Portal:Psychology

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International Psychoanalytic Congress, 1911
Human brain, lateral view, with brainstem




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Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of mental functions and behaviors. Psychology has the immediate goal of understanding individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases, and by many accounts it ultimately aims to benefit society. In this field, a professional practitioner or researcher is called a psychologist and can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. Psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior, while also exploring the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists explore concepts such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, phenomenology, motivation, brain functioning, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships, including psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas. Psychologists of diverse orientations also consider the unconscious mind. Psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. In addition, or in opposition, to employing empirical and deductive methods, some—especially clinical and counseling psychologists—at times rely upon symbolic interpretation and other inductive techniques. Psychology has been described as a "hub science", with psychological findings linking to research and perspectives from the social sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and the humanities, such as philosophy. (Full article...)


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Selected article

Human brain and skull
The Human brain has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but has a more developed cerebral cortex than any other. Large animals such as whales and elephants have larger brains in absolute terms, but when measured using the encephalization quotient, which compensates for body size, the human brain is almost twice as large as the brain of the bottlenose dolphin, and three times as large as the brain of a chimpanzee. Much of the expansion comes from the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobes, which are associated with executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the cerebral cortex devoted to vision, the visual cortex, is also greatly enlarged in humans.

The human cerebral cortex is a thick layer of neural tissue that covers most of the brain. This layer is folded in a way that increases the amount of surface that can fit into the volume available. The pattern of folds is similar across individuals, although there are many small variations. The cortex is divided into four "lobes", called the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe. (Some classification systems also include a limbic lobe and treat the insular cortex as a lobe.) Within each lobe are numerous cortical areas, each associated with a particular function, including vision, motor control, and language. The left and right sides of the cortex are broadly similar in shape, and most cortical areas are replicated on both sides. Some areas, though, show strong lateralization, particularly areas that are involved in language. In most people, the left hemisphere is "dominant" for language, with the right hemisphere playing only a minor role. There are other functions, such as spatiotemporal reasoning, for which the right hemisphere is usually dominant. (Full article...)

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Illustration from A Rake's Progress, by William Hogarth (circa 1730s), showing Bethlem Royal Hospital, (origin of the word bedlam)
image credit: public domain

Quotes

  • "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart ... Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." — Carl Jung

Selected biography

George Malcolm Stratton (September 26, 1865 – October 8, 1957) was a psychologist who pioneered the study of perception in vision by wearing special glasses which inverted images up and down and left and right. He studied under one of the founders of modern psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, and started one of the first experimental psychology labs in America, at the University of California, Berkeley. Stratton's studies on binocular vision inspired many later studies on the subject. He was one of the initial members of the philosophy department at Berkeley, and the first chair of its psychology department. He also worked on sociology, focusing on international relations and peace. Stratton presided over the American Psychological Association in 1908, and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He wrote a book on experimental psychology and its methods and scope; published articles on the studies at his labs on perception, and on reviews of studies in the field; served on several psychological committees during and after World War I; and served as advisor to doctoral students who would go on to head psychology departments. (more...)

Did you know...

  • ...that the effects of head trauma on memory can be seen by the post-operative results of HM, a patient who has been unable to form any new long-term memories since a surgical procedure performed in the 1950s?

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Neuroscience Psychiatry Medicine

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