saly0015: October 2011 Archives

To begin, I'm allergic to cats. Specifically, the dander that cats shed, not the popular misconception of allergies to the fur. One of my cousin's family owned a cat for about 12 years, and whenever I'd visit I would need to bring my asthma inhaler because allergies to cats is a common irritant to asthma; the effects would be difficulty breathing, coughing etc. I visited many times before and after the cat passed away and had the same ashtmatic reaction everytime. Only after reading chapter 6 in the text book regarding negative reinforcement did I put a name to my finding. I wondered why the reactions didn't subside after the cat died, because the family cleaned the house everyday and without a constant source of cat dander, there'd be nothing to trigger my reactions.
asthma_splash.jpg

The definition of negative reinforcement is, "removal of stimulus that strengthens the probability of behavior" (Lilienfeld, 213). I believe that the reason I continued to cough, etc, before I used the inhaler, is that just seeing the house maybe triggered a reaction within my body, of the cat, and the results was my regular asthma. Inhalers act immediately and one can't use an inhaler before hand as a preventative medicine, but only once you're feeling the effect of the asthma. My body perhaps experienced negative reinforcement, in that, every time I visited my cousins house, I'd use my inhaler at some point, right after I felt the effects of asthma.Below is what an inhaler looks like, and how it is used, for those who are curious.inhaler.jpg

By using my inhaler, I therefore removed the stimulus that was bothering me (the difficulty breathing due to cat dander, and resulting expanding of my airways) and reinforced the behavior that at my cousins house, I'd start feeling the effects of my asthma and use my inhaler to stop them. I find this really incredible, but Occam's razor could prove me wrong: maybe the cat dander simply hasn't all been cleaned, perhaps it's still stuck to the clothes, carpet, etc. There are many ways to falsify this claim, but I feel that it could be a possibility that the reason I continue to feel the effects of my asthma at my cousins house, without the cat, is that my body is enduring negative reinforcement. Perhaps after a couple years, I will even experience extinction of this response, without the stimulus.
ceiling-cat-asthma.png
And finally, some humor to end with.

Unconventional Sleep Diet

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Recently in Reader's Digest, I came across this article about some of the most recent (and craziest) diet fads in the states. Many people are trying to get skinny fast, but some of these ideas were ridiculous and just plain dangerous. They ranged anywhere from the 'baby food diet' where one only eats jars of baby food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to the 'cotton ball diet' in which you consume cotton balls 30 minutes prior to eating, so you eat less because your stomach is already pretty full. It's not even necessary to get into the details of how easily falsifiable these anecdotal diets are- if babies weigh very little, then I'll lose weight? If I fill my stomach with inconsumable cotton balls, therefore I'll be full and eat less? Some research and scientific thinking is required before trying these out. From the diets listed, there was one that I believe had some truth to it. It was called the 'sleep diet' in which you slept right before every meal, so your hunger subsided, because the hypothalamus would not be able to alert your conscious body of hunger. When you woke up, you'd eat less. From there, every time you felt hungry you'd try to sleep and somehow take a nap. sleep.jpg
Every single diet trend in the article was a joke, but I did see an ounce of truth to this one. I do not condone 'sleeping away' your hunger and therefore starving yourself, depriving your body of nutrition, putting your sleep schedule in disarray and missing life. However, aside from their claim that sleeping reduces hunger, (and also the fact that if you don't eat, you will obviously lose weight rapidly and in an unhealthy manner) I came to the conclusion that you might lose weight because sleep also happens to burn a large amount of calories. losing-weight.jpg
An average woman about 5'5" and 130 lbs, who sleeps 8 hours a night, burns about 425 calories, according to the calorie counter on the webMD site: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-fitness-calorie-counter. Based on this, I'd say that the 'sleep diet' has definitely been falsified. An extra two hours of sleep within the day for this average person amounts in an additional 120 calories burned. If they are sleeping an average of eight hours a night, that's 545 calories burned. This diet is neither safe nor healthy, but part of your weight loss aside from under eating and forcing away your hunger, is the additional calorie loss. I hope these diets all remain a joke as the article portrays them, but if not, perhaps the participants will do their research first.

Unconventional Sleep Diet

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Vote 0 Votes

Recently in Reader's Digest, I came across this article about some of the most recent (and craziest) diet fads in the states. Everyone is trying to get skinny fast, but some of these ideas were ridiculous and just plain dangerous. They ranged anywhere from the 'baby food diet' where one only eats jars of baby food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to the 'cotton ball diet' in which you consume cotton balls 30 minutes prior to eating, so you eat less because your stomach is already pretty full. It's not even necessary to get into the details of how easily falsifiable these anecdotal diets are- if babies weigh very little, then I'll lose weight? If I fill my stomach with inconsumable cotton balls, therefore I'll be full and eat less? Some research and scientific thinking is required before trying these out. From the diets listed, there was one that I believe had some truth to it. It was called the 'sleep diet' in which you slept right before every meal, so your hunger subsided, because the hypothalamus would not be able to alert your conscious body of hunger. When you woke up, you'd eat less. From there, every time you felt hungry you'd try to sleep and somehow take a nap. Every single diet trend in the article was a joke, but I did see an ounce of truth to this one. I do not condone 'sleeping away' your hunger and therefore starving yourself, depriving your body of nutrition, putting your sleep schedule in disarray and missing life. However, aside from their claim that sleeping reduces hunger, (and also the fact that if you don't eat, you will obviously lose weight rapidly and in an unhealthy manner) I came to the conclusion that you might lose weight because sleep also happens to burn a large amount of calories. An average woman about 5'5" and 130 lbs, who sleeps 8 hours a night, burns about 425 calories, according to the calorie counter on the webMD site: http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-fitness-calorie-counter. Based on this, I'd say that the 'sleep diet' has definitely been falsified. An extra two hours of sleep within the day for this average person amounts in an additional 120 calories burned. If they are sleeping an average of eight hours a night, that's 545 calories burned. This diet is neither safe nor healthy, but part of your weight loss aside from under eating and forcing away your hunger, is the additional calorie loss. I hope these diets all remain a joke as the article portrays them, but if not, perhaps the participants will do their research first.


Within the textbook, there have been many real life examples along with the text. In Chapter 3 I was interested with Broca's Area- a language area in the prefrontal cortex that helps to control speech production (Lilienfeld, 98). The example with this text was a patient named Tan who only responded with the word "Tan" when asked a question, due to brain damage that resulted in a speech disorder.

When some research, I found the case of a young girl named Sarah Scott. She was 18 years old when she had an unexpected ischemic stroke, which resulted in brain damage: a communication disorder called Aphasia, which results from Broca's Area being affected. Attached are three Youtube videos of Sarah answering questions about herself and her condition. The videos span over two years, and I felt that Sarah's improvement is especially important.

From the first video, Sarah has difficulty answering questions about her name and age. During the last video, she answers them easily. Though I thought this may be because of repetition and familiarity, I continued watching and saw that she undoubtedly made improvements. This reminded me of Chapter 3, discussing brain damage and how there is limited regeneration when it occurs (Lilinfeld, 92). However, aside from stem cells, our book mentions another way that may allow regeneration of neurons, and that is Neurogenesis- creation of new neurons in the adult brain.
Though the definition says adult brain, would that be considered 18 years old? It is possible that Sarah's improvement has come from her brain not being completely fully developed as an 'adult' brain.

It is possible that her intensive speech therapy has triggered neurogenesis, because it plays a role in learning. Also, aiding recovery following brain injury may trigger neurogenesis and induce the adult nervous system to heal itself; Sarah is receiving aid through her supportive family, speech therapy, as well as practicing reading and writing.

I feel that this is possibly a case of neurogenesis, although it may also be the fact that Sarah's brain is in the later stage of development. A multiple amount of variables are taking place- her age, her condition, the time that she had the stroke and was given medicine to stop it, her intensive speech therapy as well as her home life. However, it is fascinating to see that neurogenesis could also plausibly be part of the solution of her improvement.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by saly0015 in October 2011.

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