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PSY100H1 Study Guide - Final Guide: Embodied Cognition, Motivation, Sensory Memory

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Dan Dolderman
Study Guide

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Lecture 1: Some Fundamental Insights of Psychology (Sept.13.2016)
Why are you here?
Requirement for psych minor extrinsic
Psych is interesting intrinsic
Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic intrinsic, virtually, always wins out
Fundamental Insight #1
Reality is a story, told to us by our brains
Our brains are artists, not mirrors
Our experiences do not reflect “reality itself”, but rather a construction or representation of reality
1. This construction process involves a lot of guesswork filling in gaps
2. This subjective representation occurs within the brain
3. Our brains housed within (and are highly affected by) our bodies nested system: the way that we think is
connected to how our bodies work
so, reality is a mind-body process of creative story-tell
Lecture 2: Introduction to Methods (Sept.15.2016)
Fundamental Insight #1
We don’t live in the real world, but in a constructed world.
This construction process involves interpreting patterns of sensory information based on pre- existing patterns
stored in the brain & body.
There are systematic ways in which we make errors in this construction process; we can therefore improve our
own experience greatly.
More subtly, this situates our understanding of “mind” at an interface – the connections-between
Much of our “processing of information” occurs implicitly, sub-representationally. Thus, understanding this Insight
takes you right to the point of understanding how we construct reality at an essential level, how our own machinery
works... and one surprising and immediate discovery it’s not ‘rational’! What we are, is embodied awareness.
You can never have all the information at your disposal, limited
We have limited sensitivity of our sensory mechanisms and attentional capacity
Our realities are connected with other beings but we experience the world differently
Different subjective realities
As cognitive load is increased, our room for error also increases
Initial detection is a basic sensory process after that people have to take the raw data and interpret it into perception
Fred is acting a certain way when he sees the dog because of his internal interpretation which leads to how he behaves
towards the dog - his behaviour follows his perceptions not his reality
Perception is a process of creative story-telling and inference making… based on a true story
Speed-accuracy trade off!!
This Is highly functional… most of the time.
Remember though, this means that we are not directly interacting with reality, but rather, we are creating a fiction about
reality and interacting with this fiction.
(think of the difference b/w the character in a story, and the observer of the story…)
We are not really aware, don’t have access to the processing of information in our brain – it’s just processing relatively
fast in the background with us having no way to access i
Explicit Processes, implicit Processes
We don’t function as rationally as we believe we do -
Good decisions are based on reason, decisions based on intuition make it them seem bad
Thinking grows out of feeling and feeling grows out embodiment
Question: If you were a pessimistic person and you decide you want to be optimistic, can you do that according to this
fundamental insight?
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Answer: In your past, you might have had situations where being a pessimistic rather than an optimistic which
led to your current state right now. If you would want to change that current state, you have to change the way
you perceive emotions and other things
What does this mean? How are we ‘embodied awareness’? And why can’t we just live in whatever illusion we
sufficiently create for ourselves, if everything is such a big interpretation anyways?
The real world hits you which is why you can’t create your own illusion
How does the mind perceive reality?
Perception is a process of pattern-matching (sort of…)
It’s kind of like our brains look for a correspondence b/w patterns that they have stored through past
experience and the patterns of sensory stimuli it is currently experiencing
More accurately, you are being biologically activated in certain ways… and in the past!
You can be blind to certain aspects of life until you are ready to perceive them ex. someone grows up in a crappy life
what happens when somebody smiles at them? They might not even notice it because their life is so negatively
But if the brain sees a pattern, it can become really motivated to understand the pattern
Thus, what the brain has learned to see in the past, is largely what it sees in the present
Consciousness, then, is about the confluence of bottom-up and top-down perceptual processes.
Bottom-Up: Is the raw data that we take in
Top-Down: imposition on that raw data framework that is being imposed
Bottom-up and top-down come together to make you visual and expectations crash together to form consciousness
Fundamental Insight #2
We focus on one piece of reality and artificially expand it take this ongoing stream of oblivion and we choose to give
it life this is what we do with our attention
Why is this important? begin with, we can’t pay attention to everything !!!!
one way to think about this is that we have a limited capacity to process information, therefore, we take shortcuts:
We rely ‘heuristics’ or rules of thumb, when engaging in reasoning and decision making
E.g. stereotypes: our beliefs about different social groups make it easier to figure out what people are like
#istandwithahmed example of a stereotype
e.g. Toronto people are uptight, judgemental materialists who think they ate the center of the universe and who care
little about the rich diversity of perspectives across Canada; VS.
Torontoians are a creative, open-minded, remarkably peaceful and caring tapestry of people who reflect the rich
cultural diversity of the world, and who provide a shining example of how this globalized world can function
Lecture 3: The Embodied Mind (Sept.20.2016)
Fundamental Insight #2
We Take Shortcuts
We rely upon ‘heuristics’ or rules of thumb, when engaging in reasoning and decision making
e.g., stereotypes
And we rely on subtler, implicit (“unconscious”) signals.
Taking shortcuts opens up us to biases, which we’re often unaware of. These biases can create all sorts of problems
Of course, relying so heavily upon our beliefs makes us biased, often so subtly that we are unaware of these biases, and
we can therefore be led astray by our own belief- driven expectations.
Because perception behaviour, our biases can actually create their own reality!
“self-fulfilling prophecies”
How do people interview someone for a job if they already expect that person to be less competent? That
probably doesn’t help them have a good interview, does it?
Word, Zanna & Cooper Study: Coding behaviour of interviewers who interviewed white people, black people,
dogs (?). With the white people, the white interviewers leaned forward, was more interested which resulted in
a longer interview. With the black people, the interviewers were more nervous, leaned back and overall had
shorter interviews.
Evaluations of essays, resumes, classical music performances, etc., based on race and gender
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Classical Music example: music experts assume men are better so there will be more men hired than women
because you are thinking unconsciously looking for mistakes in the women’s performance creating a gender
gap. But when you do blind auditions the gender gap disappears
Teachers expectations and children’s IQ (Rosenthal & Jacobson; the Pygmalion effect): 1st graders gain in IQ
= 27 vs. 12. The ‘late bloomers’ were all randomly selected but the teachers’ biases towards those late
bloomers increased their IQ way more than the avg. 1st grader
Biases are often based on our motivations, which can alter the information we pay attention to, the info we dredge up
from our memories and the meaning that we read into our experiences.
For e.g., Q: Who is the most amazing, wonderful, totally awesome person on the entire planet? A: The person
you have just fallen in love with Q: Who is the slimiest, nastiest jerk on the planet? A: The person you have
just broken up with.
Biases can even create their own reality: because perception behaviour consequences e.g. imagine if you
believed everyone was a lying, manipulative, selfish cheater who would take advantage of you at the first opportunity
e.g., race & job applicants; gender/race & essay quality; gender & classical music
What Can We Learn from Our Biases?
Humility we have many biases; we do not see reality “as it is” We should therefore be open to other perspectives,
which are the only real way of helping us uncover “blind spots”
Empowerment our perceptions of Reality are constructed, and we have quite a bit of control over that process (and
we can gain much more control than we currently have!!)
The Primacy of Attention
Because of our limited info processing capabilities, ATTENTION is critically important. ATTENTION is what largely
determines the reality we experience. ATTENTION is what determines the reality we experience, and the manner in
which we experience it.
ATTENTION determines how we are affected by the circumstances of our lives (e.g., emotions & attention), how well
we perform on tasks, and many other things.
Attention affects how well we do things
E.g., how do you feel when you talk to someone who isn’t really listening to you?
E.g., brain surgery
e.g., cell phones & driving; brain surgery; studying & distractions
And most importantly, ATTENTION is something that we can learn to control to an extraordinary degree.
What is the secret to happiness?
Attention affects quality of experience e.g. wine/food tasting; listening to music
The proportion of your attentional resources that you devote to what you’re touching and seeing.
Lecture 4: The Embodied Mind (Sept.22.2016)
Fundamental Insight #3
EVERYTHING is the same
What is “knowledge” really?
Activating biological pattern to pull up that information
All of these things are (to you) neural conversations
Your brain is an incredibly intricate network of neurons, much like a culture is a network of people
Those neurons communicate and form larger patterns and structures, much like our culture communicates and forms
institutions and systems of meaning
As neurons communicate, an association begins to form between them (much like a relationship forms between two
people when they talk to each other)
The more they communicate, the stronger the bond gets, until becomes virtually automatic and instantaneous (much
like how we build relationships with others, and share private jokes with our friends)
These neural conversations are not independent… imagine how confusing that would be!
Humans develop a biology that related to a structured environment.
Our neural conversations are interconnected because they reflect our body’s functional adaptation to the environment
becomes increasingly adapted to our environment over time
All aspects of consciousness are dynamic processes, connected other dynamic processes.
Depression, ADHD…If you start thinking about them as dynamic processes then you can realize that they are
Also, understand deeply that the activities of the mind are biologically-transmitted dynamic processes, connecting other
dynamic processes is important
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