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PSY290H1 (52)
Chapter 1

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSY290H1
Professor
David Wasserman
Semester
Summer

Description
Chapter 1 - Brain is ~ 1.3 kg - ~ 100 billion neurons - ~ 1 trillion connections - Jimmie G. - man frozen in time ○ Talked about school days in past tense ○ Talked about his early experiences with the navy in present tense ○ Thought he was 19 (actually 49) and was terrified and confused when looked in the mirror ○ Forgot anything new within a few seconds ○ Condition was a product of long-term alcohol consumption ○ Condition first described in late 19th century by a Russian physician called S.S. Korsakoff  Called Korsakoff's Syndrome  There are six major symptoms of Korsakoff's syndrome: 1. Anterograde amnesia (can't form new memories) 2. Retrograde amnesia (forget old memories), severe memory loss 3. Confabulation, that is, invented memories which are then taken as true due to gaps in memory sometimes associated with blackouts 4. Meager content in conversation 5. Lack of insight 6. Apathy - the patients lose interest in things quickly and generally appear indifferent to change  Damage to the medial thalamus and mammillary bodies (important for episodic memory) of the posterior hypothalamus as well as generalized cerebral atrophy  Deficiency in Vitamin B1 (also called thiamine) - TPP is a derivative  TPP is required in first step of alcohol fermentation  Active transport is greatest in the jejunum and ileum (it is inhibited by alcohol consumption and by folic deficiency). Decline in thiamine absorption occurs at intakes above 5 mg/day - Until early 1990s, most neuroscientists thought brain wired together in a massive network - didn't know about neuroplasticity - Biopsychology: scientific study of the biology of behaviour ○ Did not develop into a major neuroscientific discipline until the 20th century ○ D.O. Hebb published a book called "The Organization of Behaviour" in 1949 - key role in emergence of biopsychology  In book developed first comprehensive (covering many things) theory of how complex psychological phenomena (e.g. perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and memories, might be produced by brain activity)  His theories helped discredit the view that psychological functioning is too complex to have its roots in the physiology and chemistry of the brain  Bases his theory on experiments with both humans and lab animals, clinical case studies, and logical arguments based on observations of daily life - Humans have several advantages over other animals as experimental subjects: ○ Can report their subjective experiences ○ Can follow instructions ○ Cheaper - no maintenance - Human brains differ from brains of other mammals primarily in overall size and cortical development ○ Differences more "quantitative" than "qualitative" - Nonhuman animals have 3 advantages over humans: ○ Simpler brains - easier to reveal fundamental brain-behaviour interactions ○ Insights often arise from the comparative approach (e.g. compare species that do and do not have a cerebral cortex) ○ Fewer ethical constraints - Biopsychological research involves both experiments and nonexperimental studies ○ Two common types of nonexperimental studies: quasiexperimental studies and case studies ○ Experiments: - Between-subjects design: a different group of subjects is tested under each condition - Within-subjects design: test same group of subjects under each condition - Independent variable: difference between the conditions - Dependent variable: measured to assess the effect of the independent variable - Confound variable: unintended difference not due to independent variable - difficult to eliminate all confound variables in an experiment Coolidge Effect: a copulating male who becomes incapable of continuing to copulate with one sex partner can often recommence copulating with anew sex partner - Subjects in Lester and Gorzalka's experiments were hamsters - Has not been demonstrated in females - more difficult to control and eliminate confounds - The confusion, according to Lester and Gorzalka, is due to the fact that the males of most mammalian species become sexually fatigued more quickly than the females ○ So can't demonstrate Coolidge effect in females and confound is the males' fatigue ○ When, during copulation, a female is provided with a new sex partner, her increased sexual receptivity could be either due to the effect or to the greater vigor of the new partner - So Lester and Gorzalka had the unfamiliar male copulate with another female while the female copulated with the familiar male - eliminated confound - Then, both males got to rest while the female copulated with a third male - Female then tested with either familiar or unfamiliar male - Dependent variable: time the female displayed lordosis (arched-back, rump-up, tail-diverted posture of female rodent sexual receptivity) - Result: female also displayed Coolidge effect Quasiexperimental Studies - Frequently, physical or ethical impediments make it impossible to assign subjects to specific conditions ○ E.g. not feasible to study causes of brain damage in alcoholics because unethical to assign subjects to a condition involving years of alcohol consumption - Quasiexperimental Studies: studies of groups of subjects who have been exposed to the conditions of interest in the real worl d ○ Not true experiments because potential confound variables have not been controlled, e.g. by the random assignment of subjects to conditions Case Studies - Focus on a single case or subject - Often provide a more in-depth picture - Often good source of testable hypotheses - Generalizability - degree to which results can be applied to other cases Pure and Applied Research - Pure Research: research motivated primarily by the curiosity of the researcher - done solely for the purpose of acquiring knowledge - Applied Research: research intended to bring about some direct benefit to humankind - Often research has elements of both - Pure research is more vulnerable to the vagaries (unexpected changes) of political regulation What Are the Divisions of Biopsychology - Biopsychologists who take the same approaches to research tend to publish in same journals, attend same scientific meetings, and belong to the same professional societies 6 Divisions: 1. Physiological Psychology PSY290 Page 1 1. Physiological Psychology 2. Psychopharmacology 3. Neuropsychology 4. Psychophysiology 5. Cognitive neuropsychology 6. Comparative psychology Physiological Psychology - Studies neural mechanisms of behaviour through direct manipulation of brain in controlled experiments ○ Surgical and electrical methods of brain manipulation are most common ○ Subjects almost always lab animals - Tradition of pure research - contributes to development of theories rather than direct practical benefit Psychopharmacology - Manipulation of neural activity and behaviour with drugs - Can be conducted on lab animals and sometimes humans (if ethics permits it Neuropsychology - Study of the psychological effects of brain damage in human patients - Deals exclusively with case studies and quasiexperimental studies of patients with brain damage resulting from disease, accid ent, or neurosurgery - Cerebral cortex most likely to be damaged by accident or surgery - Most applied of the biopsychology subdisciplines - Assessment of human patients, even when for pure research, always done with eye towards benefiting them in some way E.g. THE CASE OF MR. R., the brain damaged student who switched to architecture: ○ A 21-year old left-handed man struck head on dashboard in car accident ○ Before accident was an honour student at university ○ Became a mediocre student who had particular trouble completing his term papers ○ Referred for neuropsychological assessment ○ Mr. R was 1/3 left handers whose language functions are represented in the right rather than left hemisphere ○ Had a superior IQ but verbal memory and reading speed were only low-average - very unusual ○ Indicates his right temporal lobe may have been slightly damaged - impairment of his language skills ○ Switched to architecture, which doesn't require superior verbal
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