Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Learning Videos: Rat Pellets...For People

You can expect this to be my last post for a little while, what with the holidays approaching and all. I hope my students (and their teachers and parents) have a relaxing break. We'll return to class renewed and ready to go in January.

In the meantime, I'll be posting some of your classmates' videos for viewing here. When the learning projects came in on Monday there were definitely some gems. Here's Rat Pellets...For People from several gentlemen in my 2nd hour class:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Last Minute Practice

Today I was asked by several students for practice items that might be used to study for tomorrow's test on Learning & Memory. I've done some searching around and found some possible choices:

  1. Identification of UCS, UCR, CS, CR - try this worksheet or this vocab review
  2. Operant Conditioning (Reinforcement Schedules & Terminology): vocab review
  3. General review of learning principles: Try these practice questions

Hope this helps! I'll also be available before school and during lunch if you have questions or just would like help reviewing. Good luck, everyone!

The Bunny Effect - Elizabeth Loftus

Here's another great demonstration of the misinformation effect from Elizabeth Loftus. On this CBS 60 Minutes clip, she is interviewed about "the Bunny effect". She and colleagues were able to get subjects to "remember" seeing Bugs Bunny at Disneyland...even though that's not possible.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Psych Club Meeting This Friday: Charlie Brown Christmas

Come celebrate the holidays with Psychology Club and Charlie Brown!

Our next Psych Club meeting will be this Friday, during Lunch B. We will be watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and generally enjoying each other's company. We do have some "business" to take care of first: we have inherited an uninhabited bulletin board near the office and need to discuss how best to use it to entice people into exploring psychology!

But then we will sit back, relax, and watch the sub-par depiction of therapeutic practice given by Lucy. For info on Lucy as a "psychiatrist", check out this post from Dr. Philm (whose blog wins points for its creative title, let alone its content).

Bring your favorite holiday treats and enjoy some animated psychology!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Lights Addiction?

Okay, maybe "addiction" is too strong a word, but we've all seen the homes of those who take the holidays a little TOO far by draining their savings and causing power plants to lurch every Decemeber so their animated, illuminated displays of all of the twelve days of Christmas are the brightest on the block.

John Gohrol, PsyD, takes a look at this strange (but, alright, impressive) behavior in his December 9th post on World of Psychology.

Christmas Gifts for the Psychology Student

As the holidays approach, you are probably thinking to yourself, "What kind of gift should I get for my amazing table-buddy in AP Psych?" (Or perhaps parents are looking for last minute stocking-stuffers for psychology students?)

Might I recommend some AP Psychology Flashcards? These will save you the trouble of making your own prior to the AP Exam, and several students have been making use of the two classroom sets I have. In fact, if you do splurge on these for yourself or a friend...maybe you would be willing to donate them to your favorite psychology teacher at the end of the year? Just a thought...

Or, perhaps you haven't purchased the Study Guide that accompanies our textbook. If you're still struggling to make sense of all the reading, this might be a great addition to your wish list.

Maybe you're thinking ahead to the AP Exam in the spring? Many students choose to supplement the required review activities for class with practice tests and review from one of the many AP Exam prep books on the market. Some of the more popular ones include Barron's, Psychology the Easy Way, 5 Steps to a 5, and Kaplan. In addition to the online links I've provided, many of these commercial test prep books are available on the shelf at larger bookstores (like Borders).

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Movie Night - Memento - December 10th

This Thursday, Psychology Club will be sponsoring a movie night for interested students. Since we will be in the midst of our unit on Memory, the film Memento seems like a great choice.

Described by the authors of the book Welcome to Your Brain as one of the most accurate film depictions of amnesia, the plot follows Leonard, an anmesic attempting to avenge the murder of his wife. As you can imagine, not being able to remember anything makes this a difficult task.

My students have enjoyed this film when we've shown it for psych club in the past. However, a parent permission slip is required, as the film is rated R. Because of the strong language and some violent scenes, NO ONE gets in without a signed permission slip. Sorry, no exceptions.
Thursday, December 10th - 7:00 PM - Chi-Hi Cafeteria

This American Life: The Invisible Girl

This week's episode of This American Life, a radio show broadcast on most public radio stations, was entitled "Mind Games," and featured several stories bound the pique the interest of psychology fans.

I was most intrigued by Act Three: The Invisible Girl, a segment that examined the issue of why kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart was not recognized or detected during the nine months of her captivity in 2002, despite the fact that her captors paraded her around Salt Lake City in broad daylight.

Although the notion was not mentioned on the show, it seems to me that perceptual set may have been behind some of difficulties people had in identifying the girl they saw on the street as Elizabeth, even though some of them actually knew her very well. Her captor, Brian David Mitchell, was a frequently-seen fixture of Salt Lake City and most residents had learned to ignore or pity him and his rantings. When Smart appeared with him, most people ignored her as they had long ignored him OR simply presumed that he had taken a polygamist wife (not culturally unheard of in Salt Lake City).

The fact that many residents saw the young woman and thought, "polygamist wife" and not, "kidnapping victim" may have been the byproduct of their own expections (i.e. perceptual set).
Your thoughts? Check out the show (available as a free podcast) and see if you can generate other explanations for this "hidden in plain view" phenomenon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Project H.M. - Watch the Dissection!

Psychology enthusiasts (and my students, who will read about him in their psychology textbooks this unit) remember fondly the case-study patient known as "H.M." One of the most intensely studied subjects in the history of psychology, "H.M" had undergone brain surgery in 1953 but awoke with no ability to form new memories. "H.M." (and the researchers who studied him) taught us a great deal about the types of memories human beings possess. Sadly, H.M. passed away about a year ago, but he did donate his brain to science, continuing his incredibly legacy in the history of neuroscience and memory research.

TODAY, Researchers at the University of California, San Diego begin the delicate task of slicing his brain into tiny, tiny pieces 70 microns thick and scanning them for digital preservation. When they are done, researchers from around the world will be able to peek into the brain of this incredible man.

You can watch the dissection live over the web, starting today.
We watched some of this in my afternoon classes and students were fascinated! They've now actually started cutting the slides (for the first few hours, they were just trimming the gelatin block in which the brain is encased). Amazing!

To learn more about the delicate procedure being used to preserve H.M.'s brain, check out this article from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Here's what the Brain Observatory says (as of 3:40 PM CST):
We are going to cut through the entire brain over the next 50 hours. The very thin slices are going to be preserved in serial order and each will be ultimately stained and preserved in glass slides. The collection will represent a complete microscopic map of the brain of patient HM. This process will be extremely costly. Each glass slide alone costs $4! Any contribution, however small, will be crucial to the completion of this historic collection. To become a sponsor of patient H.M.’s giant histological glass slides, send your check to: The Brain Observatory, 3510 Dunhill Street, San Diego, CA 92121 Or make your generous donation by following this link: Donate

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sucking Up Doesn't Bring Success

In a (sort of) recent article published in the August issue of Psychological Science, researchers confirmed something we had all secretly hoped: suck-ups do worse in school than those whose professed "love of learning" is actually sincere. This was exciting to me for two reasons: I had always been irked by classmates who appeared to be buddying up to professors and teachers for no good reason (you know the type...always asking unnecessary and indirectly flattering questions, consistently insisting they find their instructor's tedious research interest FASCINATING...etc.) and it allowed me to post this remarkably cute picture of a kitten on the blog.

This research was profiled in the September 9th issue of Newsweek and is worth a look-see. Of course, I'll still graciously accept gifts and money from any of you... (just kidding, I can't really do that). But I would add that I haven't come across any research that suggests it is to your advantage to be mean to your teachers, either.