Key Study: Serotonin, tryptophan and the brain (Passamonti et al., 2012)

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Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has been correlated with numerous behaviours, including impulsive aggression, antisocial behaviour and violence. One reason for this correlation could be the effect that depleted serotonin levels could have on important parts of the brain when we perceive emotional stimuli. To test the effects of serotonin depletion on the brain, Passamonti et al. (2012) asked one …

Teaching Tip: How to cut content and increase understanding

tdixon Criminology, Curriculum, Themantics 2 Comments

When it’s time to teach the new course, if you’re a bit savvy in your curriculum design you can exploit overlaps, cut content, and best of all – enhance student understanding of psychology. How do we do all this? In this post I’ll walk you through some helpful hints and show you the value of constructing relationship chains. Keeping it Simple …

Key Study: Decision Making, Iowa Gambling and the vmPFC (Bechara et al., 2000).

tdixon Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Criminology 6 Comments

Context Before reading about this study it’s important to recap the dual processing model of judgement and decision making. According to Kahneman (and others) we have two systems of processing information. System one is fast and unconscious, while system two is slower and considers more factors. The system of processing we use will affect our judgement, which in turn will …

Why teach themantically?

tdixon Assessment (IB), Criminology, Curriculum, General Interest, Themantics Leave a Comment

Why teach thematically? If you think about it, teaching by the core approaches (or levels of analysis) in a linear way IS a thematic approach – the themes are biology, cognition and socio-culture, and then the themes are abnormal psych, health, etc. These themes tie together topics so by the end of the unit students have a broad conceptual understanding. …

The Story of Phineas Gage

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Important Note: Phineas Gage is an interesting way to learn about the relationship between the frontal lobe and our behaviour. However, there are many other studies that we use in this course to demonstrate important concepts like localization of brain function. Therefore, Gage should not be used in exam answers. The story… Phineas Gage was a railroad worker who was …

Lesson one on how to “explain” a study…

tdixon Criminology 1 Comment

This post is written to accompany the lesson on Phineas Gage and the frontal lobe in “IB Psychology: A Student’s Guide.”  Unit: Criminology Topic 1: The Brain and Behaviour Lesson (a): “The Frontal Lobe The guiding question for this lesson is designed to give you some practice at explaining the results of a study. The question is: “How does Phineas Gage’s case suggest …

Key Study: Moral Dilemmas – The Trolley and the Footbridge

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Note: This was in a first draft of our textbook IB Psychology: A Student’s Guide but was later removed because of it’s complexity in nature, and the fact that it doesn’t thread as well as other studies on system one and two decision making. Morality and Decision Making The prefrontal cortex plays a crucial role in executive functions, also known as …

Key Study: Moral judgement and the prefrontal cortex (Ciaramelli, et al)

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This study helps to explain how dysfunction in the prefrontal cortex might make people more susceptible to violent and/or impulsive behaviours. Similar to the VHIS, Ciaramelli et al investigated the differences between moral judgements in people with damage to their prefrontal cortex and healthy controls. Their study cites existing research that suggests people with damage to their PFC have “high levels of …

Key Study: Testosterone,the Brain and Aggression (Goetz et al, 2014)

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Background Information Many studies have shown that testosterone can influence levels of aggression. But there haven’t been many studies that show exactly how testosterone may cause aggressive behaviours. The amygdala is a part of the brain associated with emotional response and it prepares our body for fight or flight. Goetz et al hypothesized that testosterone might influence the activity (or reactivity) of the …