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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Introduction.doc

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Dan Dolderman

Chapter 1 - Introduction • psychological science: the study of the mind, brain, and behaviour • mind: mental activity, perceptual experience, memories, thoughts, feelings - all are a result of biological processes involving the nerve cells or neurons; the physi- cal brain enables the mind • behaviour: the variety of actions that occur The Seven Themes of Psychological Science 1. Psychology is an empirical science. • psychological scientists use the scientific method to understand how people think, feel, and act • scientific method: use of objective, systematic procedures to produce an accu- rate understanding of what is being studied 2. Nature and nurture are inextricably entwined. • nature/nurture debate: arguments concerning whether psychological character- istics are biologically innate or acquired through education, experience, and cul- ture (beliefs, values, rules, norms, and customs within a group sharing a com- mon language and environment) • both nature and nurture contribute to psychological development, in shaping the brain, mind, and behaviour; individual experiences can alter brain structure • schizophrenia: causes a person to have unusual thoughts and sensations • bipolar disorder: causes a person to have dramatic mood swings, from de- pressed (sadness) to manic (euphoric) • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): results from experiencing traumatic events such as military duty or accidents - but some people may have a genetic predisposition to it • these conditions, like many mental disorders, are a product of both genetics and the environment 3. The brain and mind are inseparable. • mind/body problem: a fundamental psychological issue that considers whether mind and body are separate and distinct or whether the mind is simply the sub- jective experience of the physical brain • throughout history it was widely believed that the mind was separate from the body • Leonardo da Vinci dissected human bodies, discovered that all sense come from the same area in the brain; his work was not scientifically accurate but it fur- thered the idea of there being a connection between mind and physical brain • Rene Descartes promoted idea of dualism: that mind and body are separate yet intertwined; the body being a machine that could produce mental functions; con- cluded that the rational mind was separate from the body ◦ psychological scientists largely reject duality, believe that mind is what the brain does 4. A new biological revolution is energizing research. • Brain Chemistry Chapter 1 - Introduction ◦ neurotransmitters: chemicals that communicate messages between nerve cells ◦ scientists have identified neurotransmitters and their functions - hundreds of them are involved in mental activity and behaviour ◦ ex. people have better memories of events that occurred when they were aroused than when they were calm bc chemicals that respond to world in- fluence memory processing • The Human Genome ◦ human genome: the basic genetic code for the human body ◦ scientists have discovered links between genes and behaviour, such as genes that improve memory ◦ all psychological and biological activity are determined by multiple genes interacting with one another • Watching the Working Brain ◦ neuroscience: study of how different brain regions interact to produce perceptual experience, how various types of memory are similar or differ- ent, how conscious experience involves changes in brain activity ◦ there is some localization of function: some areas are important for spe- cific feelings, thoughts, and actions, but many brain regions are involved to produce overall behaviour and mental activity 5. The mind is adaptive. • evolutionary theory: in psychological science, a theory that emphasizes the in- herited, adaptive value of behaviour and mental activity throughout the history of a species • adaptations: in evolutionary theory, the physical characteristics, skills, or abilities that increase the chances of reproduction or survival and are therefore likely to be passed along to future generations • natural selection: Darwin's theory that those who inherit characteristics that help them adapt to their particular environments have a selective advantage over those who do not • social behaviours and attitudes have developed as adaptations to situational and cultural contexts ◦ all humans need to belong to a group, therefore society discourages be- haviours that result in social isolation such as lying chatting, and stealing ◦ example of an adaptive mechanism: infants recognize "visual cliff", have a fear of heights once they begin crawling ◦ preference for fatty and sweet foods result of an adaptation to food scarci- ty 6. Psychological science crosses levels of analysis. • psychology overlaps with biology, computer science, physics, anthropology, and sociology Chapter 1 - Introduction • interdsciplinary: understanding how biological, individual, social, and cultural fac- tors influence our specific behaviours • cultural differences demonstrate how experiences shape psychological processes, while cultural similarities can reveal universal psychological phenomena that ex- ist regardless of cultural experience Four Levels of Analysis Level Focus What is studied? Biological Brain systems Neuroanatomy, animal research, brain Neurochemistry imaging Genetics Neurotransmitters and hormones, animal studies, drug studies Gene mechanisms, heritability, twin and adoption studies Individual Individual differences Personality, gender, developmental age Perception and cogni- groups, s
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