Posted: October 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week I will be talking about Cognitive Psychology.

Cognition is the mental activities that are associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.  Thinking is the manipulation of mental representations of information.  If you are studying to become a cognitive psychologist then you are going to study mental activities such as concept formation, problem solving, decision making, judgment formation, and intelligence.

Concept is the mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people

For Example: There are a variety of chairs but their common features define the concept of a chair.  A Prototype is the mental image or best example of a category matching new items to the prototype provides a quick and easy method for including items in a category.  Once we place an item in a category, our memory shifts toward the category prototype.

We organize concepts into category hierarchies.

When problem solving we use algorithm, insight, fixation, and confirmation bias.  A algorithm is the methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem.  It contrasts with the usually speedier–but also more error-prone–use of heuristics.  Heuristic is the simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make judgments and solve problems efficiently.  It is usually speedier than algorithms and more error-prone than algorithms.  Insight is the sudden and often novel realization of the solution to a problem.  It contrasts with strategy-based solutions

Brain imaging and EEG studies suggest that when an insight strikes, it activates the right temporal cortex.  The time between not knowing the solution and realizing it is 0.3 seconds.  Fixation is the inability to see a problem from a new perspective.  It is impediment to problem solving.  Confirmation Bias is the tendency to search for information that confirms one’s preconceptions.

Mental Set is the tendency to approach a problem in a particular way.  Especially a way that has been successful in the past but may or may not be helpful in solving a new problem.  Functional Fixedness is the tendency to think of things only in terms of their usual functions.  It is also impediment to problem solving.  Solving this problem requires recognizing the main problem.

Representativeness Heuristic is basically judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to represent, or match, particular prototypes.  It may lead one to ignore other relevant information.  Availability Heuristic is the estimation of the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory.

if instances come readily to mind (perhaps because of their vividness), we presume such events are common

For Example: airplane crash

It makes you think: why does our availability heuristic lead us astray?, Whatever increases the ease of retrieving information increases its perceived availability?, How is retrieval facilitated?

Overconfidence is the tendency to be more confident than correct.  It’s also the tendency to overestimate the accuracy of one’s beliefs and judgments.  Usually come from the intuitive heuristics, confirmation of beliefs, and the inclination to explain failures increase our overconfidence.

For example: At a stock market, both the seller and the buyer may be confident about their decisions on a stock.


Post # 5

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week on my blog I will be talking about Memory

First of all the word memory is the persistence of learning overtime via the storage and retrieval of information. There are many types of memories such as flashbulb memory, sensory memory, working memory, short – term memory, and long – term memory.  Flashbulb memory is a clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event in your life. It’s not free from errors though. 

The foundations of memory consist of encoding which is converting information into a form in which it will be retained in memory.  Storage is when you hold information in memory for later use.  Retrieval is recovering information from storage in your memory.

Atkinson believed that memory came in three different forms.  This belief was labeled the Atkinson-Shiffrin modal memory model.   Sensory Memory was the first stage.  It holds a literal record of incoming information for a few seconds.  This stage uses icons and echoes to remember certain things.  Icons are mental images.  Echoes are brief continuation of auditory info after a sound is heard.

Short Term Memory is referred to as STM.  It is the system that is used to hold small amounts of information for relatively brief periods.  It has infinite time but a little capacity. Meaning that as long as you keep that same thought you will not forget it, but as soon as you think of something else that thought will be gone.  George Miller created a Digit Span Test which is a test of short term memory; recall of strings of digits. 

The average person can remember 7 digits

-7 + -2 bits of information

Bits of meaningful information

Maintenance Rehearsal is mentally reviewing information to hold it in the short term memory.  Elaborative Rehearsal is linking new information to existing memories.  It allows the Long Term Memory to form.  Chunking is when you group information into larger units; usually meaningful.  It usually happens automatically. 



These are broken into three’s

Working memory is the set of temporary memory that sores actively manipulate and rehearses information.  It focuses more on the processing of briefly stored information.  Central executive processor is the visual and verbal storage.  It is also an episode buffer.

Sensory – Short Term Memory – Long Term Memory

Working Memory would be labeled under Short Term Memory

Long Term memory is the system that is used for relatively permanent storage of meaningful information.  It has limitless storehouse of the memory. (the more you learn the harder it is to know what you know)

Fun Fact:  Going on shows that cause you to learn a lot of knowledge makes it harder for you to remember everything that you had crammed/studied.

Post # 4

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week in psychology I learned about condition and learning.   Conditioning is basically the same as learning.  The definition of learning is the relative permanent change in behavior that can be changed because of experiences.  People often think that learning is caused by motivation, but it isn’t.

We actually learn by association, which means that our minds connect events that happen in order.  Associative learning is when we notice that two events happen together; a response and consequence.  Classical conditioning is when we associate two stimuli (a response/action).  For example: Stimulus 1 could be lightening, Stimulus 2 could be thunder.  As a result the stimulus is seeing lightening and the response would be we anticipate thunder.  Operant conditioning is when we associate a response and its consequences.  An example of this could be having someone pushing a vending machine button as a response and receiving a candy bar as a consequence.  That would strengthen this behavior when someone is hungry because it’s giving satisfaction.

Classical conditioning is reflex responses that are associated with new stimuli.  This was created by a Russian physician/neurophysiologist named Ivan Pavlov.  He studied digestive secretions.  He won a Nobel Prize in psychology by studying spit. He would cut the cheek of a dog and insert a tube which was connected to a metal hook with cylinder.  This caused actual saliva to instead of the saliva that touched the mouth.  He also created the idea of powered meat for the army.  Then the United States created Spam.  He noticed that when someone new walked in the room the dogs would stop drooling but while he was in the room they continuously drooled. 

Neutral Stimulus is when a stimulus doesn’t evoke a response.  Unconditioned Stimulus is when the stimulus innately capable of eliciting a response.  Conditioned Stimulus is a stimulus that evokes a response because it has been paired repeatedly with the Unconditioned Stimulus. Unconditioned Responses innate a reflex response that are elicited by the unconditioned stimulus. Conditioned Responses are learned responses that are elicited by a conditioned stimulus. 

Reinforcement is the increase of probability of a behavior.  Acquisition is the period during which a response is reinforced.  Respondent Reinforcement is reinforcement that happens when an unconditioned stimulus closely follows a conditioned stimulus.  This usually takes about .5-5 seconds to happen.  Extinction is the weakness of conditioned response through removal of reinforcement.

Extinction: Conditioned Stimulus = Conditioned Response; Conditioned Stimulus = Stops Reponses.

Spontaneous Recovery is the reappearance of a learned response after its apparent extinction.

Generalization is the tendency to respond to stimuli similar to, but not identical to, a conditioned stimulus.  Example:  Ring a bell that has almost the same sound but not exactly the same and the dog would start to drool (although it is not trained to drool at the new bell).

Fun Fact:  If you have ever noticed when you have company your dog tends to drool on you but not your friend.  This is because when you feed the dog and pet it, it causes the dog to think that whenever you pet it, it’s supposed to drool.  Your friend doesn’t feed the dog so the dog hasn’t learned to drool on them.  If you want to break this habit you can find a way to feed the dog without actually being there.

Post 3

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

As you may know, I am a freshman at Saint Catherine College studying to be a psychology major.  I basically chose the topic of my weekly posts on what I’m learning in my psychology class.  I will be blogging about The States of Consciousness this week.

First thing is first…. Consciousness is the mental awareness of sensations, perceptions, memories, and feeling.  Altered States of consciousness is the awareness that is different from normal consciousness.

Fun Fact:  Smoking marijuana doesn’t make you feel any type of way; it makes you hallucinate what you think your feeling.

—— Sleeping has a lot to do with consciousness! ———

Biological Rhythm– is the cycle of biological activity such as sleep, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure

1*) Annual cycles are basically yearly cycles.  Things like geese migrating, grizzly bears hibernating, and humans experience seasonal variations in things can be labeled as basic like sleeping, appetite, and mood.  Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as SAD is a mood disorder that people experience during dark winter months.  The less amount of sunlight that people are exposed to the more depressed they become.

2*) The 28-day cycle also known as the menstrual cycle that occurs only in females averages about 28 days.  It is commonly known that menstruating affects the mood, but research shows that this is not true.  We make menstruation ‘bitchy’ because mothers warn their daughter(s) which is basically giving them a reason to act in such a way.  Pointblank period is that we all as humans have random ‘bitchy’ times.

Circadian Rhythm– is the biological rhythm that cycle over twenty-four hours

3*) 24 hour cycles are things that happen on a day to day time frame.  The 24 hour cycle varies with sleep, body temperature, and growth. 

Light triggers the suprachiasmatic nucleus to decrease (morning) melatonin from the pineal gland to increase (evening) it at night

4*) your sleep occurs through a  90 minute cycle.

Sleep Deprivation is being deprived of desired or needed amounts of sleep. When you are deprived you tend to have these symptoms

  • Fatigue & subsequent death
  • Impaired Concentration
  • Emotional Irritability
  • Depressed Immune System
  • Greater Vulnerability
  • Loss of Attention
  • Loss of ability to perform complex mental task

Sleep deprivation psychosis is the major disruption of mental and emotional functioning brought about by sleep loss.  Sleep patterns are order and timing of daily waking and sleep periods.  Although there are only 24 hours in a day we have a 25 hour cycle.  Melatonin is a hormone that is released by the pineal gland and is only produced at night.

A question that is commonly ask is why sleep?  Although there is no sure answer here are a few possible:

1] it is believed that sleep protects us.  By sleeping in the darkness when predators loomed about kept our ancestors from being in danger.  2] When you are sleep your brain tissue is being repaired and restored.  It also resets chemicals and sorts out ‘workings’ of that day. 3] Sleep also helps you remember.  This is because when you sleep all of the fading memories that you have is being rebuilt and restored.  4] During your sleep, the pituary gland releases a growth hormone.  Older people release less hormones and sleep a lot less.

when your parents ask have you grown over night; you can now say yes and tell them how and why 🙂

Post # 2

Posted: September 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

This week on my blog I’m going to talk about how psychology is related to physics. The term that is used for this topic is psychophysics which is the study of the relationship between the physical and psychological perceptions. I’m sure that a lot of people feel that it is common sense to know why someone is acting or doing things a certain way, but in some cases people have no control over how they behave.

 There are two major nervous systems throughout your body. Your Central Nervous System is basically like armor. Anything that is gets broken such as your brain and spine isn’t fixable. Believe it or not your central nervous system is at maximum growth once you’re around age 12. Another nervous system you have is the Peripheral Nervous System. Your eyes, salivary glands, lungs, heart, pancreas, stomach, spleen, liver, adrenal gland, colon, bladder, and sex organs are basically broken into two smaller systems called the autonomic and the somatic system. The somatic system tells your body what to do. For example: You have to move your legs on your own to run. It doesn’t just happen. However, autonomic system is things your body does automatically. An example of this would be breathing. Within the autonomic system is the sympathetic and parasympathetic system. Through the sympathetic system, certain muscles shut down when something stressful is happening. You don’t digest which causes food to rot while in your stomach. When this happens bacteria starts to eat the lining out of your stomach. This systems process can be summed up by the phrase “fight or flight” which means fight or run. The parasympathetic system always has the go and stop messages sending off.

In the neuron structure there is a membrane which is semipermiable lipid with proteins. Semi means to pass through and lipid means fat. In the lipid bilayer the parts that like water face each other so faces that don’t are on either side. The membrane is NOT a circle; in fact, water pushes and makes it into a sphere shape.

Fun Fact: A long time ago people who died from voodoo would still be alive if there was CPR and more medical help. Within the time someone gives you to live before believed to be your time to die your body is tired and the sympathetic system shuts down. When parasympathetic system is tired it speeds up and sends go signals. Their nervous system shuts the heart off.

 Other Parts of the Neuron Structure:

Soma: without “arms” Dendrites: receive receives information from other cells (input) The axon is output. Axons travel in the same direction to the skeleton. There are branches of axons so that there is a larger effect.

Fun Fact: Your brain is actually grey NOT pink 🙂

 Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are released by a neuron. It can alter activity in another neuron. There is an agonist inside which helps the transmitter do whatever it need to. The antagonist hinders whatever the transmitter is going to do. You need dopamine to be able to move.* There are 5 neurotransmitters that treat depression. Serotonin is a mood regulator; too little of it and you’ll be depressed. Dopamine is used for schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. When there is too little dopamine in your system you start to shake and eventually can’t move. But when you have too much it causes you to hallucinate and become paranoid. Inside of you there are endorphins that are being blocked because of pain messages. Street drugs make extra endorphins. Everyone’s body knows what rate you need to be at. While on street drugs your body slows down and eventually stops making endorphins. Big time drug users eventually need it every day because their body will feel like it’s on fire without the drug. Ecstasy causes you to get the bipolar disease.

Post #1

Posted: September 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

Throughout life you go through four main stages, such as:

The sensorimotor stage is the first stage which occurs from the time you’re born until you’re about two years old.  At this time learning is nonverbal and child uses sensory input.  Motor responses become coordinated.  Children of this age also believe in object permanence which is when they believe objects exist even when hidden from them.  An example of this is peek-a-boo; a game that is commonly played with children.  They believe that adult magically disappears and then re-appears out of nowhere.

Did you know when a baby is only three months old they can learn that kicking moves a mobile?

During the ages two and seven child is now in the preoperational stage.  They began to start developing language and symbolic thinking.  Their thinking is intuitive and egocentric.  Egocentric is basically being self-centered; only think of their selves.  Piaget believed that while in their pre-school years they tend to be egocentric.  Dual representatives are also starting to develop which is using words behind real ones.  While in the preschool years children start to develop theory of mind is the ability to understand other’s mental states, but they are still egocentric.

The third stage is the concrete operational stage.  This stage is from the ages seven until eleven years old.  Although their abilities are simplified, they are able to understand time, space, volume, and numbers.  They also are able to follow rules and understand conservation.  Conservation is when volume remains unchanged despite the shape of the container.

Lastly, formal operational stage is from ages eleven and older.  Thinking now becomes abstract and theoretical.  Although many people do, not everyone achieves this level of development.  Once this age you start to use proportional reasoning.

Adolescence is the transition period from childhood to adulthood.  Once adolescence you start to wonder “who am I?” The task while adolescence is to solidify a sense of self by testing and integrating various roles.  The also look for role models.  In the 1890’s the average interval between a woman’s menarche (first menstrual period) and marriage was about seven years but now it is over 12 years.  When becoming a young adult you battles intimacy vs. isolation.  They try to establish bonds with those who surround them.  The parent and child relationship tends to change.

The adolescence stage is beginning to start earlier mainly because of diet.  Girls are eating better now than they were in the 1980s.  When their body has enough body fat they start their menstrual cycle and are able to carry a baby.  The process of adolescence is longer because people are trying to wait to start families/have children.  You are basically seen as adolescence until marriage.  People think that when you’re younger you don’t know what love is, but that is not the case.  While young you tend to love harder because the brain isn’t fully developed yet.  However, the main problem is that adolescence don’t seem to understand that there has to be stability to make a relationship successful.