Monday, October 29, 2012

Sensation - How the ear works.

Sensation... The Ear Pages on and a nice animation

The organization that gives out the Nobel Prize has a great website about the ear and how it works.

If you're having trouble understanding the accessory structures and the cochlea this site is for you.

Here is a link to another animation about how the ear works

Animations about vision - the retina and visual pathways

Fantastic animations about the eye, visual processing in the retina and the pathways that visual information travels in the brain.

Pay close attention to the "center-surround" aspects of retinal processing it this first video.

This animation shows how the photoreceptors, bipolar and ganglion cells of the retina are organized in "center-surround" arrangements that allow "bottom up" processing of visual information to begin in the retina.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an animation is worth way more. This animation really shows the visual pathway very well. Pay attention to how visual information is split in the Optic Chiasm and how it routs through the LGN of the thalamus as well as other areas specifically related to eye movement and the "biological clock" which controls circadian rhythms.

This excellent animation really explains how the visual information from the left and right visual fields makes its way to the right and left occipital lobes via the LGN of the thalamus.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Some songs and videos relating to the nervous system

Here are links to some songs you might find helpful as you study the nervous system.

This really slick song about the nervous system was sent in by Marilyn R - This should win the Grammy for best use of autotune in the service of neuropsychological knowledge.

Video of the spinal reflex arc - showing afferent and efferent pathways

Good video about the action potential - shows lots of detail about how the action potential works to send the signal down the axon of a neuron. You might want to watch it a couple of times while going over your notes.

Neuroscience for Kids is a site with lots of great stuff, much of which is at a simpler level than AP, but it can still be fun and help you with some of the basics. The Brain Chemical Song is a pretty good review of neurotransmitters (if you don't mind the "Old McDonald" tune.)

The Neuron Song- Slim Brady ft. Melody Minaj is a rap that goes into some pretty good detail - you have to deal with some pretty bad recording techniques and some voices that could use autotune.

You can follow along with the lyrics which were posted on the YouTube page.

Nuron Song by Slim Brady ft. Melody Minaj

Just gonna stand there and tell you bout Neurons,
So you don't fail the class and become a moron,
Just gonna stand there and tell you bout Dendrites,
Axons, Myelin Sheaths, Synapses and the like,
And all the things alike.

I can tell you bout them Dendrites, the branching extensions of a neuron,
The lyrics of this song will tell you bout them and they're dead on,
What do they do? They receive messages from the last one,
Also, they happen to be connected to the Axon!

That's the extension of this whole thing,
I mean, come on, what else could, possibly bring,
The neural impulse, they are so cool, make me wanna sing,
The part that covers it, it is called the Myelin Sheath!

That part's function is to speed things up,
Another interesting things the all or nothing principle,
It basically says when a neuron fires,
It's either on or, there's no in between, I'm not a liar

So what I'm saying is go ahead, try as hard as you want,
Lift up your arm as fast as possible and flaunt,
The fact that when a neuron fires, it's on or off,
Seriously, making a song a bout neurons is tough..


And all the things alike

When you get sick, what do you turn to, is it medicine?
For the neuron the Soma keeps it healthy, and I kid,
You not, it keeps it firing faster than Edison,
The next topic of talk, is the Refractory Period!

Everyone needs breaks, so the neuron does too,
Right after it fires, just a second or maybe two,
Another aspect that just seems really cool,
Is Action Potential, I'll fill you in on the news!

That is what the charge is called, I kid you not,
That even thought the neurons never technically touch,
The signal does not stop, how is this possible you'll ask?
Why simply by the power of all the Synapse-

ses, they just fill in the gaps and,
chillin relaxin, sittin and passin, the charge along,
I really hope this song will let me pass or mom, 
will beat me to a pulp, is that really what you want Demars?


And all the things alike

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blog Assignment #3 - The Shoe/Hair/Height correlation project.

Reading Scatter Plots and Understanding Correlations.

In a comment to this post, please discuss each of the graphs below. Be sure to address the questions under each graph. Please don't copy the questions or number your answers, rather, you should write a paragraph or two in complete sentences so your reader knows what you are talking about. Be sure to sign in as "anonymous" but put your first name and last initial in the post so I know to whom to give the credit. If you have any questions please e-mail me. Review the "how to e-mail a teacher" post on my blog before you send your e-mail.(click on the graphs to enlarge)

I strongly suggest you write the comment in Word or another program and then copy and paste it into the comment section below. This way, if the comment doesn't go through or is accidentally deleted you'll have a record of your work. Please also remember that I have to approve all comments, so it may take a while for it to show up on the blog. You don't need to resubmit it over and over. 

What can we see from the above scatter plot of hair length vs. height? Is there a correlation? How strong is it? If so, is it positive or negative; strong or weak? What information about the students in our class does this graph give you? Are there a few "outliers" or extreme data points that seem unusual? If you throw them out of the data set what does the correlation look like? What other information would be helpful to interpret the data?

Above is the data we collected about our shoe sizes vs our heights. Can you see a relationship? Is there a correlation? If so, is it positive or negative? How strong is it? What about the person who is 160cm tall and has a foot that is 9cm long? Look at a ruler to see what 9cm looks like and explain what you think happened to cause that outlier. Does shoe size cause height to change? Does height cause shoe size to change? Does correlation imply causality - explain why or why not. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcome to the School Year!

You have until Monday, Sept. 10th to finish the summer assignments. You can read the summer assignment sheet here.

Use your syllabus to make sure you are keeping up with the reading assignments. You should take meaningful Cornell Notes on every psych reading assignment. You can see a copy of the syllabus here

If there is a teachers strike you need to keep up with your reading...or even use your free time to get ahead. The AP Exam date will not change just because there is a teachers strike here in Chicago. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Your Phineas Gage Review - Summer Assignment Part 2: Due Aug. 20

After you have read Phineas Gage and worked on the Phineas Gage Reading Guide Questions you should post your review of the book in the COMMENTS to THIS blog post.    (use the "comment" link below this post) 

Your comment should be a review of the book. A book review is a critical assessment of the book in which you share your opinions about the book and back up those opinions with examples from the book. Be sure to describe the story and the style of the book. 

Some questions you might want to think about as you write: What did you think of the book? What did you find most interesting? What are some new or surprising things you learned from the book? Why do you think Phineas was "lucky" or "unlucky?" Are there other texts (books, movies, etc.) that relate to the story of Phineas? Why or why would you not recommend it to a friend? 

As with the last blog assignment, I will not show the comments until the deadline so everyone has a chance to work on the assignment without being too influenced by other peoples' work. Do not re-send your post multiple times.
Please note: I will be out of town and mostly away from internet access from Aug.10 to Aug. 20 so I may not be able to answer questions you have during that time. Just do your best to follow the instructions. I will check e-mail as soon as I get back in town. If you're having trouble with the blog, just e-mail me your comment so you have evidence you completed it before the deadline. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

2012-2013 Summer Assignment Part 1 Due July 20th

Go to this link about the Ten Most Revealing Psychology Experiments and read through the summaries of all ten of them. 

Select one of the experiments that you think is interesting. Click on the link in the summary to start your research about that experiment. (the link to #3 is broken, but you can use this link to get started.) Read through the information and seek out other information online. There may be good YouTube videos or other sources you should investigate. You can also look up some of the experiments or the experimenters in your textbook. 

In your comment to THIS BLOG POST please do the following to complete the assignment:

1. Summarize the experiment. Include who did it, when they did it, where they did it, and what they did.
2. Explain the importance of the experiment to our understanding of human behavior. Why do you think the experiment is considered a valuable insight into the way people think and/or act?
3. Give one example of how the experiment can be applied to everyday life. You can use yourself or someone you know in the example, or make up an example that you think the experiment might apply to in normal life.
4. At the end of your post include all sources (full URLs, please) and sign the post with your first name and just the initial letter of your last name (for example: Phillip D.)
5. To send your comment please click the "Name/URL" option and put your first name and last initial in the "Name" box. Don't fill in the URL box.  

I suggest that you write your comment in Word or other program first so you can check your spelling etc. and then just paste it into the comments at the end of this post. 

Your post should be 3 to 5 paragraphs long and should demonstrate some original thinking on your part. Do not cut-and-paste or copy any text directly.

Your comment will not show up on the blog until close to the due-date, as I want everyone to approach the project without being biased by seeing the posted work of others in the class. If you aren't sure if your comment went through you may e-mail me and I'll let you know.  

If you have any questions please e-mail me. I usually reply to e-mails within a day or two. Before sending me an e-mail, please read my "How to email a teacher" post from my biology blog ... really.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Consumer Education Unit - Don't get ripped off!

Consumer Education Projects
Your job is to become an expert on one of the following topics and then teach the important ideas about it to the class. Your final grades in the class and your consumer education credit depend on your project, your presentation and a final exam.
  1. “Why am I broke all the time?” How and why to do a personal budget.
  2. “What security deposit?” How to rent an apartment.
  3. “Pay myself first? What the…?” The how and why of savings.
  4. “As seen on TV.” The power of advertising.
  5. “The story of stuff.” How do my buying habits affect the world?
  6. “Scams, spam and getting slammed.” How to avoid getting ripped off online and in the real world.
  7. “I wish my parents were rich.” How to pay for college and not get buried in debt.”
  8. “But I thought I was making 10 bucks an hour!” What to expect from wages. Where does all the money go from your paycheck?
  9. “Pay the man.” How to do your taxes.
  10. “Oh Lord, won’t ya buy me a Mercedes Benz.” How to buy cars and other expensive stuff. (or just take the train)
  11. “A cheeseburger costs $487.63?” How to avoid credit card debt.
  12. “If it seems too good to be true...” How bad consumer decisions contributed to the recent financial crisis.
  13. "I always use protection!" How Insurance can save your butt.
  14. "I want it NOW!" How to separate needs from wants and base consumer decisions on your core values.

Your grade depends on the following:

  1. VISUAL presentation you will use to teach the class about your topic. This can be a PowerPoint, but could also be a video or other type of presentation (20pts)
  2. The ORAL part of your presentation in which you teach the class about your topic. (10pts)
  3. A one-page handout with key ideas which will be printed and distributed. (10pts)
  4. A 10 question multiple choice quiz on your topic. (10pts)
You must keep track of, and list your sources on your one-page handout. These will be useful to your classmates if they need to look up this information in the future. 

As you work - save your files often, and be sure to e-mail the most recent version to your partner(s) at the end of every class/work session. Losing your file is not an acceptable excuse. 

Name files based on this template: Group00_class_product.ext
Group01_ConEd_Present.ppt  --> this is the presentation for group 1
Group13_ConEd_Handout.doc --> this is the handout for group 13
Group07_ConEd_Quiz.doc   --> this is the set of quiz questions for group 7 

Here are some links to resources for our Consumer Education unit. You may and should use other sources, but these should get you started.

1 - Why am I broke all the time?

2 - What security deposit?

3 - Pay myself first?

4 - As seen on TV:

5 - The story of stuff.

6 - Scams, spam and getting slammed:

7 - I wish my parents were rich!

8 - But I thought I was making 10 bucks an hour...

9 - Pay the man.

10 - Oh Lord, Won't ya buy me a Mercedes Benz..

11 - A cheeseburger costs $487.63!

12 - If it seems too good to be true...

13 - How Insurance can save your butt...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Social Psychology Videos you MUST watch...

The following links feature very important concepts in social psychology. Review Asch's, Milgram's and Zimbardo's classic studies and read up on the "bystander effect." 

The Bystander Effect... what would you do?

This just happened, so all the facts aren't in yet but it looks like a 31 year-old Guatemalan man named Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax was stabbed on the street in New York City and many pedestrians walked right past him as he died. You can read the story and see a surveillance video here.

Read more about the bystander effect here

Asch's Conformity

Solomon Asch's conformity study showed how easily people will give an obviously wrong answer when other people are giving that same answer. Watch the video at the link below:

Milgram's Obedience

Stanley Milgram's obedience study was recently partly replicated by ABC's Prime Time show. Watch how easily people follow orders even when they know the orders are wrong.

Zimbardo's Prison Roles

Philip Zimbardo's experiment about how roles affect behavior is known as the "Stanford Prison Experiment." Those playing inmates became passive while those playing guards became aggressive. Subjects' real identities seemed to pale in comparison to the roles they played so much that the experiment had to be stopped after a few days. Who knows what would have happened if the experiment had gone on for two full weeks.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More Review Resources

Mr. Schallhorn, an AP Psych teacher in California, put together a great set of YouTube videos you can use to review for AP Psych. His YouTube channel is at the following address. 

You also have your AP Review Books, your Bernstein Study Guides, your PsykTrek CDs and the thousands of flashcards and pages of notes you've created this year.

Mr. Jones, and AP Psych teacher from North Carolina told me that students are using Twitter this year in their AP Psych review.

"...if a student has a question about AP Psych, they can just type the question on Twitter and put this at the end of the tweet:  #appsychreview  

For those of you who are old hats at Twitter, you’ll recognize #appsychreview as a hashtag – it’s a way to group together tweets with a common theme. Anyone can then assist the student with their question – it could be a AP Psych teacher, a professor, or even a fellow AP Psych student. I’ve asked a few AP teachers to help out, but we would love your help. If you are familiar with Twitter and you would like to help out with answering questions, it’s probably easiest to set up a separate search for #appsychreview or just bookmark this link:!/search/realtime/appsychreview ."

I've never used Twitter this way, but it's worth a try, and I'm going to start following #appsychreview.

Keep in mind that these will mostly be other students answering questions, so it's not as authoritative as a textbook or other edited resource.

As you find other resources, please e-mail them to me at ptdworkin-cantor at or post them in the comments section of this post.

Do you like electronic flash-cards? Do you use Apps? You might like which has tons of electronic flash-cards and even a smartphone app. Just type "psychology" into the search box (I want to learn "this") and go for it. You can sign on to get a free account using your facebook account or any e-mail account.

You can find other psych based apps at There are also links to Android apps there. Some are free, some cost money. Check the reviews carefully before spending your cash. I have not tried them out yet, so if you find one you think is great, please share about it in the comments section of this post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Personality Blog Assignment Due 4/18

Find how you rate on the big 5 (O.C.E.A.N.) personality inventory.

Take this "Big Five" personality inventory and then post your comment on this post about it.

The cartoon is for entertainment purposes only...  you must click the link
above the cartoon to take the Big 5 Test.

Write about your results and what you think about them. Was this test accurate or not. Ask someone who knows you what they think and write about their view as well.  Leave your post as "anonymous" but sign it with your FIRST NAME and LAST INITIAL only.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Motivated Mike - Blog Comment due 3/21

Here is a great Nike spot with Michael Jordan talking about how failure has helped him to succeed. Thanks for reminding me of this one, Mr. Niebuhr.

If the above play button does not appear or work you can try the link below.

If the video won't play, here is the quote that Michael Jordan states during the commercial. Base your answer on this quote.

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
-- Michael Jordan

What do you think motivated Michael Jordan become the greatest basketball player of his era and one of the greatest in the history of the game?

Answer in a short blog comment to this post and sign it with ONLY your first name and last initial. To get full credit you must correctly refer to at least one psych concept from the book or from class notes. Click on the word "comments" below and you can sign in as anonymous. Your comment won't appear on the blog until I approve it, so check back to make sure it's approved. Once I approve it I'll enter your grade in Gradebook within a day or two.

Unit 11 - Motivation and Emotion Reading Assignment

Unit 11: Motivation and Emotion

M.C. DUE 3/29 (just before quiz)
QUIZ (along with next unit) WILL BE ON 3/30
GET YOUR AP REVIEW BOOK – from library or from Amazon or other store! 3/19

Bernstein Text Chapter 11 Pp. 396 - 449 Read and take Cornell Notes

1. Skim quickly – pay attention to headings, photos etc. – Ask yourself questions about the various headings and images.

 2. Go back and take your notes.
a. Make sure each heading and subheading is in your notes
b. Make sure you write at least a main idea for each one
c. Make sure all “boxed” definitions are in your notes
d. Draw all important diagrams and label them.
e. Make note of any examples or mnemonics that will help you f. Write any questions you have and note things you don’t understand to ask about in class.

 3. Carefully read the summary at the end of the chapter and add key information to your notes.

Bernstein Study Guide Chapter 11 Starts on P. 315 (You will be graded for completing and correcting them, not for how many you got right.)

1. Skim outline and key terms: Pp. 315-323– Do FLASHCARDS of underlined terms . They must have EXAMPLES, DIAGRAMS and/or MNEMONICS

2. In your notes, do Fill-In-The-Blanks on P. 323 Write the question and answer it without looking at the book or your notes. Then check your answers. For each wrong answer, write the correct answer and be sure the information is in your notes.

 3. Do BOTH multiple choice sample quizzes.that start on P. 327. Do quiz 1 first check and correct it, review the notes then do quiz 2 and check it. YOU MUST WRITE EXPLANATIONS for all wrong answers.

 Do you understand the KEY IDEAS? Theories of Motivation, Instinct, Drives, Homeostasis, Arousal, Hunger & Food Motivations, Sex Motivations, Achievement Motivations, Autonomic Nervous System,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Intelligence and Testing

Intelligence and Culture

Go to the "Intelligence and Culture" clip to see how Aboriginal children in Australia excel on visuospatial tasks compared to white children. 

Online sample IQ questions
Remember, a real IQ test is given one-on-one with a psychologist administering the questions, but this online test can give you a sense of the different types of questions that are on typical IQ tests. Note the cultural bias in some of the questions.

A different type of cultural bias
A very different set of sample questions the "Chitling Test," a parody of IQ test questions based on knowledge that is part of many African American communities but not in main-stream US culture. No questions about "the Hague" on here...

Intelligence and savants

The movie "The Boy with the Incredible Brain"is available free online, but it's blocked at school.

"This is the breathtaking story of Daniel Tammet. A twenty-something with extraordinary mental abilities, Daniel is one of the world’s few savants. He can do calculations to 100 decimal places in his head, and learn a language in a week. He also meets the world’s most famous savant, the man who inspired Dustin Hoffman’s character in the Oscar winning film ‘Rain Man’ This documentary follows Daniel as he travels to America to meet the scientists who are convinced he may hold the key to unlocking similar abilities in everyone."

It is worth watching to see how incredible mental abilities can sometimes arise from damage to the brain and often come with what some would consider pretty difficult deficits.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Unit 9 Consciousness

What if you could see normally but could not recognize faces... even your own? 
Writer Oliver Sacks of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" fame has this condition and discusses his latest book about prosopagnosia in this interview from a public radio program called "To the Best of Our Knowledge." You can hear the interview and read the transcript at the following link: 

Videos on Consciousness

Discovering Psychology program 13 "The Mind Awake and Asleep" is at 

Discovering Psychology program 14 "The Mind Hidden and Divided" is at

Starting to meditate? 
Here is a link to an online meditation timer.  It can help you concentrate in your meditation if you don't have to worry about how much time has passed. 

Mouse Party?

What would you see inside the brains of mice who were taking drugs? This interactive website gives you a glimpse inside the brains and synapses of mice on drugs including alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, ecstasy, and LSD.

Identify how each drug affects the brain. What neurotransmitter(s) does it affect? Is it inhibitory or excitatory? Does it block re-uptake or work some other way? Which parts of the brain are most affected?

You can explore other effects of drugs of abuse here

Dream Journal  - You should be making entries into your dream journal every day. If you don't remember a dream from the night, you should write about what emotions or thoughts you had upon awakening. If you don't have anything to enter for a day, you should write about a dream you had some time in the past - even the distant past. 

The point of the dream journal assignment is to get you to pay attention to your dreams and to start to think about various theories of dream interpretation to see if you think they apply. 

Monday, January 16, 2012


Unit 7 Memory

Good overview of basic memory concepts.

Some fun memory games you can do online

NOVA: How Memory Works

This is not specifically about memory, but about implicit associations we make about people. You can take some of the Implicit Association Tests to see what some of your implicit associations about people and groups are. I’m putting it with this unit as an example of implicit vs. explicit thought processes.

Story from National Public Radio (NPR) about H.M., the man who had the bilateral removal of his hippocampus (What is the plural of hippocampus?) and ended up with the nearly complete inability to form new memories. Find out why he had his hippocampus removed and learn about this amazing case study of anterograde amnesia. 

The movie Memento was the first film by star director Christopher Nolan who went on to direct The Dark Night and Inception. It is a fictional film about a character who, like H.M.,  loses the ability to create any new memories, but still tries to solve a horrible crime.

You can stream it on Netflix or rent it. It is rated R due to some violent content and adult language.