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psychological science ch. 1-5


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4 stages of sleep +2
  • alert wakefulness, beta waves
  • just before sleep, alpha waves
  1. theta waves, can be easily aroused, fantastical images or falling sensation
  2. regular breathing, less sensitive to stimulation, sleep spind
absolute threshold
minimum intensity of stimulation that must occur before one can experience a sensation
a process by which muscles change the shape of the lens by flattening it to focus on distant objects or by thickening it to focus on closer objects
the extent to which an experiment is free from error
action potential
neural impulse that passes along the axon and causes the release of chemicals from the terminal buttons
activation-synthesis hypothesis
theory of dreaming that proposes that neural stimulation from the pons activates mechanisms that normally interpret visual input 
the physical characteristics, skills, or abilities that increase the chances of reproduction or survival and are therefore more likely to be passed along to future generations
additive color mixing
different wavelengths of light are mixed, determined by the interaction of those wavelengths with receptors in the eyes -- psychological process
drug that enhances the actions of a specific neurotransmitter
all-or-none principle
a neuron fires with the same potency each time, although frequency can vary -- it either fires or not
brain structure that serves a vital role in our learning to associate things with emotional responses and for processing emotional information
drug that inhibits the action of a specific neurotransmitter
are all behaviors adaptive?
no.  most of our behavior does not reflect our evolutionary heritage -- such behaviors are by-products of of adaptative solutions
autonomic nervous system (ANS)
part of the PNS, regulates the body's internal environment by stimulating glands and by maintaining internal organs such as the heart, gall bladder, stomach
neuron's own neurotransmitter receptors which regulate the release of the neurotransmitters
long narrow outgrowth of a neuron by which information/electrical impulses is transmitted to other neurons
basal ganglia
system of subcortical structures that are important for the initiation of planned movement
emphasizes the role that environmental forces have on producing behavior
binocular depth cues
cues of depth perception that occur because people have two eyes
binocular disparity
cue of depth perception caused because of the distance between a person's eyes
condition in which people who are blind have  some spared visual capacities in the absence of any visual awareness
bottom-up processing
data are relayed from one processing level to the next, always moving to a higher level of processing
section of the bottom of the brain that houses the most basic programs of survival (breathing, swallowing, vomiting, urination, orgasm)
Broca's area
left frontal region of the brain that is crucial to the production of language
can we override pain
some people are born who cannot feel pain, but it is dangerous because pain teaches us to avoid bad situations. drugs can subdue (or intensify...) pain
can we perceive something without attending to it?
yes -- even if something is not at the forefront of your attention you still perceive it. attention will not be called unless it personally affects you (coctail party phenomenon)
case study
intensive examination of one person
cell body
where information from thousands of other neurons is collected and processed
central nervous system (CNS)
brain and spinal cord -- seperated from the body by the blood-brain barrier, referring to the selectively permeable nature of blood vessels that prevent certain toxins and poisons from entering the brain/spinal cord
central tendency
measure that represents the typical behavior of the group as a whole
large convulated protuberance at the back of the brainstem that is essential for coordinated movement and balance
cerebral cortex
the outer layer of brain tissue that forms the convoluted surface of the brain
structures within the cell body that are made up of genes
circadian rhythm
regulation of biological cycles into regular pattern -- keeps animals quiet and inactive during the time when there is the greatest danger
vision under high illumination, color and detail, densely packed in fovea
anything that affects a dependent variable that may unintentionally vary between the different experimental conditions of a study
thick, transparent layer which focuses incoming light in a process called refraction
corpus callosum
fiber of axoms that transmits information between the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain
statistical procedure that provides a numerical value between +1 and -1 indicating the strength and direction of the relationship b/t variables
correlational study
research method that examines how variables are naturally related in the real world without any attempt by the researcher to alter them
critical period
time in which certain experiences must occur for normal brain development, such as exposure to visual information during infancy for normal development of the brain's visual pathways
critical thinking
systematic way of evaluating information in order to reach reasonable conclusions -- think skeptically
belief, values, rules and customs that exist within a group of people who share a common language and environment and that are transmitted through learning from one generation to the next
objective observations or measurements
branchlike extensions of the neuron that detect information from other neurons
dependent variable
the measure that is affected by the manipulation of the independent variable
descriptive study
involves observing and noting the behavior of people or other animals in order to provide a systematic and objective analysis of behavior
difference threshold
the minimum amount of change required in order to detect a difference between intensities of stimuli
dizygotic twins
twins who result from two separately fertilized eggs -- fraternal
does the brain rewire itself during learning, aging and repair?
yes -- all the maps in the cerebral cortex shift in response to their activity. following a brain injury, surrounding gray matter assumes the function of the damaged area
product of an altered state of consciousness in which images and fantasies are confused with reality
philosophical idea that the mind exists seperately from the physical body - rene descartes idea
early selection theory
we can choose the stimuli to which we will attend before we process the basic features
method of data collection that measures electrical activity in the brain
endocrine system
communication system that uses hormones to influence thoughts, behaviors, and actions
enzyme deactivation
process whereby the neurotransmitter is destroyed by an enzyme
evolutionary theory
a theory that emphasizes the inherited, adaptive value of behavior and mental activity through the entire history of a species
study that tests casual hypotheses by measuring and manipulating variables
experimenter expectancy effect
actual change in the behavior of people or animals due to the observer bias
filter thoery
limited capacity for sensory information and thus screen incoming info, only letting in the most importan
frontal lobes
region at the front of the cerebral cortex concerned with planning and movement
functional MRI
imaging technique used to examine changes in the activity of the working brain
concerned with adaptive purpose, or function, of mind and behavior
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
primary inhibitory transmitter in the nervous system, works throughout the brain to hyperpolarize postsynaptic membranes 
gate-control theory of pain
in order to experience pain, receptors must be activated and a neural gate in the spinal cord must allow these signals into the brain
unit of heredity that determines a particular characterist in an organism
Gestalt school of perceptual psychology
perceptions are different from the sum of the constituent sensations -- brains use innate organizing principles to organize sensory information
gestalt theory
the whole of personal experience is different from the sum of its constituent elements -- perception of objects subjective and dependent on context
primary endocrine glands involved in sexual behavior
good continuation
tendency to interpret intersecting lines as continuous
gray matter
segment of the spinal cord that is dominated by the cell bodies of neurons
haptic sense
sense of touch
statistical estimate of the fraction of observed measure of the overall amount of difference amog people in a population that is caused by differences in heredity
brain structure important for the formation of certain types of memory
chemical substances typically released from endocrine glands that travel through the bloodstream to target tissues
how are genes expressed?
environment decides which option is taken -- cells specialized for different tasks
how are qualitative factors coded?
different sensory receptors respond to different qualities of a stimulus
how are quantitative factors coded?
indexed by neural firing frequency
how can the same problem be studied at different levels?

different categories of analysis:

  • social (how cultural and social context affect the way people interact)
  • individual (individual differences in personality and mental processes)
  • biological (how the physical body contributes
how can we study mental activity?
careful scientific observation, experimentation
how do drugs alter neural activity?
alter the actions of neurotransmitters -- how it is synthesized, can raise or lower amount of neurotransmitter released, change the way the neurotransmitter is deactivated by blocking reuptake or preventing enzyme deactivation
how do ethical issues constrain psychological research?
participants must be fully aware of the requirements of the study -- risk of emotional/physical harm -- privacy concerns
how do expectations affect perception?
can help determine what you are perceiving, but can also affect what you perceive if you expect to perceive something else
how do nerve cells operate?

all neurons have resting potential -- negative

AP opens cell membranes, allows sodium in

depolarization, spreads down axon

inside of cell becomes more positive than outside

how do studies of twins help us understand genetics?
good way to test contributions of genes and environment -- nature vs. nurture
how do we disentangle nature and nurture?
understand both the genetic basis of human nature and the environment that shapes it
how do we ensure that our measurements are accurate?
validity, reliability, accuracy
how do we hear
a sound wave stimulates hair cells located in the ear, oscillations prompt hair cells to generate action potentials
how do we know where sound is coming from?
brain integrates the different sensory information coming from each of the ears
how do we smell?
odorous particles pass into the nose, come into contact with thin layer of tissue embedded with smell receptors, convey information to olfactory bulb
how do we taste?
taste buds stimulated by chemical substances from food dissolved in saliva, send electrical signals to medulla (in brainstem)
how does an experiment differ from a descriptive study?
descriptive studies usually are just trying to see if a phenomenon exists -- from there, scientists can proceed to experiments
how does culture shape how we interact with the world?
culture shapes beliefs and values, norms, symbols, ethnicity
how does hormone transmission differ from neurotransmission?
released into bloodstream until they reach their target destination, where they bind to receptors and influence tissue
how does the brain communicate with the body?
through the spinal cord
how does the brain enable the mind?
coordinatd action in a number of different brain regions contributes not only to consciousness but also to variations in conscious experience
how does the brain give rise to awareness?
reports that information is perceived
how is causation between two variables established?
creating control, allowing the researcher to rule out alternative explanations for the observed data. the more confounds that can be eliminated, the more certain the relationship can be
how is energy converted into sensation
sensory coding -- coded by different patterns of neural impulses
how is info from stimuli in the world transformed into neural activity in the brain?
sensory organs convert forms of physicalenergy into signals that the brain can understand
how might a computer analogy be useful for thinking about the mind?
brain takes in information as a code, processes it, stores relevant sections, retrieves stored information
how might culture influence observer bias?
if cultural norms prohibit inhibiting/expressing certain behaviors
how might environment affect brain development in young children?
not exposed to conditions that are necessary to pave brain pathways, necessary neurons aren't born
small brain structure that is vital for temperature regulation, emotion, sex, motivation
specific prediction of what should be observed in the world if a theory is correct
ideas from Darwin's On The Origin of Species
natural selection, survival of the fittest, that inheritable individual differences provide the basis of evolutionary development
independent variable
the condition that is manipulated by the experimenter to examine its impact on the dependent variable
inferential statistics
set of procedures used to make judgments about whether differences actually exist between sets of numbers
informed consent
people are given full information about a study, allowing them to make a knowledgeable decision about whether to participate
disorder characterized by an inability to sleep
institutional review boards
groups of people responsible for reviewing proposed research to ensure that it meets the accepted standards of science and provides for the physical and emotional well-being of research participants
communicate only with other neurons, typically within a specific brain region
systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that require people to inspect and report on the content of their thoughts
late selection theory
people take in sensory information, process it, then select which aspects should be attended
latent content
what a dream symbolizes, material disguised in a dream to protect the dreamer -- Freud
lateral inhibition
visual process in which adjacent photoreceptors inhibit one another
left brain
dominant for language, will attempt to explain behavior of right brain
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
method of brain imaging that produces high-quality images of the brain
manifest content
plot of a dream, the way a dream is remembered -- Freud
the belief that the brain and mind are inseparable
brief, unintended episodes, ranging from a few seconds to a minute caused by chronic sleep deprivation
mind-body problem
whether mind and body are seperate and distinct or whether the mind is simply the subjective experience of the physical brain
group of neurotransmitters synthesized from a single amino acid that are involved in a variety of psychological activities
monocular depth cues
cues of depth perception that are available to each eye alone
monozygotic twins
twins who result from one zygote splitting in two and share the same genes -- identical
motor neurons
direct muscles to contract/relax, producing movement
myelin sheath
fatty material made of glial cells that insulates the axon and allows for the rapid movement of electrical impulses along the axon
natural selection
darwin's theory that those who inherit characteristics that help them adapt to their particular environment have a selective advantage over those who don't
naturalistic observation
passive descriptive study in which observers do not change or alter ongoing behavior
nature-nurture debate
arguments concerning whether psychological characteristics are biologically innate or acquired through education, experience and culture
basic unit of the nervous system that operates through electrical impulses, which communicate with other neurons through chemical signals. 
neuronal workspace model
consciousness arises as a function of which brain regions are active
chemical substance that carries signals from one neuron to another
nodes of Ranvier
small gaps of exposed axon between the segments of myelin sheath, where action potentials are transmitted
observational technique
careful and systematic assessment and coding of overt behavior
observer bias
systematic errors in observation that occur due to an observer's expectations
occipital lobes
region of the cerebral cortex at the back of the brain that is important for vision
olfactory bulb
brain center for smell, located below the frontal lobes
operational definition
quantification of a variable that allows it to be measured
parasympathetic division of ANS
division of the automatic nervous system that returns the body to its resting state
parietal lobes
region of the cerebral cortex lying in front of the occipital lobes and behind the frontal lobes that is important for the sense of touch and the spatial layout of an environment
participant observation
type of descriptive study in which the researcher is actively involved in the situation
chains of two or more amino acids found in the brain and the body; act like classic neurotransmitters or modify the quality of the neurotransmitter they are erleased with
processing, organization, interpretation of sensory signals that result in an internal representation of the stimulus
perceptual constancy
people correctly perceive objects as constant in their shape, size, color and lightness despite raw sensory data that could mislead perception
peripheral nervous system (PNS)
all nerve cells in the body that are not part of the central nervous system
chemicals released by animals and humans that trigger physiological or behavioral reactions in other members of the same species
early method of assessing personality traits and mental abilities by measuring bumps on the skull
pituitary gland
at the base of the hypothalamus, send hormonla signals that control the release of hormones from endocrine glands
place coding
mechanism for encoding high-frequency auditory stimuli in which the frequency of the sound wave is encoded by the location of the hair cells along the basilar membrane
property of the brain that allows it to change as a result of experience, drugs or injury
positron emission tomography (PET)
method of brain imaging that assesses metabolic activity by using a radioactive substance injected into the bloodstream
prefrontal cortex
region of the frontal lobes especially prominent in humans important for attention, working memory, decision making, appropriate social behavior and personality
primary auditory cortex (A1)
region of the temporal lobe -- neurons in A1 code the frequency of auditory stimuli. neurons at the rear respond best to lower frequencies, at the front responds to higher
primary somatosensory cortex (S1)
in the parietal lobe, body mapped out according to physical proximity, sensitive body parts have larger amounts of S1 devoted to them
primary visual cortex (V1)
largest area in occipital lobe, where the thalamus projects  the image
closer two figures are, the more likely we are to group them together
attempts to bring the contents of the unconscious into conscious awareness so that conflicts can be revealed
psychological practitioners
those who apply findings from psychological science in order to assist people in their daily lives
psychological scientist
one who uses the methods of science to study the interplay between brain, mind and behavior and how the social environment affects these processes
psychophysiological assessment
research method that examines how changes in bodily functions are associated with behavior or mental state
properties of our subjectiv, phenomenological awareness (color theory)
random assignment
each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any level of the independent variable
reaction time
quantification of performance behavior that measures the speed of a response
effect that occurs when the knowledge that one si being observed alters the behavior being observed
receptive field
region of visual space to which neurons in the primary visual cortex are sensitive
specialized protein molecules on the postsynaptic membrane that neurotransmitters bind to after passing across the synaptic cleft
extent to which a measure is stable and consistent over time in similar conditions
REM sleep
stage of sleep marked by rapid eye movements, dreaming, paralysis of motor systems
repetition of an experiment in order to confirm the results
scientific process that involves the systematic and careful collection of data
response performance
researchers quantify perceptual or cognitive process in response to a specific stimulus
resting membrane potential
electrical charge of a neuron when it is not active
restoration theory of sleep
brain and body need to rest, sleep lets the body repair itself
reticular formation
large network of neural tissue within the brainstem involved in behavioral arousal and sleep-wake cycles
thin inner surface of the back of the eyeball. contains the photoreceptors that transduce light into neural signals
retinotopic organization
systematic ordering of the neuronal pathway from the retina to the occipital lobe; preserves spatial relationships, so adjacent areas of the retinal correspond to adjacent areas in the visual cortex

process where the neurotransmitter is taken back into the presynaptic terminal buttons, thereby stopping its activity 

process whereby the neurotransmitter taken back into the presynaptic terminal buttons, thereby stopping its activity
right brain
good for spatial relationships
respond at low levels of light, night vision, located all over the retina, movement
self-report method
people are asked to provide information about themselves through questionnaires or surveys
how sense organs respond to external stimuli and transmit the responses to the brain
sensory adaptation
when an observer's sensitivity to stimuli decreases over time
sensory neurons
detect information from the physical world and pass that information to the brain
Sigmund Freud beliefs
level of the unconscious, psychoanalysis
socially desirable responding
when people respond to a question in a way that is most socially acceptable or that makes them look good
somatic nervous ssytem
part of the PNS, transmits sensory signals to the CNS via nerves
spinal cord
part of the central nervous system, rope of neural tissue that runs inside the hollows of the vertebrae from just above the pelvis and into the base of the skull
split brain
condition in which the corpus callosum is surgically cut and the two hemispheres of the brain do not receive information directly from each other
stream of consciousness
continuous series of ever-changing thoughts
approach to psychology based on the idea that conscious experience can be broken down into its basic underlying components or elements
subtractive color mixing
a way to produce a given spectral pattern in which the mixture occurs within the stimulus itself and is actually a physical process
sympathetic division of ANS
division of the autonomic nervous system that prepares the body for action
site for chemical communication between neurons
synaptic cleft
small space between neurons that contains extracellular fluid
temporal coding
mechanism for encoding low-frequency auditory stimuli in which the frequency of the sound wave is encoded by the frequency of firing of the hair cells
temporal lobes
lower region of the cerebral cortex that is important for processing auditory information and memory
terminal buttons
small nodules at the end of axons which receive the electrical impulses and release chemical signals from the neuron to the synapse
gateway to the brain that receives almost all incoming sensory information before it reaches the cortex
a model of interconnected ideas and concepts that explain what is observed and makes predictions about future events
third-variable problem
when the experimenter cannot directly manipulate the independent variableand therfore cannot be confident that another, unmeasured variable is not the actual cause of differences in the dependent variable.
threat-rehearsal strategies
dreams allow you to rehearse coping strategies
three basic ideas of consciousness
  1. subjectivity (unique perspective each of us has on our own conscious experience)
  2. acces to information (knowledge of the contents of our consciousness)
  3. a unitary experience (fruits of our sensory systems into a unified phenomenal ex
three basic types of neurons
  1. sensory neurons
  2. motor neurons
  3. interneurons
three functions of neurons
  1. take in information from neighboring neurons (reception)
  2. integrate those signals (conduction)
  3. pass signals to other neurons (transmission)
top-down processing
information at higher leves of processing can also influence lower, earlier levels in the processing hierarchy
process by which sensory receptors produce neural impulses when they receive physical or chemical stimulation
transplantation of stem cells
stm cells are master cells that can regenerate themselves, become any type of tissue -- ethical debate
identifies mental processes that operate below the level of conscious awareness
the extent to which the data collected addresses the research hypothesis in the way intended
something in the world that can be measured and can vary
visual hierarchical processing
processing is in stages, first analyzes retinal image by extracting elementary feature
what are some of the problems with correlational studies?
third-variable problem, directionality problem
what are some problems with the method of introspection
experience is subjective -- difficult to determine whether subjects are using the criteria in a similar way
what defines an empirical question?
can be tested and either confirmed oor shown to be false
what is a good theory?
one that produces a wide amount of hypotheses
what is critical thinking?
making good decisions based on reasonable and logical conclusions abotu evidence
what is mind?
mental activity, such as thoughts and feelings
what role does genetics play in mind and behavior?
the actions of multiple genes affect psychological and biological activity
white matter
segment of the spinal cord that consists mostly of axons and the fatty sheaths that surround them
why are anecdotal reports limited in what they can tell us?
people introduce biases into their answers
why does crossing levels of analysis provide better insights about the mind?
provides more insights than just one level -- breakthroughs in psychological understanding
why is evolutionary theory important to understanding mental activity?
helpful for thinking about adaptive problems that have the potential to affect whether one survives and reproduces
why is heritability lower when the population is more diverse?
the increased variability that comes from diversity and the estimates of genetic variation do not consider such diversity
why is it important to use operational definitions?
help other researchers know precisely what is being measured, allowing them to replicate the research

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