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Chapter 1

Chapter 1.pdf

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Psychology 2220A/B
Scott Mac Dougall- Shackleton

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Biopsychologyas a Neuroscience January-12-12 11:47 AM - Humanbrain weighs about 1.3 kg - The human brain is an intricate network of neurons (cells that receive and transmit electrochemical signals) - Neuroscience - the scientific study of the nervous system ○ May prove to be the brain's ultimate challenge - does the brain have the capacity of understand something as complex as itself? - The case of Jimmie G, the man frozen in time ○ Heforgot everything that was said or shown to him within a few seconds since his early 20s ○ Due to long term alcohol consumption ○ Korsakoff's syndrome - Thinking creatively - thinking in productive, unconventional ways - Clinical - pertaining to illness or treatment - Evolutionary perspective - thinking of the environmental pressures that likely led to the evolution of our brains and behaviour ○ Comparative approach - tryingto understand biological phenomena by comparing them in different species - The adult brain is not a staticnetwork of neurons - it is a plastic (changeable) organ that continuously grows and changes in response to the individual's genes and experiences WHAT ISBIOPSYCHOLOGY - Psychology -the scientific study of behaviour - the scientific study of all overt activities of the organism as well as all the internal processes that are presumed to underlie them - Biopsychology -the scientific study of the biology of behaviour ○ Didn't develop into a major neuroscientific discipline until the 20thcentury - the organization of behaviour in 1949 by D.O. Hebb played a key role WHAT ISTHE RELATION BETWEEN BIOPSYCH AND THE OTHER DISCIPLINES OF NEUROSCIENCE - Biopsychologists are neuroscientists who bring to their research a knowledge of behaviour and of the methods of behavioural research - Ultimatepurpose of the nervous system is to produce and control behaviour - Neuroanatomy - the study of the structure of the nervous system - Neurochemistry - the study of the chemical bases of neural activity - Neuroendocrinology - the study of interactions between the nervous system and the endocrine system - Neuropathology -the study of nervous system disorders (brain disease) - Neuropharmacology - the study of the effects of drugs on neural activity - Neurophysiology -the study of the functions and activities of the nervous system by monitoring the activity of neurons WHAT TYPES OF RESEARCH CHARACTERIZE THE BIOPSYCH APPROACH? - Biopsychological research can involve either human or nonhuman subjects; it can take the form of either formal experiments or nonexperimental studies; and it can be either pure or applied - HUMAN AND NONHUMAN SUBJECTS - Bothare subjects of biopsych research - Nonhumans include rats (most common), mice, cats, dogs, nonhuman primates - Advantages of using humans: ○ Can follow instructions ○ Can report their subjective experiences ○ Their cages are easier to clean (lolol jokes) ○ Cheaper ○ They have human brains *** - The differences between the brains of humans and those of related species are more quantitative than qualitative - Advantages of using nonhumans: ○ Brains and behaviour are simpler so it's more likely that brain-behaviour interactions will be revealed (not necessarily always simpler though) ○ Useof the comparative approach - study of biological processes by comparing different species ○ Fewer ethical constraints than on humans for research reasons - EXPERIMENTS AND NONEXPERIMENTS - Experiments - The experiment is the method used by scientists to study causation (what causes what) - Toconduct an experiment involving living subjects, the experimenter first designs two or more conditions under which the subjects will be tested ○ Between-subjects design - a different group of subjects is tested under each condition (usually done) ○ Within-subjects design - tests the same group of subjects under each condition (sometimes) - Independent variable - the one difference between conditions - Dependent variable- the variable that is measured by the experimenter to assess the effect of the independent variable - Confounded variable - the unintended difference in an experiment ○ It's important to NOT have this variable b/c then it's difficult to determine whether it was the independent or the confounded variable that affected the dependent variable ○ Eliminating them is difficult - The Coolidge effect - the fact that a copulating male who becomes incapable of continuing to copulate with one sex partner can often recommence copulating with a new sex partner (subjects = hamsters) ○ Attempts to demonstrate the Coolidge effect in females are often confounded by the fatigue of the males - not a srs problem ○ Sowhen a female is sexually receptive toa new male partner - it may be the Coolidge effect, or just a reaction to the greater vigor of the new male ○ New study: the females responded more vigorously to the unfamiliar males (by displaying lordosis longer) than tothe familiar males during the thirdtest, despite the fact that both males were equally fatigued and both mounted the female with equal vigor  Lordosis -the arched-back, rump-up, tail-diverted posture of female rodent sexual receptivity) ○ Thus, males and females are both subject to the Coolidge effect - Nonexperiments - b/c sometimes there are physical or ethical impediments that make it impossible to assign subjects to experiments 1. QUASIEXPERIMENTAL STUDIES - studies of groups of subjects who have been exposed to the conditions of interest in the real world Not true experiments b/c confounded variable have not been controlled - Not true experiments b/c confounded variable have not been controlled - Alsocalled natural experiments 2. CASE STUDIES - studies that focus on a single case or subject - Provide more in-depth picture than that provided by an experiment or a quasiexperimental study - Excellent source of testable hypotheses - Majorproblem: generalizability - the degree to which their results can be applied to other cases (since case studies involve one person) - PURE AND APPLIED RESEARCH - Pureresearch - research motivated primarily by the curiousity of the researcher - done solely for the purpose of acquiring knowledge ○ Many scientists believe pure research will prove to be more practically beneficial than applied - Applied research - research intended to bring about some direct benefit tohumankind ○ Ex. We want to find out what drug will treat patients with Alzheimer's - Many research programs have elements of both approaches - One important difference between pure and applied is that pure is more vulnerable to the vagaries of political regulation b/c politicians and the votingpublic have difficulty understanding why research of no immediate practical benefit should be supported
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