Media Production

--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

Is not sleeping enough a factor in contracting Alzheimer’s Disease? Researchers did a study to determine if being sleep deprived increases levels of tau, eventually leading to being diagnosed with the disease. Tau is a cytoplasmic protein in neurons that spreads in structures such as tangles in diseases like Alzheimer’s, and it is known that neural synaptic strength is higher in wakefulness, so the study was conducted to see if wakefulness had an effect on the amount of the protein produced in the brain’s interstitial fluid (ISF) in mice and in humans. First, tau levels were measured in the hippocampal ISF of wild mice. It was found that during the period of the sleep cycle where the mice spend most of their sleeping time compared to the dark period of the cycle where they spend their time awake, ISF levels increased 2-fold in the dark period. Hours after the light period of the sleep cycle, the mice were forced to stay awake, and showed an increase in tau levels produced whereas, mice kept awake during the dark period did not show an increase in tau levels. With the results showing increasing tau levels in mice, the question remained whether this was true in humans. Sleep deprivation increased levels of tau in humans by 50%. Next, human tau was injected into mice to determine the long term effects. The mice were exposed to 28 days of sleep deprivation, and it was found that the tau was not altered in the hippocampus, but it was in fact spread to a region of the brain synaptically connected to the hippocampus. While these mice were being assessed for 28 days, a control group of mice was also being kept awake under these conditions without the injection of tau to act as a control. The conclusion was made that tau in mice and humans is strongly increased by sleep deprivation, showing that changes in the sleep-wake cycle can result in rapid changes of tau production. The conclusion answers the question that there may be a possible relationship between being sleep deprived and being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.


Summarizing these articles was a challenge, as there is so much information in the studies that should be said to let the reader know exactly what is going on and being studied. There were parts in both articles that had information vital to the hypothesis, but were only mentioned one time with their results, and not looked at again throughout the writing. The parts mentioned talked about how there was another protein called amyloid that also spread with sleep deprivation, but was only mentioned once or twice, and did not seem vital to the research, as tau was the essential protein being studied. I also chose to not mention the five critical questions in my summary. Reading both of the articles, I noticed that there was no mention of some of the questions at all. The population studied for the research, besides the rats, was not expressed as to how the researchers chose them. This is critical in a research study, not only to find out who was studied, but for the reader to possibly connect to the research, if those chosen have qualities the reader may have. The groups were also not defined when it came to the human subjects. It was not mentioned whether there was a control, or if different types of injections were used, whether it be tau or amyloid. Because of this, the article did not allow for causal claims and does not seem to generalized to the right audience, due to not knowing who their population was that was being tested. Overall, writing a summary of two very in depth articles is a very hard thing to do, by picking what to say out of everything, you are what the reader is relying on. Journalists have a very important job to get all of the information across as possible without making the article to long or too hard for someone to understand. Fitting it all into one small summary is definitely difficult, and makes me appreciate writers a little bit more.


Mental Illness

--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

I actually have seen this video before, in an AP Psychology class I took in high school. I find it really interesting that they were able to put together that video to depict how people with schizophrenia live. I think it is so eye opening because in the media, you see people with this illness depicted as completely insane, talking to themselves and going crazy, but in this video, it shows that the person is able to completely function and act normal even though he’s having thoughts and voices in his head constantly. When you think of something like this, you don’t think about how the voices they are hearing really affect how they do everyday things and how they have to live their lives with that constantly happening. We only see them as someone different than us, someone who is plain crazy. But people with this illness are able to live their everyday lives with the help of loved ones as if nothing is wrong with them. Of course this depends on the severeness of it all, but this video showed just that. The whole idea of schizophrenia is so interesting to me, and I loved being able to experience it to see how these people live their lives.


--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

As of right now, my sleeping habits are completely all over the place. Some nights I will stay up until 2 or 3 am, and then have to get up at normal time for my classes the next day. Other nights, I can fall asleep as early as 11:30 pm. It all really depends on how much work I have to do, what my friends and I had done that night, and my level of tiredness during the day and into the night. Personally I do not believe this is very healthy for me, seeing as I am always tired due to these habits. As for a normal college student, I believe that at least 6 hours of sleep would be beneficial. Six hours allows for four sleep cycles to occur, which seems to be enough variance between deep sleep and REM sleep for a person to go through in one night. If they could sleep longer, then good for them! But at least 6 hours seems to be a good option for college students. To improve my sleep habits personally, I am not really sure what I can do. My day to day life is so different here, especially with my friends, so it would be hard for me to set a schedule every night to get to sleep at the same time.


--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

My study habits are honestly, not the best. When I was in high school, though I took higher level courses, everything came easy to me. I was able to get through my classes with good grades, while only having to look over my notes once or twice. So, I did carry those habits into college. My first exam ever, I failed. I only looked over my personal notes rather than the power points made for the lectures, and missed very important information. As the semester went on, I learned to really dedicate more time than just one time through, to making sure that I understand the material fully. I need to set aside more than one day to really work on the material, and go over everything more than once to make sure it is in my head for good.


--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

Video games are becoming such a huge part of children’s lives, at an even younger age as years go by. And with new technology comes new concepts within the games, including new and more violence. Obviously, if the children are younger, they can become influenced very easily by violence that they see in front of them on a daily basis. But I don’t personally believe that the violence in video games is causing children to become more violent. Children might think that the violence they see is normal and okay, but I don’t believe they are acting on it. For a child to want to sword fight because they’ve seen it, or even pretend to shoot guns, is completely normal, and I believe the only amount of violence acted upon. Children aren’t beating their friends or even trying to kill them. I don’t think violence should be banned within video games, but maybe not include the excessive amount in every game. I do think the people planning on banning these types of video games and scenarios have their mind in the right place, I just do not see a need to rid of them completely.


--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

I watched Jim Fallon talk about what makes a psychopathic killer. I was drawn to this TED talk because I am very fascinated about how the brain of a killer works, and about how they think about things. In the talk, Jim mentioned differences in a killer’s brain compared to a normal person. Every killer has some sort of brain damage to their frontal lobe and potentially other parts of the brain. Killers also have a violence gene called MAOA, which is a sex linked gene coming from the mother, so they have a higher risk of getting this gene, seeing as they don’t get an X chromosome from their fathers. Killers also seem to go through a traumatic experience involving violence when they are a kid. All three of these things result in someone who kills. I thought it was really interesting when he showed the PET scans of killer’s brains compared to a normal person at that age. The amount of differences and damage in those pictures was unbelievable. I found Jim decently trustworthy. He is a professor at a university and is a certified neurosurgeon, but when he started studying psychopathic killers, it was out of the blue because someone asked him to. So he seemed fairly new to the subject and seemed to ramble on and on a few times. But, he was very knowledgeable about the brains. A very interesting thing to me about what makes a killer would be traumatic experience they had to go through. I am very interested to find out if there is a certain level of tragedy that correlates to turning into a killer more than another. I would gather a group of maybe 10 people who have gone through a violent experience, all of different intensities, and ask questions pertaining to psychopathic thoughts to see if a certain level of violence leads people to act violently.


--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

Different parenting styles allow for children to grow up in all different ways. In the case of the tiger mom, jellyfish dad, and helicopter parents, all are very different and will produce children with very different personalities. Tiger moms are way too harsh when it comes to succeeding for their children. They want nothing but the best, and will stop at nothing for their child to get it. This type of overbearing can put too much stress on a child, and ultimately leave the child to be so dependent, they won’t be able to do much for themselves in the future. A jellyfish dad does not care much about what the child does, and kind of lets things go as the child does things they shouldn’t. This may seem like the perfect life, but without some sort of authority, the parent will be completely taken advantage of, and the child can become reckless and irresponsible. Their grades could slip, and they may get into bad situations. With helicopter parents, having someone watch everything you do constantly puts a lot of stress on a child. Feeling like they need to hide every aspect of their lives and that they never have the privacy they deserve. This is means to raise very deviant and sneaky children. Personally, I don’t believe any of these parenting styles are beneficial to raising a child. I believe that there should be some authority, the children should always be pushed to be their best, and there should be a sort of discipline to make sure the child doesn’t get away with things they shouldn’t. But, I also believe that there should be some freedom in the child’s life. They should be able to go out and have fun, I shouldn’t have to go through their phone for no reason, and they should be allowed to engage in whatever activities they want to. A perfect medium between two extremes is the perfect way to raise a child.

Research Methods

--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

The myth busters clip I decided to watch and critique was “Do beer goggles really exist?” The point of this experiment was to see if the myth that people become more attractive to a person the more they drink, is true. This experiment was set up into three trials. The first trial was a set of 30 girls/guys on a computer system, and everyone had 5 seconds to rate each of the pictures 1-10. The second trial was when the myth busters were only buzzed, and they had to rate 30 new people. The third trial was when they were completely drunk, and they had to judge 30 more new people. A weak spot in this study was that for each trial, between being sober and being drunk, the pictures changed, the myth busters never saw the same picture twice. If they wanted to find out if people become more attractive to them, they should have rated the same picture all three times to test if that was true. Using different people for each trial does not help the study as much as it should. Another weak point in the study was that the way people react to alcohol was not taken into account. All three of the busters drank the same amount of alcohol, but the girl seemed to be way more affected than the men were, clouding her judgement even more. I do think though, that doing three trials and testing them between being completely sober, buzzed, and drunk was a good way to test their hypothesis. It was interesting to see how much alcohol changed their point of view.

Intro Blog

--Original published at Allison's Psych Blog

My name is Allison Velardi and I am a freshman occupational therapy major. I grew up in New Jersey, and moved to Delaware when I was seven years old. The most background in psychology that I have was an AP Psych course I took my junior year of high school, and I really struggled with it. I am taking this class now because it is required for my major, but also because I find psychology really interesting. When I think of psychology, I think of mental health and serial killers honestly. Those are the two areas that interest me the most, so they are what I automatically think of. Because of this, I believe that I will be most interested in the mental illness and personality disorders sections, and the classical conditioning as well, because I really enjoyed learning about that a few years ago, and did really well with it. I think learning about the brain will be tedious for me, seeing as I have been over it at least three times already between psych and two anatomy courses in high school. I was also not the biggest fan of the personality section, because I feel like I know myself pretty well, and am not very interested in looking too deep into it. The theories of intelligence also does not seem like something I would be particularly interested in, but we never know! I guess I really just want to get a more detailed explanation of what psychology is and why it’s so important for occupational therapy.