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Psy Beh 9A/11A Prologue Notes (PDF)

Psychology and Social Behavior
Course Code
Donald Hoffman

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Psychology and Social Behavior 9A/11A: Prologue Notes
Prologue: What Is Psychology?
Psychology: the scientific study of mental and behavioral processes
The Breadth of Psychology's Content
Morality & The Brain
Neuroimaging techniques: lets investigators monitor the level of metabolic activity in
different parts of the brain moment by moment
Brain's prefrontal & parietal areas = involved in active processes of reasoning
Medial frontal gyrus, posterior cingulate gyrus, & angular gyrus = strongly associated
with emotional responses
The Broad Effects of Brain Damage
Can learn which brain areas not contributing to task at all b/c damaged by injury/disease
Damage can be profound and often tragic
Decision Making
Influenced by your values and expectations, someone's personality, the way a question is
People are more sensitive to losses than gains
Innate Tendencies
Traits at birth = core of infant's developing personality
Animals At Play
Study animals b/c direct comparison between humans and other species can provide
crucial insights into functions of our behavior and evolutionary roots
Biological influences on play activities and biological roots for sexual differentiation of
Social Behavior in Humans
Play behavior typically social (involving coordinated activities of multiple individuals)
Powerfully influenced by situations we find ourselves in
Psychology's Diverse Methods And Perspectives
The Neural Basis of Emotional Memory
Amygdala: evaluating the content of various inputs (or ideas or memories) and detecting
whether that content is emotionally significant
Hippocampus: establishes long term memories
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