First Impressions #5

I have always been a notorious studier as academics are important to me. Although sometimes I can overdue it to point where going to bed may be better. Studying goes back to the beginning: my notetaking. From the various learning methods, I am more a visual learner. On any readings, I take handwritten notes as writing it out helps me remember information more. Over the years, I have experimented with different writing styles. For my first semester of college, I tried an abbreviated version of Cornell notes where I just have an indentation on the left for the subtopics/question (I cut the summary review) and so far, that has been working for me. I also have color coordinated some basic topics such as vocab words, theories, and people so they are easier to spot when I am reviewing. I am still learning how to pinpoint key information. I try to study in advance of the test day ranging from a week before the actual test. Going through all my notes, sometimes using flashcards, taking practice quizzes are a part of my study routine. I have also found writing info out (on whiteboards mainly) and talking aloud helps too. Repetition is key for me. Some things I would like to work on is incorporating more review at the end of each week to study as I go. I started doing this prior, but I would like to reinforce this even more.


For specifically this first Psychology exam, my study habits were similar to what I listed above. I used my Cornell style for notes, took the practice exam, reviewed my notes, and made sure I knew the textbook information. I did not do as much of writing info out during review though. In addition, I used the review questions after each chapter section to review. This helped solidify what I learned after reading and taking notes. Given my exam score, these methods worked well, but I did miss some of the multiple choice and matching sections. I would like to study more in advance for the second exam as this unit has more brain terminology to remember. Flashcards may help with that more. I would also like to use the practice questions more. I did run through those questions a couple times, but I would like to utilize that more to know I fully understand the concepts. I am always looking for ways to refine my work and study habits to better improve. Hopefully next exam will go even better!

First Impressions #4

Video games have been the child’s game since its creation several decades ago. The once stick control, 2D animation, and box consoles have now evolved into motion sensors, realistic highly and detailed animation, and portable devices. As new systems and games are created and delivered to the hands of waiting fans, parents are becoming more concerned with the violence that has become increasingly common in video games. The graphic displays of death, shooting, and war have become increasingly realistic with the advanced animation. Video game criticism has risen on the claim that children have become more violent due to participation in such games.


Having grown up with video games and seen some of these violent games via my relatives, I can understand parents and the community’s concern with these games. Although I do not have any experience with video games with central themes of war, violence, and gore-like Call of Duty-I have had my share of violence. I cannot tell you how many hours I played Super Mario Bros. killing Bowsers, Kooplaings, and Goombas, and dying a fair amount of times myself. My sister and I would yell at the screen, and sometimes a remote got thrown in the process.


While I think there is a positive correlation between video games and violent behavior, I do not think that it is solely the cause of violent tendencies in people. Like we learned in class, a person is shaped by not just environment or genetics, but a mixture of both. Playing violent video games for days per week is going to have an effect on people, but there are also other environmental factors, such as living or parent situation, and genetics that can be altered and turned off or on. From my last “First Impressions” post, MAO-A violence gene is one gene that is passed down by the mother and can become active with a traumatic experience.


I do not think banning video games will fully solve this problem. As with many illegal laws, people find ways to skirt around them. It is up to the parent primarily if they will allow their children to play these games, but I do not believe children should be introduced early on. Developing young children will not understand fully the concepts of violence and war and its effects and are still learning proper behaviors and manners. There are age ratings for videos games that show the maturity needed to understand and play. Giving a seven-year-old a game meant for 18-year-olds is not beneficial. Monitoring children as they play, setting playing length, and researching game age restrictions, are ways to minimize the effects of violent video games.

First Impressions #3

For today’s First Impression Post, I decided to watch Jim Fallon’s TED talk, “Exploring the Mind of a Killer.” This title intrigued me most versus the various neuroscientific videos as I have always been interested in the mind and mental process of killers. I enjoy watching TV shows, like Blacklist that involve various killers and crimes and the different behaviors and thoughts that go through the killer’s minds.

Fallon discusses his analysis of 70 psychopathic killer’s brains. What he discovered was that a person’s genes, biological-epigentic brain damage, and interaction with one’s environment all played a part in the development of these killers. The timing of the brain damage varies the kind of psychopath that a person becomes. The timing is very specific. These killers also all had varying degrees of orbital cortex and interior temporal lobe damage. What I found most interesting during this TED talk was the appearance of a violence gene called MAO-A that was seen in all 70 brains. This gene is found on the X chromosome can only be given by the mothers. He concludes that this is most likely why most killers or aggressive people are male since they only have the X chromosome from mom and get a Y chromosome from the father while females get the other X chromosome from the father for a XX combination. The irony is that the gene is passed on through an overabundance of serotonin during human development, a neurotransmitter than relaxes the body. The overabundance makes the body immune to it. For this gene to be seen violently at pre-adolescence, one needs to be exposed to extremely traumatic events. Fallon also goes into his own personal history where there nine people from his father’s side that were killers. He has PET scanned his family to analyze their brain patterns.

I found Jim Fallon trustworthy and his presentation creditable. He mentioned in the beginning of his talk that he was a Neuroscientist for 35 years (now 44 years as this was recorded in 2009) a professor at the University of California. He has researched genes, neurotransmitters, dopamine, and circuit analysis. The analysis of the brains was also done blindly. He was given the psychopathic killer and normal brains to analyze without knowing which was which. One untrustworthy observation I made was that the killers that were presented in his slide show-Albert Fish, David Berkowitz, and Aileen Wuornos to name a few-were all Americans. I do not know the other 62 brains that were analyzed and if they were from other countries. If the brains analyzed were all Americans, it can’t be generalized to all killers per say.

My own research idea, based off this information, is to find the effects of lower levels of serotonin during development as an overabundance passes MAO-A. I would take a random sample of people from various places with lower levels in serotonin and normal levels of serotonin and conduct a longitudinal research. I would take PET scans at various age stages in the groups and compare results. I would also analyze the areas that serotonin affects. Lastly, at each check in, the group of people would undergo a stress related activity and the person’s behavior, heart rate, and the body’s calming mechanisms would be monitored. This will analyze the body’s ability to calm and relax a person. It will be hard to fully find cause-and-effect as I cannot purposely lower a person’s serotonin level during development.


First Impressions #2

With the latest baby devices, technology advances, and evolving society standards, parenting has become a widely discussed topic as many parents attempt to find the “perfect” parenting method. Although it would be wonderful to have a direct guide to raising children, I know that there is and will not be one perfect method. Every family has their own set of values, beliefs, morals, culture, personal upbringing, and all of these factors can influence how one will parent their own children.

There are many parenting methods in the world including the “Tiger Moms” (rules and obedience driven), “Jellyfish Dads” (minimal demand or punishment), and “Helicopter Parents” (excessive hovering), but I currently see my future parenting to be a balance between these extremes. Children need guidance and structure in the world, but they also need the independence to become their own person and learn for themselves. I have seen “Helicopter Parents” and their continuous watch and control over every detail of their children’s life has caused increased anxiety, naivety, or rebellion. There needs to be some surveillance to make sure children on the right track of success and help correct misbehavior but children will eventually have to live on their own and learn how to do things themselves. I want to teach my children that they CAN do things. I agree with the idea of rules and obedience, but to provide structure that is not too constrictive. There are behaviors one should not participate in, such as rudeness, bullying, or lying, and some behaviors one can, like going to friend’s houses, or helping with chores. What I learned from obedience training for my family’s new dog is you have to both punish bad behavior and reward the good behavior. Always punishing, does not show a child what they can do. I want to be firm, but flexible and open for discussion.

From the academic viewpoint, my children should challenge themselves to their maximum potential, but I do not want them consistently struggling. As much as I want them to do exceptionally well, I will not get upset if they receive lower grades occasionally.

I know technology is useful and beneficial, but I do not want my children to become addicted to screens especially from an early age. I do not see the benefit of placing screens in front of young children for extended periods of time. Playing outside, using imagination, or engaging with other children is more beneficial. As technology slowly becomes “needed” in life as my children age, restrictions will be set to teach responsibility.

I hope to have a close, but open relationship with my children so I can be a person that they can come time if they need help or to talk. I know I will make mistakes, but in the end, I want my children to be happy, healthy, and do good in the world.


Bonus Posts – Miguel

“Miguel has been struggling with his coursework lately. He has felt very tired in recent weeks and has found it difficult to focus on his studies. Even though he is always tired, he has trouble falling asleep at night, is irritable during the day, and picks fights with his roommates. He is a bit of a perfectionist and gets mad at himself when he makes even tiny mistakes. It’s gotten to the point where he doubts his ability to do anything right.”


Miguel has not been doing well in school the past several weeks both in his schoolwork, sleep, and rooming situation. Several modern psychology perspectives have an explanation for Miguel’s behaviors and problems.


From a Psychodynamic perspective, Miguel has been repressing his negative thoughts about himself and his abilities in his unconsciousness so they did not show. Unfortunately, these repressed thoughts have started to spread and toxify his personality and other parts of him. This is seen in his inability to fall asleep and thus sleepiness, focus issues, poor grades, and snapping at his roommates. He also may have parents who from childhood are strict with high expectations. The Behavioral Psychology view is that Miguel’s berating of small mistakes is keeping him up at night resulting in lack of sleep which then affects his schoolwork, focus, and mood swings. His own and possible parent’s punishment towards small mistakes and the reinforcement has caused his perfectionism. Humanistic Psychology focuses on his condition worth. Miguel believes that nobody will accept him if he is not perfect which has negatively affected his mental health. Looking at this subjectively as a phenomenal experience, because he perceives that he does not do anything right, he does not do anything right. Cognitive Psychology values mental processes just as much as behaviors. Miguel is constantly thinking negatively about himself which clouds his focus, thoughts, and thinking process. He is unable to solve problems without doubting his abilities. The lack of sleep has affected his focus and memory. The Neuroscience perspective will look at his brain. The hippocampus that is controlling emotion and memory are affected by the lack of sleep. This causes the emotions of stress towards mistakes and his roommates, and memory lapse in coursework. There may be a genetic behavioral trait where Miguel is prone to anxiety. There also is the Evolutionary Psychology where there is the trait of survival that is driving Miguel to perfectionism. Lastly, from a Cultural perspective, Miguel may live in a strict culture that values highly of perfectionism and cultivates it in the students. Living in a culture that desires high achieving, rich, academic applications for colleges and success could have affected him. The stress of a new environment might have also caused sleep or academic issues.

First Impressions #1

This weekend, I watched a Mythbusters video clip where Jamie and Adam test out whether or not hands-free devices are safer to use while driving versus hand-held devices. To test this question, the pair each drove through a driving course talking through a cellphone, and then a hands-free device. The results were that the average score for both independent variables was a failing grade, and the scores were almost exactly the same with a 0.5 point difference. Then, to improve the experiment, they paired with Stanford University Automotive Innovation Facility to test 30 drivers on a simulation with a hands-held and hands-free GPS system. The results yielded similar results where hands-free devices were no safer than hand-held ones.


This experiment, as with many experiments, had its strengths and weakness. I liked that for the first experiment, on the driving course, the non-driving member had the driver talking and thinking simulating a real conversation, and that the course had a variety of driving situations such as parallel parking and turning. The main strength in this experiment was that Jamie and Adam discussed the results and the procedure of the driving course test and then found their own strengths and weaknesses. They then made adjustments to better improve their experiment. It shows that they are analyzing their own work and adding suggestions for future experimentations. Lastly, I liked that during the simulation test, they had equal number of drivers per variable for equal testing and a mix of gender and age to give more depth to the experiment.


One of the weaknesses in this experiment that I saw was less defined control variables. I would have liked to have seen in both the driving course and simulation a group of drivers take the test without using any devices to see the scores the drivers would get without distractions as a base line. This would show the driving ability of the participants and the difficulty level of the simulation. From my own and high school classmates’ experiences on driving simulations, driving in a simulation is a different experience. I am interested in knowing what controls they had for the experiment if any such as difficulty level or equipment type since they did not include this. Additionally, I believe more real-life “on the road” tests would be beneficial. Like a driving course with parking, turns, testing people actually driving cars with talking, texting, and GPS navigation. This would increase the data amount versus just one simulation run. This way one could see how safe and aware people are on the road. Third, a variety of tests would strengthen this experiment. For example, testing reaction and braking times could give more depth to a driver’s awareness and reaction time versus observable crashes. Fourth, I thought splitting the participants in half per variable, decreased the safety testing. If all 30 took both variables, it would compare driving ability per driver much like Adam and Jamie during the driving course. Lastly, I am interested in the Mythbuster’s personal hypothesis on this topic. The show covers general myths, but adding Jamie and Adam’s thoughts on the myth would add to the scientific method.


Introduction to Psychology Class

Hi, I am Anneka Bell, a freshman music therapy major, and I am excited to be taking General Psychology this semester! This class is a requirement for my major; however, I have always been interested in Psychology. Our brain and mind has always fascinated me. As a music therapist, psychology is applicable to our work with clients to help understand their mentality and behaviors and to treating their needs. I have not taken a previous Psychology class prior to PSY105. I wanted to take a class when I was in high school, but unfortunately my schedule was already full.

“Psychology” makes me think of the brain and mind and the reasoning behind certain thoughts and behaviors. I also associate mental disorders, personality, Maslow, and Freud.

Several topics of this semester that look interesting to me are How to Improve Memory, How to get Good Sleep, and How to Make Memories. I sometimes tend to be on the more forgetful side when remembering to do something. I make myself write down what I want to remember on the spot in fear of forgetting. I think it would be helpful to improve my memory not only help remember to do the little things, but to improve memory for studying. I am thankful for the many memories I remember throughout my life and I am interested in how to the brain creates memories and how to possibly improve the quality and retention of memories. Sleep is another topic of improvement in my life. I am a night owl, and I find it difficult at times for me to fall asleep (I can toss and turn for over an hour). Being in a busy major fills my schedule and cuts my sleep, and learning to fall asleep quicker and sleeping more restful would be beneficial now and later in life.

Several topics of this semester that do not look as interesting are Scientific Method, What is “Addiction”?, and Power of Experiments. These topics are familiar to me whether from previous science or health courses, and would be redundant.

Some information about me in a classroom is that I work well both individually and in in groups, and that I work best in quiet areas with minimal distractions.

Finally, questions I have are: are previous memories that one can no longer remember stored somewhere in the brain, and are there ways of retrieving these memories?