Dr. C.

George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

E-Text Source: [ http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/genpsy.html ]

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)


Index Introduction Neuropsychology The Neuron The Action Potential Neurotransmitters The Central Nervous System Images of the Brain The Emotional Nervous System The Basal Ganglia The Cerebrum The Lobes Methods Qualitative Methods Descriptive Statistics Correlation Experiments Sensation and Perception The Senses Pain Perception

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Emotion and Motivation Emotion Motivation Hunger and Eating Disorders Sleep Sexuality Sexual Orientation Love Learning and Memory Learning Memory Pandemonium

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"We cannot put off living until we are ready.... Life is fired at us point-blank." José Ortega y Gasset "We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine." Eduardo Galeano "I like reality. It tastes of bread." Jean Anouilh "Cloquet hated reality but realized it was still the only place to get a good steak." Woody Allen

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Welcome to the General Psychology e-text! These pages were originally created for the students of my General Psychology classes at Shippensburg University. They deal with most of the issues covered in standard textbooks, but without the outrageous price tags. Psychology is the study of the mind, along with such aspects of mind as perception, cognition, emotion, and behavior. In some ways, it has only been around since the late 1800's, when people like Wilhelm Wundt, William James, and Sigmund Freud separated it from its various mother disciplines such as biology, philosophy, and medicine. But in other ways, it has been around as long as human beings have been discussing human beings. I suspect that cavemen and cavewomen probably sat around the fire talking about the same things we do: How come their kids are weird, why can't men and women get along better, what's with those folks from the next valley, how come old Zook hasn't been the same since that rock hit him, and what do dreams really mean. Today, Psychology tries to be a science. Science is the effort to study a subject with an explicit promise to think as logically and stick to the empirical facts as tightly as is humanly possible. Other sciences – chemistry, physics, biology, and so on – have had great success this way. Our cave-person ancestors would be astounded at our understanding of the world around us! But the subject matter of Psychology (and the other human sciences) is harder to pin down. We human beings are not as cooperative as some green goo in a test tube! It is a nearly impossible situation: To study the very thing that studies, to research the researcher, to psychoanalyze the psychoanalyst. So, as you will see, we still have a long way to go in Psychology. We have a large collection of theories about this part of being human or that part; we have a lot of experiments and other studies about one particular detail of life or another; we have many therapeutic techniques that sometimes work, and sometimes don't. But there is a steady progress that is easy to see for those of us with, say, a half century of life behind us. We are a bit like medicine in that regard: Don't forget that it wasn't really that long ago when we didn't have vaccines for simple childhood diseases, or anesthesia for operations; heart attacks and cancer were things people simply died of, as opposed to things that many people survive; and mental patients were people we just locked away or lobotomized! Some day – sooner rather than later, I think – we will have the same kinds of understanding of the human mind as we are quickly developing of the human body. The nice thing is, you and I can participate in this process! And this little e-text is as good a place to start as any.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)


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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

It is clear that most of what we think of as our mental life involves the activities of the nervous system, especially the brain. This nervous system is composed of billions of cells, the most essential being the nerve cells or neurons. There are estimated to be as many as 100 billion neurons in our nervous system! A typical neuron has all the parts that any cell would have, and a few specialized structures that set it apart. The main portion of the cell is called the soma or cell body. It contains the nucleus, which in turn contains the genetic material in the form of chromosomes. Neurons have a large number of extensions called dendrites. They often look likes branches or spikes extending out from the cell body. It is primarily the surfaces of the dendrites that receive chemical messages from other neurons. One extension is different from all the others, and is called the axon. Although in some neurons, it is hard to distinguish from the dendrites, in others it is easily distinguished by its length. The purpose of the axon is to transmit an electro-chemical signal to other neurons, sometimes over a considerable distance. In the neurons that make up the nerves running from the spinal cord to your toes, the axons can be as long as three feet! Longer axons are usually covered with a myelin sheath, a series of fatty cells which have wrapped around an axon many times. These make the axon look like a necklace of sausage-shaped beads. They serve a similar function as the insulation around electrical wire. At the very end of the axon is the axon ending, which goes by a variety of names such as the bouton, the synaptic knob, the axon foot, and so on (I do not know why no one has settled on a consistent term!). It is there that the electro-chemical signal that has travelled the length of the axon is converted into a chemical message that travels to the next neuron. Between the axon ending and the dendrite of the next neuron is a very tiny gap called the synapse (or synaptic gap, or synaptic cleft), which we will discuss in a little bit. For every neuron, there are between 1000 and 10,000 synapses.

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The action potential
When chemicals contact the surface of a neuron, they change the balance of ions (electrically charged atoms) between the inside and outside of the cell membrane. When this change reaches a threshold level, this effect runs across the cell's membrane to the axon. When it reaches the axon, it initiates the action potential. The surface of the axon contains hundreds of thousands of miniscule mechanisms called ion channels. When the charge enters the axon, the ion channels at the base of the axon allow positively charged ions to enter the axon, changing the electrical balance between inside and outside. This causes the next group of ion channels to do the same, while other channels return positive ions to the outside, and so on all the way down the axon.

In this little diagram, the red represents the positive ions going into the axon, while the orange represents positive ions going out. The action potential travels at a rate of 1.2 to 250 miles per hour! This is, of course, over-simplified, but enough for our purposes.
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The synapse
When the action potential reaches the axon ending, it causes tiny bubbles of chemicals called vesicles to release their contents into the synaptic gap. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. These sail across the gap to the next neuron, where they find special places on the cell membrane of the next neuron called receptor sites.

The neurotransmitter acts like a little key, and the receptor site like a little lock. When they meet, they open a passage way for ions, which then change the balance of ions on the outside and the inside of the next neuron. And the whole process starts over again. While most neurotransmitters are excitatory – i.e. they excite the next neuron – there are also inhibitory neurotransmitters. These make it more difficult for the excitatory neurotransmitters to have their effect.

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Types of Neurons
While there are many different kinds of neurons, there are three broad categories based on function: 1. Sensory neurons are sensitive to various non-neural stimuli. There are sensory neurons in the skin, muscles, joints, and organs that indicate pressure, temperature, and pain. There are more specialized neurons in the nose and tongue that are sensitive to the molecular shapes we perceive as tastes and smells. Neurons in the inner ear provide us with information about sound. And the rods and cones of the retina allow us to see. 2. Motor neurons are able to stimulate muscle cells throughout the body, including the muscles of the heart, diaphragm, intestines, bladder, and glands. 3. Interneurons are the neurons that provide connections between sensory and motor neurons, as well as between themselves. The neurons of the central nervous system, including the brain, are all interneurons. Most neurons are collected into "packages" of one sort or another, often visible to the naked eye. A clump of neuron cell bodies, for example, is called a ganglion (plural: ganglia) or a nucleus (plural: nuclei). A fiber made up of many axons is called a nerve. In the brain and spinal cord, areas that are mostly axons are called white matter, and it is possible to differentiate pathways or tracts of these axons. Areas that include large number of cell bodies are called gray matter.

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The Action Potential
The movement of a signal through the neuron and its axon is all about ions. An ion is a charged particle, such as Na+, the sodium ion. It has a positive charge, because it is missing one electron. Other ions, of course, are negatively charged. Cells have membranes that are made of lipid molecules (fats), and they prevent most things from entering or leaving the cell. But all over a cell membrane are proteins that stick out on both sides of the cell membrane. Some of these are ion channels. Most ion channels simply allow ions to flow in or out of the cell. When we draw diagrams, we usually picture these channels as if they were little holes in the cell membrane. They are, as I said, really complex proteins. When an ion attaches itself to one of these proteins, the protein changes shape, and in doing so carries the ion to the other side of the membrane, where it is released. The normal tendency is for everything inside and outside a cell to balance out this way: If there is too much of a chemical on one side, it flows to the other, until there's a balance; If there are too many positive or negative ions on one side, they tend to move to the other side, until there's a balance. Some channels are called gates. They can, depending on their environment, open or close. For some, it's a matter of what chemicals attach themselves to a part of the gate. For others, it's a change in the positive-negative balance that causes them to open or close. In the neuron, there are many such gates, including sodium gates and potassium gates. Both of these respond to positive-negative balance changes. One example of a chemical gate are the receptor sites on the dendrites of a neuron: When a chemical called a neurotransmitter attaches itself to a spot on the gate, the gate opens up to allow sodium ions into the cell. Other ion channels are called pumps. They use energy supplied by the cell to actually pump ions in or out of the cell, by force if you will. The best examples are the sodiumpotassium pumps on the neuron's membranes. These pumps push sodium ions out of the cell, and potassium ions (K+) into the cell. They are actually maintaining an imbalance of these chemicals.

If you are alert, you notice that both the sodium and the potassium ions are positive. Neurons actually have a pretty strong negative charge inside them, in contrast to a positive charge outside. This is due to other molecules called anions. They are negatively charged, but are way too big to leave through any channel.
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

They stay put and give the cell a negative charge inside. So, when an axon is at rest, the anions give it a negative charge, the sodium pumps keep sodium out and potassium in, and the sodium gates and potassium gates are all closed. Because of the positive-negative difference between the inside and outside, this resting state is called a resting potential. The word potential refers to the fact that there is a potential for change here. We use the same term to refer to a battery that is just sitting there, not connected to anything: It, too, has a resting potential. When changes occurring in the membranes of the dendrites and the body of the cell reach the axon, the sodium gates respond: some of them open and let sodium ions in, so that the inside starts to become less negative. If this reaches a certain level, called a threshold, more sodium gates respond and let more ions in... Then we have what is called the action potential – a moving exchange of ions that runs along the length of the axon. So many sodium ions get in that, for a very short time, the difference between the outside and inside of the cell is actually reversed: The inside is positive and the outside negative. Then the situation changes: The sodium gates close and the potassium gates open up. Potassium rushes out of the cell, which brings the charge inside the cell back down to where it was – negative on the inside, positive on the outside. Notice, though, that the sodium is now inside the cell and the potassium is outside, that is, they are in the wrong places. So, the sodium-potassium pumps get back to work and pump the sodium back out and the potassium back in, and things are back to where we started. Now all this happens at one little segment of the axon at a time: Sodium goes in at section one; that triggers the potassium to start going out at section one and the sodium to start coming in at section two; that in turn triggers the potassium to go out at section two and the sodium to come in at section three; and so on – like a row of dominos going down. In this little graphic, representing an axon, the red represents sodium flowing in and the orange represents the potassium flowing out: [ animated image at http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/actionpot.html ] The myelin sheath around many axons speeds up this process considerably: Instead of one tiny segment triggering action at the very next little segment, the changes "jump" from one gap in the sheath to the next. This is called saltatory conduction, from the Latin word for "jump" (also seen in words like somersault). When the action potential reaches the axon ending, it causes another ion (calcium, Ca++) to enter the cell, which in turn causes the vesicles – the tiny bubbles full of neurotransmitters – to release their contents into the synaptic gap.... Amazing, isn't it?

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)


Neurotransmitters are the chemicals which account for the transmission of signals from one neuron to the next across synapses. They are also found at the axon endings of motor neurons, where they stimulate the muscle fibers to contract. And they and their close relatives are produced by some glands such as the pituitary and the adrenal glands. In this chapter, we will review some of the most significant neurotransmitters. Acetylcholine was the first neurotransmitter to be discovered. It was isolated in 1921 by a German biologist named Otto Loewi, who would later win the Nobel Prize for his work. Acetylcholine has many functions: It is responsible for much of the stimulation of muscles, including the muscles of the gastro-intestinal system. It is also found in sensory neurons and in the autonomic nervous system, and has a part in scheduling REM (dream) sleep. The well-known poison botulin works by blocking acetylcholin, causing paralysis. The botulin derivative botox is used by many people to temporarily eliminate wrinkles –a sad commentary on our times, I would say. On a more serious note, there is a link between acetylcholine and Alzheimer's disease: There is something on the order of a 90% loss of acetylcholine in the brains of people suffering from that debilitating disease. In 1946, a Swedish biologist by the name of Ulf von Euler discovered norepinephrine (formerly called noradrenalin). He also won a Nobel Prize. Norepinephrine is strongly associated with bringing our nervous systems into "high alert." It is prevalent in the sympathetic nervous system, and it increases our heart rate and our blood pressure. Our adrenal glands release it into the blood stream, along with its close relative epinephrine (aka adrenalin). It is also important for forming memories. Stress tends to deplete our store of adrenalin, while exercise tends to increase it. Amphetamines ("speed") work by causing the release of norepinephrine. Another relative of norepinephrine and epinephrine is dopamine, discovered to be a neurotransmitter in the 1950s by another Swede, Arvid Carlsson. It is an inhibitory nruotransmitter, meaning that when it finds its way to its receptor sites, it blocks the tendency of that neuron to fire. Dopamine is strongly associated with reward mechanisms in the brain. Drugs like cocaine, opium, heroin, and alcohol increase the levels of dopamine, as does nicotine! The severe mental illness schizophrenia has been shown to involve excessive amounts of dopamine in the frontal lobes, and drugs that block dopamine are used to help schizophrenics. On the other hand, too little dopamine in the motor areas of the brain are responsible for Parkinson's disease, which involves uncontrollable muscle tremors. It was the same Arvid Carlsson mentioned above who figured out that the precursor to dopamine (L-dopa) could eleviate some ot the symptoms. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2000. In 1950, Eugene Roberts and J. Awapara discovered GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which is another kind of inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA acts like a brake to the excitatory neurotransmitters that lead to anxiety. People with too little GABA tend to suffer from anxiety disorders, and drugs like Valium work by enhancing the effects of GABA. If GABA is lacking in some parts of the brain, epilepsy results. Glutamate is an excitatory relative of GABA. It is the most common neurotransmitter in the central nervous system – as much as half of all neurons in the brain – and is especially important in regards to memory. Curiously, glutamate is actually toxic to neurons, and an excess will kill them. Sometimes brain damage or a stroke will lead to an excess and end with many more brain cells dying than from the original trauma. ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, results from excessive glutamate production. Many believe it may also be responsible for quite a variety of diseases of the nervous system, and are looking for ways to
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

minimize its effects Glutamate was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda of Tokay Imperial Univ. in 1907, while looking for the flavor common to things like cheese, meat, and mushrooms. He was able to extract an acid from seaweedglutamate. He went on to invent the well known seasoning MSG - monosodium glutamate. It took decades for Peter Usherwood to identify glutamate as a nurotransmitter in locusts in 1994. Serotonin has been found to be intimately involved in emotion and mood. Too little serotonin has been shown to lead to depression, problems with anger control, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicide. Too little also leads to an increased appetite for carbohydrates (starchy foods) and trouble sleeping, which are also associated with depression and other emotional disorders. Vittorio Erspamer first discovered what we now call seratonin in the 1930s. It was found in blood serum in 1948 by Irvine Page, who named it serotonin (from "serum-tonic”). Another researcher in Page’s lab Maurice Rapport - proved that it was an amine. John Welsh found that it was a neurotransmitter in molluscs in 1954, and Betty Twarog (also at Page's lab) found it in vertebrates in 1952. All this gives you a sense of the cooperative nature of most of scientific discovery! Prozac and other recent drugs help people with depression by preventing the neurons from "vacuuming" up excess seratonin, so that there is more floating around in the synapses. It is interesting that a little warm milk before bedtime also increases the levels of seratonin. As mom may have told you, it helps you to sleep. Serotonin is a derivative of tryptophan, which is found in milk. The "warm" part is just for comfort! On the other hand, serotonin also plays a role in perception. Hallucinogens such as LSD work by attaching to seratonin receptor sites and thereby blocking transmissions in perceptual pathways. In 1973, Solomon Snyder and Candace Pert of Johns Hopkins discovered endorphin. Endorphin is short for "endogenous morphine," i.e. built-in heroin! It is structurally very similar to the opioids (opium, morphine, heroin, etc.) and has similar functions: It is involved in pain reduction and pleasure, and the opioid drugs work by attaching to endorphin's receptor sites. It is also the neurotransmitter that allows bears and other animals to hibernate. Consider: Heroin slows heart-rate, respiration, and metabolism in general – exactly what you would need to hibernate. Of course, sometimes heroin slows it all down to nothing: Permanent hibernation.

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The Central Nervous System

The Spinal Cord
The spinal cord runs from the base of the skull all the way down the spine to the "tail bone." The neurons are found in an H-shaped space within the spinal vertebrae. There are motor pathways coming down from the brain and sensory pathways going up to the brain. Sensory nerves enter into the back parts (dorsal roots) of the "H," while motor neurons exit the forward parts (ventral roots) of the "H." Interneurons often connect these sensory and motor neurons. Besides sending messages up and down to and from the brain, the spinal cord has another very important function: Reflexes. In fact, in very simple animals, that is the main function of the cord. Basically, a reflex is the connection of sensory neurons, via interneurons, to motor neurons. For example, there are pain sensors in your fingers. If you hold your finger over a flame for a period of time, the pain will trigger motor neurons to pull your finger away. It is true that you can over-ride this reflex with "will power," but as the example intentionally shows, it isn't easy! Reflexes do much more than just get your finger out of the fire: A great deal of movement is accomplished through reflexes. Even brand new babies already have the necessary reflexes for walking: If you hold a baby and gently touch its feet to the floor, it will start making step-like movements! All that is needed is the muscle strength to stand and, of course, a lot of practice.

The Brain
The brain is traditionally divided into three parts, the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the forebrain. This drawing is roughly what it would look like if you sliced your brain straight down the middle, like a part in your hair. The front of the brain is on the left, the back on the right: The hindbrain or brain stem consists of three parts. The first is the medulla, which is actually an extension of the spinal cord into the skull. Besides containing tracts up and down to and from the higher portions of the brain, the medulla also contains some of the essential nuclei that govern respiration and heart rate. The upper part of the medulla contains a pinky-sized complex of nuclei called the reticular formation. It is the regulatory system for sleep, waking, and alertness. The second part is the pons, which means bridge in Latin. It is primarily the pathways connecting the two halves of the next part, which is called the cerebellum.
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The cerebellum, which means "little brain" in Latin, is in fact shaped like a small brain, and it is primarily responsible for coordinating involuntary movement. It is believed that, when you learn complex motor tasks, the details are recorded in the cerebellum. The midbrain is, in human beings, the smallest part of the brain. It connects the hindbrain to the forebrain, and contains several pathways important to hearing and vision. It is much larger in lower animals as well as in the human fetus. The largest and, for psychologists, most interesting part of the brain is the forebrain. It starts with the thalamus, which is practically in the center of your head. The thalamus is like a switching station, conducting signals from the body up to the relevant parts of the higher brain, and down from the brain to the lower brain and spinal cord. The forebrain, though, is complex enough to require its own chapter – two, in fact: One for the limbic system, and one for the cerebrum.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Images of the Brain*

* Images from The Virtual Hospital http://www.vh.org/Providers/Textbooks/BrainAnatomy/BrainAnatomy.html (all labeling errors my own!) 16 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Before the 20th century, there was only one way to see the brain: Open up the skull. Of course, with the assistance of a talented medical artist or, later, a good photograph, this provides us with a particularly good view. For the most part, however, it required a dead patient! Fortunately, we now have a number of imaging techniques that allow us to see what is going on inside the brain of a living human being. X-rays were the first things used to look at a living brain. While some details are visible, the nature of the brain is such that it is not a particularly good subject for the X-ray. The CT scan (computer tomography) or CAT scan involves taking a large series of x-rays from various angles, and then combining them into a threedimensional record on a computer. The image can be displayed and manipulated on a computer screen.
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The PET scan (positron emission tomography) works like this: The doctor injects radioactive glucose (that’s sugar water) into the patient’s bloodstream. The device then detects the relative activity level – that is, the use of glucose – of different areas of the brain. The computer generates an image that allows the researcher to tell which parts of the brain are most active when we perform various mental operations, whether it’s looking at something, counting in our heads, imagining something, or listening to music! The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) works like this: You create a strong magnetic field which runs through the person from head to toe. This causes the spinning hydrogen atoms in the person’s body to line up with the magnetic field. Then you send a radio pulse at a special frequency that causes the hydrogen protons to spin in a different direction. When you turn off the radio pulse, the protons will return to their alignment with the magnetic field, and release the extra energy they took in from the radio pulse. That energy is picked up by the same coil that produced the energy, now acting like a three dimensional antenna. Since different tissues have different relative amounts of hydrogen in them, they give a different density of energy signals, which the computer organizes into a detailed three-dimensional image. This image is nearly as detailed as an anatomical photograph!

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The Emotional Nervous System
Emotion involves the entire nervous system, of course. But there are two parts of the nervous system that are especially significant: The limbic system and the autonomic nervous system.

The Limbic System
The limbic system is a complex set of structures that lies on both sides and underneath the thalamus, just under the cerebrum. It includes the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdala, and several other nearby areas. It appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life, and has a lot to do with the formation of memories. In this drawing, you are looking at the brain cut in half, but with the brain stem intact. The part of the limbic system shown is that which is along the left side of the thalamus (hippocampus and amygdala) and just under the front of the thalamus (hypothalamus):

The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain located just below the thalamus on both sides of the third ventricle. (The ventricles are areas within the cerebrum that are filled with cerebrospinal fluid, and connect to the fluid in the spine.) It sits just inside the two tracts of the optic nerve, and just above (and intimately connected with) the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is one of the busiest parts of the brain, and is mainly concerned with homeostasis. Homeostasis is the process of returning something to some "set point.” It works like a thermostat: When your room gets too cold, the thermostat conveys that information to the furnace and turns it on. As your room warms up and the temperature gets beyond a certain point, it sends a signal that tells the furnace to turn off. The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating your hunger, thirst, response to pain, levels of pleasure, sexual satisfaction, anger and aggressive behavior, and more. It also regulates the functioning of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, which in turn means it regulates things like pulse, blood pressure, breathing, and arousal in response to emotional circumstances. The hypothalamus receives inputs from a number of sources. From the vagus nerve, it gets information about blood pressure and the distension of the gut (that is, how full your stomach is). From the reticular formation in the brainstem, it gets information about skin temperature. From the optic nerve, it gets information about light and darkness. From unusual neurons lining the ventricles, it gets information about the contents of the cerebrospinal fluid, including toxins that lead to vomiting. And from the other parts of the limbic system and the olfactory (smell) nerves, it gets information that helps regulate eating and sexuality. The hypothalamus also has some receptors of its own, that provide information about ion balance and temperature of the blood. In one of the more recent discoveries, it seems that there is a protein called leptin which is released by fat
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cells when we overeat. The hypothalamus apparently senses the levels of leptin in the bloodstream and responds by decreasing appetite. It would seem that some people have a mutation in a gene which produces leptin, and their bodies can’t tell the hypothalamus that they have had enough to eat. However, many overweight people do not have this mutation, so there is still a lot of research to do! The hypothalamus sends instructions to the rest of the body in two ways. The first is to the autonomic nervous system. This allows the hypothalamus to have ultimate control of things like blood pressure, heartrate, breathing, digestion, sweating, and all the sympathetic and parasympathetic functions. The other way the hypothalamus controls things is via the pituitary gland. It is neurally and chemically connected to the pituitary, which in turn pumps hormones called releasing factors into the bloodstream. As you know, the pituitary is the so-called "master gland,” and these hormones are vitally important in regulating growth and metabolism.

The hippocampus consists of two "horns” that curve back from the amygdala. It appears to be very important in converting things that are "in your mind” at the moment (in short-term memory) into things that you will remember for the long run (long-term memory). If the hippocampus is damaged, a person cannot build new memories, and lives instead in a strange world where everything they experience just fades away, even while older memories from the time before the damage are untouched! This very unfortunate situation is fairly accurately portrayed in the wonderful movie Memento.

The amygdalas are two almond-shaped masses of neurons on either side of the thalamus at the lower end of the hippocampus. When it is stimulated electrically, animals respond with aggression. And if the amygdala is removed, animals get very tame and no longer respond to things that would have caused rage before. But there is more to it than just anger: When removed, animals also become indifferent to stimuli that would have otherwise have caused fear and even sexual responses.

Related areas
Besides the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala, there are other areas in the structures near to the limbic system that are intimately connected to it:

The cingulate gyrus is the part of the cerebrum that lies closest to the limbic system, just above the corpus collosum. It provides a pathway from the thalamus to the hippocampus, seems to be responsible for focusing attention on emotionally significant events, and for associating memories to smells and to pain. The septum, which lies in front of the thalamus, has areas that seem to be centers for orgasm. The ventral tegmental area of the brain stem (just below the thalamus) consists of dopamine pathways that seem to be responsible for pleasure. People with damage here tend to have
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

difficulty getting pleasure in life, and often turn to alcohol, drugs, sweets, and gambling.

The basal ganglia (including the caudate nucleus, the putamen, the globus pallidus, and the substantia nigra) lie over and to the sides of the limbic system, and are tightly connected with the cortex above them. They are responsible for repetitive behaviors, reward experiences, and focusing attention. If you are interested in learning more [see chapter on Basal Ganglia]. The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the frontal lobe which lies in front of the motor area, is also closely linked to the limbic system. Besides apparently being involved in thinking about the future, making plans, and taking action, it also appears to be involved in the same dopamine pathways as the ventral tegmental area, and plays a part in pleasure and addiction.

The Autonomic Nervous System
The second part of the nervous system to have a particularly powerful part to play in our emotional life is the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is composed of two parts, which function primarily in opposition to each other. The first is the sympathetic nervous system, which starts in the spinal cord and travels to a variety of areas of the body. Its function appears to be preparing the body for the kinds of vigorous activities associated with "fight or flight,” that is, with running from danger or with preparing for violence. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system has the following effects: dilates the pupils opens the eyelids stimulates the sweat glands dilates the blood vessels in large muscles constricts the blood vessels in the rest of the body increases the heart rate opens up the bronchial tubes of the lungs inhibits the secretions in the digestive system One of its most important effects is causing the adrenal glands to release epinephrine (aka adrenalin) into the blood stream. Epinephrine is a powerful hormone that causes various parts of the body to respond in much the same way as the sympathetic nervous system. Being in the blood stream, it takes a bit longer to stop its effects. This is why, when you get upset, it sometimes takes a while before you can calm yourself down again! The sympathetic nervous system also takes in information, mostly concerning pain from internal organs. Because the nerves that carry information about organ pain often travel along the same paths that carry information about pain from more surface areas of the body, the information sometimes get confused. This is called referred pain, and the best known example is the pain some people feel in the shoúlders and arms when they are having a heart attack. The other part of the autonomic nervous system is called the parasympathetic nervous system. It has its roots in the brainstem and in the spinal cord of the lower back. Its function is to bring the body back from the emergency status that the sympathetic nervous system puts it into. Some of the details of parasympathetic arousal include... pupil constriction activation of the salivary glands stimulating the secretions of the stomach
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stimulating the activity of the intestines stimulating secretions in the lungs constricting the bronchial tubes decreasing heart rate The parasympathetic nervous system also has some sensory abilities: It receives information about blood pressure, levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, and so on. There is actually one more part of the autonomic nervous system that we don't mention too often: The enteric nervous system. This is a complex of nerves that regulate the activity of the stomach! When you get sick to your stomach or feel butterflies when you get nervous, you can blame the enteric nervous system.

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The Basal Ganglia
The basal ganglia are a collection of nuclei found on both sides of the thalamus, outside and above the limbic system, but below the cingulate gyrus and within the temporal lobes. Although glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter here as everywhere in the brain, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA plays the most important role in the basal ganglia. The largest group of these nuclei are called the corpus striatum ("striped body"), made up of the caudate nucleus ("tail"), the putamen ("shell"), the globus pallidus ("pale globe"), and the nucleus accumbens ("leaning"). All of these structures a double ones, one set on each side of the central septum. The caudate begins just behind the frontal lobe and curves back towards the occipital lobe. It sends its messages to the frontal lobe (especially the orbital cortex, just above the eyes), and appears to be responsible for informing us that something is not right and we should do something about it: Wash your hands! Lock your door! As these examples are meant to suggest, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is likely to involve an overactive caudate. On the other hand, an underactive caudate may be involved in various disorders, such as ADD, depression, aspects of schizophrenia, and just plain lethargy. It is also involved in PAP syndrome, a dramatic loss of motivation only recently discovered (see below). The putamen lies just under and behind the front of the caudate. It appears to be involved in coordinating automatic behaviors such as riding a bike, driving a car, or working on an assembly line. Problems with the putamen may account for the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome. The globus pallidus is located just inside the putamen, with an outer part and an inner part. It receives inputs from the caudate and putamen and provides outputs to the substantia nigra (below). The nucleus accumbens is a nucleus just below the previous nuclei. It receives signals from the prefrontal cortex (via the ventral tegmental area) and sends other signals back there via the globus pallidus. The inputs use dopamine, and many drugs are known to greatly increase these messages to the nucleus accumbens. Another nucleus of the basal ganglia is the substantia nigra ("black substance"). Located in the upper portions of the midbrain, below the thalamus, it gets its color from neuromelanin, a close relative of the skin pigment. One part (the pars compacta) uses dopamine neurons to send signals up to the striatum. The exact function isn't known, but is believed to involve reward circuits. Also, Parkinson's disease is due to the death of dopamine neurons here. The other part of the substantia nigra (the pars reticulata) is mostly GABA neurons. It's main known function is controlling eye movements. It is also involved in Parkinson's, as well as epilepsy.
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As you can see, quite a few serious problems are strongly associated with the basal ganglia. Some, such as ADHD, Tourette's, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia, will be covered in other parts of this text. Others are somewhat less psychological and more physical, but are still important....

Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's is characterized by tremor (shaking), rigid muscles, difficulty making quick, smooth movements, and difficulty standing and walking. Many people also develop depression and anxiety and, later in life, problems with memory loss and dementia. It usually develops late in life, but it can occur in younger people. One well-known case is the actor Michael J. Fox. It is very difficult for both the patient and his or her family. Parkinson's is originates in the death of cells in the substantia nigra and the loss of dopamine and melanin produced by those cells. It progresses to other parts of the basal ganglia and to the nerves that control the muscles, involving other neurotransmitters. Possible causes or contributing factors include environmental toxins, head trauma, and genetics. There are treatments available that slow the course of Parkinson's and alleviate the symptoms. Most involve replacing or mimicking the lost dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Unfortunately, the disease slowly progresses to where the treatments only work for a few hours at a time. Parkinson's does not directly cause death and many patients live long lives with it.

Huntington's disease
Huntington's is characterized by loss of memory and odd jerking movements called chorea ("dance"). It is a hereditary disease (with a dominant gene) involving cell death in the caudate nucleus. It usually starts in a person's 30s, but may start at any age. There is no cure, but there are treatments that can reduce the symptoms. It is fatal, although it is complications of the disease that usually cause death, rather than the disease itself. Many Huntington's sufferers commit suicide.

Cerebral palsy
People with cerebral palsy have various motor problems, such as spasticity, paralysis, and even seizures. Spasticity is where some muscles are constantly tight and so interfere with normal movement. This is the reason for the unusual hand and arm positions most of us have seen in people with cerebral palsy. It is apparently due to brain damage, usually sometime before birth. Causes may include fetal infection, environmental toxins, or lack of oxygen. Although cerebral palsy tends to remain relatively stable throughout life, there is no cure and is very difficult to deal with for both the person and his or her family.

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PAP ( or Athymhormic) syndrome
PAP is characterized by an unusual lack of motivation. A dramatic case was that of Mr. M, who, while drowning, simply failed to try to save himself, even though a good swimmer. Damage to the caudate nucleus means that nothing carries any emotional significance anymore. Drowning? Don't be concerned. People with PAP also ignore the usual social and moral motivations we all take for granted. They don't quite "get" that their lack of action could have significant consequences. Without the motivating influence of the basal ganglia, the frontal lobe simply stops planning for the future. Oddly, they can still respond to external motivation, such as a loved one's request or an authority's command. See the April 2005 Scientific American Mind article by Patrick Verstichal and Pascal Larrouy for more on PAP syndrome.

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The Cerebrum
The cerebrum – which is just Latin for "brain" – is the newest (evolutionarily) and largest part of the brain as a whole. It is here that things like perception, imagination, thought, judgment, and decision occur. The surface of the cerebrum – the cerebral cortex – is composed of six thin layers of neurons, which sit on top of a large collection of white matter pathways. The cortex is heavily convoluted, so that if you were to spread it out, it would actually take up about 2 1/2 square feet (2500 sq cm). It includes about 10 billion neurons, with about 50 trillion synapses! The convolutions have "ridges" which are called gyri (singular: gyrus), and "valleys" which are called sulci (singular: sulcus). Some of the sulci are quite pronounced and long, and serve as convenient boundaries between four areas of the cerebrum called lobes. The furthest forward is the frontal lobe (from the Latin word for forehead). It seems to be particularly important: This lobe is responsible for voluntary movement and planning and is thought to be the most significant lobe for personality and intelligence. At the back portion of the frontal lobe, along the sulcus that separates it from the parietal lobe, is an area called the motor cortex. In studies with brain surgery patients, stimulating areas of the motor cortex with tiny electrical probes caused movements. It has been possible for researchers to actually map out the motor cortex quite precisely. The lowest portions of the motor cortex, closest to the temples, control the muscles of the mouth and face. The portions of the motor cortex near the top of the head control the legs and feet. Behind the frontal lobe is the parietal lobe (from a Latin word meaning wall). It includes an area called the somatosensory cortex, just behind the sulcus separating this lobe from the frontal lobe. Again, doctors stimulating points of this area found their patients describing sensations of being touched at various parts of their bodies. Just like the motor cortex, the somatosensory cortex can be mapped, with the mouth and face closest to the temples and the legs and feet at the top of the head.

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At the side of the head is the temporal lobe (from the Latin word for temple). The special area of the temporal lobe is the auditory cortex. As the name says, this area is intimately connected with the ears and specializes in hearing. It is located near to the temporal lobe's connections with the parietal and frontal lobes. At the back of the head is the occipital lobe. At the very back of the occipital lobe is the visual cortex, which receives information from the eyes and specializes, of course, in vision. The areas of the lobes that are not specialized are called association cortex. Besides connecting the various sensory and motor cortices, this is also believed to be where our thought processes occur and many of our memories are ultimately stored.

The Hemispheres
If you look at the brain from the top, it becomes immediately obvious that it is split in two from front to back. There are, in fact, two hemispheres, almost as if we have two brains in our heads instead of just one.
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Of course, these two halves are intimately linked together with an arch of white matter called the corpus callosum. In various ways, researchers have discovered that the two halves do have some specialization. It is the left hemisphere that relates to the right side of the body (generally), and the right hemisphere that relates to the left side of the body. Also, it is the left hemisphere that usually has language, and seems to be primarily responsible for similar systems such as math and logic. The right hemisphere has more to do with things like spatial orientation, face recognition, and body image. It also seems to govern our ability to appreciate art and music. Some of the most interesting work done concerning the two hemispheres was done by Roger Sperry. He worked with people who had had a pretty serious operation to control their epilepsy. It seems that, in some cases, severe epilepsy could be nearly eliminated by cutting the corpus callosum. In a sense, these people really did have two brains (or cerebrums, to be accurate)! For example, Sperry found that if he put something in the right hand of one of these people after they had their operation, they could say what it was. But if he put it in their left hand, they could not. This is easy to understand: The feeling of the thing in the right hand goes to the left hemisphere and, since that's the side with language, the person could say what it was. The feeling of the thing in the left hand, though, went to the right hemisphere, which can't do much talking. The eyes are hooked up to the hemispheres in a somewhat complicated way: The right hand side of each retina (which sees things to the left of a focus point) goes to the right hemisphere, and the left hand side of each retina (which see things to the right) goes to the left hemisphere. What this means is that, if you have someone stare at a focus point and briefly show them something on the left, it is the right hemisphere that receives the information. If you show them something on the right, it is the left hemisphere that receives the information. Sperry would flash things on a projection screen and ask the patients to either say what they saw or pick what they saw with one hand or the other from a box full of things. So, if he showed a ball on the left side of the screen and a pencil on the right, the person would say "pencil" (using the left hemisphere's speech centers) but pick a ball from the box with his or her left hand (using the right hemisphere)! There were many interesting anecdotes that came out of his research. For example, it turns out that, though the left hemisphere has speech, it is pretty bad at drawing. The right hemisphere, controlling the left hand, could still draw quite well. He had the patients try little puzzles. One man, struggling to do the puzzle with his right hand, couldn't keep his left hand from trying to jump in to help! With one young woman, he flashed a picture of a naked man on the right side of the screen. She blushed and giggled, but when asked, couldn't say why. Of course, only the right hemisphere had seen the picture, and the left hemisphere had not!

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Fortunately for these people, these situations don't come up much in ordinary life, so they didn't feel terribly confused most of the time. Most of us, of course, have an intact corpus callosum, and the two halves of our brains are in constant communication.

So, speech is predominantly a function of the left hemisphere. Actually, the right hemisphere does have a little bit of speech, too: It has a good grasp of names and curse words! In addition, if you have brain damage to the left hemisphere early enough in childhood, the right hemisphere will take over the speech function. And it seems that there are some people who have language on the right or even on both sides. It is interesting to consider that monkeys and apes appear to sensitive to calls of their own species in the left hemisphere: They will turn their right ears towards the sound! Even some song birds, such as canaries, have hemispheric specialization. One of the earliest things discovered about the brain were the speech centers. One is called Broca's area, after the doctor who first discovered it. It is located at the bottom of the left frontal lobe. A patient who had had damage to this area lost his ability to speak, which is called expressive aphasia. Another area is Wernicke's area, which is nearby Broca's area but in the temporal lobe, right next to the auditory cortex. This is were we understand the meaning of speech, and damage to this area will leave you with receptive aphasia, meaning that you will be unable to understand what is being said to you. Occasionally, someone has damage to the connections between Broca's and Wernicke's areas. This leads to conduction aphasia. Someone with this problem can understand speech just fine, and can produce it as well. They just can't repeat something they just heard! Another important area is the angular gyrus, just above and behind Wernicke's area. It serves as the connection between the language centers and the visual cortex. If this area is damaged, the person will suffer from alexia (inability to read) and agraphia (inability to write).

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The Lobes The Frontal Lobe
Starting from the central sulcus and working forward, we first have the motor cortex, which sends its signals down to the body to control the skeletal muscles. Just in front of the motor cortex there is the premotor cortex, which is where we compose and rehearse movements before we engage in them. Broca's area for speech production is part of the premotor cortex. And then we have the prefrontal cortex, where some of the most interesting things occur. Some say that will power, our sense of reality, and our sense of our own personality reside there. A few areas of the prefrontal cortex are at least partially understood. The dorsolateral area (high and to the sides) appears to allow us to hold ideas in awareness, focus on them, and even manipulate them. The ventromedial area (low and close to the midline) seems to be involved in emotional experience and provides us with the feeling that things make sense and have meaning. Low levels of activity here are associated with depression: Nothing makes any sense. High levels, on the other hand, are associated with mania: Every little thing is full of importance! The orbital area of the prefrontal cortex (just above the eyeballs) tells us when something is wrong and requires serious attention. It also has the ability to inhibit behaviors that are inappropriate, such as those that are harmful to us or are socially unacceptable. This includes the ability to counteract the signals for aggression from the amygdala in the limbic system. It is believed that many violent criminals have had damage to this area of the brain. In the most frontal part of the prefrontal lobe is an area devoted to interpreting people's intentions and motives. Autistic people seem to have some sort of defect in this location.

The Temporal Lobe
This lobe sits at the two sides of the head, under the temples. The upper part of the temporal lobe, along the Sylvian fissure that separates it from the frontal lobe, is the primary auditory cortex, which receives input from cochlea. The areas around it are devoted to interpreting sounds, and one of these in particular (Wernicke's area, toward the boundary with the parietal lobe in the left hemisphere) is known to be devoted to the understanding of language. Another area is called the fusiform gyrus, which sits low in the temporal lobe near the occipital lobe. In the left hemisphere, it is responsible for word and number recognition. In the right hemisphere, it is responsible for the crucial human ability to recognize faces. Problems here leave one with a disorder called prosopagnosia, which makes social life very difficult. There are medial (inner) areas of the temporal lobes that are closely connected to the hippocampus and appear to be devoted to memory for life events (episodic memory). One very odd function of the temporal lobe is what some have called the God spot. Stimulation here gives people intense feelings of joy and the sense of being close to some greater power or being "one with the universe." Some epileptic patients get these intense feelings just before seizures, and it is believed that some famous saints and other religious figures may have likewise suffered (if you can call it that!) from such
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The Parietal Lobe
The furthest forward area of the parietal lobe, along the central gyrus nearest the frontal lobe, is the somatosensory area, which collects signals coming up from the body. Just behind that is the somatosensory association area, which further analyzes these bodily sensations. Specific areas specialize in locating and orienting us in three-dimensional space, and focusing on things in the outside world.

The Occipital Lobe
The occipital lobe is the smallest of the lobes and sits at the very back of the head. It has no clear borders and is differentiated primarily by function, i.e. vision. The various parts of the occipital lobe are labeled with a V followed by a number. The primary visual cortex at the very back of the occipital lobe is labeled V1, and receives input from the optic tract. It has a clear map of visual information that corresponds to the areas of the retina. The center of vision is greatly magnified. The individual neurons of V1 are extremely sensitive to very particular changes in input from the eyes. If there is a lesion somewhere in V1, there will be a "hole" in your vision called a scotoma. Oddly, some of the information from that "hole" seems to still be available, so that some people with scotomas can still react to stimuli there even though they don't consciously perceive them! This is called blindsight. V2 surrounds V1 and has many reciprocal connections with it. Much of its functioning is a repeat of V1's, but it detects more complex features, such as contours and the distinction between figure and ground. V3, just above V2, gets inputs from both V1 and V2. It appears to specialize in depth, distance, and global motion. V4 lies under V2. V4 is affected by attentional processes, and specializes in somewhat more complex perception of specific objects. V5 (also referred to as MT) is further forward in the occipital lobe, and processes complex motion. There seem to be two major pathways for visual information processing in the occipital lobe. There is a "where?" path, from V1 to V2 to V3 and V5, that interprets location and motion in space. And there is a "what?" path from V1 to V2 to V4 that determines the identity of an object. There are additional areas whose functions are not yet known.

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The Cingulate Gyrus
The cingulate gyrus sits below the rest of the cerebral cortex, up against the corpus callosum and partially covering lower areas such as the basal ganglia, the limbic system, and the thalamus. Many people see it as the fifth lobe - others see it as part of the lobes above it, particularly the frontal lobe. It is so intimately connected with the limbic system that it is sometimes called the limbic gyrus. One of its major jobs is to keep your attention focused. When it isn't functioning properly, as seems to happen in schizophrenia, you are unable to distinguish real voices from imaginary ones.

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Qualitative Methods
Qualitative methods, as the name indicates, are methods that do not involve measurement or statistics. Because the natural sciences have had such resounding success with quantitative methods, qualitative methods are sometimes looked down upon as less scientific. That is, of course, a mistake. Qualitative methods have been in use in philosophy, sociology, and history for centuries, and many of the famous studies we refer to in psychology classes every day were actually qualitative! One qualitative method that goes back a long way is the case study. When physicians like Sigmund Freud became interested in psychological problems, they continued their tradition of writing and publishing descriptions of their most interesting patients, the treatments they attempted to use, and the progress of the disorder. Much of the content of abnormal psychology, for example, is built upon these case studies. Another example is the méthode clinique or clinical method. This method was particularly well used by Jean Piaget and his followers. The basic idea is to present a person (in Piaget’s case, usually a young child) with a situation or problem for them to deal with. The researcher observes how they handle the situation and asks them questions to try to understand the thought processes they are using. Another version of the méthode clinique is called experimental phenomenology. One study, for example, asked chess masters and novices to think out loud while playing chess, and analyzed the differences in approach. One more example is the method of introspection used by Wilhelm Wundt – often considered the founder of scientific psychology – and his students. Researchers paid careful attention to their own perceptions of simple events like colors, and noted changes in their perceptions following changes in the events. Probably the oldest qualitative method is naturalistic observation. This has been used by biologists who study animals in the wild (ethologists) for centuries, and by sociologists studying people’s behavior for nearly as long. The idea of naturalistic observation is to step back from the situation and make every effort not to interfere. A biologist studying birds, for example, may construct a blind – a small hut covered with natural materials – so as not to disturb the birds. Child psychologists often observe children in a similar way. In experimental schools, the children are often so used to being observed that the researchers don’t even have to hide! Recently, video and audio technology has allowed us to do the same with people. Unfortunately, the ethics of spying on people is very questionable! A variation on naturalistic observation used by some sociologists and psychologists is called participant observation. A sociologist who is interested in studying the lifestyles of people in some subculture (say a motorcycle gang) may actually join the subculture and interact with the people. Many anthropologists use this technique as well. In most cases, it is clear to all that the researcher is not really a part of the group, but sometimes the researcher hides his identity as a researcher. One of the most useful qualitative techniques is interviewing. It is often a part of all of the preceding methods. Contrary to what many people believe, interviewing is not easy. In fact, it is a rare person who is truly skillful at interviewing. You have to be very careful not to listen to the person you interview through any prejudiced ideas you might have. You have to make sure you are not leading the person in the direction you would like them to go. You have to make sure you don’t misinterpret what they say. In other words, you need to be very aware of your own biases! Many researchers using qualitative methods adhere to a school of thought called phenomenology, and refer to their methods as phenomenological methods. Phenomenology is the study of the contents of
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consciousness – phenomena – and phenomenological methods are ways of describing and analyzing these contents. Originally, the methods focussed on describing one’s own thought, feelings, and perceptions. For example, researchers would investigate their own experiences of an emotion such as anger, or cognitive processes like making a decision. As you can imagine, the problem of biases are even more difficult to handle in these kind of studies. Many people, if asked about their experiences of anger, might say something like "I could feel the adrenaline flowing through my veins!” Unfortunately, that is a prejudicial statement based on people’s common knowledge about the presence of adrenaline. In fact, nobody actually feels adrenaline in their veins! We may feel muscle tension, or the hair raising in our necks, or a change in our hearing – but not adrenaline in our veins. As time went on, other ways of investigating phenomena were added. For example, the researcher might ask other people to write what are called protocols – naïve descriptions of their experiences – and use them for analysis. This is done, for example, when the researcher wants to investigate something he or she doesn’t have personal experience with, such as a schizophrenics verbal hallucinations. There are arguments for and against the use of qualitative methods. The most common criticisms of qualitative methods revolve around the problem of bias mentioned above: It is much easier for biases to creep into qualitative studies than into quantitative ones. The great advantage of measurement is that, once we have agreed upon what constitutes a measure (say, a meter stick), everyone can use it and be fairly confident that what they measure is what anyone else would measure. If, on the other hand, we say "this looks like navy blue to me,” someone else might say "no, I think it’s purple,” and another person "no, it’s clearly royal blue!” The arguments for qualitative methods revolve around realism. Measures do not encompass the whole of an event. You can ask people to rate their anxiety, but how much will that tell you about what they are actually feeling? How do you measure something like love or hate? Or think about the anthropologist looking at a culture: Does counting the number of artifacts or timing rituals tell you much about their meaning to the people involved? Or consider a person’s personality: Do scores on personality tests tell you much about a person’s life or experiences? Qualitative researchers would say not much! Although quantitative methods are still preferred in psychology, more and more people are acknowledging that qualitative methods also have an important place. Not everything about human beings can be understood by measurement, or in laboratories, or by using rats and pigeons.

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Descriptive statistics

Descriptive statistics are ways of summarizing large sets of quantitative (numerical) information. If you have a large number of measurements, the best thing you can do is to make a graph with all the possible scores along the bottom (x axis), and the number of times you came across that score recorded vertically (y axis) in the form of a bar. But such a graph is just plain hard to do statistical analyses with, so we have other, more numerical ways of summarizing the data. Here is a small set of data: The grades for 15 students. For our purposes, they range from 0 (failing) to 4 (an A), and go up in steps of .2. John Mary George Beth Sam Judy Fritz Kate Dave Jenny Mike Sue Don Ellen Orville 3.0 2.8 2.8 2.4 3.2 2.8 1.8 3.8 2.6 3.4 2.4 4.0 3.4 3.2 2.2

Here is the information in bar graph form:

Central tendency
Central tendency refers to the idea that there is one number that best summarizes the entire set of measurements, a number that is in some way "central" to the set. The mode. The mode is the measurement that has the greatest frequency, the one you found the most of. Although it isn't used that much, it is useful when differences are rare or when the differences are non numerical. The prototypical example of something is usually the mode. The mode for our example is 3.2. It is the grade with the most people (3). The median. The median is the number at which half your measurements are more than that number and
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half are less than that number. The median is actually a better measure of centrality than the mean if your data are skewed, meaning lopsided. If, for example, you have a dozen ordinary folks and one millionaire, the distribution of their wealth would be lopsided towards the ordinary people, and the millionaire would be an outlier, or highly deviant member of the group. The millionaire would influence the mean a great deal, making it seem like all the members of the group are doing quite well. The median would actually be closer to the mean of all the people other than the millionaire. The median for our example is 3.0. Half the people scored lower, and half higher (and one exactly). The mean. The mean is just the average. It is the sum of all your measurements, divided by the number of measurements. This is the most used measure of central tendency, because of its mathematical qualities. It works best if the data is distributed very evenly across the range, or is distributed in the form of a normal or bell-shaped curve (see below). One interesting thing about the mean is that it represents the expected value if the distribution of measurements were random! The mean or average for our example is 2.95.

Statistical dispersion
Dispersion refers to the idea that there is a second number which tells us how "spread out" all the measurements are from that central number. The range. The range is the measure from the smallest measurement to the largest one. This is the simplest measure of statistical dispersion or "spread." The range for our example is 2.2, the distance from the lowest score, 1.8, to the highest, 4.0. Interquartile range. A slightly more sophisticated measure is the interquartile range. If you divide the data into quartiles, meaning that one fourth of the measurements are in quartile 1, one fourth in 2, one fourth in 3, and one fourth in 4, you will get a number that divides 1 and 2 and a number that divides 3 and 4. You then measure the distance between those two numbers, which therefore contains half of the data. Notice that the number between quartile 2 and 3 is the median! The interquartile range for example is .9, because the quartiles divide roughly at 2.45 and 3.35. The reason for the odd dividing lines is because there are 15 pieces of data, which, of course, cannot be neatly divided into quartiles! The standard deviation. The standard deviation is the "average" degree to which scores deviate from the mean. More precisely, you measure how far all your measurements are from the mean, square each one, and add them all up. The result is called the variance. Take the square root of the variance, and you have the standard deviation. Like the mean, it is the "expected value" of how far the scores deviate from the mean. The standard deviation for our example is

The normal curve
At its simplest, the central tendency and the measure of dispersion describe a rectangle that is a summary of the set of data. On a more sophisticated level, these measures describe a curve, such as the normal curve, that contains the data most efficiently. This curve, also called the bell-shaped curve, represents a distribution that reflects certain probabilistic
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events when extended to an infinite number of measurements. It is an idealized version of what happens in many large sets of measurements: Most measurements fall in the middle, and fewer fall at points farther away from the middle. A simple example is height: Very few people are below 3 feet tall; very few are over 8 feet tall; most of us are somewhere between 5 and 6. The same applies to weight, IQ, and salaries! In the normal curve, the mean, median, and mode are all the same.

One standard deviation below the mean contains 34.1% of the measures, as does one standard deviation above the mean. From one to two below contains 13.6%, as does from one to two above. From two to three standard deviations contains 2.1% on each end. An other way to look at it: Between one standard deviation below and above, we have 68% of the data; from two below to two above, we have 95%; from three below to three above, we have 99.7% Because of its mathematical properties, especially its close ties to probability theory, the normal curve is often used in statistics, with the assumption that the mean and standard deviation of a set of measurements define the distribution. Hopefully, it is obvious that this is not at all true. The best representation of your measurements is a diagram which includes all the measurements, not just their mean and standard deviation! Our example above is a clear example. A good real life example is IQ and intelligence: IQ tests are intentionally scored in such a way that they generate a normal curve, and because IQ tests are what we use to measure intelligence, we often assume that intelligence is normally distributed, which is not at all necessarily true!

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Correlation is what you are doing when you compare two sets of measurements (each set is called a variable). If you were to measure everyone’s height and weight, you could then compare heights and weights and see if they have any relationship to each other – any "co-relation," if you will. Of course, the taller you are, generally speaking, the more you weight. But it is obviously not a perfect co-relation, because some people are thin and some are fat. A perfect correlation is +1. Very close to perfect would be a comparison of men's shoe size and their... foot length. For example, here is some data: Shoe size John Dave Sam Jim Ed Bob Ted Matt Damian Horton We can arrange the data on a chart like this: 4 1/2 5 5 6 1/2 6 1/2 7 8 11 1/2 12 14 Foot length (inches) 9 1/4 9 3/8 9 1/4 9 1/2 9 3/4 9 3/4 10 1/8 11 11 1/4 11 3/8

This is called a scatter plot. The line is the line that describes the "best fit" – in other words, it accounts for the data most nicely. This one is not perfect – apparently, some guys buy shoes that are too tight, and some buy shoes that are too loose! But you can see by comparing the dots to the line, it's pretty close to a +1 correlation.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Perfect correlation can also be -1. An example would be your car's fuel efficiency and how much money you need to spend for gas per so many miles. It should look like this: Most things have a correlation of 0 (or close to it). An example would be your shoe size vs your... SAT score.

For a more real life example of data, along with a scatter plot and an actual correlation, is this one, which compares homicide rates with hand gun ownership. (The figures are real for the late 1980's.) Country USA Northern Ireland Finland Canada Australia Scotland Belgium Switzerland Norway France West Germany Spain The Netherlands England and Wales Homicide rate (per 100,000 per year) 8.8 5.2 2.9 2.1 2.0 1.8 1.8 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.0 0.9 0.7 Hand gun ownership (% of population) 29.0 1.5 7.0 4.0 2.0 0.5 6.0 14.0 3.5 5.5 6.5 2.0 1.0 0.5

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Here's the scatter plot:

And the correlation: +.70. That is quite impressive, and maybe it says something about the various societies. If you are wondering about Switzerland's figures, it should be noted that every adult male is trained in the army and is required to maintain weapons in his home – just in case they get invaded by, say, Italy. On the other hand, you can see that Northern Ireland has a high homicide rate even though few people own guns. I think you can guess why! If you would like a more meaningful number than correlation itself, you can square it. This will give you a number that tells you how much of the variance (variation) in one or the other of the variables is "explained" by the other. So, for example, the .70 correlation above tells us that 49% of the variation in homicide rates is related to the ownership of hand guns. That leaves us with 51% of the variation we still need to account for. In psychology, we are generally impressed by correlations of .3 and higher. .8 or .9 blows us away. But one thing correlation cannot tell you is causality. Your grades and your SATs correlate pretty well – but which causes which? Even the homicide-hand gun example doesn't give you causation. Odds are always that there is something else that causes (or partially causes) two things to correlate. Perhaps coming from richer parents leads to both good grades and high SATs. Maybe a violent culture leads to both more guns and more violence. It takes other kinds of research – most especially experiments – to pin down cause and effect!
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

A simple experiment starts out very much like correlation: You have two sets of measurements and you look to see if there is a relationship between them. You want to know if they "co-relate." The two sets of measures are called variables. Whatever it is, it has to vary in order for us to be interested in measuring it! The big difference between experiments and correlations is that, in experiments, you actually manipulate one of the variables. If you are manipulating one of the variables, that means that the second variable, if it "co-relates," was caused to do so by the variable you manipulated! You can tell what the causal effects of the first variable are on the second one – something you can never be quite sure of with a regular correlational study. The two variables have specific names: the one you manipulate is called the independent variable. Think of it like a radio knob: You can turn the knob because it is, to a degree, independent of the rest of the radio – it turns! The other variable is called the dependent variable. If the experiment shows that there is a relationship, then you know that it's this variable that depends on the first one – like the volume of your music depends on where you set the volume knob. If we measure the rotation of the knob (let's say somewhere between 0 and 10) and we set on each of the 10 settings, and then measure the loudness (in decibels, perhaps), we would find (probably) a close to perfect correlation. We use different kinds of statistics with experiments, but the idea is still the same, only this time we can conclude with considerable certainly that the setting of the knob causes the volume to change. Duh. But now let's consider a more interesting experiment: We want to test a new drug to see if it improves people's ability to remember things. Perhaps this drug might prove useful for helping Alzheimer's patients. We have two variables: the drug and memory. Each needs to be measured in some way. One common approach is to measure the independent variable in an all or none fashion: "0" would mean no pill; "1" would mean taking a pill. In a case like this, we usually call the "0" group the control group. The "1" group is called the experimental group or the treatment group. Very simple. (Sometimes, we let nature do the manipulation for us. For example, nature has made some people male and some people female. We are male or female long before we participate in some experiment, so we can comfortably say that it will be our maleness or femaleness that caused the results to some degree. This is called a subject variable. We often include subject variables such as male/female in our experiments because they are free and easy, and give us just a little more information.) The other variable in our memory pill experiment is a bit trickier: Perhaps we will need to develop some kind of memory test. Let's say we quickly show people 10 items, and then ask them to see how many of them they can remember. They can then get a score between 0 (nothing remembered) and 10 (all remembered). Now we are set: We can give half the people a pill and half not, then test them all on memory. Then we can see if there is a "co-relation." If the pill works, then those getting the pill will score high on the test, those who didn't will score less, and we will know why: the pill!
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Now of course things are a lot more complicated than this. First of all, we probably have to determine exactly how strong the pills are to be, how often they are to be taken, how long they need to be taken before we do our memory test, and so on. We also have to be very careful about all kinds of biases that might creep into the experiment. First, we are going to want to be sure that we will be able to generalize to the whole population. If we chose very specific, special people for our experiment, then our results might only apply to them, and not to all the other people that might benefit from the drug. So we need to have a random sample. This means that we should try, as best as we can, to pick our subjects (the people in the experiment) randomly from the target population. In this case, we might want to find a variety of Alzheimer patients from all over the country. If that's not possible, we should try at least to pick from a large group in a random fashion. Also, it would be a bad experiment if we allowed ourselves to pick some people to be in the control group and others in the experimental group on the basis of some quality they had. For example, if we gave the pill to 20 women and used 20 men as the control group, then we won't know if the pill helps everyone, or if there is something about men and women that makes them better or worse at memory (something that is actually a real issue!). So we have to have random assignment to conditions. All this randomization, and we should be set, right? Wrong. There is till experimenter bias and subject bias to throw things off. Subject bias happens when the people in your experiment have some kind of clue of what's going on and what is expected. A person who knows that the pill they are taking is supposed to improve their memory may try harder to remember, for example. On thing to do is to keep the subjects in the dark. Don't tell them what the pill is all about. Don't tell them what the memory test is all about. There can be an ethical problem here, and we often try to overcome that by asking the volunteers to sign a waiver and debriefing them afterwards, telling them how we fooled them. We also will want to give the people in the "0" condition some kind of pill, so that everyone is at least taking something, and no one knows who is and who is not getting the real pill. Fake pills are called placebos, and we often extend that term to cover all kinds of fake control conditions. If we want to know the effects of watching a violent movie, for example, we might have the control group watch a romantic comedy, so they are at least doing the same kind of activity. There is also experimenter bias, and this can be even more damaging than subject bias! You know how you want your study to come out, no matter how cool and objective you pretend to be. You may be giving subtle hints to your subjects, unintentionally. For example, you might give the people who took the pill just a tiny fraction more time to answer than you give the others. The only way to control this is to make sure that you are in the dark, too. Arrange things to make sure that you (and any assistants you may have) don't know which people took the real pill and which took the placebo, for example. When we combine both approaches, we call the experiment a double-blind: Both subjects and experimenters were "blind" to the conditions. Nowadays, anything but a double-blind experiment is treated with suspicion! Unfortunately, most experiments concerning therapy or educational techniques cannot be double-blind, so many important studies are not as strong as we would like them to be. In our example, the statistics we use will look at the differences in the scores of the control group and the
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

experimental group. Each group will have it's mean (average) as well as a standard deviation (how spread out the test scores are). The statistics will determine whether or not the differences between the two group are likely to be significant or more likely to be the results of chance. Other studies might use statistics very similar to correlation. If, for example, we measure memory in 20 Alzheimer's patients before we start them on our new pill, and then give them another test after they've been on the pill for a month, then we can compare the two measurements as if we had measured the length of their feet and their shoe size. There are dozens of variations of experiment design and of the statistics we can use, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Psychology students are traditionally well trained in statistics and experimental design, and they sometimes go on to careers involving data gathering and testing for companies, organizations, or the government. And some go on to do experiments in psychology itself!

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Sensation and Perception

45 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The Senses

Taste (or gustation)
There are about 10,000 taste buds on the tongue, clustered in papillae (those bumps all over your tongue). The taste buds are clusters of neuron bodies that line tiny pits in the papillae, and look sort of like a microscopic bunch of bananas. Molecules from the food we eat get mixed with saliva and find their way into the little pits and onto the surfaces of the neurons. Like a key fitting into a lock, these molecules open up tiny pores on the cell membranes and begin the process of firing the neuron very much the same way as the neurotransmitters do between neurons. There are only four basic tastes – that is, only four particular molecules that one or another neuron responds too on the tongue: Bitter - alkaloids Sweet - sugars Salt - sodium chlorids Sour - acids There may also be a fifth taste: Umami or savoriness, which involves a sensitivity to glutamate (which you may remember as one of the neurotransmitters). You find it in aged cheese, tomatos, mushrooms, meat, and soy sauce. It is best known as monosodium glutamate, which is used to enhance the flavor of meat. We experience salty and sour because the salt and acid ions directly open ion channels in the sensory neurons. Sweet, bitter, and umami, on the other hand, bind to proteins that have receptor sites. Our ability to taste bitter may have evolved in order to protect us from food poisoning. Note also that the tongue is sensitive to touch (hence the idea of texture in food), and to temperature and, of course, pain. Jalapeño peppers, for example, have a certain taste in the ordinary sense, but also provide us with delightful (!) sensations of pain. You might find it useful to know that, if your mouth is burning from eating peppers, it helps to drink milk, because milk fats dissolve the active chemical (capsaicin) while water merely spreads it around. In addition, the tongue is sensitive to cold, which can be triggered not only by actual low temperatures, but by chemicals such as menthol. Recent research with mice shows that some mice also have taste buds that respond to fats. Apparently, it is a genetic trait, one that may help us to understood why some people are more attracted to fatty foods than others. There are people that cannot taste anything. This is technically known as ageusia. Fortunately, it is very rare. Perhaps the biggest part of taste for us is, oddly, smell...

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Smell (olfaction)
Smell works much like taste: It is also a "lock and key” sense. This time, it is a matter of moist air being drawn over a piece of specialized mucous membrane about the size of a dime at the top of your nasal cavity. With smell, we seem to be responding to the presence of some combination of seven basic molecules: Floral Pepperminty Musky Pungent (like spices) Camphoraceous (like mothballs or muscle liniments) Ethereal (like dry-cleaning fluid) Putrid (like rotten eggs) These are the seven smells suggested by the researcher John Amoore in 1952, when he also outlined his "lock and key" theory of how smells work. But it is far from certain that these are the fundamental scents – some researchers believe there are many more. The chemical senses are extremely sensitive, and this goes especially for smell. It is believed to be thousands of times more sensitive than taste and actually accounts for as much as 80 or 90% of what we perceive as flavor. There are roughly 40 million smell receptor cells in humans. Dogs have us beat, paws down, with 100 million cells. But they don't even rate compared with rabbits, with one billion cells. Mammals tend to have a good sense of smell, especially carnivores and their prey (for very obvious reasons!) Primates, however, have a relatively poor sense of smell. On the other hand, cetaceans (whales and dolphins) have no sense of smell at all! A lack of the sense of smell in humans is called anosmia. There has been considerable debate over many years about the existence of a smell-like sense that can detect the presence of molecules called pheromones. Many animals clearly can smell the presence of a potential mate over great distances. Male silkworms can detect even a simgle molecule that indicates a female! (It is the antennae that serve as smell organs in insects.) People can certainly smell other people – but is there a special smell that doesn’t really have a particular odor, but rather leads us to feel, well, those special "I want you” feelings? I think not, but there are many who disagree with me.

Touch (tactile)
The skin actually has three types of sensation: Pressure, temperature, and pain. Pressure is a simple matter of mechanical distortion, the bending of the dendrites of a mechanoceptor. When bent, the stress cause the opening of channels, the exchange of ions, and, of course, the firing of the neuron. In some cases, the dendrites are embedded in capsules which, when compressed, stimulate the neuron. Plus different neurons are sensitive to different kinds of pressure: light touch, firm pressure, and vibration.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Temperature seems to be a very direct influence of the heat or cold opening certain ion gates. So far, we have found three of them: One for cold, one for hot, and one for very hot. Perhaps there are also ones for very cold and even just plain warm. It is interesting to note that menthol can also spark the cold receptors, and make us believe we are feeling cold when we are not! It is also peculiar that, when we touch a thermal grill – a surface that has alternating lines of cold and heat – we feel neither heat nor cold, but pain! I will talk about pain separately, but basically, pain is a matter of detecting certain chemicals indicative of tissue damage. With pain is classified itching and tickling. It is interesting that there is a chemical called capsaicin that acts on pain receptors just like "real” damage does. It is found in such things as jalapeño peppers, as mentioned above.

Kinesthetic sense
The kinesthetic sense is based on receptor neurons in the muscles and joints that basically work on the mechanical distortion principle. Some of these receptors are mechanoceptors just like those in the skin; others are spindles that begin to fire when stretched.

Vestibular sense
The vestibular sense tells you which way is up, how your body is oriented in relation to up, and how your body is moving in space. The sensations are based on hair cells - mechanoceptors with dendrites that resemble brushes. In the inner ear, there is a special arrangement of three semicircular canals around a central area. In the semicircular canals, the motion of the fluid as you spin causes gelatinous lumps called cupulas to bend one way or the other, which in turn causes the hair cells to bend. The three canals are oriented at roughly 90º to each other, and so give you spinning information in all three dimensions.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The vestibular sense is also connected to parts of the brain that tell you when it is time to vomit. This is the cause of motion sickness. If you spin hard enough and then suddenly stop, the tiny current keeps going for a little bit, and gives you the sensation that you are still spinning, but in the opposite direction. Your brain may try to compensate for this, and cause you to fall or at very least feel dizzy. You can also confuse these canals when you take a shower and allow hot or cold water into your ear. The temperature changes can cause currents to develop that wind up feeling just like spinning, and you may get dizzy. The two central areas of this organ also have hair cells. The hair cells are embedded in gelatinous lumps called maculas which pulls them in one direction or another, depending on whether you are standing upright, bent over one way or another, or standing on your head. The bending of the hair cells again sends signals to the brain which interprets them accordingly.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Hearing (audition)

Hearing is also a matter of hair cells! You recall, I’m sure, the basic structure of the ear: The outer ear canal leads to the ear drum, a thin tissue stretched across the opening. Behind the ear drum, there is a sequence of three tiny bones that slightly amplify the vibrations of the ear drum. They end at another thin tissue that closes the true organ of hearing, called the cochlea. It is actually a tube, first bent in half, then wound up into a coil, and filled with fluid. Along this tube, there is a membrane that moves according to the wave patterns set up in the fluid. It has hair cells growing below it, and those hair cells send messages to the brain as to the wave patterns and changes they detect. That may sound complicated enough, but this description is actually highly simplified!

Vision is different from all the other senses. It involves receptor neurons that are sensitive to light. Light enters through the pupil and lens of the eye and is projected onto the back surface of the eye called the retina. The retina is composed of, among many other things, receptor neurons called rods and cones The rods are sensitive to a broad range of light, i.e. they tell us about "white.” They contain what is called visual purple (rhodopsin), a chemical that is sensitive to light. Note that a crucial part of this chemical is derived from vitamin A – so eat your carrots! The chemical breaks down when exposed to light and releases a protein (opsin) which eventually releases a neurotransmitter to send messages to the brain that "there is light.” Then the breakdown products are re-assembled back into rhodopsin. Cones are similar, but involve a chemical called iodopsin that is sensitive to more specific wavelengths of light, depending on pigments associated with the chemical. One kind of cone responds to red, one to green, and one to blue. Again, a protein (retinene) leads to the release of neurotransmitters, etc. Rods are far more sensitive than cones. This is why you see in "black and white” when there isn’t much light. Nocturnal animals tend to be color-blind, that is, they don’t have any cones, since color is of little use to them while high sensitivity is. Also, nocturnal animals usually have a shiny backing to their retina that reflects light back to the rods called a tapetum. It is usually made up of tiny crystals. This is why cats and other animals reflect light from their eyes!

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The great majority of color-blind people suffer from red-green color blindness. This comes about because they lack either red or green cones, so that red and green are indistinguishable. Everything is in shades of blue and yellow. It is much more common in men than women, occuring in about 1 in every 20 men. This is because the genes for red-green colorblindness are on the X chromosome of the 23rd pair. Since women have two X chromosomes, they must inherit the problem from both parents. On the other hand, a man with red-green colorblindness will not transmit the gene to his sons - only to his daughters (who will probably not be color blind!). Some people suffer from blue-yellow color blindness, which means that there is something wrong with their cones for blue. They see the world in shades of green and red. Since the gene for this kind of color blindness is on chromosome 7, it is equally distributed between men and women. It is, however, extremely rare. Also very rare is complete color blindness, which can mean that the person only has one kind of cone or none at all. As with all the senses, there is a great deal more to vision that this, but this will do for us.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Pain is a perception, and like any perception, it is rooted in sensation, and on the biological level, in the stimulation of receptor neurons. Also like other forms of perception, pain is sometimes experienced when there is no corresponding biological basis!

In the skin and other tissues of the body, there are special sensory neurons called nociceptors. These neurons translate certain stimuli into action potentials that are then transmitted to more central parts of the nervous system, such as the brain. There are four kinds of nociceptors: Thermal nociceptors are sensitive to high or low temperatures. Mechanical nociceptors respond to strong pressure to the skin that comes with cuts and blows. These receptors respond quickly, and often trigger protective reflexes! Polymodal nociceptors can be excited by strong pressure, by heat or cold, and by chemical stimulation as well. Silent nociceptors stay quiet – hence the name – but become more sensitive to stimulation with inflammation around them. When there is significant damage to tissue, several chemicals are released into the area around the nociceptors. This develops into what is called the "inflammatory soup," an acidic mixture that stimulates and sensitizes the nociceptors into a state called hyperalgesia, which is Greek for "super pain." Prostaglandins are released by damaged cells Potassium is released by damaged cells. Serotonin is released by the blood platelets. Bradykinin is released by blood plasma. Histamine is released by mast cells. In addition to all this, the nociceptors themselves release "substance P," which causes mast cells to release histamine, which in turn stimulates the nociceptors! Histamine is interesting in that, when it stimulates nociceptors, it is experienced as an itch rather than pain. We don’t know why. We use antihistamines, of course, "to relieve the itch." There are tissues that contain nociceptors which do not lead to pain. In the lungs, for example, there are "pain receptors" which cause you to cough, but do not cause you to feel pain. One of the chemicals associated with pain that actually comes from the world outside the skin is capsaicin. This is the substance that make hot peppers so "hot."

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Transmission upwards
The nerves that carry messages from the nociceptors up the spinal cord follow several different tracts. Most go to the thalamus, where they are distributed to various higher centers. Some also go to the reticular formation (which, among other things, governs alertness) and to the amygdala (a part of the limbic system involved in emotion). Referred pain, such as the pain that people sometimes feel in their arms and shoulders when they are having a heart attach, is due to the way in which nerves come together in the spinal cord. The brain sometimes loses track of where the pain is coming from. Gate theory is based on this idea of confusion of neural signals. It seems that some non-pain stimulation can sometimes interfere with the experience of pain. This is the explanation behind such phenomena as the benefits of rubbing a painful area, the use of hot or cold compresses, acupuncture and acupressure, and TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation). There are people who have had damage to some part of these tracts, often after a stroke, who feel tingling or a burning pain that is aggravated by touch. Other people have damage higher in the brain that lets them feel pain like everyone else, but eliminates the connections to the emotional centers. They feel pain, but they don’t suffer! Phantom pain – the pain amputees sometimes feel in the very limb they are missing – is due to the fact that, when nociceptors are damaged or missing, the neurons in the spinal cord that transmit pain messages sometimes become hyperactive. So the brain gets messages of pain where there isn’t even any tissue left! In the brain and spinal cord, there are certain chemicals called opioids, or more specifically enkephalin, endorphin, and dynorphin. These opioids, as the name implies, are the body’s very own forms of opium and its derivatives morphine and heroin. When they are released into synapses, they diminish the levels of pain transmitted, exactly like heroin. There are actually a variety of things which diminish the experience of pain: marijuana, mother's milk (for newborns, of course), pregnancy, exercise, fear and shock, aggression, and diabetes. A reduced experience of pain is called, logically, hypoalgesia. And there are people who are born with a genetic inability to feel pain at all. It is very rare, and at first sounds like a blessing. But the rate of early death is quite high in these people, usually because injuries that normal people would attend to (small ones, like sprains) go unattended and develop into more serious problems. There have been people with appendicitis who died of it simply because they hadn't noticed. That, of course, is the reason why pain has evolved as it has: It warns us to sit down, rest, attend to an injury, avoid things that cause pain, and so on. On the other hand, pain is not always useful. The cancer patient knows about his or her disease and is taking care of it. The often excruciating pain is totally unnecessary, and we should do what we can to get rid of it!

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Perception and Interaction*

Perception – seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, feeling the positions of joints and the tension of muscles, balance, temperature, pain... – begins with the stimulation of sensory neurons. Each sense involves highly evolved cells which are sensitive to a particular stimulus: Pain receptors respond to certain chemicals produced when tissues are damaged. Touch receptors involve cells with hairs which, when bent, cause signals to travel down the cell's axon. Balance, movement, and even hearing involve similar hair cells. Temperature sensitive neurons have hairs that expand and contract in response to heat and cold. Taste and smell receptors respond to environmental molecules in the same way that other neurons respond to neurotransmitters. And the neurons of the retina respond to the presence of light or the specific frequency ranges of light we perceive as color. But perception is more than just passive reception of information. Perception is an active process: Touch, for example, requires movement – something that nowadays we call "scanning." Touch includes information about you (e.g. your muscles, joints) as well as about what you are touching. We can say the same about hearing. We should really call it listening! The sound itself is intrinsically moving, of course – it is constantly changing. If it didn’t, we would stop hearing it! And the same is true about vision. Vision involves constant movement – of our eyes, head, and body, or of the things we see or all of the above. The outer parts of our retina are particularly sensitive to motion – so when something comes into our field of vision, our attention is drawn to it. Even the fact that we have two eyes (binocular vision) is a kind of movement – the two views are slightly different! If we kept our eyes and the scene we are looking at perfectly still, everything would all become white! We should also keep in mind that perception is not something done with the eyes or the ears or any specific sense organ. It is a multi-sensory, full bodied thing, totally involving: "A one-year-old child standing on the floor of a room will fall down if the walls are silently and suddenly moved forward a few inches, although nothing touches him." (Neisser, p. 116, referring to Lee and Aronson, 1974)

* References:
Franz (1971). Perception of Other People. (Erik Kvan and Brendan Maher, Trans.) New York: Columbia University Press. Gibson, James J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Gibson, James J. (1966). The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Heider, Fritz and Simmel, Marianne (1944). An Experimental Study of Apparent Behavior. American Journal of Psychology, 57, p. 245 James, William (1890). The Principles of Psychology. New York: Holt. Koffka, Kurt (1936). Principles of Gestalt Psychology. New York. Lee, D.N. and Aronson, E. (1974). Visual proprioceptive control of standing in human infants. Perception and Psychophysics, 15, 529-532. Neisser, Ulric (1976). Cognition and Reality. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman. 54 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The "raw material" of perception
The perceptual process has a lot to work with from the very beginning: We are not in the position of having to make sense of a mosaic of meaningless dots of light or disconnected sounds or smells. Even as far back as the 1890's, William James pointed out that we not only perceive things but relationships such as "and" and "or" as well. Take your hands and hold them up in front of you, separated by a few inches. You see your hands, of course, and it isn't hard to imagine that perceiving them is a matter of certain patterns of light followed by similar patterns of neural firings. But notice that you are also perceiving your hands as "next to each other," while in fact that perception is not directly presented to you as a stimulus in the way your hands themselves are. Much of what we experience comes "pre-packaged," ready for our consumption. Nature provides "edges" – changes in light patterns, transitions of sounds – for us to use to pick objects out from their environment. For example, we see things as standing out from their background, something called the figure-ground phenomenon, introduced by the Danish phenomenologist Edgar Rubin (1886-1951). Rubin demonstrated the phenomenon by creating his classic example of an ambiguous figure-ground situation: Basically, we perceive one aspect of an event as the figure and the other as the ground. In Rubin's figure, there is no true figure and ground. It is a drawing that pretends to be an object. We are forced by the ambiguity of it to use the shifting attention we give the vase or the faces to see one thing or the other. Depth is a major example of something we experience directly, without the need for anticipatory interpretation. Traditionally, it has been assumed that we construct depth from such clues as perspective and relative size, as well as the slightly different images we get with binocular vision. But we only need to use such clues when we are looking at pictures that are faking depth! Actually, we see true depth because it is there to see. Again, it is the fact that vision involves movement that shows us the truth of the matter. For example, things that are closer to us change position more quickly than things that are farther away, and distant objects form the backgrounds for the closer ones. Remember from childhood how the moon seems to follow you as you drive along, while telephone poles whip by at a million miles an hour? Even binocular vision – the disparate images of each eye – is a kind of movement. Eleanor Gibson won her place in the history of psychology books with her visual cliff experiment. She built a special table: One half had plexiglass with a checkerboard pattern stuck beneath it. The other half also had plexiglass, but the checkerboard pattern was a couple of feet below, on the floor. In between was a board. Infants were then placed on the board, and their mothers were asked to coax them to crawl over one side or the other. Guess which side they didn't want to try? Apparently, babies are quite capable of seeing depth with very little, if any, experience with "cliffs."

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The Gestalt psychologists (Wertheimer, Koffka, and Kohler) discovered many other ways in which what we perceive is already organized. Gestalt psychology is based on the observation that we often experience things that are not a part of our simple sensations. The original observation was Wertheimer’s, when he noted that we perceive motion where there is nothing more than a rapid sequence of individual sensory events. This is what he saw in a toy stroboscope he bought at the Frankfurt train station, and what he saw in his laboratory when he experimented with lights flashing in rapid succession (like the Christmas lights that appear to course around the tree, or the fancy neon signs in Los Vegas that seem to move). The effect is called the phi phenomenon, and it is actually the basic principle of motion pictures and television! If we see what is not there, what is it that we are seeing? You could call it an illusion, but it's not an hallucination. Wetheimer explained that you are seeing an effect of the whole event, not contained in the sum of the parts. We see a coursing string of lights, even though only one light lights at a time, because the whole event contains relationships among the individual lights that we experience as well. We are built to experience the structured whole as well as the individual sensations. And not only do we have the ability to do so, we have a strong tendency to do so. We even add structure to events which do not have gestalt structural qualities. In perception, there are many organizing principles called gestalt laws. The most general is called the law of pragnanz. Pragnanz is German for pregnant, but in the sense of pregnant with meaning, rather than pregnant with child. This law says that we are innately driven to experience things in as good a gestalt as possible. "Good” can mean many things here, such regularity, orderliness, simplicity, symmetry, and so on, which then refer to specific gestalt laws. For example, a set of dots outlining the shape of a star is likely to be perceived as a star, not as a set of dots. We tend to complete the figure, make it the way it "should” be, finish it. Like we somehow manage to see this as a "B"... The law of closure says that, if something is missing in an otherwise complete figure, we will tend to add it. A triangle, for example, with a small part of its edge missing, will still be seen as a triangle. We will "close” the gap. The law of similarity says that we will tend to group similar items together, to see them as forming a gestalt, within a larger form. Here is a simple typographic example: OXXXXXXXXXX XOXXXXXXXXX XXOXXXXXXXX XXXOXXXXXXX XXXXOXXXXXX XXXXXOXXXXX XXXXXXOXXXX XXXXXXXOXXX XXXXXXXXOXX XXXXXXXXXOX XXXXXXXXXXO It is just natural for us to see the o’s as a line within a field of x’s.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Another law is the law of proximity. Things that are close together as seen as belonging together. For example... ************** ************** ************** You are much more likely to see three lines of close-together *’s than 14 vertical collections of 3 *’s each. Next, there’s the law of symmetry. Take a look at this example: [ ][ ][ ] Despite the pressure of proximity to group the brackets nearest each other together, symmetry overwhelms our perception and makes us see them as pairs of symmetrical brackets. Another law is the law of continuity. When we can see a line, for example, as continuing through another line, rather than stopping and starting, we will do so, as in this example, which we see as composed of two lines, not as a combination of two angles...: The gestalt psychologists also pointed out that, when we see a duck and an elephant, there is little in their natures that would cause us to perceive them as belonging together. But if they are both walking together in the same direction across a field, their common path is immediately perceived as a connection between them. But the gestalt principles are by no means restricted to perception – that’s just where they were first noticed. Take, for example, memory. That too seems to work by these laws. If you see an irregular saw-tooth figure, it is likely that your memory will straighten it out for you a bit. Or, if you experience something that doesn’t quite make sense to you, you will tend to remember it as having meaning that may not have been there. A good example is dreams: Watch yourself the next time you tell someone a dream and see if you don’t notice yourself modifying the dream a little to force it to make sense! Gestalt theory is well known for its concept of insight learning. People tend to misunderstand what is being suggested here: The Gestalt psychologists are not so much talking about flashes of intuition, but rather solving a problem by means of the recognition of a gestalt or organizing principle. The most famous example of insight learning involved a chimp named Sultan. He was presented with many different practical problems (most involving getting a hard-to-reach banana). When, for example, he had been allowed to play with sticks that could be put together like a fishing pole, he appeared to consider in a very human fashion the situation of the out-of-reach banana thoughtfully – and then rather suddenly jump up, assemble the poles, and reach the banana. A similar example involved a five year old girl, presented with a geometry problem way over her head: How do you figure the area of a parallelogram? She considered, then excitedly asked for a pair of scissors. She cut off a triangle from one end, and moved it around to the other side, turning the parallelogram into a simple rectangle. Wertheimer called this productive thinking.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The perception of utility
Many psychologists, including phenomenologists and Gestalt psychologists, talk about the direct perception of the use of objects. Some things "afford various possibilities for action, carry implications about what has happened or will happen, belong coherently to a larger context, possess an identity that transcends their simple physical properties." (Neisser, p. 71) Rubin called it utility determination: "We see immediately that a hammer is meant for hammering, a pencil for writing, a pipe for smoking." (From, p. 15) Koffka called this demand character: "Each thing says what it is...a fruit says 'Eat me;' water says 'Drink me;' thunder says 'Fear me...'" (Koffka, p. 7) J.J. Gibson calls them affordances: "The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill.... the 'values' and 'meanings' of things in the environment can be directly perceived." (Gibson, p. 127) "An elongated object of moderate size and weight affords wielding. If used to hit or strike, it is a club or hammer. If used by a chimpanzee behind bars to pull in a banana beyond its reach, it is a sort of rake. In either case, it is an extension of the arm. A rigid staff also affords leverage and that use is a lever. A pointed elongated object affords piercing – if large it is a spear, if small a needle or awl." (Gibson p. 128) And likewise for objects that afford cutting (knives) or throwing (balls) or binding (rope) or "trace making" (a pen, brush, pencil...). "The different places of a habitat may have different affordances. Some are places where food is usually found and others where it is not. There are places of danger, such as the brink of a cliff and the regions where predators lurk. There are places of refuge from predators. Among these is the place where mate and young are, the home, which is usually a partial enclosure. Animals are skilled at what the psychologist calles placelearning. They can find their way to significant places." (Gibson, p. 136) "The medium, substances, surfaces, places, and other animals have affordances for a given animal. They offer benefit or injury, life or death. This is why they need to be perceived." (Gibson, p. 143) "The different substances of the environment have different affordances for nutrition and for manufacture. The different objects of the environment have different affordances for manipulation. The other animals afford, above all, a rich and complex set of interactions, sexual, predatory, nurturing, fighting, playing, cooperating, and communicating. What other persons afford, comprises the whole realm of social significance for human beings." (Gibson, p. 128)

Person perception
As the last quote suggests, this idea of directly perceiving the meaning of things applies to animals and people as well! Philosophers sometimes talk about the "problem of the other:" How is it that we know that another person is in fact another person, like us, conscious, capable of thought and feeling? Do we notice that there are similarities to how we ourselves behave, and somehow reason our way to that conclusion? Or is it that we just see their person-hood? I believe the latter. The phenomenological psychologist Franz From had people look at a variety of movies and describe what they saw. He discovered that "When we have to describe a behavior sequence, we generally do so by indicating a perception of some psychological state in the behaving person." (From, p. 7) "...when we perceive human behavior as action...implicit in the percieved material sequence there is a certain sens. By this, I mean that we are perceiving the behavior as being governed by a mental factor." (From, p. 69) This mental factor is also called intention, purpose, or meaning.
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

We can see "sens" in the behavior of animals, even insects: I can't tell you how impressed I've been with praying mantises and garden spiders. They really look at you, follow your movements, respond with great care... even though their brains are as small as a grain of rice! This even applies to things that aren't really alive at all – i.e. we can be quite mistaken about "sense!" Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel did an experiment involving a film of triangles moving about in "purposeful" ways: People saw the triangles as having intentions! Rubin refered to other people, animals, and even apparently purposeful triangle as psychoid entities. When we observe people, the absence of meaning is actually the special case! From tells this story: "One afternoon when Professor Rubin and I had already put on our overcoats, ready to go home from the laboratory, Rubin said: 'See here, From.' At the same moment he sat down at is desk and looked straight ahead while he made short abrupt horizontal movements right and left in the air in front of him with his right hand, keeping the index finger and the thumb closely together. I just managed to think something like 'What on earth has happened to Rubin,' when he got hold of a pencil and a piece of paper, drew a system of small arrows and pushed the paper across to me, saing: 'Here is the code to the safety lock on my bicycle. Would you mind riding the bike home for me?' The earlier perception of something completely incomprehensible was immediately replaced, and the purpose of his behavior, i.e., to note down the code which he 'had in his fingers,' became quite apparent...." (From, p. 13)

Perception in the broadest sense is a matter of interaction between the world and the self. At its simplest, the world gives us events; we in turn give those events meaning by interpreting and acting upon them. There are some obvious details here: we have sensations (input from the world, stimuli) and actions (output to the world, responses). There was a time when psychologists thought this was enough. Now we know better, and we add two more details, which are called anticipation and adaptation. Anticipation is a little difficult to explain. We have a certain knowledge of the world, a "model" of it. This model includes everything from little details like which shoe you put on first to complex things like how you feel about yourself and your life. We use this model to anticipate – expect, predict – what will happen in the next moment or in the next ten years. If I close my eyes, I expect that when I open them you will still be there, the room will still be there, I will still be there, and so on. If all you of you were to disappear on me I would be seriously surprised. We also anticipate on a more long term basis: We have expectations about what college will and won't do for us, about love being forever, and the sun rising, and so on. If I keep my eyes closed and focus on the expectation, rather than on you and the world "out there," I can imagine you. We can understand images and thoughts as anticipations temporarily detached from the stream of events! "Images are not pictures in the head, but plans for obtaining information from potential environments.... When you have an image of a unicorn at your elbow – while quite certain that unicorns are purely mythical animals – you are making ready to pick up the visual information that the unicorn would provide, despite being fully aware that your preparations are in vain." (Neisser pp. 131-132)
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Thinking, says Neisser, is also a matter of imagery: "The ability to divide, detach, and manipulate our own anticipations is immensely important. It is, I believe, the fundamental operation in all so-called higher mental processes." (Neisser, p. 133) He goes even further by suggesting that perception, imagery, learning, memory, behavior... are all of a piece, which he refers to as cognition: "Cognition is the activity of knowing; the acquisition, organization, and use of knowledge." (Neisser, p. 1) Anticipation is a major factor in much of perception. For example, when we are looking at some rather poor handwriting, we can still make it out. But we may interpret the very same blob of ink in very different ways depending on the context – that is, depending on what we anticipate should be there! Take a look at the next drawing. An infant is likely to react to this by sticking pieces in his or her mouth. A young child may see them as little people or "finger-clickers." An adult who does not play chess may see them as chess pieces on a board. When asked what the two pieces in the foreground are, they might say they are castles. A beginning chess player would call them rooks, and might add that the white bishop can take the black queen (or vice versa). They "see" the moves of the pieces, the rules of the game. A good chess player might note that it is checkmate in one or two moves. None of these is wrong; they are simply different meanings applied to the same events.

You might ask: What is the event really? But what do you mean by that? "Really” to whom? Somebody must always do the seeing, give the meaning. A physical scientist looking at the pieces and noting their chemical compositions is still giving his or her meaning to the event. Note, of course, that the "board" is 6 by 6 instead of 8 by 8, that there is no black king, which means there is no game going on, and that in fact this is a drawing – a set of lines – and not a set of three-dimensional objects at all. All of this is an indication of how much our interpretations add to what is "really" there. Notice how much this adds to the complexity of person perception: In order to understand and predict and control people's experiences and behaviors, we have to understand the meanings they apply to reality. No easy trick!

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Anticipation is particularly significant in understanding language: from moment to moment, we anticipate which sounds are likely to come next, which grammatical constructions, which meaningful combinations... We can make sense even of a fuzzy, somewhat jumbled conversation. Anticipation also helps us to understand how we manage to pay attention to some things and not others. How is it we can be listening to a friend in a noisy bar and manage to somehow "filter out" all the other conversations and yet "let in" our friend's voice? We don’t perceive everything that stimulates our senses. How do we 'filter out" the unimportant (less meaningful) stuff? We don't: We just don’t select it! We select things by means of anticipation. We hear the conversation that we are busily involved in, the one we are anticipating moment to moment. The rest is just noise. Likewise with the other senses: We see what we are looking for, we don’t see what we are not looking for. There are, of course, a few exceptions: certain built-in attention-getters, e.g. loud noises, flashes of light, painful stimuli, sudden movements. These involve inborn responses!

Adaptation is also more difficult to explain. Sometimes, we don't anticipate well. For example, you think you see a friend coming at you and you prepare to give a hearty "hi!" but just as you raise your arm to wave and begin to open your mouth, you realize it's not your friend at all but a complete stranger. (If possible, you convert the raised arm into a back-scratch, and the open mouth into a yawn. If it's too late and you've already said hi, just pretend you know them. This will drive them crazy.) Whenever you make mistakes, you need to figure out what went wrong, what to do about it, how to make sense of it. As you do, you are improving your understanding of the world and your relation to it; you are improving your "model." This is adaptation. In our example, you may now have a model of the world that includes look-alikes, embarrassing mistakes, and a tendency to hold-off a little in the future before being so exuberant with your hello's. Adaptation is learning, and we will discuss it in depth later. This additional layer to interaction of anticipation and adaptation is crucial: It means that our behaviors and experiences are not just a function of some common reality. We, ourselves, our understandings of reality, are inevitably and intrinsically a part of our behaviors and experiences. Without "self," reality would be meaningless.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Emotion and Motivation

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

So far, our theory is rather cold and mechanical. What about feelings? Well, they're there, to some degree, in every interaction. Imagine this: In the middle of the night, you get a bad case of the mad munchies. So you leave your bed and head for the fridge. It's very dark, but you know your apartment like the back of your hand, so you don't bother with the lights. The coffee table is in the middle of the room and you anticipate its presence and maneuver around it. Perhaps you reach out your hand to touch the edge to confirm your anticipation. You're almost there – five more feet to the fridge – when WHAM! you walk into a solid six foot...something: The unanticipated! What do you feel at that moment? Perhaps fear, surprise, perhaps sheer terror. Whatever it is, it is rather unpleasant. Let's call it distress. You are, at the same time, busy "generating anticipations" – making guesses about the nature of the beast, taking actions that might alleviate some of your fears, dashing for the light switch. The lights come on... you're expecting a sex-crazed psycho-killer.... And lo and behold, it's the fridge. You cleaned behind it for the first time in 30 years and left it pulled out. Now how do you feel? Perhaps you feel relief, a sensation of pleasant resolution. You heave a great sigh, perhaps laugh. Things make sense again. Life is on the right path again. Let's call it delight. (Note that you might still feel some negative emotion as well, as soon as the initial relief is behind you – like annoyance at your own stupidity. That problem has yet to be resolved!) Another example: Notice the people coming off one of the "sooper-dooper" roller coasters. Notice their frozen smiles. That's their way of saying "yes! I am alive!" Let's be more precise: When interaction is problematic, we feel distress. For example, (1) when we fail to anticipate something–like the fridge in our face–we are distressed. We also feel distress when (2) we anticipate more than one thing at the same time: conflicting anticipations. Which of your roommates is actually the chain-saw killer? Each time you are alone with one of them, you don't know whether to feel secure or to run like the blazes. And (3) we also feel it when we are faced by general uncertainty: Which way is that cockroach, or rat, or snake going to move next? Perhaps this is the root of our common phobias of these delightful creatures. Distress can be mild, an irritation or annoyance: When your pen runs out of ink just as you sign a check at the local supermarket. It can be a bit more intense: The frustration of you car breaking down; the fear as your car careens out of control on the highway; the disgust you feel when you discover that your lover bites the heads off of live chickens. Delight is the resolution of our distressful problems. We are, actually, developing or elaborating our understanding of the world when we feel delight. Delight is the emotional side of adaptation, of (believe it or not!) learning. It too can be mild: The pleasant feeling of finishing a crossword puzzle or winning at a game or sport. Or it can be a bit more intense, like the relief you feel when you realize that the roller-coaster only felt like it was leaving the tracks; or the joy of scientific discovery, artistic creation, or mystical experience. Notice that since solving problems requires having problems, delight depends on distress. Even physical pleasure seems to work like this: You enjoy it more after doing without it for a while, whether "it" is food,
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

drink, or sex! Too much of it, and it doesn't seem to satisfy quite so well. (Note that our response to this is often to try doing it even more! Hence some of our neurotic attitudes towards sex, food, gambling, attention....) Facing a problem doesn't cause distress – it is distress. The distress is just the feeling-side of the situation. The same points apply to delight. It isn't caused by problem-resolution, it is problem-resolution. And distress and delight don't cause you to seek a solution; they are not "motivating forces." But there's no doubt that the situations in which you feel distress may be ones that you avoid in the future. Or, if they resulted in delight, they may be ones you seek out in the future. It is the anticipation of distress or delight that is motivating. Anxiety is the distressful anticipation of distress. From experience, you expect that the situation before you will be unpleasant. This expectation is itself unpleasant: it conflicts with your desire to be a happy, carefree individual. And, often, you try to avoid the situation. Hope is the delightful anticipation of delight. From experience, the problem before you will be resolved, and this is a happy thought. Depending on details, we could also call this eagerness, or even anxiety, as in "I'm anxious to get started!" Now, the "basic" distress and delight don't usually happen at the same time–since one is the problem and the other the solution. But anticipatory distress and delight – that is, anxiety and hope – often happen at the same time: We call this "mixed emotions." Skimming across deep water on little sticks at 30 miles per hour can make you nervous; water-skiing, on the other hand, sounds like fun. You feel both anxiety and eagerness. You decision whether to try it will be based on how these two balance out for you. Notice I said "for you." The decision is very much a subjective one, based on what makes you anxious and eager. Anticipation can also help us make sense of other emotions, such as anger: Anger is distress with an expectation of external change. The problem is "out there" and anger is the build-up of energy needed to solve it. Just try to hold back a baby from crawling, and see what you get. Sadness is distress with an expectation of internal change. The problem is "in here." I realize that I must adapt to it. Grief is the most obvious example: You can't get them back; you can only learn to live with their absence. Many of our major learning experiences involve sadness, such as coming to understand our own limitations, or the limitations of our loved ones, for example. Notice that anger is a little more hopeful; sadness is a little harder to take. People tend to be angry at things before they settle down to accept what they can't change. That says something very important about us: We resist major changes in the self; if we can, we try to make the world fit our expectations. Sometimes people persist in these emotional states. A person who is always trying to make the world – especially others – fit his expectations we call aggressive, and his emotional state hostile.. Often, what he really needs to do is change himself, adapt. But for some reason – his culture, for example – giving-in is taboo. Like physical pleasures, when it doesn't work right, we do what we always do, only more! Likewise, a person who is always trying to make himself fit the world – and especially others' expectations – we call compliant and his emotional state is commonly depressed.. He is always trying to adjust himself to others, when often what he needs is to get angry. Most common of all is avoidance: When we see a problem coming, we give in to our anxiety and run away, physically or psychologically. With avoidance, we are really trying to get out of an emotional situation and back into a peaceful state. Unfortunately, if you avoid problems and their distress, you also avoid the delight of solutions. Think of some of the common "psychological" ways we avoid life's problems: Alcohol, drugs, television. The goal of avoidance is to be unconscious, or at least unconscious of problems. These three "types" – aggressive, compliant, and avoiding – are so common that a number of theorists have independently come up with them (Adler, Horney, Fromm, and others). These types may even have a genetic
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

component to them, so that some of us are more likely to deal with our problems by turning to aggression, others with compliance, still others with avoidance. More mature people tend to take on problems with an eye towards a solution: They face distress and anxiety with hope and eagerness. This takes a little something–an ability to focus on your goals, and to ignore the pains of getting there. This has been called will-power, self-discipline, need for achievement, delay-ofgratification, and emotional intelligence. I just call it will.

Theories about emotions
It has always been assumed that the first thing that happens is that we experience an emotion, and then and only then do we start reacting to the situation physiologically. But over a hundred years ago, William James, the father of American psychology, and Carl Lange, a Danish psychologist, separately introduced the idea that we have it all backwards: First, they said, we have physiological responses to a situation, and only then do we use those responses to formulate an experience of emotion. This is called the James-Lange theory. Walter Cannon and Phillip Bard came up with a variation on the James-Lange idea in 1929: They suggested that there are neural paths from our senses that go in two directions. One goes to the cortex, where we have a subjective experience, and one goes to the hypothalamus, where the physiological processes begin. In other words, the experience of an emotion, and the physiological responses occur together. This is (as you might expect by now) called the Cannon-Bard theory. In 1937, James Papez noted that the physiological side of emotion is not just a matter of the hypothalamus, but is a complex network of neural pathways – the Papez circuit. In 1949, Paul McLean completed and corrected Papez’s ideas, and called the larger complex the limbic system, which is what we call it today. It included the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the amygdala, and is tightly connected with the cingulate gyrus, the ventral tegmental area of the brain stem, the septum, and the prefrontal gyrus. Paul McLean is also the founder of the triune brain theory. He suggested that there is a certain evolutionary quality to the structure of the brain. Reptiles, he said, function entirely in terms of instinct, and their brains are little more than what we call the brain stem in people. He called it the archipallium or reptilian brain, and it includes the medulla, cerebellum, the pons, and the olfactory bulbs. Above this is the paleopallium, or old mammalian brain. This is the limbic system and the portions of the brain we call the old cortex. Of course, this adds emotions to the reptilian picture, and allows for simple learning. And on top of the paleopallium is the neopallium (aka new mammalian or rational brain, or neocortex). This is where more advanced activities occur, including awareness. McLean adds that, in human beings, these three "brains” don’t always behave cooperatively, which leads to some of the unique problems we have!

Basic emotions
One question that is asked repeatedly is "what are the basic emotions.” There have been dozens of answers to this, none of which have been completely satisfying. This is, no doubt, due to the fact that emotional response is complex to begin with, and is made even more complex by the fact that we add our thoughts and interpretations to them as well as just "experiencing” them as they are. I suggest that we can organize emotions into seven families:

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The Surprise Family surprise, startle, astonishment bewilderment, confusion, shock The Fear Family fear, threat, terror anxiety doubt, caution, suspicion The Anger Family anger, rage, frustration hatred, hostility envy, jealousy disgust, contempt, annoyance, indignation The Sadness Family sadness, sorrow, depression anguish, despair grief, loneliness shame, embarrassment, humiliation guilt, remorse, regret The Eagerness Family eagerness, anticipation, excitement, confidence hopefulness curiosity, interest The Happiness Family happiness, elation, joy, gladness contentment, satisfaction self-satisfaction, pride love, affection, compassion amusement, humor, laughter The Boredom Family boredom, ennui, complacency

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Now we move from questions about what we feel to questions about what we want. As I said earlier, the "self" is what gives things their meaning. Some philosophers and psychologists suggest that the only thing that makes a person (or any living creature) different from a mechanical device is that a person gives things meaning. We give things meaning because we have desires. Because of desire, some things have value to us, and some don't; some are relevant to us, some are not; and value or relevance is just another way of talking about meaning. Behaviorists and other theorists who take a fairly biological approach to psychology suggest that our desires all boil down to the desire to survive. So our most fundamental needs are for food, water, rest, and the avoidance of pain. More complex motivations are seen as derived from these by learning. Freudians have a similar view, and refer to desire as libido. They, however, focus more on the need to survive beyond the individual's life-span through reproduction. Since the survival of all needs and the instincts that serve them in fact depends on reproduction, it is quite reasonable to make sex the key desire! Sociobiology agrees with the Freudians on this. Humanists use the word actualization, which means "the desire to maintain and enhance the self." So "maintenance" certainly includes survival, as long as it is understood that we are referring to the survival of the psychological self as well as the physical self. And "enhancement" means we do more than just try to survive. For example, most "lower" animals react to problems and learn from their mistakes. But "higher" animals have certain extra desires – such as curiosity and play – that encourage them to learn about potential problems before any serious mistakes happen. Kittens and puppies and human children are notorious for this kind of "enhancement." It is sometimes referred to as competence motivation. Social creatures such as ourselves rely on each other for much of their "maintenance and enhancement." One thing we need, especially early in our lives, is positive regard, meaning attention, affection, etc. At first, it's a matter of physical survival; later in life, it's a sign that we have support around us. Human beings take this need a step further: Because we have an internal mental life (thanks to anticipation, etc.), we can internalize both the need we have for positive regard and its satisfaction or non-satisfaction. In other words, we have a desire and need for positive self-regard, also known as self-respect, self-worth, or self-esteem. Poor self-esteem – the inferiority complex – is one of the most common sources for psychological problems a therapist finds. Most of us have these complexes about one thing or another: looks, intelligence, strength, social skills, etc. Even the bully , the beauty, and the braggart – people with superiority complexes – can be understood as people with poor self-esteem who are taking it out on others! I would like to suggest that all these motivations are real and relevant to understanding people. And we can differ with each other in regards to what motivates each of us: Some of us "live to eat;" others are "sex fiends;" others are curious to a fault; others are "people people;" and others still are driven by ego; and so on.

Another aspect of motivation that is hard to overestimate is habit. If you think about it, nearly all of the things we've been talking about involve returning to a unstressed state. When we talk about physical needs,
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

for example, we often talk about homeostasis: like a thermostat that controls a furnace, we eat when we are low on nutrients, we stop eating when we have enough. The same thing applies to psychological phenomena: When our understanding of things is lacking and we fail to anticipate, we scramble to improve our understanding; once we understand something, and our anticipations are right on target, we are satisfied. In fact, it almost seems that we spend our lives trying to be unconscious! After all, we feel distress when things go wrong and delight when things improve, but neither when things are going just right. Habits are things that are so thoroughly learned, that work so smoothly, with so little distress or delight, that they are unconscious. When habits concern social behaviors, we call them rituals. Coronations, marriage ceremonies, funerals, standing on line, taking turns when talking, saying "hello, how are you," whether you want to know or not – all are examples of rituals. There are also ways of thinking and perceiving that are so thoroughly learned we tend not to be conscious of them: attitudes, mind-sets, norms, prejudices, defenses, and so on. The key to identifying habits and rituals is that the acts are essentially emotionless and unconscious. Showering, for example: Odds are that you wash in pretty much the same way every day, as if you were playing-out a computer program. Mind you, things "around" the habit or ritual may be emotional (i.e. a funeral!), but the things done are done rather automatically – like driving a car, once you've caught on – until things go wrong! When that happens, you experience some kind of distress. Go ahead, tell someone who asks "how are you" all about how you really are! Or stand the wrong way in an elevator. Or interrupt the smooth flow of a restaurant (e.g. by taking peoples' orders, "to help out"). This is called Garfinkling, after Harold Garfinkle, who invented it. It will reveal rules of behavior that are so ritualized that we've forgotten they exist. Anyway, maintaining things the way they are, keeping social "law and order," is an extremely powerful motivation. In its most positive form, it's our desire for peace and contentment. In its most negative form, it is our resistance to anything new or different.

Higher motivations
At the other end of the spectrum are what we might call higher motivations, such as creativity and compassion. There are times when we are, for a moment, "transported outside ourselves," or, to put it another way, when we feel an identity with something greater than ourselves. Many people experience these moments when they stand at the rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time, or walk into one of the great cathedrals of Europe for the first time. The ocean, the acropolis, sequoias, hummingbirds, music, even a great book or movie can do this as well. We could call it a peak, spiritual, or mystical experience, or just call it awe. This kind of thing also happens with certain behaviors. Mountain climbers talk about the flow experience (Czentimihalyi), when their minds are fully occupied with the task at hand and they become "one with the mountain." Dancers, actors, musicians, and athletes mention similar experiences of involvement. Creative activities can also give us these feelings. Artists, musicians, writers, scientists, and crafts people talk about a point at which their are led by their creation, rather than the other way around. And we feel it when we truly love someone, when they become more important than ourselves. Albert Schweitzer said that only those who serve others can be truly happy. This is called compassion.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

In all these examples, we see not just "maintenance and enhancement of self" but a transcendence of self, a loss of self that paradoxically leads to an expansion of self. Most religions and philosophies make these their highest values.

There is something very peculiar about people: While, from an outside view, it may seem as if our behaviors were being completely determined by the various forces that bear down on us – genetics, the physical world, social pressures – we seem to be capable of "pulling back" now and then, for a moment or two, from the stream of events. We can pause to reflect on things. And we can imagine and think about things that aren't immediately present. For example: Sometimes one part of us – say our inherited physiology – wants sexual gratification, and wants it now. Another part of us – say our social upbringing – wants respect, safety, virtue, affection, or whatever. If we were completely determined, we would simply go with the stronger force, and life would be easy. Instead, we have the ability to weigh the forces. Sometimes this is a less-than-fully conscious process. We can weigh two forces emotionally, in terms of the relative anxiety and eagerness. But we can step back a bit and add certain rational considerations, and consider things like the meaning of sin, the odds of getting caught, or whether the urge will go away if you ignore it. Worrying about things this way may be unpleasant, but it is a sign of our freedom to choose! We can also create new options. Only people deal in possibilities as well as realities! When things seem to be a matter of either-or, damned if you do and damned if you don't, we can pause, and reflect, and create a third – or fourth, or fifth... – choice. Even when alternatives seem totally absent, some freedom remains. The writer and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, after being faced with Gestapo torture, discovered that he could always say no! You at very least have a choice of the attitude you will take towards your suffering, hard though it may be. All this is very frustrating to anyone looking to make psychology into a "hard science" like chemistry or physics. True, much of the time we are as determined as falling bricks. But at our best, we don't follow "laws of human behavior" – we create ourselves!

A Hierarchy of Needs
It is clear that some needs are far more demanding than others: If you are hungry, thirsty, and gasping for air, you have to take care of the air first, the water second, and the food third. Abraham Maslow took this idea and created his now famous hierarchy of needs. Beyond the details of air, water, and food, he laid out five broader layers: the physiological needs, the need for safety, the need for belonging, the need for esteem, and the need to actualize the self, in that order.

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1. The physiological needs. These include the needs we have for oxygen, water, protein, salt, sugar, calcium, and other minerals and vitamins. They also include the need to maintain a pH balance (getting too acidic or base will kill you) and temperature (98.6 or near to it). Also, there’s the needs to be active, to rest, to sleep, to get rid of wastes (CO2, sweat, urine, and feces), to avoid pain, and to have sex. Quite a collection! 2. The safety and security needs. When the physiological needs are largely taken care of, this second layer of needs comes into play. You will become increasingly interested in finding safe circumstances, stability, protection. You might develop a need for structure, for order, some limits. 3. The love and belonging needs. When physiological needs and safety needs are, by and large, taken care of, a third layer starts to show up. You begin to feel the need for friends, a sweetheart, children, affectionate relationships in general, even a sense of community. Looked at negatively, you become increasing susceptible to loneliness and social anxieties. 4. The esteem needs. Next, we begin to look for a little self-esteem. Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one. The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, even dominance. The higher form involves the need for self-respect, including such feelings as confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom. Note that this is the "higher” form because, unlike the respect of others, once you have self-respect, it’s a lot harder to lose! All of the preceding four levels he calls deficit needs. If you don’t have enough of something – i.e. you have a deficit – you feel the need. But if you get all you need, you feel nothing at all! In other words, they cease to be motivating. As the old blues song goes, "you don’t miss your water till your well runs dry!” 5. The last level is a bit different. Maslow called it self-actualization or the being needs. Selfactualization as Maslow uses the term refers to the kind of things we have called higher motivations – creativity, compassion, the appreciation of beauty, truth, justice, and so on. They differ from the deficit needs in that they become a part of your being, part of who you are. Maslow once said that the being needs were the desire to "be all that you can be!"

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Hunger and Eating Disorders

The Biology of Hunger
We usually first become aware of the fact that we are hungry when we feel "hunger pangs," which are just our stomach contractions. For many people, this is a strong incentive to eat, but it is not, physiologically, the most significant indication of hunger. More important is the level of glucose (blood sugar) in the blood. Most of the food you eat gets converted to glucose, much of which is converted by the liver into fat for later use. When the levels of glucose are low, the liver sends signals to the hypothalamus – specifically, the lateral hypothalamus – that levels are low. The hypothalamus in turn triggers whatever habits you have accumulated relating to food seeking and consumption. Another portion of the hypothalamus (the paraventricular hypothalamus) actually tells you more specifically what foods you need, and seems to be responsible for many of our "cravings." The feeling that it is time to stop eating is called satiety. Again, the first indicators may be the distension of the stomach and the intestines – that full or even bloated feeling we all know from thanksgiving dinner. There are also certain hormones that are released when food begins to move from the stomach to the intestines that signal the hypothalamus (this time, the ventromedial hypothalamus) that it's time to stop eating. There is also a hormone released by the fat cells themselves called leptin that decreases appetite via the hypothalamus. I'm sure you've all talked about one person having a better metabolism than another. Some people just seem to burn calories as quick as they eat them, while others gain weight just by looking at food. This is called the set point hypothesis. It suggests that everyone has a certain metabolic set point, a certain weight that your body is geared towards, which is determined by your metabolism, or the rate at which you burn calories. Different people have different set points, and it is believed that these set points can change depending on a number of factors, including eating patterns and exercise.

The Psychology of Hunger
Hunger is not, of course, entirely a physical process. For one thing, the cultural and even individually learned preferences and eating habits can make a difference. For example, some of us eat regular meals and rarely snack, while others just nibble throughout the day. Every culture has its collection of foods that are preferred and those that are avoided. Many people like the burned flesh of large herbivores (i.e. a steak); others prefer raw squid; others still prefer to graze on a variety of vegetation.... Our culture and upbringing also provide us with various beliefs and attitudes about food and eating in general, and our personal memories can influence our eating behaviors as well. Some of us grow up with the idea that we should never waste food, for example, and many of us have particular attachments to what are sometimes called "comfort foods." Eating is a social thing in human beings and can give one a sense of love and belonging. It has been suggested that for some people, food is a "substitute" for the love they crave. Also, some foods – chocolate and ice cream come to mind – seem to reduce anxiety and stress for many of us.
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One of the strongest learning experiences both humans and animals have is called taste aversion: If we get sick soon after eating something, we can develop a instant dislike for that food for the rest of our lives! Children often say they are "allergic" to one food or another when this happens.

Eating Disorders
As is the case with anything as important as eating, human beings have developed a number of eating disorders. One is called bulimia nervosa, and consists of a pattern of "binging" and "purging" – periods of sometimes extreme overeating followed by periods of vomiting or the use of laxatives. Bulimics are usually obsessed with maintaining or reducing their weight. They tend to suffer from depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and poor impulse control. They tend to come from families with a history of emotional problems such as depression, as well as families with obesity problems. Anorexia nervosa is another eating disorder which involves dieting to the point of starvation. The "rule of thumb" is that you are seriously underweight if you are more than 15% below your ideal weight. Anorexics often use vomiting and laxatives, just like the bulimics. They have an intense fear of being fat and are obsessed with being thin. They often have a distorted body image, meaning that when they look in the mirror, they tend to see someone overweight, when others see them as walking skeletons. Anorexics often come from very competitive, demanding families, and are often perfectionists with a strong need to control all aspects of their lives. Physiologically, anorexia has been linked to abnormal levels of the neurotransmitter seratonin, which is involved in eating regulation. Twin research suggests that there may be a genetic aspect to anorexia as well. Most anorexics and bulimics are young women, including from 1 to 4% of high school and college girls. It may be that there are physiological aspects of female adolescence contributing to the problem, but we should note that 10% of teenages with anorexia or bulimia are boys. But a great deal of these disorders are likely social: In our society, the standards of beauty tend to emphasize thinness, and women in particular tend to be judged on the basis of beauty, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. Certainly, if you look at many magazines for young women, or advertisement directed at them, you would think that looks are everything, and that fat is the kiss of death for self-worth! It is interesting to note that, whereas the average American woman is 5 foot 4 inches and weighs 142 pounds, the average model is 5 foot 9 inches and weights 110 pounds. If Barbie, that childhood ideal of feminine beauty, were full size, her figure would read 36-18-33! It is interesting that cultures with standards of beauty that have more respect for a woman's personality or other traits, and cultures that appreciate heavier women, have far less trouble with bulimia or anorexia.

For all the suffering that bulimia and anorexia are responsible for, another eating disorder causes far more: Obesity. The "rule of thumb" is that you are obese if you are more than 35% over your ideal weight. By that standard, about 21% of Americans are obese. Europeans and others with "slimmer" populations shouldn't gloat too much, however: This tendency is actually world-wide! Physiologically, obesity is strongly associated with diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and some cancers. In fact, obesity is associated with the same percentage of cancer deaths – 30% –
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as is smoking! Psychologically, the toll is great as well, and obesity is associated with depression. Even sociologically, obese people face considerable discrimination, from childhood teasing to denial of employment in adulthood. And unlike other kinds of discrimination, this one is actually considered the fat person's own fault! Genetics is a major cause of obesity, and somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of the variation in body mass seems to be genetic. Our ancestors that passed those genes down to us didn't get fat, mainly because they didn't have as much easily available food as we do, and because they had to work harder and walk further to get by. But learning is also a major factor, including childhood eating patterns and a sedentary lifestyle. Our culture doesn't help at all, in that our food and snack industry spends billions of dollars every year encouraging us (including children) to eat food filled with sugar and fat. Often the same companies then make billions (33 billion dollars in 1996) selling us weight loss programs and products! Most people attempt to deal with obesity with dieting. In fact 80% of all American women diet, and 25% of men. 50% of girls below the age of 18 have dieted! Unfortunately, although dieting often works in the shortrun and for small amounts, it usually fails in the long-run for the people who are truly obese. Dieting is made even more difficult by the way in which "set point" works: When you diet, your body thinks you are starving, and so readjusts your metabolism to be more efficient, thereby causing you to need less food to maintain your body, and making it even more difficult to lose weight. Although you do need to eat more than you burn up to get fat, once you are fat, you don't have to eat much at all! Diet and exercise are, of course, the only hope, but the failure rate is so great – 95% – that doctors usually focus on treating the diseases that result from obesity rather than dealing with the obesity itself. One might want to keep in mind that weight training, which increases muscle mass, helps: Muscles use up more calories even in a resting state than other tissues. There is also some hope for the future in medical research, including research on the effects of leptin and possible genetic interventions.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Simple animals become inactive whenever possible – they rest. The purpose of rest is to conserve energy, and, while at it, restore the organism. By restore, I mean get things back to a baseline condition needed for later activity – especially clearing out waste products that build up during activity. In higher animals, the nervous system becomes increasingly important to the functioning of the animal. Being a particularly high-maintenance system, the nervous system requires considerable rest and restoration. Many animals have found temporal niches – i.e. some kind of daily cycle of activity and rest – and evolution has taken advantage of the rest period and uses the time to restore the nervous system. This, of course, is sleep. So sleep is probably devoted to the removal of waste products from the nervous system (and elsewhere, of course), especially the build up of neurotransmitters and hormones between cells. Cells that have been particularly active will, naturally, have greater build ups of chemicals. In the process of cleanup, neurons often fire "accidentally” throughout the night, triggering sequences of firings. Sometimes, for example, a person in deep sleep will get up and perform some routine function such as getting dressed or making coffee – sleepwalking. Sleep goes in cycles – first moving quickly into deep, restorative sleep, then coming back up towards wakefulness, then back down again, and so on. Presumably, this cyclical pattern exists because sleep is somewhat dangerous for animals, and it is important to check on your situation from time to time. In social animals, it is likely that one or another individual will be near wakefulness at all times, and so be available to sound an alarm if needed. When it is light, information from the eyes go to a small area of the brain (the suprachiasmatic nucleus, if you must know) and keeps it from releasing a hormone called melatonin. When it is dark, the melatonin is released and tells us to sleep. For this reason, some people like to call it "the Dracula hormone," since it only comes out at night!

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Stages of sleep
Different parts of your night's sleep have different characteristics, which have lead researchers to suggest four stages. The most important source of information about the stages is the EEG (electroencephalogram). Several electrodes (small metal discs) are pasted to your scalp and the tiny electrical rhythms of resting neurons are recorded, traditionally on moving sheets of paper. Nowadays, of course, we use computers. When you are awake and busy (at least mentally), these "brain waves" are desynchronized, which means that they don't show a clear rhythm. They are recorded as small, rapid, and very irregular marks on the EEG paper. Underlying the jagged marks, though, is a base rhythm called beta waves, which are from 13 to 17 cycles per second (cps). Sometimes, when we are very alert yet momentarily not thinking about anything in particular, these waves become synchronized, and you can see the beta wave pattern on the EEG. When you begin to relax and empty your mind, you begin to generate alpha waves, which are from 8 to 12 cps. This is usually a very pleasant state to be in, so much so that some people have even promoted the "alpha state" as something akin to meditation. When you enter into stage one sleep, the waves begin to slow down, and become theta waves (4 to 7 cps). In addition, we enter into a state of flaccid paralysis of the large muscles, which means that your muscles become very relaxed and no longer respond to motor messages from the brain. Sometimes, as we move into this paralysis, our body responds as if we were falling, and we have a sudden jerk called myoclonus. After a while, we go into stage two. The EEG shows more and more slow theta waves. In addition, we occasionally see a strange wave pattern called a sleep spindle, which consists of very rapid, 15 cps, bursts of activity. After this, we enter into stage three. Now we see the very slow delta waves, which are 3 cps and slower. And finally, we enter stage four, the deepest sleep. Now the EEG shows more than 50% delta waves. Stage four is where we are most likely to find night terrors and sleep walking. Night terrors are periods of extreme emotional arousal rarely accompanied by imagery (as in dreams and nightmares). Sleep walking is where a person gets out of bed and wanders about, sometimes doing routine activities such as getting dressed. This is common among children, and parents occasionally find their kids standing at the bus stop in their pajamas. Obviously, there is no paralysis in stage four! Usually, you don't need it. After stage four, you begin to go back up the stages, until you reach stage one again. This is sometimes called stage one emergent, and it has one particularly impressive quality: Dreams. Dreams are accompanied by movement of the eyes, which can also be recorded with the EEG machine. Because of this, stage one
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

emergent is also called REM sleep (for "rapid eye movement"). Here you can see the purpose of the flaccid paralysis mentioned earlier: If we weren't paralyzed we would likely act out our dreams! Unfortunately for some people, the small muscles are not paralyzed – so it is stage one emergent where we see sleep talking. Sometimes, you can actually engage someone in a small conversation in this stage! It is also interesting that the fingers are not paralyzed, and so we can also see deaf people signing in their sleep. In an average night, you may go through about four or five cycles of stages, each cycle taking about 90 minutes. You usually go less deep each cycle, so that most of your deep, stage four, sleep occurs in the first half of the night. REM or dream sleep is about 20% of your total sleep, in four or five sessions. Unless you actually wake up, though, you rarely remember the first three or four dream sessions.

Pathologies of Sleep
The most common sleep pathology is simple lack of sleep! Most people need from 7 to 9 hours a night, and yet relatively few people actually get that. Teenagers typically need about 9 hours, and that slowly decreases over your lifetime. Older people usually need about 7 hours. Of course, sleep requirements differ for different people, just like, say, nutritional requirements, but people tend to underestimate their needs. It is believed that 80% of college students are seriously sleep deprived! The consequences are clear: You become increasingly irritable; Your attention span, your memory, and your ability to learn things diminishes; You have an increased chance of accidents. Physically, you are more likely to develop blood pressure and heart problems; Your immune system's effectiveness diminishes; And you age more quickly, ending with a shorter lifespan! Some people seem to have a hard time getting the sleep they need. This is called insomnia, and from 10 to 15% of the population suffers from it at any one time. For most people, the causes are not hard to find: Too much stress and anxiety; too much caffeine (found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and many soft drinks); other stimulants; the REM rebound (excessive dreaming) effect that comes from using alcohol or sleeping pills; and the schedule changes involved in shift work, distance travelling, and daylight savings time. Most people who have insomnia can find significant relief if they address these issues! An extremely rare disorder – .05% of the population – is narcolepsy. This is a neurological problem that causes the person to suddenly fall asleep at odd moments, sometimes frequently throughout the day. This may sound amusing, but it is in fact both dangerous and debilitating. Not so rare – 4% of the population, including myself – is sleep apnea. Apnea means "not breathing" during sleep, which is, as you can imagine, not a good thing. People with sleep apnea can stop breathing as many as 600 times a night. When that happens, the brain wakes up, the person gasps for air, and then falls asleep again. This means that you get very little deep sleep, if any, and the effects are similar to the ones mentioned for lack of sleep above. After a while, people with sleep apnea begin to fall asleep during the day at highly inconvenient times, such as while driving. It is also thought to be a leading immediate cause of night-time heart attacks.

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Although some sleep apnea is, like narcolepsy, a matter of neurology, most of it has to do with the throat: Most people with sleep apnea snore. Snoring happens when the back of the palate slips back into the throat and partially blocks the airways. The sound is due to the rapid vibrating of the palate. For some people, this is due to genetics, for others to obesity. While snoring is not necessarily a dangerous thing (outside of potential homicide by spouse), it can develop into sleep apnea. Typically, people with sleep apnea go to a sleep clinic, where they are monitored with EEG and other devices, to determine the extent of their problem. They are then fitted with a device called a CPAP machine (for "continuous positive airway pressure"), which essentially blows air into your nose to keep the air passages open at all times. Some people prefer to have operations that involve removing the uvula and stiffening the soft palate by scarring it. This doesn't always work well, so the CPAP machine is generally recommended instead. A particularly handsome sleep clinic patient wired for sound

As we come closer to wakefulness during these cycles, we are able to develop memories of the random firings of neural restoration, just as we would be of perceptual events if we were completely awake. Perhaps the hippocampus, which is responsible for translating memories from "working storage” into "long term storage” (from immediate awareness into memory). And so we are aware of these sequences of firings, and remember the experience well enough to relate them to our friends. It has been an idea for a very long time that dreams have special meaning. Freud, of course, made this a centerpiece for his therapy. He distinguished between the manifest content (the apparent or surface meaning) and the latent content (the deeper, symbolic meaning), and he believed that a psychiatrist could interpret dreams to discover a patient's deepest needs and concerns, ones that would be too uncomfortable to confront, even in one's dreams! Over the last century, though, we have become quite skeptical of this idea. I am basically skeptical, and sometimes refer to dreams as "brain poop,” also known in more professional circles as day residue. But, I would add that dreams often seem to center around our "issues" – and thereby can provide us with some leads as to what our issues are. If one dreams about anxiety-provoking things, it seems reasonable to believe that you are suffering from anxiety. If there are certain scenarios in your dreams that cause you that anxiety, perhaps those are issues for you. I, for example, frequently dream about being criticized or evaluated or humiliated in front of an audience. That certainly makes sense for me. I also dream quite a bit about moving from one house to another. Although I have lived in my present home for over 30 years, as a kid I moved frequently. So my dreams make sense, not only as day residue, but as indicators of my psychological history.

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Ah, sex. Freud, and many others, felt that sex was the most significant motivator in human life. It's interesting that you die without food in a few weeks, without water in a few days, and without air in a few minutes. You will not die without sex (although you may want to). And yet, in the biological scheme of things, it is reproduction, not individual survival, that counts. Animals, including us humans, are supplied with powerful instincts that urge them on to having sex, sometimes at the cost of their own lives! The science of sex only dates back about a century. The first major figure is Richard von Krafft-Ebing, who studied sexual "deviations" in the late 1800's. He popularized the term homosexuality, and fought to decriminalize it. On the negative side, he was convinced that women who have strong sexual appetites are quite abnormal. Another early figure is Henry Havelock Ellis, who looked into the social aspects of sexuality in the late 1800's and early 1900's. He is a hero to both the homosexual community and the feminist movement. He insisted that homosexuality was both inborn and irreversible, a notion some people still can't seem to accept. And he had the audacity to suggest that women have the similar sexual needs and desires as men! Margaret Sanger referred to him as "Olympian!" Beginning in the 1930's, a Harvard entomologist name Alfred Kinsey started to systematically collect data on sexual practices. He found, for example, that 90% of the men he interviewed had masturbated, that 85% had engaged in premarital intercourse, and that 60% had engaged in oral sex. This of course shocked a conservative American public, who had (like their Victorian predecessors) been in heavy denial about this sort of thing! His statistics on homosexuality were even more shocking: He found that 37% of men had had at least one homosexual interaction resulting in orgasm, that 10% of men had been exclusively homosexual for the last three years, and that 4% of men had been exclusively homosexual their entire lives. The general direction of these statistics has been supported again and again since then.

The Sexual Response Cycle
It was the famous team of Virginia Masters and William Johnson who, in the 1960's and 70's, gave us the details about the mechanics of sex. They observed and measured many thousands of volunteers and prostitutes engaging in intercourse, masturbation, and what not. Among the results of their work is the famous "sexual response cycle:" Excitement involves the contraction of the muscles of the pelvis, the erection of the penis, and the lubrication of the vagina. There is, of course, also a less obvious lubrication of the penis and erection of the clitoris. The plateau phase is less obvious (many researchers just consider it a part of excitement). In women, the outer third of the vagina begins to close about 30%, which seems to be natures way of making sure that the penis (and its produce) stays where it is as long as possible. Orgasm is much more obvious. It is really just a matter of repeated reflexive contractions of a variety of muscles. In men, it includes ejaculation. Women take on the average 15 minutes to reach orgasm, which means that men typically orgasm first unless they pay special attention to their partners during foreplay. Resolution is simply a matter of getting back to normal. There is also something known as a refractory period, which is the length of time it takes before the person is ready for another round of sex. In young
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men, it can be a matter of minutes. In most men, it is hours, even days. It has been argued that women do not have a refractory period, but that is likely a myth. On the other hand, it seems that some women can have several orgasms in close succession, called multiple orgasms. Most women, however, find that continued intercourse after one orgasm eventually becomes uncomfortable. There used to be the idea that there were two kinds of orgasms women could have – clitoral or vaginal. Clitoral orgasms are achieved by contact with the clitoris. Vaginal orgasms, achieved by full intercourse, were considered better, more "mature." However, since Masters and Johnson, most sexologists believe that all orgasms are essentially clitoral. It should be noted that, even though the clitoris is the "epicenter" of orgasm, pretty much all of the pelvic floor, including the vagina, is pretty sensitive to stimulation. Another rich source of myths is penis size. Various studies have suggested that somewhere between 5 and 6 inches when fully erect is the usual range. The longest medically verified penis was 13 1/2 inches long. But human beings can't hold a candle (so to speak) to the African elephant, who can sport an erection as long as 5 or 6 feet, or whales, with erections as long as 9 or 10 feet and one foot in diameter! If male readers are feeling a bit inferior, do not despair: The smallest human penis on medical record is less than an inch long, fully erect. At least you're not him.

Actual statue in the Netherlands

The Non-Deviant "Deviations"
Many psychologists of the late 1800's and early 1900's believed that masturbation resulted in all sorts of physical and mental ills and should be stopped at any cost. Today the consensus is clear: Masturbation has no ill effects of any sort for men or women, girls or boys. What used to be referred to as "self-abuse" now goes by the delightful phrase "pleasuring oneself!" Only if it becomes compulsive does it become an issue of concern. Of course, masturbation isn't really a deviation at all: Roughly 60% of men and 40% of women report having masturbated in the past year. Of men from 18 to 39, 28% do so more than once a week, 37% less than once a week, and 35% not at all. It seems that 5% of men and 11% of women report never having masturbated. On the other hand, 53% of men and 25% of women began masturbating by the time they were between 11 and 13 years old. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with not masturbating, either. (Janus, S., and Janus, C. The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior. 1993. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Laumann, E., Gagnon, J.H., Michael, R.T., and Michaels, S. The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. 1994. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.) Oral sex is also considered a normal and healthy sexual practice. Oral sex performed on a man is called fellatio; performed on a woman, it's called cunnilingus. 3/4 of men and 2/3 of women acknowledge that they rather enjoy oral sex. 10% of men and 18% of women even report preferring oral sex to achieve orgasm over intercourse (Janus & Janus, 1993). On the other hand, not liking oral sex is perfectly normal and healthy
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

as well. Anal sex is far less accepted, and for good reasons: It is painful for many women, and tends to be associated with a desire on the part of some heterosexual men to dominate women. 10% of men and 9% of women say they have had anal sex in the past year (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994). On the other hand, it is estimated that 50% of male homosexuals engage in anal sex as an approximation to vaginal sex. Homosexuality is not considered pathological today. It appears that there is and always has been a proportion of the human population that is sexually attracted to same-sex partners, and that this is more an inborn variation than a matter of choice.

Sex and Adolescents
Although the ability to achieve orgasm is a neurological process present at birth, actual reproduction only occurs after the hormonal preparations provided by puberty. And so, while many grade-school boys and girls are interested in the opposite sex and may even be engaging in childhood versions of sexual activity (masturbation or "playing doctor", for example), it is in adolescence that sexuality becomes a real issue. The average age of first intercourse in the US is 16.6 for boys and 17.2 for girls. Here is a more detailed account (NCHS, 1995): Age at First Intercourse: Males 27% by age 15 45% by age 16 59% by age 17 69% by age 18 85% by age 19 According to another study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 87.8% of all high school students reported having sexual intercourse. 50.4% of high school students reported having four or more sex partners. 45.9% of sexually active high school students reported using a condom during their last sexual intercourse. • 14.1% of sexually active high school students reported using birth control during their last sexual intercourse. • 40.1% of sexually active high school students reported using alcohol or drugs during their last sexual intercourse.
• • •

Females 25% by age 15 39% by age 16 52% by age 17 65% by age 18 77% by age 19

(Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Alternative High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey. 1998. www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/healthrisk-fs.htm) Among western, industrialized nations, only Russia and Estonia (both of which are suffering badly from the social turmoil resulting from the breakdown of the Soviet Union) have more teenage pregnancies and more teenage abortions than the United States. About one million teenagers – 10% of girls between 15 and 19 – become pregnant every year in the US! If you take out the girls who are virgins, 19% of all girls who have had intercourse get pregnant. (Teenage pregnancy: overall trends and state-by-state information. 1999. Alan Guttmacher Institute. New York: AGI.) Most people who study these issues agree that, in addition to a sex-laden media, it is our conservative
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attitudes towards sex education that are primarily to blame: The US is one of the few countries in the world that routinely attempts to promote abstinence while assiduously avoiding making reference to other ways to avoid pregnancy and disease. One of our recent Surgeon Generals was forced to resign for the unpardonable sin of suggesting that we might make it clear to high school students that masturbation is a safe alternative to intercourse! Not long ago, President Clinton was censured by the congress of the US for lying under oath about his relationship with a White House intern. He claimed that when he said he had not had sexual relations with her, he was only telling the truth: He did not consider oral sex to be sexual relations. Most people were astounded at the naiveté of that defense. Unfortunately, it has come to light that a sizable proportion of southern college freshmen and sophomores (among others) think the same thing! 37% believed that oral sex is in fact sexual abstinence! In addition, 24% felt the same way about anal sex, and fully 61% felt that way about mutual masturbation. (Horan PF, Phillips J and Hagan NE, The meaning of abstinence for college students, Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education for Adolescents & Children, 1998, 2(2):51-66. Reported in Remez, Lisa. Oral Sex Among Adolescents: Is It Sex or Is It Abstinence? Family Planning Perspectives Volume 32, Number 6, November/December 2000, available at http://www.agi-usa.org/pubs/journals/3229800.html#50a.) In Los Angeles high schools, it was found that about 30% of virgins engaged in mutual masturbation, 10% of virgins engaged in oral sex, and 1% engaged in anal sex. Apparently, you can have sex and still be a virgin! (Schuster MA, Bell RM and Kanouse DE, The sexual practices of adolescent virgins: Genital sexual activities of high school students who have never had vaginal intercourse, American Journal of Public Health, 1996, 86(11):1570-1576. Reported in Remez, 2000) While sexual abstinence and monogamy are being taught to our teenagers, it seems that adults are having problems with the concepts. Here are some interesting statistics on adults: Number of sexual partners since age 18: Men none one 2 to 4 5 to 10 11 to 20 21 or more 3% 20 21 23 16 Women 3% 31 36 20

6 3


(Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994). It does get considerably better for married people: About 80% of women and somewhere between 65 and 85% of men say that they had no sexual partners other than their spouse while married. 94% of married men and women say they only had sex with their spouse in the last year. But 5% had at least one partner other than their spouse – with 1% saying they had over four other partners! (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).

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Sexual Dysfunctions
With something as intense and pervasive as sex, you've got to expect that things go wrong. The standard categorization of sexual disorders comes out of the DSM IV, which is a manual designed by psychiatrists that describes mental illnesses and labels them for ease of communication and standardization of diagnoses. First, there are the sexual dysfunctions, which involve problems with sexual desire or performance: Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is a "deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity" which causes the person distress or problems with other people, and which is not due to some other problem, such as a medical condition or substance use. Basically, a person with this problem avoids any kind of sexual relationship, even with a spouse. This, of course, is hard on most relationships. It should be kept in mind, though, that sexual desire varies enormously among human beings. While not liking sex is certainly statistically abnormal, it is not necessarily psychologically abnormal. This business of "causing distress" and "not due to other problems" is something you find in most of the descriptions of sexual disorders (and, in fact, of mental illnesses in general), so I won't repeat it. In the judgment of most people in the psychology business, if it doesn't bother you and it doesn't bother the people around you, it isn't likely to be a problem. But, if it has some other, more physical, basis, it has to be dealt with under a separate heading. A similar problem is called sexual aversion disorder. A person with this problem has considerable anxiety, fear, or disgust feelings regarding genital contact, either in general or to specific aspects of sex such as smells or secretions. Both the preceding problems are found more often in people who grew up in homes where sex was considered evil or dirty. Female sexual arousal disorder is the inability to become excited, especially as evidenced by adequate physical responses such as lubrication. About 19% of women suffer from this disorder, so it is not rare! Of course, in the 1800's, this was actually expected of a woman. The male version of this is called male erectile disorder, the inability to attain and maintain an adequate erection. About 10% of men have this problem. Then there are three problems involving orgasm. About 24% of women have female orgasmic disorder, which involves a long delay or absence of orgasm after normal sexual excitement. The male parallel is called male orgasmic disorder, and it is a problem for about 8% of men. Far more common is premature ejaculation, which is a matter of ejaculating after only a minimal amount of sexual stimulation. This is very common among young boys, especially in their first sexual experiences. Unfortunately, about 29% of men suffer from it. Again, this is an interesting cultural phenomenon: There are many cultures that consider it perfectly normal to have an orgasm shortly upon penetration. In Ireland in the 1800's, some people considered it the proper thing to do, so as not to make the wife suffer from the indignities of sex too long! Pain during sex is, of course, unfortunate whatever your culture. Dyspareunia is genital pain associated with intercourse. Although it can be felt by both men and women, it is far more common among women, 14% of whom suffer from it. A particularly painful problem is called vaginismus. While contractions of the vagina are a normal part of sex, some women suffer from intensely painful contractions that prevent them from enjoying sexuality at all. Fortunately, it is rare. Most of the preceding problems may also have other causes. Among the medical conditions that can cause sexual dysfunction are MS, diabetes, disorders of the thyroid, adrenal glands, and the pituitary, heart and blood pressure problems, genital infections, and post-surgical complications. Many recreational drugs cause sexual problems, including alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, opioids, sedatives, etc. Among the prescription drugs that have negative sexual side effects are anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressants, blood
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pressure medication, epilepsy drugs, and steroids.

A paraphilia (from the Greek, "beyond love") is a disorder that involves desires and behaviors associated with unusual stimuli. Psychologists again are not interested in people who simply have fantasies about such things – not unless they act on them and bother other people or are themselves disturbed by them. The first group of paraphilias are ones that bother others (including the law!) more than the person who has the problem: Exhibitionism is when a person likes to expose their genitalia, breasts, or buttocks to strangers. The usual term for these people is "flasher." It is mostly men, but there are a considerable number of women as well. Voyeurism (from the French word for "watcher") is a matter of secretly observing other undressing or engaging in sexual acts. In common parlance, these people (usually men) are called "peeping Toms."

Antique pornography Frotteurism (from the French word for "one who rubs") involves touching and rubbing against other people in the street, on crowded buses or trains, and so on. Again, it is mostly men, although in Japan, for example, it is as common among women as well. In all three of these cases, the perpetrator becomes aroused and usually goes off to masturbate. You can see how these shade off into behaviors that are not considered pathological: It is not considered voyeurism, for example, when you watch a stripper or pornography. Neither is it considered exhibitionism if you take off your clothes or engage in sex for the viewing pleasure of others on a professional basis. Perhaps the most common paraphilia is called fetishism (from Portuguese fetico, meaning "charmed"), a term coined by the inventor of the IQ test, Alfred Binet. Fetishism is a matter of getting aroused by certain objects, most commonly articles of clothing such as underwear, stockings, shoes, etc. There are many pretty unusual fetishes as well, which I shall leave to your imagination. There is also something called transvestic fetishism, which is dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex for sexual stimulation. (This is not the same as transvestism associated with gender identity disorders, below.) Fetishism is probably mostly learned by associating the object with sexual pleasure, especially during masturbation. As one might expect, fetishism is found more in men and usually starts in early teenage years.

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More Dramatic Disorders
The terms sadism and masochism were coined by Krafft-Ebing: Sadism is named for the Marquis de Sade (1774-1814) writer of sadistic novels, and practitioner of same; Masochism is named for Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, who wrote novels involving the pleasures of pain. As you probably know, sadists find sexual arousal and satisfaction in hurting and humiliating others, while masochists find their pleasure in being hurt and humiliated. The range of sado-masochism is huge: Many people enjoy occasional light spanking or biting. Some people play "games" involving bondage (tying someone up) and discipline (whipping or paddling) – usually involving a secret word that signals to the other that you want to stop. Rarer are people who enjoy peeing on someone or being peed on. A few people can only gain sexual satisfaction by actually being beaten, cut, pierced, or whipped, or doing so to another person, especially someone who is unwilling. According to one study, 14% of men and 11% of women have had some sexual experience with sadomasochism (Janus & Janus, 1993). Another suggests that 5-10% of the U.S. engages in sadomasochism on at least an occasional basis, and that 11% of men and 17% of women have tried bondage (Lowe, Walter, The Playboy Readers' Sex Survey, 1983 – perhaps not the most reliable source!). Although many people believe that sado-masochism is a matter of personal decisions between consenting adults, I am concerned that mixing aggression or self-loathing with what should be a loving act sets a pretty dangerous precedent. The most dangerous form of sado-masochism is something called hypoxyphilia. Usually, one person cuts off anothers breathing with their hands, rope, or article of clothing during an act of sex, in an effort to cause asphyxiation at the moment of orgasm. Presumably, this intensifies the orgasm considerably. This is also sometime done by the person him- or herself during sex or masturbation. Needless to say, occasionally people die. Bestiality is having sexual relations with animals. It isn't quite as rare as one might think: Kinsey found that 17% of farm boys admitted to sex with animals. More recent research suggests that it is found primarily in young boys who are mentally deficient. However, interest in bestiality is making a comeback in the form of porn websites devoted to the practice. The most hated sexual disorder is pedophilia or sexual activity with children. This is primarily an activity engaged in by men (although there are some women as well), and most of these people seem to lack adult sexual experience and to have strong feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. Preying on children apparently makes them feel powerful. Contrary to popular imagination, pedophilia is found more often among heterosexuals than homosexuals. I don't really want to come across as making excuses for this behavior, but... there is a degree to which cultural variation has to be taken into account. There have been many cultures in the past (and a few in the present) where sexuality with adolescent and late prepubescent boys and girls was considered quite acceptable. There are also a number of cultures where stroking a young child's genitals is a way of calming the child! Where the culture supports it, there isn't the kind of psychological damage we usually associate with childhood sex. Quite rightly, I believe, modern cultures see sex with preadolescent children as wrong, and even sex between teenagers and adults as a dangerous misuse of experience and power. The law may sometimes appear arbitrary in making judgments as to who is and who isn't a consenting adult, but that is unavoidable. Some people are unhappy being whatever sex they are. They feel that they were somehow put into the wrong body and want to be the other sex. This is called gender identity disorder. It often involves transvestism – dressing in clothing of opposite sex. Sometimes, though, the person wants to go further and physically change their gender through hormone treatments and surgery. This is called transsexualism. The hormone treatments cause the man to grow breasts and his beard to stop growing, or cause a woman to
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begin growing facial hair and develop a deeper voice. The surgery involved has become quite sophisticated, and they do a decent job in creating a realistic penis for women, or turning an unwanted penis into a fairly functional clitoris and vagina. This, of course, is not done without extensive psychological evaluation: The procedure is not reversible, after all! One interesting note: Transsexualism is not tied to homosexuality. There are men who become women but still are attracted to women, and women who become men but are still attracted to men. Statistics on transsexualism are not available for the U.S. In Europe, however, one out of every 30,000 men and one out of every 100,000 women undergo sex-change surgery.

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Sexual Orientation
The roots of homosexuality are still a mystery – although only a little more a mystery than the origins of heterosexuality! Like almost everything, it is likely to involve both genetic-physiological roots and culturallearning roots. Here are some of the possible factors: First, there may be genetic foundations for homosexuality. J. Michael Bailey and Richard C. Pillard, for example, discovered that 52% of the identical twins of male homosexuals were also homosexual, compared to only 22% of non-identical twins. Likewise, they found that if one identical twin is lesbian, in almost 50% of the cases studied, the other twin is lesbian as well, in comparison to 16% of the non-identical twins. People always ask: If homosexuality is genetic, how does it get passed on to future generations? Homosexuals do have children, of course, but at a considerably lower rate than do heterosexuals. So why hasn't it "evolved out" of us? There are a number of possibilities, but the most obvious one is that the genes responsible for sexual orientation are similar to those simpler genes that account for sickle-cell anemia: If you have a sickle-cell gene from mom and a sickle-cell gene from dad, then you will get sickle-cell anemia, a deadly disease. But the sickle-cell gene remains a part of the population because, if you only have one of them you will be more resistant to malaria! In the same way, if you inherit a "full dose" of genes for homosexuality, you may be less likely to reproduce. But a "half dose" may actually make you more likely to survive and reproduce. Women with some characteristics more associated with men (men's assertiveness, perhaps?) may do better than their more feminine sisters. Likewise, men with some characteristics of women (perhaps more affection for their children?) may do better than their macho brothers. Even with a genetic component to homosexuality, we need to understand that genes are only responsible for the making of proteins, and we still need to explain how a protein can influence our sexual behaviors. One fruitful path is, naturally, the "sex hormones," especially testosterone and estrogen. Estrogen, the female hormone, is the default hormone: If testosterone is not present in a developing fetus, it will develop into a girl, whether it actually has the genetics of a female or not. On the other hand, if testosterone is somehow added to the developing fetus, it will develop testes, a penis, and so on, even if it has the DNA of a female! There are certain circumstances where these events occur, even in human beings. Both men and women have testosterone – it is crucial to growth – but men have something on the order of 100 times the amount. In rats and mice, low levels tend to be associated with lordosis, which is the technical term for the sexual posture that female animals tend to take. High levels in animals is associated with a tendency to mount other animals. Men with higher levels of testosterone tend to have a more masculine appearance, tend to behave in a more masculine fashion, and tend to be more aggressive. Men with less testosterone tend to look and act somewhat more like women, and women with more testosterone than other women tend to look and act somewhat more like men. However, there is no overpowering connection between testosterone levels and homosexuality in human beings: Researchers have found no differences between male homosexuals and heterosexuals when it comes to how much testosterone is circulating in their blood. Apparently, our sexual orientation is a bit more complicated than that of rats and mice! Some other studies suggest that there are differences in the way that men and women respond to estrogen: Women respond by producing more of a pituitary hormone called luteinizing hormone or LH. Men do not. But homosexual men responded more like women, which suggests that homosexual men have a more "female" hypothalamus. We would then expect that lesbians would have a more "male" response, but that is not the case. In fact, they respond with even more production of LH than heterosexual women do – as if they were more "feminine" rather than less! This suggests that homosexuality works differently in men and women.

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There have been studies of brain structures, looking for differences between men and women and between heterosexuals and homosexuals. Some small differences have been tentatively identified, but the research is still only in its early stages. And we have no way yet of knowing if these differences cause the hormonal differences, or are caused by them! Still, the argument that at least a good portion of our sexual orientation is biological is hard to deny. Homosexuals often say that they have felt an attraction to the same sex as long as they can remember. And studies by Martha McClintock and Gilbert Herdt show that both homosexuals and heterosexuals develop attractions to the same or opposite sex at around the age of ten, two or three years before they begin developing the clearer signs of puberty. With heterosexuality our clear cultural norm, we should not see any same-sex attraction if it were only a learned behavior! Instead, we see somewhere between 3 and 10% of the population considering themselves homosexual. (The figures are so ambivalent, no doubt because of that cultural norm!) The relationship between an instinct and upbringing is a matter of imprinting: The precise nature of a complex stimulus is usually not directly supplied in the genetic programming of the brain. It is more efficient to program the brain to attach an instinctual response to a stimulus while experiencing that stimulus. So goslings follow the first large moving object they see, to use the classic example. There is also a critical period involved during which this imprinting occurs. For geese, this is a matter of a couple of days. Freud’s theorizing about sexual orientation is basically the same as this. During a critical period – which he felt was between the ages of three and six – sexual orientation is fixed by a complex process of family relations he called the Oedipal crisis. A young boy begins by being attached to his mother. As he gets older, he acknowledges his father’s priority in relation to mom, and substitutes girls and later women for mom as his primary sexual interest, and begins to identify with his father, from whom he learns what it means to be male. A similar process, with complications, occurs in young girls. Freud’s explanation is muddied by his use of the bizarre concepts of castration anxiety (the supposed fear boys have of losing their penis) and penis envy (the supposed desire girls have for growing one). Like most psychologists, I don’t agree with too much of Freud’s theory. But there is some sense in it: I suggest that, by the age of 3 or 4, social learning has already informed the child of their gender, and has (for most) strongly reinforced identifying with the same sex parent. The relation between mom and dad becomes the model for the child, and later sexual fantasy centers around the gender of the opposite sex parent. This may be reinforced by the opposite sex parent playing the part of "role reactor," that is, by engaging in nonsexual flirtation with the child ("daddy’s girl" and "momma’s little man," and the like). Freud once said that infants are "polymorphously perverse," by which he meant that they enjoy sensual pleasure in any form, from any source. I agree with him on this. It takes the imprinting process to focus our sensual, and later sexual, enjoyments on one gender or the other. If that imprinting process is disturbed in some fashion from the culturally traditional one we just talked about, we may find the child tending towards sexual orientations other than the purely heterosexual. This could happen in many ways:

• • • •

The child may be encouraged to identify with the opposite sex by a parent or parents who act as if he or she in fact were the opposite sex, such as by dressing the child accordingly. The child may more subtly be swayed by the overvaluing of the opposite sex by one or both of the parents. There may not be one or another of the parents to identify with and learn the heterosexual roles, or a parent who can play role-reactor. One or the other of the parents may themselves not demonstrate the usual heterosexual cultural stereotype, such as with feminine fathers and masculine mothers. The parent of the opposite sex may be a far more powerful model than the one of the same sex, such as when a girl identifies with a charismatic father, or a boy with a charismatic mother. A boy in a large family of girls, or a girl in a large family of boys may find themselves
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

overwhelmed by role models of the opposite sex. (Note that, while I use words like parents and mom and dad, the same roles in the family dynamic may be taken up by other relatives and close non-relatives.) If we take both the genetic-hormonal explanation and the family-learning explanation into account, we may have the beginnings of an understanding of homosexuality (and heterosexuality): A boy or girl who leans towards homosexuality biologically, and who has a family situation that encourages that leaning, is more likely to grow up gay or lesbian or bisexual. One who has neither the biological tendency nor the family situation is more likely to grow up straight. There is one thing I can say about homosexuality with great confidence: Being homosexual in no way makes you less of a human being, less worthy of respect, less deserving of dignity. Homosexuals have contributed enormously to humanity, from the great artists Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to present day entertainers like Lily Tomlin, Elton John, Freddy Mercury, and Ellen Degeneres, and a million more in between! Those who looked down on gays and lesbians are only revealing their own ignorance.

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Human happiness seems to be strongly tied to having close and satisfying relationships with friends, family, and, of course, a partner. The desire for a partner is so powerful in human beings that one writer suggested the basic unit of human life is not the individual, but the couple. Love is basically a matter of caring about someone else's well-being as much or more than you care about your own. If they feel pain or sadness, you suffer with them. If they find happiness, you feel happy for them. Strong love even involves sacrificing your own happiness – and even sometimes your own life – for the other person. There have been many suggestions as to various types of love. For example, some have differentiated between romantic love, which is based on passion, companionate love, which is based on companionship and commitment, and consummate love, which has both. Another way to classify love is in terms of the people involved. Parental love, subdivided into maternal and paternal love, is the love a parent feels for his or her children. Filial love is in turn the love a child has for his or her parents. Friendship is, of course, the love good friends feel for each other. And another form of love is compassion, which isn't tied to any one person but rather is felt towards all people and sometimes even all life. The love we feel for that "special someone" is no doubt the most complex, involving as it does, intimacy, passion, and commitment. We traditionally think of it as heterosexual, but the exact same feelings occur in homosexual relationships. Love between parent and child very clearly has some biological roots. There is a similarity between the attachment between parent and child and the instinctual behaviors of animals that makes that obvious. However, human beings never seem to be totally determined by instincts, and we have countless cases of people who treat their children or their parents very badly. Love between friends seems to begin with commonalities: We are attracted to people who are similar to us. Because we share certain qualities, being with others like us validates us, gives us a sense of worth. After all, they like us, and we like them, so we must be okay. Of course, things are rarely simple with people: Sometimes we are attracted to people precisely because of our differences. In some cases, it's a matter of wishing you were more like the other person. In other cases, you feel a strong sense of comradery, not because you are similar, but because both of you are so different from everyone else around you! When it comes to the love between partners, it usually begins with some degree of sexual attraction, along with the kinds of things that attract one to potential friends. It is likely that some of this love is instinctual, in the same way that the love between parents and children is partially instinctual. After all, many animals seem to bond in the same way. The biological purpose of the bonding may be reproduction, but that bond may extend far beyond. Over time, the love between partners is likely to become somewhat less sexual and more companionate, but the long-term intimacy has a special warmth of its own. We all know people who don't even seem to get along, and yet love each other very much! On the other hand, contrary to what young people often assume, many couples retain a degree of passion in their relationship well into old age! Love is a tough subject to do research on: How do you measure it? How can you do experiments on it? Many
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

have found that it is more fruitful to take a phenomenological approach, which means carefully describing aspects of the experience of love in all its forms. The following three essays came out of the work of many students in my Qualitative Methods classes. They are merely "sketches" and are biased in many ways – most particularly by the population who produced them (college students in central PA). But they certainly are a step in the right direction. They are descriptions of romance, sexual desire, and falling in love. Which do you think is most closely related to love itself?

Romance is a mood or state of mind akin to several others, including love, friendship, sexual interest, contentment, self-assuredness, and so on. It is normally experienced in the context of a male-female relationship, although it may be experienced in other ways, such as in fantasy, expectation, or possibility. It may also be experienced vicariously, such as when watching a romantic movie or real couples in romantic situations. It is even experienced occasionally with same sex friends or relations. It is, more specifically, associated with courtship and with the intimations of sexuality that go with it. It is itself, however, not primarily sexual. In fact, it often has an innocent feel to it, and is associated with "puppy" love, first love, early flirtations, and the like. Romance often involves courtship symbols, traditions, and stereotypes, such as flowers, gifts, hand-holding, candle-lit dinners, "romantic" music, .... These, however, are not essential, but rather seem to derive fom certain natural ways of expressing romantic feelings. Once upon a time, they were probably original! These symbols, etc., are now often used to "set the stage" for romance. The romantic state of mind seems to come on rather suddenly, a matter of rather abruptly becoming aware of being in a romantic moment. It very often involves surprise. This is where many of the aforementioned symbols come into play: Romance often involves being surprised by signs of someone's affection, whether it be in the form of a gift, a helping hand, an appreciative glace, a confidence shared, or what have you. Associated with surprise is the sense of great motion, lightness, being swept up in the moment, or swept off your feet! On the other hand, some people instead focus on a feeling of steadiness and solidity, reflecting the firmness of a commitment or the solidity of a relationship, especially in adversity. The ligtness in oneself and the steadiness of the other are by no means incompatible. There is often a degree of gender stereotyping involved in romance: "He made me feel pretty, feminine.... He is my knight in shining armor.... He swept me off my feet.... I found comfort in his broad shoulders...." These comments are used to good advantage in romance novels, but have their sources in ordinary experience. In men, we find similar statements, in reverse: "She made me feel strong, like a real man...." Please note that this is not to be understood as a "power thing," but rather an awareness of the need to care for a woman, to "nurture." The connection with courtship seems quite strong, despite the many exceptions. The mood may come upon both people naturally, but it is often "arranged for" by one or the other. The structure of the romantic episode seems best left simple and it is greatly enhanced by at least the appearance
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

of spontaneity. Circumstances can be very important. A small gesture or sign of support in adverse circumstances can be far more valuable than great generosity in good circumstances. Romance seems, in fact, to thrive on adversity, as in our common recollections of our "poor days." This introduces as well the symbolism of the hero and the fair maiden in fairy tales. Selfless help in adversity, revealing deep affection, is a theme common to most fairy tales, many movies, and many real-life romantic moments as well. The key feeling would seem to be one of a heightened self-worth seen as coming from the other person. Examples would include feeling especially attractive, important, strong, interesting, intelligent, and so on. Even the sense that one has been involved in something important can bring on a sense of romance. The increase in self-worth, curiously, results in an increase in one's valuing of or affection for the other. Paradoxically, these feelings can also occur in reverse, so that coming upon the other person in circumstances that lead you to particularly value him or her may lead to feelings of strength, security, confidence, etc., and this too is felt as romantic! Common to both is the sense of being fortunate or lucky to be you, to be there, to be with this person. Other aspects of a romantic mental state include (a) lightness, airiness, giddiness, a glow, excitement, enchantment, joking and laughing; (b) coziness, cuddling, contentment, comfort, closeness; and (c) riskiness, danger, and naughtiness. Set (a) seems most common, with the others being variation, and (c) being the least common, but certainly not rare. The essence of romance seems to be the sudden discovery or bringing to awareness (whether by accident or by arrrangement) of your importance or value to another, along with an awareness of their value to you. It is a confirmation that one is "lovable" or worthy of affection, whether in the eyes of a desirable young man or woman or in the context of a long comfortable marriage. This confirmation comes with many of the qualities associated with other kinds of "ego-transcendence" or "ego-expansion," such as love itself: By losing yourself in your affection for another, you become stronger as an individual.

Sexual Desire
The external focus is, of course, the other. To some degree, he or she must be a certain "type"–that is, must fulfill your anticipations, expectations, ideas about the sexually-desirable other. A lot of variation shows up here: body (strength, curves, "buns" or "boobs"), face, health, cleanliness, clothing, "style," maturity, gentleness, "perfect partner." The internal focus is on feelings: yearning, lust, attraction, wistfulness–varying as to aggressiveness. Many people feel "weak," faint, butterflies, daydreamy. Whether "strong" or "weak," both seem to refer to being carried away by your feelings. The feelings definitely "look forward" to fulfillment. Desire is not just felt – it demands, motivates. Images include future smells, touches, interaction. Thoughts are of the future, wish-making, etc. Some feel anxiety, feelings of not being "good-enough," potential for let-down, fear of rejection, hopelessness. Fear of STDs, AIDS, and pregnancy were mentioned. Some guilt is possible as well: moral questions, desire as unfaithfulness to another (even when not acted on)... The physical context often involves "romantic" settings – lowlight, soft music – or "hot" settings–lots of people, sexy clothing, hard rock, dancing. Either way, the desire tends to be stronger in intimate situations, closeness. Note that sometimes desire is accidental – you just notice someone – and sometimes there is seeking. When
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

we seek others, it can be quite different if we are looking for a "one-night stand" or a long-term relationship. Thoughts about potential for "scoring" are common when short-term relations are being sought. "Horniness" or recent sexual activity, seasons, time of day, menstrual cycle were all mentioned. Mood is usually "up," but many find that sexual desire changes moods. The transitions into "desire" often include eye-contact, certain bodylanguage, the sidelong glance, smiles. Slight body contact intensifies desire, as do smells. Regarding the transition of feelings into desire, we first feel a fairly physical attraction–focussed attention, openning your eyes and other senses to the other person. Many feel a "love high"–with weak knees, butterflies, thoughts of romance and even future marriage! Eventually we move into involvement when, after increasing interaction, we believe the other is also interested. It is noted that we often misread these "signals" of mutual interest! With increasing involvement, we begin to reveal ourselves – talk about our interests, later very private things. We become more open emotionally and physically (e.g. body language) – often touching. The desire involves trust – making yourself vulnerable – especially for women. Men seem more involved in encouraging trust and offer "protective" body language (i.e. my strength is for you, not against you). Courtship is a dance! To maintain the interaction, we need compatability, good conversation, humor, signs of strength of character (with differences in male and female expression of strength). Desire is "fulfilled" by romantic and/or sexual activity–or ruined by rejection (nasty looks, insults...), disappointment (realization that first impressions were incorrect), distraction, anxiety, and guilt. Within a relationship, sexual desire is often "ready" to reenter awareness at the slightest provocation–things like mutuality become assumed. When deprived, desire also "pops" into awareness frequently and persistently. Sexual desire can be very distracting. It can turn you into a babbling idiot. What is essential? (1) Another person that fulfills your expectations regarding sexual desirability. (2) Feelings of arousal, ranging from the "weak" feelings of romance to strong sexual preparedness–in both cases, feelings of being "carried away." (3) A fulfillment orientation, future directedness, "yearning." (4) An increasing openness to the other person. What is incompatable? Certain appearances and behaviors, unpleasant environments, fatigue or illness, anxiety, guilt, rejection. (It should be noted that the participants were mostly college-aged and single. Experiences of sexual desire as an older person in a long-term relationship were only available to a couple of participants.)

Falling in Love
I am quickly, almost physically, "hit" by the feeling. My focus is on her face, and especially her eyes. Her return of my gaze is the crucial turning point. There's a certain hesitancy – I glance away and back. These feelings make me somewhat uncomfortable. There's a degree of shame – like being caught in the nude. There's a sense of vulnerability – what is happening to me? I feel a desire to surrender, but I am afraid of losing my self or identity, and more immediately, my self-esteem. Sexuality is "on the horizon" – it's not the focus, but I am aware of it. I think, for example, of sleeping with her – literally sleeping, laying side-by-side. I have strong images of her surrendering to me – collapsing in my arms, proclaiming her eternal devotion. I
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

am aware of my maleness – my relative height, strength – as I am aware of her femaleness. I want to protect her, care for her. And yet I feel peculiarly "feminine" – weak, needing her more than she needs me. Bodily, I feel soft, "oozy." I feel butterflies in my stomach, my knees at the verge of collapsing. Everything is effortful. I need to maintain a certain tension just to keep standing. I'm afraid of falling, literally as well as figuratively. My attention is focussed on her. The rest of life is merely background. I am "dazed," "drunk with love," absent minded. She, on the other hand, fills my mind. Details of her appearance and behavior stand out. The details are terribly important to me: Does she want something? Is something wrong? Heaven forbid she should be uncomfortable or in need! I feel a cheerful slavishness, a great desire to please, even at the cost of my own immediate self-interest. Yet she, too, is for the most part hazy, cloudy, ethereal, "spiritual." I have a hard time recalling her face. I can't remember what she wore. I do know, clearly, that she is too good for this world (and me). The whole experience (and the days that follow) is dreamy. I feel detached, "out of myself." My focus on myself is rather from her point-of-view (as I imagine it, anyway). Am I doing this right? What must she think of me? Does she like me, really? Or is it just pity? There's a tension, a restraint, in my behavior, which leaves me clumsier than ever. There's a conflict between my efforts at liberally – without restraint – doing for her, and doing "right," looking good, maintaining composure. I'm so conscious of her gaze that I can barely walk! As time goes on, there are some new occurances: I'm still dazed, but now I feel light-headed, as if gravity were reversed. I float. I have a constant desire to hold and touch her – though sex is still not terribly urgent. I am moody. Intrusions into my walking dream state offend me. I alternate between a rather dopey cheeriness and anxiety, even occasional depression. I'm afraid of losing her. What is she doing now? Sometimes I feel so inferior, so worthless. I punish myself. I have great feelings of pride about her. I like to "show her off" (my "better half"). Her accomplishments and qualitites are so impressive. I work harder, so she can be proud of me, but I feel deficient anyway, undeserving. But if she does show pride in me, I'm in heaven. These "heavenly" feelings are most intense when we hold each other and gaze into each others' eyes. There's a loss of self and a sense of "we-ness" that seems to go beyond "ego-boundaries." I'm not alone anymore. I didn't realize before this that I was alone! Loneliness has more meaning after falling in love. Being an individual is no longer enough. What happens to it (the experience of falling in love)? I return eventually to a more commonplace reality. The "falling" becomes occasional, more or less brief rekindlings. It is good to know that it is still there. The essence of falling in love seems to lie in a diminished consciousness of the boundaries between self and other, and a corresponding increase in the breadth and quality of consciousness.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Learning and Memory

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Whatever the possible instinctual component to human life, it is very clear that learning is the predominant component. And it isn't just that we do more learning than most animals; we even do it in more different ways! All learning ultimately boils down to association and differentiation. These are the two basic mechanisms of learning (and memory) that have been proposed over the centuries. Association is learning that two somethings go together. for example, we learn that spoons go with knives, cups go with saucers, thunder follows lightning, pain follows injury, and so on. Differentiation is learning to distinguish one something from another. We learn that green, not red, means go, that cats, not dogs, have sharp claws, that soft speech, not yelling, is approved of by one’s elders, that birds have feathers but reptiles don’t. It is clear that association and differentiation are two sides of the same coin, but sometimes one is more obvious, and sometimes the it’s the other. There are several things that help us to retain associations and differentiations: The first is obvious: Repetition or rehearsal. Practice makes perfect! Then there are things like vividness and intensity: We are more likely to remember someone's name if they are loud and colorful than if they are quiet and ordinary. And finally we have conditioning, that is, associating the whole association or differentiation with something that motivates us, whether it be food, companionship, money, a sense of pride, a fear of pain, or whatever. The simplest kind of learning, which we share with all animals, we could call environmental: On the basis of your present understanding or knowledge, you anticipate certain things or act in a certain way – but the world doesn't meet with your expectations. So, after various other anticipations and actions, you adapt, develop a new understanding, gain new knowledge. Environmental conditioning adds a positive or negative consequence to the learning that stamps it in: You run, expecting a 100 yards of open field, when you suddenly smack into a tree you hadn't noticed. You will be more careful in the future! For a social animal, much of this learning comes from others – i.e. it is social conditioning, also known as rewards and punishments. So, instead of learning not to run across streets by getting run-over, you learn by getting punished as you begin to run across the street. Or, instead of learning sex roles by accident (!), you are gently shaped by signs of social approval: "My, aren’t you pretty!” or "Here’s my little man!” Historically, there have been two forms of conditioning that have been the focus of pretty intense study: Classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning
Classical (or Pavlovian) conditioning builds on reflexes: We begin with an unconditioned stimulus (ucs) and an unconditioned response (ucr) – a reflex! We then associate a neutral stimulus (ns) with the reflex by presenting it with the unconditioned stimulus. Over a number of repetitions, the neutral stimulus by itself will elicit the response! At this point, the neutral stimulus is renamed the conditioned stimulus (cs), and the response is called the conditioned response (cr). Or, to put it in the form that Pavlov observed in his dogs, some meat powder on the tongue makes a dog salivate. Ring a bell at the same time, and after a few repetitions,
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

the dog will salivate upon hearing the bell alone – without being given the meat powder! The dog associates the ringing of a bell with the presentation of food. The meat powder is the unconditioned stimulus and the salivating is, at first, the unconditioned responses. At first the bell is a neutral stimulus, but after conditioning, it becomes the conditioned stimulus and the salivating becomes the conditioned response. Classical conditioning can work on any reflex, including the orienting reflex (which makes you pay attention to new stimuli), the startle reflex (which makes you jump at disturbing stimuli), emotional reflexes (such as fear), and taste aversions (such as a distaste for sour or bitter). The first American follower of Pavlov was John Watson. His best known experiment was conducted in 1920. "Little” Albert B, an 11 month old child, was conditioned to fear a white rat by pairing it with a loud noise (which leads to the startle reflex, i.e. a good scare). His fear quickly generalized to white rabbits, fur coats, and even cotton. Later, another child, three year old Peter, was gradually "de-conditioned” from his fear of white rabbits by pairing white rabbits with milk and cookies and other positive things. But we should note that, even if they didn't "de-condition" him, he would have eventually lost his fear, a process called extinction.

Operant Conditioning
Operant (or Skinnerian) conditioning is based on consequences: The organism is in the process of "operating” on the environment, which in ordinary terms means it is bouncing around it world, doing what it does. During this "operating,” the organism encounters a special kind of stimulus, called a reinforcing stimulus, or simply a reinforcer. This special stimulus has the effect of increasing the likelihood of the behavior which occured just before the reinforcer. This is operant conditioning: "the behavior is followed by a consequence, and the nature of the consequence modifies the organisms tendency to repeat the behavior in the future.” Imagine a rat in a cage. This is a special cage (called, in fact, a "Skinner box”) that has a bar or pedal on one wall that, when pressed, causes a little mechanism to release a foot pellet into the cage. The rat is bouncing around the cage, doing whatever it is rats do, when he accidentally presses the bar and – hey, presto! – a food pellet falls into the cage! The operant is the behavior just prior to the reinforcer, which is the food pellet, of course. In no time at all, the rat is furiously peddling away at the bar, hoarding his pile of pellets in the corner of the cage. A behavior followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future. What if you don’t give the rat any more pellets? Apparently, he’s no fool, and after a few futile attempts, he stops his bar-pressing behavior. This is called extinction of the operant behavior. A behavior no longer followed by the reinforcing stimulus results in a decreased probability of that behavior occurring in the future. Now, if you were to turn the pellet machine back on, so that pressing the bar again provides the rat with pellets, the behavior of bar-pushing will "pop” right back into existence, much more quickly than it took for the rat to learn the behavior the first time. This is because the return of the reinforcer takes place in the context of a reinforcement history that goes all the way back to the very first time the rat was reinforced for pushing on the bar! A question Skinner had to deal with was how we get to more complex sorts of behaviors. He responded with the idea of shaping, or "the method of successive approximations.” Basically, it involves first reinforcing a behavior only vaguely similar to the one desired. Once that is established, you look out for variations that
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

come a little closer to what you want, and so on, until you have the animal performing a behavior that would never show up in ordinary life. Skinner and his students have been quite successful in teaching simple animals to do some quite extraordinary things. My favorite is teaching pigeons to bowl! I used shaping on one of my daughters once. She was about three or four years old, and was afraid to go down a particular slide. So I picked her up, put her at the end of the slide, asked if she was okay and if she could jump down. She did, of course, and I showered her with praise. I then picked her up and put her a foot or so up the slide, asked her if she was okay, and asked her to slide down and jump off. So far so good. I repeated this again and again, each time moving her a little up the slide, and backing off if she got nervous. Eventually, I could put her at the top of the slide and she could slide all the way down and jump off. Unfortunately, she still couldn’t climb up the ladder, so I was a very busy father for a while. Beyond these fairly simple examples, shaping also accounts for the most complex of behaviors. You don’t, for example, become a brain surgeon by stumbling into an operating theater, cutting open someone's head, successfully removing a tumor, and being rewarded with prestige and a hefty paycheck, along the lines of the rat in the Skinner box. Instead, you are gently shaped by your environment to enjoy certain things, do well in school, take a certain bio class, see a doctor movie perhaps, have a good hospital visit, enter med school, be encouraged to drift towards brain surgery as a speciality, and so on. This could be something your parents were carefully doing to you, ala a rat in a cage. But much more likely, this is something that was more or less unintentional. Notice also that sometimes things actually become reinforcers by association. Money, for example, is highly reinforcing for most of us. Skinner would explain that by pointing out that, originally, money was just something that you use to buy things that are more directly, physically, reinforcing. These learned reinforcers are called secondary reinforcers. And then there is punishment. If you shock a rat for doing x, it’ll do a lot less of x. If you spank Johnny for throwing his toys he will throw his toys less and less (maybe). Punishment usually involves an aversive stimulus is the opposite of a reinforcing stimulus, something we might find unpleasant or painful. A behavior followed by an aversive stimulus results in a decreased probability of the behavior occurring in the future. On the other hand, if you remove an already active aversive stimulus after a rat or Johnny performs a certain behavior, you are doing negative reinforcement. If you turn off the electricity when the rat stands on his hind legs, he’ll do a lot more standing. If you stop your perpetually nagging when I finally take out the garbage, I’ll be more likely to take out the garbage (perhaps). You could say it "feels so good” when the aversive stimulus stops, that this serves as a reinforcer! This is how a cat or a dog (or you) learns to come in out fo the rain. Behavior followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus results in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future. Notice how difficult it can be to distinguish some forms of negative reinforcement from positive reinforcement: If I starve you, is the food I give you when you do what I want a positive – i.e. a reinforcer? Or is it the removal of a negative – i.e. the aversive stimulus of hunger? Skinner (contrary to some stereotypes that have arisen about behaviorists) doesn’t "approve” of the use of aversive stimuli – not because of ethics, but because they don’t work well! Notice that I said earlier that Johnny will maybe stop throwing his toys, and that I perhaps will take out the garbage? That’s because whatever was reinforcing the bad behaviors hasn’t been removed, as it would’ve been in the case of extinction. This hidden reinforcer has just been "covered up” with a conflicting aversive stimulus. So, sure, sometimes Johnny will behave – but it still feels good to throw those toys! All Johnny needs to do is wait till you’re out of the room, or find a way to blame it on his brother, or in some way escape the consequences, and he’s back to his old ways.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Higher forms of learning
Not everyone got caught up in the spirit of behaviorism, though. The Gestalt psychologists (the same ones who explored perception) noticed that a lot of the "behavior" didn't have to actually happen physically: People could cognitively work their way through a problem. This was labelled insight learning. One of the original Gestaltists, Wolfgang Kóhler, got stuck on one of the Canary Islands off of Africa during World War I. While there, he studied the local chimpanzees. He would set up problems for them to solve, such as hanging bananas out of reach. The Chimps would quickly learn to use some of the things he provided for them, like boxes they could stack or poles they could insert into other poles to make longer ones. One chimp in particular, named Sultan, was particularly good at solving these problems. He would literally sit and think about the situation, then suddenly get up and create a new tool to get the object of his desires – the bananas. Even some behaviorists were interested in atypical examples of learning. E. C. Tolman, for example, noted that rats, like people, can learn about their environment without any obvious reinforcement. Put a rat in a maze (no cheese at the end, please!) and let him wander. Later, introduce some kind of reward at the end, and the rats got to it in no time at all. They had, of course, already learned the maze. He called the learning latent learning, and suggested that the rats had formed a cognitive map in their little minds! Another ability common to social animals is the ability to learn by observing others. There is, for example, vicarious learning: If you see a fellow creature get hurt or do well, get punished or rewarded, etc., for some action, you can "identify" with that fellow creature and learn from it's experiences. Even more important is the ability called imitation (sometimes called modeling). We not only learn about the consequences of behaviors by watching others (as in vicarious learning), we learn the behaviors themselves as well! Parents are often uncomfortably surprised by how much their children turn out to be just like them, despite all their efforts to turn them into better people. And children are often surprised at how similar they are to their parents, despite all their efforts to turn out different. I would say, with no hesitation, that imitation is the single most significant way of learning human beings use. The person most famous for his studies of imitation is Albert Bandura. And, of the hundreds of studies Bandura was responsible for, one group stands out above the others – the bobo doll studies. He made of film of one of his students, a young woman, essentially beating up a bobo doll. In case you don’t know, a bobo doll is an inflatable, egg-shape balloon creature with a weight in the bottom that makes it bob back up when you knock him down. Nowadays, it might have Darth Vader painted on it, but back then it was simply "Bobo” the clown. The woman punched the clown, shouting "sockeroo!” She kicked it, sat on it, hit with a little hammer, and so on, shouting various aggressive phrases. Bandura showed his film to groups of kindergartners who, as you might predict, liked it a lot. They then were let out to play. In the play room, of course, were several observers with pens and clipboards in hand, a brand new bobo doll, and a few little hammers. And you might predict as well what the observers recorded: A lot of little kids beating the daylights out of the bobo doll. They punched it and shouted "sockeroo,” kicked it, sat on it, hit it with the little hammers, and so on. In other words, they imitated the young lady in the film, and quite precisely at that. This might seem like a real nothing of an experiment at first, but consider: These children changed their behavior without first being rewarded for approximations to that behavior! And while that may not seem extraordinary to the average parent, teacher, or casual observer of children, it didn’t fit so well with standard behavioristic learning theory, Pavlovian or Skinnerian! For a social animal capable of language, social learning can be even further removed from immediate
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

environmental feedback. We can, for example, learn by means of warnings, recommendations, threats, and promises. Even creatures without language can communicate these things (through growls and purrs and hisses and the like). But language turns it into a fine art. And finally, we can learn from descriptions of behaviors, which we can "imitate" as if we had observed them, for example when we read a "how to” book (preferably for "dummies!”). This is usually called symbolic learning. Further, we can learn whole complexes of behaviors, thoughts, and feelings such as beliefs, belief systems, attitudes, and values. It's curious how much we talk about conditioning and modeling in psychology, when we spend so much of our lives in school – that is, involved in symbolic learning!

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

The traditional approach to memory divides it into three parts. The first part is called sensory memory. It is an experience that lasts for a very short time because it takes a second or two for the sensory neurons and the neurons that come right after them to recover from stimulation. If you look at a window, then shut your eyes tight, you will still see the window for a moment, and then see a reversed image of the window (where white becomes black, red becomes green, blue becomes yellow, and so on). Then it all fades back to black. This visual sensory memory is also called iconic memory, and last less than a second. Do you remember when you were little and you played with sparklers on the fourth of July? Remember making circles or writing your name in the air? You could actually see the circle or the name! That's because the information was still in your neurons. The auditory version is called echoic memory, and it lasts three or four seconds. Did you ever have someone tell you something while you were distracted, turn to them and say "excuse me?" only to "hear" what they said? Of course you have! That's echoic memory. Other senses have similar forms of sensory memory. This is not, of course, what most of us think of as memory at all. It is really more an aspect of perception. The next kind of memory is called short-term memory. Nowadays, it is more often called working memory. It is the aspect of memory that you are aware of, or can bring back very quickly and easily. A decent analogy is to the working memory or RAM of a computer. If you read a telephone number in the phone book, you can keep it in your short-term memory for about 10 to 20 seconds. If you repeat it over and over, you can hold on to it longer. If you are anything like me, you will forget it before your reach the phone anyway! Besides being brief, short term memory is limited in capacity. It can hold "7 plus or minus 2” chunks of information, that is, from 5 to 9 "things.” Notice that phone numbers are 7 numbers long – just about the right length to keep in mind for a bit. Social security numbers are 9 numbers long, and that is a strain for many of us. One thing that helps is that the "chunks” can be of different sizes themselves. So, while a series of random letters, like ibmfbiciajfklsdnow..., are pretty difficult to remember, they become much easier to remember if you "chunk” them further: IBM FBI CIA JFK LSD NOW.... Short-term memory isn't really a place where things are temporarily stored. It is actually more a matter of temporary cycles of neural excitement that, if repeated often enough, eventually leave their mark as more permanent memory. This last kind of memory is long-term memory. As the name implies, this contains the memories that we hang on to for a long time – our whole lives, often enough. It is also enormous in capacity – more room than we ever need! Long term memory is a little like the hard drive on your computer. And you may have noticed that, once we are talking about gigabytes, you rarely have to worry about running out of room. Moving things from short-term to long-term memory is called encoding. One thing that helps encode information is repetition or rehearsal. Repeat that poem or list of French words over and over, and eventually, the short-term cycles become permanent. Three additional significant things that help us encode are organization, meaningfulness, and imagery. It helps, for example, to put things into headings and subheadings, or to use outlines to organize difficult material. Likewise, you may have noticed that it is easier to remember things that are relevant to you, that have meaning for you: stuff about your family rather than others’ families, or classes in your major rather than "gen ed” classes, and so on. And if you can visualize the information, you will remember it even better. It seems that human beings are very visual creatures.

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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Cognitive Structure
We often think of memory as involving storing stuff in the brain or mind, but that's just a metaphor. In a very real sense, there is "nothing" in the mind, no thing that is except relationships (as the linguist Hjelmslev once said). It is difficult to describe something so complex, fluid, and ever-changing as these knowledge-relationships we have. We psychologists have drawn a little inspiration from linguistics, and as long as we remember that we are talking metaphorically, we have a nice model of the mind... When we use these linguistic models, we talk about our cognitive structure (or our construction system), and the components or "basic building blocks” of this cognitive structure we call concepts (or constructs, contrasts, dimensions, categories...). Concepts are ways we have of organizing what we have learned from our experiences. Concepts treat a variety of experiences as equivalent in some way: It could be features or qualities these experiences have in common, or their general similarity to some "prototype," or some way in which we, the conceptualizers, relate to the experiences – something like Gibson's affordances. Birds’ feathers are an example of a feature. Coins are gold or silver colored – this is a quality of theirs. A robin or a sparrow are more prototypical birds – ostriches and penguins are not so obvious. A chair is anything we use to sit upon (something that affords sitting-upon). Please note that these concepts need not be verbal: A cat knows the difference between the expensive cat food and the cheap stuff, yet can't tell you about it; an infant knows who mommy is, long before he or she can say the word; wild animals contrast safe areas and dangerous ones, etc. Even adult humans sometimes "just know" without being about to say: What is it about that person that you like or dislike? It may be quite difficult to put into words. Concepts don't just float around independently, either. We interrelate and organize them. For example, we can define some category of things by combining various concepts: "Women are adult female human beings." Or we can go a step further and organize things into taxonomies, those treelike structures we come across in biology: A Siamese is a kind of cat, which is a kind of carnivore, which is a kind of mammal, which is a kind of vertebrate... Both of these – definitions and taxonomies – are contained in what is called semantic memory*.
* Image: Collins, A.M. And Quillian, M.R. (1969). Retrieval Time from Semantic Memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 8 (2) 240-247. 101 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Or we can put contrasts into structures that involve steps one must take, as well as definitions, like rules. These are often called schemas or scripts. You can find explicit examples in books about card games, etiquette, or grammar; but you know quite a few rule systems yourself, even if they have become so automatic as to be nearly unconscious! You know how to drive a car, play rugby, ride a bike, hammer a nail, and so on, without giving them much thought. All of these skills, rules, schemas, and scripts are included in what is called procedural memory. Not all organization of contrasts are so tightly structured. We can describe something: "Women are delicate." As the example is intended to suggest, descriptions, as opposed to definitions, don't necessarily have to be true! Beliefs are similar to, but looser than, taxonomies. They don't have to be true, either. Whereas birds definitely (i.e. by definition) are vertebrates and have feathers, it is only a belief that says they all fly – you could be wrong! Stereotypes are examples of beliefs; so are opinions. But some beliefs are so strongly held that we see them as definite. This is a common cause for arguments – and wars! There are also narratives – the stories we have in our minds. These are temporal, like rules, but are amazingly flexible. They can be a matter of remembered personal experiences, or memorized history lessons, or pure fiction. I have a suspicion that these contribute greatly to our sense of identity, and that animals don't have them to the degree we do. This is called episodic memory.

The Brain
Memory clearly involves physical changes in the brain – most likely some kind of facilitation at the synapse: Repeated experiences increase the efficiency of certain synapses by "pulling” receptor sites and axon endings closer together, as well as making the receptor neuron more sensitive over the long run. This is called long term potentiation. Procedural memory often involves the cerebellum, which makes sense in that many of our rule systems involve movement. This may explain infantile amnesia – the fact that most of us cannot remember much that happened before our second birthday: If these early memories are mostly procedural, they may not be easily available to "higher" parts of the brain. Both semantic and episodic memory involve the hippocampus. The hippocampus seems to be involved in short term or working memory, and seems to be responsible for the transfer the information to the cerebral cortex, which is clearly the locus of most of our long term memory. If there is damage to the hippocampus, we have trouble developing new semantic and episodic memories. If the damage is to the left half of the hippocampus, it is verbal memory that is most affected. If the damage is to the right half, it is spatial memory that is affected. The hippocampus is also a part of the limbic system, and as such it shows why there is such a powerful relationship between emotional situations and strong memories. Exceptionally clear memories of emotional events, ones that have a near-photographic quality, are know as flashbulb memories.

Remembering and Forgetting
Remembering (often called retrieval in research literature) comes in two forms: recall and recognition. Recognition is the easier one: We recognize our friend when we see him coming down the road. Recall is more effortful, and involves mentally rebuilding the experience. It is a myth that we have everything in our heads like a motion picture. Really, we only have a certain amount of "information” in the form of neural
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

connections, which we use to reconstruct our memories. There is a degree to which we tend to forget things as we get older, and there is some loss of neurons as we age. And there are drugs (such as alcohol) and diseases (such as Alzheimer's) that can dramatically speed that loss along. Amnesia is what we call the more dramatic loses of memory, whether temporary or permanent. The most dramatic examples occur after serious trauma to the head such as sometimes occur with car accidents or gun shots to the head. The usual kind of amnesia is called retrograde amnesia, where you can't remember past events. It is usually episodic memory (memories of events in your life, or even of your identity). We seem to retain things like our skills, the ability to speak, definitions of words, and so on. Anterograde amnesia, on the other hand, means you can't make new memories. As mentioned above, the hippocampus plays a big role here. A person with anterograde amnesia remembers their past, but will lose his or her experience of all new events in a matter of minutes. If you introduce yourself and have a nice conversation with such a person, then leave and come back ten minutes later, they will act as if they had never met you. In their minds, they never have! A good movie that plays on this is Memento. But there is nothing amusing about this disorder. Most of these people wind up in an institution, living each day as if it were the first since their accident. Most of our day-to-day forgetting seems to be a matter of interference. In other words, there is so much stuff in your head that it is hard to separate one thing from another. It's like trying to find something in a particularly messy attic: It's not that the stuff isn't there somewhere, it's just that you can't access it. Proactive interference is when an older memory interferes with remembering a newer memory. If you take a French lesson after taking a Spanish lesson, some of your Spanish may creep into your French. It is harder to remember that the word for man is now homme, not hombre! Retroactive interference is when newer memories interfere with older ones. When you talk to your friend Juan right after your French class, you may tend to say homme instead of hombre. Interference is really a simple idea – sort of like how its hard to find things when your hard-drive is stuffed full of files, or your room is filled with junk. One of the biggest controversies in psychology today concerns repression. Repression is the idea, promoted by Sigmund Freud, that we push painful memories out of our awareness and into a deep, dark place called "the unconscious mind." This is why traditionally we talk about going to a therapist to try to recover these traumatic memories so we can deal with them. There have even been some therapists who use hypnosis to recover repressed memories. Unfortunately, some of the people who remembered terrible things like being abused as children were discovered to have created these memories under pressure (unintentional, we hope) from their therapists! Some parents were even sent to jail because of their adult children's "recovered memories.” But research indicates that not only is there very little evidence of repressed traumatic memories, but trauma – with its emotional intensity – actually makes memories harder to forget! Remember "flashbulb" memories? Of course, people really do get abused, and other traumatic things do happen to people. There have been people who have recovered memories and whose memories have been confirmed. So it is a difficult issue that has yet to be decided. But, as I said earlier, memories are not like films. Outside information may alter our memories as we reconstruct them. Some people are easily manipulated, and everyone can be manipulated to some degree. This happens, for example, when a lawyer asks you what happened when you saw the accused’s car "crash” into his client’s car – when in fact it merely bumped into it. Hearing the word crash tends to subtly alter your recollection in the direction the lawyer wants it to. Hypnosis is especially powerful when it comes to altering memories. So are drugs. And children are very susceptible to manipulation. This is why children’s testimony in court is rarely accepted.

103 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Perception and cognition are not just matters of connections among the neurons or the events, things, features, categories, etc. that those neurons carry. Put another way, we are not true digital computers. It is not a matter of this-or-that and here-or-there. There are also matters of degree, of quantity, intensity, or volume. Neurons don't just work on the on-or-off principle. They can fire repeatedly, rapidly, or just occasionally or rarely. There can be hundreds of synapses telling a neuron to fire, and hundreds more telling it not to. Likewise, the ideas we have in our minds can be powerful and influence many other ideas, or they can be once-in-a-lifetime flashes of brilliance. It is important, in order to understand how the mind/brain works, to keep this in mind. One of the most memorable ways of doing this goes back to the early work on artificial intelligence, specifically that of Oliver Selfridge (1959. Pandemonium: A paradigm for learning. In Symposium on the mechanization of thought processes. London: HM Stationary Office). Selfridge envisioned the mind as a collection of tiny demons, each of whom responds to a name – or something close to it – being called out by other demons. When one thinks it is being called, it begins to yell out to other demons. The more certain it is that it is being called, the louder it yells, until some other demon thinks it is being called in turn. And so on. Selfridge called this pandemonium. He used this idea to explain and model the way perceptual systems recognize stuff. For example, the letter R has one vertical line, a "belly" on the upper right, and a "leg" on the lower right. When "feature demons" whose names are "vertical," "belly," and "leg" (and others with names like "one," "upper right," and "lower right") hear their names being called, they begin to to call to the "cognitive demons." The cognitive demons named B and D, for example, may each prick up their ears, since they are "sensitized" to such calls as are given out by the vertical and belly demons. K may be listening, because it is listening for the calls of the vertical and leg demons. But only the R demon recognizes the calls of all three. So while B, D, and K may be calling out to the "decision demon," it will be R who calls the loudest.

104 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

This may seem rather silly, but pandemonium provides a very good model for much of what goes on in the mind. The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, for example: You are trying to think of the name of that actress in Moulin Rouge. Her name starts with an N, you are certain. Nancy, Nadene, Norah, Natalie... damn. You could say the N demon is yelling, and several names are responding. Nicole! That's it: Nicole Kidman. Of course, sometimes, with all those N-names yelling at the same time, you just can't hear the one you need! Perhaps Natasha (as in Natasha Richardson – another favorite of mine!) is shouting so loud, you can hardly hear any other names. If we were purely digital creatures, on-or-off, logical... we would simply remember whatever we needed to remember, and life would be simple, efficient. But perhaps that wouldn't be so good after all... The world (including ourselves and the people around us) is extremely complicated. Our minds are limited, and so need to draw rough maps of our world in order to get by. If we were strictly digital, those maps would have to be perfect to work: You see R and you say "R." But what happens when you see r? Or R? How about one of these: We need to be able to respond to things that are similar, not just things that are a perfect match. In this way, we can generalize our responses, which is how we form categories of things. All cats are not the same, and yet we learn to respond to one particular cat we have never before seen by placing it in the category cat – thereby giving it a saucer of milk, rather than beating its brains out with a bat. Likewise, we learn to develop sensitivities to new details (i.e. develop new "feature demons") when we find that we need to discriminate two things we had placed in one category. A bobcat or lynx, for example, is kind of a cat, but one you really shouldn't try to pet. And this is also how we prototypes operate: The neighborhood tabby may be "the" cat, and other cats,
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Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

though merely approximations, seem to shout out "CAT!" as well. The curly-haired Rex cat, the tailless Manx, the poofy Himalayan, or the hairless Sphynx may take a little closer inspection. Finally, this imperfect responding allows us to be creative in our perceiving and thinking: We can go with a categorical error (listen to the loud demon who drowns out the one that is more technically correct) and run with it. See what happens. It's a little like evolution: Great ideas are often the result of hundreds of mistakes that turned out well.

106 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

Dr. C. George Boeree: General Psychology (1)

Index to the second part of General Psychology:
Nature and Nurture Genetics Human Evolution Sociobiology Culture A Psychosocial History of the Human Species Getting a Picture of a Society Intelligence Selected Portions of the APA's Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns Language Language Development Language Origins Development Fetal Development Infancy Childhood Adolescence Psychological Problems of Childhood Piaget: Cognitive Development Moral Development Erikson: Psychosocial Development Aging Personality Sigmund Freud Trait Theories of Personality Individual, Existential, and Humanist Psychology Psychological Disorders The Bio-Social Theory of Neurosis Anxiety Disorders Mood Disorders Schizophrenia Personality Disorders Miscellaneous Disorders Therapy Psychotherapy Drug and Other Medical Therapies

107 | 107 © Copyright 2002 - 2006 Dr. C. George Boeree

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