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Chapter 2

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Psychology 2320A/B

Abnormal Psych: Chptr 2  ▯Theories and Causes  Child’s problems must be considered in relation to multiple levels of influence What is Causing Jorge’s Problems?  Children with fears and anxiety – affected by levels of stress hormones circulating in the body – are more likely to have parents who had similar problems during childhood  Jorge’s inability to regulate feelings of arousal, distress or agitation may surface without warning is a key element in describing his problem  Emotions = powerful events, demanding the child to find ways to reduce their force - adaptive way; seek comfort from a caregiver, gradually helps child learn ways of self-regulation  Children with fears and worries sometime develop a belief system that can be self-defeating, leading them to believe that they will fail at anything they try  Biological factors include genetic and neurobiological contributors  Psychological influences include the role of beh and cognitive processes, as well as emotional and relationship influences  Major social contributors to child problems involve family patterns, peer relations, community factors, and cultural norms Theoretical Foundations  Clinical and research activity begins with a theoretical foundation for guidance and info  Theory = a language of science that allows us to assemble and communicate existing knowledge more comprehensively - permits us to make an educated guess and predictions about beh - like a treasure map  Etiology; study of causes of childhood disorders - considers how bio, psych and envir processes interact to produce the outcomes that are observed over time  Abnormal Development is Multiply Determined; beyond child’s current symptoms - scientific model emphasize the need to simplify variables to those of most importance, but focusing primarily on explanation rather than identifying and allowing for several possible explanations - fails to consider the concept of developmental pathways - takes into account multiple influences  Child and Environment are Interdependent; interdependent = child and environment; how they influence each other (influence each other; appreciate how nature and nurture work together and are interconnected) - transaction; dynamic interaction of child and environment – both contribute to the expression of a disorder and cannot be separated from one another – active contributors  Abnormal Development Involves Continuities and Discontinuities; - continuity; implies that developmental changes are gradual and quantitative, future beh patterns can be predicted from earlier patterns – well supported for early onset and persistent conduct disorders (aggression) - discontinuity; implies that developmental changes are abrupt and qualitative, future beh is poorly predicted by earlier patterns (eating disorders; suddenly and without much prior warning )  Changes, Typical and Atypical; page 34 chart  Psychological theories = tools to study human beh; the more you learn what these tools can and cannot do and which tool to use for which purpose, the more knowledgeable and skilled you will become Developmental Considerations   Children’s psychological disorders have very different symptoms and causes, they share common ground: they are an indication of adaptation failure in one or more areas of development  Adaptational Failure; failure to master of progress in accomplishing developmental milestones - children with psych disorders differ from children their own age on some aspect of normal development - rarely due to a single cause, but typically results from an ongoing interactions b.w individual development and environmental conditions  Organization of development; early patterns of adaptation, such as infant eye contact and speech sounds, evolve with structure over time and transform into higher-order functions such as speech and language - active and dynamic process of continual change and transformation - sensitive periods play a sensitive role  Sensitive periods; are windows of time during which environmental influences on development, both good and bad, are enhanced  Developmental Psychopathology; is an approach to describing and studying disorders of childhood, adolescence, and beyond in a manner that emphasizes the importance of developmental processes and tasks - useful framework for organizing the study of abnormal child psych around milestones and sequences in physical, cognitive, socio-emotional, and educational development - emphasizes the role of developmental processes, the importance of context, and the influence of multiple and interacting events in shaping adaptive and maladaptive development - to understand maladaptive beh, one must view it in relation to what is normative for a given period of development  Developmental Cascades; refer to the process by which a child’s previous interactions and experiences may spread acorss other systems and alter his or her course of development, somewhat like a chain reaction Biological Perspectives  Neurobiological perspective considers brain and nervous system functions as underlying causes of psychological disorders - regions of the brain are influenced by the availability of various biochemical and neurohormones  Examination of biological influences begins with the amazing process of neuronal growth and differentiation brain stem = heartbeat and breathing - cerebellum; controls and coordinates sensorimotor integration - cortex; where thought and perception originate - embryonic development; generates an initial overabundance of neurons > first, they are largely undifferentiated but as they reach their destinations they become neurons with axons that carry electrical signals to other parts of the brain > synapses form the brains circuits and lay foundation for further growth > genes determine main highways which axons travel - fifth month, axons have reached their destination - childhood, synapses multiple and then selective pruning reduces the number of connections in a way that gradually shapes and differentiates important brain functions  Neural Plasticity; or malleability, means the brain’s anatomical differentiation is use-dependent: nature provides the basic processes, whereas nurture provides the experiences needed to select the most adaptive network of connections, based on use and function of each - prefrontal cortex; governs planning and decision making - cerebellum; center for motor skills  Each person’s unique genome is established at conception and consists of 20,000 – 25,000 genes - distributed on 22 matched chromosomes and a single pair of sex chromosome - males (XY) and females (XX) - genetic influences are malleable and responsive to the social environment - to what extent are given behs due to variations in genetic endowment, the environment and the interaction b.w these two factors?  Gene = stretch of DNA, and it doesn’t produce a beh, emotion or passing thought – it produces a protein - genes influences how we respond to the environment, and the environment influences our genes - gene-environment interaction (GxE); complex interchanges b.w nature and nurture and are affected not only by genetic and environmental influences, but by the timing of when they meet . the underlying biological changes to genetic structure result from epigenetic mechanisms; which involve changes in gene activity resulting from a variety of environmental factors (toxins, diet, stress) – the environment can turn genes on and off  Behavioral genetics; branch of genetics that investigates possible connections b.w a genetic predisposition and observed beh, taking into account environmental and genetic influences - identical MZ monozygotic or fraternal DZ dizygotic  Molecule genetics; methods directly assess the association b.w variations in DNA sequences and variations in a particular trait – more than an association, variations in genetic sequences are thought to cause the variations in the trait - how genetic mutations alter how the genes function in the development of the brain and beh for different psychopathologies - genetic influences are probabilistic rather than determini
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