PSYC 2330 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Empiricism, Pineal Gland, Drug Development

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Chapter 1 Introduction
Historical Antecedents
Much of our behaviour occurs without awareness
Cognitive psychology doesn’t tell us how good or bad habits and emotions
are aquired or modified
Before him people believed behaviour and decisions were completely
conscious and deliberate
He believed many things we do are automatics reactions but still believed in
conscious behaviour which led into the development of dualism
There are two classes of behaviour, voluntary and involuntary
Involuntary is an automatic reaction to external stimuli and mediated bu
reflex response
Voluntary is conscious intent
The physical world causes involuntary while the mind causes voluntary
Stimuli produce involuntary through neural circuits, Descartes assumed only
one set of nerves were involved and believed involuntary is the only
mechanism available to non-human animals
Believed non-humans lack freewill and humans have the unique attribute of
being able to have free will and conscious behaviour
Historical Developments in the Study of the Mind
Descartes believed the mind is connected to physical body through the pineal
gland and that is how the mind keeps track of involuntary motions but also
initiates voluntary actions this keeps the involuntary mechanism
independent of the voluntary
He believed that the mind developed some contents from sense experiences
but also that we are all born with innate ideas
o Concept of good and bad, concept of self, fundamental axioms of
Nativism (Descartes)
We are born with innate ideas about certain things
Empiricism (John Locke)
Disagreed with Nativism, he believed we are born as a clean slate and acquire
ideas through experiences
Popular through 17th-19th century in groups of British philosophers
Descartes believed the mind was not predictable and orderly
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Agreed with Descartes on the idea of voluntary vs involuntary and that the
mind controlled voluntary but also believed the mind is just as predictable as
He suggested voluntary mechanisms are governed by hedonism people
will do things in pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain
Empiricists also believed in association simple concepts are combined into
more complex ideas by associations once they are established it will
activate all aspects of that which you have experienced
o Ex. car you drive one to work, you have seen one, you have sat in one
the word car will activate all aspects of it that you have experienced
Rules of Associations
Two sets of rules primary and secondary
Primary consists of contiguity (most studied), similarity, and contrast
(contrasting characteristics very tall and very short)
o Contiguity if the two events repeatedly occur together they will
become associated
o Evidence for similarity confirmed by modern studies but none for
Secondary laws have many factors which influence the association between
two sensations (Brown)
o Include intensity, frequency/recentness
o Also involves how many other associations the event is already
involved in and the similarity of past associations to the newest one
British empiricists did not conduct experiments to determine if these rules
are valid and didn’t know which rules would take precedence
First to use experiments to determine how associations are formed
Used non-sense syllables, 3 letter combinations which have no meaning
Used himself as a subject and measured his ability to remember them
Looked at many issues including how the strength of an association increases
with training, and if nonsense syllables that appeared close together in a list
were associated more than those far apart
Historical Developments in the Study of Reflexes
Descartes believed there was one neural path that delivered messages to the
brain and relayed the responses from the brain, also thought that there were
gases called animal sprits involved in neural transmission which were
released buy the pineal gland which in turn swelled muscles which resulted
in movement
Bell and Magendie showed evidence of sensory and motor neurons by cutting
one type and showing that the animal is capable of the opposite
Descartes believed that reflexes were simple
o Stimulus’ energy is converted into energy for the response so the
more intense the stimulus is, the more intense the response
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Sechenov and Pavlov
Primarily responsible for the understanding of physiological processes which
are responsible for reflex behaviour
Sechenov believed faint stimulus’ could trigger large responses (dust and
sneezing) proposed complex forms of behaviour which occur without
obvious eliciting stimuli were actually reflexive responses but we often don’t
notice the stimuli because they are faint
o He used experiments and obtained real results but based his ideas off
of philosophical ideas he did not address how our behaviour varies
with age and experience
Pavlov used experimentation to show not all reflexes are innate and some
can be established through association
The Dawn of the Modern Era
Research in animal learning came from three sources
Comparative Cognition and the Evolution of Intelligence
Interest was sparked by Darwin he argued that we evolved from animals
and so, the evolution of our psychological traits or mental abilities is a
continuity from nonhuman animals
o The mind is a product of evolution
o Suggested animals have the same mental ability as us in the sense of
wonder, memory, curiosity, attention, etc.
o He collected evidence of intelligent behaviour in animals which would
not hold up in present day research but was important because of the
research question
What is “intelligent behaviour”? Romanes – whether or not the animal
adjusts or models its behaviour according to its individual experiences, also
can be considered whether or not they have the ability to learn
Functional Neurology
People wanted to gain insight into how the nervous system works, Pavlov
initiated this research
Pavlov became committed to the principle of nervism all key physiological
functions are governed by the nervous system especially became interested
in how the nervous system controls the digestion mechanisms
o Research continued for a couple of years until two British
investigators proposed that the pancreas is under partial hormonal
control rather than neural
o Instead of giving up on nervism, he abandoned research on the
digestion and began work on conditioning reflexes and how the
nervous system is involved
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