Posted Depression to Psych 1001 Section 010 and 011 Fall 2011
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a neurological disorder that affects about 17% of Americans. There is a solid amount of evidence that MDD is about twice as common in women as in men, but the reason for this is unknown. MDD frequently co-occurs with other neurological disorders such as ADD, ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety. These co-occurrences can make diagnosis and treatment of the disorders difficult. There is no single cause for MDD, and often times it can be due to multiple factors. There is evidence that a family history of MDD can increase one's risk of having MDD, but the mechanism behind this is unknown. It may be due to genetics, environment, or both. MDD can be caused by events such as abuse, conflict, or the death of a loved one. It can also have medical causes such as the use of certain medications (such as β blockers) or coexistence with certain illnesses. Symptoms of MDD can vary. They include agitation, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating (all also symptoms of ADHD!), fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. The more emotional symptoms of depression are feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. People suffering from MDD may also experience loss of interest, isolation, intense anger, and even suicide. Treatments of MDD include medication and psychotherapy. The most prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine and sertraline. Fluoxetine is the only antidepressant that is FDA approved for use in children and teenagers. SSRIs function by inhibiting serotonin re-uptake into the presynaptic cell. This increases the concentration of serotonin in the synaptic cleft. Serotonin functions in the CNS by regulating sleep, appetite, and mood. A 2010 study, however, indicated that SSRIs have little to no benefit (relative to placebo) in patients with mild cases of MDD. http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/causes-depression http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001941/ http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/303/1/47...
Posted Lie Detection to Psych 1001 Section 010 and 011 Fall 2011
For the fifth blog, I decided to write about something somewhat irrelevant to the current topics in lecture--lie detection and interrogation. I got the idea when thinking about how eye-witness testimony can be manipulated with incredible ease due to the ways that our memories function. There are several methods employed by investigators, such as electroencephalography, cognitive chronometry, fMRI, and observing nonverbal behavior. These are just four of the more common methods. No method is 100% accurate or comprehensive. Electroencephalography measures changes in brain waves of the subject. An investigator will ask control questions to gauge a baseline for brain activity. When the subject answers a question with a lie, the machine will usually indicate a change in brainwave activity, which indicates to the investigator that the subject is lying. Cognitive chronometry is the measurement of the time it takes to perform cognitive activities. We actually spent a fair bit of time on this in my communication theory class. We talked about how it requires much more brain power to tell a lie and that when lying, a person will often hesitate momentary. We went on to discuss how being able to construct logical and comprehensive lies on the stop is truly an art, albeit a usually undesirable one! Another method for detecting lies is the use of an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging). This method is rather new and has yet to been refined. The TV show Mythbusters actually tested an fMRI lie detection machine. Two of the testers were unsuccessful in fooling it, but one of them managed to fool the machine, indicating the need for further refinement. A final method for lie detection is the observation of nonverbal behavior. We spent a lot of time on this in my nonverbal communication class. Some behaviors that may indicate a lie are placing objects between yourself and the investigator, trying to make yourself smaller, looking to the left, blushing, and restlessness. Sometimes it can be difficult to attribute specific behaviors to lying. For example, the subject may be experiencing anxiety from the interrogation and thus is restless in the first place....
Posted The Lesser-Known Benefits of Exercise to Psych 1001 Section 010 and 011 Fall 2011
Just about everyone knows that exercise is good for your health and helps build muscles, strength, and endurance; however, exercise also helps with brain growth and function. Multiple studies have indicated that regular, voluntary exercise can boost the growth of new neurons, primarily in the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory. A particular study conducted by Terrence Sejnowski demonstrated that exercise can even support neuron growth in adult mice. This is an important finding because it was previously thought that neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons, did not occur in the adult brain. Since Sejnowski's study, others have replicated the findings in humans. Exercise has been shown to increase alertness and help people think more clearly than if they did not exercise. Furthermore, John Ratey from Harvard Medical School suggests that exercise is an effective alternative or complementary treatment for ADD/ADHD. He indicated that in rare cases, exercise may be enough to take the place of medication. He went on to add that in most cases, exercise is an effective complementary treatment to medication and "causes kids to be less impulsive, which makes them more primed to learn." I can personally relate to a lot of the information here. All throughout grade school, I exercised at least twice a day from November through February for hockey. Despite the amount of time spent practicing and playing hockey, I still consistently had my best grades in this time period. I know this is example of the conflict between correlation and causation. For example, I typically had fewer things to do in the winter months aside from hockey and school. In turn, this could lead to having more time to do school work. Regardless, there is still a strong positive correlation between the amount of exercise I got and my grades. http://www.hhmi.org/news/sejnowski.html http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/3142.html...
Posted Post-Concussion Syndrome to Psych 1001 Section 010 and 011 Fall 2011
Post-concussion syndrome is a condition often acquired after a traumatic brain injury. It can occur in mild to severe cases of traumatic brain injury, and there is no statistical correlation between the severity of the injury and the chances of developing post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms of the condition include loss of memory and concentration, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. Symptoms may appear right after the injury, or may take months for the initial onset. Also, they may last over a year. Memory loss, particularly short-term, and headaches are typically the longest lasting effects. There are two main hypotheses for the causes of post-concussion syndrome. One is that the impact of the concussion causes structural damage to the brain and disrupts neurotransmitter systems. The other main hypothesis is that the symptoms are due to psychological factors such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Further research on concussions should involve the process of ruling out rival hypotheses, although it is possible that both hypotheses are true. In my senior year of high school, I suffered a concussion in a hockey practice. I got hit in the back of the head and my head hit the boards. I cannot remember five days before the injury and four days after. I was later diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Since I was five, I have always been prone to headaches, but for about ten months after the injury, my headaches were much more severe. Almost every headache in that time period resulted in extreme sensitivity to light and sound and acute pain. Some headaches even resulted in a loss of consciousness. I still have a slight difficulty with my short-term memory, particularly with names. Prior to the injury, I remembered every name even after one meeting. Post-concussion syndrome has had a fairly pronounced impact on my life. I got some information here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-concussion-syndrome/DS01020...
Favorited Lucid Dreaming on Psych 1001 Section 010 and 011 Fall 2011
Posted Lucid Dreaming to Psych 1001 Section 010 and 011 Fall 2011
A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is dreaming. In a lucid dream, the dreamer can control almost anything and participate in the dream. There are two types of lucid dreams--dream-initiated lucid dreams (DILD) and wake-initiated lucid dreams (WILD). In a DILD, the dreamer realizes mid-dream that they are dreaming. In a WILD, the dreamer goes directly from being awake to being in a lucid dream. It has been hypothesized that the recognition that one is dreaming occurs in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a location in the brain where working memory occurs. After the initial recognition, the amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus help to maintain the memory that the person is dreaming. These functions are logical because the recognition is rather "executive" and thus one would expect it to occur in the frontal cortex. The amygdala and hippocampus are both involved in memory, so the idea that they are involved in maintaining memory during the dream makes sense. I first experienced a lucid dream (DILD) during my sophomore year of high school. I was fascinated by the experience and sought an explanation on what I experienced. I learned that I had experienced a lucid dream and that people can develop the ability to consciously self-produce them. I was very intrigued by that notion and decided to try to learn on my own. It took a lot of practice to figure out the methods, but in my junior year of high school, I experienced my first wake-induced lucid dream. Needless to say, it was a satisfying feeling. Since then, I usually try to have at least one WILD each week. They are quite fun (for lack of a better word) and since I've been having them, my sleep as a whole has improved. I used to be around a 10 on the sleep inventory we did in class; now I am a 2....
Posted Blog 1 to Zach Miller's Blog
The study of how drugs affect the nervous system is called neuropharmacology. Pharmacology is a field that really fascinates me, and I am actually getting a minor in it. Eventually I want to do pharmacological research on addiction and drug...