AP Psychology : Biological and Cognitive Factors

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #11 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

Which of the following explains why children with learning disabilities experience difficulties associated with education?

Possible Answers:

They perform poorly in all areas of learning

They are not capable of engaging in cognitive mapping or visual-spatial information processing

They have a general intellectual deficit, such as a low IQ

They have difficulty at some stage of information processing

Correct answer:

They have difficulty at some stage of information processing

Explanation:

Learning-disabled children are not lower in general intellect. The definition of a learning disability is adequate performance in some areas (e.g. mathematics or language) along with poor performance in another area (e.g. reading). Deficits in cognitive mapping and visual-spatial information processing are more likely attributable to a developmental disability due to a genetic disorder such as Down’s syndrome. Learning-disabled children, as compared to children without learning disabilities, may struggle at any stage of information processing from attention disorders to information encoding or retrieval.

Example Question #11 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

An example of an experimental approach to studying individual differences in learning and memory during spaced practice would involve which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Comparing the effects of individuals’ genes and environments on spacing ability

Actively manipulating the spacing of repetitions 

Gathering anecdotal evidence

Measuring differences between gender groups in spacing ability

Correct answer:

Actively manipulating the spacing of repetitions 

Explanation:

Experiments always involve the active manipulation of variables. If we are only measuring differences between groups (e.g. gender) or variables (e.g. genetics or environmental factors), that would be considered a correlational study, not an experiment. The term "anecdotal evidence" implies a small set of personal observations, and does not meet the criteria for a scientific inquiry such as an experiment. 

Example Question #12 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

Genetic factors may impact an individual’s capacity for learning through which of the following mechanisms?

Possible Answers:

Decreasing sensitivity to stimuli

 

Physiologically affecting brain structure

All of these

Increasing emotionality

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

Individual learning ability is impacted by both the environment (e.g. nurture) and genetics (e.g. nature) in several ways. Genetic factors include (a) the structure and function of specific brain regions related to learning and memory, (b) variations in how sensitive one is to stimuli such as sound or colors and (c) a person’s inherent level of emotionality. All of these factors can play a role in learning because each can facilitate or inhibit the acquisition and/or retention of knowledge.

Example Question #11 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

Studies on gender differences in learning have demonstrated that discrepancies in learning between men and women can be attributed to which of the following factors?

Possible Answers:

Stereotypical gender expectations

Biological variations in hormones

Familiarity with the material to-be-learned

All of these

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

Research about learning differences between men and women is mixed, and there does not appear to be conclusive evidence of any inherent biological differences. Most studies seem to indicate that when differences are found, they can be explained by the level of familiarity the individuals have with the subject to be learned or by stereotypical expectations about gender. Although hormones may not affect overall intellect, hormone levels can impact performance at a given point in time and impact learning. 

Example Question #15 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

Individuals who have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) experience repetitive and intrusive memories that may negatively impact the learning process through which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Chronically raising emotional arousal and enhancing fear to aversive conditioned stimuli

All of these

Over-arousing the hippocampus (a region of the brain associated with memory)

Causing a failure to habituate to repeated neutral stimuli

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has a number of symptoms, including a failure to habituate to repeated neutral stimuli, chronically high levels of emotional arousal, and a fear of aversive conditioned stimuli. When the hippocampus is over-aroused, its ability to preserve conscious aspects of memory may be compromised. Each of these factors is associated with PTSD and each can have a significant impact on the function of memory.

Example Question #14 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

Researchers who study differences in individual learning through the use of brain scans, positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) utilize which of the following approaches?

Possible Answers:

Neuroscience approach

Cognitive approach

Behavioral approach

Functional approach

Correct answer:

Neuroscience approach

Explanation:

There are various conceptual approaches to the study of learning. The functional approach relates to a study of the evolution of learning across species and how different species adapt. The behavioral approach concentrates on empirical observations of behavior. The cognitive approach arose from computer science and a desire to study information processing of the brain. The neuroscience approach may incorporate various perspectives (such as cognitive) but a hallmark is the utilization of imagery produced by brain scans—PET and fMRI.

Example Question #15 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

High levels of anxiety negatively impact individual learning, especially academics, by causing which of the following?

Possible Answers:

A lack of any emotional arousal

Increased arousal that limits the available capacity of working memory

Decreased arousal that slows down brain functioning

Anxiety does not affect learning

Correct answer:

Increased arousal that limits the available capacity of working memory

Explanation:

If people are engaged in negative thoughts, worried, preoccupied about their performance, or being self-critical while attempting to learn, then they are very likely to experience impairment to working memory. This is because these types of thoughts impose limits on attention resources. None of the other answers are true because anxiety increases arousal.

Example Question #18 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

An individual can use the concept of meaningfulness to increase learning through which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Making information personal

Providing context to an otherwise random string of data

Examining cross-cultural implications

Emphasizing the importance of the material being studied

Correct answer:

Providing context to an otherwise random string of data

Explanation:

The concept of meaningfulness in learning and memory refers to the use of existing knowledge as a means of increasing learning of unfamiliar material. For example, if you were asked to memorize a list of groceries, it might be difficult to remember every random item. But if you could group the items together either into one meaningful category, or in chunks, it would be much easier. For example, the list could be: Cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, flour, salt, butter, and apples. If you thought instead about buying everything you need for apple pie, then there is a provided context (e.g. assigned meaningfulness) to the random string of data that will make it easier to remember.

Example Question #311 : Individual Psychology And Behavior

Studies on memory performance and circadian rhythms have demonstrated that learning is affected by circadian rhythms in which of the following ways?

Possible Answers:

Performance of STM memory and recall peak in the early morning and fade into late afternoon and early evening

Circadian rhythms definitely impact performance of STM memory and recall, and tend to be fairly universal

Circadian rhythms definitely impact performance of STM memory and recall, but generalities cannot be made because peak performance times vary by individual

Performance of STM memory and recall peak twice during the day; late morning and early evening

Correct answer:

Circadian rhythms definitely impact performance of STM memory and recall, but generalities cannot be made because peak performance times vary by individual

Explanation:

Multiple studies have demonstrated that circadian rhythm is linked to arousal and impacts learning ability. Peak performance times can vary greatly amongst individuals; therefore, generalities about the effects of circadian rhythm on learning cannot be made.

Example Question #11 : Biological And Cognitive Factors

According to the serial-position effect, the relative position of items within a list affects serial learning. If you were to graph the correct number of words that participants tend to recall from a list, then it would most likely look like which of the following?

Possible Answers:

A fairly straight negatively-sloped line; most of the items recalled correctly come from the beginning of the list

A deep V-shape; items in the middle of a list are almost never recalled correctly

A U-shaped curve; most of the items recalled correctly come from the beginning and the end of the list

A fairly straight positively-sloped line; most of the items recalled correctly come from the end of the list

Correct answer:

A U-shaped curve; most of the items recalled correctly come from the beginning and the end of the list

Explanation:

Human and animal studies on personal memory, long-term factual memory and spatial memory have been conducted in both laboratories and in natural settings. These studies have used pictures, nonsense syllables and objects to test the serial-position effect. The serial-position effect has been seen to appear consistently as a U-shaped curve. In other words, most of the items recalled correctly come from the beginning and the end of a list.

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