Category Archives: Sensation

Sleep Walking

Sleep walking is a very interesting phenomenon. As the name suggests, sleep walking is the action of walking in your sleep, which typically occurs in stages 3 and 4 of the sleeping cycle. Sleepwalkers look as if they were awake, with their eyes wide open and with good sense of coordination. However, everything they do is completely unconscious to them, given that they are asleep. Once they wake up, sleepwalkers have little to no memory of what they did while they were walking around. Typically sleepwalkers perform very simple actions, but some cases have been reported where sleepwalkers have performed complex tasks such as cooking and driving. Waking up a sleepwalker is very difficult, since they are in a very deep stage of sleep. It can also be considered dangerous because the sleepwalker could get panicked and confused as to why he or she is standing up instead of being in a bed. It is very difficult to guess how many times you have sleepwalked, but sometimes the experience is so extreme that it automatically encodes in your memory. When I was eight years old, my family and I went to Brazil for the holidays. We stayed in a huge resort with wild animals such as monkeys and peacocks walking around. It was during that trip that I sleepwalked for the first time. I don’t remember the experience very well, but what I do remember is waking up in a random bench near a lake and having no idea how I had gotten there. I walked around for a while trying to locate myself, but everything was dark and scary for me. After walking for maybe thirty minutes, I finally came across the familiar hallway where our room was located. When I knocked on the door, I remember my mom freaking out because I was outside. I didn’t know I had sleepwalked until years later, so I couldn’t tell her exactly why I was outside. As far as I know that is the only time I ‘ve ever sleepwalked, and it was certainly one of the most mysterious experiences of my entire life. Nobody understands why sleepwalking happens, and it is important to take means about it since it can be very dangerous, especially if you do it in a foreign country while you’re eight years old.




2) The Book

What’s the Word

Wouldn’t it be awesome to say that you remember everything? Not just an incredible memory, but actually unable to forget anything. That would make things like studying and learning languages really easy. You could prepare and memorize an impeccable speech in just a couple minutes. And you won’t have to worry about forgetting even one word. Sounds like a perfect world, after all, isn’t it the worst feeling when you know what you’re trying to say but forget the right words to say it. The words feel like they are about to jump out of your mouth…but all that comes out is confusing jibber.

This phenomenon is known as “tip of your tongue.” Psychologists have proposed several theories trying to describe this, but two rise as the top theories. The first, direct-access is when the strength of the target memory or word is strong enough for the individual to recognize its “existence” in their memory but not quite strong enough for the individual to recall it. The second theory is the inferential view, this theory says that the person can recall and recognize cues of the word, what it look like what color it is, if its old or new ect. but cannot remember the word. Its like the person can remember things that are all connected to the word but cannot remember the word itself.

How often someone can experience this feeling can depend on a number of things, everything from age to emotion. It may be obvious that as people grow older they complain of having it more often, but they report that the episodes last longer and often never find the right word. Studies show that as you get older you have less cues and less alternate words. Caffeine can also have an effect on people. A study that involved participants taking either an equivalent of two cups of coffee (about 200 mg of caffeine) or a placebo pill showed that the people who consumed caffeine had fewer tip of the tongue experiences. It has been found that a tip of the tongue episode that carries significant emotional attachments take longer to retrieve the word than if you don’t have any emotional attachment to the situation. When you have an emotional relationship to the word you may continue to recall the same cue over and over rather than searching for other cues that may more efficiently bring you to the right word.

Whatever the reason for the phenomenon there is ignoring the fact that it happens to every one, and that we can all agree that it can be very frustrating and irritating.

Pain Sensitivity in Redheads


Many people correlate a short temper with people who have red hair. But do people also consider that redheads are more sensitive to pain? Whether or not redheads tend to have a ‘fiery’ temper, it can be proven that they do have a greater sensitivity to pain due exclusively to genetics.

To further explain how the genetics of redheads relates to sensory sensitivity, one must first understand how pain receptors in the body function in the nervous system. Sensory receptors send signals through the spinal chord and brain when encountered with sensory stimuli. Some sensory receptors are specifically categorized under the somatic nervous system which refers to the body feeling, light, pain, touch, pressure and more. All these components of the central nervous system combine to fully utilize all the senses and to help protect the body against potentially harmful stimuli. In a recent study, as much as 20 percent more anesthesia is needed for redheads to fully disintegrate the pain involved with sensory neurons. Scientists have concluded that this is caused by the MC1R gene which produces higher quantities of pheomelanin. This red pigment is how redheads get their hair color and fine skin tone (Clark 1). There are only theories behind why this gene has such an effect but many believe it has something to do with overproduction of hormones related to pain (Clark 2). In my own experience as a redhead, I find these findings true. Whenever I had to have anesthetics administered on me at the dentist, I found that I needed multiple doses of it in order to not feel any pain. This is possibly due to the increased rates of pheomelanin and pain-inducing hormones which causes there to be more signals from the pain receptors to the brain. It could also be because pheomelanin is somehow related to hormones that activate sensory receptors (Clark 2). Even though there is not an obvious answer why redheads have this strange trait, one can infer that it has a great deal to do with the workings of the nervous system, specifically the sensory receptors that encompass it.


Works Cited

Clark, Josh. “Do Redheads Need Extra Anesthesia?” HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks Inc. 1998. Web. 4 February 2014.

Classic Conditioning

Psychology has found that we have the ability to condition people and animals to achieve a desired response. Ivan Pavlov showcased this powerful ability by using dogs to demonstrate that a reflex could be caused to occur in response to a totally unrelated stimulus. Pavlov observed how the dogs salivated when meat was placed in their mouths or held in front of them. Soon, he began ringing a bell every time the meat was provided until the dogs would salivate to the sound alone. The dogs were able to exhibit an automatic unconditioned response solely on the pairing of a conditioned stimulus to an unconditioned stimulus.
Although we have the ability to condition a person to the point that they automatically respond in a certain way, that doesn’t necessarily mean we force them to. Sometimes conditioning can happen on accident.
In Pennsylvania, you are able to achieve your driver’s permit at the age of 16 if you pass the written (electronic) exam. As a new license holder, I was eager to get started as soon as I could. With no previous training, I began practicing the next day. My dad slowly took me through neighborhood roads, until he felt I was ready for a busier scene. I nervously drove down the main road by my house until I approached a fork in the road. As I began to turn right, I cut my wheel too hard and needless to say I caused an immense amount of damage. My immediate reaction caused me to shake uncontrollably and cry. Now, whenever I am faced with that road (which is unfortunately hard to avoid) I cringe and receive a pit in my stomach. My accident conditioned me to fear the scene each time it appears.
Classical conditioning is an extraordinary way to condition an organism for a specific response. Sometimes it is for a desired trait, while others may be caused on accident. Either way, each conditioned response can be counter-conditioned in the end.

Neurons and Traumatic Brain Injury

neuronsDuring the first part of class, we discussed the importance of neurons in psychology and the direct relationship between psychology and biology. About 100 billion neurons make up the body’s information system and there are about 100 trillion connections between them. These neurons do not only control biological aspects of one’s body but also affect behavior. Everything we do or think begins as an action by neurons in our brains. Since psychology and biology are so closely related, action or inaction by neurons in the brain can have far-reaching effects on other parts of the body.

A family friend experienced this firsthand. When he was in college, he was sitting on a milk crate in the back of his friend’s van on the way home from a party. Not far from campus, the van struck a tree and, since he was not wearing a seatbelt, our friend was thrown from the vehicle. He suffered a traumatic head injury. My dad drove to visit him right after the accident. Our friend could not speak, eat or perform normal daily functions on his own. My dad and mom, who visited our friend later when he was in rehab, both said it was as if their friend was a child trapped in the body of a 21-year-old.

This change occurred because traumatic brain injury directly affects neurons and can even kill them and the connections between them. Since neurons all work together, these losses can have devastating effects on many areas, since biology and psychology are linked. Different neurons have different functions and control different areas of the body and brain. When our friend experienced head trauma, the neurons for certain functions, such as speech and memory, were negatively affected. He lost the ability to control these parts of his body because the neurons stopped firing and sending information to the brain and other necessary areas.

Fortunately, he eventually made a full recovery after lots of therapy and rehab. This experience epitomizes the link between neuropsychology and biology and shows the importance for all neurons to be working properly. Neurons control everything we do and without some functioning properly, the results can be devastating.