First Impression Post #5

Before arriving to college, my previous study habits consisted of me just looking over my notes and making sure I read over the required material so I was familiar with the topics. That worked for most of my high school and middle school career. I never really changed the way I studied because my method returned consistent good grades. When it came to studying, I was told to study and its importance to getting good grades, but I never really knew how to effectively study. This resulted in me having under developed techniques to studying when I arrived to college. My previous method still helps me reinforce the information I already know, but what I lacked was the application and implementation of the information I know.

Specifically for this class, my studying for the first exam was minimal. I read over the chapters, looked over my notes, and took the practice quizzes then hoped for the best. Obviously, after the first exam hope was not enough to bless me with a good grade. I also had other exams I had to study for that I felt I needed to spend more time looking over. I was definitely not prepared for the questions on the exam and did not know the information as well as I thought. For this next exam I am trying to implement different techniques that have been recommended to me by previous professors and teachers such as flash cards and practice questions. Also, I think that going over my notes after class should help reinforce the information I learned and keep it fresh in my head. I do not have the greatest study habits and hopefully I can adjust so I can not only learn the material better in my classes, but perform better during tests in the future.

First Impression Post #4

For this post, I want to focus on the topic of violent video games and the media. Are video games getting more violent over the years? Sure. As consumers of this type of entertainment we cannot turn a blind eye and say that video games have not gotten increasingly more detailed and realistic in their violence as graphics have increased. I cannot say that I agree with the claim that violent video games is a cause for increased violence in children because for one, there is not enough long term research for me to support that claim. Also, I think that violence among children has been apparent, even before video games were invented. I do think that violent video games are the scapegoat for a larger problem in society. It is easier to shift blame towards something like video games as a reason for increased violence than address problems within familial values or violence within the environment as the real problem. Parents should be paying attention to what games their children are playing and I know that it is difficult for not only the children, but also the parents to understand the ulterior motive in doing so when it is so ingrained in our society to allow children at a young age to be playing violent video games and spectate violent video games on a daily basis. Something needs to change within our society in order for real change to occur. For generations now, children have been desensitized from a young age to violence in video games, the media, entertainment, and the real world. Banning violent video games would not solve the problem of increased violence among children because it is not the problem. The problem is deeper and more ingrained in society and within our families than can be solved with one action such as that.

First Impression Post #3

The TED talk that I watched was titled: “Jim Fallon: Exploring the Mind of a Killer.” I was drawn to this TED talk because I am always fascinated by psychopaths and serial killers. The motives for their actions and the brain processes behind it are unique. I also did a project in high school about famous serial killers and their motives but never on the neurological level.

In this talk, Fallon explained how psychopathic killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy came to be by looking at their brains. By looking at their brains, Fallon determined that a combination of events in early childhood plus having a certain gene can create a psychopathic killer. Among all of the killers, Fallon claims that all of their brains have damage on the orbital cortex. Fallon adds that the MAOA gene, a gene passed from mother to son, is found in the population and causes the brain to be exposed to too much serotonin. The constant exposure to serotonin so early in development causes the brain to be desensitized to the calming effects of the chemical. At the same time, the person needs to be exposed to traumatic experiences early on. If all of these theoretical boxes are checked, then a killer can be created.

What interested me the most about this talk was how the MAOA gene causes the brain to be bathed in serotonin early in development. A chemical that usually helps people feel calm can also be a reason to why killers commit their acts. Like an addiction, the over exposure to serotonin makes the brain insensitive to the chemical. It is incredibly interesting to see the adverse effects of certain natural chemicals in the brain when different amounts of the chemical is exposed to the brain in different times of life.

I think Fallon, as well as his information, is trustworthy because the research he has conducted on such a specific population of people supports his theory. The brains he has looked at have commonalities among all of them such as the damage on the orbital cortex. He has also gone on to scanning his own family’s brains to add to his research since his family history has murderers in it. Also, he is a professor at the University of California and has been researching this for over thirty years to add to his trustworthiness.

A topic that I would be interested in researching is instead of the over exposure of serotonin in the brain in utero, what if cortisol was overexposed in the brain during utero? Would the brain be insensitive to the effects of cortisol later in life? Cortisol is the chemical in the brain that is associated with stress. I think that in order to see the effects of this, I would observe two groups of people over the course of their lifetime. To replicate the release of cortisol in utero, I would observe a group of pregnant women who are exposed to very stressful situations such as an area of warfare. The second group of people would be another group of pregnant women who are not exposed to an intense amount of stress throughout their pregnancy. At various times during the pregnancy I would monitor the baby’s heartbeat to see if there is a change in heart rate. Exposure to cortisol temporarily increases the heart rate and blood pressure so if the brain is exposed to cortisol regularly, in theory, the resting heart rate will be higher than most normal babies. Then later in life, those babies (now adults) will undergo a controlled stressful situation and I would see if their heart rate and blood pressure will increase as cortisol is released in their brain. It is a lengthy study but it sounds very interesting to pursue.

First Impression Post #2

In all honesty, I do not think that there really is a “best” way to raise kids. Each kid is different in their own way and that is okay; parents should be embracing and supporting their kids’ differences. What is not okay is creating a general parenting method that is meant to work on everyone. It can be seen in our own childhoods that what may work on other children may not work on us. Children are unique in that they are receptive to different ways of parenting and their parents should adjust accordingly.

I think that an effective way of finding a good parenting technique is to know your children. Really know them. Take the time to find out what they like and dislike. I think that some people know their friends better than they know their own kids. The way parents raise kids lies on a spectrum. On one end, there are helicopter parents and tiger moms who micromanage every single thing that a child does and almost grooms a child into their own image. On the other end are jellyfish dads who allow their children to do whatever they want. Then there is everything in between where most parents are usually, finding what works and what does not as their kids grow. If parents can maintain a good relationship with their children, then as their children grow, the parents should be moving along the spectrum in response to their children’s receptiveness to a certain style of parenting.

As someone’s child and not a parent, I can only speak on my own perspective and what I would have wanted growing up. I cannot be naive and believe that a parent can put all of their focus on their children as they grow up. There are confounding variables that are impossible to predict throughout life, yet certainly have an affect. Before becoming parents, they usually have no prior knowledge on how to raise a child. The moment they become a parent is the moment they start learning. Having their child become successful and live a good life is a common goal for most parents and while most parents have different styles of parenting, they all want that for their children. When their children do become successful, every parent may have that hindsight bias and say that their parenting style was what helped them become successful when in fact, they probably had no idea what they were doing.


Miguel’s Mind

Miguel is enabling an unhealthy life dynamic. The worst part is that he may not even know what is happening to him or how to help himself. From a psychoanalysis perspective, Miguel may be unconsciously driven to be perfect and to do his very best in his academics in order to feel content with himself. Because Miguel is trying to attain a level of perfection that is unattainable, his own body and mind are sending signals through high levels of stress and mood swings to tell his consciousness that he is not taking care of himself. From a behavioral perspective, Miguel’s lowering grades is evidence that his intensity to strive for perfection is not working. Miguel’s interactions with his roommates show that his social life is becoming impacted by his perfectionistic personality because his desire to be perfect is seeping out into his desire for everything in his life, including things he cannot control such as his roommates, to be perfect as well. Naturally, things out of his control will not be perfect and Miguel continues to become increasingly agitated. From a humanistic perspective, Miguel’s struggles are fueling his success. Miguel may have encountered struggles in the past but seeing that he has made it this far, he may believe that he can continue to work hard and positive results will come at the end. Miguel’s desire to be perfect is one of his strongest characteristics in that he will continually strive for the best, no matter the obstacles. From a cognitive perspective, the stress on Miguel’s mind from trying to be perfect every second of the day, learning during class, managing his roommates’ lives, and lack of rest is making Miguel irritable and fatigued. Miguel lays awake at night thinking about all the problems he has to fix that are out of his control agitating his perception of perfection. Miguel’s grades are slipping and he does not understand where his methods are failing him. From the perspective of neuroscience, Miguel’s high level of stress increases the cortisol released in his brain, keeping him awake at night. His lack of sleep keeps his body and mind from repairing itself and releasing hormones that help him relax. This imbalance of chemicals are causing havoc within himself and produces outbursts towards his roommates and loss of concentration during class. Lastly, in a cultural perspective, Miguel may have been raised to seek perfection in academics from the very start. His familial culture may have conditioned him to strive for nothing less than the best, and anything less than perfect early in his childhood may have resulted in negative outcomes that he tries to avoid. Miguel’s culture may value academics on a much different level than others such as his roommates, causing him to be agitated when they do not share the same views or carry the same value in education as he does.

First Impression Post #1

For this week’s First Impression Post, I watched the Mythbusters experiment on whether talking on a cell phone will driving was as dangerous as driving drunk. At first glance, I would assume that driving distracted is as dangerous as driving inebriated because with both, a driver’s focus is not one-hundred percent completely on the task at hand. In order to test this myth, the scientists developed a series of tests that would simulate driving conditions drivers could encounter. There was a brake test to simulate reaction time at a certain speed, a parallel parking test, and an accident avoidance test to simulate different driving courses. The scientists would make the participants take the tests sober and without a cellular device as a control, then again following directions on a cellular deice, then lastly after a few alcoholic beverages. As for the participants, the scientists used their own employees as subjects, one woman, one man. The tests showed that both the man and woman were capable of passing the course while sober, but both failed driving the course using a cellular device and after drinking.

The experiment conducted had strong and weak qualities. I appreciate that for the course, the scientists used more than one test to try and employ normal driving situations as much as they could. I also appreciated that when the participants were driving with a cellular device, they were given the same instructions to keep variations to a minimum. Unfortunately, under the drunk driving test, the scientists were not as descriptive as the other tests. While the viewers are under the impression that the participants are driving inebriated, there is no information on how many drinks or what BAC (blood alcohol content) the participants had at the time of the experiment. Less variation during this part of the experiment would have helped with reducing error in their results. With this experiment, I think having more participants would also aid in supporting their hypothesis because there is more data to develop a conclusion from. Though the participants both failed driving with a cellular device and driving drunk, the scientists concluded that the participants failed the test with a cellular device by a larger margin than driving drunk, supporting their hypothesis.


Good afternoon, my name is Miguel DeCastro and I am a Sophomore Biology/Pre-med student. Taking this class was inevitable for my major, however, I think that the study of Psychology is interesting. This would be the first Psychology course in my student career. Hopefully through other courses I have taken and topics I have learned prior will aid me in grasping the concepts taught this semester.

When I hear Psychology, I clearly hear an automated voice telling me, “the science of the mind.” I am not exactly sure if what I hear is correct, but that is what first comes to mind.   Three topics I am interested in learning about is: Psychology Then & Now, The Brain, and Why Do We Forget? I would say I am pretty interested in learning about how medical and psychological practices have evolved over the years and why some practices have yet to evolve so learning about those said practices should be interesting to learn about. I have a vague recollection of information I have learned about the brain so learning more about the brain piques my interest. Honestly, I am interested in learning why we forget things because if I had a superpower it would be forgetting information. Learning about the reasoning behind that could help me find ways to remember information. Learning about Addiction, Mechanics of Sleep, and Emotion I find a small degree less interesting than the rest but that is just from initial judgement and I could actually enjoy those topics as well.

I have done a previous high school project on some famous serial killers and my question that I want to know if there is an answer to is: what is happening in a serial killer’s head that makes them commit their acts?