Author Archives: Liz Galante

Animals Make us Happier

Summer of 2015 I studied at Marist College for three weeks taking courses on Pre Law and gaining a college experience; I’m sure you could guess it wasn’t exactly the most stress free summer. Being that the students who were participating in this program were looking to earn college credits, we wscreen-shot-2016-10-20-at-7-22-55-pmere required to learn a semesters worth of one course within only three weeks. The one thing that motivated me to get through these long days and stressful tests were that I knew that at the end of every week, there would be puppies on the campus lawn for students to relieve their stress.

As crazy as it may sound, interacting with animals has the capability to reduce stress in humans. Among most animals on the planet, dogs have been conditioned to work and respond well to human behavior and emotion. In addition to their ability to comprehend words humans use with them, they are experts in making sense of our tone, particularly when trying to discipline or address something, physical body language, and connecting on an emotional level where they are able to interpret how we are feeling. Humans usually invest in pets for the pure sense of joy and companionship, however it has been proven that owning a dog can beneficially contribute to an owner’s physical and mental health. Science has 13250619-lovely-little-girl-hugging-pet-dog-with-passion-eyes-closed-1024x640explained that there is a strong emotional connection and exertion of feelings between humans and pets. The American Heart Association has done studies on this relationship, more specifically between humans and dogs, showing that humans are less at risk for heart disease and are more likely to live a longer life if owners of dogs.

Before doing this program at Marist I was never someone who would stop in the middle of the street to pet a dog but now I can’t help myself. No matter what it is, it instantly makes me feel better as silly as it sounds. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed all the dogs all over Penn State; I don’t think there has been a time that I don’t stop what I am doing and play with the dogs for at least five minutes.

Upset or Craving Attention?

I’m probably not the only one who gets extremely annoyed when there is a child stamping their feet and screaming in my face. Are they doing this because they are genuinely upset about something, or because they want attention from you? Being a babysitter0a92a851f68c5d10edfd3d584f06082d for the last three years of high school I have experienced an excessive amount of screaming and crying in my face to realize that what they were really crying for attention rather than something I should be concerned about. So what does one do when a child is screaming on the top of their lungs, help or simply ignore them because they are probably just craving attention? If you find that the child is simply making a scene for attention, they are several techniques and strategies one can use.

While I was sitting in Psych100 it was ironic that the topic I was learning about had to do with child behavior which I knew I was writing my blog about. When my professor introduced to us what operant conditioning meant I instantly became interested in the topic because it was something that was relevant to my life. When we talked about operant conditioning it finally made sense to me why the children I babysat were constantly screaming; it was because I gave them exactly what they wanted- attention. However, I decided to use negative punishment on the children. Every time they cried and didn’t listen to me, I took their iPads away from them causing them to improve their bad behavior. Instead of giving them the attention that they “needed” I would then make sure to punish them so that they would gradually stop their behavior. By doing this technique I was removing a favorable consequence in hope that their behavior that they did would decrease.

However, there are negative consequences of using punishment on children. Mainly, punished behavior is suppressed and not forgot; therefore, the children may not act unacceptable in front of me because they know they will be punished but then go and act that way in front of someone who they know wont. It is evident that many kids are going to crave attention especially depending on the age but there are ways to help avoid this mental ia9357d1ad4d63849_42-60412029mage children have in their brains that they need all the attention on them.

Are you Really Paying Attention?

I am going to assume that majority of you were sitting in the same position as I was just not too long ago. Whether you’re a freshman who just recently went through this, or a senior who did four years ago, many of us had to sit down and consider the transition from high school to college. One big thing I had to consider was the difference in class size. The only debate that occu404e_2_0813rred in my mind concerning coming to Penn State University was that I would now be getting an education with around four hundred students sitting in the room with me, whereas in high school there were only twenty-five. Not being able to have a special bond with my professor like I did in high school and fearing that I was going to have a hard time staying focused in class was a big factor in where I was going to come to college.

A problem that I face every day in my lecture classes has to do with me struggling to stay focused and paying careful attention to my professors and whatever their teaching, even when I think I am paying attention. Although it is in my control of whether I use my phone during class or talking to my friends, it is evident that in a lecture class it is not easy to get in trouble. While being on my phone or distracted from other things going on in the lecture hall it affects me completely. Information process modeling is an analogy that demonstrates that our brain can we viewed and understood the exact way a computer is. Our brain starts off with encoding information that stems from our senses to then be sent to a “storage compartment”. After that, the information that has been  understood is now stored for our long and short-term memory. Once this is complete, our information that we have learned and understood has the capability of being retrieved later on. However, during this whole process our attention has to do with the encoding part of memory. During encoding, the key and most important part is making your first memory and without attention it is unable to be retrieved later on. With fail of paying attention it is impossible for whatever you’re learning about to be sent to your short-term memory which makes it impossible to be further sent to your long-term memory.

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-4-02-04-pm     You may be wondering where I am going with this but, without information being sent to our long-term memory we are unable to process information that we learn in class that is perhaps crucial to know for an exam. Making the decision to come to Penn State University I have the opportunity to face and go through many things. I’m going to be honest, my fear of struggling in a class of around four hundred students quickly became a reality when I first started classes here however, I have learned to put my phone away and save my conversations for later to make sure my attention is completely on my professor.

 

Are you Actually Hungry?

     “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”, a saying that my parents have been telling my siblings and I since we were younger. Being a petite girl who is only 5 ft. and 115 pounds it is evident that my stomach can’t hold much; however, I can imagine I’m not the only person who enjoys pigging out and eating more than I know my stomach is capable of handling. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for my fifteen years of competitively dancing and spending five days a week in the dance studio, I would be completely out of shape. Althobad-eating-habbitugh I am aware of that my petite body can’t handle a lot of food, I seem to not be aware of when I am actually full and satisfied.

So how does our stomach signal our brain that we are in fact, full and it’s time to stop eating? Satiety is the main thing that allows our brains to realize that we don’t have any more room in our stomach to consume anything else at the time. This has to do with our hormonal and neurological signals basically sending a message to our brain from our stomach allowing it to tell us (our brains) we are full. The stomach walls functions accordingly to one’s states of hunger, and as a meal is being eaten, it stretches to provide sufficient space for our meals. “Stretch receptors” within the nerves of our stomachs deliver signals to our brains, informing it to stretch and to eventually stop eating as a result of being full. Simultaneously, the hormone “ghrelin,” which is primarily triggered when our bodies are hungry, slowly starts to reduce. As a result, an excessive number of impulses signal our brains to stop eating.

It’s not only the mechanisms that tell us we are full but also timing helps us be alarmed of when should stop eating. Eating at a quick speed is presumed to be less beneficial than eating slower, as eating at a moderate pace allows us to thoroughly enjoy the taste and richness of our food were eating and bettering our digestive systems. It is suggested to test your fullnscientists-create-feel-full-chemical-1101689-twobyoneess by standing up in the middle of a meal and observing how your stomach feels. The state of comfortability notes that your body has eaten enough; this technique will help avoid the heavy feeling of being full, uncomfortable, and bloated. So, next time you’re preparing to make a second plate of food for yourself, stand up for a second and make sure you are actually still hungry!

From the start of age four, potentially younger, almost every innocent girl imagines living their life as the unrealistic Barbie doll. Growing up, it was evident I would have done anything in my power to be just like her. I would be caught stealing makeup from my mom at only the age of six, and would argue that if my best friend wore makeup, what was the big deal if I did? I was taught that having a designer bag or a face of makeup on was not something that made me beautiful. I am confident that I was definitely not the only girl who went through this and that girls continue to. Parents assure their kids that Barbie is just a piece of plastic; however, they are wrong, she is not just a piece of plastic to young girls, she is a part of their life, and a figure they dream of being every single day.

What would life be like if Barbie never existed; never affecting millions of girl’s self-images? What if all us girls were able to go through life every day feeling one hundred percent confident with who we are? Girls are looking in the mirror every day beginning from such a young age, imagining their lives with a slimmer waist and a flawless face. Could Barbie be guilty for these imaginations? Barbie has made the mirror a girl’s worst enhuman-barbie-valeria-lukyanovaemy in the blink of an eye. Being guilty of the many girls who wished they could appear thinner, I see Barbie being the convict of this theory. Millions of girls claim they will do anything to make their dream come a reality, yet typically do not act on it. However, there is one insecure girl out there who did. Valeria Lukyanova, from top to bottom changed her appearance in high hope of appearing just like Barbie. She is now referred as the “Human Barbie.” She claims her reasoning behind this is because she insists on the fact that if you want to be “perfect” you could be. She aims for the slim waist and flawless face that Barbie has, and does everything in her power to reach that. Is it possible that this ten-inch plastic doll could have had such a dramatic impact on this girl?

As many people who want to believe the positive effects Barbie has on girls around the world, it is almost completely proven that it distributes a more negative effect on girls. Briefly, some of the effects include girls with eating disorders because being encouraged by a doll is mentally brainwashing girls and the way they cognitively think they should look. Being a young girl you are supposed to not have a care in the world about what people think of you or suffer from lack of self-confidence. Yet, being surrounded in a world where a silicone doll determines what a girl “should look like” is destroying that entirely. In a world where the reality of looking like Barbie is to surgically remove two ribs from your frame or dropping ten pounds. Barbie has caused low self-esteem, eating disorders, and mental disorders. Girls are dreaming of living the perfect rich3810f3bf00000578-0-image-m-3_1473333765331 life Barbie has with her perfect looks, yet it is not always practical. Barbie is teaching the exact opposite of what almost everyone is taught from when they are practically born, “No one is perfect.” What is Barbie though?

Adderall is not Just What People Think

I have grown up as the only one in my family of six who is not diagnosed with ADD: attention deficit disorder. I remember at the innocent age of eight I would watch my older brother and sisters take their prescription pill every morning before we all went on the bus, yet never really understood what it was or what it did. As time went on, and academics got harder, more and more people claimed they had ADD. “I can’t focus. I’m so lazy. I can’t do my work without Adderall,” are all things that became common phrases within my classes and the people who surrounded me. It seemed like it became a thing that people were taking without being prescribed (drugs); yet since this was going on in my middle school, at age twelve I was too innocent to see this (I know, sad that kids at this age were selling and taking drugs). I knew and still know, better to never take it without ever being diagnosed but it still left and leaves me wondering what is this Adderall pill that everyone was claiming they needed to take in order for them to focus? What is in this pill that causes our brain to concentrate?

I kind of knew the simple information about the pill of which caused people to become more focused on it so, I decided to learn more about what Adderall does for people further than all the “good” things that it does, and research the bad effects of Adderall that everyone seems to disregard. Information here, talks about how the amphetamine in the pill can cause side effects in our brain that are either long term or short term, that could affect your day to day life in a negative way. If you read this, you will understand that while taking Adderall it has the potential to increase your nervous system so being someone who takes Adderall without permission who suffers from anxiety, you could severely be harming yourself. Along with this, the most interesting thing I found here, was the chance of becoming addicted to taking this pill. Like I said before, students are taking this pill without being diagnosed with ADD and abusing the power of this pill. With the use of abusing this pill you are only causing trouble for your future; you may not think that you could become addicted to this pill like you would towards any other drug. People tend to believe that Adderall isn’t as bad as the other typical drugs we hear about people overdosing on, but reading this, you will learn that it’s just as bad and harmful to our bodies if taken without a medical reason. This pill may be doing you good in the moment, it is also possibly hurting you in the future.

Sources: http://www.livescience.com/41013-adderall.html

 

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If you ask me, it is a given that no matter who you are, or what emotion you are feeling at the time, getting up and dancing will instantly make you feel happier and better about yourself. I obviously don’t remember this, but my mom constantly talks about how I used to sit in the dance studio with her as she waited for my sister to end class and watch my sister and her teammates dance on the TV in the studios lobby. My mom says I would immediately become the happiest little girl at only the age of two and that’s when she knew she had to sign me up to take dance classes and follow in my sister’s footsteps. I may claim that I instantly become happy when I dance merely because I have been a competitive dancer for sixteen years but I believe scientists would agree with me too.If you read here, it mentions how not only dancing by yourself but dancing with others could definitely make you feel happier and better about yourself. Reading this, talks about how the research on how dance makes one feel happier is mainly based off on the emotional aspects of an individual.

What has danced helped with?

  • Breast Cancer: here mentions a study that was done in Greece on women who had breast cancer and were proved to be happier and fortunately, felt less of their symptoms that they originally had felt after they participated in dance therapy.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: this talks about a study that was done where individuals who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease participated in a ten week program where they danced; allowing them to not only emotionally feel better but to also increase their moods and tiredness.

When feeling upset, the dance studio was always the place I would go to, to help cheer me up and lighten my mood. If you check out this you will learn more about how dance really is such an up lifter. It talks about how the main reason we get so happy when we dance has to do with the idea of us exercising which releases endorphins- the thing that basically makes us excited and happy. It’s possible that I am a little biased when it comes to saying dancing makes people happy, but after reading about this research and reading how it helped these individuals it became far more convincing that it wasn’t just me who felt this way.

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Sources:

  • https://www.inverse.com/article/7861-science-explains-why-dancing-is-the-fast-way-to-make-yourself-happier
  • http://upliftconnect.com/dancing-makes-you-feel-better/

Falling in Love

Everyone always tells me, especially my parents, “You WILL find the one, one day and be happy together for the rest of your lives.” Yet, since I haven’t fallen in love yet, I always find it hard to believe and question different things. When will I find the one? Why hasn’t my cousin who is thirty years old find the one yet; why hasn’t he fell in love? And then I also question, how is possible that after twenty six years my parents still love each other so much? There has to be a scientific reasoning on how and why we are capable of falling in love with someone and become so emotionally attached to them I constantly ask myself. If you read here, you will see that it talks about the basic things that causes us to feel the way we do when we fall in love- dopamine and adrenaline. These things cause us to feel the affection and attachment that we do towards another individual. Dopamine has to do with the emotions we feel itself towards your significant other and as you can all guess, adrenaline has to do with the rush of our energy that we get for whoever it may be. Something that really caught my eye and that I found really cool to learn about while reading this, was that MRI scans show that love affects the center part of our brains allowing us to feel the way we do. Who would have ever imagined that an MRI scan has the potential to read something like this? Definitely not me! Along with this, if you read more here, you will understand the concept of the three phases of love: lust, attraction, and attachment.

Here is a brief description of what each one of these phases are in charge of:

  • LUST: in charge of the desire that we feel for the individual.
  • ATTRACTION: when we feel a certain desire for someone, blood flows to our brain during this phase
  • ATTACHMENT: what we feel towards our significant other that convinces us we want to be with them

After reading about this and learning that science does in fact actually have a reasoning behind as to why we feel the way we do when we fall in love makes things that I questioned in the past suddenly make sense.

 

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Sources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206155244.htm

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Hi! My name is Liz Galante and I am a freshman from Manalapan, New Jersey in the Division of Undergraduate Studies. When it comes to picking a career for my future I change my mind almost every day and I am never capable of figuring out what I want to be. However, I am more than certain that i know that I want to stick away from any field that involves many hard science courses! I see myself more in the communications or psychology field when I’m older. For whatever reason it may be, science never came easy to me and was never a subject in school I would say I particularly enjoyed learning about. I feel this is simply due to how science was taught in my schools since I was young. Teachers never made the topics I knew had the potential of being interesting, interesting. Along with this, I had many teachers who had literally brainwashed my peers and I to think that science can only be enjoyable for the most intelligent students in the class. I am certain that other people feel the same way. Feel free to read further on how others feel about this here Having this constant mindset took over me at many times and didn’t allow me to enjoy going to class and learning about science. If I’m being honest, I couldn’t wait to get out of high school so that I could finally be done with biology, physics, chemistry and all that boring stuff (in my opinion) and finally take classes that I wanted to take and be in a classroom environment where the teacher didn’t make me feel bad about myself. At New Student Orientation I was a little disappointed and nervous when I found out I had to take a science class. I explained to my advisor how I felt about science and he helped lead me in the right path and suggested to me this course because it is not the type of science I have typically been in. The line that really convinced me when I read about SC200 on University Bulletin was; “This course teaches an appreciation of science and scientific thinking. It is aimed at making non-scientists more informed consumers of science by improving their ability to distinguish good science from bad science, and science from non-science.” I can confidently say that I am finally sitting in a science class that I genuinely want to be in with a teacher who genuinely cares! I more than excited to see that is in store for both myself and my peers!

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