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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Worried little girl
A girl exhibiting worry
image credit: Ignas Kukenys

Quotes

  • "To the intelligent man with an interest in human nature it must often appear strange that so much of the energy of the scientific world has been spent on the study of the body and so little on the study of the mind." — Edward Thorndike

Selected biography

Head and shoulders sketch portrait of Søren Kierkegaard in his twenties, which emphasizes the face, full hair, open eyes forward, with a hint of a smile. His attire is formal, with a necktie and lapel.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (/ˈsɔːrən ˈkɪərkəɡɑːrd/ or /ˈkɪərkəɡɔːr/; Danish: [ˈsɶːɐn ˈkiɐ̯ɡəɡɒːˀ]) (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was a fierce critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Swedenborg, Hegel, Goethe, Fichte, Schelling, Schlegel, and Hans Christian Andersen. (Full article...)

Did you know...

Meredith Eaton-Gilden

  • ...that there appears to be no localized consciousness in the human brain?

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Neuroscience Psychiatry Medicine

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