Responses should be a minimum of 100 words and include direct questions.


Hi Class,

Psychologists have long been interested in understanding reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. But the other, “softer” side of this cognitive coin is the study of intuition; how we develop a “gut feeling” or “sense” about a judgment, situation, or another person. Far from relying on an aching bunion or creaky joint to understand intuition, scientists have recently put the notion to the test.

Antonio Damasio and his colleagues studied 6 people who had damage to the ventromedial sector of the prefrontal cortex and 10 people who did not. This area of the brain is responsible for storing information about emotional experiences and is also involved in decision making. Armed with $2,000 in fake money, the participants were presented with four decks of cards and were told they could turn over cards from any deck during the course of a game. Unbeknownst to the participants, two decks were rigged to produce lower immediate rewards but a higher overall payoff, whereas the other two decks yielded short-term, large payoffs but at the price of greater total losses. Participants flipped cards at will while being monitored for GSR as an indicator of nonconscious (or conscious) anxiety. After the first 20 rounds the research team questioned the participants, and did so again after each subsequent 10 rounds, in order to determine when the participants became conscious of the best strategy to win.

Those participants without brain damage began to show signs of anxiety before picking cards from the losing decks, and began to avoid those decks, although consciously they were not yet aware that they were losers. By the 80th round 7 of the 10 normal participants consciously knew to avoid the losing decks, and although the remaining 3 did not reach that insight, they nonetheless continued to make advantageous choices. The 6 brain damaged participants, however, continued to pick from the losing decks, never expressed a hunch that something was amiss, and never showed signs of anxiety. In short, the intuition or unconscious knowledge that arose in the normal subjects was absent in the impaired group; there never arose a “sense” or “feeling” of what was going on.

One study digs deeper to the roots of intuition. A team of researchers led by David Skuse, a psychiatrist at the Institute of Child Development of University College in London, found evidence suggesting intuition is an inherited trait passed from fathers to their daughters. Skuse and his colleagues defined intuition in terms of social skills, such as the ability to decode nonverbal communication or recognize socially appropriate behavior. Although the research team has not identified a gene (or genes) responsible for these abilities, their patterns of evidence suggest a specific chain of inheritance. The parents of 88 girls with Turner’s syndrome (characterized by a single X chromosome) were asked to rate their daughters on various measures of social intelligence, such as awareness of other’s feelings, skill at following instructions, or awareness of offending others. The researchers next determined whether each girl’s single X chromosome had come from her father or mother. The results revealed that those girls who had inherited the mother’s chromosome scored worse on the measures of “intuition” than did those receiving the X from their fathers.

Parents of normal boys and girls were also asked the same questions. The boys, compared to the normal girls, scored lower on the measures of social intuition: Like all boys, they also received their X chromosome from their mothers. Furthermore, the researchers also compared the responses of the Turner’s syndrome girls with those of normal boys and girls on a battery of neuropsychological measures. Turner’s syndrome girls who received their X chromosome from their mothers scored worse on tests that required extensive planning or the inhibition of urges; normal boys also scored worse on the inhibition measures (but not the planning tasks).

Bechara A, Damasio H, Tranel D, Damasio AR (1997). Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science, 275 (5304), 1293–1295.


In this week’s lesson, the material went over learning theories. For this forum, I decided to discuss what I do to teach my year and a half old son in which I would find it the perfect example for this forum. My son is at a point where he is actively wanting to do everything that I do, for example when I am cleaning the house and start vacuuming the carpet, I will get interrupted by him coming to me and trying to push the vacuum. I take that opportunity and let him push along with me with the vacuum which shows him how to use the vacuum without really knowing what the vacuum is for but could be somewhat of an example of shaping a behavior. Observational learning works best for him, since he can understand a few words, but he cannot understand sentences as an order or request. Before going outside, I would put on my shoes, with him watching me every second that I am in the house with him, he started to notice that when I put on my shoes that it meant I was leaving the house. With him always wanting to go where I go, when he noticed when I was putting on my shoes and he would automatically go grab his shoes, so he could go outside with me. I notice this myself that he made that observation so to ensure that he understand what he was putting on, I would always just say the word “shoes”. He didn’t understand what shoes were at first, put constantly over time using the word “shoes” as a neutral stimulus he now understands that when I say shoes, it means go grab your shoes. I used this example to explain how he learned to put on his shoes through observation and using that knowledge to build his understanding of words. So far this method really has no issues other than he automatically thinks that were are going outside afterwards and he thinks of the word “shoes” as a process of going outside more than the object themselves. STUDENT 3: Cyle

Hello class,

Through this lesson this week I found quite a bit of information that I found really interesting and that could be used pretty regularly in our everyday lives. Like in my life there is a shift that relieves my shift that always gets in right before they are late, while my guys come in fifteen to twenty minutes early every time. For my behavior I would like to teach would be to teach the other shift that they should come in early to relieve us. I would probably use the operant conditioning in the way that we would show up at our regular time but had they been late to relieve us we would keep them here until the time my shift was able to leave the night or day before. As this continued we would make sure to tell them they are good to go when they let us leave so that they would see that the earlier they came in, the earlier they were able to leave. The stimulus would continue to change from negative to positive and positive to negative, depending on how early or late they arrived and got us out of the building. When they finally begin coming in and releasing us on time on a regular basis is when I would think the experiment a success and that they had finally learned the behavior. This approach would work best for this situation because it would be able to keep my crew within the boundaries of the rules and would be very easy to coordinate better with my shift this plan rather than showing up later, this would end up giving them a punishment instead of a negative stimulus which is not what I am trying for. I feel like the major challenges to this experiment would that we would be hard pressed to find things to keep them as late as they keep us and that the process would have a negative effect rather than a positive one and they would keep us even later than they already do. Hope everyone has a great rest of their week!