Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dyslexia Info

Today's class discussion and lecture, which featured information about how the brain processes language, sparked many questions about reading and language difficulties, particularly dyslexia.

For those interested in additional information about dyslexia research, the APA website has a number of links to information about the disorder.

For example, this article by Beth Azar describes two areas of difficulty that seem to accompany dyslexia: deficits in phoneme awareness (an inability to distinguish between different basic sounds in language) and slowed processing speed, which may be a more general problem for some (i.e. not limited to just language tasks).

Interestingly, researchers have developed ways for children to overcome some of these processing difficulties using video games. The games systematically train children to distinguish between similar sounding phonemes (e.g. "ba" and "pa"), a task essential for learning reading and writing. This may offer an alternative to costly and time-consuming speech therapy that was previously the popular treatment choice. fMRI scans have revealed changes in brain function following these video treatments.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) may also be a good source of information for those with further questions.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prefrontal Cortex news...

This recent post on the nature of the prefrontal cortex from Neuroskeptic is worth a read. It reviews a current article which argues that the prefrontal cortex operates in a holistic manner (e.g. all together) rather than as distinct, independently functioning parts. I'm simplifying things a bit here, so check out the post and the original article for a more thorough version.

The post also includes a snippet reference to phrenology, so, bonus.

This is a great reminder of the complexity of the cortex in general and the importance of those "association areas" your textbook describes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Psych Club Shirt Money Due Friday

Greetings, all! If you are one of the many Psych Club members who ordered this year's club T-shirt - featuring the one and only Jean Piaget - this is just a friendly reminder that your $15 is due on Friday.

I hope to place the order before the weekend so we can get the shirts in a couple of weeks, so don't delay!

Also, as you are likely aware, our next Psych Club meeting is this Friday. We have a number of items on the agenda, including:
  • getting in place some fundraising plans for Next to Normal
  • possibly setting a date for our first Movie Night of the year (needs to happen soon...)
  • eating the Brain Food creations brought by our members

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mouse Party Assignment

See how various drugs disrupt activity at the synaptic level. Use the Mouse Party interactive to complete your worksheet.

With funky music and cutesy intoxicated mice, this is a pretty fun way to learn about the neurotransmitters involved in psychoactive drugs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brain Food: Extra Credit Opportunity

Friday, October 1 will be our next Psych Club Meeting, and given our current studies in Neuroscience, it will focus on fun with the brain.

We will be having a “Brain Food” competition. In order to participate (and earn some extra credit it AP Psych), you should bring some edible treat that features labeled parts of the brain or the nervous system.

The Rules:

1. Your entry must depict the brain or nervous system, or some component part of either (e.g. a neuron).

2. It must have labels for the component parts. This is educational food, after all.

3. Your name should be marked somewhere on or near your entry, so we know who gets credit.

4. Although items will not be judged on taste, it should be something edible; we will be eating all of the entries during Lunch B, so don’t get too attached to your brain. This also means hygiene/food safety is important. Wash your hands, all right?

5. You must have your entry here at the beginning of Lunch A so our guest judge can make his/her determination of winners, which will be announced during our meeting (Lunch B).

6. Although you can get reasonable assistance from family members, your creation must be your own. For example, you cannot have your mom or dad simply make your entire entry or do all of the decorating, but they can help you with the recipe. Likewise, you cannot order a pre-made treat from, say, a professional bakery.

7. This is a one-shot deal, so if you are sick or for some other reason unable to bring your treat on Friday, you’ll have to wait for the next extra credit opportunity. Sorry, but we don’t want your old cupcakes/dessert/jello/whatever three days later.

5 Points EC (in test category) for All Participants!
Though, Mrs. Welle reserves the right to adjust points (or not award them at all) if your entry seems to not reflect any effort/learning. Don’t bring us one crudely-constructed cupcake. That’s lame. Bring your A-game.

Need some ideas? Here are some links to inspire you, but be creative! With Halloween coming up, supplies are bound to be out there if you are motivated.

PsychSim: Neural Messages

Greeting, AP Psychology students! On Tuesday this week we will be making the trip across the hall to the computer lab to complete a PsychSim on Neural Messaging.

Click on the above link, then read through the module, using the "previous" and "next" buttons to navigate while finding answers to the questions on your accompanying worksheet.

You will get a printed copy in class, but if you lose the worksheet or were absent, here's link to another copy.

This will be due at the beginning of class on Wednesday, September 22.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Link for those who didn't get the handout...

To those unfortunate few who did not get the handout with tonight's practice question, I sincerely apologize. It turned out to be harder than I thought to get that file uploaded, because I apparently did not have it saved on my computer at school.

So, instead, I've emailed those people who did not get it with the link just now (at your ePals account). If you would prefer that I send it to another email address, just email me tonight and I'll send it there. I should be at my computer most of the night, as I'm working on a paper for one of my classes, so I should be able to respond quickly.

I appreciate your patience and, again, apologize for not having the correct number of copies. It's too bad I only discovered this right before the bell, otherwise I would have had more printed right away. :(

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Experimental Design

Tomorrow (9/13/10) in class you will get your Practice Experimental Design assignment. This will require you to work with a team (two other students) to put together an idea for a hypothetical psychological experiment.

Use the link provided to complete the form with the required information. Remember to do a "save as" and save the file to your computer before filling in your group's information, otherwise the changes you make will be on everyone's form!

Completed forms can be printed off and physically handed in, or emailed to Mrs. Welle. Please double check with me in class to make sure I received any emailed assignments, though, because the school's SPAM filter is very aggressive and may block you. The assignment is due Wednesday, 9/15/10.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Study Resources for AP Psychology

With the first quiz of the year behind us, it is about the time when many students begin to consider making changes to their study routines. If you feel your study habits need revitalization (or a serious kick in the pants), there are a number of resources available to give you some direction.

Free Resources

Your textbook has a companion website that offers chapter summaries, quizzes on anatomical diagrams (helpful for Chatper 2), and two online quizzes for each chapter. You may have to create an account (provide email address and a password) to access the site, but this is an easy step. This link is ALWAYS available in the links list on the left-hand side of the blog.

I have also (sometimes with the help of students) created online flashcard sets for your use. I am working toward having these available for every unit, but am not quite there yet. There is a set for research methods, and other sets are available on the links list (left-hand side).

I also have a number of flashcard sets (physical copies) available in my room for use during the school day, such as during a study hall or Lunch & Learn. However, I don't let students take these home at night because I've lost several sets that way...and I don't like losing money.

Resources for Purchase
  • Textbook companion Study Guide: it has TONS of study prompts, practice tests, reading questions, etc. to make sure you're understanding the reading in the book. I have provided a link to an online resource for purchasing used copies, which are available for super-cheap.

  • Barron's AP Psychology flashcards: I've had students who use these regularly to prepare for tests, and they also come in handy during AP exam time in the spring. The local Borders store has sometimes had copies of these on hand, so they might be a source if you don't like to order online. But call ahead because they usually only stock one or two copies...and there are probably 300-400 AP Psych students in the area who might beat you to it.
As always, if you feel like you are lost at sea, please come talk to me! I can help you sort out what is working for you and what is not, and hopefully I can suggest avenues that you haven't tried yet. There is no single magic formula for success in this class because everyone is different, so together we can find out what works for you.

That being said, if you are not willing or able to put time into your studies, there is nothing I can tell you and no resource I can recommend that will get you A's without effort. So please come ready to roll up your sleeves!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New File-Sharing Web Tool

I've recently discovered a handy tool for easily working with files that I have to transfer between home and work. Since a number of my students today encountered frustration when attempting to send their files back and forth between home and school, I thought I might share this in the hopes that some of you will find it useful.

Dropbox is a free, web-based service for storing files and syncing them between different computers. You can install Dropbox on your home computer, and when you save files there (just like saving them in a folder in your regular documents files) they are automatically accessible anywhere you have web access. This is GREAT for those who use multiple computers, because you can install it on all your computers, and every time you save the file it updates the version online. No more worrying about making sure the latest version is the one you are dealing with! Yay!
Although students wouldn't be able to install this on the school's computer desktop, they can access a dropbox account via the web (with their user name and password), so it seems an elegant alternative to the sometimes cumbersome process of emailing files back and forth.
As a bonus, if you are working on a group project, Dropbox allows you to create public folders that you can share with friends. So members of your group/team could all access and work on the same file from different computers, at different times.

Look Who Made the APA Monitor!

No, not yours truly. But that was a good guess.

This month's Monitor on Psychology features an article by Elizabeth Scarborough about the contributions of Margaret Floy Washburn, entitled Understanding the Animal Mind. The article suggests that Washburn, who is most often remembered for her role as the first female to earn a PhD in psychology and for serving as the APA's second female president, also should be remembered for her outstanding contributions to comparative psychology and her position on the prospect of studying animal consciousness. Her argument that animal consciousness was a legitimate topic of study was particularly courageous in an era where behaviorism was becoming increasingly the status quo.

The article serves a great reminder of the important role of Washburn in shaping the early history of psychology.