Can Cognitive Neuroscience explain Alien Abduction Experiences?

Please check out my friend’s blog! Interesting article about whether alien abduction experiences can really be explained by brain processes. Very informative about such a less researched, yet intriguing area of anomalous psychology.

Food For Your Thoughts

By Priyanka Joshi

Alien abduction experience (AAE) is a huge phenomenon where there have been many cases of people claiming they have been abducted or seen a UFO. There are many types of aliens that have been described such as ‘The Greys’; these are most commonly seen in abduction cases. There are also ‘The Reptoids’ which are 5-7ft in height with red eyes and resemble a lizard. It has been claimed that they are hiding out in US military underground bases and they are living off human blood.

History
The beginning of modern abduction cases began in 1961 with Betty and Barney Hill who were driving back home to Montreal when they saw a UFO. After the sighting they then had a couple of hours they cannot account for and following this event, Barney suffered from insomnia and Betty started having frequent nightmares.
Two years later the couple sought help from…

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6 Organisation Tips for Students

organisation

Staying organised can be difficult but it becomes a necessary part of being a student. It enables you to become a master of the learning process. It is more than just meandering through your education, it is part of embracing what you’ve learned. Organizing your notes takes a bit of time but it’s so worth it. Here are some organisation tips I’ve found that work:

  1. Preparing beforehand

If your university or college makes the taught lectures available online before the actual lecture, it is worth printing these off the night before or on the morning to take with you. In my experience, a lot of lecturers speed through a lot of information so quickly so this allows me to write additional notes that they might give that aren’t already provided. These help me to understand the concept more and therefore I have more to write about in my assignments and exams.

2. Saving the syllabus

If you can access your lectures online, then it is wise to save these to your computer and back them up again, so you don’t lose them! I save all my lectures to my computer and also to my OneDrive account, and I also keep all my printed lectures and additional notes in binders (see below).

3. Organizing your notes into binders

I keep a separate folder for every unit/module I am taught at university. I tend to keep my notes in weekly chronological order with details on who taught them and their relevant contact details. I have also kept the notes I made at college and previous years at university for future reference. You never know when you’re going to need them! For instance, some of the notes I made at college I am now using for my dissertation! Read More »

Trait Theories of Personality

Our personality encompasses all that we are. All our little quirks, characteristics, behaviours, and thoughts which make each one of us unique. Personality plays a huge part in individual differences research and over the years many different theories have emerged.

One of the sectors of these theories are trait theories. These are also known as psychometric theories due to their measurements of personality traits through psychometric tests. Trait theories argue that every individual has certain unique traits resulting from our genes which predispose us to act a certain way in a variety of situations. These are thought to be consistent across situations and time. There are lots of trait theories of personality but here are a few of the most influential:

Eysenck’s Personality Model

Eysenck conducted factor analyses on personality questionnaires and found three dimensions of personality:

  • Extraversion (extraversion/introversion)
  • Neuroticism (stable/unstable)
  • Psychoticism (added in 1966)

According to Eysenck, extraverts are sociable and impulsive; introverts are reserved and serious; neurotics are anxious and worrying; and stables are emotionally calm and unworried. Those which fall under psychoticism tend to be lacking in empathy and more aggressive.

He also related a person’s personality to the functioning of the Autonomic Nervous System, in that someone’s personality is dependent upon the balance between excitatory and inhibitory processes within the nervous system (explained in more detail as a biological model in further posts).

The measures of these personality dimensions have been developed through many different psychometric tests, but the most recent is the Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ-IR).

eysenck's neuroticism and extraversion model

Read More »

Is Consciousness an Illusion?

The notion of consciousness reopens that age-old contest between philosophy, psychology, and biology. Does consciousness arise from mere physical processes from the brain (Koch and Greenfield seem to think so) or is it more of a spiritual entity, closely related to views of the soul (advocated by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes – I talk more about these views here).

In the debate about consciousness, what goes hand in hand with it is the unconscious. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of the unconscious argues that it harbours repressed and traumatic feelings and memories from our early childhoods, as well as socially unacceptable desires. However, the general view about the unconscious mind is that it is responsible for implicit knowledge (automatic skills and habits). It is believed that the unconscious presents itself in our dreams. Rosalind Cartwright argues that there is a degree of continuity between conscious life and the unconscious representations which we find in dreams. It is believed that they serve the purpose of compartmentalizing and regulating the emotions we experience from conflicts in real life. Dreams offer the chance to work out our problems and make better sense of the world. Perhaps this is why we feel better about something after we’ve gone to sleep.

dream-2924176_960_720
Our dreams express many unconscious perceptions about our waking life.

Some of the most famous work on consciousness comes from the Libet experiments in the 1980s. Benjamin Libet produced some of the most fascinating findings, and has since been heavily cited in discussions about free will as well. Read More »

Dementia: Myths, Risks, and Treatments

I recently wrote a guest post on PsychReg about what I learnt about dementia from the work experience I did over the summer with my local NHS service. I wrote about what dementia is, the myths and stigma that surround it, certain risk factors that increase the chance of developing dementia, as well as how the service assessed and treated those who suffer with dementia.

The link to the post is here: http://www.psychreg.org/dementia-myths-risks-treatments/

Also, PsychReg have been nominated for a second time at the UK Blog Awards. They post such great content, and definitely deserve to win. Please vote for them here: https://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/ukba2018/entries/psychreg

Thanks for reading,

Alice

Consciousness in Philosophy and Neuroscience

Embodied within many ancient philosophical texts and continuing within contemporary brain research, the debate of the existence of consciousness has plagued many for centuries. Essentially, consciousness encompasses awareness of the self and the perception of the thoughts, feelings, and experiences we face every day.

I always think it is interesting to think about the philosophical theories about concepts, as often these are what ground psychological research (but how the general philosophical-psychological link interacts is for another day). The concept of consciousness has evolved significantly throughout history and begins in Ancient Greek philosophy, in which Plato and Aristotle considered consciousness to arise from the soul. They thought that our souls were our essence, that which makes you who you are, deemed as synonymous with the mind and the self. Plato believed that the soul is a non-corporeal substance i.e. it exists separate from our bodies. On the other hand, Aristotle argued that although the soul is still not a material object, it is works and interacts in conjunction with our body and therefore is inseparable to it.

Later views of the soul and consciousness stem from Descartes’ Cartesian model. Descartes termed the soul/mind res cogitans and he famously set out to conduct a ‘method of doubt’. He put forward a mind and body distinction in which he could imagine his mind without a body as the body is merely a machine. (however, I shall point to Rebecca Schuman’s blog post ‘‘I Think, Therefore I Am Getting the Goddamned Epidural’ which interestingly and hilariously debunks this!). Descartes argued that everything could be doubted, and concluded that all he knows is that he knows nothing. Read More »

Introduction to the Blog

My name is Alice Allen. I am 20 years old, from the West Midlands, England. I am currently a third year undergraduate Psychology student at Manchester Metropolitan University. My interests lie in Cognitive Neuropsychology, as well as Clinical and Developmental Psychology and I hope to become a Clinical Neuropsychologist one day.

I am very new to the blogging sphere, and I wanted to become a part of it perhaps just like why anyone blogs – because they have something (or some things) to say and they want to be heard. Prominent American author and blogger Seth Godin is quoted as saying “I blog because I don’t really have a choice. The ideas in me insist on being shared, and this is the least painful way I can find to do it!” which sums up blogging perfectly. Or at least my reason to start.

Therefore, I wanted to create a Psychology blog. One that encompasses, well, all things Psychology (for instance, memory, intelligence, social influence, research designs…). I am relentlessly enthusiastic about Psychology, and what has been found in this domain is endlessly fascinating. This blog is here so I can share all this interesting research and more, to trade and share ideas about Psychology with the community. My other focus is to also help students who are looking for a career in psychology about what it means to be a student, useful techniques for exams and projects, as well as providing informative resources about career guidance.

Read More »

Guest Post: What Makes A Good Teacher?

Written by Antonia Shevlin.

coaching

It occurred to me the other day how much we as students take our teachers for granted. As an Education and Psychology university student I see the differences in teaching styles and it got me wondering ‘why do I like one teacher more than other – is it the lesson or is it the teacher?’. We’ve all had a teacher/lesson we hated but we will all have one that we couldn’t have done without. I know I have and I hope they know that I appreciate them.

Leadership and Coaching theory has become a growing interest over the last few decades, especially in Sports and Education. We all have that one teacher that motivates us to achieve, to lead us to success and coach us through the difficult times. Take a minute, think about those who have led us to where we are today. What was it about them? What made them different?

If your experience was/is anything like mine, it’s because they cared, because you have a relationship with them, a connection. They want you to do well. Often in institutions relationship is down played when actually it is a significant part of creating the right environment towards success. McGregor’s theory Y suggests that if the conditions are right people will strive towards the goals that they are committed to (Heil et al., 2000).

Attachment Theory

What makes my teachers great is that they are themselves. Where best to start than good old Bowlby (1973)and his attachment theory; his work led to the development of the Authentic Leadership Model. He believed that having a secure attachment meant that you will have confidence, curiosity, openness, and can form and build trusting and rewarding relationships. A secure attachment basically means that from a young age they are able to form an unbroken, attachment, which is usually through a strong emotional bond with a parent or guardian. By the age of 10 months old babies are capable of forming seven attachments, this continues throughout our lives and in my experience, being able to create an attachment to people has tremendous benefits; such as emotional development, access to opportunities, and mental well-being. It also can be quite an emotional journey (but that’s for another time). These are what make leaders great, this is what makes you a great coach, teacher and mentor. Knowledge of a subject is great but without the connection, passion and enthusiasm behind it, knowledge is just words conveyed to another. Without the relationship what is there? Ask yourself is your favourite teacher the one who knows it all like the back of their hands or is it the one who knows the subject but conveys it with such enthusiasm and passion that gets you hooked in?

Consider this, would rather have a know it all tutor who is stiff as a board or who wants a teacher who has the interpersonal skills to make the most dense topic seem like an adventure, who is willing to spend time and effort making it enjoyable, relatable and easy to understand?

Now everyone has their own style, people like different things but for me my favourite teachers (plural because I have great teachers-doing two subjects) are the ones who I can connect with, they listen to me, they make every lesson fly by (even when they are 3 hours long at 9am!). They understand me, how I work, if I don’t understand something they can explain it to me in a different way. They are quirky, funny, I can have a laugh with them, talk to them about what the weekend was like, but best of all they smile when they talk to you, if you see them walking down the hall they reach out to say hello. There’s nothing more comforting when you’re having a bad day than your favourite teacher walking past and saying hello with a big smile!

Emotional Intelligence

A common element to the effectiveness of being a good leader or a good coach is Emotional Intelligence. Part of Emotional Intelligence is ‘the perception, appraisal and expression of emotion, to facilitate thinking, understand and analyse emotions, and reflect and promote emotional and intellectual growth’ (Mayer and Salovey, 1997; Gordon, 2007). But what does this actually mean? Well it means that you are able to reflect on their own emotions, see what other people are feeling, showing empathy and using it to encourage those around you.

Goleman’s Theory (1999)

Goleman suggested that there are five components to Emotional Intelligence

  • Self-awareness: which is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives as well as their effect on others. Being self-confident, reflecting on self-development and depreciating sense of humour.
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, suspend judgment, and think before acting. Being trustworthy, and upholding integrity, comfortable with ambiguity and openness to change.
  • Motivation: The ability to pursue goals with energy and persistence, for reasons that go beyond money or status. Having a strong drive to achieve, to be optimistic even in the face of failure.
  • Empathy: The ability to understand people’s emotional makeup
  • Social skill: The ability to manage relationships, build networks, and find common ground

My favourite teachers are the ones who know me for me. I am not just a name on a register or a face in the classroom. There is open communication, we talk to each other, they know how to work with me, instil me with the skills to be the best person I can be even when I don’t see it myself.

According to Goleman, Emotionally Intelligent individuals are aware of their feelings and manage them in order to positively communicate with others in a supportive and appropriate way. They listen to them, are sensitive to the opinion and viewpoints of others and are able to understand and effectively cope with other people’s feelings. Thus it is no surprise that researchers have found that those with higher levels of Emotional Intelligence have a strong correlation in their effectiveness of being both a good leader and coach(Grant, 2007; Mills and Rouse, 2009; Krishnakumar et al, 2016).

So take a minute and test how emotional intelligent you are:

http://psychology.about.com/library/quiz/bl_eq_quiz.htm

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/ei_quiz/12

http://personality-testing.info/tests/EI.php

Knowing that you can talk to someone, trust them, laugh with them is something that not everyone can do. Let’s not take for granted those that strive for you to do well. Let’s celebrate the teachers who give their lives to developing young minds, inspiring the next generation of business men and women, politicians, teachers, parents. Let’s be honest how many of us could put up with a class of 25-30 versions of our younger selves in a class. Oh the flashbacks! Hats off to my teachers.

Antonia is a third-year combined honours student at Manchester Metropolitan University studying Psychology and Education studies; where her interests lie in Leadership and Coaching, Bullying, Special Educational Needs, Mental Health, Forensic Psychology, and Community Psychology.  Her dissertation focused on how school age bullying affects adult life. She hopes to be an Educational Psychologist working in schools in collaboration with SEN departments in order to help every individual strive to be the best they can be no matter their circumstances. Antonia is thinking of creating her own blog hoping to bring awareness to some key areas of both Education and Psychology in a simple way to provide reflection and self-development – so keep your eyes peeled!

Fashion + Self Love Party: Love Your Style, Love Yourself

In case you didn’t know already, 14 bloggers (including) me are each writing a post from the 1st-14th February. This is part of the Fashion Self Love Party hosted by Story Behind The Cloth and you can find more details about it on my previous post.

Today my guest post has been published and I am so excited for you all to read it! It’s a bit different to what I usually post, of course, as it is more fashion related. I did incorporate some aspects of psychology though!

Head on over to Story Behind The Cloth to read it, or click this link. And don’t forget to keep following this party for the last 6 days!

Thanks for reading,

Alice

What is the Fashion Self Love Party?

I’ve been offered the opportunity to write a guest post for a virtual blog party alongside 13 other bloggers, promoting the importance of self-love and how this can be done through different aspects of fashion.

fashionselflove

It’s certainly a one-of-a-kind thing. In fact, it’s the first ever fashion virtual blog party in existence. Created and organised all thanks to Alissa from storybehindthecloth.com. Please go check out her blog!

The #FashionSelfLoveParty (you can follow this hashtag on Twitter) will consist of 14 posts written every day each by 14 different bloggers, from the 1st-14th February.Read More »