Sunday, May 24, 2009

PSY340 Week 5, DQ 2

DQ2: If you haven't realized it yet, you will probably have 30 more years of learning than your parents had. What is the importance of lifelong learning? Do you view yourself as a lifelong learner?

Write one life goal related to your own life long learning activities and share it with us.

Yes, I view myself as a lifelong learner. It all started when I was 15. For reasoning passing understanding my high school career was ended at about that time. It was an hour to my job every day, then an hour to the work site, then an hour back to the job, and another hour to home. I was too young to drive, so I was in the passenger seat during those times. I didn’t have anything to do, so I started reading. My first major book was “Five Equations that Changed the World” by Michael Guillen. I was particularly interested in the special theory of relativity. From that time on there was rarely a moment during the day, or night for that matter, that I was not working that I was not reading. I started with Stephen Hawkings, then Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli; then turned to George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Shakespeare; then Hitler (Mein Kampf), Carl Sagan, John Elderidge. The list goes on. My appetite for literature is voracious and rarely satiated. Right now I am reading Part Two of Faust by Von Goethe and Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley. All of my children have picked up on my habits. The reading list for my 12 year old this summer would impress any high school English Lit. teacher, and she is as enthusiastic about reading as I am. Anyway, my goal is to read every book I have ever heard of or ever will. That might sound like a tall order, but have you ever noticed that the mountain always looks taller standing at its base than at its peak?

PSY340 Week 5, DQ 1

Select one of the learning or memory disorders. Explain the causes behind the disorder and describe how the normal processes are affected.

Please cite and reference appropriately

Just a note: this should be a more academic discussion now that you have gained considerable knowledge about neuroanatomy.

It would appear that Alzheimer’s affects nearly 5 percent of the population over the age of 65 years of age (Wickens, 2005). That is a big number and will get bigger as the baby-boomers start to reach retirement age en-masse. The main culprit in cases of Alzheimer’s seems to be a loss brain cells, but is also paralleled by microscopic amyloid plaques and excessive neurofibrillary tangles (NFT’s). Also, the entorpinal cortex and the hippocampus seem to be affected greatly by the disease, partially explaining the loss of memory. As with most, but not all, neurological disorders Alzheimer’s appears to have both a genetic and environmental component implicated in the onset of the disease. As to the study mentioned in the text, increased brain activity in early life seems to delay the onset of the disease. I guess, if you don’t use it you lose it, huh? The case of HM might shed some light on the clinical presentation of Alzheimer’s. HM had his hippocampus removed and it is the hippocampus that is affected by the degenerative affects of Alzheimer’s. The hippocampus seems to play a specific role in memory. To quote Wickens (2005) directly, “Using Hebbian terminology, this could mean that the hippocampus is responsible for setting up circuits of reverberatory activity that enable structural change in neurons to take place elsewhere in the brain” (p. 245). If the hippocampus is damaged during the onset of Alzheimer’s, then this “reverberatory” activity might be inhibited; thereby inhibiting the neurological basis of memory.

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

PSY340 Week 4, DQ 2

DQ1: Hormones play a critical role in complex human behaviors.  There is evidence that our sexual orientation is influenced by hormones.  How do hormones released during pregnancy influence neurological functions and behaviors?  What conclusions can you draw from this evidence?   

I found the evidence for a hormonal basis for sexual orientation rather lacking. It reminds me of the case of Phineas Gage. The man had a huge metal rod blown through his skull. Surprisingly he survived and actually returned to some semblance of normal life after he healed from the accident. However, his personality was never the same. Now a biopsychological perspective would emphasize the fact that the neurophysiology of Mr. Gage’s brain was radically altered by the accident. But we take our assumptions too far when we do not take into account the behavioral and emotional costs of the accident. I would feel more comfortable with the diagnosis if Mr. Gage had undergone a thorough Freudian-style case study, which was meant to determine the extent of behavior and/or physiological causal factors. It is the same with the hormonal basis of sexual orientation. I think that sometimes we underestimate the toll that behavior takes on neurological structures. In the case of homosexuality we are talking about someone deciding to counter social norms, usually parental condemnation, perceived superego conflicts, and several religious systems. Of course, there are going to be some neurological abnormalities. Of course, hormonal shifts are going to be present. It would be like a Muslim converting to Christianity in a predominantly Muslim nation and then saying that the reason they converted is because the resulting stress, through the sympathetic nervous system, caused them to convert. I don’t know. That is my take on that particular topic of sexual orientation. I have no doubt that there exists a neurological/androgen based pre-disposition in those that choose their same sex as sexual partners. I just think we overstate the case with these types of arguments.

PSY340 Week 4, DQ 1

DQ1: Hormones play a critical role in complex human behaviors.  Several theories have advanced ideas about the way our behavior is influenced by hormones, including our sexual orientation.  Select one of these theories and explain it, focusing on the proposed influence of hormones on neurological functions. Do you think this theory is plausible? 

As usual, support your arguments with sources from readings or other sources.  List the citations and references.

I was fascinated by the effects of testosterone on aggressive behavior. The discussion of this effect of hormones reminds me of the nature vs. nurture debate. Who plays more of the music, the violin or the violinist? In this case the sum of the parts does not equal the whole. The violin and violinist compose an integrated whole that cannot fulfill its underlying purpose without both parts. In the same way, the formation of aggressive behavior and the level of the hormone testosterone affect each other, rather than a simple cause-and-effect scenario. For instance, increased aggressive behavior causes elevated levels of testosterone (Wickens, 2005). Also, increased levels of testosterone cause aggressive behavior. Therefore, levels of testosterone and aggressive behavior form a causal loop, with each affecting the other continually. Conversely, defeat brings with it lowered testosterone and by consequence lower levels of aggression. In the case of the body, it would seem that testosterone is the medium through which the brain communicates aggression and vice versa.

I do think this theory is plausible and well supported by empirical data. There is a clear correlation between increase testosterone and increase aggressive behavior. I would just wonder if there was an anti-testosterone antagonist which works counter to the aggressive tendencies of elevated levels of testosterone. I am sure it would be a part of the para-sympathetic system, acting to counter the actions of the sympathetic nervous system. Any thoughts…

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

PSY340 Week 3, DQ 2

DQ2:  We innately know that our perceptions shape our behaviors. Our senses allow us to interact with our environments and with other people. What are the five senses? What is the nature of sensation and perception as they apply to the five senses? Select one of the five senses and describe its neurological foundations and impact on behaviors. 

Tell us a story about the way that senses affected your behavior is some situation.

Citations, citations, citations....

The five senses are sight, smell, touch, taste, and feel; although I will add that there are actually more than five ways that we perceive the world within and without. We can’t forget the sense of balance and acceleration, temperature, kinesthetics (position of body parts), plus all of the unconscious senses attached to the autonomic nervous system (both sympathetic and para-sympathetic) (Sense, 2009). Beyond that, ya there are just five.

I wrote a paper during my associate degree about sensation and perception and I was fascinated by the “cocktail party effect” (Arons, 1992). I mean, how are we able to hear the same sound through two different ears and still only perceive one sound? How are we able to listen to one person in a crowded room? The answer is that there is a great deal of cortical manipulation of our perceptions. For instance, we are able to listen to just one person in a crowded room because our brain has perceived the acoustic and harmonic patterns of the person’s voice that we are talking to and is able to differential between that person and everyone else. Our brains can also use the fact that we actually hear the same sound twice to judge distance, direction, and speed. If a sound reaches one ear before the other we turn our heads in the direction of the ear that heard the sound first, without even thinking, astonishing.

Arons, B. (1992). A review of the Cocktail Party Effect. MIT Media Lab. Retrieved December

11, 2008, from MIT Media Web site: http://www.media.mit.edu/speech/papers/1992/ arons_AVIOSJ92_cocktail_party_effect.pdf

Sense. (2009, April 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:12, April 10, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sense&oldid=282105581

PSY340 Week 3, DQ 1

DQ1:     For those of us who are sighted, visual perception is a major part of our daily life experience.  What is visual perception and how does experience affect visual perception? Provide an example in your response.

How is the brain capable of seeing a spectrum of color when the eye only contains three types of color detectors?

I found it fascinating that on 20% of the input to the lateral geniculate nucleus comes from the retina and that most of the input comes from the visual cortex (Wickens, 2005). Now if I am not mistaken the geniculate nucleuses are in-route to the visual cortex. That would mean that there is a feedback effect in place on the neural pathways in the geniculate nucleuses. In short, that our perception, understanding, and pre-conceived notions, play a big role in our visual perception of the world. I have always thought that what I saw through my eyes was an objective reality, accurately represented in my mind. However, the more I read the more I begin to realize that what I perceive through my senses is largely mediated by my own thoughts, cognitions, and perceptions.

I thought that the section on color was particularly fascinating. I found it intriguing how our eyes record light bouncing off of objects and then translate the information into chemically compatible information that our brain can understand. We see color, with only three types of cones, because the excitatory action of the ganglion cells varies depending on the wavelength of the light that enters the retina. It sounded rather complex, but apparently there are opposing excitatory and inhibitory areas of each ganglion cell’s reception bandwidth that perceive color.

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

PSY340 Week 2, DQ 2

DQ2: What are the benefits and drawbacks of pharmacological treatment for mental illness? Are you in favor or against pharmacological treatment of mental illness? Why? Support your argument with authoritative sources.  Cite and reference appropriately.

As I read about the prophylactic treatment of bipolar disorder through the use of lithium, I was reminded of those commercials where the side effects are almost worst than the illness. I mean when the medication is intended to control blood pressure but one of the side effects is heart attack, we should question whether it is really worth it. Anyway, Schou (1999) examined a large body of scholarly literature in order to assess the prophylactic efficacy of lithium treatment in both type I and type II bipolar disorder. His conclusion was that the treatments were worth the cost of the side effects, because lithium did indeed decrease suicidal tendencies. Furthermore, the two alternatives, carbamazepine and valproate (both anticonvulsant), did not have statistical significance results when compared to lithium treatment of typical bipolar disorder.

I would tend to agree with Schou in this case. I know that lithium can cause tremors, digestion problems, and weight gain, but in the end if it keeps you from committing suicide I would think it worth the trouble. The lesser gives way to the great, or something like that.

Schou, M. (1999). Perspectives on lithium treatment of bipolar disorder: action, efficacy, effect

on suicidal behavior. Bipolar Disorders, 1(1), 5-10. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from

EBSCHost Database.

PSY340 Week 2, DQ 1

DQ1:  There are several neurophysiological processes in our bodies.  Define what a neurophysiological process is. Select one of these processes and briefly describe its operation. How does this process affect behavior?

Neurophysiological processes comprise the, “…chemical and physical changes which take place in the nervous system” (Neurophysiology, 2009, p. 1). In our reserve readings for this week there was an article entitled Wiring Pathways to Replace Aggression (Bath, 2006). I was fascinated by the two-way road between the emotional brain (presumably the limbic system and many parts of the brain stem and midbrain) and the thinking brain (presumably the cerebral cortex). The article claimed that many of the problematic behaviors that we observe could be due to over dominance of the influence of the emotional brain over the rational brain. Therefore, a practical reaction to someone who is exhibiting reactive aggression, emotion-driven aggression, is the de-escalation of emotionality in the client. Any reaction that leads to stimulation of the link from the emotional brain to the rational brain will only lead to more aggressive behavior, further exciting fight or flight behavior. Bath also claims that when the emotional brain is dominant there is no point in communicating reason to a person, because the thinking brain is not engaged.

This is one of the most applicable uses of neurophysiology that I have ever seen, seeing as how I want to become a secondary level teacher some day. I think this information will come in very handy when that day comes.

Bath, H. (2006). Wiring pathways to replace aggression. Reclaiming children & youth, 14(4),

249-251. Retrieved April 2, 2009, from EBSCOHost Database.

Neurophysiology. (2009). Answers.com. Retrieved April 1, 2009, from Answers.com Web site:

http://www.answers.com/neurophysiology

PSY340 Week 1, DQ 2

DQ2, Part 1: Identify an animal (hint: this works best when you select a mammal, but if you are game for discovery you can select a reptile or a bird)  and discuss the characteristics and abilities of that specific animal in regards to the following items: 

a)       Communication

b)       Motor skills

c)       Cognition

d)       Sleep

DQ2, Part 2: Think about how these characteristics and abilities compare to those of humans.   In what ways do these characteristics of animals relate to the evolution of the human brain?

I chose the dolphin because it is a mammal and it has a brain mass that is bigger than humans (Cetacean, 2009). Dolphins have highly adaptive communications styles and motor skills. Dolphins use a complex syntax of clicks and whistles to communicate through the water, a kind of Morse code. It is telling that the increased size in brain mass of the dolphin corresponds with language. As with the example in our text of Albert Einstein, it is not so much the size of the brain, but the proportions and structure of the brain (Wickens, 2005). For example, the cerebral cortex of the dolphin is 40% larger than a human’s cerebral cortex. Not only that, but the “wrinkles” in the cortex are nearly as complex. I would further hypothesize that because of the increased predation on land, over that of the sea, the human language ability developed beyond that of the dolphins as an evolutionary adaptation. Surely there are less predators of dolphins in the water, than of humans on land, at least back when our species were evolving. We did not have large bodies to intimidate our prey; our populations quickly grew too big for scavenging, like other omnivores. We either had to develop more advanced ways of communication and cognition or we would have certainly died out like the dinosaurs. We are the next step in evolution because we can carry on environmental genetics, memes, as well as cellular genetics.

Cetacean intelligence. (2009). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 26, 2009,

from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cetacean_intelligence&oldid=279000635

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

PSY340 Week 1, DQ 1

DQ1:  One cannot understand behavior without understanding the operation of the brain.  Select either the Central Nervous System (CNS) or the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS).  Then, for the system you have selected:

  • Identify the major structures of the system
  • Describe the functions of the structures
  • Describe how damage to one of the structures affects behavior

Please include citations and references in your post, following APA format (of course).

The central nervous system is made up of two main components, the brain and the spinal cord (Wickens, 2005). The brain is further divided into the brainstem, the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the forebrain. The spinal cord is broken up into white matter and grey matter. The function of the spinal cord is to relay information from sensory and motor neurons back and forth between the brain and the peripheral nervous system. Surprisingly though the spinal cord has a mind of its own, so to speak. We have all felt this effect when the doctor thumps our knee with a small hammer and it jumps. This reflex action does not require processing in the cortex, but rather the processing is handled exclusively by the neural masses in the spinal cord. That is why the reaction to burning our hand is so quick, there is no thinking involved. Furthermore, the brain controls many aspects of bodily function. Through the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, the brain controls the endocrine system. Through the brainstem and hindbrain, the brain control involuntary bodily functions, such as breathing and heart-rate. The cortex is where upper-level thinking and reasoning takes place. If the spinal cord is snapped, the neural connections broke, then the brain loses its ability to control the peripheral nervous system below the break. As in the case of Phineas Gage, if some parts of the brain are destroyed, through lesion or some other means, then in certain cases the brain can still function (Phineas, 2009). However, if many of the parts of the brainstem are damaged we cannot survive because the brain will not be able to control involuntary functions in the body (i.e. breathing, heart-rate).

Phineas Gage. (2009). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 26, 2009,

from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Phineas_Gage&oldid=279735336

Wickens, A. (2005). Foundations of biopsychology, 2e. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Hall.

PSY315 Week 4, DQ 2

Why do we use nonparametric tests? Describe a psychological research situation or scenario that would use a non-parametric test. Why would the non-parametric test be used?

I thought it was rather peculiar as we were learning about hypothesis testing that the assumption of a normal distribution was always there. I know that the text has said repeatedly that normal distributions are, for lack of a better word, the norm when dealing with statistics. I am glad to learn that modern statistics has come up with a way to handle non-normal distribution. I am sure that they do show up from time to time. It appears that nonparametric tests are most widely used in situations where data has a ranking rather than a numerical ratio-scale. Because of the wide range of uses for nonparametric test they are considered more robust than parametric tests, which depend largely on preset limits (i.e. normal distributions).

PSY315 Week 4, DQ 1

What is an example of a situation in which you would use a t Test for dependent means?

You would use this type of t Test when using two scores from the same population. For instance, if you were to want to score a person before and after a certain type of counseling, you would use a t Test for dependent means to determine the difference. “Dependent means” is referring to the fact that the means of the two samples are dependent on each other. This type of t Test works exactly the same as the t Test for a single sample, except you have to use difference scores and you have to assume that the population mean is 0. After reading a little bit about t Tests I am starting to wonder why we were even studying significance tests for known populations. It seems like those circumstances do not exist often. Maybe that is out “best case scenario”. The section on t Tests seem much more practical and usable on a daily basis. Also, is anyone else getting way overburdened by the workload? I mean, I can barely keep up. This stuff is really hard. Sometimes I don’t get some of the ideas until days later. It helps me to sleep on it. If I am really not getting something, I will sleep on it. And in the morning I just get it when I read over the confusing section. Good luck.

PSY315 Week 3, DQ 2

How have software packages made statistical tables obsolete? Do statistical tables change over time? Why or why not? If not for the statistical tables and software packages, how would you derive the values contained in the statistical tables?

I don’t think that software packages have made statistical tables absolutely obsolete. Statistical tables are learning tools that can impart knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of statistics. The danger in allowing computers to do all of our calculations is that we might not understand the underlying logic behind the calculations. Also, tables seem to be mainstay of statistical analyses. They haven’t changed much in the near past. Without statistical tables and software packages we would be forced to visualize the scores in a distribution mentally and then try to derive patterns from that mental visualization. This is of course highly unlikely that many of us could do this. I mean Ebbinghaus established that, on average, people can only remember 7 sets of random, three-letter non-sense syllables at a time. In the case of statistical tables that would mean that the sample would need to be less than 7 scores in order for us to remember, let alone visualize the distribution. Software packages do have their place though. I could not image some of these big studies we have read about doing all of the calculation manually.

PSY315 Week 3, DQ 1

What are some terms related to hypothesis testing that you are already familiar with? Why do a null and alternative hypothesis have to be mutually exclusive?

I actually did not know any specific terminology related to hypothesis testing. I can remember from high school that a hypothesis has to be testable. It is not just a prediction, but a prediction that can be empirically tested. That is about it though. After reading about hypothesis testing, however, I think I must understand even less, or that is just the way it seems I suppose. I understand the necessity for a null hypothesis because in my life it has sometimes been easier to explain why I do not want to do something, rather than specifically why I want to do something. As to why they must be mutually exclusive, if both could be true, then the chances of statistical significance are greatly diminished. Seeing as how we are looking for extreme change from the comparison distribution, overlap would fundamentally undermine the purpose of null-hypothesis testing (NHT). Besides, the p value is supposed to be the last whatever percentile (.05 or .01) away from the mean of the comparison distribution. So I don’t see how they could overlap. If the results do not indicate enough contrasts between the sample distribution and the comparison distribution, then it is not statistically significant anyway. So for hypotheses to overlap statistical insignificance is almost a must. I hope I got that right. I makes sense in my head anyway.

PSY315 Week 2, DQ 2

How does the probability of absenteeism or longevity affect the hiring practices at your organization?

Well since I stay home with my kids absenteeism and longevity are not an issue. Although I do joke with my kids sometimes that if they don’t start acting right I am go buy an expensive life insurance policy on them. The 11 year-old gets it. Anyway, I think companies should be cautious when using probabilities to predict future occurrences. Let us not forget that probabilities can only predict the future according to past and present data. Probabilities must take into account future trends of economy and necessity of employment. For instance, I don’t think construction companies should use pre-recession data of absenteeism and longevity to predict future trends in the aforementioned areas. After the housing market collapse and the recession I am sure that absenteeism will be much less common and longevity much more desirable, if not attainable. I am sure that there is some statistical way to factor these trends into a probability; I just have no idea how to go about doing it. Maybe that will be something that we learn later on in the class. Also, I am sure that companies readily use probabilities to decide hiring trends, as well as to affect pension plans, 401K’s, and retirement ages. Maybe if the U.S. government would have used some statistics we would have enough money to cover the costs of the baby boomers retiring. Now there’s a thought…

PSY315 Week 2, DQ 1

The median home price in your area has increased in the last 10 years, how does this differ from the mean home price in your area?

Well technically speaking, the median (exact middle) home price is the 50th percentile and the mean (sum/x = mean) is the average home price. As I understand it, central tendency can be illustrate through both the mean and the median, depending on the normality/skew of the sample. For instance, in the abovementioned case if all the houses were about the same price ($100,000 - $200, 000) and then there was one house that was in the millions the graph would be skewed. In this case, the average would be artificially high because of the million dollar house, so we would probably want to use the median as a better example of central tendency. Another good indicator of which type of central tendency to consider would be the standard deviation. If the standard deviation, how the scores stand in relation to the mean, is too high the median score is preferable to the mean score. That is because the standard deviation describes the average variation of the scores from the mean. If the standard deviant is too high, that means that the scores vary greatly from the mean score. In that case the median would be a more accurate indication of central tendency.

PSY 315 Week 1, DQ 1

How could you use descriptive statistics at work and in your personal life?

I think that all of us have used descriptive statistics from time to time. We have all used graphs, tables, etc… to describe statistical data as part of our jobs or as part of our personal economic management. However, after reading chapter one I now realize that there are more words to describe the shape of a graph than there are to describe an apple. I had no idea. As to how I could use descriptive statistics in my life…I could use them to identify choke points in my finances. Paychecks and bills arrive at odd intervals. Paychecks are bi-weekly, most bills are monthly, but some are weekly. I could use descriptive statistics to properly illustrate the frequency of these bills as compared to my paychecks, in order to find troughs that overlap with peaks during the year. Upon identifying these statistical phenomena I might need to make arrangements to save money during other times in order to make sure I have enough money for these eventualities. In this case, the amount of money for each bill and paycheck is a continuous variable and the dates that the bills/paychecks are due would be discrete variables. I guess the best way to illustrate the tables would be a dual, overlapping frequency polygon. As I look back on the chapter though, this is not exactly what the chapter is describing, because the chapter is about frequency tables and graphs. Strictly speaking, in that light we might need to analyze the frequency that troughs and peaks overlap, inverted or otherwise, and then describe that data in a frequency table. Then we could properly express the data in a frequency graph.

PSY315 Week 1, DQ 1

How would you define research? How can research help your organization save money? How do statistics relate to research?

At the onset of this class, with only reading the first chapter of the textbook, I would describe research as a systematic approach to the predication of future events in light of reproducible, measurable experimentation. My definition is of course akin to a game of pin the tail on the donkey. It is a shot in the dark. I am sure that by the end of the class my definition will be much closer to ground zero, so to speak. As to how research can help organization save money, I know a perfect example. When I was the manager of a retail store a bunch of us managers tried to put together a sales-projection worksheet, based on current trends in sales. Needless to say, we lacked the mathematical language to take current sales figures, compare them to last week’s, last month’s, and last year’s figures, and come up with a reasonable prediction about the rest of the month. What we were trying to do is figure out if we were reasonably going to meet our projections by the end of the month or if we needed to push our employees and ourselves harder. Maybe by the end of this class I will understand how to do that. I have to admit though that after chapter one I am not sure I will understand much from this class. However, I thought the same thing the first time that I took a psychology course in my associate degree. I guess we will see.

PSY310 Week 5, DQ 2

What methods were use to conduct research concerning the localization of behavior/brain relationships?  Which method do you feel is most effective?  Why?

I was particularly interested in Lashley’s research into lesions of rat brains. I did not find this in our textbook. I was doing research for the team presentation and found this pic on:

http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/jeeves/lecture3.html

clip_image002

Now Lashley was trying to determine localization of behavior through lesions of the brain. He would cut certain sections of the brain, as illustrated, and observe the effects. Now of course animals do not have the over-developed cerebral cortex, etc… that humans possess. Therefore, these studies fall short of actually studying advanced cognition. I could not conceive of a situation in which lesion studies of human subjects could be ever be ethical, but they would certainly shed new light on localization of behavior in the brain. I know that frontal lobotomies have taken place as a way to relieve advanced psychosis, and their results are quite revealing. But the only way to determine a micro rather than macro level of localization would be to lesion human brains just as Lashley did to rat brains. Then we could do a much better job of isolating neural pathways and the like. Again, completely unethical, but an honest answer.

PSY310 Week 5, DQ 1

Who is Phineas Gage?  What impact did he have on the realm of biological psychology?

I really don’t think that the materialist’s dream will ever be fully realized. Human cognition will never be explained in wholly physical terms. I say this in reference to Mr. Gage because this is a perfect example. You can lesion an entire section of the brain and primary functionality is not impaired. I guess I agree with the functionalist, the gestalts, and even John Stuart Mills, in spirit. The sum of the parts of consciousness will never equal the total electrochemical functionality that occurs in the brain during cognition. In reference to biological psychology the case of Mr. Gage rang the death nil of phrenology and the like. Even the understanding of localization and the idea of the bicameral brain were affected by the case of Mr. Gage. The question I have is: I get a headache just reading some of this stuff. The man had a rod blown through his head and he wasn’t even hurt permanently? The way that his personality changed does lend evidence to the idea of general localization in the brain. Even though there is not one section of the brain that performs only one task, certain sections are largely involved in certain tasks (i.e. visual perception, tactile perception, etc…).

PSY310 Week 4, DQ 2

What role do ethic’s play in experimentation?  What are some of the ethical issues associated with John B. Watson’s conditioning of phobic responses?

As I read about Watson’s experimentation of Little Albert, I did not care so much that they scared the child senseless, but that they didn’t fix the problem when they were done. Systematic desensitization could have been used to alleviate the child’s association with rats and scary things (i.e. noise). Who knows how this could affect the child when he got older. It could lead to some major phobias of rats and such. Experimentation should never have lasting results on any human patient or participant. On the other hand, animals are not held to the same standards. I mean, Watson blinded, deafened, and deadened these poor animals so he could find out if they learned the maze through some other perception (i.e. kinesthetics). It is difficult for me to sit here today, benefiting from this knowledge, and point the finger at Watson and say you bad guy. For if we were to “give back” all that we know about humans through comparative psychology we would indeed lose a large section of educational psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, and behaviorism at large. Does the end justify the means? I guess, for me, that would depend on how many human lives were saved or improved as a result of the research in question. That would be my litmus test.

PSY310 Week 4, DQ 1

What are the similarities between classical conditioning, as described by John B. Watson, and operant conditioning, as defined y B.F. Skinner?  What are the differences?

Both of these approaches to understanding and manipulating behavior are predicated on the association of previously unassociated stimuli and responses. Which came first…the chicken or the egg? Now this is a deep question with significant philosophical underpinnings, but it does illustrate the point. Watson would argue that we should use the egg to manipulate the behavior of the chicken; whereas, Skinner would say that you have to wait until you have a chicken before you can manipulate the next egg, and subsequently the next chicken. In this analogy, the egg represents a stimulus and the chicken represents a response. So, Watson would say that a stimulus needs to be used to bring about a response and Skinner would say that a response needs to be used to connect that response to a stimulus. Let’s consider a simple example. So if we put a chicken in a cage and wanted it to go to one corner of the cage habitually. Now Watson would say that all you had to do was have food in that corner of the cage repeatedly. After a while the chicken would “learn” to go to that corner of the cage in order to get the food whether there was food or not (egg and then chicken). Conversely, Skinner would wait until the chicken went to the desired corner before releasing the food. In this way, the response of going to the desired corner, manipulation free, is reinforced by the subsequent release of food (chicken and then egg). Two different means to the same end, which is the association the corner with food, or the food with the corner, depending on which way you look at it.

PSY310 Week 3, DQ 2

How would you distinguish between structuralism and functionalism in early formal psychology? What are some of the similarities between them? What are some of the differences between them?

When I study opposing views in psychology I always try to boil them down into “ends” and “means”. I don’t really know why. I guess this type of verbiage conforms to my way of thinking. At any rate, structuralism seems to advocate that the emphasis should be put on the means, the basic elements of consciousness, in order to understanding the end, human behavior. I would have to agree with Titchener that just as in anatomy and physiology, it is impossible to understand the organism without first considering its parts. In the same way, even if the sum of its parts are not equal to the whole that does not negate the study of the parts. No we call this an inequality in mathematics and inequalities are a necessary evil unfortunately. For instance, to use Mills’ example, the brick (B) plus the mortar (M) is equal to the wall (B + M = W) and the walls (W) plus the foundation (F) plus the roof (R) is equal to the house (H), hence W+F+R=H. Now the functionalist would maintain that W+F+R<H, because the house as an idea cannot simply be reduced to simpler ideas, that the idea of a house is greater than its subsequent parts. For the functionalist the end of human behavior is a means in and of itself. Human behavior cannot be segmented into basic conscious elements but rather occupies an evolutionary function. The structuralist is occupied with the parts of consciousness while the functionalist is concerned with the purpose of conscious within the larger picture of evolutionary adaptation.

PSY310 Week 3, DQ 1

What are psychoanalytical models? How have these models been used to explain human behavior? Which model do you feel is the most effective in explaining human behavior? Why?

If I had to choose between Adler’s inferiority complex, Jung’s word association, and Freud’s theory of psychosexuality, I would have to pick Adler’s inferiority complex. As I have studied psychology I have related the most with the behaviorist and cognitive perspective when dealing with disorders; however, I have always thought that the humanistic perspective best explains human behavior in general. We all know what an inferiority complex is, as far as the popular vernacular dictates. That is not exactly what Adler was talking about. He postulated that infantile inferiority, rather than infantile sexual repression (Freud), explains human behavior. Adler believed that our feelings of inferiority, based on our actual inferiority as infants, are the main motivating factor behind our behavior from thereon. The humanistic understanding of self-actualization fits in there well. In that light, self-actualization comes not through becoming ourselves but through overcoming our imagined inferiority to become that person that we would be otherwise. However, I think that all of the psychoanalysts, including Freud, contributed significantly to our understanding of human behavior. To use the quote in the book, I could indeed “chew” on those pearls for quite some time, intellectually speaking of course.

PSY310 Week 2, DQ 2

What are the advantages and disadvantages of classifying mental disorders into “types” and maintaining such for clinical reference?  Explain your answer.

Well, one of the main disadvantages to classifying mental disorders is that they sometimes become self-fulfilling prophecies. Some of the classifications, such as schizophrenia, cover a broad range of symptoms and dysfunctions. In fact, schizophrenia has acted at times as the catch-all for mental illnesses. The problem with classifying people, especially when they are young, is that they see themselves in the context of whatever that classification might be. For instance, if someone is classified as mentally retarded or ADHD in childhood this could lead to a lifetime of lower expectations. The main advantage to the classification of mental disorders is that once classified these disorders are easier to understand and treat. It would be difficult to explain a disorder by the sum of its parts. If we did not have classifications, then a psychiatrist might describe a person as alternating between bouts of extreme eccentricity and extreme despair, rather than simply diagnosing them bi-polar. It would also complicate treatment because a physician would have to treat the many symptoms rather than simply the disorder. In the end though, I think that classification of types is a necessary evil.

PSY310 Week 2, DQ 1

What are some of the methods that were used to treat individuals who were presumably suffering from some form of mental illness prior to the Renaissance period?  What was the rationale behind these methods?

Well the Renaissance was preceded by the Dark Ages. Even though I think that the term “Dark Ages” carries with it a hint of presentism. I mean, the only reason that we see the Dark Ages as dark is because of the light of the Renaissance. At any rate, before the Renaissance mental illness was viewed as a wholly spiritual affair. Because the religion of Christian was firmly established in the Roman Empire by the 3rd century and Islam in greater Arabia by the 6th century an aura of mysticism enveloped most of the known world for some time. That is not to say that knowledge was not acquired during this time, but to say that knowledge was not usually acquired outside the context of religion. What logically followed from these two religious world-views was a belief in demons, evil spirits, and the like. In that context, mental illness was a religious matter rather than a medical matter. Most of treatments required exorcisms, bloodletting, or simply isolation. I can imagine that some of these treatments worked from time to time because of the placebo effect. I mean if the person really thought that a demon had been cast out of them, then they might find some relief through the action of the parasympathetic nervous.

PSY310 Week 1, DQ 2

What does it mean to be “empirical” in the pursuit of knowledge?  How does this relate to the “scientific method”?

I think that we all take for granted the processes that led to our understanding of the world around us. For instance, I drive a car every day of my life, but I have no idea the process that must have taken place over several decades that created the internal combustion engine. Likewise, I was taught at a very young age the miracles of the scientific method. How it could uncover objective truth rather than subjective opinion. Locke was an ardent empiricist, who believed that the acquisition of knowledge about the world around us and within us is mediated by our experience alone, that no knowledge is innate other than our faculties. This experience-based acquisition of knowledge was at the heart of Mill’s Logic. Mill composed a scientific approach to psychology that he called ethology. Among other things, it proposed the use of a control group, inductive reasoning, and the correlational method; all milestones in the development of the scientific method. He coined the terms of ethology as the Method of Agreement, the Method of Difference, and the Concomitant Variant.

PSY310 Week 1, DQ 1

How does the rise of human interest in the nature and structure of the physical body related to the eventual rise of psychology of a discipline?  Please provide specific examples in your response.

I have always been captivated by Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” quote. I suppose before someone could try to explain, through our faculties of reason, that God exists they must first prove that they exist themselves. It is odd that Descartes was so wrong on the mechanics of the central nervous system (CNS) though. He apparently believed that the CNS worked on a system of hydraulics, controlled by a soul situated in the pineal gland. His mistake can be forgiven though because he lacked the knowledge that nerves were indeed not hollow. However, Descartes did represent a new age of philosophy in his own time, an age that brought with it testable, verifiable explanations of human behavior. This transition from purely philosophical (reason driven) explanations of human behavior to a more empirical, materialistic approach is in large part what sparked the rise of psychology as a scientific discipline. Without the mechanism of verifiable experimentation based on scientific research psychology was inevitably relegated to the realm of phrenology and the like. Nevertheless, the advances of Berkley in our understanding of optics, Helmholtz and the refutation of vitalism, Flourens’ unmasking of phrenology, and Hitzig and Fritsch with their mapping of the relative localization of motor centers in the brain; acted to bring psychology out of the dark alley of relative opinion and mysticism into the bright light scientific experimentation.

PSY300 Week 4, DQ 2

How does moral development change for developing individuals? Does it change for everyone? Why or why not? Why do some people fail to develop basic moral values?

Basic moral development can be impeded through early childhood exposure to neglect and abuse. I believe that the text book labeled those people as suffer from reactive attachment disorder. This disorder is characterized by a lack of conscience and a lack of empathy for others. In this case, a person’s environment dictates a lack of concern for others, primarily as a survival mechanism. It is a way to shield themselves from the ingrained hurt they felt when they were young at the hands of their primary caregiver, at least from a psychodynamic and behaviorist perspective. Furthermore, moral development at a young age is influenced mainly by the child’s primary caregiver. As the child grows up they begin to establish their own morals and ethics to govern their life. As adult they establish their own person. In the existential tradition, they become themselves. This change does take place for most people who have the mental capacity to comprehend self and other. Without that basic ability it would be difficult for a person to become themselves, as it were.

PSY300 Week 4, DQ 1

Since most Americans do not practice rites of passage, how do we know when adolescence ends and adulthood begins? What psychological features do we expect to see in adolescents? What psychological features do we expect to see in adults?

It seems like today the appearance of adulthood is at a younger and younger age but the age when adolescents actual become adults is getting older and older. When I drop my daughter off at her middle school it has become increasingly difficult to know which people are women and which people are middle schoolers. At the same time adolescents are actually growing up slower. A person has to overcome the problems of their parents, the problems of their youth, and the problems of their identity before they can enter adulthood. That is my take on it. Everyone tries so hard not to inherit the bad traits of our parents. Everyone goes through tough times in their teen years. That is just part of being a teenager. But until someone has established their identity as a person I don’t see how they could ever be an adult. Unfortunately sometimes people never become adults by this definition. You are not an adult until you know who you are. Adolescence ends when the person within becomes the person without.

PSY300 Week 3, DQ 2

How is reasoning related to logical arguments? Is this form of reasoning superior to what one might come to on his own? Why or why not?

The advantage of deductive reasoning over inductive reasoning is that we can infer knowledge that is not obvious or readily apparent. Inductive reasoning (what might come to us on our own) is dependent upon observations. On the other hand through the method of deductive reasoning we can surmise information in a purely mental state. If we did not have this ability Einstein could not have discovered relativity, Newton the theory of gravity, and Faraday electromagnetism. Now, in all of these examples inductive reasoning was used to map out possible causes, but deductive reasoning was employed when devising yet untested explanations. In my opinion deductive reasoning is superior to inductive reasoning, again because of the limits of observation. I can remember the critical thinking class that I took as part of my associate degree. I was fascinated by the study of arguments, particularly syllogisms. If I remember correctly an argument is only true if the premises are true and the conclusion reasonably flows from the premises. An argument can be valid if the premises are true, but it can only be sound if the conclusion logically flows from the premises. Please correct me if I am wrong. Anyways, here is a syllogism that has stumped me for some time. See what you think:

The universe began to exist (big bang theory).

Everything that begins to exist has a cause (law of cause and effect).

So the universe must have a cause.

PSY300 Week 3, DQ 1

Do our thoughts require expression in the form of language? Is it possible to think in the absence of language, and if so, how are our thoughts represented?

Thought can operate outside the realm of language. A more important observation though is that language cannot operate outside the realm of thought. So language has no sustainable meaning outside the constructs and schemas that we apply to them. Words on a page mean nothing if we don’t understand the objects, feelings, etc… that the words represent. So in a way words are a visual representation of those things which do not have shape. We can also think in the form of images and representations. We can visualize mentally the most beautiful person we know without ever thinking a word. That is how we think without words. Although I will say that I have to concentrate pretty hard to keep my mind from producing words to describe that person while I am thinking about her. It would seem that our minds are particularly geared towards verbal representation. On a more personal note, it has been my experience that those things which cannot be communicated with words are those things that transcend words: seeing God in a beautiful sunset, the look in a lover’s eyes, the admiration in a father’s eyes when his daughter takes her first step. I would never try to reduce these great things of life to mere words, although I have tried from time to time.

PSY300 Week 2, DQ 2

What is negative reinforcement and give examples.

In my own words, negative reinforcement is when something is taken away and that encourages a certain behavior. This mechanism of conditioning works differently than punishment because both kinds of punishment involve decreasing the chance of a future behavior. I had to read those sections a few times to get it right. It didn’t even make sense the first time I read it. I thought I was going insane. Anyway, to use the example of rats…if a researcher were to apply an electrical charge to the rat until it entered the maze that would qualify as a negative reinforcer. See, in the example the stimulus of the electrical charge was only withheld when the animal did the desired action, thereby negatively reinforcing the behavior. Now the rat is more likely to enter the maze in order to avoid the electrical shock. In this way entering the maze becomes much more likely because the electrical shock is withheld when the animal enters the maze. Although I will say that classical conditioning is at work even in this example. The rat will probably begin to associate outside the maze (UCS) with the shock (CS). The rat might then exhibit signs of a phobia (CR) of the outside of the maze.

PSY300 Week 2, DQ 1

How do classical conditioning procedures differ from operant conditioning procedures? How are they similar? In your opinion, which learning process is more effective? Why?

You know, after reading the chapter I would have to say that operant conditioning is more effective. Classical conditioning only has one mechanism, association, to affect learning; however, operant conditioning has four separate mechanisms, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment, that bring about learning. It would seem though that operant conditioning is harder to bring about because it is based on behavior first rather than stimulus first. Although it does seem that association plays a secondary role in operant conditioning. It also seems that it is a misnomer to draw stark lines between operant and classical conditioning. Apparently one can work off the other or they can work in unison. In fact, operant conditioning is highly implicated in Pavlov’s classic example of conditioning. The salivation (CR) of Pavlov’s dogs when the bell rings is positively reinforced by the reward of the food. Operant and classic conditioning is the same in that secondary and tertiary conditioning can be involved with the primary conditioning. In the example of Pavlov’s experiment the dog might begin to associate the place where he receives the food with the food. Likewise, a secondary reinforcer of the CR of salivation might be that the dog gets a pat on the head for eating the food when the bell rings.

PSY300 Week 1, DQ 2

How does psychology as a scientific discipline differ from the casual observations we make about the world in everyday life? What are the similarities?

Psychology as a scientific discipline is built upon testable, empirical data which has been obtained through the use of the scientific method. Now of course this does not apply to all of psychology. The psychodynamic approach leans heavily on case studies, which are not empirically testable. Since case studies examine the subjective thoughts of a patient there is no way to objectively test the results. However, for the most part psychology is built upon reproducible experimentation. Furthermore, casual observations are highly subjective in nature. To borrow from the cognitive approach, the subjective constructs, which filter our sensory perceptions, can have a substantial effect on our impression of reality. For instance, two people could look at the exact same object and have completely different opinions about the significance of that object. It is our personal constructs (i.e. world view, opinions, etc…) which help us make sense of the world.

Casual observation and psychology as a scientific disciple are similar in that they both require second level analysis. We don’t just take the world at face value. We are not so concerned with the results of an experiment but what the results mean. The difference though is that the results of experimentation are the same for all people; whereas, our perception of the world is different for everyone. However, we use second level analysis to infer what both experimentation and casual observation mean to us. If that makes any sense…

PSY300 Week 1, DQ 1

I would like the entire class to identify behaviors that you consider “normal” and “abnormal.”  Please post a response to this message that includes at least three “normal” and three “abnormal” behaviors and the reasoning for your classifications

What is normal? Is it majority rules, is it subjective, is it relative; or is normality dictated by some code, some moral code external to ourselves. I don’t know. I just thought it was important to question what is normal before we start espousing our standards of normality. To the question though, I guess I would consider a marriage relationship, actively seeking one’s God, and spending time with family normal behaviors. Conversely, abnormal behaviors might include suicide, extreme depression, and hearing voices. When I classify these behaviors as normal or abnormal I am mainly pulling from my own experiences. For instance, in some Islamic sects suicide (suicide bombers) might be perfectly normal. But in my experience suicide is an abnormal behavior. Likewise, I have had bouts with mild depression in my life, brought on by life events, but I have never experienced extreme depression. Although I will say that depression is becoming more and more normal in the United States these days. Also, I have never heard voices myself, but in many domestic religions speaking with God is common. For me, normal behaviors are exemplified by my everyday experiences; marriage, God, family. That is a very narrow view of normality though.

GEN300 Week 3, DQ 2

How do you usually handle conflict with other team members?

I have always thought that the third party approach works best. It works best when it is someone else in the group because then they probably already are aware of the situation. When you involve someone outside of the group there is always the required retelling of the whole story, from both perspectives. A third party also helps eliminate bias somewhat because the person doesn’t have anything personally invested in the situation. To be more realistic though, I usually just capitulate. Like I was saying in the last DQ, I have no problem doing large amounts of work. In fact, the only reason someone could get mad at me is if I was doing all of the work. I have always been a very laid back person. I forgot where I heard this, but I have always lived by it: don’t worry about the small stuff, and almost everything is small stuff. I always like to keep a ten year perspective. Will I remember this conflict in ten years? If the answer is yes, then I should take the conflict seriously. If the answer is not, then I should compromise accordingly to resolve the situation. It has always worked for me.

GEN300 Week 3, DQ 1

What role(s) do you typically play within a team? Why?

I am a thinker and score very high on intrapersonal; therefore, I usually take on the role of workhorse, for lack of a better word. I do not prefer to lead, even though I can lead if the occasion calls for it. I prefer to be the silent worker. I am very good at completing large volumes of research and typing in a relatively short period of time. I am not necessarily a people person, even though I do enjoy being around people. I remind myself of poor Daniel on P.S. I Love You. I guess I am not that good at social cues, but I am very talkative when you get to know me. So in a team of people that I do not know that well I am usually direct and to the point. I admit that it is different working in teams. I am so used to working alone. After this past week though I have seen how beneficial groups can be. For one, I don’t have to do all of the work. That is always a plus. Also in a group there are always different perspectives and different ideas, sometimes things that I hadn’t even though of.

SCI230 Week 6, DQ 1

What are some of the benefits of squeezing so much data into virtually every cell in the body? Why did we not evolve with one central repository of DNA rather than having it replicated throughout the body?

One of the benefits has to be that our genetic information cannot be lost simply by removing one part of the body. Could you imagine loosing your arm to an injury and having all of your genetic information lost as well? Also if there was some sort of centralized DNA repository there would have to be some way to communicate that information to every cell in the body. There would also have to be some sort of mechanism to differential between cells in order to send the right information. Skin cells need to know how much pigment to excrete and liver cells need to know how much glucose to release into the blood during extended exercise. I guess one of the major benefits of cellular DNA vs repository DNA is that as long as all of our vital systems are in tact we can survive, because each cell holds the information it needs to keep on working.

Assume that the hereditary information carried in genes and DNA is responsible for a lot of the differences we observe in humans and other living things. How could just four different bases in DNA strands be responsible for the almost endless variety found in nature?

We only have 26 letters in our alphabet and look at what we can do: Shakespeare, The Odyssey, South Park… There are only 10 base numbers and look at what we can computer: the speed of light, the speed of sound, etc… See the complexity comes as more levels of the base pairs are added. I do not remember the exact equation, but it had something to do with multiplying the different variables (the base pairs) by the possible number of combinations. For instance if we were just talking about one level of four variables, then there would be 16 different variations that could be completed just on that one level. As you get to the second level there are now of course 32 options, but you also have to factor in the order of the pairs of four so you would have to multiply 32 by 2 because there are two options for the order of the pairs. As you can see just going from one level to two brings us from 16 possibilities to 64 possibilities. The options increase exponentially. It is through this wide range of options that DNA is able to contain so much information.

I would also like to add that DNA is the single greatest barrier for the theory of evolution. When Darwin was alive they did not even know the internal structure of a cell, let alone the genetic blueprint. I have never seen any explanation for DNA as it pertains to evolution through natural selection that was more than speculation. The problem with DNA and evolution is that DNA has syntax, meaning a set of underlying rules that govern how the cell interprets the information. Kind of like our syntax for the English language. For instance, we have rules that govern how words work in a sentence and how punctuation defines the sentence. It is the same for DNA. I have never heard a single scientific explanation for how the syntax of DNA developed and I probably never will.

GEN300 Week 2, DQ 2

Who is one public speaker that you admire (someone famous or someone you know)? Why? How can you emulate that person the next time you have the opportunity to give a presentation? Explain one way you might include that skill or characteristic in your team Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation due at the end of Week Five.

I know that we are all going to vote, or have voted already, in the next few days. This is not a political science class so I won’t get into politics. However, I must state that I do not agree with many of Barrack Obama’s proposals. With that being said, I was mesmerized by both of his autobiographies. I read them both and then got the audio on them and listened to them both. What strikes me about him is that he is a real person, with real problems. He actually reads his own autobiography on the audio and you can tell that these books represent the real man, for better or worse. After reading these books I have sought to incorporate reality into my writings. What I mean by reality is letting the reader know who I really am, rather than who I would like them to think I am. One of my favorite books is Wild at Heart by John Elderidge (2001). At some point in there he says something like, let people feel the full weight of who you are and let them deal with it. That is so true when you think about it. When I listen to a politician, a newscaster, read an author, I can almost immediately notice inauthentic people. So in this presentation I would like to represent my authentic self, signified in our work. Your thoughts…

Elderidge, J. (2001). Wild at heart. Nashville, TN.: Thomas Nelson.

GEN300 Week 2, DQ 1

Consider this scenario: You were in a minor fender bender. How would you communicate what happened and what would you say to each of the following audiences?

a.     Friends

My recollection of a minor fender bender, as told to a friend, would most likely include a more subjective explanation contextualized by past shared events. For instance, if my friend had been in a car wreck, that might give us a common point of reference to compare with my fender bender. Also I would probably talk more about how I felt, maybe how the other driver acted, rather than the actual events of the situation. I might hypothesize about what the other driver was thinking and feeling. As with most of us, I am sure I would try to place as much blame as possible on circumstances and other people, and as little blame as possible on myself. Knowing myself, I would probably exaggerate the circumstances until my friend was sure that the fender bender was actually a ten car pile-up. Not that I am admitting that I exaggerate, but that my friend would probably take it that way. Ha. Ha.

b.    Insurance Company

One of the lessons that I learned from my mother was that when communicating with insurance companies try to do as much on paper as possible. She got in a situation where the insurance company said that she said something when she really didn’t, if that makes any sense. So I would call the insurance company to inform them that an altercation had occurred, but I would almost immediately fax, e-mail, or mail the details of the accident as well. I have also found it beneficial to take numerous pictures of the damaged area at the scene of the accident. That way no one can say that the damage was inflicted later. I have also found it advantageous to get constant feedback when communicating verbally with insurance companies. Sometimes what you said is not what they heard and vice versa. You know what I mean?

GEN300 Week 1, DQ 2

What is your reason(s) for returning to school? What is your motivation to finish school?

You know when you are a kid, maybe in elementary school, and you decide what you want to be when you grow up. I wanted to be a doctor. Looking back now I am sure it had something to do with wanting to help people and making money. But after that, when I had tasted enough of life that I knew I didn’t want anything to do with death or sickness, I realized that the greatest fulfillments in my life have come from helping others. Not from helping people evade illness or death, but from helping people to become the people they envisioned themselves being when they were children. Somewhere along the way I think that we all lose track of who we are, who we are supposed to be, and the bridge in between that gap. I want to be a teacher and not just any teacher. I want to be one of those teachers who give children a reason, a purpose in life, not that I possess such knowledge, but that the children do. So what is my reason for returning to school, my motivation to finish school? It is to make a difference in someone’s life the way that other people have in mine. I would not be here if it weren’t for a long list of people that held me up along the way. I only want to return the favor. Besides I think it would be kind of cool to have a small of legion of children at my beck and call. Well, maybe not at my beck and call, but you know what I am saying…

GEN300 Week 1, DQ 1

I would like for you to brainstorm time management strategies. Please post a response to this message that includes at least two specific time management strategies you can use to help you maximize the use of your time during this class. Why do you feel these will be the most beneficial for you?

Two of the suggestions that the text had that I thought would be most helpful were creating a schedule and then prioritize tasks. I use Windows Calendar to keep track of birthdays and such. I could input the assignments, DQ’s, etc… into the calendar as well. I don’t know about everyone else, but I am having some problems keeping the days straight. I am so used to Monday being Day 1 that it will take some time to get used to Tuesday being Day 1. It is also weird that some DQ’s are due on Saturday. Anyway, I could put the info in the course syllabus into my calendar and assign it a different color. Furthermore, I could use the color-coding abilities of Windows Calendar to prioritize my tasks. My college assignments, etc…, and other important events could be red, semi-important tasks green, and everyday tasks orange. That way I could see my week at a glance and know when assignments are due, instead of counting the days like I do right now. I mean why couldn’t the course syllabus just say the day rather than the date that the assignment is due? That is just me though and I am sure there is a perfectly good explanation. Just venting. Back to the subject at hand, I think that by putting my college events into a calendar and then prioritizing those tasks I will be able to manage my time much more productively.

SCI230 Week 8, DQ 2

Describe the ecosystem in the area in which you live in terms of plant life, animal life, and geology. What populations and communities are present?

It is definitely true that humans are the great eroders. I live in a large city, Fort Worth, Texas. The entire area has been remade into a suburban area. As a consequences the predominate grass is Saint Augustine, the predominate tree is the Live Oak, and the predominate bush is the Holly. In terms of animal life I would say that it is mostly domesticated dogs, cats, etc… It is a mostly flat area. Not even a large hill within sight. This type of environmental manipulation has lead to many unforeseen consequences. For instance almost everyone in this area has allergies at least part of the years because the different predominate plants all pollinate at the same time.

How dependent is your community on this ecosystem? What are the limiting factors of the ecosystem?

I guess the major problem with this type of artificial ecosystem is that without natural occurring biodiversity most species of wild animals and plant are limited. For instance a limiting factor for most wild predators such as wolves or foxes is that there are very few wild autotrophic animals around to feed on. I mean we kill all of the rats and pests because it is such a densely populated area. There would be nothing for them to eat.

SCI230 Week 8, DQ 1

For your assigned biotechnology example, provide at least two ways the use of this biotechnology could benefit society, and two ways this biotechnology could be harmful.

One of the best examples of historic biotechnology could be Mendel’s peas. At that time many pea types had been specially selected and breed in order to bring about the best type of pea for a specific environment. This is an early form of biotechnology and has lead to very specialized plants and animals. A bacterium was developed in the 1980’s which was capable of breaking down crude oil (Biotechnology, 2008). By using this genetically engineered bacterium oil spills could be contained biologically rather than mechanically.

One harmful example of biotechnology would be Weizmann’s discovery of being able to use corn starch to produce acetone, a main ingredient in explosives. The discovery of this process lead to many deaths during both world wars. Another historic use of biotechnology that has harmed society is lactic acid fermentation. This is the process that turns malted grain into alcohol. Although the harm of this process are arguably situational, this is the first example of humans using biotechnology to turn one food source into another.

Biotechnology. (2008). Retrieved February 19, 2008, from the Wikipedia Web site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biotechnology

SCI230 Week 6, DQ 2

Consider the other European families affected by the hemophilia gene. If you were a member of one of these families, what would be some implications?

I guess that really depends on whether you plan on having children with this person or not. From what I have read royalty usually favors many children in order to pass on the royal bloodline. It also has a lot to do with whether the royal bloodline is dependent on having a son. If I were a male and the woman I was going to marry was of Victoria’s bloodline, then I should think twice because more than likely my sons are all going to inherit the disease. If it were the other way around and I was a female wanting to marry a male of Victoria’s descent who had the disease I would need to consider the fate of my daughters.

If hemophilia had been transmitted as a recessive trait, rather than an X-linked one, what would have been the implications for the European Aristocracy?

If the gene had been transmitted as a recessive gene then it would have impacted all of the sons of the daughters of Victoria’s. It would have just skipped a generation. Queen Victoria had more daughters than sons so the implications are daunting. The disease could have spread even faster with that configuration.

Why are there so many more male than female hemophiliacs?

The gene for Haemophilia is transmitted through the female sex chromosome X, which is recessive in the mother, to a male son. Therefore there is a much greater chance that a male will inherited the active Haemophilia gene and that the gene will remain dormant in females.

One last thought: who wrote this article? They were apparently not aware of the English language. It is almost like it was translated or something. Any thoughts…

SCI230 Week 6, DQ 1

What are some of the benefits of squeezing so much data into virtually every cell in the body? Why did we not evolve with one central repository of DNA rather than having it replicated throughout the body?

One of the benefits has to be that our genetic information cannot be lost simply by removing one part of the body. Could you imagine loosing your arm to an injury and having all of your genetic information lost as well? Also if there was some sort of centralized DNA repository there would have to be some way to communicate that information to every cell in the body. There would also have to be some sort of mechanism to differential between cells in order to send the right information. Skin cells need to know how much pigment to excrete and liver cells need to know how much glucose to release into the blood during extended exercise. I guess one of the major benefits of cellular DNA vs repository DNA is that as long as all of our vital systems are in tact we can survive, because each cell holds the information it needs to keep on working.

Assume that the hereditary information carried in genes and DNA is responsible for a lot of the differences we observe in humans and other living things. How could just four different bases in DNA strands be responsible for the almost endless variety found in nature?

We only have 26 letters in our alphabet and look at what we can do: Shakespeare, The Odyssey, South Park… There are only 10 base numbers and look at what we can computer: the speed of light, the speed of sound, etc… See the complexity comes as more levels of the base pairs are added. I do not remember the exact equation, but it had something to do with multiplying the different variables (the base pairs) by the possible number of combinations. For instance if we were just talking about one level of four variables, then there would be 16 different variations that could be completed just on that one level. As you get to the second level there are now of course 32 options, but you also have to factor in the order of the pairs of four so you would have to multiply 32 by 2 because there are two options for the order of the pairs. As you can see just going from one level to two brings us from 16 possibilities to 64 possibilities. The options increase exponentially. It is through this wide range of options that DNA is able to contain so much information.

I would also like to add that DNA is the single greatest barrier for the theory of evolution. When Darwin was alive they did not even know the internal structure of a cell, let alone the genetic blueprint. I have never seen any explanation for DNA as it pertains to evolution through natural selection that was more than speculation. The problem with DNA and evolution is that DNA has syntax, meaning a set of underlying rules that govern how the cell interprets the information. Kind of like our syntax for the English language. For instance, we have rules that govern how words work in a sentence and how punctuation defines the sentence. It is the same for DNA. I have never heard a single scientific explanation for how the syntax of DNA developed and I probably never will.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

SCI230 Week 4, DQ 2

Post your response to the following: Given Darwin’s theory of evolution, what scientific evidence best supports evolution by natural selection?

One example I found of evidence that supports evolution by natural selection is the rat snake found in the southeaster United States (Evolution, 2005). Regional adaptation has occurred in the several different types of rat snakes found around the country. They are all able to reproduce together, so they are all the same species. However, there are great geographic distances between the various types so they have adapted to their environments in different ways. Some have evolved stripes, others spots, and still others solid colors in order to remain a competitive.

Another example that I found was the evidence of homologous structures in humans. There is evidence that the double jaw of mammal-like reptiles eventually became the mammalian hammer and anvil of the ear (Evidence, n.d.). Reptiles have several bones that compose the jaw bone. It is believed that the many-boned jaw of reptiles evolved into the two bone jaw of mammals and the additional bones became the ear bones.

Evidence supporting biological evolution: Common structures. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24,

2008, from http://www.nap.edu/html/creationism/evidence.html

Evolution and natural selection: Local adaptation. (2005). Retrieved January 24, 2008, from

http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/ selection/selection.html

SCI230 Week 4, DQ 1

Post your response to the following: Describe an example of how natural selection impacted the evolution of a particular species. Include outside sources if applicable.

One of the most fascinating species that is definitely a product of natural selection is the whale (Whale, 2008). Imagine a fish that breathes air? What could possible be the point of such a creature? Why are there not land animals that only breathe water? Most would assume that whales are the evolutionary link from fish to mammals; however, it is actually the other way around. Fossil records indicate that whales evolved from mammals. In fact the closes relative to whale is the hippo. Whales have specialized lungs and circulatory systems that allow up to two hours of submersion without additional intake of oxygen. I could not find any information on exactly how whales evolved from their land dwelling counterparts, but it is clear that isolation played a very big role in the evolution of the whale. There is no bigger natural barrier than the open sea for non-flying mammals. I would assume that once the predecessors of whales got out into the ocean it did not take long for natural selection to take root and decisively change their anatomy.

Whale: Origins and taxonomy. (2008). Retrieved January 22, 2008, from Wikipedia Web site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale

SCI230 Week 2, DQ 2

Post your response to the following: Describe two similarities and two differences between eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells. Why do you think eukaryotic cells developed? Describe how eukaryotic cells are similar to a production line.

Prokaryotic cells are similar in that they both have cellular membranes and they both contain chromosomes. Cellular membranes are important for both types of cells because they help maintain the cell’s structural integrity and act as a barrier between the intercellular fluid and the extracellular fluid. Chromosomes are the blueprint, if you will, that the cell uses to guide protein synthesis and other vital cellular functions.

Prokaryotic cells are different in that eukaryotic cells have many inner parts, known as organelles, which perform specific tasks within the cell; however, prokaryotic cells have no distinct internal organelles. Also eukaryotic cells do not even contain their chromosomes within a nuclear envelope but rather let the chromosomes float within the intercellular fluid.

Eukaryotic cells might of developed because the inefficiency of prokaryotic cells to glean maximum ATP from raw materials. Prokaryotic cells lack mitochondria, which in eukaryotic cells facilitate the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain. Without mitochondria prokaryotic cells would be limited in how long they could survive without plentiful food.

I was fascinated, if not overwhelmed, by the chains and cycles that the cell uses to produce ATP and proteins. During both processes catalysts and enzymes are used to change the “product” in different ways in order to eventually produce the finished “product”. This is how production lines work in factories. Each employee adds or changes a small thing and over time the starting product becomes the finished product.

SCI230 Week 1, DQ 1

Without the invention of the microscope, the cell theory would not have been possible.

I would have to say that this statement is most likely inaccurate. Let’s envision a very unlikely scenario. Let’s say that even though the human race was able to produce electron microscopes there was something wrong with the optical nerve in our head and we could not process magnified images. Under those unlikely circumstances it would be difficult for me to understand that there is no other way for us to discover the cell theory. Let me give an example. There are no truly eye-witness accounts to 9-11 because everyone that really knew what was going on died. (i.e. the passengers in the planes and the terrorists themselves). Even though we lack first hand accounts of what actually happened we were able to piece together what happened that day. If we lacked the visual acuity to process magnified images I believe that we would still be able to discover cell theory the same way that we discovered black holes. It is impossible to see a black hole, hence the black part in black hole, because the collapsed star’s gravity is such that it will not even let light escape its gravitational pull. Yet we were able to discover and will soon be able to study them the effect they have on surrounding objects. It would be the same with the cell theory. If we were not able to see them we could still discover and study them through the effect that they had on their surroundings or by some other yet unknown means.

PSY270 Week 9, DQ 1

Post your response to the following: Psychology has many applications in our lives, both professionally and personally. How can having a background in psychology help you in your professional life? How can it help you in your personal life?

My goal in acquiring a degree in psychology is so that I can become certified to teach in the state of Texas. I chose this degree, rather than some business or medical degree, because I think that my knowledge of psychology will help me better understand the young adults I will be teaching in school. Of particular importance will be the teachings on A.D.H.D. and disruptive behavior disorders. Sometimes I think that teachers are dumbfounded about their student’s behavior because they simply do not understand why they are acting that way. It helps to be able to put a name to the dysfunctional behavior. I will have that advantage over other teachers. I will probably have a better understanding of the complexities of why a student is being disruptive. On the other hand, several of the courses I have taken for this degree have helped me on a personal level. I particularly liked the positive psychology course. I think that course was geared more towards self-evaluation and self-help than psychology disorders. As I have been reading about all of these disorders I have been amazed at the lack of understanding when it comes to the environmental precursors involved in the development of the dysfunction. There are many times where the text just says something like, “This and that disorder is caused by some yet unknown environmental factors”. I think that at some point in my life I would enjoy further research into the environmental causes of certain psychological disorders.

PSY270 Week 7, DQ 2

Post your response to the following: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a growing concern in the United States. How does ADHD differ from disruptive behavior disorder? How can these two disorders affect a classroom? Do you believe doctors over-prescribe medication for ADHD? Explain your answer.

As I was reading about disruptive behavior disorder I was thinking that the percentages were a little low. I have spent some time in all of my children’s schools and many kids these days display this type of behavior. I know that the book mentions biological and genetic causes as possible precursors for this disorder, but I think it really has a lot to do with the parents. You could literally sit down and pick out the “trouble children” in a class and know that something was going on at home that was not good. Family life has a lot to do with how children act at school. ADHD is different. Some of the children that have this disorder are not even bad. They just find it very hard to stay still and/or paying attention. I also think that the development of ADHD has a lot to do with diet. My aunt had a son about the same time that I had my youngest daughter. My aunt’s son was overactive and mouthy, even when he was very young. All she did was change his diet and he was much more manageable. I don’t think that we realize just how much sugar and caffeine are in the foods and drinks that we consume. Furthermore, both disorders negatively affect the classroom experience for both teachers and children. I think it is important though for teachers to implement behaviorist principles when dealing with children like this. You can’t just punish them because sometimes that makes it worse. You have to also offer rewards for good behavior, utilizing both negative and positive reinforcement. Lastly, I do think that medication is grossly over-prescribed for children with ADHD. Ritalin should be reserved for children that cannot be controlled any other way, not as the default solution.

PSY270 Week 7, DQ 1

Post your response to the following: Children, like adults, experience depression and anxiety. How do the experiences of children who feel anxiety or depression compare to those of adults who feel anxiety or depression? Explain your answers.

The age factor seems to be of great consequence to both the development of depression and anxiety disorders in children. The anxiety disorders mentioned; school phobia (school refusal) and separation anxiety disorder, both seem to stem from a child’s relationship and/or dependency on their parents/guardians. It was not mentioned specifically, but an authoritative attachment style could potential contribute to the development of these anxiety disorders, specifically a parent exhibiting a cold, strict disciplinary style. This could cause anxiety in the child because they might not know how to operate at school outside the framework of strict discipline. On the other hand, childhood depression has much more in common with adult depression. Some causal factors mentioned for childhood depression are learned helplessness, biochemical imbalance, and learned helplessness. Furthermore, childhood depression seems to also be biologically predisposed by genetic abnormalities coupled with a stress-related onset. The only thing that appears to be different for childhood depression is the type of stress a child undergoes. An adult might be stressed about work, a current relationship, etc… but a child might be stressed about physical abuse, school, or even sexual abuse.

PSY270 Week 5, DQ 2

How does your assigned theoretical viewpoint explain the causes of substance abuse, and what treatments does it recommend? What are some of the strengths or weaknesses of your assigned viewpoint?

In the readings I have noticed that the psychodynamic approach to just about anything is very good at explaining the underlying problem, but is very bad at treatment. To that end, the psychodynamic view indicates that substance abuse can be caused by a lack of nurturing during childhood, which can lead to a substance abuse personality (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). Certain personality traits such as impulsiveness, being antisocial, and being dependant can lead to, or may be caused by, substance abuse. Psychodynamic treatments for substance abuse center on the resolution of underlying needs and conflicts. The sociocultural view suggests that substance abuse is caused by peer pressure, stress, and economic problems. I can see how peer pressure, especially from within the family, can be a powerful influence on a person’s decision to abuse drugs. Out of the possible sociocultural treatments I think that self-help groups are the most effective and community prevention programs are the least effective. Everyone was in D.A.R.E. during high school, but over half of my class mates would decry the evils of drugs at school and then spend the rest of the day after school getting stoned. However, I have witnessed some pretty impressive results from Alcoholics Anonymous.

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new

millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

PSY270 Week 5, DQ 1

What are some differences between these two disorders? How do these disorders affect the people who suffer from them? What leads a person to become either anorexic or bulimic? Are the causes internal, external, or both? Explain your answers.

Well anorexia nervosa involves gradual caloric reduction of food until the body loses enough weight that it becomes unhealthy for a person. Bulimia nervosa involves a binge/purge cycle that entails eating large amounts of food in a short period of time and then vomiting (or laxatives, etc…). Anorexia and bulimia can lead to death in some cases.

In the biopsychology class there was explanation for anorexia that made a lot of sense to me. The text in this class kind of touched on it but really didn’t go into detail. It is of course from the behaviorist perspective. Say a person starts to reduce the amount of food that they eat in order to lose weight (i.e. diet). As they reduce their food intake the positive incentive value of food goes up and there is sometimes social pressure from friends and family to eat more. At some point the person gives in and has a “meal”. Now because they have been eating so little the “meal” that would not normally hurt us makes them completely sick. Over time they begin to associate the neutral stimuli of a “meal” with the unconditional stimuli of the sickness that follows; therefore, the “meal” becomes a conditioned stimuli. Once they made the association it becomes very difficult for a person suffering from anorexia to eat large enough amounts of food to regain weight. Likewise, a person might also choose to purge because they are so sick after a “meal” and this can lead to bulimia.

I think that the greatest cause internal, external, or otherwise is social conformity. On TV people are so skinny these days. Today was my three children’s first day of school. In fact, the first day ever for two of them. As I was dropping them off I was trying to think about how to answer this DQ, oddly enough. Anyways, I marveled at how every one of the parents looked normal. There were no supermodels, no Tom Cruises, no Nicole Kidmans. We were just all normal looking, most of us slightly overweight. Yes social conformity to the media paradigm of the thin woman is the prime cause of both of these disorders, in my view.

PSY270 Week 3, DQ 2

Post your response to the following questions: How do phobias differ from fears? What types of phobias affect a person’s ability to function normally in society? How is his or her ability to function in society affected? What can cause a person to develop a phobia?

The differences between phobias and normal fears center on dramatic interference with a person’s life and a greater desire to avoid the feared object (Nevid, & Rathus, 2005). Specific phobias can interfere with a person’s ability to function normally if avoidance of the object, situation, etc… restricts normal activities. Furthermore, social phobias are characterized as a fear of perceived embarrassment as a result of social activity. Obviously social phobias can severely restrict normal social interaction. In fact this type of phobia can impede social interaction entirely if the persistent fears are not addressed properly. Moreover, if someone has a fear of eating around others, that might impact their job performance if they are required to have business lunches. One way that a phobia develops is through association, which is covered in the behaviorist model of classical conditioning. According to this approach a person might associate a neutral stimulus with an unconditional stimulus thereby transferring the response usually associated with the unconditional stimulus to the neutral stimulus. There is also evidence that modeling plays a role in phobias. If we observe our role models or parents fearfulness of an object, situation, etc…, then we might seek to mimic that behavior in our own lives. I was very fascinated with the classical conditioning explanation of phobias. It is weird how we can associate random objects with other things and it actually impact our behavior.

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new

millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

PSY270 Week 3, DQ 1

Post your response to the following: Surveys suggest that up to 4% of the U.S. population suffers from generalized anxiety disorder. How are anxiety disorders viewed by various psychological perspectives such as psychodynamic, biological, cognitive, and humanistic? With which perspective do you most agree? With which do you least agree? Explain your answers.

The psychodynamic approach to anxiety disorders seems to center around expression or restraint of the ID impulses. If ID impulses are suppressed, then moral anxiety may result; likewise, if ID impulses are repeatedly prevented neurotic anxiety might result. The humanistic perspective dictates that anxiety disorder result from an unrealistic view of oneself. Consequently, the cognitive approach suggests that these disorders are caused by maladaptive assumptions about oneself. Biological perspectives explain that anxiety disorders can be the result of genetics. Lastly, the behaviorist perspective says that phobias are mainly attained through classic conditioning. I think that I agree the most with the behaviorist model of anxiety disorders. This stems from my belief that most disorders, barring those that have explicit biological causes, are reactionary in nature. To that end, reactionary disorders can be “undone” through relearning the underlying associations. I would have to say that I disagree the most with the biological perspective. It is not my experience that the tendency towards anxiety is genetically inherited, but rather environmentally learned. I am a fierce advocate of the belief that genetics do not mandate action but rather predispose action. Predispositions can be overcome through an act of the will, as it were.

PSY270 Week 1, DQ 2

Choose one of these current trends listed above and address the following questions: What are the positive outcomes of this trend? What are the negative outcomes of this trend? How can these negative outcomes be minimized?

The single biggest positive effect of the growing influence of insurance coverage, specifically managed care programs, is that costs stay low (Nevid & Rathus, 2005). By limiting the time of visits, number of visits, and which physicians can be visited these programs keep costs, and therefore premiums, to a minimum. I don’t know if I would be comfortable with my premiums going up in order to pay for longer visits for people suffering from psychological disorders. On the other hand, I do believe that those that suffer from psychological disorders should have affordable access to extended periods of qualified psychiatric counseling. As with most health care issues though there are two ways of looking at the situation. Moreover, the negative trends associated with managed care programs center around limited psychological counseling. I guess the ideal situation would be to maximize psychological care for those that truly suffer from legitimate psychological disorders and minimize care for those that suffer from merely the prolonged stress that accompanies normal work. It is important to talk to someone when stress builds up, but I don’t think that the insurance premium pool should pay for it. That is what we have family and friends for.

Nevid, J.S., & Rathus, S.A. (2005). Psychology and the challenges of life: Adjustment in the new

millennium (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.