Friday, September 30, 2011

Brain Food Extra Credit

Mrs. Welle's Brain Cake - 2010
After completing the Orange Brain Surgery lab earlier this week, you have undoubtedly figured out that the best models of the brain are edible ones. So, our next Psych Club meeting will feature a celebration of delicious neuroanatomy through a "Brain Food" contest.
Current AP Psych students who participate will earn 5 points extra credit (computed in test category), as this will help them review important structures in the brain/nervous system.

The Rules:
  • Entries must be edible representations of the brain or portions of the nervous system (e.g. neuron, synapse, brain stem, etc).
  • Component parts must be accurately labeled.
  • Entries will be judged during LUNCH A, so they must be delivered to room 136 no later than 12:15. You have to set up/complete registration for your entry during lunch (or have a friend do so), so please don't just leave your creation in my room in the morning an assume it will get set out.
  • Winners will be announced and snacking will commence during our regular meeting time (Lunch B)!
Even if you do not wish to enter (and earn Extra Credit), you are welcome to join us for the meeting & eating. There is always plenty of food to go around.

Be sure to wear your new Psych Club t-shirt, too, since those will be distributed early next week!

If you are looking for inspiration and ideas, check out the AP Psychology facebook page for pictures of some of last year's entries and winners.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Neuroscience Quizlet

Per request, I'm posting the Quizlet flashcard review here for ease of access. Keep in mind, this link is permanently available on the Study Resources tab for this page if you need to access it later.

Test for this Unit will be TUESDAY, October 4th!

The Teenage Brain

Dr. Jay Giedd (U of M) studies teen brain development using MRI
Today in class we viewed a selected portion of a Frontline documentary entitled "Inside the Teenage Brain". The program provides an introduction to what recent advances in neuroscience have revealed about the biological causes behind well-documented differences between adult and teenage thinking.

As often happens when we view and discuss the program, I received a lot of requests to communicate this information to parents (e.g. "Could you please come talk to my dad about this?"). Since it seems a little presumptuous to phone my students' parents out-of-the-blue for a nice talk about neuroscience, I'll post the links here and let students start the conversations themselves. Students may want to watch the full version (we only watched a portion in class) and parents may find this extremely interesting as well.

The website to accompany the program also has numerous resources for the parents of teenagers, which some may find helpful.

Another helpful video resource can be found in another PBS series from a few years ago, "The Secret Life of the Brain." Episode Three is focused entirely on the unique developmental features of the teenage brain.

While this program is quite good, I would note that there are some remaining controversies about using the "underdeveloped prefrontal cortex" explanation to explain teen decision-making (this is one of the concepts presented in the Frontline video). These were highlighted in a recent article from National Geographic on the brains of teenagers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mouse Party Assignment

Poor, poor intoxicated mice.
Here it is! The link to the Mouse Party interactive! You should have received this worksheet, which you will use to record your answers. Remember, this assignment will require you to use what you learned in class today to determine whether a drug is an agonist or antagonist for a particular neurotransmitter. It will be due tomorrow (Sept. 23).

If you've got time after completing the Mouse Party assignment, you might want to check out some of the other cool interactives and games created for you by the Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah. For example:
Learn...and have fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Neural Messages PsychSim

Today in class you will be utilizing an online module (PsychSim) on neural firing and communication. The format is pretty user-friendly. You simply read the prompts and navigate the module using the "next" and "previous" buttons. As you complete the module, you should also be filling out this accompanying worksheet. Not only will this earn you some points, as it is an assignment, but it will be handy later as a study tool for this portion of Unit 2. This will be due tomorrow (Sept. 22).

If you are REALLY a quick study, you might also want to work ahead on an out-of-class assignment you will be getting from me later this week. The assignment, which will be due Friday, requires you to utilize the Mouse Party interactive and this accompanying worksheet. Have fun!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Quizlet Flashcards Available!

For most subjects in AP Psych, I have created online flashcards sets through Quizlet for your reviewing pleasure! I recently updated and added new terms/people to the two sets for this unit: History & Approaches and Research Methods. If you access them using the links provided, you'll be able to play games and test yourself on major terms and people for this unit.

I am in the process of transferring all of my Quizlet links to the Study Resources page of this website. So, you should be able to access them there at any time. Please be patient with me as I make the switch with all of the vocab review links.

If you are in the mood for a very quick review, you can use the applets I've embedded in this post for simple flashcard review. Happy studying!

History & Approaches Set (Prologue):

Research Methods Set (Chapter 1):

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Practice with Correlation Coefficients

Today in class we practiced matching scatterplots with correlation coefficients using this online game. The applet generates random correlation coefficients and accompanying scatterplots and keeps track of your success in matching them.

Give it a try tonight if you're still feeling shaky about scatterplots and correlation coefficients. To give yourself even more practice, see if you can come up with an example of two variables that might be related in the manner described by the correlation coefficients generated for you.

Here's one last test. What does the scatterplot to the left suggest about the relationship between arm strength and grip strength?

Can you take a guess as to what correlation coefficient might describe the relationship depicted on the scatterplot?

(The answer? r =.686. Were you close?)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Scientific Attitude: A "Baloney Detection Kit"

For the next few days in class, we will become increasingly familiar with the research methods used by psychologists. Thus, we will be talking a great deal about the scientific approach to answering research questions (which differs considerably from political, religious, or other methods of asking and answering questions). This will involve understanding what is meant by the phrase "scientific theory" and beginning to think with the skepticism of a scientist when presented with claims about human abilities and behavior.

The video below features an excellent description of this scientific "attitude" from famed skeptic Michael Shermer. He describes science as a "Baloney Detection Kit," and describes some general rules for thinking scientifically.

Some things to watch for:

  • His descriptive of our tendency to see patterns, especially illusory correlations

  • His specific mention of confirmation bias as a source of error

  • In point #3: the need for replication of research results

  • In point #9: a description of the nature of scientific theories...and how they are different from what most of us casually refer to as "theories"

My personal favorite quote: "You want a mind open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains fall out."