Ch 15 First Impression Prompt

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

Michelle Obama’s work on the Change Direction movement helped propel the movement in the right direction. By generating a positive network around the movement, it will be able to spread at an exponential rate. The movement is based around people looking out for one another and noticing signs of mental health issues. The strengths of the movement lie in the people who are taking part. The movement is only as strong as its members. If there is a large group of people helping, the movement will be powerful. The biggest weakness, however, is the American society. Too many people are focused on nothing but themselves. If we want this movement to be effective, people will have to look out for others, which is not a common thing here.

The movement strives to educate on the importance of mental health. People need to be more open about their mental struggles. The movement aims to get people to open up to those around them. College students will try to pay attention to the movement, but most will ultimately give up. There is not enough time in the day for a college student. They generally will spend their time trying to get work done, eating, studying, and sleeping if they are lucky. Especially around this point in the semester, students are constantly busy and under stress, so they don’t have time to worry about their health, physical or mental. As long as they are able to make it to class, they will regardless of how they feel. If the college wanted to get people to pay attention to a movement similar to the Change Direction movement, their best bet would be to try to have it in the beginning of the semester. If they did this, students would be able to keep the information in mind when the semester winds down and everyone is struggling.

Media Production Project

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

New Study Finds Possible Link Between Blood Pressure Treatment and Preventing Dementia

In today’s world, almost everyone has had their life impacted by dementia. Dementia is the severe mental decline lots of people experience as they get older. Whether it be a parent, grandparent, friend, or neighbor dementia has touched almost everyone in one way or another. Watching someone you know slowly fade away and become a shell of themselves is devastating. About 9.9 million people develop dementia every year. As of now, there is no cure for dementia. For the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, there is no treatment to even slow the development. This new study has given a glimmer of hope of finding a possible preventative treatment for dementia.

The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) study aimed to see how lowering a patient’s systolic blood pressure (the top number) to a more intensive target of 120 mm Hg rather than the standard 140 mm Hg affected the patient’s cardiovascular health as well as mental health. The study involved over 9,300 patients over 50 with hypertension, which is defined as systolic blood pressure over 130 mm Hg, and no history of stroke or diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, over 100 million Americans have high blood pressure. The patients were randomly assigned to the treatment groups. The study took place over five years from 2010 to 2015. The study found the more intensive treatment lowered the risk of cardiovascular events by 25% and the risk of death by 27%.

The cognitive portion of the study, SPRINT Memory and Cognition IN Decreased Hypertension (SPRINT MIND), looked at how the intensive treatment affected patients’ cognitive functioning after the treatment ended. Over 8,500 of the patients participated in at least one cognitive follow-up assessment. The study aimed primarily to see if the intensive treatment had any impact on the development of “probable dementia” in the patients. Of the 4,278 patients treated with the intense treatment, 149 had developed probable dementia. In the group treated with the standard treatment, 176 out of 4,285 had developed probable dementia. While there were fewer in the intensive group, it was not a statistically significant amount.

The secondary outcome of the SPRINT MIND study looked at the development of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) in patients. While MCI is not considered to impact the daily life of someone who has it, it often leads to dementia later in life. Up to 60% of patients diagnosed MCI went on to develop dementia within ten years, and everyone who has dementia had MCI first. The researchers used a series of progressive tests to determine whether the patient had MCI. The results of the study showed 287 patients in the intensive treatment group had developed MCI while 353 patients in the standard treatment group developed MCI.  Based on these results, the researchers concluded the patients treated with the intensive treatment were 19% less likely to develop MCI. While this was only applicable to the patients over 50 with hypertension and no history of stroke or diabetes, it is still promising since preventing MCI is effectively preventing dementia.

The study showed the results the researchers were after in the cardiovascular portion of the study but not the cognitive portion. Despite not having significant results in the cognitive portion, they were still able to find hope of reducing dementia. Dr. Jeff Williamson, the lead researcher, has begun offering intensive treatment to his patients because of the cardiovascular benefits and the 19% decrease in the likelihood of MCI. Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a neurology professor at the University of California, on the other hand, is not ready to replace the standard treatment with then intensive method yet. She acknowledged the hope it gives to one day find an effective treatment or prevention method for dementia, but she wants to see more research done on the cognitive impact of intensive blood pressure treatment.  Thanks to funding from the Alzheimer’s Association, the SPRINT MIND study will continue for two more years. The researchers hope the results will be more significant by the end since dementia takes a long time to develop.


In writing this article, the most difficult part was simplifying the terminology into a vocabulary which could be more easily understood by the general public. The medical jargon used in the academic paper made sense but only with background knowledge of the terms being used. For example, most people wouldn’t be able to tell you what their systolic blood pressure is, but if you ask them for the top number of their blood pressure, they would be more likely to be able to give an answer. Lots of people have a general knowledge of their personal health, but not many people have the experience to understand what their numbers mean. Along with simplifying the language, I also had to decide which information was the most necessary to include. To do so I looked for information that pertained directly to how the results of the study matter. The scientific paper featured a lot of the logistics of the study. I had to put enough information to satisfy the critical questions in reading research but not too much to overwhelm the reader with nothing but numbers. Even trying to make the research more accessible, I still had to try to make sure to answer the five critical questions for reading research studies.

Along with simplifying the academic paper into a more accessible language, I also cut out some filler from the NYTimes article. A sizable portion of the article was commentary from Dr. Jeff Williamson, the lead researcher of the SPRINT study, and Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a neurology professor at the University of California. The pair shared an opinion on the findings offering hope for finding a treatment or preventative method for dementia. The pair disagreed, however, on how the results should impact current treatment methods. Dr. Yaffe believes there is still a lot of research to be done before making the intensive treatment the standard method of blood pressure reduction. Dr. Williamson has begun offering his patients the intensive method, telling them it lowers the chance of mild cognitive impairment by 19%. It was important to have the expert opinions, but the NYTimes article focused on the commentary almost as much as the results of the study.

This assignment made me respect journalists more. Until this, I never considered the amount of work which goes into writing an article reporting on a scientific journal. I always felt like they were easy, based on the typical brevity. I took the condensing of the information for granted. Deciding what needs to be in the articles and what should be cut is a difficult task. Adding to the work of getting expert opinions on the findings makes it even more impressive. In the future, I will make sure to keep all of this in mind when critiquing news articles.  


Belluck, P. (2019, January 28). Study Offers Hint of Hope for Staving Off Dementia in Some People. New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2019, from

The SPRINT MIND Investigators for the SPRINT Research Group. Effect of Intensive vs Standard Blood Pressure Control on Probable Dementia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;321(6):553–561. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.21442

Ch 14 First Impression Post

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

Dr. Saks’s story was a very deep, thought provoking one. Listening to her describe her condition was truly eye opening about mental illnesses. People are always trying to describe mental illnesses even though they’ve never experienced them. The “typical narrative” of schizophrenia is that the patient has distinct personalities, and they are competing to control the patient. Hearing Dr. Saks describe her experiences showed how far off the general public is with their understanding of the condition. Public ignorance of mental illness is not just for schizophrenia. Lots of people claim to have disorders they’ve never been diagnosed with. If you were to poll people in the street, a lot would probably claim to have OCD, when in reality, most of them don’t.

As a society, we seem to be moving in the right direction in terms of getting rid of the stigma attached to mental illnesses, but despite the progress there is still a long way to go. Lots of people are still afraid to get help for their issues because they don’t want to believe they have a “problem”. A major part of the reason people like Dr. Saks are able to overcome their issues is because they got help. People are reluctant to go to doctors for mental issues because of the stigma, but they are willing to go to the doctor when they have a cough. As a society, we need to collectively get rid of the stigma of mental illnesses. People shouldn’t be afraid to get help for their problems, but society still makes them feel uncomfortable acknowledging them.

Ch. 12 First Impression Prompt- Cognitive Dissonance

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

I would think if I could have $20 to perform a task, rather than just have $1. However, as the video shows, only being offered $1 makes people force themselves to really change their opinion on the task, since they didn’t have as much motivation to just claim they liked it. In my experience, I feel like I’ve gone through similar experiences in terms of enjoying media. For example, if I kept hearing about how good a new album was, even if I didn’t enjoy it when I listened to it, I would keep telling myself the album is good until I believed it. I feel like a lot people tend to change their opinions simply because other people didn’t agree with them.

Another example of cognitive dissonance, I believe, would be lying about something until you believe in your own lie. If you continue to tell other people something and presenting it as the truth, even when you know it isn’t, you would eventually accept your lie as the truth. I think cognitive dissonance can be dangerous, but it could also be useful. A positive example of cognitive dissonance would be forcing yourself to make a change even though you don’t want to, like knowing exercise is good for you but being too lazy, until you force yourself to start working out. On the other hand, you could be convinced to either believe in a harmful lie or participate in a harmful behavior to get over cognitive dissonance. Knowing smoking is harmful but continuing to smoke anyway would be an example of cognitive dissonance being harmful. It all boils down to people doing things, positively or negatively, because it makes them more comfortable in their choices.

Ch. 9 First Impression Post- Intelligence

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

In my experience, most teachers have always been there to support me and positively push me forward in my studies. However, there were definitely some who would seemed to be rooting against me. My work ethic and study habits were never the greatest while I was growing up. Everything seemed easy for me to do, so I never really bothered with the extra practice of homework until about my junior year of high school. Looking back, the best teachers I ever had were the ones who pushed me to work my hardest by providing challenging work which made me feel accomplished to complete it. The most memorable for me was my AP Calculus teacher in my senior year. She wouldn’t assign a long list of problems to do every night, instead she would give just a few challenging problems. For me, she was without a doubt the best teacher I’ve ever had because of how she pushed all of her students to do the best they could but didn’t punish us if we couldn’t get the problems. If she saw us putting in effort, she would always help guide us in the direction of the right answer. It made everyone in the class feel like they were working towards a meaningful learning experience.

On the flip side of this, I have also had experience with teachers who did not seem to have our future success as their best interest. The two most memorable negative experiences I have with teachers came in my 8th grade algebra class and in my AP US History class. In algebra, my teacher told me that she was disappointed that I got a 90.0 at the end of the marking period because she did not want to give me an A. As a young teenager, this experience really left a sour taste in my mouth. Knowing my teacher wanted to give me a lower grade than I had earned just because she didn’t like me felt unfair. In my AP US History class, my teacher openly told the class she didn’t like my dad, another history teacher in the school. Then she went out of her way to single me out in front of the whole class whenever I got anything wrong, no matter how many other people made the same mistakes as me.

I was lucky enough to have a strong support system around me when I was growing up, so even when I didn’t feel like my teachers were rooting for my success I had people there to push me to do my best. There are a lot of young students who aren’t lucky enough to have the same kind of support in their lives that I grew up with. If they don’t have their teachers to make them feel like there’s something worth working for, it is very easy for them to give up on learning and fall behind. Our best hope for success of the kids who don’t have the support from home is that their teachers make them feel like there’s something worth working for in school. Kids all deserve the same opportunity to learn, regardless of what they look like, what their life is like outside of school, or how much money they have.

Ch. 11 First Impression- Stress

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

Since starting college, I have found myself way more stressed than ever before. In high school, I never worried about classes, tests, or grades. Everything was easy enough for me to just skate my way through. I knew college was going to be a change, but I wasn’t ready for it to be as overwhelming as it is. I find myself sleeping less and worrying way more. I tend to stress myself out over small details more often now than I ever did before. On top of all the new stress I have from college, I lost my most effective stress relieving method. Whenever I was stressed in high school, I would just go play soccer and all my worries would go away. Now, with my daily headaches, soccer is no longer an option for me. On top of the headaches taking away my stress relief, they also stress me out more on their own.

At this point, I don’t really have any stress relief techniques. I just try to go with the flow as much as I can. One of my top 5 strengths is adaptability, so I tend to get by with it. I should probably find a technique that works better, like yoga or meditation. I often get overwhelmed with stress and then just shut down completely, so I no longer have to worry about my problems if they don’t exist. It’s probably not healthy for me, nor is it good for my productivity, but it’s my natural response.

Ch. 10 First Impression- Personality

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

Taking the first three personality tests mainly just confirmed what I already knew about myself. I am a very introverted person, I like to keep to myself more often than not. In the first two tests I had the results show this. The third test gave me a very low score in extroversion, also supporting this statement. None of that was news to me, I have always known that I was an introvert, I keep to small friend groups with closer bonds. I have never enjoyed going out of my way to talk to new people or make new friends.

The first two tests classified me as ISTJ, and the third test supported those results. I believe those are accurate because I tend to trust logic first and foremost when trying to make decisions. I agree with the results because I rarely let my emotions impact my decision making. I stick to the things I know and things which can be proven. According to the description on the Personality Test Center, I seem to be on the right career path based on my personality type. I look forward to being an industrial engineer, which fits with the results showing that I would do well as a supervisor, a scientist, and an inventor. My future will most likely involve being a supervisor, using science to invent ideas to make the workplace more efficient.

The Color Quiz was the most surprising for me. In the few minutes I spent taking the test, which only involved clicking on different colors in order of preference, they were able to describe my personality almost perfectly. It said that I want people to see my unique qualities, but don’t want to come off as needy, so instead I have an “I don’t care” attitude. This was painfully accurate. It described my main objective as wanting to find a close relationship in order to relieve stress. It also says that my two biggest issues are wanting a close, mutually respectful relationship, and having a feeling of depression and anxiety from not achieving my desired goals. Both of these were pretty much spot on. Overall, the color test was the most eye opening of these tests based on the simplicity and accuracy.

Chapter 3 First Impression- Sleep

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

Students often struggle to find time to do everything they need to do in a day, and they usually sacrifice sleep in order to get everything else done. For me, I found that happening frequently in the fall semester. Thankfully, I currently have a schedule that allows me to get a fair amount of sleep much more regularly than I had been. I currently take amitriptyline for my chronic headaches, and one of the side effects is drowsiness. As the medication is often commonly used for insomnia, I often find myself sleeping more when I take it than when I don’t take it. Having classes at 8:00 every morning last semester, I could rarely take my medication at night as it would cause me to sleep through class. The consequences of this, however, were even worse for me. I woke up almost daily with headaches that would keep me from functioning normally. My grades suffered as a consequence of my schedule not allowing me to get the required amount of sleep. My choices became either stay up to get the work done and suffer from the headaches, or take my meds to get sleep and end up missing class.

This semester, thankfully, I have a much more favorable schedule for my health. My earliest class starts at 12:30, so I get to sleep in every day. I often find that I end up sleeping too much now. On any given night, the chances are high that I go to bed before 11:00, and I rarely get up before 10:00 the next morning. I average about ten and a half hours of sleep every night. I should probably start sleeping less and to do that I should work on getting up earlier in the morning. Since I just recently increased the dosage of my medication, however, I probably will end up sleeping even more than I do now, at least for a couple weeks until my body adjusts.

My biggest issue with getting to sleep is that I can not simply close my eyes and fall asleep ever. I need something going on, whether it be music, a podcast, or sounds from a movie or tv show. I also spend way too much time on my phone when I lay in bed. I get a lot of sleep now, but if I want to get better sleep instead of just more, I need to work on those things.

Bonus First Impression Post- Synesthesia

--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

Listening to Daniel Tammet talk about how his mind functions offered me a new insight of a perspective I’ve never considered before. It never occurred to me that there were people who automatically interpret everything the way he does. It was extremely interesting to hear how digits appear to him, it really helped put into perspective for me how differently his mind functions. I feel like I’m the polar opposite of this style of thinking. I have never been able to see anything past its face value. I could never interpret poetry in English class, I was never able to create anything artistically. To me, everything in my head is a careful calculation that is presented precisely as its meant to be interpreted.

Tammet’s talk really helped paint a picture for me of how people can live their lives in such drastically different ways. I saw his perspective and it opened my mind to the endless different ways people can think and operate. It made me think about the idea that people can be “left-brained” or “right-brained”. Tammet would fall under the right brain category of this metaphor, since everything he sees has a deeper lying meaning. I feel like I cannot relate to that at all. I take everything at its surface meaning. For example, if an author was talking about the rain, I would only connect it to the weather, rather than symbolism for sadness or a somber mood. Tammet, on the other hand, can look at anything and feel like there’s a deeper meaning to it.

In my opinion, from what Tammet shared here, synesthesia can have both a positive and a negative impact on life. It allows the individual to feel more connected to things at levels that others can’t. When the mundane can be perceived effortlessly as something deeper, it adds a layer of beauty to life that can’t be seen otherwise. On the other hand, the deep level of perception will often result in overanalyzing nonimportant details. While there would be some pleasing experiences as a result of synesthesia, it will also be responsible for some bad times as well.


--Original published at Ben's PSY105 Blog

My name is Ben Brown. I grew up on the Jersey shore, spending my summers working on the boardwalk, right next to the same bars where Snooki and Mike “The Situation” spent their evenings. Surprisingly, I have never gotten into the habit of tanning and pumping my fist, nor my gas for that matter. I spent most of my free time playing soccer. I also spent a fair portion of my free time at Boy Scouts. I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. I’m a sophomore industrial engineering major.

My future is going to be based around making people and processes more efficient. Psychology is going to play a major role in whatever job I may find myself having. Taking this class will hopefully get a basic understanding of the subject which could help me in my future.

In high school, I signed up to take a psychology class, but I did not last more than two weeks. I was convinced the teacher had something against me. When she graded my life goals assignment, she gave me an F because she did not think my goals were achievable. On top of the grading, she threatened to give me detention when I smiled at a friend of mine in the class after a joke. I wish I could have stayed in the class longer to have more knowledge coming into this course.

When I think of psychology, I think of the mind. As an engineer, my first instinct when learning something new is almost always to ask myself why it works in the way it does. My goal for this class is to have a better understanding of why the mind works the way it does.

As the semester goes on, I will be most excited to learn about mental illnesses, stress and coping mechanisms, and all about sleep. I believe these subjects will be most relevant to my everyday life, especially as a college student. There are not really any topics which I see as uninteresting, but I am least excited to learn about conditioning, intelligence, and trauma. To me, these appear to be the subjects most likely to trip me up.