This little molecule above is known as Dopmaine.

It is found in our brains and is associated with feeling of well-being, happiness, euphoria, pain relief. Higher amounts are release during certain activities such as eating, sex, and drug use.


How drug addiction occurs

Dopamine is naturally occurring and is made by our bodies. When a (dopamine increasing) drug is taken, dopamine levels greatly rise, giving a feeling of euphoria. Because there is such a high abundance of dopamine, our bodies produce much less of it. We begin to be unable to produce our own dopamine and turn to the drug to feel good.

This is why addicts simply cannot stop using drugs, they are no longer able to experience joy without it.

Drugs that may cause dopamine-related addictions: Adderal, Dexedrine, Ritalin, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, oxycontin, alcohol, nicotine, and any morphine derivatives. basically anything that can release a high level of dopamine. Also high fat/calorie foods such as cheesecake or bacon can cause a milder response.

Noticeable side effects from a dopamine withdrawal include: anxiety, panic attacks, depression, sweating, nausea, generalized pain, fatigue, dizziness and drug cravings.

Depression Diagnosis / Drug Treatments

psychpost | 5/26/2011 11:03:00 AM | 35 Comments

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders depression is defined by these symptoms:

Emotional Symptoms
-Depressed Mood
-Anhedonia (no longer experiencing enjoyment)

Physiological and Behavioral Symptoms
-Sleep Disturbances (hypersomnia or insomnia)
-Appetite Disturbances
-Psychomotor retardation or Agitation
-Fatigue and loss of energy

Cognitive Symptoms
-Poor concentration and attention
-Sense of Worthlessness or guilt
-Poor self esteem
-Suicidal thoughts
-Delusions and hallucinations with depressing themes

Two different categories:

Major Depression: Experience depressed mood or anhedonia and at least four (4) other symptoms included above.

Dysthymic Disorder (chronic depression): Experience depressed mood and at least two (2) of the above symptoms for at least two years.


I will be listing several types of Drug Treatments. I will devote an entire post to non-drug treatments of depression which include: Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy.

"Norepinephrine may be related to alertness and energy as well as anxiety, attention, and interest in life; [lack of] serotonin to anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions; and dopamine to attention, motivation, pleasure, and reward, as well as interest in life."

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs):
-Experience faster relief from depression than other medications.
-Less severe side effects than other antidepressants. But may cause agitation or nervousness.
-Tend to not be fatal in overdose
-Helpful in treating a wider range of depression.
-Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Milnacipran (Ixel, Savella), Venlafaxine (Effexor), citalopram (Celexa), fluvoxamine (Luvox), Paxil, sertraline (Zoloft)

Tricyclic Antidepressants:
-Prevent the reuptake of Norephinephrine and Serotonin in synapses.
-Effective in relieving acute symptoms of depression.
-Common side effects: dry mouth, excessive perspiration, blurred vision, urinary retention, constipation, and sexual dysfunction.
-Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), Clomipramine (Anafranil), Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane), trimipramine (Surmontil),

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs):
-As effective as the Tricyclic Antidepressants
-Can have interactions (high blood pressure) with diet: cheese, beer, wine, chocolate.
-Amoxapine (Asendin), Maprotiline (Ludiomil),Mianserin (Bolvidon, Norval, Tolvon), Mirtazapine (Remeron)

Sertraline (Zoloft), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Buproprion (Wellbutrin), Adderall, Citalopram (Celexa), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Milnacipran (Savella), Mirtazapine (Remeron), Venlafaxine (Effexor), Paxil, Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Reboxetine (Vestra), xanax, phentermine prescription drugs

PHOTO CREDIT: (hosted on)

Summer School Plans

psychpost | 5/24/2011 10:57:00 AM | 35 Comments

Gonna be taking two classes at the University this summer.

MATH 20B. Calculus for Science and Engineering (4)
Integral calculus of one variable and its applications, with exponential, logarithmic, hyperbolic, and trigonometric functions. Methods of integration. Infinite series. Polar coordinates in the plane and complex exponentials.

PSYC 104. Introduction to Social Psychology (4)

An intensive introduction and survey of current knowledge in social psychology.


I'm looking forward to taking my Social Psychology course and I can't wait to write some posts about it. Social Psychology offers a bridge between two social sciences: psychology and sociology.

I'm a bit nervous about my math course because i'm a bit rusty on integral calculus. Wish me luck!



Spring '11 Finished

psychpost | 5/19/2011 12:12:00 PM | 50 Comments

Today I slept in until 12PM. I just finished my final exams yesterday and I am now on break. Time to just relax, play video games, exercise, and be lazy. I'll be having more free time to write blog posts so look forward to those.

>Also, loving the internet here at the university:



Working Memory

psychpost | 5/14/2011 08:58:00 PM | 49 Comments

Working memory is a form of short term memory that is concerned with immediate processes. Psychologist George Miller argues that the capacity of working memory is 5-9 items (seven plus/minus two).

By tending to items that are in our working memory we can develop long term memories that can be recalled later.


Tips to improve memory

Lifestyle Changes
-Regular memory exercises
-Healthy eating
-Regular exercise
-Reducing Stress

Chunking Memory:
Although we can only hold about 5-9 items in our working memory, we can increase efficiency by storing larger (more info) items. For example: Take a (xxx)xxx-xxxx format phone number. By memorizing the area code as one item, the three digit portion as one item, and the four digit portion as one item we only use 3 items total.



Observational Learning of Aggression

psychpost | 5/08/2011 10:19:00 AM | 38 Comments

VIDEO: Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment (A Study of Aggression)

What I found to be most interesting about this video is the fact that the children came up with their own ways of displaying aggression towards the doll. At first they began by imitating the model's behavior and over time their aggression became a thing of their own. What was also interesting is the fact that the children who were not exposed to aggressive models did not harm the doll at all. These old experiments are always great to look at because they are very insightful by revealing a lot about ourselves.

In classical conditioning an operant learning we have seen that behaviors are a function of stimuli. We have learned to do certain behaviors by the way we are rewarded or punished. In this experiment with the bobo doll there does not seem to be any rewards or punishments. What drives us learn behaviors that do not involve rewards or punishments?

I believe that modeling of aggression may be closely related with spanking children. One way is that children may learn through observation to physically punish another child if they are 'misbehaving'. Another way is that a child who sees another child getting spanked for misbehavior may learn through observation to not misbehave and avoid getting spanked.

One positive behavior I have learned through observation is driving and traffic laws. Although I have not actually driven a car for the first 16 years of my life I already had a good sense of what I was doing my first time. If we have never seen anyone driving a car before I guarantee you it would be difficult and confusing trying to drive one at first try.


Angry face

Superstition can be defined as: a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation. An example of superstitious behavior is to blow on dice before rolling them to increase chance of winning (the probability of the dice roll is not affected).

I chose to discuss the formation and reinforcement of superstitious behavior because it is something I notice a lot. Examples of superstitious behaviors can be seen in gambling, sports, and virtually any activity with chance involved. For example there are many baseball players who have a routine ritual they follow each time they are at bat.2 Also sports fans are likely to wear special clothing or preform pre-game rituals on game days because they believe it will bring luck to their team.

Article for discussion: (Psychology article, Superstition in Gambling)

In this article, experimenters were looking for superstitious behaviors in gambling. The participants were given a small amount of money (about 5USD) and were presented with a game in which they would be able to win a maximum of about 35USD. The game was a dice game (rolling a winning number) and winning was determined only by chance. After a few rolls, participants were given the option to either roll again, or let an experimenter roll for them. Participants who were winning were highly likely to continue rolling themselves, while those who have been losing were likely to let the experimenters roll for them.

Another experiment in which participants (playing a dice game again) were given magnetic bracelets. Although the bracelets do not affect the outcome of the games, participants considered it to be a "lucky charm" or felt less confident while wearing it.

These experiments show that individuals are more likely to repeat behaviors that are accompanied by a positive reinforcer (ie. they are positivley reinforced). Meaning, that when a participant wins, they are likely to repeat the course of actions prior to their win. Although the behaviors do not actually effect the outcome, they tie in closely. The opposite is true for those who experienced more losses.

It is clear to see that the formation development of superstitious behaviors can be attributed to operant conditioning.