The first study I will be analyzing is “More Experience = Bigger Brain”.
The author of the article based on this study is M.R. Rosenzweig, E.L. Bennett and M.C. Diamond.
Curiosity on this topic sparked a study conducted by Vincenzo Malacarne dating all the way back to 1785. However, the study was discontinued for unknown reasons. Then, in 1960, Mark Rosenzweig and his colleagues Edward Bennett and Marian Diamond began a new study at the University of California at Berkeley. The study lasted 10 years.
The researchers conducted this study by using rats to determine if physical differences occurred in the brain as a result of certain experiences. The researchers took three male rats from each litter and assigned each of them a condition to live in. For example, one lived in the laboratory cage with the rest of the litter, the other was given conditions in which Rosenzweig described as an “enriched” environment and the last rat was given an “impoverished” cage. The rats lived in their different cages for about 4-10 weeks. After the time was up, the rats were examined to discover if there had been differences that may have occurred in brain development as a result of the different physical circumstances.
This study concluded that physical circumstances do affect brain growth and size. This is proven through this study because in the autopsies of the rats, the ones that lived in the enriched environment had multiple differences in their brain development when compared to those of the impoverished rats. For example, the enriched rat’s cerebral cortex was far more thicker and weighed more. On top of this, there was much more activity of the enriched rat’s nervous system enzyme of acetylcholinesterase was found in the enriched rat’s brain tissue. This proves that humans that develop through enriched environments are able to mentally process more. Also, these enriched humans are able to grow a larger amount of cells as a result of producing more RNA and DNA when compared to those who grew up with impoverished conditions. This study matched previous theories and studies conducted by Vincenzo Malacarne who used dogs and birds to get the same results. However, some other scientists believed that these results were not demonstrated in past studies.
There was some criticism from other scientists. Som believed that it was a possibility that the enriched environment had nothing to do with stimulated brain growth but that is was other factors such as how often they were handled or the rats level of stress. I did agree and believed that this was a possibility however, my views changed after further research. Rosenzweig and his colleagues worked to search if handling or stress were possibilities and tested the rats further. They set up an experiment in which two sets of rats were put in the exact same living conditions however one group was handled everyday and one group was not handled. The researchers concluded that there was no brain differences in the rats and debunked this theory. Continuing to later studies, both enriched and impoverished rats were handled the same amount however, there was still no change in the result that there was no difference in brain growth. Furthermore, the reasoning for scientists believing that stress was a factor was because that there was a possibility the impoverished rats experienced isolation that became stressful to them and that this caused their brain to develop less. Rosenzweig then cited research that purposefully incorporated stress into the rats routine (such as cage rotation or harmless electric shock). This resulted in no evidence supporting the theory that stress was the cause. I did agree that these criticisms were a possibility but now that they are debunked, I believe that the results are true and I have no more doubts.
In general, this study and the rats relates to cases of children being abducted. One set of rats was kept in an empty cage without being held. Many children who are abducted are kept in homes or rooms that don’t have enriching materials and they are not usually loved on. The enriched rats were kept in cages with toys and were handled twice a day. Kids who have loving homes play with toys and are loved on by their guardians. Children who are abducted become mentally wounded. Meanwhile, regular children are able to grow mentally.
Through reading about this study, a new piece of information I learned was about acetylcholinesterase. This is a type of brain enzyme. It is a chemical and it is very important because it gives fast and efficient impulse transmissions in brain cells. Continuing, rats that were enriched had brain tissue that was far more active in the nervous system enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Next, a fact that surprised me was that stress had nothing to contribute towards growth of the brain. Stress can impact the body in many ways such as giving someone headaches, rashes, stomach aches, high blood pressure and more. Therefore it is surprising that it has nothing to do with growth. To me, if someone is stressed out all the time, they can’t experience life to its fullest. If you can’t experience a full and loving life you’re brain can’t grow, just like the impoverished rats. However, I do believe that the study they did to see if stress was a factor was right and that stress somehow is not connected.
Article title: The name of the article is “To Sleep, No Doubt to Dream”
Author: The author of this article is E. Aserinsky and N. Kleitman
Date of Study: William Dement began his studies in about 1950.
To conduct this study, William Dement used 8 males aging from 23-32. First, the participant would come to the labratory at their usual bedtime to sleep. Dement decided to attach small electrodes to their scalp and near their eyes. The purpose of this was to record eye movements and brain-wave patterns. Continuing, for the first few nights, the male could sleep as normal for the whole night to create a baseline for each participants sleep patterns and amount of dreaming. The next step was to not allow the participant to fall into the REM/dream sleep. To do this, the researchers would wake up the participant as soon as the electrodes indicated any dreaming. After this, participants would then enter what was known as the “Recovery Phase” of the experiment. During this time, they slept as usual during the night while their dreaming was electronically monitored. After this, the participant was given multiple nights off and after, 6 men returned for another phase of interrupted sleep. These awakenings resembled the dream-deprivation nights in the number of nights and the number of the awakenings per night with one difference. This difference was that the man was woken up in the time between dream periods. Whenever the man began to dream, they were allowed to continue to sleep without interruption from the researchers and was then awakened after the dream was over. They then underwent the recovery phases for the second time.
Through the testing, Dement was able to determine that humans need to dream. Also, the average amount of time spent sleeping was 6 hours and 50 minutes. 19.5% of this time (80 minutes) was spent dreaming. This was determined from the first nights of research. Furthermore, the researcher had to wake up the men 7-22 times in order to prevent them from REM. As the study went on, the men were awakened more and more and on the last night, the number of awakenings spiked to 13-30. There was twice as many attempts of dreaming towards the end of the nights on average. Next, there was found to be an increase in time spent dreaming after the men were not allowed to dream for multiple nights in a row. Now, total dream time increased to 26.6% (112 minutes). However, participants 3 and 7 did not show as much of an increase in dream time when compared to others. If these two participants were not included in the final results, the average total time spent dreaming would average out to 29% (127 minutes). This meant a 50% increase over the previous average. This proves and confirms how often one enters REM and how much time a night is spent dreaming. This does not go against any theories or the previous studies of Eugene Aserinsky, a graduate student who also studied sleep.
There was no criticisms mentioned about this study. In fact, many other scientists respected Aserinsky’s work in the study. Aserinsky was given credit for discovering REM sleep from many. I have no criticisms either for this study seemed to have been vry successful. There has been many follow up studies made. Suzuki conducted a recent study concluding that we need NREM sleep much more than we thought. Suzuki would not have been able to find this if it wasn’t for Aserinsky findings on REM sleep. Another subsequent study that branched off from Aserinsky’s was conducted by Hobson in 2009. Hobson found that humans develop a proto conscious which is a brain organization that is basic and biological during REM sleep. This process is necessary for when humans are awake.
This study does relate to me in a way. I have always been curious about dreams, what they mean and the different types. When I sleep, sometimes I will remember my dream when I wake up or other times I will remember it throughout/later in the day or I will wake up with the feeling that I had been dreaming but not know what about. Without a doubt, however, I know I dream every night and this study confirms that. It also confirms that I am not the only one who will wake up sometimes with the feeling of just dreaming a minute before that.
An important piece of information I learned through this study was what REM sleep actually was. I am familiar with the other types of sleeping and dreaming such as lucid dreaming but I didn’t know what REM was for sure. Through reading this I now know. Something that surprised me was that humans need to be able to dream. If they don’t there is a type of pressure to dream that gets worse and worse over each night we are not dreaming. It is just so crazy to me. There are many things essential to life but
I would have never guessed dreaming would be one of them!
Article Title: Little Emotional Albert
Author: Watson, J.B., and Rayner, R.
Date of Study: The date of this study was 1920.
J.B. Watson conducted this study by working with a 9 month old orphan named Albert. Albert was physically and mentally healthy as determined by hospital staff and the researchers. The first step of this study was to see if Albert was naturally afraid when presented with specific stimuli such as a white rat, white cotton wool, a white rabbit, masks with and without hair, a dog and a monkey. After some close observing, Albert was said to be not afraid when around these things. In the second step, researchers would strike a hammer against a steel bar to see if Albert became anxious around the loud noise. Albert didn’t like the noise and started crying. Now that this data had been collected, the researchers tested the possibility that fear could become conditioned in Albert. To do this, the researchers would give Albert a white rat and when he would go to touch it, they would strike the steel bar, creating the noise that made Albert cry. They repeated this 3 times. Then a week later the rat was given to Albert with no noise associated. Albert showed immediate fear. The researchers were then curious if this response was the same in other white objects. He was frightened and cried when presented with a white rabbit, Watson’s gray hair, a package of cotton, a white fur coat, and a Santa mask. They then went to a much brighter room with more people to see if the response was situational. When given the rat and rabbit, he was still afriad but the response was not as intense. Lastly, the researchers were curious to see if the reactions would persist even over long periods of time. They waited 31 days yet Albert was still afraid of these objects and animals.
The results of this study was that it is possible to condition emotions in the matter of a week by using stimulus-response techniques that are not intricate. This proves that humans mentally associate stimuli and emotions. This study did go against previous theories and studies of Sigmund Freud. For example, Freud and his followers believed that humans suck their thumb for pleasure. However, through Watson’s study, it was proven that thumb sucking was done when Albert was afraid.
Watson did recieve criticisms from others. Many researchers criticized the fact that Watson assumed that the conditioned fear would last forever. Some other researchers have proven that conditioned behaviors can be lost as a result of too much time passing or other experiences. Research that has followed up on Albert and lasted 7 years was performed by a group of students. This group found out who Albert really was, which was previously a mystery. Albert was identified as the son of Arvilla Merritte and was named Douglas. Arvilla worked at Johns Hopkins University Hospital as a nurse. Arvilla was paid $1.00 to have her son be studied. The group also found that Douglas passed away at the age of 6 as a result of hydrocephalus so no one knows if the fears that were conditioned in him by Watson remained throughout his life.
This study relates to me because when I was younger I had a bad experience with a moth and now I am very afriad of them. When I was young, I did not have a problem with moths. I was fine around them. However, I then went on a camping trip and my family and I stayed in a cabin. On the screen door of the cabin, there was a huge moth. I went to go open the door and the moth landed on my arm. It then proceeded to bite me and my arm swelled very badly. I was young so I became very scared. I was screaming and crying. Now, I am very afraid of moths and insects like them.
Through this article I learned about Sigmund Freud and a little history. I learned that Sigmund Freud mostly dominated the world of psychology during the time of this study. Something that surprised me was that it only took a week to condition Albert to be afraid of a white rat, white rabbit, white fur coat, white cotton, Santa mask and more.