First Impression Post- Chapter 2: Neuroscience

--Original published at HuntersCollegeBlog

For this first impression post, I decided to pick the TED talk entitled “Exploring the Mind of a Serial Killer.” I’ve always been fascinated by the human brain, especially serial killers’, because they have different brain aspects that non serial killers do not. It’s fascinating to me that because of these different brain aspects, it can motivate them to do heinous crimes, such as murder.

In this TED talk, the speaker, Jim Fallon, a neuroscientist, and a professor at the University of California, talked about how he recently became fascinated with the brains of serial killers. He begins by talking about the interaction of genes, and epigenetic affects. He said that how you end up as a serial killer depends on when damage to the orbital cortex or the anterior part of temporal lobe occurs (these two parts of the brain were damaged on the serial killer’s brains he examined, there are other parts of the brain that can be damaged). The major violence gene is called the MAOA gene. It is a sex-linked genes and is only on the X-chromosome, so one can only get it from their mother. The gene has to do with too much serotonin during development. When one has that gene in utero, the brain becomes insensitive to the serotonin. In order to express the gene in a violent way, the person has to be exposed to some sort of traumatic violence. Having exposure to that violence, and having that gene is a cause for disaster. Jim Fallon also talked about how his cousin was Lizzy Borden, and the first murder of a mother by a son was his great (x5) grandfather.

From this TED talk, I found it most interesting and ironic that Jim Fallon wasn’t aware of the violent behavior in his family, but was studying the brains of serial killers. I also found it fascinating that damage to parts of the brain, and having the gene, as well as violent exposure can be cause to becoming a serial killer.

I believe Jim Fallon is very knowledgable in this course of study, because he’s been doing neurological work for over 35 years, and studying behavior. He is also a professor, and a neurologist, so he is very well educated in the field of neurology.

For my research idea, I would want to figure out who is prone to having the MAOA gene, and how you can determine before birth if someone has it. In order to conduct this research, I would reach out to different neurologist, and ask them how you can determine what genes you have, and how the MAOA gene is first discovered, I would ask if there was any way to tell before birth if the baby has the gene. I would also ask if predominately men have the gene, since Fallon said that it is an X-chromosome gene, which is given by the mother, which is why mostly men are serial killers.


First Impression Post- Development

--Original published at HuntersCollegeBlog

While many parents raise there kids many different ways, some people may argue that some ways are better than others. Some parents baby their kids until they go to college, and even after. Some parents give their kids no guidance at all, and send them out into the real world to fend for themselves. But what is a happy medium perhaps?

Growing up, my parents helped me through everything, whether it’d be making a tough decision, helping me with a homework problem, or getting me to and from places (since I was involved in EVERYTHING). Sometimes though, they felt I needed to be able to make my own decisions, and figure out the homework problem myself, in order to help me grow as a person. In my opinion, I believe the best way to parent is to help your kids when they need it, but also let them figure stuff out on their own. If they’re babied their whole life, they’ll never be ready for the real world.

To me, parents should not baby their children, especially when they start to reach the age of being a preteen. Of course there are going to be times where kids need guidance, and assistance, but kids need to figure stuff out on their own sometimes. For example, if your child keeps reaching for the cookie jar, and you repeatedly tell them to stop, next time they reach for it, the cookies fall out of the jar, onto the dirty floor, and they are unable to eat them. I like to refer to that as “discovery learning,” as my dad likes to put it. If they would’ve listened the first time, there would still be cookies left to eat. I also don’t agree with the whole “participation trophy” thing. In some cases, especially if the kids are young, it can make them believe that life is easy, simple, and theres no losing in life. To me, that’s giving them the wrong idea, a false sense of hope, which in a sense is going to hurt them more than help them in the future.

Now, when kids become older, like teenagers, they’ll want money to go to the mall, or the movies. I believe sometimes kids should get money (on occasion) just because, but often times kids should earn their money. It teaches them how to be responsible, and how to budget. If they realize that they don’t have enough money for two things, they’ll pick the one, and save the money they receive from doing chores to get the other thing later. I also think that when teens are able to get a job, they should. When I turned 16, I immediately got a job at a frozen yogurt shop. Receiving paychecks made me want to work more, and save more. Personally, I hate not having money, and I hate having to ask my parents for their money, and I’ve been like that for a while. Earning my own money also makes me more independent, since I can do whatever I want with that money.

When it comes to how strict parents are with their kids, I believe they should be strict to the point of making sure their kids don’t get in trouble, but also not too strict to the point where kids want to purposefully test the boundaries to see how far they can go. In my opinion, being strict on your kids is important. It can teach them right from wrong, and it can keep them out of danger. The whole point of being strict is to protect your kids from harm. What kid wouldn’t want that? Okay, I get that a 13 year old could get annoyed by always being told no, but let me tell you, it’s the best thing for you. I would always get mad at my parents when they wouldn’t let me walk around the mall with my friends in 6th grade, but now I appreciate that they didn’t, because in this day and age, anything can happen. My parents also wouldn’t let me have boys over to the house freshmen year, which I was always angry about, because my friends could. I’m glad they waited until I was older to let boys come over, because it just showed me that they loved me, and didn’t want me to get hurt.

On that note, I also think parents shouldn’t be so strict that the kids purposefully want to cross the boundaries to see how far they can get. In my opinion, that can sometimes hurt them more. The kids will test boundaries, and since they’re not familiar with what they may be doing, they could get hurt. If parents are so strict with them that they don’t let them do anything, once the kids get to the point where they’re on their own, they’ll want to do everything their parents told them they couldn’t, and that could hurt both the kids and even the parents.

Parents are always going to be there for us if we’re in a bind. They don’t want us to fail. They want us to succeed, and work to the best of our ability. They just want the best for us, and they want nothing more then to watch us grow. 🙂

Bonus Blog: Theoretical Lenses in Psychology

--Original published at HuntersCollegeBlog

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.


Using the theoretical lenses, I’ll explain Miguel’s behavior:

Psychodynamic: Miguel may have problems falling asleep at night and focusing, because his psychodynamic unconscious mind could be keeping him up, forcing him to think about everything else around him that he has to do. His unconscious mind could also be telling him that he’s not good enough, which is why he may think he can’t do anything right, and why he gets mad when he makes a small mistake.

Behavioral: Miguel could’ve picked up his perfectionist tendencies from someone else. He could see them being perfectionist, and not even realize that he too is trying to be like that. When he sees someone else make a mistake, he gets mad too when he makes one because perfectionist are suppose to be perfect. He could be copying their behavior.  He may not think much of it, but if he’s seeing other people act the same way, he could be picking up those behaviors from them, and not even realizing it.

Humanistic: This is focused on personal growth, so if Miguel doesn’t believe that he’s capable of growing, then he won’t. He needs to accept the fact that mistakes are apart of personal growth, and he can’t let that affect him negatively. He doesn’t think he can do anything right, because he isn’t focused on that aspect of personal growth, and he isn’t telling himself that he’s valuable, whether he’s a perfectionist or not.

Cognitive: His thinking patterns could be affecting how he receives information. If he’s constantly thinking about something else while the teacher is giving a lecture during class, he wont be able to remember everything they said, so that will affect his ability to remember, and it will interfere with how he’s processing information, (only in bits and pieces if he’s going in and out of focus). This may also be affecting how he thinks of himself, since cognitive psychology is all about the brain.

Cultural: Some ways of how he’s acting could be based on which cognitive processes are universal and specific. Maybe he specifically was told as a young child that in order to make his parents happy, he had to do everything right, and had to pay attention to everything, and he wasn’t allowed to ever get upset, so its affecting him now, because he isn’t the perfectionist he was taught to be, and he’s snapping at people, which could’ve been a big no no when he was growing up. He could be unfocused as well because as a child he was so used to having to pay attention to everything, that now it’s catching up with him, and he isn’t able to stay on track.

Neuroscience: This includes biological perspective. His behavior could be exactly like his parents’, due to genetics. Maybe one of his parents gets angry easily, and tends to snap. Maybe one of them has a short attention span as well, which could be why Miguel can’t focus in class.


Research Methods- First Impression Post

--Original published at HuntersCollegeBlog

One topic in psychology that I find fascinating, is why people react the way that they do to certain things. Why does ice cream make little kids happy? Why are some people terrified of planes? Not only how they feel, but how does their body react when they see something they love, vs. something they fear. I want to further research how people respond differently to their fears, specifically, and why they respond in that way. A lot of people share the common fear of clowns, so I want to figure out how/why each person reacts the way that they do when they’re faced with their fears.

My research question would be how/why do people react differently to their fears. My hypothesis would be that some people may react a variety of ways, because each person has a different coping mechanism, or something they feel more comfortable around.  People who had a stuffed animal to hold onto when they were scared as a little kid, may still tend to want to hold onto something, because when they were little, that was a safe space.  Other people may run away, look away, or even go into a ball on the ground. On the health side of things, heart rates could spike, or sweating or nausea could occur. So what I want to know is why people react differently.

I would start testing my hypothesis by gathering people of all ages, who claim they are afraid of clowns. I would then bring them into a room, and ask them what started their fear of clowns. Depending on if a clown at a carnival was chasing them, or if they saw a clown on TV, could impact how they react. I would then ask them on a scale of 1-10 what their anxiety levels are at that given moment. Then, they would be taken into a room, backs facing the front of the room. There would be one person dressed up as a clown, and a clown on a TV screen. Then, each person would have to face both the real clown and the clown on TV two separate times. I would record how they reacted to each, whether one time it would be running away from the real clown, or just closing their eyes when they saw the one on the TV. I would also record how their anxiety levels changed.  I would take note of each individual’s reaction to each instance of the clown, and based on what started their fear of clowns, I could answer how they reacted, and why they reacted the way they did to the real and TV clown. By getting to the root cause, and seeing in person how they reacted, the fear could possibly go away with the correct help.


--Original published at HuntersCollegeBlog

Hello! My name is Hunter, and I am a Music Therapy major. I’m heavily involved with music, and I also want to get involved with some other clubs. Psych has always been something that I’ve been absolutely intrigued by, and I’m so excited to be able to have a psych class on my schedule this semester. I took this class, because as a music therapy major, psychology plays a huge role in everything that you do when you’re working with a patient, and because like I said, I just love psych. In high school, I took 2 psych classes that I absolutely loved, and I learned so much, from the history of it, to how people react to different situations. When I hear the word “psychology,” I think about the human brain, and the thought processes. I also think of how people think, and how they rationalize and reason with certain things. I’m most intrigued about learning about the brain (micro/macro level, because I’m intrigued by how the human brain works, and how its set up), how to improve memory (because I have a TERRIBLE one), and coping with stress (because I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t stressed. I think I’m least intrigued about learning the scientific method, because I’ve been taught that a lot over the years. In all honesty, I’m really excited about everything we learn in the course, and I’m really not not excited about anything we’re going to learn. Psychology is such a cool thing, that I think I’ll be excited to learn anything and everything that I can. By the end of this class, I want to answer the question of why I have trouble sleeping, regardless of what I do, and how any chemical imbalance in the brain can happen.