Author Archives: Griffin Lambert Brooks

Are you a dedicated fan?

Growing up and still to this day my family and I have always been huge sports fans. Both my sister and I played 3 sports in high school and my sister later on went to play division 1 golf. We not only spend large amounts of time watching each other play but also watch our favorite professional and college sports teams play. Growing up in New England near Boston means you better like the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics. There hasn’t been a season yet in my life where I haven’t watched at least 75% of each season. Across the country there are millions of dedicated sports fans that would die for their team. This popped a question in my head. What makes us so attached to our favorite teams?

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According to this interesting article I found research has shown that there is an increase in testosterone while watching sports due to the competitive nature sports has and therefore a simply explanation for increased tension between fans during games. Also, due to mirror neurons we have, fan sometimes feel as though they are the ones playing the game because we are watching the players in the game and think we are playing as well. Mirror neurons are like a mirror you look into, the reflection is doing the same thing as the person looking into the mirror.

Fans get riled up when they watch their team play because they feel like they are playing with them and in the game so there is a lot of emotion when watching a sporting event. Also, when your team is preforming well you obviously are happy and feel a sense of pleasure and sensation. Like I learned in psychology, dopamine levels rise when you have a feeling of pleasure. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that effects emotion. So like-wise, if your team is playing bad and loosing your dopamine levels lower.

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 In studies conducted by Daniel Wann, professor of psychology at Murray State University, results have showed that the more dedicated the person perceived themselves as to their favorite sports team, showed lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of self-esteem and positive emotions regardless of how well your favorite sports team has done. His research has also showed that the team you support is part of your life and something you carry with you, thus making yourself proud that you support them raising your self-esteem level. Personally… not to brag but after reading this research my self-esteem levels are probably through the roof because clearly the New England Patriots are the best in the league, Tom Brady is the GOAT,  and they’re going to win another Super Bowl.

I also personally think that being a dedicated fan to a certain team brings you together with others and is healthy for you because you meet and interact with others who have similar interests as you do. In a sporting event it is clear from the start that only one team can win. Winning together or loosing together brings you closer to your fellow fans and makes the bond between the team you support and your fellow fans stronger and only makes you want that team to thrive even more.

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Professor Wann in other studies he had done, also looked into the superstition of sports fans. In his study with 1,000 participants, more than half said they were superstitious. Likewise he found that the more dedicated a fan was to a team the more superstitious that fan was… pretty self-explanatory.

What does this make you? Are you a dedicated fan? After reading this I can say my dedication to my favorite sports teams is still very strong but not to the point where I have pregame rituals and prayers I have to say before my team play. Although, my dopamine levels will lower tremendously if the Patriots do not win the Super Bowl this year.

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The Unbreakable Bond Between a Dog and Their Human

Being such a dog lover I thought I could express my true feelings on this blog and talk about the relationship and love a dog has for it’s owner and vis versa. For the 18 years I have been alive there hasn’t been a single day where my family hasn’t owned a dog. A dog to me is literally part of my family. My dog right now I consider him like a brother to me and I truly think he feels the same way.

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I took this picture of my dog, Romeo.

According to this study  done by Swedish and Danish researchers dogs can have a positive relationship with there owners if the owner has a positive attitude toward the dog. Researches put it to the test with 20 dogs and their owners. They divided them up into three categories. One, was the interactions between the owner and the dog. Two, how close the dog and owner are to each other. Lastly three, the investment the owner was putting into the dog. The researchers had discovered that dogs who initiate contact with their owner, the owner showed more interaction with their dog. If the owner initiated contact with the dog, the dog was less likely to play on it’s own. Owners who seemed to have a better relationship with their dogs showed to have higher levels of Oxytocin in their urine.

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After reading that article and understanding the study that they tested I found their study to be slightly misleading and I think it had many flaws in it. If you are running a study for the relationship between a dog and a human you can’t test it on only 20 humans and dogs. You need to have a larger sample size for more accurate results. Another thing that made me question this study is they type of dog that they are testing. Certain breeds of dogs have different traits and emotions just like us humans do. Some dogs are more loving than others. If there was a larger field with a larger variety of dogs I think the results could’ve have been more accurate and more concise.

In another article I found written by John Bradshaw Ph.D., due to the fact that they are evolved from wolves which is avery intelligent species, dogs have transitioned well over generations to be domesticated animals. Personally I think that dogs have such a close relationship with their owner because of the dependency they have for us. When we pick up the dog from the kennel on the first day, the owners of that dog for the next 10-15 years has such a responsibility to take care of the dog. Although a dog is only in your life for a short period of time in the grand scheme of things you are the dogs whole life. The owner of a dog has been there for them from the beginning to the end.

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Dogs that are domesticated and that live in the house with us are dependent on us to take them to the bathroom, feed them, and keep them healthy. Without those three things dogs wouldn’t be able to survive and we as the owners are the only people who can do that for them. Dogs, quickly learn who is there for them supplying them with what they need. This makes dogs feel comfortable with their owner and quickly form a relationship with them. I feel that since the owner supplies the dogs with the necessities for them to live, dogs will die for their owners because that is their nature.

In another article I found researchers in Japan have found that dog owners have a bonding hormone oxytocin which is responsible for the carrying of a baby in them which mothers have when they look at their children.  The researchers in Japan preformed a test where they sprayed the hormone Oxytocin up the dogs nose and found that the female dogs starred at their owner longer than usual. Researchers had also found that that the longer the dogs starred at the owner, the owners oxytocin levels were raised. Similar to the article I cited above, these researchers also think that because dogs are decedents of wolves they are more domesticated because wolves use to scavage leftovers that humans left which made them dependent on humans many years ago.

 

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Does music help you study?

There isn’t a time in the day where I would ever turn down listening to music. Music is something that bring people together regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Music is like a universal language that all people can understand. So when you’re in your dorm and can hear someone screaming in the room next to you, the toilet flushing every minute because it’s across the hall from your dorm, the elevator screeching up and down, and you have 3 tests next week… what do you do? I put my headphones on and get to work.

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According to the article by Sheela Doraiswamy studies have shown that listening to music before a task such as studying can approve attention, memory, and mental math ability. Another study was done at The University of Wales that tested students with 5 different scenarios… a quiet study area with no music, one single repeated word played during the duration of the time studying, 9 of the same words repeated said over and over to the student wile studying,  studying with songs that student liked, and lastly a song the student didn’t like which in this case was death metal repeatedly played during the duration of the student studying. After students took the test the scientists were surprised to find no significant difference in the outcomes of the tests. Not surprisingly the student who studied with no music at all scored the highest on the test.

According  to Professor Clifford Nass from Stamford University there is a negative effect on student who listen to music with lyrics while trying to study for english or writing. This is not such a problem when the student is studying for math due to the fact that you’re not using your language side of your brain. According to another article I found although listening to music isn’t as hard as solving a problem or studying for an exam, our brains still uses energy to process the sound waves into our nervous system whether we are focused on the music or not. The same researchers  also found that students who are studying for an exam and listening to music tend to retain the information better on exam day if they are listening to the same music while taking the exam. Unfortunately unless you’re the one administering the test to yourself I don’t think there is any teacher out there that would let you listen to music while taking a test.

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Personally I can’t study while listening to homework because I simply get too distracted by the music. What’s your preference? Does music get you distracted or does it make study more enjoyable?

 

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Sleep isn’t a priority in college.

Being a first year student in college and as the semester progresses I found out pretty quickly that sleep is not a first priority in college. Throughout my life I have also been someone who NEEDS his sleep. If I didn’t get enough sleep the night before anything I had to do that next day whether it was go to school, or play in basketball game, or go to work, I would not be the same person as my normal self with the right amount of sleep I need. I hear that on average you should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Preferably, when I was living at home and not in college I would try to get 9-10 hours of sleep per night for me to feel the most rejuvenated I possibly could the next day.

Unfortunately I would never frequently get those 10 hours of sleep due the jam packed schedule I had back in high school. I was a 3 sport student athlete so my life was based around going to school from 8-2 every day, then getting on a bus to go to my sporting event I was participating in directly after school. After my sporting event which usually started at 3:30 pm and went until 7 pm I would then travel back to the school on the bus to get my car to finally go home at night. By the time I got home it was already around 8:30 pm. I would get my self settled in maybe grab some food and start my homework hopefully around 9 pm. By the time I finish my homework it was around 10:30-11pm and I’m exhausted. It usually gets close to being a 12 hour day and I go to bed knowing I have the same routine tomorrow. Going to bed that late and waking up at 6 am every day never gave me enough time to get the appropriate amount of sleep I hoped for.

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Now… that was only my high school story. College, so far has been like that except without the sports that take up half my day it’s now school work that takes up half my day along with going to class. High school and college, I learned very quickly are extremely different. I unfortunately, before realizing it, scheduled my classes all early thinking to myself I could just go to class in the morning and just get all my work done during the day.  Experiencing college for the first time, I have now understood how easy it is to slip up in your classes due to all the distractions you face, unavoidable or not. Going to class in the morning and getting the work load I have my life is all about time management. Yes… I’m human and do get distracted sometimes, which causes me to stay up until 3 am some nights writing papers that are due the next day but that seems to be a common theme with most college students here and everywhere throughout the country. Based on information  given in this article, students who don’t get enough sleep could be because of the night time computer or technology use that the majority of college students and young adults use. Bright light from computers, tv’s, and phones can affect melatonin levels which is a hormone which regulates the amount of light received through the retina in your eye causing problems in sleep patterns and loss of sleep.

So why am I ranting about my daily life in high school and now my daily life in college? It all relates back to the amount of sleep I have been getting and why I think sleep is not a priority to college students. According to this new article I found  studies from a UC Berkley student have shown that sleep not only refreshes you and your body keeping you healthy, but can actually make you smarter. Not sleeping or pulling an all nighter causes sleep deprivation and can lower the ability to learn information by 40%. Sleep also helps retain information you have previously learned and gives you energy for the next day to learn more information.

Another reason why I don’t think sleep is a priority for college students is because of the distractions such as partying with alcohol. Here at Penn State especially, being know as a party school, alcohol is used and abused here by many college students. According to the article alcohol may make you fall asleep faster, but disrupts sleep architecture which is the way our brain remembers sleep patterns and makes us feel refreshed the next day.

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With large gaps in my day from class to class I find that taking a nap personally helps me a lot for my second half of the day. According to the article studies have shown that even short naps for only a few minutes help you recover and give you more energy for the rest of your day.

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After reading these few articles about sleep patterns, deprivation, causes of sleep loss, and ways to improve sleeping patterns I feel confident that I can still continue to thrive in my classes, maintain a balanced and safe social life, and get enough sleep to keep my body fresh and my mind rejuvenated so I retain and learn new things each day.

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Go to college… its worth it.

As I sit here with enormous amounts of work on my shoulders and deadlines that creep up on me everyday, multiple times a day I sometimes question my reasoning for being in college and if it is actually worth it and come to the same realization everytime. Yes. College is completely worth the struggle, stress, anxiety, and money.

According to this article I found, going to college and successfully completing and earning your degree, college graduates have higher employment rates, larger salaries, and more job opportunities than high school graduates. Sure, we all know college is ridiculously expensive but in the long run, pays off and makes the debt you have leaving college worth it. According to this other article I found about 7 in 10 student (69%) go into student loan debt averaging about $28,000 in debt. That is actually a very scary thought and makes me question this college education even more.

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According  to the article college graduates, if they have a family later on in life, their kids are more likely to be healthy and more prepared for school in the future. Based on the statistics in the article from a Lancet Medical Journal showed that college graduate mothers had lower infant mortality rates than high school graduate mothers. Mothers, who are high school graduates are 31% more likely to birth a low-birth weight baby. Children with at least one college gradate parent, according to the statistics given in the article show that 59% of them participated in after school activities such as sports, preforming arts, and clubs. After reading that my kids will be better off in the long run really made me feel like I was getting an education here for something more than just myself. Raising a family and having your kids live a better life than you is what every parent wants and that is certainly what I want for my kids some day.

After reading more of the article according to the statistics they show, college graduates make on average $30,000 more per year than high school graduates. So, coming out of college with a degree and more job opportunities you could technically pay your student loan debt with just one year salary and still make just as much as a high school graduate for that one year. Granted I know most people don’t ever pay debts in full unless they’re making a lot of money and can afford to give a large sum of it up in bulk, but knowing that you make much more money and have more job opportunities entering the work force with a college degree is the reason why I keep working hard for my Penn State degree.

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So what am I trying to say? College not only pays off for you money wise but also your health, job opportunities which makes it more of chance for you to be successful in life, and your kids future.

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Is chocolate good for us???

As I sit here eating a whole bag or snickers bars contemplating what to write my next blog entry on I think to myself… is chocolate good for us? According to the article chocolate contains a chemical that brings us joy called Anandamide. According to CNN our brain makes Anandamide on its own to block any pain or depression. The Anandamide that we receive from chocolate stays in our system longer than it does when our brain makes it. According to CNN chocolate releases something that creates craving in our minds, this is the same effect that cocaine does to our body. Another Neurotransmitter that the brain releases is Phenylethylamine which is also known as a love drug. For more effects of these releases in your brain dark chocolate has more of an effect that milk chocolate. According to the article some people who proclaim themselves as chocoholics believe that eating any amount of chocolate can lower BP and the risk of heart disease. Reading this news is such a positive feeling for me considering I truly believe that I could live on only chocolate foods and drinks.

Depending on how the chocolate was made and if it is dark chocolate ( healthiest for you), milk chocolate (less healthy), or white chocolate (not actually made from cocoa or considered real chocolate) has more or less antioxidants if it was made chemically or naturally.

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Are dogs smarter than we thought?

Researchers in Budapest have found that dogs can actually understand human voice more than what we knew they could before. According to the study it shows that dogs can comprehend words and tone and use similar parts of the brain that humans use to comprehend words and tone. The research team would use MRI’s on dogs while the animals listened to their owners talk to them. The research team tested 13 actual family dogs made up of border-collies and golden retrievers and tried to confuse the dogs as well.

The owners would talk to the dogs using praise words in a normal tone of voice as well as saying command words in a praising tone of voice.

According to the research and testing, scientists discovered that tone and voice were registered in different areas of the dog’s brains. Tone was found to be registered in the right hemisphere of their brain which is the same place humans do. Dogs can not only separate words and tone but they can also combine words and tone for a better understanding of what someone is saying which is exactly what humans do.

So, long story short you better be nice to your dogs because they know more than we think! Here is more research that has been found positive that dogs can perceive emotion behind what you tell them.

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After reading this article I couldn’t have been happier. I’ve grown up with a dog in my life every step of the way. I sometimes feel like I get out of hand talking too much to my dog like he’s a human but apparently not. I’ve actually always wondered how much my dog could understand or if he had feeling if I yelled at him ever. This makes me feel a bit more relieved that my dog might not be so mad at me! Here is just some more information about the intelligence of our dogs.

 

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I enjoy science

Hello my name is Griffin Brooks and my major is Professional Golf Management. Although this sounds like the furthest major I could choose from the science field, science has always been my favorite subject to learn about, and it actually is related to golf! In order to successfully complete this major I will be taking turf grass management classes and learning about different types of soil and grass used to make playing conditions on a golf course the best they could possibly be.

Unfortunately throughout my high school career I have had numerous negative experiences with the sciences classes I attempted to take which is why I did not choose to go into this field of study. I enjoy research and traveling the world which is what science allows me to do. Last April I went on a research trip to Costa Rica exploring the different terrains and hiking through the Costa Rican rain forest.

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I am more of a visual and hands on learner so this class seems to be what I am looking for.  I’m looking to take more science classes during my time here at Penn State. This course interests me because I have always enjoyed learning about the world I live in. I have found science in general to be very intriguing  because it is forever changing. This class seems very interesting to me and I’m excited to see what I can get out of it.

Here is an article on the tragic event that is happening to Italy, which is a possible topic we could be covering in class!