Monday, May 12, 2014

Twins: Different Lives

It may be an identity crisis. Many twins feel that they have to work much harder to be unique because they may constantly be compared to the other counter part. This can lead to negative and poor relationship between twins as well as parents. This article sheds some light on why twins tend to live very different lives later on. "The causes of these differences were due to changes in the human epigenome, he realized." Doctor Spector found this research and further stated, "pigenetic changes are not just simple environmental changes, however. They influence a person's genes and can have an effect that can last for two or three generations in extreme cases." 

If a twins get married first, the other may be left grieving. I may not completely agree with all that is stated here, but I do believe that the connection twins share is like no other. 

Your Canine

I s aggression an innate characteristic of our being? Does this aggression effect other aspects of our lives? Are their certain characteristics that people prone to aggression tend to be attracted to?

Pit bulls have always had a negative reputation. Along with other breeds who are prone to being aggressive, it brings up the question of whether their genes cause aggression or if it is caused from their environment. It is the nature vs nurture theory. Pit bulls have been known to be trained as fighting dogs. A cruel thing to train to dogs who are naturally loyal and peaceful animals. The article above explains how some owners may in fact share some of the qualities of said "aggressive dogs."

Brooklyn Playground

In this blog post I will be writing about my own playground design. For mine i focused on the Bed-stuy area and addressing the black and white communities. For decade Bed-stuy has been mostly population by african americans, however, within the past decade gentrification has been spreading and the white population has almost equalled the black population. Living in bed-stuy myself, I see the division among the locals and newbies. I wanted to design my play specifically for the people that have called bed-stuy their home for generations, and the people that have just moved in. I wanted to focus on how discrimination and separation by race is promoted into a child's perception. I found that the majority of the time, the parent, and/or surround authority figures are the ones unwilling to mix-- the kids aren't aware of this until they learn from them. I wanted to make a community garden, that could 1. bring anyone together 2. be a place for kids to have fun but also for adult to relax and interact with eachother 3. to produce a play area that is also beneficial to the earth and beneficial to a child's education and 4. to give city kids the ability to escape to nature and find fun out of that instead of technology. Technology is something that is truly hurting our ways of communicating with eachother, especialy when those technologies are being used by 3 year olds. The Community Playground garden with have multiple flower beds, compost area, climbing structure, pond/stream and beach sandy area, and bird houses.

Jury Selection

Jury Selection

In this article, a mother of two is on trial for the murder of her two children. This extreme case requires a very levelheaded group of jurors to prevent any immediate bias against the mother. The deeply emotional tragedy, however, is too much to handle for many individuals. The article goes on to explain the process in which attorneys had to undergo in order to find enough jury members to take on this trial. Some candidates broke down in tears at hearing the news, while others had past traumatic events in their lives that would have immediately swayed the decision. Due to these factors, a large portion of the initial 90 candidates were immediately taken out of the selection pool due to past life events, or obvious emotional bias.

To me, the idea that a group of randomly selected jurors can take on such extreme cases is a bit odd. Though, group decision-making can be more rational than that of an individual, having only 12 members does not seem enough.  No matter how careful the prosecutors are in the selection of the jurors, there will always be a bias in the decision-making. This is especially risky in a case so controversial because any vote can sway the outcome.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

How Musical Training Effects Our Brains

New research shows that the areas of the brain related to music share pathways related to language. This left hemisphere is a multi-tasking instrument. Undergrad student Amy Spray and Dr. G Meyer form the Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool will be presenting their research on Thursday May 8th at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Not only are these two areas of the brain seemingly linked, but increased music training can have a modular effect on the brain, increasing the amount of pathways available. Across 14 musicians and 9 non-musicians word and music generation tests were performed. It was shown that musicians' brains lighted up in the same areas during language and music related tasks while non-musicians had little activity in similar regions. Prior to musical training this was the case, yet after they were exposed to music fundamental education, the same area of the brain was active for both tasks. Half an hour of training was sufficient to illicit this rewiring of the brain, which is obviously an amazing discovery. The experiment shows that these patterns can be developed rapidly with a brief amount of musical training and corresponding positively effect language skill development.

This is fascinating news to me. As a practitioner of music, it's awesome that my efforts yield such immediate and diverse fruit. The brain's capabilities are truly astounding and our ability to influence its growth never ceases to grow as well. 

Public Speaking Anxiety

Public speaking can be tough if you are a naturally introverted person. Yale's psychological department was kind enough to give out tips for those who are intimidated by public speaking. Their first tip is to outline all the material fully and thoroughly without writing a speech word for word. Memorizing something word for word actually increases anxiety as it creates a pressure to be right each and every word that comes out of your mouth. Having an outline makes you fully aware of the movement your speech will take while taking off the pressure to say exactly the right thing.
The second is to keep a token of emotional security. Athlete's pre-game rituals are cited as inspiration and presenting is no different. Keeping a sentimental object to ground you will only enhance your confidence as it's something personal and familiar unlike the speech you are about to give.
Third, remember that your audience probably is not paying nearly as much attention to your speech as you think they are. Most are probably at least half distracted, they'll remember your tone and enthusiasm way more than they will the content of your speech itself.
Lastly, confidence is the currency of success when it comes to public speaking. The audience can tell if you are nervous and will be nervous in return if you act accordingly. Pretend you're confident even if you're freaking out inside, basically "fake it till you make it."
These tips are designed to outsmart your psychological processes that inhibit your public speaking. Use them and you'll be effective and persuasive!

Limitations of Studying Twins

Twins have long been a fascinating topic for psycologists. They offer a potential chance to study the effects of the environment on the mind independent of differences in genetics. Of course while identical twins share DNA, fraternal twins only share about 50%, making them less ideal for dependent experiments. These experiments rely on a few mainstay assumptions about twins that include:

-Research into twins assumes that they are just as likely to pick a partner that is unlike them as they would a partner similar to them. If it is indeed true that similarities are more attractive, then fraternal twins would share more than 50% DNA because their mother and father would be more similar.
-It's assumed that identical twins growing up in the same home experience a very similar environment
-Genes are effected by their environment. This phenomenon is often left out of these experiments despite the fact they alter the basis for the study
-Dominant and recessive genes fight behind the scenes, changing genetic structures without possibly altering the visual appearance of the twins.

The trait being studied has a large effect on the usefulness of studying twins. For instance, it is believed that mates are chosen more frequently based on similar intelligence than they are similarities in other, more negative qualities or quirks. Therefore, "a scientist studying intelligence may have to worry more about nonrandom mating than researchers who study personality." Studying twins' extended family can remedy alot of these issues, as there becomes much more data available to study the impact of twin's lifestyle choices beyond the immediate behaviors. Lastly, genetic research plays a huge role in studying twins today. Differences in the DNA offers insights that traditional analysis methods can't match and combining the two is offering a continuously more complete picture of the subject.

Being a twin, I think the concept of studying twins for psychological purposes is fascinating. They offer a unique opportunity to isolate the environment as the variable, keeping genetics constant for posterity. The differences that arises in twins has always fascinated me, and I can personally attest to being extremely different from my brother both physically and personality wise. Despite our variable lifestyles, we retain a commonality that is hard to pinpoint, but concrete. Psychologists are determining what this link is whether its purely genetic or something more, and I'm looking forward to their ever-evolving hypothesizes.