PSYC110_Lectures - Week 1 Psychological Research...

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Week 1: Psychological Research, Neurotransmitters, & Stress - Lecture Help JavaScript is required for your course. Please ensure JavaScript is enabled in your browser preferences. Print This Page Psychological Research, Neurotransmitters, and Stress Psychological Research | Neurotransmitters | Stress In Week 1 we begin with taking a look at how psychology conducts research. For better or worse, psychology is presently using the methods of the physical sciences and thus we will start there. From here will get a bit more practical with a look at neurotransmitters. We will conclude this week with a topic that so many of us can directly relate to these days - stress. Psychological Research Psychologists use the scientific method when conducting research. This allows the field to follow the same standardized scientific procedures that have worked so well for other scientists. This would entail the six steps of the scientific method: 1. reviewing the literature 2. formulating a testable hypothesis 3. designing the study and collecting the data 4. analyzing the data and accepting or rejecting the hypothesis 5. publishing, replicating, and review 6. theory-building The best research will be experiments since that is the only form of research that can show a cause and effect relationship. Experiments are however subject to various problems such as experimenter bias, ethnocentrism, sample bias and participant bias. A good research study will account for these by using a variety of techniques like single or double "blind" studies, placebos, cross cultural sampling, random assignment to groups, etc. Regarding experiments, the concept that students have the most difficulty with is often differentiating between the dependent variable and the independent variable. The text defines the dependent variable as the "experimental factor measured; it is affected by (or dependent on) the independent variable." (p. 25)
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The independent variable is defined as "experimental factor manipulated to determine its causal effect on the dependent variable." (p. 25) Perhaps an example would help clarify things. A group of researchers at Yale University did an experiment that was published in the Journal of Pediatric Research (Oct. '95) looking at the effect of a glucose rich meal on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) children and children without the disorder. They gave the children a glucose rich meal (glucose is a simple sugar that the brain needs to function) and then monitored the children. They found that within three hours the glucose and insulin levels dropped in both groups - as expected. (Insulin moves glucose form circulation system into the cells.) The neurotransmitters (more on neurotransmitters below) epinephrine and norepinephrine now kick in to step up glucose entry into the brain. The surprising thing was that in the ADHD children, the rise in epinephrine and norepinephrine was about half that of the non- ADHD children. (Note: This is NOT to say that all of ADHD children's problems are caused by sugar.)
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PSYC110_Lectures - Week 1 Psychological Research...

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