North Shore Community College States of Consciousness Chapter Summary
Module 15: Classical Conditioning: The
Basics of Classical Conditioning
Does the mere sight of the golden arches in front of
McDonald’s make you feel pangs of hunger and think
If it does, you are displaying an elementary form of
learning called classical conditioning.
Classical conditioning helps explain such diverse
phenomena as crying at the sight of a bride walking
down the aisle, fearing the dark, and falling in love.
Classical conditioning is one of a number of different
types of learning that psychologists have identified,
but a general definition encompasses them all:
learning is a relatively permanent change in behavior
that is brought about by experience.
We are primed for learning from the beginning of life.
Infants exhibit a primitive type of learning called
Habituation is the decrease in response to a stimulus
that occurs after repeated presentations of the same
For example, young infants may initially show interest in
a novel stimulus, such as a brightly colored toy, but they
will soon lose interest if they see the same toy over and
over. (Adults exhibit habituation, too: newlyweds soon
stop noticing that they are wearing a wedding ring.)
Habituation permits us to ignore things that have
stopped providing new information.
Most learning is considerably more complex than
habituation, and the study of learning has been at the
core of the field of psychology.
Although philosophers since the time of Aristotle have
speculated on the foundations of learning, the first
systematic research on learning was done at the
beginning of the 20th Century, when Ivan Pavlov (does
the name ring a bell?) developed the framework for
Ivan Pavolv, a Russian physiologist, never intended to do
In 1904 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on
digestion, testimony to his contribution to that field. Yet
Pavlov is remembered not for his physiological research but
for his experiments on basic learning processes– work that
he began quite accidentally.
Pavlov had been studying the secretion of stomach acids
and salivation in dogs in response to the ingestion of
varying amounts and kinds of food.
While doing that, he observed a curious phenomenon:
sometimes stomach secretions and salivation would begin
in the dogs when they had not yet eaten any food.
The mere sight of the experimenter who normally brought
the food, or even the sound of the experimenter’s
footsteps, was enough to produce salivation in the dogs.
Pavlov’s genius lay in his ability to recognize the
implications of this discovery.
He saw that the dogs were responding not only on the basis
Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which a
neutral stimulus (such as the experimenter’s footsteps)
comes to elicit a response after being paired with a
stimulus (such as food) that naturally brings about that
To demonstrate classical conditioning, Pavlov (1927)
attached a tube to the salivary gland of a dog, allowing
him to measure precisely the dog’s salivation.
He then rang a bell and, just a few seconds later,
presented the dog with meat.
This pairing occurred repeatedly and was carefully planned
so that, each time, exactly the same amount of time
elapsed between the presentation of the bell and the
At first the dog would salivate only when the meat was
presented, but soon it began to salivate at the sound of
In fact, even when Pavlov stopped presenting the meat,
the dog still salivated after hearing the sound.
The dog had been classically conditioned to salivate to the
The basic processes of classical conditioning that
underlie Pavlov’s discovery are straightforward.
Before conditioning, there are 2 unrelated stimuli: the
ringing bell and meat.
We know that normally the ringing of a bell does not
lead to salivation but to some irrelevant response,
such as pricking up the ears or a startle reaction.
The bell is therefore called the neutral stimulus
because it is a stimulus that, before conditioning,
does not naturally bring about the response in which
we are interested.
We also have meat, which naturally causes a dog to
salivate– the response we are interested in
conditioning. The meat is considered an
unconditional stimulus, or UCS, because food placed
in a dog’s mouth automatically causes salivation to
The response that the meat elicits (salivation) is
called an unconditioned response, or UCR– a natural,
innate, reflexive response that is not associated with
The bell is rung just before each
presentation of the meat.
The goal of conditioning is for the dog to
associate the bell with the unconditioned
stimulus (meat) and therefore to bring
about the same sort of response as the
After a number of pairings of the bell and
meat, the bell alone causes the dog to
When conditioning is complete, the bell
has evolved from a neutral stimulus to
what is now called a conditioned
stimulus, or CS.
At this time, salivation that occurs as a
response to the conditioned stimulus
(bell) is considered a conditioned
The sequence and timing of the presentation of the unconditioned stimulus and
the conditioned stimulus are particularly important.
Like a malfunctioning warning light at a railroad crossing that goes on after the
train has passed by, a neutral stimulus that follows an unconditioned stimulus has
little chance of becoming a conditioned stimulus.
However, just as a warning light works best if it goes on right before a train passes,
a neutral stimulus that is presented just before the unconditioned stimulus is most
apt to result in successful conditioning.
Remember: Conditioned = learned.
Unconditioned = not learned.
An unconditioned stimulus leads to an unconditional response.
Unconditioned stimulus-unconditioned response pairings are unlearned and
During conditioning, a previously neutral stimulus is transformed into the
A conditioned stimulus leads to a conditioned response, and a conditioned
stimulus– conditioned response pairing is a consequence of learning and training.
An unconditioned response and a conditioned response are similar (such as
salivation in Pavlov’s experiment), but the unconditioned response occurs naturally,
Applying Conditioning Principles to
3:55– Ivan Pavlov Classical Conditioning
1:55– Ivan Pavlov
6:21– The Little Albert Experiment- John Watson
Extinction is a basic phenomenon of learning that occurs when a
previously conditioned response decreases in frequency and eventually
Spontaneous Recovery is the reemergence of an extinguished conditioned
response after a period of rest and with no further conditioning.
Stimulus Generalization is a process in which, after a stimulus has been
conditioned to produce a particular response, stimuli that are similar to
the original stimulus produce the same response.
Stimulus Discrimination is the process that occurs if two stimuli are
sufficiently distinct from one another that one evokes a conditioned
response but the other does not; the ability to differentiate between
Module 16: Operant Conditioning
Very good… what a clever idea… Fantastic… I agree…
Thank You… Excellent… Super… Right on… This is the best
paper you’ve ever written; you get an A… You are really
getting the hang of it… I’m impressed… You’re getting a
raise… Have a cookie… You look great… I love you…
Few of us mind being the recipient of any of
these. But what is especially noteworthy
about them is that each of these simple
statements can be used, through a process
known as operant conditioning, to bring about
powerful changes in behavior and to teach
the most complex tasks.
Operant Conditioning is learning in which a voluntary
response is strengthened or weakened, depending on
its favorable or unfavorable consequences.
When we say that a response has been strengthened or
weakened, we mean that it has been made more or
less likely to recur regularly.
Unlike classical conditioning, in which the original
behaviors are the natural, biological responses to the
presence of a stimulus such as food, water, or pain,
operant conditioning applies to voluntary responses,
which an organism performs deliberately to produce a
The term operant emphasizes this point: the organism
operates on its environment to produce a desirable
Operant conditioning is at work when we learn that
toiling industriously can bring about a raise or that
studying hard results in good grades.
The Basics of Operant Conditioning
The study of operant conditioning came from one of the 20th Century’s most
influential psychologists, B.F. Skinner (1904-1990); he was interested in
specifying how behavior varies as a result of alterations in the environment.
He conducted his research using an apparatus called the Skinner box, a
chamber with a highly controlled environment that was used to study O.C.
processes with laboratory animals.
E.g.)Teach a hungry rat to press a lever that is in its box. At first the rat will
wander around the box, exploring randomly, but it will eventually press the
lever by chance, and then it’ll receive a food pellet. The 1st time the rat will not
learn the connection, but over time the rat will press the lever for the pellet
and will do so until he has been satiated. Thus, demonstrating it has learned
lever = food.
Reinforcement: The Central Concept of
Skinner called the process that leads the rat to continue pressing
the key/lever “reinforcement.”
Reinforcement is the process by which a stimulus increases the
probability that a preceding behavior will be repeated. In other
words, pressing the lever is more likely to occur again because of
the stimulus of food.
In a situation such as this one, the food is called a reinforcer. A
reinforcer is any stimulus that increases the probability that a
preceding behavior will occur again.
E.g.) Reinforcers= Bonuses, toys, good grades, treats, etc…
There are 2 major types of reinforcers. A primary reinforcer
satisfies some biological need and works naturally. E.g.) Food for
a hungry person, warmth for a cold person, and relief for a
person in pain.
A secondary reinforcer is a stimulus that becomes reinforcing
because of its association with a primary reinforcer. E.g.) Money
is valuable because it helps us obtain desirable objects, such as
Positive Reinforcers, Negative Reinforcers, and Punishment
A positive reinforcer is a stimulus added to the environment that brings
about an increase in a preceding response.
E.g.) Paycheck = continued work from employee each week.
A negative reinforcer refers to an unpleasant stimulus whose removal leads
to an increase in the probability that a preceding response will be repeated
in the future.
E.g.) Itchy rash (unpleasant stimulus) that’s relieved once you apply a certain brand of
ointment, you are more likely to use that ointment the next time you have an itchy rash.
Using the ointment, then, is negatively reinforcing, because it removes the unpleasant
Negative reinforcement teaches the individual that taking an action removes a
negative condition that exists in the environment. Like positive reinforcers,
negative ones increase the likelihood that preceding behaviors will be repeated.
Negative reinforcement is not the same as…
Punishment refers to a stimulus that decreases the probability that a prior
behavior will occur again.
Unlike negative reinforcement, which produces an increase in behavior,
punishment reduces the likelihood of a prior response.
If we receive a shock that is meant to decrease a certain behavior, we then are
receiving punishment, but if we are already receiving a shock and do something to
stop that shock, the behavior that stops the shock is considered to be negatively
Positive punishment– A stimulus added to the environment that brings about an
increase in a preceding response. It weakens a response through the application
of an unpleasant stimulus.
E.g.) Spanking a child for misbehaving, or spending 10 yrs. in jail for committing
Negative punishment– An unpleasant stimulus whose removal leads to an
increase in the probability that a preceding response will be repeated in the future.
It consists of the removal of something pleasant.
E.g.) When a teenager is told she is “grounded” and will no longer be able to
use the family car because of her poor grades, or when an employee is
informed that he has been demoted with a cut in pay because of a poor job
Rules to help you distinguish these
concepts from one another:
Reinforcement increases the frequency of the behavior preceding it; punishment
decreases the frequency of the behavior preceding it.
The application of a positive stimulus brings about an increase in the frequency
of behavior and is referred to as positive reinforcement; the application of a
negative stimulus decreases or reduces the frequency of behavior and is called
The removal of a negative stimulus that results in an increase in the frequency of
behavior is negative reinforcement; the removal of a positive stimulus that
decreases the frequency of behavior is negative punishment.
The Pros and Cons of Punishment: Why
Reinforcement Beats Punishment
Is punishment an effective way to modify behavior?
Punishment often presents the quickest route to changing behavior
that, if allowed to continue, might be dangerous to an individual. E.g.)
A parent may not have a second chance to warn a child not to run into
a busy street, and so punishing the first incidence of this behavior may
prove to be wise.
Moreover, the use of punishment to suppress behavior, even
temporarily, provides an opportunity to reinforce a person for
subsequently behaving in a more desirable way.
However, there are some rare instances where punishment can be the
most humane approach to treating severe disorders, for example,
some children suffering from autism, a developmental disorder that in
some rare cases leads to self-abuse in which they may bang their
heads against the wall, severely injuring themselves in the process.
In such cases– and when other treatments have failed– punishment in
the form of a quick but intense electric shock has been used to prevent
Punishment could only deter or make the punished more determined
to find a way, or even (as with physical punishment) give them the idea
Schedules of Reinforcement: Timing Life’s Rewards
Schedules of Reinforcement– Different patterns of frequency and timing
of reinforcement following desired behavior.
Continuous Reinforcement schedule– Reinforcing of a behavior every
time it occurs.
Partial (or intermittent) Reinforcement schedule– Reinforcing of a
behavior some but not all of the time.
Fixed-ratio schedule– A schedule by which reinforcement is given only
after a specific number of responses are made.
Variable-ratio schedule– A schedule by which reinforcement occurs after
a varying number of responses rather than after a fixed number.
Fixed-interval schedule– A schedule that provides reinforcement for a
response only if a fixed time period has elapsed, making overall rates of
response relatively low.
Variable-interval schedule- A schedule by which the time between
reinforcements varies around some average rather than being fixed.
Shaping– The process of teaching a complex behavior by rewarding closer
and closer approximations of the desired behavior.
Behavior Modification– A formalized technique for promoting the
frequency of desirable behaviors and decreasing the incidence of
Big Bang Theory
Module 17: Cognitive
Approaches to Learning
Consider what happens when people learn to drive a car. They don’t just get
behind the wheel and stumble around until they randomly put the key into the
ignition, and later, after many false starts, accidentally manage to get the car
to move forward, thereby receiving positive reinforcement. Instead, they
already know the basic elements of driving from prior experience as
passengers, when they more than likely noticed how the key was inserted into
the ignition, the car was put in drive, and the gas pedal was pressed to make
the car go forward.
Clearly, not all learning is due to operant and
classical conditioning. In fact, such activities as
learning to drive a car imply that some kinds of
learning must involve higher-order processes in which
people’s thoughts and memories and the way they
process information account for their responses. Such
situations argue against regarding learning as the
unthinking, mechanical, and automatic acquisition of
associations between stimuli and responses, as in
classical conditioning, or the presentation of
reinforcement, as in operant conditioning.
Some psychologists view learning in terms of the
thought processes, or cognitions, that underlie it– an
approach known as cognitive learning theory.
Although psychologists working from the cognitive
learning perspective do not deny the importance of
classical and operant conditioning, they have
developed approaches that focus on the unseen
mental processes that occur during learning, rather
than concentrating solely on external stimuli,
responses, and reinforcements.
In its most basic formulation, cognitive learning theory suggests
that it is not enough to say that people make responses because
there is an assumed link between a stimulus and a response– a link
that is the result of a past history of reinforcement for a response.
Instead, according to this point of view, people, and even lower
animals, develop an expectation that they will receive a reinforcer
after making a response.
Two types of learning in which no obvious prior reinforcement is
present are latent learning and observational learning.
Cognitive Learning Theory– An approach to the study of learning
that focuses on the thought processes that underlie learning.
Remember: that the cognitive learning approach focuses on the
internal thoughts and expectations of learners, whereas classical
and operant conditioning approaches focus on external stimuli,
responses, and reinforcement.
Evidence for the importance of cognitive processes comes from a
series of animal experiments that revealed a type of cognitive
learning called latent learning.
Latent Learning: Learning in which a new behavior is acquired but
is not demonstrated until some incentive is provided for displaying
In studies demonstrating latent learning, psychologists
examined the behavior of rats in a maze. In one
experiment, a group of rats was allowed to wander
around the maze once a day for 17 days without ever
receiving a reward.
Understandably, those rats made many errors and spent
a relatively long time reaching the end of the maze. A
second group, however, was always given food at the
end of the maze. Not surprisingly, those rats learned to
run quickly and directly to the food box, making few
A third group of rats started out in the same situation as
the unrewarded rats, but only for the first 10 days. On
the 11th day, a critical experimental manipulation was
introduced: from that point on, the rats in this group
were given food for completing the maze. The results of
this manipulation were dramatic!
The previously unrewarded rats, which had earlier
seemed to wander about aimlessly, showed such
reductions in running time and declines in error rates
To cognitive theorists, it seemed clear that the unrewarded rats had learned the
layout of the maze early in their explorations; they just never displayed their
latent learning until the reinforcement was offered. Instead, those rats seemed
to develop a “cognitive map” of the maze– a mental representation of spatial
locations and directions.
People, too, develop cognitive maps of their surroundings. For example, latent
learning may permit you to know the location of a kitchenware store at a local
mall you’ve frequently visited, even though you’ve never entered the store and
don’t even like to cook.
The possibility that we develop our cognitive maps through latent learning
presents something of a problem for strict operant conditioning theorists. If we
consider the results of the maze-learning experiment, for instance, it is unclear
what reinforcement permitted the rats that initially received no reward to learn
by layout of the maze, because there was no obvious reinforcer present. Instead,
the results support a cognitive view of learning, in which changes occurred in
unobservable mental processes.
Observational Learning: Learning Through Imitation
Let’s return for a moment to the case of a person learning to drive. How can we account
for instances in which an individual with no direct experience in carrying out a particular
behavior learns the behavior and then performs it? To answer this question, psychologists
have focused on another aspect of cognitive learning: observational learning.
According to psychologist Albert Bandura and colleagues, a major part of human learning
consists of observational learning, which is learning by watching the behavior of another
person, or model.
Because of its reliance on observation of others– a social phenomenon– the perspective
taken by Albert Bandura is often referred to as a “social cognitive” approach to learning.
Bandura dramatically demonstrated the ability of models to stimulate learning in a classic
experiment. In the study, young children saw a film of an adult wildly hitting a 5ft. tall
inflatable punching toy called a Bobo doll. Later the children were given the opportunity to
play with the Bobo doll themselves, and, sure enough, most displayed the same kind of
behavior, in some cases mimicking the aggressive behavior almost identically.
Not only negative behaviors are acquired through observational learning. In one
experiment, for example, children who were afraid of dogs were exposed to a model-dubbed the Fearless Peer– playing with a dog. After exposure, observers were
considerably more likely to approach a strange dog than were children who had not
viewed the Fearless Peer.
Observational learning is particularly important in acquiring skills in which the operant
conditioning technique of shaping is inappropriate. Piloting an airplane and performing
brain surgery, for example, are behaviors that could hardly be learned by using trial-anderror methods without grave cost– literally– to those involved in the learning process.
Observational learning may have a genetic basis. For example, we find observational
learning at work with mother animals teaching their young such activities as hunting. In
addition, the discovery of “mirror neurons” that fire when we observe another person
carrying out a behavior suggests that the capacity to imitate others may be inborn.
Not all behavior that we witness is learned or carried out, of course. One crucial factor that
determines whether we later imitate a model is whether the model is rewarded for his or
her behavior. If we observe a friend being rewarded for putting more time into her studies
by receiving higher grades, we are more likely to imitate her behavior than we would if her
behavior resulted only in being stressed and tired.
Models who are rewarded for behaving in a particular way are more apt to be mimicked
than are models who receive punishment. Observing the punishment of a model, however,
does not necessarily stop observers from learning the behavior. Observers can still describe
the model’s behavior– they are just less apt to perform it.
Observational learning is central to a number of important issues relating to the extent to
which people learn simply by watching the behavior of others. For instance, the degree to
which observation of media aggression produces subsequent aggression on the part of
viewers is a crucial– and controversial question, as we discuss next.
Violence in Television and Video Games:
Does the Media’s Message Matter?
In an episode of “The Sopranos” television show, fictional mobster Tony Soprano
murdered one of his associates. To make identification of the victim’s body difficult,
Soprano and one of his henchmen dismembered the body and dumped the body
A few months later, two real-life half brothers in Riverside, California, strangled
their mother and then cut her head and hands from her body. Victor Bautista (20)
and Matthew Montejo (15), were caught by police after a security guard noticed
that the bundle they were attempting to throw in a Dumpster had a foot sticking
out of it.
They told police that the plan to dismember their mother was inspired by “The
Like other “media copycat” killings, the brothers’ cold-blooded brutality raises a
critical issue: Does observing violent and antisocial acts in the media lead viewers
to behave in similar ways?
Because research on modeling shows that people frequently learn and imitate the
aggression that they observe, this question is among the most important issues being
addressed by psychologists.
Certainly, the amount of violence in the mass media is enormous.
By the time of elementary school graduation, the average child in the U.S. will have
viewed more than 8,000 murders and more than 800,000 violent acts on network
Most experts agree that watching high levels of media violence makes viewers more
susceptible to acting aggressively, and recent research supports this claim.
For example, one survey of serious and violent young male offenders incarcerated in
Florida showed that 1/4th of them had attempted to commit a media-inspired copycat
A significant proportion of those teenage offenders noted that they paid close
attention to the media.
Violent video games have also been linked with actual aggression.
In one of a series of studies by psychologist Craig Anderson and his colleagues, for
example, college students who frequently played violent video games, such as
“Postal” or “Doom,” were more likely to have been involved in delinquent behavior
and aggression. Frequent players also had lower academic achievement. Several
aspects of media violence may contribute to real-life aggressive behavior.
For one thing, experiencing violent media content seems to lower inhibitions
against carrying out aggression- watching television portrayals of violence makes
aggression seem a legitimate response to particular situations.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVjUr2zXtb4 ☺ 9:43
Exposure to media violence also may distort our understanding of the meaning of
others’ behavior, predisposing us to view even nonaggressive acts by others as
Finally, a continuous diet of aggression may leave us desensitized to violence, and
what previously would have repelled us now produces little emotional response.
Our sense of the pain and suffering brought about by aggression may be
Chapter 4- States of
Module 12- Sleep and Dreams
The Stages of Sleep
Measures of electrical activity in the
brain show that the brain is active
throughout the night.
–It produces electrical discharges with
systematic, wavelike patterns that
change in height (or amplitude) and
speed (or frequency) in regular
–Also, there is significant activity in
muscle and eye movements.
The Series of distinct stages of sleep are:
Stage 1 sleep- The state of transition
between wakefulness and sleep,
characterized by relatively rapid, lowamplitude brain waves.
Stage 2 sleep- A sleep deeper than that of
Stage 1, characterized by a slower, more
regular wave pattern, along with momentary
interruptions of “sleep spindles”- spiky
waves, and it’s harder to awaken a person
from sleep as this stage progresses.
Stage 3 sleep- A sleep characterized by
slow brain waves, with greater peaks and
valleys in the wave pattern than in Stage 2
Stage 4 sleep- The deepest stage of sleep,
during which we are least receptive to
REM Sleep: The paradox of sleep – the
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep- Sleep occupying 20% of an adult’s sleeping time,
characterized by increased heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate; erections; eye
movements; and the experience of dreaming.
While all of this activity is occurring, the major muscles of the body appear to be paralyzed.
Everyone during some part of the night dreams, whether or not they remember them.
REM sleep plays a critical role in everyday human functioning.
e.g.) people deprived of REM sleep (by being awakened every time they begin to display the
physiological signs of that stage) show a rebound effect when allowed to rest undisturbed. With this
rebound effect, REM-deprived sleepers spend significantly more time in REM sleep than they normally
REM sleep may play a role in learning and memory, allowing us to rethink and restore information and
emotional experiences that we’ve had during the day.
Why do we sleep, and how
much sleep is necessary?
Sleep is a requirement for normal human functioning, although,
surprisingly, we don’t know why.
However, it is reasonable to expect our bodies would require a
tranquil “rest and relaxation” period to revitalize themselves, and
experiments with rats show that total sleep deprivation results in
Some researchers (using an evolutionary perspective) suggest
that sleep permitted our ancestors to conserve energy at night,
a time when food was relatively hard to come by.
Others suggest that the reduced activity of the brain during nonREM sleep may give neurons in the brain a chance to repair
Another hypothesis suggests that the onset of REM sleep stops
the release of neurotransmitters called monoamines, and so
permits receptor cells to get some necessary rest and to
increase their sensitivity during periods of wakefulness.
Most people today sleep between 7-8 hours each
night, which is 3 hours a night less than people slept a
hundred years ago.
Also, there is wide variability among individuals, with
some people needing as little as 3 hours of sleep.
Sleep requirements also vary over the course of a
lifetime: as they age, people generally need less and
Those who participate in sleep deprivation
experiments (kept awake for as long as 200 hours)
show no lasting effects.– It’s not Fun! They’re weary,
irritable, can’t concentrate, and show a loss of
creativity and a decline in logical reasoning.
However, after being allowed to sleep normally, they
bounce back quickly and are normal in a few days.
Sleep deprivation can make us feel edgy, slow our
reaction time, and lower our performance on
academic and physical tasks; also, we put ourselves
and others at risk when we carry out routine activities
like driving when we are sleepy!!!
The Function and Meaning of Dreaming
The average person experiences 150,000 dreams by the age of 70!!!
They typically encompass everyday events such as going to the supermarket,
working at the office, and preparing a meal. Students dream about going to class;
professors dream about lecturing. Dental patients dream of getting their teeth
drilled; dentists dream of drilling the wrong tooth. The English have tea with the
queen in their dreams; in the United States, people go to a bar with the president.
The most common themes found in dreams are: Aggression; Friendliness; Sexuality;
Misfortune; Success; and Failure.
Do Dreams represent Unconscious
Sigmund Freud viewed dreams as a guide to the unconscious.
In his unconscious wish fulfillment theory, he proposed that dreams represent
unconscious wishes that dreamers desire to see fulfilled. (meaning of dream is
disguised by manifest content of dreams)
However, because these wishes are threatening to the dreamer’s conscious
awareness, the actual wishes– called the latent content of dreams– are disguised.
The true subject and meaning of a dream, then, may have little to do with its
apparent story line, which Freud called the manifest content of dreams.
To Freud, it was important to pierce the armor of a
dream’s manifest content to understand its true meaning.
To do this, Freud tried to get people to discuss their
dreams, associating symbols in the dreams with events in
the past. He also suggested that certain common
symbols with universal meanings appear in dreams.
E.g.) To Freud, dreams in which a person is flying
symbolize a wish for sexual intercourse.
Many psychologists reject Freud’s view that dreams
typically represent unconscious wishes and that particular
objects and events in a dream are symbolic. Instead,
they believe that the direct, overt action of a dream is
the focal point of its meaning.
E.g.) A dream in which we are walking down a long
hallway to take an exam for which we haven’t
studied does not relate to the unconscious,
unacceptable wishes. Instead, it simply may mean
that we are concerned about an impending test.
Even more complex dreams can often be interpreted
in terms of everyday concerns and stress.
Dreams-for-survival theory- The theory suggests that dreams permit
information that is critical for our daily survival to be reconsidered and
reprocessed during sleep.
Dreaming is seen as an inheritance from our animal ancestors, whose small
brains were unable to sift sufficient information during waking hours. Thus,
dreaming provided a mechanism that permitted the processing of
information 24 hours a day.
According to this theory, dreams represent concerns about our daily lives,
illustrating our uncertainties, indecisions, ideas, and desires. Dreams are
seen as consistent with everyday living. Rather than being disguised wishes,
as Freud suggested, they represent key concerns growing out of our daily
Research supports this theory, suggesting that certain dreams permit people
to focus on and consolidate memories, particularly dreams that pertain to
“how-to-do-it” memories related to motor skills.
E.g.) Rats seem to dream about mazes that they learned to run through
during the day, at least according to the patterns of brain activity that
appear while they are sleeping.
According to psychiatrist J. Allan
Hobson, who proposed activationsynthesis theory, the brain produces
random electrical energy during REM
sleep, possibly as a result of changes
in the production of particular
This electrical energy randomly
stimulates memories lodged in various
portions of the brain. Because we
have a need to make sense of our
world even while asleep, the brain
takes these chaotic memories and
weaves them into a logical story line,
filling in the gaps to produce a
Activation-synthesis theory has been refined by the Activation Information Modulation
(AIM) theory, which says that dreams being in the brain’s pons, which sends random
signals to the brain’s cortex. Areas of the cortex that are related to particular waking
behaviors are related to the content of dreams.
E.g.) Areas of the brain related to vision are involved in the visual aspects of the
dream, while areas of the brain related to movement are involved in aspects of the
dream related to motion.
Activation-synthesis and AIM theories do not entirely reject the view that dreams
reflect unconscious wishes. He suggests that the particular scenario a dreamer
produces is not random but instead is a clue to the dreamer’s fears, emotions, and
concerns. Hence, what starts out as a random process culminates into something
Sleep disturbances: Slumbering
At one time or another, almost all of us have difficulty sleeping– a condition known
It could be due to a particular situation, such as the breakup of a relationship,
concern about a test score, or the loss of a job. Some cases of insomnia, however,
have no obvious cause. Some people are simply unable to fall asleep easily, or
they go to sleep readily but wake up frequently during the night.
Insomnia is a problem that afflicts as many as 1/3rd of all people.
Other sleep problems (less common)
Sleep apnea- which is a condition in
which a person has difficulty breathing
while sleeping; the result is disturbed,
fitful sleep, as the person is constantly
reawakened when the lack of oxygen
becomes great enough to trigger a
Some people with apnea wake as many
as 500 times during the course of a night,
although they many not even be aware
that they have wakened. Such
disturbed sleep results in extreme fatigue
the next day.
Sleep apnea also may play a role in
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a
mysterious killer of seemingly normal
infants who die while sleeping.
Night terrors are sudden awakenings from non-REM sleep that are accompanied by extreme fear, panic,
and strong physiological arousal. Usually occurring in Stage 4 sleep, night terrors may be so frightening
that a sleeper awakens with a shriek. Although night terrors initially produce great agitation, victims
usually can get back to sleep fairly quickly. They are much less frequent than nightmares and occur most
frequently in children between the ages of 3 & 8.
Narcolepsy is uncontrollable sleeping that occurs for short periods while a person is awake. No matter
what the activity– holding a heated conversation, exercising, or driving– a narcoleptic will suddenly fall
asleep. People with narcolepsy go directly from wakefulness to REM sleep, skipping the other stages.
The causes of narcolepsy are not known, although there could be a genetic component because
narcolepsy runs in families.
We know little about sleeptalking and sleepwalking, two sleep disturbances that are usually harmless,
both occur during Stage 4 sleep and are more common in children than in adults.
Sleeptalkers and sleepwalkers usually have a vague consciousness of the world around them, and a
sleepwalker may be able to walk with agility around obstructions in a crowded room.
Circadian Rhythms: Life Cycles
The fact that we cycle back and forth between wakefulness
and sleep is one example of the body’s circadian rhythms.
Circadian Rhythms (Latin “circa diem” or “around the day”) are
biological processes that occur regularly on approximately a
24-hour cycle. Sleeping and waking, for instance, occur
naturally to the beat of an internal pacemaker that works on a
cycle of about 24 hours.
Several other bodily functions, such as body temperature,
hormone production, and blood pressure, also follow circadian
rhythms. Circadian cycles are complex, and they involve a
variety of behaviors.
Circadian rhythms explain the phenomenon of jet lag, caused
by flying through multiple time zones. Pilots, as well as others
who must work on constantly changing time shifts (police
officers and medical personnel), must fight their internal clocks.
The result can be fatigue, irritability, and, even worse, outright
error. In fact, many major disasters caused by human error
occurred late at night.
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Exercise during the day (@ least 6 hours before bedtime and avoid naps!)
Choose a regular bedtime and stick to it.
Avoid drinks with caffeine after lunch. Lingers 8-12 hours after consumed.
Drink a glass of warm milk at bedtime. Tryptophan (chemical in milk).
Avoid sleeping pills. Disrupts normal sleep cycle.
Try not to sleep. If you don’t fall asleep within 10 minutes do something else
until you feel sleepy.
Module 13: Hypnosis and Meditation
Hypnosis: a trance-forming experience?
People under hypnosis are in a trancelike state of heightened susceptibility to the
suggestions of others.
In some respects, it appears that they are asleep. Yet other aspects of their behavior
contradict this notion, for people are attentive to the hypnotist’s suggestions and may
carry out bizarre or silly suggestions.
Despite their compliance when hypnotized, people do not lose all will of their own. They
will not perform antisocial behaviors, and they will not carry out self-destructive acts.
People will not reveal hidden truths about themselves, and they are capable of lying.
People cannot be hypnotized against their will– despite popular misconceptions.
There are wide variations in people’s susceptibility to hypnosis. About 5-20 % of the
population cannot be hypnotized at all, and some 15% are very easily hypnotized.
Most people fall somewhere in between.
Moreover, the ease with which a person is hypnotized is related to a number of
People who are hypnotized readily are also easily absorbed while reading books or
listening to music, becoming unaware of what is happening around them, and they
often spend an unusual amount of time day-dreaming. Overall, they show a high
ability to concentrate and to become completely absorbed in what they are
A Different State of Consciousness?
The question of whether hypnosis is a state of consciousness that is qualitatively different
from normal waking consciousness is controversial. Some psychologists believe that
hypnosis represents a state of consciousness that differs significantly from other states.
In this view, the high suggestibility, increased ability to recall and construct images, and
acceptance of suggestions that clearly contradict reality suggest it is a different state.
Moreover, changes in electrical activity in the brain are associated with hypnosis,
supporting the position that hypnosis is a state of consciousness different from normal
On the other side of the controversy are psychologists
who reject the notion that hypnosis is a state
significantly different from normal waking
consciousness. They argue that altered brain-wave
patterns are not sufficient to demonstrate a
qualitative difference because no other specific
physiological changes occur when people are in
Furthermore, little support exists for the contention that
adults can recall memories of childhood events
accurately while hypnotized.
That lack of evidence suggests that there is nothing
qualitatively special about the hypnotic trance.
Due to the controversy over the nature of hypnosis, it’s
best viewed as lying along a continuum in which
hypnosis is neither a totally different state of
consciousness nor totally similar to normal waking
Meditation: Regulating Our Own
State of Consciousness
Meditation is a learned technique for refocusing attention that brings about an altered state of
Meditation typically consists of the repetition of a mantra– a sound, word, or syllable– over and over. In
other forms of meditation, the focus is on a picture, flame, or specific part of the body. Regardless of the
nature of the particular initial stimulus, the key to the procedure is concentrating on it so thoroughly that the
meditator becomes unaware of any outside stimulation and reaches a different state of consciousness.
After meditation, people report feeling thoroughly relaxed. They sometimes relate that they have gained
new insights into themselves and the problems they are facing.
The long-term practice of meditation may even improve health because of the biological changes it
E.g.) During meditation, oxygen usage decreases, heart rate and blood pressure decline, and brainwave patterns change.
Anyone can meditate by following a few simple procedures. The fundamentals include
sitting in a quiet room with the eyes closed, breathing deeply and rhythmically, and
repeating a word or sound– such as the word one– over and over.
Practiced twice a day for 20 minutes, the technique is effective in bringing about
Meditation is a means of altering consciousness that is practiced in many different
cultures, though it can take different forms and serve different purposes across cultures.
In fact, one impetus for the study of consciousness is the realization that people in many
different cultures routinely seek ways to alter their state of consciousness.
Module 14: Drug Use: The Highs and
Lows of Consciousness
From infancy on, most people take vitamins, aspirin, cold-relief
medicine, and the like, and surveys find that 80% of adults in the U.S.
have taken an over-the-counter pain reliever in the last 6 months.
However, these drugs rarely produce an altered state of consciousness.
In contrast, some substances, known as psychoactive drugs, lead to an
altered state of consciousness.
Psychoactive drugs influence a person’s emotions, perceptions, and
Yet even this category of drugs is common in most of our lives.
E.g.) If you have ever had a cup of coffee or sipped a beer, you have taken
a psychoactive drug.
A large number of individuals have used more potent– and dangerous- psychoactive drugs than coffee and beer.
In addition, 30% report having been drunk on alcohol. The figures for the
adult population are even higher!
The most dangerous drugs are addictive.
Addictive drugs produce a biological or
psychological dependence in the user, and
withdrawal from them leads to a craving for
that drug that, in some cases, may be nearly
In physiological dependence, the body
becomes so accustomed to functioning in the
presence of a drug that it cannot function
In psychological dependence, people believe
that they need the drug to respond to the
stresses of daily living.
Although we generally associate addiction with
drugs such as heroin, everyday sorts of drugs,
such as caffeine (found in coffee) and nicotine
(found in cigarettes) have addictive aspects as
Why do people take drugs in the first place?
There are many reasons, ranging from the perceived pleasure of the experience itself, to
the escape that a drug-induced high affords from the everyday pressures of life, to an
attempt to achieve a religious or spiritual state.
In some cases, the motive is simply the thrill of trying something new.
Finally, the sense of helplessness experienced by unemployed individuals trapped in lives
of poverty may lead them to try drugs as a way of escaping from the bleakness of their
Regardless of the forces that lead a person to begin using drugs, drug addiction is among
the most difficult of all behaviors to modify, even with extensive treatment. There is
therefore little disagreement that the best hope for dealing with the overall societal
problem of substance abuse is to prevent people from becoming involved with drugs in
the first place.
Stimulants: Drug Highs
Does your day not start until you’ve had your morning cup of coffee?
Caffeine is one of a number of stimulants, drugs whose effect on the central nervous system
causes a rise in heart rate, blood pressure, and muscular tension.
Caffeine is present in tea, soft drinks, and chocolate as well as coffee.
The major behavioral effects are an increase in attentiveness and a decrease in reaction time.
Caffeine can also bring about an improvement in mood, most likely by mimicking the effects of a
natural brain chemical, adenosine.
Too much caffeine, however, can result in nervousness and insomnia.
People can build up a biological dependence on the drug.
Regular users who suddenly stop drinking coffee may experience headaches or depression.
Many people who drink large amounts of coffee on weekdays have headaches on weekends
because of the sudden drop in the amount of caffeine they are consuming.
Nicotine, found in cigarettes, is
another common stimulant.
The soothing effects of nicotine
help explain why cigarette
smoking is addictive.
Smokers develop strong cravings
for the drug.
This is not surprising; nicotine
activates neural mechanisms
similar to those activated by
cocaine, which is also highly
Amphetamines are strong stimulants, such as Dexadrine and
Benzedrine, popularly known as speed.
In small quantities, amphetamines– which stimulate the central
nervous system– bring about a sense of energy and alertness,
talkativeness, heightened confidence, and a mood “high.”
They increase concentration and reduce fatigue.
Amphetamines also cause a loss of appetite, increased anxiety,
When taken over long periods of time, amphetamines can cause
feelings of being persecuted by others, as well as a general sense
People taking amphetamines may lose interest in sex.
If taken in too large a quantity, amphetamines overstimulate the
central nervous system to such an extent that convulsions and
death can occur.
Methamphetamine is a white, crystalline drug that U.S. police now say is the most dangerous
street drug. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVEulrvBwsA
“Meth” is highly addictive and relatively cheap, and it produces a strong, lingering high.
It has made addicts of people across the social spectrum, ranging from soccer moms to urban
professionals to poverty-stricken inner-city residents.
After becoming addicted, users take it more and more frequently and in increasing doses.
Long-term use of the drug can lead to brain damage.
Close to a million people in the U.S. are regular methamphetamine users.
Because it can be made from nonprescription cold pills, retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target
have removed these medications from their shelves.
Illicit labs devoted to the manufacture of methamphetamine have sprung up in many locations
around the U.S.
Although its use has declined over the last decade, the stimulant
cocaine and its derivative, crack, still represent a serious concern.
Cocaine is inhaled or “snorted” through the nose, smoked, or injected
directly into the bloodstream.
It is rapidly absorbed into the body and takes effect almost
When used in relatively small quantities, cocaine produces feelings of
profound psychological well-being, increased confidence, and
Cocaine produces this “high” through the neurotransmitter
Dopamine is one of the chemicals that transmit between neurons
messages that are related to ordinary feelings of pleasure.
Normally when dopamine is released, excess amounts of the
neurotransmitter are reabsorbed by the releasing neuron.
However, when cocaine enters the brain, it blocks reabsorption of
As a result, the brain is flooded with dopamine-produced
However, there is a steep price for the pleasurable effects of cocaine.
The brain may become permanently rewired, triggering a psychological and
physical addiction in which users grow obsessed with obtaining the drug.
Over time, users deteriorate mentally and physically.
In extreme cases, cocaine can cause hallucinations– a common one is of insects
crawling over one’s body.
Ultimately, an overdose of cocaine can lead to death.
Depressants: Drug Lows
In contrast to the initial effect of stimulants,
which is an increase in arousal of the central
nervous system, the effect of depressants is to
impede the nervous system by causing neurons
to fire more slowly.
Small doses result in at least temporary feelings
of intoxication– drunkenness– along with a
sense of euphoria and joy.
When large amounts are taken, however,
speech becomes slurred and muscle control
becomes disjointed, making motion difficult.
Ultimately, heavy users may lose consciousness
The most common depressant is alcohol, which is used by
more people than is any other drug.
Based on liquor sales, the average person over the age of
14 drinks 2 1/2 gallons of pure alcohol over the course of a
This works out to more than 200 drinks per person.
Although alcohol consumption has declined steadily over
the last decade, surveys show that more than 3/4ths of
college students indicate that they have had a drink within
the last 30 days.
Generally, women are typically somewhat lighter drinkers
than men– although the gap between the sexes is
narrowing for older women and has closed completely for
Women are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, and
alcohol abuse may harm the brains of women more than
those of men.
Although alcohol is a depressant, most people claim that it increases
their sense of sociability and well-being.
The discrepancy between the actual and the perceived effects of
alcohol lies in the initial effects it produces in the majority of
individuals who use it: release of tension and stress, feelings of
happiness, and loss of inhibitions.
As the dose of alcohol increases, however, the depressive effects
become more pronounced.
People may feel emotionally and physically unstable.
They also show poor judgment and may act aggressively.
Moreover, memory is impaired, brain processing of spatial
information is diminished, and speech becomes slurred and
Eventually they may fall into a stupor and pass out.
If they drink enough alcohol in a short time, they may die of alcohol
Although most people fall into the category of casual users, 14
million people in the U.S.– 1 in every 13 adults– have a drinking
Alcoholics, people with alcohol-abuse problems, come to rely on
alcohol and continue to drink even though it causes serious
In addition, they become increasingly immune to the effects of
Consequentially, alcoholics must drink progressively more to
experience the initial positive feelings that alcohol produces.
In some cases of alcoholism, people must drink constantly in order to
feel well enough to function in their daily lives.
In other cases, though, people drink inconsistently, but occasionally
go on binges in which they consume large quantities of alcohol.
It is not clear why certain people become alcoholics and develop a
tolerance for alcohol, whereas others do not.
There may be a genetic cause, although the question whether there
is a specific inherited gene that produces alcoholism is controversial.
What is clear is that the chances of becoming an alcoholic are
considerably higher if alcoholics are present in earlier generations of
a person’s family.
However, not all alcoholics have close relatives who are alcoholics.
In these cases, environmental stressors are suspected of playing a
Barbiturates, which include drugs such as Nembutal, Seconal, and Phenobarbital,
are another form of depressant.
Frequently prescribed by physicians to induce sleep or reduce stress, barbiturates
produce a sense of relaxation.
Yet they too are psychologically and physically addictive and, when combined
with alcohol, can be deadly, since such a combination relaxes the muscles of the
diaphragm to such an extent that the user stops breathing.
Rohypnol is sometimes
called the “date rape
drug,” because when it is
mixed with alcohol, it can
prevent victims from
resisting sexual assault.
Sometimes people who are
unknowingly given the
drug are so incapacitated
that they have no memory
of the assault.
Narcotics: Relieving Pain and Anxiety
Narcotics are drugs that increase relaxation
and relieve pain and anxiety.
Two of the most powerful narcotics,
morphine and heroin, are derived from the
poppy seed pod.
Although morphine is used medically to
control severe pain, heroin is illegal in the
This has not prevented its widespread use.
Heroin users usually inject the drug directly into their veins
with a hypodermic needle.
The immediate effect has been described as a “rush” of
positive feeling, similar in some respects to a sexual
orgasm– and just as difficult to describe.
After the rush, a heroin user experiences a sense of wellbeing and peacefulness that lasts 3-5 hours.
When the effects of the drug wear off, however, the user
feels extreme anxiety and a desperate desire to repeat
Moreover, larger amounts of heroin are needed each
time to produce the same pleasurable effect.
These last two properties are all the ingredients necessary
for biological and psychological addiction: the user is
constantly either shooting up or attempting to obtain
ever-increasing amounts of the drug.
Eventually, the life of the addict revolves around heroin.
Because of the powerful positive feelings the drug
produces, heroin addiction is particularly difficult to cure.
One treatment that has shown some
success is the use of methadone.
Methadone is a synthetic chemical
that satisfies a heroin user’s
physiological cravings for the drug
without providing the “high” that
When heroin users are placed on
regular doses of methadone, they
may be able to function relatively
The use of methadone has one
substantial drawback, however:
although it removes the psychological
dependence on heroin, it replaces
the biological addiction to heroin with
a biological addiction to methadone.
Oxycodone(sold as the
OxyContin) is a type of pain
reliever that has led to a
significant amount of abuse.
Many well-known people
(including Courtney Love
and Rush Limbaugh) have
become dependent on it.
The most common hallucinogen in widespread use today is marijuana, whose active ingredienttetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—is found in a common weed, cannabis.
Marijuana is typically smoked in cigarettes or pipes, although it can be cooked and eaten.
Just over 32% of high school seniors and 11% of 8th graders report having used marijuana in the last year.
The effects of marijuana vary from person to person, but they typically consist of feelings of euphoria and
Sensory experiences seem more vivid and intense, and a person’s sense of self-importance seems to grow.
Memory may be impaired, causing the user to feel pleasantly “spaced out.”
However, the effects are not universally positive.
Individuals who use marijuana when they feel depressed can end up even more depressed, because the
drug tends to magnify both good and bad feelings.
There are clear risks associated with long-term, heavy marijuana use.
Although marijuana does not seem to produce addiction by itself, some evidence suggests that there are
similarities in the way marijuana and drugs such as cocaine and heroin affect the brain.
Furthermore, there is some evidence that heavy use at least temporarily
decreases the production of the male sex hormone testosterone, potentially
affecting sexual activity and sperm count.
In addition, marijuana smoked during pregnancy may have lasting effects on
children who are exposed prenatally, although the results are inconsistent.
Heavy use also affects the ability of the immune system to fight off germs and
increases stress on the heart, although it is unclear how strong these effects are.
There is one unquestionably negative consequence of smoking marijuana: the
smoke damages the lungs much the way cigarette smoke does, producing an
increased likelihood of developing cancer and other lung diseases.
Despite the possible dangers of marijuana use, there is little scientific evidence for
the popular belief that users “graduate” from marijuana to more dangerous
Furthermore, the use of marijuana is routine in certain cultures.
E.g.) Some people in Jamaica habitually drink a marijuana-based tea related to religious
In addition, marijuana has several medical uses; it can be used to prevent nausea
from chemotherapy, treat some AIDS symptoms, and relieve muscle spasms for
people with spinal cord injuries.
In fact, several states have made the use of the drug legal if it is prescribed by a
physician—although it remains illegal under the U.S. federal law.
MDMA (“Ecstasy”) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD, or “acid”) fall into the category of
Both drugs affect the operation of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, causing an
alteration in brain-cell activity and perception.
Ecstasy users report a sense of peacefulness and calm.
People on the drug report experiencing empathy and connection with others, as well as
feeling more relaxed, yet energetic.
Although the data are not conclusive, some researchers have found declines in memory
and performance on intellectual tasks, and such findings suggest that there may be longterm changes in serotonin receptors in the brain.
LSD, which is structurally similar to serotonin, produces vivid hallucinations.
Perceptions of colors, sounds, and shapes are altered so much that even the most
mundane experience—such as looking at the knots in a wooden table—can seem moving
Time perception is distorted, and objects and people may be viewed in a new way, with
some users reporting that LSD increases their understanding of the world.
For others, however, the experience brought on by LSD can be terrifying, particularly if
users have had emotional difficulties in the past.
Furthermore, people occasionally experience flashbacks, in which they hallucinate long
after they initially used the drug.
Identifying Drug and Alcohol Problems
Certain signs to help indicate when use becomes abuse:
Always getting high to have a good time.
Being high more often than not.
Getting high to get oneself going.
Going to work while high.
Missing or being unprepared for work because you were high.
Feeling bad later about something you said or did while high.
Driving a car while high.
Coming in conflict with the law because of drugs.
Doing something while high that you wouldn’t do otherwise.
Being high in nonsocial, solitary situations.
Being unable to stop getting high.
Feeling a need for a drink or a drug to get through the day.
Becoming physically unhealthy.
Failing on the job.
Thinking about liquor or drugs all the time.
Avoiding family or friends while using liquor or drugs.
Any combination of these symptoms is sufficient to alert you to the
potential of a serious drug problem.
Because drug and alcohol dependence are almost impossible to cure
on one’s own, people who suspect that they have a problem should
seek immediate attention from a psychologist, physician, or counselor.
National Council on Alcoholism: (800)-622-2255
National Institute on Drug Abuse: (800)-662-4357
Local Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous: Check Local Listings
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
National Institute on Drug Abuse: www.nida.nih.gov
Chapter 6- Thinking,
Memory, Cognition, and
Module 18: The Foundations of
You are playing a game of Trivial Pursuit, and winning the game comes
down to one question: On what body of water is Mumbai located?
As you rack your brain for the answer, several fundamental processes
relating to memory come into play.
You may never, for instance, have been exposed to information regarding
Or if you have been exposed to it, it simply may not have registered in a
meaningful way. In other words, the information might not have been
recorded properly in your memory.
The initial process of recording information in a form usable to memory, a
process called encoding, is the first stage in remembering something.
Even if you had been exposed to the information and
originally knew the name of the body of water, you may still
be unable to recall it during the game because of a failure
to retain it.
Memory specialists speak of storage, the maintenance of
material saved in memory.
If the material is not stored adequately, it cannot be recalled
Memory also depends on one last process– retrieval: material
in memory storage has to be located and brought into
awareness to be useful.
Your failure to recall Mumbai’s location, then, may rest on
your inability to retrieve information that you learned earlier.
In sum, psychologists consider memory to be the process by
which we encode, store, and retrieve information.
Each of the 3 parts of this definition– encoding, storage, and
retrieval– represents a different process.
You can think of these processes as being analogous to a
computer’s keyboard (encoding), hard drive (storage), and
software that accesses the information for display on the
Only if all 3 processes have operated will you experience
success and be able to recall the body of water on which
Mumbai is located: the Arabian Sea.
Recognizing that memory involves encoding, storage, and
retrieval gives us a start in understanding the concept.
But how does memory actually function?
How do we explain what information is initially encoded, what
gets stored, and how it is retrieved?
According to the three-system approach to memory that
dominated memory research for several decades, there are
different memory storage systems or stages through which
information must travel if it is to be remembered.
Historically, the approach has been extremely influential in the
development of our understanding of memory, and – although
new theories have augmented it– it still provides a useful
framework for understanding how information is recalled.
The 3-system memory theory proposes the existence of the 3
separate memory stores:
Sensory memory– refers to the initial, momentary storage of
information that lasts only an instant. Here an exact replica of
the stimulus recorded by a person’s sensory system is stored
In a second stage, short-term memory holds information for
15-25 seconds and stores it according to its meaning rather
than as mere sensory stimulation.
The third type of storage system is long-term memory.
Information is stored in long-term memory on a relatively
permanent basis, although it may be difficult to retrieve.
A momentary flash of lightning, the sound of a twig snapping,
and the sting of a pinprick all represent stimulation of
exceedingly brief duration, but they may nonetheless provide
important information that can require a response.
Such stimuli are initially– and fleetingly– stored in sensory
memory, the first repository of the information the world presents
Sensory memory can store information for only a very short time.
If information does not pass into short-term memory, it is lost for
However, despite the brief duration of sensory memory, its
precision is high: sensory memory can store an almost exact
replica of each stimulus to which it is exposed.
Because the information that is stored briefly in sensory memory
consists of representations of raw sensory stimuli, it is not
meaningful to us.
If we are to make sense of it and possibly retain it, the information
must be transferred to the next stage of memory: short-term
Short-term memory is the memory store in which information first
has meaning, although the maximum length of retention there is
Short-term memory has incomplete representational capabilities:
the specific amount of information that can be held in short-term
memory has been identified as 7 times, or “chunks,” of
information, with variations up to plus or minus two chunks.
A chunk is a meaningful grouping of stimuli that can be stored as
a unit in short-term memory.
According to George Miller (1956), a chunk can be individual
letters or numbers, permitting us to hold a 7-digit phone
number (like 226-4610) in short-term memory.
But a chunk also may consist of larger categories, such as
words or other meaningful units.
For example, consider the following list of 21 letters: P B S F O X
Because the list exceeds 7 chunks, it is difficult to recall the
letters after one exposure.
But suppose they were presented as follows: PBS FOX CNN ABC
CBS MTV NBC
In this case, even though there are still 21 letters, you’d be able
to store them in short-term memory, since they represent only 7
Although it is possible to remember 7 or so relatively
complicated sets of information entering short-term memory,
the information cannot be held there very long.
Most psychologists believe that information in short-term
memory is lost after 15-25 seconds– unless it is transferred to
The transfer of material from short- to long-term memory
proceeds largely on the basis of rehearsal, the repetition of
information that has entered short-term memory.
Rehearsal accomplishes two things. First, as long as the
information is repeated, it is maintained in short-term memory.
More important, however, rehearsal allows us to transfer the
information into long-term memory.
Whether the transfer is made from short- to long-term memory
seems to depend largely on the kind of rehearsal that is carried
If information is simply repeated over and over again– as we
might do with a telephone number while we rush from the
phone book to the phone– it is kept current in short-term
memory, but it will not necessarily be placed in long-term
Instead, as soon as we stop punching in the phone numbers,
the number is likely to be replaced by other information and
will be completely forgotten.
In contrast, if the information in short-term memory is rehearsed
using a process called elaborative rehearsal, it is much more
likely to be transferred into long-term memory.
Elaborative rehearsal occurs when the information is
considered and organized in some fashion.
The organization might include expanding the information to
make it fit into a logical framework, linking it to another
memory, turning it into an image, or transforming it in some
Long-Term Memory: Modules
Material that makes its way from short-term memory to longterm memory enters a storehouse of almost unlimited
Like a new file we save on a hard drive, the information in longterm memory is filed and coded so that we can retrieve it
when we need it.
Many contemporary researchers now regard long-term
memory as having several different components, or memory
Each of these modules represents a separate memory system
in the brain.
One major distinction within long-term memory is that between
declarative memory and procedural memory.
Module 19: Recall and
Forgetting: Retrieval Cues
Have you ever tried to remember someone’s name, convinced that you knew it but
unable to recall it no matter how hard you tried?
This common occurrence– known as the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon–
exemplifies how difficult it can be to retrieve information stored in long-term
A retrieval cue is a stimulus that allows us to recall more easily information that is
in long-term memory. E.g.) Smell of roasting turkey may evoke memories of
Thanksgiving or family gatherings.
Retrieval cues are particularly important when we are making an effort to recall
information, as opposed to being asked to recognize material stored in memory.
In recall, a specific piece of information must be retrieved- such as that needed to
answer a fill-in-the-blank question or to write an essay on a test.
In contrast, recognition occurs when people are presented with a stimulus and
asked whether they have been exposed to it previously, or they are asked to identify
it from a list of alternatives.
Recognition is generally a much easier task than recall.
Levels of Processing
One determinant of how well memories are recalled is the way in
which material is first perceived, processed, and understood.
The levels-0f-processing theory emphasizes the degree to which new
material is mentally analyzed.
It suggests that the amount of information processing that occurs
when material is initially encountered is central in determining how
much of that information is ultimately remembered.
According to this approach, the depth of information processing
during exposure to material– meaning the degree to which it is
analyzed and considered– is critical; the greater the intensity of its
initial processing is, the more likely we are to remember it.
The greater attention we pay to new material the more thoroughly it
is processed, and so it enters memory at a deeper level.
Explicit and Implicit Memory
Careful studies have found that people who are anesthetized during surgery
can sometimes recall snippets of conversations they heard during surgery–
even though they have no conscious recollection of the information.
The discovery that people have memories about which they are unaware has
been an important one.
It has led to speculation that 2 forms of memory, explicit and implicit, may exist
side by side.
Explicit memory refers to intentional or conscious recollection of information.
When we try to remember a name or date we have encountered or learned
about previously, we are searching our explicit memory.
Implicit memory refers to memories of which people are not consciously
aware, but which can affect subsequent performance and behavior. Skills that
operate automatically and without thinking, such as jumping out of the path of
an automobile coming toward us as we walk down the side of a road, are
stored in implicit memory. A vague dislike of an acquaintance without knowing
Where were you on September 11, 2001? You might draw a blank until this
piece of information is added: that date was when the Twin Towers in New
York City were attacked by terrorists.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aRt4sgejOw 3:17 ☺
You probably have little trouble recalling your exact location and a variety of
other trivial details that occurred when you heard about the terrorist attack,
even though the incident happened years ago.
Your ability to remember details about this fatal event illustrates a
phenomenon known as flashbulb memory.
Flashbulb memories are memories related to a specific, important, or
surprising event that are so vivid they represent a virtual snapshot of the
Several types of flashbulb memories are common among college students.
E.g.) involvement in a car accident, meeting one’s roommate for the first
time, and the night of high school graduation are all typical flashbulb
Constructive Processes in Memory: Rebuilding the
As we have seen, although it is clear that we can have detailed recollections
of significant and distinctive events, it is difficult to gauge the accuracy of
In fact, it is apparent that our memories reflect, at least in part,
constructive processes, processes in which memories are influenced by the
meaning we give to events.
When we retrieve information, then, the memory that is produced is
affected not just by the direct prior experience we have had with the
stimulus, but also by our guesses and inferences about its meaning.
The notion that memory is based on constructive processes was first put
forward by Frederic Bartlett, a British psychologist.
He suggested that people tend to remember information in terms of
schemas, organized bodies of information stored in memory that bias the
way new information is interpreted, stored, and recalled. Our expectations
and knowledge affect the reliability of our memories.
Autobiographical Memory: Where Past Meets
Your memory of experiences in your own past may well be a fiction–
or at least a distortion of what actually occurred.
The same constructive processes that make us inaccurately recall the
behavior of others also reduce the accuracy of autobiographical
Autobiographical memories are our recollections of circumstances
and episodes from our own lives.
They encompass the episodic memories we hold about ourselves.
E.g.) We tend to forget information about our past that is
incompatible with the way in which we currently see ourselves. One
study found that adults who were well adjusted but who had been
treated for emotional problems during the early years of their lives
tended to forget important but troubling childhood events, such as
being in foster care.
All of us who have experienced even routine instances of forgetting- such as
not remembering an acquaintance’s name or a fact on a test- understand the
very real consequences of memory failure.
It is also essential to remembering important information. The ability to
forget inconsequential details about experiences, people, and objects helps
us avoid being burdened and distracted by trivial stores of meaningless data.
Forgetting permits us to form general impressions and recollections.
German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (100 or so yrs. Ago) used himself
as the only participant in the study, and memorized lists of 3-letter nonsense
syllables like FIW and BOZ. He measured how easy it was to relearn a given
list of words after varying periods of time had passed since the initial
learning, and he found that forgetting occurred systematically.
There is almost always a strong initial decline in memory, followed by a more
gradual drop over time.
Furthermore, relearning of previously mastered material is almost always
faster than starting from scratch, whether the material is academic
information or a motor skill such as serving a tennis ball.
Why We Forget
Why do we forget? One reason is that we may not have paid attention to the
material in the first place– a failure of encoding.
E.g.) Exposed to U.S. coin currency, but you probably don’t have a clear sense of
the details of the coin.
Decay is the loss of information through nonuse. This explanation for forgetting
assumes that memory traces, the physical changes that take place in the brain
when new material is learned, simply fade away over time.
Interference: information in memory disrupts the recall of other information.
Cue-dependent forgetting: forgetting that occurs when there are insufficient
retrieval cues to rekindle information that is in memory.
E.g.) May not be able to remember where you lost a set of keys until you mentally
walk through your day, thinking of each place you visited. When you think of the
place where you lost the keys– say, the library– the retrieval cue of the library may
be sufficient to help you recall that you left them on the desk in the library.
Without that retrieval cue, you may be unable to recall the location of the keys.
Proactive and Retroactive Interference:
The Before and After of Forgetting
We forget things mainly because new memories interfere with
the retrieval of old ones or because appropriate retrieval cues
are unavailable, not because the memory trace has decayed.
Proactive Interference: information learned earlier disrupts the
recall of newer material. E.g.) Suppose you move and get a
new telephone number. For the first several months afterward,
whenever anyone asks for your number, you can only think of
your old number- not new.
Retroactive Interference: refers to difficultly in the recall of
information because of later exposure to different material.
E.g.) You eventually become unable to recall your old telephone
number anymore, retroactive interference is the culprit.
Improving Your Memory
The keyword technique: learning Spanish “caballo”
pronounce “cob-eye-yo” – horse.
Organization cues: as read organize material in memory;
easily make connections and see relationships at a deeper
Take effective notes: “Less is More”– think about the material
and write the pertinent information only.
Practice and Rehearse: study & rehearse past initial memoryoverlearning is good! ☺ Better long-term recall!
Don’t believe claims about drugs that improve memory: No
research has shown that commercial memory enhancers
Module 20:Thinking, Reasoning, and Problem
Psychologists define thinking as the manipulation of mental
representations of information.
A representation may take the form of a word, a visual image,
a sound, or data in any other sensory modality stored in
Thinking transforms a particular representation of information
into new and different forms, allowing us to answer questions,
solve problems, or reach goals.
Although a clear sense of what specifically occurs when we
think remains elusive, our understanding of the nature of the
fundamental elements involved in thinking is growing.
We begin by considering our use of mental images and
concepts, the building blocks of thought.
Mental Images: Examining the Mind’s Eye
Think of your best friend. Chances are that you “see”
some kind of visual image when asked to think of her
or him, or any other person or object, for that matter.
To some cognitive psychologists, such mental images
constitute a major part of thinking.
Mental Images are representations in the mind of an
object or event. They are not just visual
representations; our ability to “hear” a tune in our
heads also relies on a mental image. In fact, every
sensory modality may produce corresponding mental
Some experts see the production of mental images as a way to
improve various skills.
For instance, many athletes use mental imagery in their training.
Basketball players may try to produce vivid and detailed images of
the court, the basket, the ball, and the noisy crowd. They may
visualize themselves taking a foul shot, watching the ball, and
hearing the swish as it goes through the net. And it works: the use of
mental imagery can lead to improved performance in sports.
Concepts: Categorizing the World
If someone asks you what is in your kitchen cabinet,
you might answer with a detailed list of items (“a jar of
peanut butter, 3 boxes of pasta, 6 novelty coffee
mugs,” etc). More likely, though, you would respond by
naming some broader categories such as “food” and
Using such categories reflects the operation of
concepts. Concepts are mental groupings of similar
objects, events, or people. Concepts enable us to
organize complex phenomena into simpler, and
therefore more easily usable, cognitive categories.
Concepts help us classify newly encountered objects on
the basis of our past experience. For example, we can
surmise that someone tapping a hand-held screen is
probably using some kind of computer or PDA, even if we
have never encountered that specific model before.
Ultimately, concepts influence behavior; we would
assume, for instance, that it might be appropriate to pet
an animal after determining that it is a dog, whereas we
would behave differently after classifying the animal as a
Many real-world concepts are ambiguous and difficult to
define. For instance, concepts such as “table” and “bird”
have a set of general, relatively loose characteristic
When we consider these more ambiguous concepts, we
usually think in terms of examples called prototypes.
Prototypes are typical, highly representative examples of a
concept that correspond to our mental image or best
example of the concept. For instance, although a robin and
an ostrich are both examples of birds, the robin is an example
that comes to most people’s minds far more readily.
Consequently, robin is a prototype of the concept “bird.”
Reasoning: Making Up Your Mind
Instructors deciding when students’ assignments are due.
An employer determining who to hire out of a pool of job applicants.
The president concluding that it is necessary to send troops to a foreign
What do these 3 situations have in common? ………..
………Each of them requires “reasoning.“
Reasoning– the process by which information is used to draw conclusions and
Algorithms and Heuristics
When faced with making a decision, we often turn to various kinds of
cognitive shortcuts, known as algorithms and heuristics, to help us.
An algorithm is a rule that, if applied appropriately, guarantees a
solution to a problem. We can use an algorithm even if we cannot
understand why it works. For example, you may know that you can
find the length of the 3rd side of a right triangle by using the formula:
a2 + b2 = c2, although you many not have the foggiest notion of the
mathematical principles behind the formula.
For many problems and decisions, however, no algorithm
is available. In those instances, we may be able to use
heuristics to help us.
A heuristic is a thinking strategy that may lead us to a
solution to a problem or decision, but — unlike algorithms- may sometimes lead to errors.
For example, when I play tic-tac-toe, I follow the heuristic of
placing an “X” in the center square when I start the game.
This tactic doesn’t guarantee that I will win, but experience
has taught me that it will increase my chances of success.
Similarly, some students follow the heuristic of preparing for
a test by ignoring the assigned textbook reading and only
studying their lecture notes– a strategy that may or may
not pay off.
In the Tower of Hanoi puzzle, 3 disks are placed on the first of three
posts (see page. 229). The goal of the puzzle is to move all 3 disks to
the 3rd post, arranged in the same order, by using as few moves as
possible. There are 2 restrictions: only one disk can be moved at a
time, and no disk can ever cover a smaller one during a move.
Move C to 3, B to 2, C to 2, A to 3, C to 1, B to 3 and C to 3
Why are cognitive psychologists interested in the Tower of Hanoi
Because the way people go about solving such puzzles helps
illuminate how people solve complex, real-life problems.
Psychologists have found that problem solving typically involves the
3 steps: preparing to create solutions (understanding and
diagnosing problems), producing solutions (generating), and
evaluating the solutions that have been generated (judgment).
and Diagnosing Problems
When approaching a problem like the Tower of Hanoi, most people begin by trying
to understand the problem thoroughly. If the problem is a novel one, they
probably will pay particular attention to any restrictions placed on coming up with
a solution– such as the rule for moving only one disk at a time in the Tower of
Hanoi problem. If, by contrast, the problem is a familiar one, they are apt to spend
considerably less time in this preparation stage.
Problems vary from well defined to ill defined.
In a “well-defined problem” — such as a mathematical equation or the solution to
a jigsaw puzzle– both the nature of the problem itself and the information needed
to solve it are available and clear. Thus, we can make straightforward judgments
about whether a potential solution is appropriate.
With an “ill-defined problem,” such as how to increase morale on an assembly line
or to bring peace to the Middle East, not only may the specific nature of the
problem be unclear, the information required to solve the problem may be even
The preparation stage of understanding and diagnosing is critical in
problem solving because it allows us to develop our own cognitive
representation of the problem and to place it within a personal
framework. We may divide the problem into subparts or ignore some
information as we try to simplify the task. Winnowing out
nonessential information is often a critical step in the preparation
stage of problem solving.
Our ability to represent a problem– and the kind of solution we
eventually come to- depends on the way a problem is phrased, or
framed. Consider, for example, if you were a cancer patient having to
choose between surgery and radiation and were given the 2 sets of
treatment options on.
When the options are framed in terms of the likelihood of survival,
only 18% of participants in a study chose radiation over surgery.
However, when the choice was framed in terms of the likelihood of
Production– Generating Solutions
After preparation, the next stage in problem solving is the production of
possible solutions. If a problem is relatively simple, we may already have a
direct solution stored in long-term memory, and all we need to do is retrieve
the appropriate information. If we cannot retrieve or do not know the solution,
we must generate possible solutions and compare them with information in
long- and short-term memory.
At the most basic level, we can solve problems through trial and error. The
difficultly with this approach, of course, is that some problems are so
complicated that it would take a lifetime to try out every possibility. In place of
trial and error, complex problem solving often involves the use of heuristics,
cognitive shortcuts that can generate solutions. Probably the most frequently
applied heuristic in problem solving is a “means-ends analysis,” which involves
repeated tests for differences between the desired outcome and what
currently exists. In a means-ends analysis, each step brings the problem solver
closer to a resolution.
Another heuristic commonly used to generate solutions is to divide
a problem into intermediate steps, or “subgoals,” and solve each of
those steps. For instance, in our Tower of Hanoi problem, we could
choose several obvious subgoals, such as moving the largest disk to
the 3rd post.
If solving a subgoal is a step toward the ultimate solution to a
problem, identifying subgoals is an appropriate strategy. In some
cases, however, forming subgoals is not all that helpful and may
actually increase the time needed to find a solution. For example,
some problems cannot be subdivided. Others– like some
complicated mathematical problems– are so complex that it takes
longer to identify the appropriate subdivisions than to solve the
problem by other means.
Judgment: Evaluating the
The final stage in problem solving is judging the adequacy of a solution. Often this
is a simple matter: If the solution is clear– as in the Tower of Hanoi problem– we
will know immediately whether we have been successful.
If the solution is less concrete or if there is no single correct solution, evaluating
solutions becomes more difficult. In such instances, we must decide which
alternative solution is best. Unfortunately, we often quite inaccurately estimate the
quality of our own ideas. For instance, a team of drug researchers working for a
particular company may consider their remedy for an illness to be superior to all
others, overestimating the likelihood of their success and downplaying the
approaches of competing drug companies.
Theoretically, if we rely on appropriate heuristics and valid information to make
decisions, we can make accurate choices among alternative solutions. However, as
we see next, several kinds of obstacles to and biases in problem solving affect the
quality of the decisions and judgments we make.
Impediments to Solutions: Why is Problem
Solving Such a Problem?
Functional Fixedness– the tendency to think
of an object only in terms of its typical use.
(( be like MacGyver ☺))
Mental Set– The tendency for old patterns
of problem solving to persist.
Module 21: Language Development:
Developing a Way with Words
Language– The communication of information through symbols
arranged according to systematic rules.
Not only is language central to communication, it is also closely tied
to the way in which we think about and understand the world.
Babble– meaningless speechlike sounds made by children from
around the age of 3 months through 1 year.
Production of Language
Telegraphic Speech– Sentences in which words not critical to the
message are left out. E.g) “I showed you the book” = “I show book”
Overgeneralization– The phenomenon by which children apply
language rules even when the application results in an error. E.g.)
“he walked” for past tense of ‘walk’, the ‘-ed’ rule doesn’t work
when children say “he runned” for the past tense of ‘run.’
By age 5, children have acquired the basic rules of language.
Language as a Learned Skill
The theory suggesting that language acquisition follows the principles
of reinforcement and conditioning.
For example, a child who says “mama” receives hugs and praise
from her mother, which reinforce the behavior of saying “mama”
and make its repetition more likely.
This view suggests that children first learn to speak by being rewarded
for making sounds that approximate speech.
The more that parents speak to their young children, the more
proficient the children become in language use.
Nativist Approach: Language as
an Innate Skill
The theory that a genetically determined, innate mechanism directs
Universal grammar– Noam Chomsky’s theory that all the world’s
languages share a common underlying structure.
Chomsky suggested that the human brain has a neural system, the
language-acquisition device, that not only lets us understand the structure
language provides but also gives us strategies and techniques for learning
the unique characteristics of our native language.
In support of the nativist approach, scientists have discovered a gene
related to the development of language abilities that may have emerged as
recently– in evolutionary terms– as 100,000 years ago.
Furthermore, it is clear that specific sites exist within the brain that are
closely tied to language, and that the shapes of the human mouth and
throat are tailored to the production of speech.
Interactionist Approach: A
The view that language development is produced through a
combination of genetically determined predispositions and
environmental circumstances that help teach language.
Specifically, proponents of the interactionist approach suggest that
the brain’s hardwired language-acquisition device that Chomsky
and geneticists point to provides the hardware for our acquisition of
language, whereas the exposure to language in our environment
that learning theorists observe allows us to develop the appropriate
However, the issue of how language is acquired remains hotly
Linguistic-relativity hypothesis– The notion that language shapes
and may determine the way people in a particular culture perceive
and understand the world.