Physiological approach and its studies

Three studies under the physiological approach in detail. 

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Physiological studies
Aim to investigate the role of the hippocampus in spatial memory and navigation.
Participants 16 right handed, male London taxi drivers. They were aged between 32-62years and
were compared to right handed, male non-taxi drivers. All of the participants had been licensed London
taxi drivers for more than one and a half years. The average time spent training to be a taxi driver
before passing the licensing tests fully (i.e., time on "The Knowledge") was 2 years (the range was 10
months to 3.5 years).
Method/procedure QUASI EXPERIMENT (naturally occurring IV = London Taxi Drivers)
The researchers make use of correlation analysis as they are investigation a relationship between the
brain scans and length of time the taxi drivers have been licensed.
MRI scan was used which collects data about the structure or anatomy of the brain. The MRI scanner
works by exposing a participant's brain to a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed
pictures of the brain.
Computer software converts the information into a 3D image of the brain and in this study the analysis
can calculate the amount of grey matter in the hippocampus. Grey matter contains neural cell bodies. The
data were measured using two different techniques:
1. Voxel-based morphemetry (VBM) ­ VBM measures the density of grey matter in the brain. VBM
provides a three dimensional measurement of the volume of an area.
2. Pixel counting ­ Pixel counting was carried out on the scans of the 16 taxi drivers and 16
age-matched controls taken from the 50 control participants. Pixel counting consists of counting
the pixels in the images provided by the MRI scans. A pixel is simple a 2D measurement of an
area. Areas were calculated by taking images of slices of a whole length of the hippocampus.
The pixel counting was carried out by a researcher who was experienced in this technique and
importantly not aware of the previous VBM results and whether the slices being counted were
scans of taxi drivers or controls.
Results The posterior of the hippocampi of taxi drivers were significantly larger in terms of volume to
those of control participants. The anterior hippocampal region was larger in control participants than in
taxi drivers.
Hippocampal volume correlated with the amount of time spent as a taxi driver (+ive = p & -ive = a).
-The VBM found that significantly increased grey matter volume was found in the brains of taxi drivers
than control.
-In the controls there was a greater grey matter volume in the anterior hippocampi than the taxi drivers.
-The pixel counting revealed that there was no significant differences between taxi drivers and the
controls in the overall volume of the hippocampus but did confirm that there were regionally specific
Conclusion The posterior hippocampus stores a spatial representation of the environment and that in
the London Taxi Drivers, the volume of the posterior hippocampus expanded because of their
dependence on navigation skills.

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Physiological studies
Dement and Kleitman
Aim to investigate the relationship between eye movement and dreaming.
Three hypotheses:
1. There will be a significant association between REM sleep and dreaming.
2. There will be significant positive correlation between the estimate of the duration of dreams
and the length of eye movement.
3. There will be a significant association between the pattern of eye movement and the context of
the dream.
Participants 9 participants 7males and 2females. 5 were studied intensively.…read more

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Physiological studies
H1: results show that REM sleep is associated with dream and NREM sleep is associated with no
dreaming as 80% REM participants were able to recall dreams. 7% of the NREM participants were able
to recall their dream.
H2: most participants were accurate on estimation of their dream duration.
a. Climbing ladders and looking down from the cliffs
b. Watching two people throw tomatoes at each other
c. Looking at an object
d.…read more

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Physiological studies
1st TASK: participants could verbally say what they saw in their RVF/LH and they could draw what they
saw in their LVF/RH.
2nd TASK: Participants would reach out for the object they see the words for in the LVF with their left
hand and vice-versa.
3rd TASK: Participants do the same with the compound words they see in front of them.
Conclusion Sperry concluded that the corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres.…read more


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