Archive for November, 2007

Fear of Psychology110: CC, OC & OL

A student attends Psychology110 every Wednesday morning, bright and early at 8:30. To most it is a pleasant class taught by David Reagan, with interesting course material and an engaging teacher; however, for a few it can become a fear-provoking experience.

For those students who are insomniacs, partiers or new mothers an 8:30AM class can be extremely difficult. Still, these students lethargically go to the class that they signed up for. Consequently, these sleep deprived individuals are easily susceptible at being unconsciously conditioned to fear their PSYC110 course.

The fear begins to develop when a chatterbox in their close proximity is caught and scolded by David. The student, being exhausted and having dosed off, is startled by this abrupt change in atmosphere, and for following second that they’re disoriented and embarrassed a spark of fear is present. The negative association with their PSYC110 class is strengthened each time that David reproaches the talkative students. The once neutral stimulus of sleep deprivation is soon classically conditioned to be associated with David’s voice; furthermore, every time David unexpectedly switches the pace of the seminar to enquire into someone’s side conversation the student experiences it as a sort of operant conditioning form of punishment, since they are negatively jolted out of a dazed state. Any positive feelings toward the class that the student holds are significantly weakened every time this occurs; Moreover, the chattering students and David’s reprimands continue through the semester, and since this negative condition has not stopped the student experience’s the operant conditioning of extinction, finding their fondness of the class diminished and replaced with the unpleasant, fearful feeling of being abruptly awoken.

Thus, the student soon turns to avoidance and skips the class. This negative reinforcement solidifies their fear as their unpleasant feelings stop when they do not attend. Logically though a student lack of attendance will reflect poorly on their grade; however, if the student observes other peers that they admire not going to class but bragging about their high grades, whether they are honest or not, it encourages the avoidant behaviour. Once this observational learning behaviour is conditioned it is unlikely that the student will change their perspective of the class due to the fact that they are no longer in the environment so as to be reversed conditioned.

In conclusion, they will move on from PSYC110 having developed an unconscious association of David’s voice to the negative feeling of being awoken suddenly and will recall PSYC110 with fear and apprehension.

Word Count: 410

Experiment on an IQ enhancer: SCX

In today’s society intellect is quickly becoming mandatory for a successful, prosperous future. Consequently, psychological studies on why some individuals can understand complex information more efficiently than others are widespread.

Recently a breakthrough was found in stem cell research that has been dubbed SCX, which aids in the brain to firing more neurons per second. In order to assess the quality of SCX an experiment was designed that would administered this substance, in oral pill form, to volunteers. It is theorized that a person who was given SCX would show a sharp increase of mental clarity, resulting in a higher IQ.

A study group of 1000 people was gathered with the controlled variables of age, being 18 to 28, an equal ratio of males to females, with none having an apparent history of learning defects and an economic standing in the middle class. Extraneous variables such as mood and stress were recorded at every bi-weekly visit by the research team. We divided the males and females and from this division randomly and selected which 250, respectively, would be in the control group getting the placebo, and which would be in the experimental group given SCX.

Prior to all this we assessed everyone’s IQ with three standard tests, and recorded the results of our dependent variable for future comparison and evaluation; furthermore, every two weeks we asked both the control and experimental group to take a variation of the three IQ test to track their progress. This strict procedure to data collecting will allow for easy replication if any other researcher seeks to re-do this experiment. However, due to ethical concerns, we did not tell the volunteers their IQ’s; for fear that they may take the results to mean they’re inferior or unintelligent. Instead when we debrief them in a year we’ll divulge if their IQ rose or stayed the same, and whether our independent variable, SCX, could be correlated with this effect.

Preliminary results after 6 months of our year long trial have allowed us to hypothesize that SCX does indeed allow neurons to shoot faster, for 476 out of 500 people in the experimental group have had a rise in their IQ, while the Control group has stayed stagnant.

Word Count: 370

Explanation to a Valentine’s Day miracle: David

David was admitted to the emergency ward on Valentine’s Day after a rogue arrow entered the base of his neck, just above his spinal cord at an approximate forty-five degree angle, and exited through the frontal lobe in close proximity to the motor cortex. The arrow lacerated many areas of his brain; however, the damage was not fatal. By the accounts of the teenage boy who shot the arrow, apparently to complete his cupid apparel in order to impress his significant other and not with malice intent, David remained alert and eerily calm through the entire ordeal. We can only assume that, like the classical case of Phinese Gage, David’s pain receptors were damaged resulting in endorphins diminishing the effects of his substance p.

His physical recovery was astonishingly quick but the mental damage became apparent once his wounds had healed enough for us to take him off his subduing medication which we administered, due to his erratic behaviour, so as to prevent further damage.

David is unable to recall my name though I have spent every day with him for several weeks, and he often respond’s in spurts of anger and aggression quickly into our conversations. This, by his wife’s accounts, was unlike his previous docile and happy go lucky nature.

Furthermore, his speech is incoherent and he appears to have difficulty understanding what I say to him. Physically he has had considerable weight gain on a diet that would not call for it, as well as being incapable at finding his center of gravity. I’ve also noticed that he is unable to write properly due to decreased sensation in his right hand.

The most plausible explanation for this behaviour is that the arrow, on its way through his brain, damaged the Cerebellum causing his difficulty in finding balance. It then entered the Temporal Lobe hitting his Hippocampus, taking away his ability to create new memories, and then the Amygdala disenabling his capability to manage his emotions, primarily anger and aggression. It also damaged his Broca’s and Wenicke’s Area’s resulting in his difficulty with speech and language comprehension. The last thing it damaged in the Temporal Lobe was David’s Hypothalamus, consequential sending unnecessary signals through his body to store a surplus of fat. As the arrow was emerging from the top, back portion of the Frontal lobe it tore at his motor cortex which consequently created numbness in his right hand taking away his sensation and, until he has adjusted to this, his ability to write.

David is going through rehabilitation; however, his trauma is extensive and if it is taken into account that Phinese Gage never recovered there is not much else that can be done but prepare David’s family for the responsibility of caring and understanding the new persona that will be presented into their lives.

Word Count: 470


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