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Physio Psych Chapter 1


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What's the difference between physiology and psychology?
Physiology is the process of anatomy.

Psychology is the study of the psyche.
What is the definition of Biological Psychology?
The study of the physiological, evolutionary, and developmental mechanisms of behavior and experience.
What are the four methods of description for Biological Psychology?
1. Physiological - behavior related to the brain.

2. Ontogenetic - development (genes, nutrition, etc).

3. Evolutionary - past history to present.

4. Functional - current advantage of a behavior.
What is Big Issue 1, the Mind-Brain (Body) Problem?
What is the relation between the mind and the brain? How and why are we conscious? Philosophical question.
Describe Dualism
Dualism was the dominant theory through the 19th century. Descartes is credited with this theory. Basic premise is that the brain is physical, the mind is not, but the two are linked and can influence each other.
What is the fundamental problem with dualism?
The physical sciences.

1. Matter and energy can transform from one to the other under certain conditions.

2. Motion between the two is how any substance in existence affects any other.

3. If the mind has no physical existence, it cannot influence the brain.

*To the diehard, the lack of any phsyical component denies the very existence of "mind."
What is monism and what are the 4 parts?
Monism is the belief that the universe consists of only one kind of existence.

1. Materialism

2. Mentalism

3. Identity Position

4. Solipsism
What is materialism?
Form of monism. Everything in the universe is material, or phsyical. Mental events don't exist at all. All psychological experiences can be explained in purely physical terms.
What is mentalism?
Form of monism. The view that only the mind really exists and that the physical world only exists because we think of it.
What is solipsism?
Form of monism. Extreme mentalism, this is the belief that only I exist, and everything else is a product of my mind.
What is identity position?
Form of monism. Mental processes are just brain processes. Ex. You see a beautiful sunset, but it's because of physiological experiences that create a mental experience.
What are the leading questions and problems with monism?
1. Consciousness can't be observed. This makes it hard to study. Even if you accept your own consciousness, how do you know there are other consciousnesses?

2. How do we define and identify consciousness? Wakefulness vs. sleep, focusing attetion. "Easy Problem"

3. Why and how are brain activity associated with consciousness? "Hard problem"
What is Big Issue 2?
Nature vs. Nurture
Who was Gregor Mendel?
Monk who pioneered genetics through pea plants.
What are genes?
Units of heredity that maintain their identity from one generation to the next.

Genes generally come in pairs. They can be matched (homozygous) or unmatched (heterozygous).

Genes can also be dominant (will express whehter or not the other gene matches) or recessive (requires homozygous pair).
What is the basis of carbon life forms?
Genes are parts of chromosomes, made up o f DNA, which is the template for RNA, a single-strand chemical that serves as the basis for proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of structures in the body. Protein enzymes regulate chemical reactions in the body.
What's the problem with Mendel's ideas?
For Mendel's plants, the genese express perfectly. This is also true for simpler animals. In humans, this is much less true. Human chromosomes are generally multi-functional. Several genes are usually expressing in combination for a single biological development.
What are some of the things that happen to human genes that Mendelian schemata doesn't explain?
Crossing over, mutation, sex-linked, and sex-limited genes.
What is crossing over?
Chromosome pairs sometimes break apart and recombine for no apparent reason. Novel combinations of chromosomes develop.
What is a mutation?
A random change in a single gene. Usually, but not always, produces a recessive.
What are sex-linked genes?
Found usually on the x-chromosome. Y is not strong enough to counterract this problem.
What are sex-limited genes?
Genes activated by sex hormones, like secondary sex characteristics.
What is heritability?
An estimate of how much of hte variance in some characteristic is due to heredity. Ranges from 0 (all environment) to 1 (all heredity).
What are the two ways to study heritability?
1. Mono vs di-zygotic twins.

2. Adopted children compared to their biological parents.
What are the three ways that heritability is often over-estimated?
1. Humans share similar environments, driving up the relative contribution of heredity.

2. Lack of differentiation - genese reuglate development through enzymes. Enzymes also come from the prenatal environment.

3. Multiplier effects - being good at something tends to increase our interest, which makes us modify our environment to do it more. Practice therefore makes us even better at it.
Describe PKU in terms of heretability pitfalls.
Genetic does not mean unchangeable. PKU is a genetically caused form of mental retardation that can be avoided with a strict diet that avoids phenalanine.

Thus, environment can prevent or accelerate the production and release of enzymes that activate certain genetic predispositions.

May be linked to the theory of penetrance.
Describe the theory of penetrance.
Penetrance is the frequency of expression of an allele when it is present in the genotype of an organism.

For example, monozygotic twins: If one is homosexual, there's a 60% chance that the other will be. The homosexual trait is 60% penetrant.
What is big issue #3?
Evolution. Survival of the fittest is false!!!
Define evolution
Change over generations in the frequencies of various genes in population.
What is the logic of evolution?
1. Offspring generally resemble their parents (genetics)

2. Mutations/recombinations introduce new heritabilities.

3. Some survive/produce more than others.

4. More reproduction = more genes passed on.
What is artificial selection?
Breeding animals/plants specifically for desirable characteristics.

This is how most modern dog breeds came about.
What is natural selection?
Those with the most advantageous characteristics will tend to survive, and therefore pass on more of those genes to the next generation.
What are the major downfalls of natural selection?
Evolution is a summary of past genetic dominance; survival is often a case of characteristics compared to current/new dangers.

Thus, what looks strong today could be weak (and extinct) tomorrow.
What is sociobiology?
Evolutionary psychology.

It is the study of the relation between social behavior and evolutionary theory.
What are the basic premises of sociobiology?
1. Thrives on functional explanations, since these ideas can't be proven.

2. Describes how a particular behavior is useful, and why natural selection may have favored it.

3. Assumes tht any structure or behavior arose through natural selection.

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