chapter 1 summary

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1 Apr 2011
Chapter 1
Psychologists are interested in understanding how people perceive, think, and act in a wide range
of situations.
The goal of psychology today is to understand people by considering both individual factors,
such as how a persons brain processes info about others, and contextual factors, such as how
societal beliefs shape how we behave toward those other people. The ambition is to explain
effectively the most important human behaviour in real-life context.
Brain Imaging –technique that involves assessing changes in metabolic activity of the brain, such
as noting where blood flows as people process info. These changes in blood flow represent
changes in brain activity that indicate which parts of the brain are involved in certain behaviours
or mental activities.
Amygdala – structure in the brain which is involved in detecting threat. In the research unfamiliar
faces activated amygdala.
Implicit attitudes test (IAT) – test that indirectly assesses how people associate positive and
negative words with certain groups of people. In the research, those who were found to hold
negative attitudes were more likely to show activation of amygdala when observing unfamiliar
black faces.
-Increasing familiarity reduces the fear response, which may indicate a reduction in the
likelihood of prejudice and discrimination.
Psychological science – the study of mind, brain, and behaviour.
Mind- mental activity, such as thoughts and feelings. The perceptual experiences that one has
during while interacting with the world (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch) are examples of the
mind in action, as are memories. Mental activity results from biological processes within the
brain. Mind is what the brain does/ the physical brain enables the mind.
Behaviourvariety of action, from subtle to complex, that occur in organism from ants to
humans. In the past psychologists focused on behaviour rather than on mental states. Technology
today allows psychologists to study mental states such as consciousness, which in turn allows to
develop a further understanding of human behaviour.
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What Are the Themes of Psychological Science?
Scientific method- use of objective, systematic procedures that lead to an accurate understanding
of what is being studied. Typically, experiments are conducted to understand human behaviour.
The Principles of Psychological Science are Cumulative
Science progresses in small, incremental steps, as knowledge accumulates based on systematic
study of questions raised by what is already known.
Science builds on the foundation of shared knowledge.
A New biological Revolution Is Energizing Research
Significant progress of 20th century and on propels growth in understanding of the biological
bases of mental activities.
3 developments of the biological revolution:
Brain chemistry. The brain works through the actions of neurotransmitters, chemicals
which communicate messages between nerve cells. Understanding the chemical
processes of the brain provide new insights into mental activity and behaviour and are
useful for developing treatments for people with psychological disorders.
The human genome . Scientists are able to map the basic code/blueprint for the human
body and can discover the link between genes and behaviour. By identifying the genes
involved in memory, researches may soon be able to develop therapies based on genetic
manipulation that will assist people who have memory problems, such as Alzheimer’s
Watching the working brain - Assessing brain in action. Neuroscience addresses: how
different brain regions interact to produce perceptual experience, how various types of
memory are similar, how conscious experience involves changes in brain activity.
It there are consistent patterns of brain activation associated with specific mental tasks
The two are connected!
There is some localization of function (psychological processes are located in specific
parts of the brain), but many different regions participate to produce behaviour and mental
The Mind Is Adaptive
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