features. Illusory conjunction – a perceptual mistake where features from multiple objects are incorrectly combined. Feature integration theory – the idea that focused attention is not required to detect the individual features that comprise a stimulus but is required to bind those individual features together. Perceptual constancy – a perceptual principle stating that even as aspects of sensory signals change, perception remains consistent. Template – a mental representation that can be directly compared to a viewed shape in the retinal image. Monocular depth cues – aspects of a scene that yield information about depth when viewed with only one eye. Binocular disparity – the difference in the retinal images of the two eyes that provides information about depth. Apparent motion – the perception of movement as a result of alternating signals appearing in rapid succession in different locations. Change blindness – when people fail to detect changes to the visual details of a scene. Inattentional blin
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