PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Erasmus Darwin

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Psychology Chapter 1 Notes
- Psychologists seek to understand how people think, act, and perceive in a wide range of
situations
- Techniques such as brain imaging show which parts of the brain are involved in
particular behaviours or particular mental activities
- There was a study where white university students were shown pictures of white and
black people
- fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging was used)
- When some of the participants saw pictures of black faces, the amygdala and anterior
cingulate were activated
- Amygdala is associated with threat detection
- Anterior cingulate is associated with emotional response
- This response was only shown in the people whose scores on the IAT (Implicit
association test) indicated negative attitudes towards blacks
- In another study, a new group of students were shown pictures of famous black people
and this response did not occur
- This suggests that increasing familiarity reduces the fear response
- Psychological science is the study of the mind, brain, and behaviour
- The mind refers to mental activity which includes the senses, memories, thoughts, and
feelings
- Mental activity results from the biological processes of the brain, which includes nerve
cells (neurons)
- The physical brain enables the mind
- The term behaviour is used to describe a wide variety of actions
- For many years, psychologists focussed on behaviours rather than mental states due to
lack of technology but recent technology has changed that
Seven themes of Psychological Science
1) Psychology is an empirical science
2) Nature and nurture are inextricably entwined
3) The brain and the mind are inseparable
4) A new biological revolution is energizing research
5) The mind is adaptive
6) Psychological science crosses levels of analysis
7) We are often unaware of the multiple of influence of how we think, feel, and act
Psychology is an empirical science
- Psychological scientists use the scientific method to understand how people think
- The scientific method uses objective and systematic procedures that lead to an accurate
understanding of what is being studied
- We are all consumers of scientific research because we buy magazines
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- We must be able to distinguish between good science and bad science
- Good science utilizes well-conducted research such as the scientific method
Nature and Nurture are inextricably intertwined
- The nature/nurture debate are the arguments whether concerning whether
characteristics are biologically innate or acquired through education, experience, or
culture
- Culture is the beliefs, values, rules, and customs that exist within a group of people who
share a common language and environment and that are transmitted through learning
from one generation to the next
- Psychologists now study the way that nature and nurture influence each other
- In the past, it was believed that bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were thought to be
the result of bad parenting or other environmental circumstances (meaning that the
causes were nurture)
- More recent research showed that these disorders could be heritable
- Psychological scientists now believe that many mental disorders result as much as from
the brain’s wiring (nature) and how people are raised in a particular culture (nurture)
- People’s experiences change their brain structure which in turn changes how they
experience the environment
- PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder) results from a traumatic event where people get
recurring horrible memories
- Although PTSD results from specific situations, recent research shows that there are
genetic predispositions to developing it
The brain and mind are inseparable
- In the past, people have thought that the mind resided in many organs including the
liver and the heart
- Using a wax cast of the brain, Da Vinci found that the sensory images (sight, smell, and
touch) went to the middle part of the brain called the sensus communis
- The mind body problem asks whether the mind and body are separate and distinct or if
the mind is simply the physical brain’s subjective experience
- In the 1600s, Rene Descartes came up with the idea of dualism, the idea that the mind
and body are separated yet intertwined
- Descartes thought that the body was just an organic machine governed by “reflex”
- Mental functions such as memory and imagination resulted from bodily functions
- Descartes concluded that the rational mind was divine and separate from the rest of the
body
- He assigned to the body many mental functions that were previously considered the
mind’s domain
- Psychological scientists reject this notion because they think that the mind is what the
brain does
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A new biological Revolution is energizing research
- Scientists have been asking questions such as “how are memories stored in the brain?”
or “where does emotion come from?”
- We want to identify the neural correlates of how we identify people
- There have been three major areas of development for the biological revolution
Brain chemistry
- The brain works through actions of neurotransmitters, chemicals that communicate
between nerve cells, though there are hundreds of other substances involved with brain
activity
- For example, people have better memories for events when they are aroused rather
than when they were calm
The Human Genome
- The second major development is trying to understand how the genetic processes’
influence life
- For instance, presence of a specific gene in mice can affect the quality of their memory
- Situational contexts can also affect how a gene is expressed
Watching the working brain
- Using methods of neuroscience, psychological scientists can now address some of the
most central questions of human experience, such as how different brain regions
interact to produce perceptual experience, how various types of memory are similar or
different, and how conscious experience involves changes in brain activity
- For over a century, scientists have disagreed on whether psychological processes occur
in specific parts of the brain or are distributed throughout the brain
- We now know that there is some localization of brain functions but many brain regions
still participate to produce behaviour and mental activity
- The 1990s was the decade of the brain because we made a lot of progress in
understanding the neural basis of mental life
The mind is adaptive
- Evolutionary theory was developed by Charles Darwin and it states that behaviour and
mental activity are inherited throughout the history of a species
- The brain has evolved over millions of years to solve problems related to survival and
reproduction
- Adaptations are the physical characteristics, skills or abilities that increase the chances
of reproduction or survival and are therefore more likely to be passed to future
generations
- Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin,
- Charles Darwin came up with the theory of natural selection, where the beneficial
mutations are more likely to be passed on and the mutations that hinder survival are
less likely to be passed on
- This idea is also known as survival of the fittest