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Chapter 1

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PSYC 211
Yogita Chudasama

PSYC211 Chapter 1 Notes Definitions: Dualism: The belief that the body is physical but the mind (or soul) is not Monism: The belief that the world consists only of matter and energy and that the mind is a phenomenon produced by the workings of the nervous system Blindsight: The ability of a person who cannot see objects in his or her blind field to accurately reach for them while remaining unconscious of perceiving them; caused by damage to the “mammalian” visual system of the brain Corpus Callosum: The largest commissure of the brain, interconnecting the areas of neocortex on each side of the brain Split-brain Operation: Brain surgery that is occasionally performed to treat a form of epilepsy; the surgeon cuts the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain Cerebral Hemispheres: The two symmetrical halves of the brain; constitute the major part of the brain Unilateral Neglect: A syndrome in which people ignore objects located toward their left and the left sides of objects located anywhere; most often caused by damage to the right parietal lobe Generalization: A type of scientific explanation; a general conclusion based on many observations of similar phenomena Reduction: A type of scientific explanation; a phenomenon is described in terms of the more elementary processes that underlie it Reflex: An automatic, stereotyped movement that is produced as the direct result of a stimulus Model: A mathematical or physical analogy for a physiological process; for example, computers have been used as models for various functions of the brain Doctrine of Specific Nerve Energies: Müller’s conclusion that because all nerve fibers carry the same type of message, sensory information must be specified by the particular nerve fibers that are active Experimental Ablation: The research method in which the function of a part of the brain is inferred by observing the behaviours an animal can no longer perform after that part is damaged Functionalism: The principle that the best way to understand a biological phenomenon (a behaviour or a physiological structure) is to try to understand its useful functions for the organism Natural Selection: The process by which inherited traits that confer a selective advantage (increase an animal’s likelihood to live and reproduce) become more prevalent in a population Mutation: A change in the genetic information contained in the chromosomes of sperms or eggs, which can be passed on to an organism’s offspring; provides genetic variability Selective Advantage: A characteristic of an organism that permits it to produce more than the average number of offspring of its species Evolution: A gradual change in the structure and physiology of plant and animal species - generally producing more complex organisms - as a result of natural selection Neoteny: A slowing of the process of maturation, allowing more time for growth; an important factor in the development of large brains Physiological Psychologist: A scientist who studies the physiology of behaviour, primarily by performing physiological and behavioural experiments with laboratory animals Introduction: • Universal human characteristic is curiosity where we want to explain what makes things happen • In ancient times, people believed that natural phenomena were caused by animating spirits (animism) • What role does the brain play in comparison to the soul or spirit (mind-body question) • Dualism: belief in the dual nature of of reality. Mind and body are separate; body is made of ordinary matter, but the mind is not • Monism: belief that everything in the universe consists of matter and energy and that the mind is a phenomenon produced by the workings of the nervous system Understanding Human Consciousness: A Physiological Approach • Consciousness can be used to refer to a variety of concepts, including simple wakefulness or to refer to the fact that we humans are aware of and can tell others about our thoughts, perceptions, memories and feelings • Consciousness can be altered by changes in the structure or chemistry of the brain; potentially be a physiological function, just like behaviour • Consciousness and the ability to communicate seem to go hand in hand • Phenomenon of consciousness is our ability to send and receive messages with other people enables us to send and receive our own messages inside our own heads - in other words, to think and to be aware of our own existence Blindsight: • Blindsight suggest that the common belief that perceptions must enter consciousness to affect our behaviour is incorrect. Our behaviour can be guided by sensory information of which we are completely unaware • The brain contains several mechanisms involved in vision. • Mammalian system is responsible for our ability to perceive the world around us. Primitive visual system is devoted to controlling eye movements and brining our attention to sudden movements that occur off to the side of our field of vision • The phenomenon of blindsight suggests that consciousness is not a general property of all parts of the brain • Only the mammalian visual system has direct connections with the parts of the brain responsible for consciousness Split Brain: • Disconnecting parts of the brain involved with perceptions from parts that are involved with verbal behaviour also disconnects them from consciousness. This suggests that parts of brain involved in verbal behaviour may be associated with consciousness • Split brain operation has been used for patients with severe epilepsy which drugs cannot control. In these people, nerve cells in one side of the brain become overactive, and the overactivity is transmitter to the other side of the brain by the corpus callosum • Corpus callosum is a large bundle of nerve fibers that connect one side of the brain to the other • Cerebral hemispheres receive sensory information from opposite sides of the body. They also control movements of the opposite sides • Corpus callosum permits the two hemispheres to share information so that each side knows what the other side is doing and perceiving • After split brain operation, each hemisphere works independently; sensory mechanisms, memories, and motor systems can no longer exchange information • In most people, the left hemisphere controls speech and the right hemisphere controls understanding instructions • Smelling a flower with left nostril (left hemisphere) lets you identify the smell verbally but not associate the object to smell with left hand • Smelling a flower with right nostril (right hemisphere) lets you associate the smell to the object and can pick it up with left hand, but right hand and verbal will say you smelled nothing • We become conscious of something only if information about it is able to reach the parts of the brain responsible for verbal communication, which are located in the left hemisphere. If the information does not reach these parts of the brain, then that information does not reach consciousness Unilateral Neglect: • Unilateral neglect is produced by damage to a particular part of the right side of the brain: the cortex of the parietal lobe resulting in failure to notice things located to a person’s left • Parietal lobe receives information directly from the skin, the muscles, the joints, the internal organs, and the part of the inner ear that is concerned with balance; it is concerned with the body and its position • The parietal cortex also receives auditory and visual information. It’s most important func
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