Media Project

Autism is a highly controversial disorder, which has gotten its popularity over the past couple of decades from a former scientist who said autism was caused by vaccines. This caused an uproar among parents everywhere, the “evidence,” which was eventually proven to be false, caused a wave of parents to not vaccinate their kids, and advanced autism studies further in order to disprove it. 1 in 68 children have this disorder in the United States, and to this day there still isn’t a cause or cure for any part of the spectrum. Autism has various levels, ranging from some deficit to severe deficits, and there are a variety of symptoms accompanied with these. Even though many people claim things like diet, and the time spent in the womb are what causes autism and it’s severity, neither has been confirmed, and many still believe that vaccines cause it, even though that has been disproven. However, more studies are being done to see what causes autism, and a recent study says there may be a connection to how “male” or “female” our brain is. In an article posted in the psychiatry edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study was published that suggests the phenotype, how our brain presents, may suggest out chances of getting autism.

The question is how can a brain be more “female” or “male” since there have been no defining markers found with the brain. The researchers set out to prove that there can be a difference by doing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on the brains of 98 individuals with autism (49 male and 49 female) as well as 98 neurotypical individuals (57 male and 41 female) and looked for a difference in cortical thickness, which is amount of grey matter on the cortex. Females have been found to have thicker cortexes in many areas, whereas men have thinner cortexes, which hasn’t been explained yet either. There is a belief that it could be due to testosterone, but it hasn’t been proven. During the study, the researchers were correct about 74% of the time on the gender of the person scanned, which shows that there is some correlation in cortical thickness and gender, but it is not exact. The researchers used cortical thickness to investigate about autism because cortical thickness has shown to be altered in individuals with autism. Autism was found to be 2 to 5 times more likely in males than females, the difference on whether a woman is 2 or 5 times more likely was dependent on whether her cortical thickness was more feminine or more like a man’s; if the girl’s brain is more like a woman’s she was 5 times less likely to get autism than a man, but if she had a manlier brain, she was only 2 times more likely to get autism. There was found to be no difference in likelihood in males with female or male brains.

The study didn’t include those who had genetic disorders, psychiatric disorders, history of brain trauma, or brain disorders (like epilepsy), and also took out those who took medications that would affect the brain like mood stabilizers. All of these would pull up as a change in brain structure since they all can cause or are caused by differences in brain structure. Also, this study only included those who are right handed because that can also effect brain structure since those who are left handed can have some functions form on the opposite side. Both groups mean age was in their mid-twenties but the group with autism was slightly younger than the neurotypical group. The researchers wanted both groups to be very similar because age also plays a major role in brain develop, and they didn’t want anything to mess up the results.

Even though this study wasn’t a definite cause for autism, it does give hope for us to find a cause soon and maybe a cure, but for now more studies on this topic should be done so we can create an actual lab test for autism. Right now we rely on just interviews, history, and also by ruling everything else out, but e test could allow for children to get diagnosed earlier, which could lower any deficits caused, and it could ease parent’s fears sooner than ever. The more we know about autism, the closer we get to the treatment and the cure, which will change the life of many who live with the disorder, no matter how big of a role it plays in their lives.




Links to articles: CNN article:

Scholarly article:  file:///Users/Holly/Downloads/For%20Holly%20Hu%20(3).pdf





Reflection: I really enjoyed this assignment, because now I’m warier about what I read on news outlets like CNN because they don’t include all of what needs to be there. This made it easy for me to critique the CNN article because learning about what all needs to be in research allowed me to know what is needed for research so I could easily pick out what needed to be added and what needed to be more detailed. However, the scholarly research critique was the hardest because there wasn’t much to critique, since they had to be very thorough to get it published, but there were a few tiny things like why they did that experiment. The media production project paper was easier to write than the scholarly article critique, but harder than the CNN article critique, which was surprising, since I thought it would be harder. The media production paper was easy to do because it was explaining the study, which was explained well, but the hardest part was to put it into common terms while still explaining the study completely. Since the study had so many factors that many people don’t understand I had to be sure to define them all, while not making the paper filled with just explanations, which was the toughest part of all. By the end of this project, I figured out how deceiving popular articles can be, but I still believe they are worthwhile if they give the link to the original article so those who are truly interested can learn more about the topic.

First Impression Post- Personality

This week in psychology we are studying personality, so I was assigned to do 4 personality tests and compare them to what I think of myself.

Jung Personality Test: I got INFP (Introvert 6% , Intuitive 3%, Feeling 31% , and Perceiving 9%), which basically means I’m more in the middle of everything except that I feel more than I judge. I feel like this fits me fairly well, because all of these are factored on my mood, like sometimes I want to be around others and sometimes I don’t, as well as the top job was nurse, so for me this test was pretty right. However, I feel like this test could easily be manipulated by the state of mind the person taking it is in, so it’s not a good indicator of personality.

Personality Test Center: Result- ESFJ- At first seeing extroverted bothered me because I’m usually introverted, but after reading the description I realized it fits me perfectly. This is because I like to feel accepted by people, which is a major part of this personality type. Also, the top job for this type is a nurse, which is what I want to do. I still feel like this test could easily be influenced by mood.

Big 5 test: Results- Extroversion~67%, Emotional Stability~ 2%, Agreeableness~ 62%, Conscientiousness~ 62%, Intelligence/Imagination 80%. Again, on this one I thought the extraversion was high, but I might just not see this in myself. Honestly, the rest of this didn’t surprise me, but again state of mind is a big part of this, and we might try to conform our thoughts about ourselves to this idea to make it seem like it worked.

Color Quiz: The long list of results on the color quiz didn’t fit me really because even though I do like to stand out, it’s not for the reasons stated. This test is very inaccurate because even though colors are important, these colors were very muted, and they didn’t really click with me in the first place.

Divorce- Spotlight Post

In the last few generations, divorce has become more normalized, which many will argue is hurting the family unit, which in turn hurts the children as well. Yes, divorce does hurt the kids at first, because many will think it’s their fault, or will feel like they aren’t loved by one or both parents. But, what many don’t consider is the fact that divorce can hurt kids more than the parents staying together; what decides how well off the children will be is how the divorce is handled by everyone involved.

If the divorce is done in an angry, bitter, drawn-out cloud of arguing and problems, then of course the children will be affected. In a paper written by Jann Gumbiner, this idea of a bad divorce is played out, but she argues that there is no idea of a good divorce; the problem with her argument is that the divorce described was a bad divorce in a time where divorce was still not normal, so had her situation been different, then maybe she would think different. Dr. Shoshana Bennett highlights the benefits of a good divorce in her article in the Huffington Post, where she points out many things, like shared custody and supportive relationships, neither of which Gumbiner had, which shows how a good divorce can change how the kids are affected by the divorce. Susan Pease Gadoua also argues in support of divorce, by saying that kids are resilient, and that it is important to test the waters to fully prepare the children for divorce.

There have been many studies done about this topic, but the one that argues in favor of the parents staying together the most was posted in Daily Mail. Going through the study, it seems like a good study, which actually shows how kids are affected, but what it doesn’t show is how the children act if the parents stay together. This comparison is important because it compares what would happen if the kids were allowed to stay in the darkness, versus they were given more room with the divorce.

Overall, it’s best to have a happy set of married parents, but life isn’t perfect, so if the marriage isn’t going great, it’s better to settle things amicably, and make sure the kids are happy, rather than to give a false sense of happiness to kids who know better.


Week 8 First Impression Post-Learning

When video games first came to the market, they were simple, colorful, and didn’t have a hint of realism in them. As technology improved, the quality of video games improved as well, which also was around the time violence grew in the media. This increase in violence in the media got into the video game world, which caused a sharp increase in violent video games, as well as an increase in the video game market as a whole. The change was very sudden, but it had a massive impact on how kids act. When I was young, we still mostly played Super Mario Brothers, Galaga, and Pacman, whereas my brother grew up more with Super Smash Brothers, Call of Duty, and Grand Theft Auto; even though there were earlier versions of those games when I was a kid, they were no where near as advanced as they were when my brother was growing up, which is shocking because he is only 3 years younger than me. Even though I’ve played games like Call of Duty, I was in my teens when I started playing them, and I had already understood that the games were fake, and that violence isn’t okay. My brother on the other hand hadn’t gotten anywhere near mature when he started playing, and my Mom only let him play because he was going to see my play anyways. She didn’t realize the impact these games had on his attitude, since she never payed any attention to the games, until he started acting up in school. Granted, he has Asperger’s and already has a temper because of it, but the video games he was playing certainly didn’t help, they just made violence seem okay, and taught him foul language. Despite all of this, I don’t think we should ban violent video games as a whole, because those who are mature can enjoy them without acting like they do in the games, and can even be a stress reliever to some (including myself). However, the industry should be better regulated, and parents need to know what they’re buying their kids, because I’m sure my Mom wasn’t the only parent who bought games that weren’t appropriate for her child without knowing the amount of graphic material in them. In fact, I see parents buy things like Grand Theft Auto and Modern Warfare for their very young children, some look like they are 10, all of the time when I take my brother to GameStop. Parents need to be educated about what their children are playing with, and even though the world as a whole is more violent these days, that doesn’t mean we need to impose more violence on our children.

Week 7- First Impression Post

This week’s topic is sensation and perception, which we all take for granted. For those who have all of their senses, the senses seem like such mediocre things, until they are lost or can be lost. Of course, when someone doesn’t have one of their senses, they appreciate their other senses more, but what happens when you do have all of your senses, but they aren’t the same as other’s senses? What many see as such simple things like numbers and words people with synesthesia see in a whole different light. Synesthesia is when someone the senses get mixed together, an example of this is when people can hear colors. Many people just associate this phenomena with going on a drug induced “trip,” but there are few that experience this on a daily basis. In a Ted Talk given by Daniel Tammet, an Autistic savant, he explains his own experiences with this phenomena, which he lives with. At first, I didn’t know what to think of this condition, because it’s hard to think of someone hearing colors or seeing sounds. But, Tammet makes the experience seem more realistic because he pulls up pictures of how he associates numbers with different pictures, and his creations with numbers as colors. Even though it still is hard to picture, his pictures made the idea seem less crazy. I don’t know how someone could live with it, because even though it may seem cool, it would feel very lonely seeing the world in a very different way than everyone else.

First Impression Post: Marijuana

I am a strong supporter of both medicinal and recreational marijuana, because it’s a natural way to help people get through lots of different things. With alcohol and cigarettes, you’re putting chemicals in your body that only harm you and can harm others. Marijuana doesn’t have any negative effects, and isn’t habit forming, unlike alcohol and nicotine, which are both legal and harmful. I’ve never heard of someone being harmed from some pot, but I’ve heard plenty of stories of it helping anyone from people with epilepsy, to cancer patients, to people with anxiety. Alcohol has caused millions of deaths as well as nicotine. Even my father died from the effects of nicotine at 33, and my grandmother is dying of liver failure due to alcohol; but all of my family in Colorado who smoke pot are actually doing better because of the calming effects of weed. The worst marijuana can do is give you the munchies, and all that’s going to do is give McDonald’s more money. Also, if we made pot legal, we’d have less prisoners, and less drug cartels, because there would be no incentive to bring pot in illegally, and there would be less people doing illegal drugs (since pot is widely used illegally). Plus, this would bring more money into America, because we could grow our own weed, and so other countries wouldn’t be able to profit from it.

Memory- First Impression Post

This week in psychology we are learning about how memory works, and how that can influence learning. So, for this week we were to watch a Ted talk, given by Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist who specializes in memory, about memory to get a first look into how crazy memory really is. The Ted talk opens up with the story of a man who was wrongfully accused of rape because the memory of the abused girl wasn’t fully there, so since he looked like the assailant in her brain, she had him convicted. This was but wasn’t shocking to me, because I think I remember something correctly when I don’t all of the time, but you would think someone would remember their rapist’s face. Loftus moves on from this by bringing up a range of experiments done with memory, which of course I thought I could beat them, like every human likes to think, but when the results she got were shown, I thought much less of my abilities had I of taken the test. What interested me was that I remembered seeing the car experiment from an episode of “Brain Games” I saw a long time ago, so seeing an actual psychologist confirm what was said shocked me, because I though that show was more fictional. After seeing this Ted talk I’m more interested in how memory works, because maybe I can help lower the amount of false memories I have while studying.

Toward a New Understanding of Mental Illness- First Impression Post

This week in psychology we are studying neuroscience, so beforehand I watched a TED Talk, given by Thomas Insel, about mental illness. When we typically think of psychology, we typically just think of the diseases, like schizophrenia, associated with psychology. What we don’t typically think of is how all of psychology is attached to the brain. Many don’t even get as far to think of mental disorders, or as Insel prefers them to be called, brain disorders. Mental illness has been highly stigmatized throughout history, and still is today; this is why few want to research them, because they could go on to “bigger” things like cancer and heart disease. Unless you have a brain disorder, or are very close to someone with one, you don’t usually understand mental illness, and are more accustomed to thinking about other diseases. Being a sufferer of depression and anxiety, I understand how debilitating the diseases can be, and know how true the early onset is. I’ve had symptoms of depression for many years, but I wasn’t diagnosed until a couple of months ago, because no one really knew about depression or anxiety around me, so I didn’t even know I needed help. Insel makes a good point about the umbrella of mental illnesses having connections to the brain, even on scans, because many think it’s all in a person’s view of the world and not biology. Another great thing he did was show the difference between the amount of work we’ve done with heart disease and other major diseases, because even though the other disease are important, we haven’t payed enough attention to mental illness. stop-the-stigma-of-mental-illness-e1381250784828Even though behaviors and symptoms are important, what causes them are more important, because we could use that to stop the disease or at least calm the symptoms. Personally, Neuroscience is my favorite part of psychology, because I think the brain is the world’s biggest puzzle, and I like to know how things work.

Parenting Styles

This week in psychology we are studying development, which is highly influenced by the parenting style that is used. In my opinion, parents should take a more relaxed stance unless the child starts causing an issue. If you just butt in to everything your child does and try to make them fit your needs, instead of letting them find themselves, then they may very likely grow to resent you. This resentment can lead to rebellion and they may become better at hiding things from you, which can lead to bigger problems then if you were more relaxed from the first place. Of course you can’t just let your kids to whatever, but it’s better not only on you, but on the kids, if you gently guide them in a good direction, then the kids will be allowed to make and learn from small mistakes, instead of hiding massive ones. I was raised in a house with relaxed parents, and I can’t see myself being raised any other way, because had I been with strict parents, parents who make me do what they want, or both, I would not be where I am today. My chill parents let me watch mature shows like “Dr. G: Medical Examiner” and “Untold Stories From the ER” at an early age, which allowed me to realize that I want to be a doctor at 8 years old, which has motivated me to do well ever since. Had I been with “helicopter” parents, I may have never found my passion for medicine, and may have been in an awful place right now. It’s important to teach your kids everything they need to know, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffocate them, it’s all about teaching things at the right time, and allowing kids to learn some things for themselves. img_0340

Research Methods- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes?

The basis of science is of course the scientific method. Since we are studying it in psychology, we were assigned to watch a “Mythbusters” and critique their methods. So, since I am a blonde and have been told my hair color is preferred by many, I was curious and picked that one. Overall, I am not surprised that there was no preference in the hair colors, since everyone has their own preference and many care more about other things than hair color. Even though the test came out how I thought it would, there were still a few issues. The first of them being how obvious the wigs were, which could have led to suspicion from the guys about them, and could have lowered the ladies’ likability if they are noticed. The other issue is that the women looked and acted fairly different so the men could’ve had a preference for something other than the hair that could boost numbers. Otherwise, the experiment was set up well, one of the better ideas being the speed dating thing with the equal numbers of hair colors and then having them all switch was a good touch. Also, getting more men in also was well planned because it allowed for a bigger sample, which allows for more empirical data, heightening the chance that their results are good.