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Flashcards in Popular Psychology Deck (25):

What is inattentional blindness?


  • the phenomenon of not seeing things in one's field of vision (sometimes when they are very noticeable) due to lack of attention a focus on other parts of the scene



What is the phonological loop?

  • a brain process by which spoken language is heard (or written language is silently articulated) and kept fresh in short-term memory through continued repetition
  • e.g., when we try to remember a phone number by repeating it silently to ourselves


How many different stimuli can we remember?

  • for differences along only one dimension (e.g., musical pitch, hue, etc.), about seven
  • Higher numbers of stimuli can no longer be reliably compared with previously experienced stimuli in memory (Miller, 1956)
  • for example, up to seven different weights can be reliably remembered simply by picking them up, but higher numbers result in wrong answers


What part of his brain did H. M. (Henry Gustav Molaison) lose and why?

H. M. had both of his hippocampi (parts of the brain) removed as a treatment for intractable epilepsy.

    (Scoville and Milner, 1957)


    What are the four main parts of the cerebral cortex?

    • frontal lobe
    • temporal lobe
    • parietal lobe
    • occipital lobe


    What is a supertaster?

    • a person who perceives tastes differently from most people
    • due to increased sensitivity to a special bitter chemical, called PROP
    • leads about 25% of people to intensely dislike certain foods, such as grapefruit, green tea, Brussels sprouts, etc.


    What is the FFA?

    • the fusiform face area
    • located in the temporal lobe
    • responsible for quickly and automatically identifying faces (and possibly other familiar objects)
    • lesions (damage) to the FFA can result in prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces


    What parts of the brain tend to be different in homosexual men?

    Certain parts of the hypothalamus (part of the brainstem) are smaller in homosexual men than in heterosexual men.

    (LeVay, 1991)


      What is the implicit association test?

      • tests the strength of the connections we make between different concepts
      • uses a task that measures how quickly and accurately we classify items based on different criteria
      • used by some researchers to suggest it can lay bare implicit racist or sexist attitudes (Green et al., 2007, and others)


      What is a neurotransmitter?

      • a chemical that is released by neurons (brain cells) into the spaces between them
      • communicates information across different brain circuits


        What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?

        • the idea that the structure of language can influence the thought and behavior of its speakers
        • The consensus among linguists is that only some linguistic categories influence thinking
        • e.g., speakers of Russian (which has separate words for "light blue" and "dark blue" can categorize shades of blue faster than speakers of English (Winawer et al., 2007)


        What is the critical period for language?

        • the period of a child's life during which a first language can be acquired fluently
        • approx. zero to six years old
        • supported by the inability of Genie to acquire fluent language (especially grammar) later in life


        What causes Alzheimer's disease?

        Several hypotheses exist, including:

        • amyloid beta deposits (peptides, composed of amino acids) in the brain
        • deficiency in acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter


        What is synesthesia?

        • a condition in which the perception of stimuli in one modality(taste, smell, texture, color) provokes sensations in another modality
        • The most common type is grapheme-color synesthesia, where printed letters are perceived as being different colors
        • Other types include lexical-gustatory (word-taste) and taste-touch synesthesia


        What is the placebo effect?

        • A phenomenon whereby a patient experiences a therapeutic benefit as a response to a fake medical intervention she/he thinks is legitimate
        • thought to operate by activating endogenous opioids (natural painkillers) in the nervous system (Zubieta et al., 2005)
        • e.g., the prescription of a sugar pill (with no pharmacological effect) can provoke real improvement in a patient's condition


        What is phantom limb syndrome?

        • The phenomenon of continuing to feel sensations from a limb or part of a limb that has been amputated
        • often involves extremely uncomfortable or painful sensations


        What is REM sleep?

        • the rapid-eye-movement stage of sleep
        • During this stage, the eyes are active (they are paralyzed during other stages)
        • Dreaming usually occurs during REM sleep
        • Up to a quarter of an adult's sleep is REM sleep


        What is FOX P2?

        • a gene thought to be linked to the development of language
        • people with mutations of the FOXP2 gene often show language deficits, especially in articulating speech and using grammar (Enard et al., 2002)


        What are mirror neurons?

        • neurons (brain cells) hypothesized to activate when the organism either performs orsees another organism perform a certain physical motion (Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2005)
        • thought to be implicated in language learning, theory of mind (understanding the state of mind of other organisms), etc.


        What is fMRI?

        functional magnetic resonance imaging, a way of picturing brain activity over time.


        What was the result of H.M.'s loss of the hippocampus?

        • suffered anterograde amnesia, losing the ability to form new memories about names and events that happened after his surgery
        • retained memory about names and events before his operation
        • retained the ability to form new memories about how to do tasks (the steps required, their order, etc.)
        • retained short-term memory
        (Scoville and Milner, 1957)


        What is the function of each of the four lobes?

        • frontal lobe (planning, inhibition)
        • temporal lobe ("what" processing, auditory and visual recognition, memory for objects and faces, speech processing)
        • parietal lobe ("where" processing, spatial perception, navigation, tough)
        • occipital lobe (vision)


        What are the names of two important transmitters and what purpose do they serve?

        • dopamine (involved in sensations of pleasure and reward, Parkinson's disease, etc.)
        • serotonin (critical to sleep and appetite, involved in the action of opioids on the brain and depression, etc.)


        Why was a girl named Genie significant to language theory development?

        Genie was abused and received very little linguistic or social interaction during the critical language-learning period.


        How does an fMRI work?

        • The brain is subject to a powerful magnetic field that polarizes (aligns) the hydrogen atoms in the water molecules present
        • A supplementary magnetic field alters this alignment briefly, but the hydrogen atoms are allowed to return to their previous state and the time required to realign is measured
        • Oxygenated blood causes a longer response to these magnetic pulses
        • The active parts of the brain are served by more fresh (oxygenated) blood and so are identified by the fMRI