Monday, April 27, 2009

Summer Cycling - Because It's Fun and Good For You

Exercise has very obvious and positive affects on physical and psychological health. With summer creeping up, and Bike to Work Week in May, hopefully more people will choose to ride their bikes more often. *Officially,* I encourage cyclists to abide by the city of Vancouver by-law which requires cyclists to wear a helmet on all roads. However, in the event you choose not to wear one, there are some things you can do to make your ride safer. (The same tips of course apply even if you are wearing a helmet).

• Stay off the main roads. Use the sidewalk if you need to or move up a block onto a less busy street. This might mean you have to double back a block, but if you are already on your bike, there’s no need to be lazy. Also, don’t forget about alleyways which are usually quiet and have interesting views of behind-the-scenes life. Many alleys are not maintained so use caution when manoeuvring around potholes and be conscious of the narrower road space.

• Be wary of bike roads. Bike roads are a wonderful concept, however they only provide an extra measure of safety if they are designated for bikes only, which they are not. In fact, bike roads are relatively busy with vehicle traffic compared to other side roads. This is probably because bike roads tend to be through roads, less busy than the main roads, and have those handy pedestrian controlled traffic lights which drivers can use to their advantage as well. You will also find more cyclists on these roads. Overall, there is more traffic on bike roads. Also, I find they tend to be unnecessarily hilly compared to a nearby parallel road. And, if there are police handing out tickets to people not wearing helmets, I assume a bike road is where they would be stationed.

• Know your bike. It would be great if we all lived in a world where both our front and back breaks worked reliably (if they don’t, get them fixed), but sometimes things wear out and it can be a couple of days before they’re fixed. Make sure you know your stopping distance, especially in rainy weather. Don’t take corners faster than your bike will allow. Don’t try to jump curbs if you are moving too slowly (or too quickly).

• Slow down at all intersections. Even if you have the right of way, a full stopped car might not see you. As well, sometimes drivers regard the stop signs on side streets as slow down signs, so they are even less likely to see you. Be even more careful where there are roundabouts; cars will take these as fast as they can.

• Make yourself visible at night with front and rear lights.

• Use hand signals. Drivers and other cyclists will appreciate this greatly and you will be less likely to get side swiped.

• If you are carrying anything on your bike, make sure the weight is balanced on either side.

• Parked cars, stationary though they may be, have doors that can open wide without any notice.

Google maps (in conjunction with UBC and Translink) has a handy bicycle route option. It doesn’t necessarily give the best route, but it can help in determining trip time and routes to avoid hills. It can also help you choose the greenest route.

All that said, let go of the handlebars and enjoy your summer!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Letter Writing Therapy

The inspiration for this article came from, yup Summer Glau. Specifically, the episode of Sarah Connor Chronicles where our lovely ballerina-bot inquires as to why people are leaving notes for a deceased girl, to which our lovely-by-association-with-our-lovely-ballerina-bot John Connor replies, “Sometimes things happen and they're so bad that people just don't know how to deal with their sadness, so they write it in a note.”

Plato didn’t have much positive to say for writing, but sometimes it’s the only way to communicate with a distant person. This person might be distant geographically, emotionally, of physically (as with a death). The person might not even be a person; it can be an addiction, an emotion, or a behaviour. The communication might be one of warm greeting (like with an old friend), one of closure (saying goodbye to the drug of your addiction), or an appeal (apologising to your adult child for not spending enough time with them).

Letters can be written for purely cathartic reasons, without ever sending it to the addressee, or they can be written intentionally to be read by the recipient. Some therapists recommend tearing up the letter after it has been written as a way of physically giving the patient closure, though I think it would be better to review the letter in session before destroying it.

As for letter writing between patient and therapist, I think a different mode of communication can allow for greater understanding as some people understand and use the written word more competently than the spoken form. The letters, as with any therapy, need to keep a certain structure and focus. It may also provide a means of long-distance therapy when the patient is unable to attend session, but still needs to check in. It can also be beneficial for a patient to write to their therapist during the week, but these letters should be reviewed in session and the patient should understand that there may not be enough time to cover the entire content of the letter, especially if there are a few of them. What the patient can do to make best use of their time in session, is to review the letters before session and make a brief list of the most important topics.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 12

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

80. Correlations can help researchers predict how behaviours occur, but they can not determine causality, why two factors occur together.
a. Teachers have nothing to do with the experiment (if their grading scheme was a factor, that might play into the specifics of the explanation).
b. If students uniformly underestimated the duration of their sleep, the correlation would still be the same as students with more sleep would perform better than students with less sleep. That’s all the results are looking at, more vs. less, not a specific number of hours of sleep.
c. A perfect correlation would have a value of 1.0. See GRE Study Guide pages 10 and 11 for more on correlations.
d. Hours of study would be a third variable, a link between cause and effect. For For example, perhaps students who sleep more are more rested and able to study more which might, though not necessarily, increase their grades. But it’s still related to sleep.
e. There might be a predisposition for students who perform better to sleep more which thereby makes the sample population less random.

a. Having an outside party repeat a measurement can be a good way of checking someone else’s measurement.
b. This could help, but it’s not a very reliable source of information. Just because a person strongly believes they had six hours of sleep, doesn’t mean they actually did. Similarly, a student may be unsure about their sleep (they may even be extremely unconfident in all aspects of their life), when their estimation is quite accurate.
c. In two weeks, the situation may be different for some, or all, of the students. Some females may estimate longer hours of sleep than previously, but only because they are in their menstrual cycle. Yet, the researcher may label that woman an unreliable estimator when in fact she knows exactly when she sleeps. So, just because the duration of a person’s sleep changes, that doesn’t mean their ability to judge how much sleep they got is any less reliable.
d. If it was known that males/females were better at estimating hours of sleep, than this could be used. But there is no evidence that that gender difference is true.
e. If there was a reliable correlation, all this would tell you is that older students tend to sleep more, for example. As above, there is no reason to believe age difference would result in estimation differences.

a. A perfect correlation with a coefficient of 1 implies a linear relationship. Since the correlation is less than 1, the relationship will be non-linear.
b. This is the natural bell curve of academia. Averages of the measurements were taken and we are told that the population is a random sample which is exactly the opposite of a biased sample.
c. The difference between the maximum and minimum values means nothing on its own. How do you know it’s an insignificant difference? The standard deviation can provide this information; if the standard deviation is greater than the calculated difference, the values are not significant. But here, the sample size is large, so the standard deviation is likely to be small since the standard deviation is the average of the measurements divided by the square root of the number of subjects. For another explanation and example of standard deviation, see GRE Study Guide page 8.
d. The size of sample doesn’t tell you much on its own, either. An educated guess would be that the error/standard deviation of the measurement is likely smaller than in the groups with fewer subjects, but even this is not necessarily true. But since averages have been calculated, and we were told in the introduction of the question that the results were reliable (the values are significant even with the consideration of errors), the number of subjects in each category does not affect the results.
e. Again, we don’t know what the error bars are, but from a quick glance at the numbers, the standard deviation is going to be greater than 0.1, which means the A and B group get the same hours of sleep. Also, there is no reason to assume that the relationship will be linear; maybe getting too much sleep results in lower grades.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Vertigo is the sensation of dizziness or instability while the body is actually motionless. Vertigo can be a symptom of inner ear problems, migraines, hypotensive disorders, or psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorder. Dizziness can be a symptom of Meniere’s disease which also affects hearing (other symptoms include tinnitus or noticeable hearing loss). One cause, besides inner ear problems, of this dizziness is the abnormal uptake of serotonin in the hippocampus (1) and treatment with an SSRI can sometimes alleviate the symptoms. Benzodiazepines and SNRI’s are other pharmacological treatments.

Vestibular exercises are another treatment. These exercises work by teaching the brain to use new external clues in order to maintain balance. The balance exercises below were stolen directly from here. I would add to this list by challenging yourself to different balance exercises with your eyes closed. As well, another balance exercise would be to stand on one leg. Variations on this include standing on your toes on the one leg, holding the other leg out/up, and doing either or both of these techniques with your eyes closed. Another exercise is to turn a 2 x 4 on its side and use it as a balance beam for walking or incorporating any of the above exercises.

Other balance exercises:

Thumb-tracking: Hold your thumb out 1 to 2 feet in front of your face. As you look at your thumb, turn your head from right to left, then left to right, then up and down. Increase speed gradually. Do the exercise for 90 seconds. Repeat the exercise four times a day.

Target-change: Pick two objects (targets) that you have to turn your head from left to right to look at. Look at one object, blink your eyes, and then turn your head quickly to look at the other object. Go back and forth quickly between the objects. Repeat several times per session, at least two sessions per day.

Lying-to-standing: Move from a lying-down position on a sofa or bed to a standing position as quickly as possible without falling. Get up toward both right and left sides quickly. Do the exercise five times on each side per session, at least two sessions per day.

Tightrope: Walk heel to toe as if you are walking on a tightrope or a line. Do the exercise in a hallway with available support, such as a wall or railing. For 30 minutes per day, practice walking 10 steps at a time without using a support.

Walking turns: Walk toward an eye-level target on a wall (such as a picture). As you get near the wall, turn your body to one side but keep your eyes and head locked on the target. When your body cannot move any farther, close your eyes and quickly turn your head to face forward. Repeat the exercise five times for each side, turning your eyes and head to the right and left sides. Slowly increase your speed for at least 30 minutes per day.

Ball toss: While standing or sitting, toss a tennis ball at least 3 feet above your head and catch it. Practice for five to 10 minutes per day. When you can do the exercise easily, try it while walking.

References: 1, 2

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is it OK for a Therapist to Attend a Patient’s Funeral?

When I first started writing this, my opinion was leaning towards an ambivalent ‘no’ as the rule is for therapists to stay out of patients personal lives. But then I realised the very obvious, the patient is dead, therefore they have no life to intrude upon. I don’t mean that to sound as harsh as it does, but certain consequences of engaging with a patient outside of session just don’t apply when the patient is deceased.

Funerals are, after all, for the people who need to grieve and get some closure on the person’s absence from their lives. Therapists work very closely with their patients and have their own upset feelings to deal with when a patient dies.

I’m not saying therapists should always attend funerals, only that should they feel the need to in order to deal with their emotions in a healthy, safe way, they should be allowed. The wake might be a different story in it is held at the deceased’s or related family member’s home, but this will depend on the maturity of the therapist and if they can avoid attachment and transference issues.

If the therapist does have a pathological attachment to the patient, I still think they should be allowed to attend the funeral. And they need seek counselling themselves to deal with their (probably complicated) grief and to prevent future attachments.

The one exception to my answer is if the therapist is not welcome at the funeral. Then they will have to gain closure by having a goodbye ritual on their own time. This can be accomplished in small ways such as closing the patient’s file, saying a prayer, simply saying a literal goodbye, writing a letter, or allowing a few minutes to reflect.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

There are few books out there which elicit much excitement from me, and I don’t think there has ever been a novel I so anticipated to read as to pre-order it. And then I discovered Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which is dated to be released on May 13, 2009.

Here is the publisher’s description:

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton-and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers-and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.

And here’s an excerpt:

As Mr. Darcy walked off, Elizabeth felt her blood turn cold. She had never in her life been so insulted. The warrior code demanded she avenge her honour. Elizabeth reached down to her ankle, taking care not to draw attention. There, her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat.
But no sooner had she grabbed the handle of her weapon than a chorus of screams filled the assembly hall, immediately joined by the shattering of window panes. Unmentionables poured in, their movements clumsy yet swift; their burial clothing in a range of untidiness. Some wore gowns so tattered as to render them scandalous; other wore suits so filthy that one would assume they were assembled from little more than dirt and dried blood. Their flesh was in varying degrees of putrefaction; the freshly stricken were slightly green and pliant, whereas the longer dead were grey and brittle – their eyes and tongues long since turned to dust, and their lips pulled back into everlasting skeletal smiles.
A few of the guests, who had the misfortune of being too near the windows, were seized and feasted on at once. When Elizabeth stood, she saw Mrs. Long struggle to free herself as two female dreadfuls bit into her head, cracking her skull like a walnut, and sending a shower of dark blood spouting as high as the chandeliers.

Now, that’s some imagery!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 11

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

76. Correlation coefficients range from -1 to 1. A correlation coefficient of 0 indicates no correlation (this would look like a random scatter plot). Positive correlations indicate both measures increase together, while negative correlations indicate the dependent variable decreases while the independent variable increases, or vice-versa. The absolute value of the coefficient indicates the strength of the correlation. See earlier question regarding correlations: Page 2, #15.

77. The phi phenomenon is the experience of movement when stationary lights are flashed in succession (like neon signs with blinking lights).

78. Attitude is composed of three components – cognitive, affective, and behavioural. The behavioural component is predispositional; attitudes may not always directly affect behaviour. The correlation between attitude and behaviour is small. In order for attitudes to be predictive they must be specific to the behaviour; attitudes towards birds does not predict if Cameron will kill the pigeon. For those of you not following the S.C. Chronicles, another example is attitudes towards health does not predict if a person will stop eating gummy bears. Attitudes are more predictive of behaviour when people have a strong interest in the issue, when people are under pressure of time, and when situational cues direct attitude. But remember, despite these facts, specificity is a requirement, while the other factors are not.

79. I am not about to delve into the history of psychology, but for those of you who want the extra point, this site has an easy to read timeline.

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 10

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

We are now entering the second third of the test. I have high hopes that the questions will be more stimulating from now on.

71. The recency effect refers to having increased recall for items near the end of a list. The primacy effect is improved recollection for items near the beginning of a list. Free-recall is when a subject is asked to recall items without being given any clues. Cued recall…One or the other of the effects is going to be diminished. Memory generally decreases with time. However, in the event of a sustained period of distraction, the subject will be reinforcing the memories they have already built. For example, if a person is asked to remember a string of numbers (1, 2, 7, 5, 4, 9, 3, 2, 6) and the person is able to recall the first six of those numbers at the beginning of the distraction period, as time passes it will become more difficult to recall the numbers at the end of the string. Essentially, as time passes, items are lost from the end of a string.

72. The law of effect states that if a behaviour results in a pleasant experience after a stimulus, that behaviour will be strengthened. The opposite goes for unpleasant experiences. Positive reinforcement refers to an event that when presented after a response, increases the chance of that behaviour occurring again. Negative reinforcement is when the removal of an event strengthens the behaviour. Escape conditioning is when a subject learns to leave an area in order to avoid a negative stimulus. Avoidance conditioning is when a subject learns to prevent negative consequences through association. I just re-read the question and while all those definitions are useful, not so much for this question. All you need to know for this long-winded question is that ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) causes memory damage.

73. Meatacognition refers to self-awareness and the ability to think about cognitive processes.

74. Environmental cues, such as light, are critical in setting our biological clocks. It is hypothesises the brain has a variety of biological clocks each controlling different necessary functions. But these functions are just that, necessary (sleep, internal temperature), and they will continue in the absence of an indicator. Cycles still continue, but without external cues, they are not regulated. It’s like having a slow watch which needs to have its time adjusted each morning; if it’s not checked, the watch will keep running, but it won’t keep time.

75. A positive correlation indicates that both measures increase in proportion to each other. A negative correlation indicates that while one measure increases, the other decreases. Here, as age increases, the number of problems solved increases and as age increases, the time it takes to solve the problem decreases.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Smoking and Schizophrenia

The prevalence of smoking is higher in the psychiatric patient community than it is in the general population. For major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia the prevalence rates are approximately 50%, 70%, and 80-90%, respectively. Smoking, of course, carries adverse affects which we would ideally like to decrease in the clinical population (it has been noted that there is actually a lower than normal smoking related cancer mortality in schizophrenics) (1).

Of the seven motivations to smoke (social, sensorimotor, indulge, crave, stimulate, habit, and crutch), sensorimotor (enjoyment of the aesthetics of smoking) and stimulate were significantly greater in schizophrenics than in controls (1). The former may be a result of an inpatient population smoking to alleviate boredom while the latter motivation may be an attempt to relieve symptoms of schizophrenia such as decreased cognitive function and energy.

Additionally, these motivations, as well as anxiolytic incentives) may be related to the side effects of antipsychotic medications which block dopamine receptors leading to the above symptoms.

One interesting question is how to separate anxiety caused by nicotine withdrawals from that caused by pharmacological side effects. Since nicotine receptors are desensitized for a period of time after smoking a cigarette (about 45 minutes), some sort of temporal control could be introduced into a study, though this would be quite difficult to actually carry out.

References: 1, 2

Monday, April 6, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 9

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

64. The central tendency is the value around which most scores are clustered. The mean is the average, the mode is the measure that occurs most frequently, and the median is the middle point of a set of measurements. For example, for a set of numbers (4, 4, 5, 8, 9), the mean is 15, the mode is 4, and the median is 5 (half the scores are less than and half the scores are greater than 5). The mean can be a misrepresentative average if one subject behaves quite outside of the distribution; if the above set of numbers was instead (4, 4, 5, 8, 9, 30), the mean would now be 30 which varies greatly from the mode (4) and the median (6.5). However, with a large enough sample, this skewed effect would become less obvious.
c. A ratio scale is used when there is an absolute zero point which represents the absence of the thing being measured and consists of equidistant measurement points (e.g. length, age, salary – $10 is twice as much as $5).

65. The sensorimotor period occurs from birth to about two years of age when infants learn that movements and sounds can be used to interact with the world. At about 1 year of age, the infant begins to develop the symbolic thought process of object permanence which means they recognise that an object still exists even when it is out of sight.

66. Social learning theory describes the belief that personality traits are the result of environmental imitation or behavioural learning through observation.
a. Psychoanalytic.
b. Psychoanalytic.
c. Psychoanalytic and social learning theory.
d. Psychoanalytic.
e. Psychoanalytic.

67. Vygotsky theorised that cognitive abilities are the direct result of social interactions and as such, social interaction is necessary to intellectual development and the understanding of an individual must include considerations of the person’s social circle.

68. A unidimensional test provides a single score to a series of related tests or questions which are related and can be combined in some way (such as an average total score for the number of correct responses on a math test).

69. The myelin sheath is an insulating material which surrounds the axons of some neurons and aids in increasing the speed of neural transmission.

a. Dual coding is the theory that visual and auditory information are processed separately.
b. Conceptual reorganisation is the restructuring of already possessed knowledge and labels to fit into new models or categories.
c. Spreading activation basically states that the ability to recall a word, or association of two words, depends on how often that word was seen and how recently it was seen, or how often those words were seen together and when they were last seen together. For example, if four letter (A B C D) are shown repeatedly in pairs (AB, AD, BC, BD, BB, AB, BA CD), B would have the greatest activation level and its association would be greatest for A.
d. Concept formation is the ability to respond to common features of categories requiring a person to compare a group containing one item to another group not containing that item.
e. Retrieval inhibition is the inability to recall some learned event because of a distractor (cognitive - trauma or environmental – dancing monkey).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Run for the Cause - Mental Health Awareness

A little while ago, when the Sun Run began being widely advertised, I wrote an article on the lack of public awareness at a comparable level for mental health as for cancer. I didn’t publish the article because I spent so much time defending myself as not being against support for cancer treatment and awareness that the piece lost perspective.

Some highlights from the Canadian Mental Health Association’s statistical reports are 20% of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, 24% of adolescent deaths are the result of suicide, and 16% of adult deaths are the result of suicide. Additionally, mental illness costs are in the several billions of dollars for the health care system. (As a comparison, about 40% of people will develop cancer and 25 – 30% of deaths are the result of cancer. Numbers were obtained from the Canadian Cancer Society). These are not small numbers.

In the most recent issue of Psychiatric News is an article titled Helping Prevent Suicide Will Be Fashionable, which is what spawned this re-written article. The event is a fashion show of designer scrubs as well as various talks being given. Now, don’t get me wrong, the more awareness generated about mental illness, the better. However, most people don’t wear scrubs, not even most people working in the hospital, aside from nurses. The target audience is still confined to the medical community. And a lot of work does need to be done in that community, but we should be thinking big picture. And a ticket price of $75 doesn’t leave the doors open for a diverse audience.

While the fashion show is an interesting idea, I still believe the best awareness campaign would be of the walk-run-cycle type for the particular reason that exercise has a significant positive effect of the treatment and prevention of depression and anxiety. As such, a marathon event would not only raise awareness, but would also encourage, motivate, and educate those living with psychiatric illnesses on the benefits of exercise as well as kick-start their new healthy living routine.

There are runs for depression, anxiety, suicide, and mental health in general. But these are usually stand-alone, as opposed to annual, and local, as opposed to national, events. Some of them do quite well in brining in significant numbers of participants which is encouragement for the continued organisation of awareness/fundraising benefits.

I have been thinking about this issue for some time and wondered what would happen if someone, and I guess we’ll assume that someone is me since I’m talking big here, tried to organise a large event. I think the deciding factor for successfully drawing in large numbers of people would be PR.


A story of one Canadian man who ran 8499km across the country to raise awareness for anxiety (and other) disorders. This is a very inspirational story and his thoughts regarding exercise as treatment and the lack of awareness as compared to cancer are of special note.

is a run taking place on April 12, 2009 (in the US) for suicide prevention.

A 2008 event for postpartum depression.

A 2005 student campaign.

A 2007 event in the US.

One and two others.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 8

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

57. According to the DSM-IV:
a. Dissociative amnesia as a symptom occurs in patients diagnosed with dissociative fugue and dissociative identity disorder.
b. Fugue is a dissociative amnesia pertaining to personal details.
c. Depersonalisation disorder is a dissociative disorder in which the patient feels disconnected from their body and reality.
d. Dissociative identity disorder is when a patient assumes more than one distinct personality with associated memory loss.
e. Conversion disorder is a somatoform disorder in which a patient presents with physical symptoms when no physical ailment can be found

58. “…because they are in the prelinguistic stages…children are likely to be mute…deafness…almost never associated with a gross brain lesion...” (Handbook of Neuropsychology, Boller).

59. Traits are the adjectives we would typically use to describe a person – nice, out-going, somber (Five Factor Model). Trait theories are concerned with the differences in traits between individuals. Walter Mischel critiques trait theories by saying that personalities fluctuate too much to be predictive of behaviours. Mischel supported the notion of evidence for cognitive (IQ, delay of gratification), as opposed to personality, traits as predictive of behaviours.

60. Carl Rogers was a founder of the humanistic and phenomenological approach to psychotherapy in which the therapist is concerned with the patient’s subjective experience. He was less concerned with factors such as genetics and psychoanalysis believing that people were most healed by validation of their feelings.

61. During the early stages of embryonic development, males and females are indistinguishable. Hormones aid in the development of sexual structures. When a female is exposed to male hormones, she will possess female sexual organs internally and male sexual organs externally.

62. The standard deviation tells you how much a particular score differs from the mean. It is calculated with the following formula:

The method behind the calculation is to subtract each value from the average and square each result. Then you take the square root of the average of those values. Example: (1, 3, 6, 2). Mean = 3. Then, (1-3)^2=4, (3-3)^2=0, (6-3)^2=9, (2- 3)^2=1. The average of those values is (4+0+9+1)/4=14/4. And the square root of (14/4) gives the standard deviation.

63. In split-half reliability tests, one test is divided into two. Each section is given separately and the results of ‘both’ tests are correlated. Inter-item reliability is when multiple items are used to test the same concept.
a. The Spearman-Brown formula predicts the reliability of a test by replicating the test. More specifically, it is used to test the reliability of a test in which the length has been changed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Psychology GRE Study Guide Page 7

I’m too lazy to link all of the previous pages, but you can find them in the archives and under the label “GRE”. Page 1 has a link to the official Practice GRE from which this guide is developed.

a. Acetylcholine is a messenger in the central and peripheral nervous systems. One function of this neurotransmitter is muscle contractions.
b. Dopamine often has inhibitory effects which dampen and stabilise brain communications allowing for things like smooth, voluntary muscle control, sleeping without physically acting out dreams, and maintaining posture. Dopamine is linked to schizophrenia and Parkinson’s.
c. Epinephrine (adrenaline) is a hormone which induces fight-or-flight effects such as increased heart rate, diverting blood supply from digestion to muscles, and increasing blood-glucose levels. The sympathetic nervous system regulates homeostatic processes and is involved in the flight-or-fight response.
d. Norepinephrine does the same thing as epinephrine.
e. GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) plays an inhibitory role in the regulation of anxiety.

52. Naloxone is used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose as it has a high affinity for opioid receptors.

53. It takes about 25 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark after being exposed to light. Photopigments in receptor cells in the eye allow for visual transduction. In bright light, some of these photopigments are broken down so when you enter a dark environment, there are not enough photopigments available for visual responses, but they are regenerated over time allowing for increased vision in the dark setting. When entering the dark, the cones are more sensitive than the rods, but achieve their threshold more quickly the threshold needs to be overcome in order for vision to occur, so a lower threshold means less light is needed in order to see). At about this time, the rods take over.

54. Elaboration is a learning process whereby memorisation is achieved by forming meaningful connections between new information and that already stored in memory. (Four of the answers are related to cognitive processes and one answer is related to literal interpretation).

55. Iconic memory is short-lived (1/2sec) and produces and stores visual sensory memories such as light trails, which are not actually present but are visible because of the memory of light stored in the iconic memory system (like a photograph). The same concept applies to other flashed, visual information such as cue cards. Echoic memory is similar but stores auditory information. Short-term memory is often referred to as working memory.

a. Metacognition refers to self-awareness and the ability to think about cognitive processes.
b. The concrete operations stage (7-11yrs) is when children become able to perform mental operations on objects. They can consider what will happen to an object when an action is performed on it (the object can be material or symbolic like math) and they can also consider what will happen if the action is reversed.
c. Lexical knowledge relates to understanding the vocabulary of a language.
d. Linguistic competence is the ability to express ideas verbally (writers).
e. Deep structure refers to the underlying meaning of words (whereas surface structure is the literal ordering of words. Chomsky speculated that language is the transformation of deep structure into surface structure).