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PSY340 Psychology Project 2: Function Of The Human Brain (Essay Sample)


Your topic must be submitted to the instructor for approval no later than the last day of Module 4
The paper must be approximately 2,000 words (about 10 pages) in length and to be written and documented according to the standards of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Publication Manual, 6th edition. The guidelines for the written form of the text and references are to be strictly adhered to.
The rigors of a research paper demand that you include current journal articles from acceptable journal sources. Historical references should utilize original source material when possible. A maximum of three internet sources may be included. A minimum of 5 research articles from the professional literature must be used to support your paper. A ten-page paper should utilize approximately 10 sources/references.
This project is due no later than the last day of Module 7 and is worth 20% of the overall grade for this course.

PSY340: Psychology of Learning

Module 1: Studying Learning

Mini Lecture


As the philosopher Lucretius once said “Change is the only constant” (Chance, 2009, p. 2). Part of being human requires us to embrace and cope with change. For some people, change is scary because it forces them to think about the unknown. For others, change is welcomed and is viewed as a common occurrence in daily life. Whatever the case may be, human beings must find ways to deal with their ever changing environment. One way in which people cope with change is through natural selection.

Natural selection is a process that was described by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. Darwin proposed that all species, including human beings, find ways to adapt to changes in the environment. Humans who exhibit characteristics that allow them to adapt to the changes in the environment are more likely to survive and reproduce. Thus, the genetic characteristics that support adaptation to the environment contribute to survival and reproduction, are passed on to offspring and are thus “selected” by the environment (Chance, 2009). The process of natural selection is based on the idea that nature influences behavior. For instance, genetics play a role in traits such as aggression, anxiety, depression and whether or not a person is introverted or extroverted.

Nature is not the only variable that affects behavior. One of the oldest debates in history is whether nature or nurture plays more of a role in determining behavior. With nurture, the focus is on experience and environmental influences that affect behavior. Researchers have argued over the great debate for centuries to support their ideas of what truly determines behavior. You will see as you read through chapter 1 in the Chance (2009) text that both nature and nurture play a vital role in the survival of the human species.

Module one also provides a general overview of the scientific study of learning. As you will observe, learning is a change in behavior. Studying learning, then, requires studying changes in behavior. This can be a relatively trying task. There are many ways one can study learning scientifically. Chance (2009) offers several methods that researchers can use when studying changes in behavior. Anecdotal evidence, case studies, descriptive studies, and experimental studies are viable options for researchers.

Anecdotal evidence is the most commonly used source of information for those studying learning. This method requires the researcher to obtain first- and/or second-hand reports of personal experiences from individuals. Anecdotal evidence allows the researcher to make casual observations about the population being studied. Case studies examine one person in detail. A case study is typically used when a researcher wants to learn more about the specific behaviors of one person or a small number of people. Descriptive studies are used when a researcher wants to describe something. Typically, the researcher uses descriptive studies when he or she is interested in interviewing or administering a questionnaire to a group of people to learn more about the characteristics of that group. Finally, experimental studies offer researchers the ability to manipulate one or more variables and measure what happens before and after the manipulation occurs. You will learn in this module that each research method has its strengths and weaknesses.

One final note about module one, please pay particular attention to the section on animal research. There are many reasons for and advantages and disadvantages to using animals as research subjects.


This is the basic function of the human brain. It gives people the ability to remember what was learned. It is enhanced by storing what was learned and being able to retrieve it later. Memory is built by several factors, which are meant to enhance it. This has been widely researched by many researchers who came up with different findings. Memory is enhanced when the brain perceives an image in the environment, encodes it, gives it meaning and later stores it either in the short term or long term memory depending on when it is next required for retrieval (Brandimonte, Einstein & McDaniel, 2014). Memory is influenced by the learning process, reinforcement, punishment, conditioning and genetic factors. Accordingly, this paper explores the contribution of factors like genetics, human behaviour, learning process and environment, reinforcement, punishment, factors inhibiting learning like forgetfulness, age, types of memory and observational learning.
Human Behaviour
This is the dynamic aspect of human life. It is a range of behaviours exhibited by humans under different circumstances. It is the result of a perceptual process that involves the reception of stimuli, its selection, organization and interpretation by the brain after which the behaviour is exhibited. It is believed to change according to different cultures, attitudes, one’s emotions, values, ethics and authority. This change is relative to different individuals as some accept it positively as it brings with it various challenging aspects that motivate people and encourage them to attain higher statuses while others disregard it as it brings fear of the unknown to pessimists who dislike challenges. Human behaviour is a function of experiences previously stored in the memory. This can determine whether the behaviour is pleasant or irritating when remembered (Skinner, 1938).
Scientists and researchers have devised various ways of studying human behaviour so as to have a clear understanding of how it is exhibited. These methods include naturalistic observations in the environment, case studies, surveys, anecdotal evidence, descriptive studies, psychological testing, correlational and experimental researches. Naturalistic observations require the research to keenly observe the subjects of study in their natural environment and desist from influencing them to obtain their natural behaviour. Case studies involve an in-depth examination of a person or a small group of people to acquire information about certain psychological phenomena through their thoughts , feelings and life experiences about aspects like suicide, self-denial and depression (Nestor & Schutt, 2014).
Anecdotal evidence derives from obtaining primary or secondary information on personal experiences of people. It provides cause-effect explanations about a population under study. Descriptive studies and surveys seek to gather data from a population about aspects like behaviour, attitudes, life experiences and personal traits so as to determine the present position of the population being studied. This is majorly achieved through the administration of questionnaires or personal interviews to different people to get their responses on different aspects as required by the researcher. The experimental research is quantitative in nature and allows the researcher to manipulate the variables and observe the outcomes as a result of the manipulations (Nestor & Schutt, 2014).
Learning Process
This is the process that is believed to trigger human reactions and change in behaviour. Learning is viewed as a long-lasting transformation of one’s behaviour as a result of continuous practice and experiences. It dictates whether what is learned will be stored in the mind or forgotten depending on the experience whether pleasant or...
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