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psychological science

the study of mind, brain and behavior

nature vs nurture

arguments concerning whether psychological characteristics are biologically innate or acquired through education, experience and culture

mind vs body

fundamental psychological issue that considers whether mind and body are separate and distinct or whether the mind is simply the subjective experience of the physical brain


Descartes' theory that mind and body are separate but work together

three major developments in the biological revolution

growing understanding of brain chemistry, progress in understanding genetic processes' influence on life, development of methods for assessing the brain in action

localization of function

some ares of the brain are important for specific feelings, thoughts and actions (but many brain regions participate to produce behavior and mental activity)

evolutionary theory

theory that emphasizes the inherited, adaptive value of behavior and mental activity throughout the history of a species


systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that requires people to inspect and report on the content of their thoughts developed by WUNDT


approach to psychology based on the idea that conscious experience can be broken down into its basic underlying components or elements

stream of consciousness

phrase coined by JAMES to describe one's continuous ever-changing thoughts


WILLIS' approach to psychology concerned with the adaptive purpose, or function, of mind and behavior

gestalt theory

theory based on the idea that the whole of personal experience is different from simply the sum of its constituent elements

gestalt movement

perception of objects is subjective and dependent on context -- which movement reflected this?


the mental processes that operate below the level of conscious awareness


method developed by freud that attempts to bring the contents of the unconscious into conscious awareness so that conflicts can be revealed

free association

technique used by freud in which a patient would talk about whatever they wanted to for as long as they wanted; person would eventually reveal the unconscious conflicts causing the psychological problem

freud's biggest problem

his methods couldn't be scientifically proven


psychological approach developed by WATSON that emphasized the role of environmental forces in producing behavior

nature vs nurture

biggest issue that behaviorism dealt with

cognitive psychology

study of how people think, learn and remember

cognitive neuroscience

study of the neural mechanisms that underlie thought, learning and memory

science in psychological therapy

behavioral modification methods, therapies that correct faulty cognitions, drugs that alter brain chemistry

two key factors most therapeutic approaches to dealing with psych disorders have

adopting a widely recognized treatment of choice that scientific research has demonstrated to be clinically effective and recognizing that each person is a unique individual with specific issues and needs

critical thinking

systematic way of evaluating information to reach reasonable conclusions (very scientific)


extent to which the data collected address the research hypothesis in the way intended


extent to which a measure is stable and consistent over time in similar conditions


extent to which an experimental measure is free from error

three characteristics of good data

validity, reliability, accuracy

descriptive statistics

overall summary of data

central tendency

measure that represents the typical behavior of the group as a whole


measure of central tendency that is arithmetic average of a set of numbers


measure of central tendency that is the value in a set of numbers that falls exactly halfway between the lowest and highest values


measure of central tendency that is most frequent score of value in a set of numbers


in a set of numbers, how widely dispersed the values are from each other and from the mean

standard deviation

statistical measure of how far away each value is, on average, form the mean; how spread out the scores are

inferential statistics

set of procedures used to make judgments about whether differences actually exist between sets of numbers


basic unit of the nervous system; operates through electrical impulses, which communicate with other neurons thru chemical signals; they receive, integrate, and transmit info in the nervous system

three functions of a neuron

taking in info from neighboring neurons (reception), integrating those signals (conduction), passing signals to other neurons (transmission)

three basic types of neurons

sensory neurons, motor neurons, interneurons

sensory neurons

these afferent neurons detect information from the physical world and pass that information along to the brain

afferent neurons

neurons that carry information to the brain


sensory nerves that provide info from muscles

motor neurons

these efferent neurons direct muscles to contract or relax, thereby producing movement

efferent neurons

neurons that transmit signal from the brain to the muscles


neurons communicate with other neurons, typically within a specific brain region

four parts of a neuron

dendrites, cell body, axon, terminal buttons


branchlike extensions of the neuron that detect information from other neurons

cell body

where info from thousands of other neurons is collected and processes


long narrow outgrowth of a neuron by which info is transmitted to other neurons

terminal buttons

small nodules, at the ends of axons, the release chemical signals from the neuron to the synapse

synapse/synaptic cleft

site for chemical communication between neurons, which contains extracellular fluid

myelin sheath

fatty material, made up of glial cells, that insulates the axon and allows for the rapid movement of electrical impulses along the axon

nodes of ranvier

small gaps of exposed axon, between the segments of myelin sheath, where action potentials are transmitted

resting membrane potential

electrical charge of a neuron when it is not active; electrical charge inside neuron is slightly more negative that the outside (more negative ions inside than outside)

potassium and sodium

two types of ions that contribute to a neuron's resting membrane potential

ion channels

specialized pores at the nodes of ranvier

selective permeability, potassium, sodium

because of ___ of cell membrane, more ___ is inside the neuron than ___

action potential

neural impulse that passes along the axon and subsequently causes the release of chemicals from the terminal buttons; also called neural firing


___ signals depolarize the cell membrane, increasing the likelihood that neuron will fir


___ signals hyperpolarize the cell and decrease the likelihood that the neuron will fire

sodium, sodium

when a neuron fires, the ___ gates in the cell membrane open, allowing ___ ions to rush into the neuron

insulation by myelin sheath

why does the action potential skip quickly along the axon, pausing only briefly to be recharged at each node of ranvier?

multiple sclerosis

deterioration of the myelin sheath; demyelination slows down neural impulses

all or none principle

principle whereby a neuron fires with the same potency each time; cannot partially fire


chemical substance that carries information from one neuron to another

three events that determine the neurotransmitter's influence in synapse

reuptake, enzyme deactivation, autoreception


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

enzyme deactivation

occurs when an enzyme destroys the neurotransmitter substance in the synaptic cleft


when neurotransmitters bind with receptors on the presynaptic neuron; these receptors monitor how much neurotransmitter has been released into the synapse

drugs and toxins affect neurotransmitters

can alter how neurotransmitters are synthesized, can raise or lower amount of neurotransmitters released from the terminal buttons, by blocking reuptake they can change the way neurotransmitters are deactivated in the synaptic cleft


drug that enhances the actions of a specific neurotransmitter


drug that inhibits the actions of a specific neurotransmitter

functions of acetylcholine

motor control over muscles, learning, memory, sleeping, dreaming

functions of epinephrine


functions of norepinephrine

arousal, vigilance

functions of serotonin

emotional states and impulsiveness, dreaming, mood

functions of dopamine

reward, motivation, motor control over voluntary movement

functions of gaba

inhibitions of action potentials, anxiety, intoxication

functions of glutamate

enhances action potentials, learning, memory

functions of endorphins

pain reduction, reward

functions of substance p

pain perception, mood, anxiety

parkinson's disease

neurological disorder that seems to be caused by dopamine depletion, marked by muscular rigidity, tremors, and difficulty initiating voluntary movement


brain, spinal cord


all nerve cells in the body that are not part of cns; includes somatic and autonomic nervous systems

broca's area

part of the brain that is crucial to production of language

three parts of brainstem

medulla oblongata, pons, midbrain


section of the bottom of the brain, housing the most basic programs of survival, such as breathing, swallowing, vomiting, urination and orgasm

reticular formation

affects alertness; induces and terminates different stages of sleep


"little brain"


connected to the back of the brainstem; important for proper motor function, motor learning, involved in various cognitive processes, including making plans, remembering events, using language and experiencing emotion


brain structure vital for temperature regulation, blood pressure regulation, blood rhythm regulation, blood glucose level regulation, emotion, sexual behavior and motivation


gateway to the brain; smell is the only sensory info that doesn't pass thru here; during sleep, it shuts the gate on incoming sensations while the brain rests


"sea horse"


role in storage of new memories, creates new interconnections within cortex with each new experience, grows with increased use, involved in how we remember arrangements of space




role in learning to associate things in the world with emotional responses, fear, intensifies memory's function during times of emotional arousal, evaluating a facial expression's emotional significance

basal ganglia

crucial for planning and producing movement

cerebral cortex

source of culture, communication, allows us to learn fine distinctions and intricate details of the outside world, understand other people, follow rules, perform complex behaviors, think before we act

occipital lobe

function is vision; contains primary visual cortex

parietal lobe

devoted to touch; includes primary somatosensory cortex; left hemisphere receives info from right side of body and vice versa

temporal lobe

responsible for hearing; contains primary auditory cortex; also has specialized visual areas for recognizing faces (fusiform face area)

frontal lobe

essential for planning and movement; contains premotor cortex and primary motor cortex; left hemisphere controls right side of body and vice versa; contains prefrontal cortex

prefrontal cortex

in frontal lobes; deals with directing and maintaining attention, keeping ideas in mind while distractions bombard us from the outside world, developing and acting on plans, rational activity, important for social life (understanding what others are thinking, behaving according to cultural norms, contemplating our own existence), empathizes with others, guilt

somatic and autonomic nervous systems

two primary components of pns

somatic nervous system

transmits sensory signals to the cns via nerves

autonomic nervous system

regulates body's internal environment by stimulating glands and by maintaining internal organs

two divisions of autonomic nervous system

sympathetic and parasympathetic

sympathetic division

prepares body for action

parasympathetic division

returns the body to its resting state

endocrine system

communication network that uses hormones to influence thoughts, behaviors, and actions


chemical substances released into bloodstream by endocrine glands to reach target organs


social interaction during which a person, responding to suggestions, experiences changes in memory, perception, and/or voluntary action


the sense organs' responses to external stimuli and the transmission of these responses to the brain


the processing, organization and interpretation of sensory signals; it results in an internal representation of the stimulus that for a conscious experience of the world

essence of sensation


essence of perception

construction of useful and meaningful information about a particular environment

sensory coding

our sensory organ's translations of stimuli's physical properties into neural impulses


process by which sensory receptors produce neural impulses when they receive physical or chemical stimulation

absolute threshold

minimum intensity of stimulation that must occur before you experience a sensation

difference threshold

the just noticeable difference between two stimuli--minimum amount of change required for a person to detect a difference

weber's law

the just noticeable difference between two stimuli is based on a proportion of the original stimulus rather than on a fixed amount of difference

signal detection theory

theory of perception based on the idea that the detection of a faint stimulus requires a judgement--it is not an all-or-none process

sensory adaptation

decrease in sensitivity to a constant level of stimulation

sensory organs

only the neurons in the ___ ___ respond directly to the events in the world

brain, other neurons

the neurons in the ___ do not respond to the events in the world, they respond only to input from ___ ___


sense of taste

gustation's job

to keep poisons out of our digestive systems while allowing good food in

taste buds

sensory receptors that transduce taste information


people who experience especially intense taste sensations; trait largely determined genetically; are really sensitive to spicy food; have nearly 6 times as many taste buds as normal people; picky eaters


sense of smell, which occurs when receptors in the nose respond to chemicals

olfactory epithelium

thin layer of tissue, within the nasal cavity, that is embedded with mell receptors

olfactory bulb

brain center for smell located below frontal lobes in brain


where is a smell's intensity processed?

haptic sense

sense of touch

what skin receptors percieve

temperature, pain, pressure

fast fibers

nerve fibers that identify sharp, immediate pain; activated by strong physical pressure and temperature extremes

slow fibers

nerve fibers that identify chronic, dull and steady pain; activated by chemical changes in tissue when skin is damaged

fast pain

which pain helps us to recoil from harmful objects and therefore is protective?

slow pain

which pain keeps us from using the affected body parts therefore helps us in recuperation?

gate control theory of pain

for us to experience pain, pain receptors must be activated and a neural "gate" in the spinal cord must allow the signals thru to the brain


sense of sound perception; the medium for spoken language

sound wave

pattern of the changes in air pressure thru the time that results in the percept of a sound

movement, vibrations, air pressure

Hearing results when the ___ & ___ of objects cause the displacement of air molecules. Displaced air molecules produce a change in ___ ___, and that change travels thru the air.

amplitude, frequency

a sound wave's ___ determines its loudness; a sound wave's ___ determines its pitch


tympanic membrane; thin membrane, which sound waves vibrate, that marks the beginning of the middle ear

concentrative meditation

type of meditation where you focus attention on one thing, such as your breathing pattern, mental image, or a specific phrase (sometimes called a mantra)

mindfulness meditation

type of meditation where you let your thoughts flow freely, paying attention to them but trying not to react to them


clear outer layer of the eye


thin inner surface of the back of the eyeball; it contains the photoreceptors that transduce light into neural signals

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