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PSY BEH 11A Chapter Notes -Emotion And Memory, Fear Conditioning, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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
Damage can be profound and often tragic
Decision Making
Influenced by your values and expectations, someone's personality, the way a
question is framed
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 play
Social Behavior in Humans
Play behavior typically social (involving coordinated activities of multiple
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
Emotional arousal leads via amygdala, modulating activity of hippocampus to
more complex and longer lasting memories
The Evolutionary Basis for Emotional Remembering
Evolution shaped our memory for emotional events
Fear conditioning: organism given warning stimulus and presented with some
noxious stimulus a few seconds later
Slower if organism suffered damage to amygdala
Cognitive Influences on Emotional Memory
Emotional memory tends to be uneven-some aspects of event well remembered,
other aspects neglected
Memory is selective
When you “record” info, actively interpret event, integrating info gleaned from
event with other knowledge
Downside: people often lose track of source of particular bits of info in
Social Influences on Emotional Memory
Social function: exchange memories to instruct/amuse each other
Reshapes memory so that it will better serve our social goals
The Cultural Setting of Emotional Memory
Emotional event can be shaped by culture person lives in
Can have powerful effect on how people think about past
Memories help shape culture
Shared culture shapes what we remembered
Shared memories of important episodes transmitted from generation to
generation in many countries
A Developmental Perspective on Emotional Memory
Biological: microscopic view of specific changes taking place in brain when
memories formed and macroscopic view emphasizing influence of evolution on
brain functions
Cognitive: focuses on which aspects of situation people pay attention to and what
kinds of knowledge they merge with their memories of an experience
Social: ask how and why people share their memories and how such interactions
affect what is remembered
Cultural: influences sharing of memories and shapes how someone reacts to and
recalls target event
Developmental: children's memories of events often quite accurate and relatively
complete but also highly suggestible
Children generally remember medical procedures quite well
If questioned in suggestive manner, recollection can be substantially
Disorders of Emotional Memory
Neural and cognitive mechanisms that support emotional remembering seems to
produce cruel enhancement of memory
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Some people genetically at greater risk for this disorder
What Unites Psychology?
A Shared Set of Thematic Concerns
Multiple Perspectives
Complex organisms sensitive to many different cues and influences
The Limited Value of Dichotomies
Consider nature and nurture, factors inside and outside organisms
Consider how various influences interaction
We Are Active Perceivers
Do not passively absorb experience
Memories integrate new experiences with prior knowledge
Interpret as we go
The Inevitability of Trade-Offs
Our activities, in interpreting our experience, both help and hurt us
Bring us to richer, deeper, better organized sense of our experiences
Can lead us to inaccuracy
A Commitment to Scientific Methods
Commitment to scientific psychology unifies our field