Amnesia and its life altering effects

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Do you ever wonder how your life would change if you could not remember your childhood, or if you can't form new memories? Well if you had amnesia, those possibilities might become a reality. There are different types of amnesia. The two most common types are retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is where you lose part of your memories of your past. The amount of memories you lose is different in each circumstance. Retrograde amnesia is often caused by an injury or by the onset of a disease. Anterograde amnesia is the loss of the ability to create new memories. Damage to the hippocampus is a common cause of both retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia. Alcohol intoxication can cause anterograde amnesia, usually known as a blackout. Rapid rises in blood alcohol concentration over a short period of time can block the brain's ability to transfer short-term memories during intoxication. Studies have showed that drinking slowly decreases the chance of experiencing amnesia. During college, many students make the mistake of drinking more than their bodies can take, which often results into a blackout. According to education-portal.com fifty four percent of binge drinking college students black out and forget what they did or where they were at some point in the year. Another example of amnesia is the movie "50 First Dates" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErjP5xMTc8I). In the movie, Adam Sandler falls in love with a girl with anterograde amnesia. The girl he falls in love with believes it is the same exact day every day she wakes up. All her memories are forgotten when she falls asleep. So eventually, Adam Sandler makes a tape of all their experiences together and eventually makes her fall in love with him every day even though she feels like she just met him today. Korsakoff's syndrome can also cause anterograde amnesia. Korsakoff's syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by the lack of thiamine in the brain which causes you to have apathy, delusions that form invented memories, and anterograde amnesia. I feel that amnesia is a dreadful disability that can ruin the life of a person. Forgetting your past can not only hurt yourself, but also your family. The trauma amnesia can bring towards your family can be devastating. Imagine developing retrograde amnesia and forgetting the names of your kids. There are some questions I still have about amnesia. I wonder if different forms of amnesia are easier to recover from. I also want to know if having both retrograde and anterograde amnesia would be possible. Living without a present and a without a past would be horrifying. Living would be pointless if you had both retrograde and anterograde amnesia. Overall, I feel that amnesia is a devastating disorder that can drastically alters a person's life.

Discussion Session Make Up

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I really enjoyed our unit in abnormal psychology. One topic I found especially interesting was the insanity defense. The insanity defense is when someone argues that a crime wasn't committed "of sound mind," and therefore the perpetrator is not responsible for his or her actions. As it was originally defined, someone arguing this defense had to satisfy one of two criteria: 1) The person could not remember doing the crime that took place, or 2) the person must not have been aware that what they were doing was wrong. As time has progressed, however, the guidelines for this defense have become steadily more hazy.

Today, the insanity defense is extremely controversial. Many believe the insanity defense is simply a way for criminals to off scot-free. On the other hand, others argue that a seriously disturbed person truly cannot be responsible for their actions. For example, someone who brutally murders a coworker because they believed their coworker to be Satan could potentially use the insanity defense.

The biggest problem I see with the insanity defense is that it's easy to fake. Someone could easily make up a story that qualifies them to be "insane," even if they weren't actually at the time. However, I don't think that's a reason to discontinue its use. If we want to rehabilitate criminals, sending the mentally disturbed to prison will not prevent them from doing harm again. If anything, it would just make it worse.

A classic case in the insanity defense is that of the Yates Trial. Andrea Yates, a mother of 5, drowned all of her children in a bathtub. This horrific story had the country in an uproar, but Ms. Yates was able to beat the charges on account of severe postpartum depression. This qualified her as not being "of sound mind." Because of the outcome of this case, many have questioned the insanity defense. The heinousness of the crime was too great for some to stomach, and the fact that Yates didn't spend time in jail as a result outraged many.

The jury is still out on the insanity defense. While it makes sense that someone not "of sound mind" should be tried differently than someone who is, the potential for abuse has many questioning its effectiveness. There are currently four states that don't accept it, including Idaho and Utah, but on the whole, courts still take it into consideration.

Remembering Psychology

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While there are many interesting topics in psychology, I think that the one I will remember most is the concept of scientific thinking. This will be the most useful in the future because it can help me identify whether an idea is accurate or if it is illogical.
This concept will help me with many things. It can help me identify many things. In popular culture today, there are many claims made about various things, such as politics, new products, and other various advertisements. By ruling out rival hypotheses, and considering correlation vs. causation, falsifiability, replicability, extraordinary claims, and occam's razor. By using these concepts, I will be able to prevent myself from believing many untrue claims. This could save me money as well, since I would be much less likely to fall for claims that are untrue, hard to believe, or not replicable. I can also then decide whether the evidence is actually causing the claim, or if the relation is merely a correlation.
This concept in psychology seems most useful to me. I think that I am more likely to remember this idea in five years because I would be likely to use it and practice it.

Don't Judge Me

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Here I sit, writing my final blog post a day late, trying to rationalize my sheer stupidity by making excuses for my forgetfulness. Of course, I have no trouble coming up with my justification: I'm the fiddler for The Lundstrom's Country Christmas Celebration, and this last weekend was opening weekend, which means I spent the entire time on stage. However, I can't help but notice an inconsistency in my reasoning. If someone else had forgotten about their blog post, I would have been quick to label him as lazy or irresponsible.

Funnily enough, my blunder is a perfect example of what I will remember most about psychology: The Fundamental Attribution Error. We're often quick to attribute others' failures to an underlying personality trait, but we rarely reflect the same harsh judgements on ourselves because we have a "good" reason for "why" we failed.

5 years is a long time. By then, I will be out of college and completely on my own, which is a reality completely altered from what I live now (a PSEO student living at home). But I'm positive I will remember the Fundamental Attribution Error not only because it's an incredibly fascinating phenomenon, but because it's fully-applicable to everyday life. Everyone makes justifications for themselves and judgements of others, yet simply in knowing that, it becomes a lot easier to look past one's own biases and see a situation in a whole new light. This changed perspective, this objective clarity, is what I truly hope to take away from Psychology 1001.

When do we Start Learning

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It is commonly asked through out the field of psychology "When does learning begin?". Our text book suggests that it is very shortly after birth that children begin to learn and the development of cognitive abilities ensues. However, very recent findings suggest otherwise. As discussed in this video, learning may indeed begin prior to birth. These findings would go as far as to say that many crucial things are taught through fetal learning. A study preformed showed that babies, immediately after birth, cry in the accent that they were raised amongst. This would mean that children can hear us speaking while in the room. In the video they proclaim that they hear their mothers voice most clearly and that it resonates with them, causing them to prefer it to other females voices after birth. The biggest and most interesting claim made by the lecturer is the reasoning given for why why children begin learning as fetuses. She claims that is is too prepare them for the environment that they will soon inhabit. The mothers diet and stress level directly influence the child. If the mother is not under stress and eats well, the baby can be prepared for a similar style of living, but if she leads a very stressed life and/or is malnourished, the baby learns that that is the life that is will have to become accustom to.

When do we Start Learning

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It is commonly asked through out the field of psychology "When does learning begin?". Our text book suggests that it is very shortly after birth that children begin to learn and the development of cognitive abilities ensues. However, very recent findings suggest otherwise. As discussed in this video, learning may indeed begin prior to birth. These findings would go as far as to say that many crucial things are taught through fetal learning. A study preformed showed that babies, immediately after birth, cry in the accent that they were raised amongst. This would mean that children can hear us speaking while in the room. In the video they proclaim that they hear their mothers voice most clearly and that it resonates with them, causing them to prefer it to other females voices after birth. The biggest and most interesting claim made by the lecturer is the reasoning given for why why children begin learning as fetuses. She claims that is is too prepare them for the environment that they will soon inhabit. The mothers diet and stress level directly influence the child. If the mother is not under stress and eats well, the baby can be prepared for a similar style of living, but if she leads a very stressed life and/or is malnourished, the baby learns that that is the life that is will have to become accustom to.

Graphology: Interpreting Handwriting

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I have always thought that graphology was real until I read about it in the psychology textbook. Graphology is the psychological interpretation of handwriting. Before that, I have often wondered if my handwriting really reflected my personality. What did the direction of strokes indicate? Did the size of my letters matter? So I did some research, and found that graphology was not reliable at all.
Graphologists examine handwriting in terms of loops, dotted "I's" and crossed "t's," letter spacing, slants, heights, ending strokes, upslant pressure, downslant pressure, etc. They believe that these are useful to help understand health issues, personality, mental problems and even hidden talents. For example, tall letters show pride and ambition, and dotted "I's" and "t's" show discipline.
However, these claims are not supported when they were put to the test. In studies where participants copied writing samples instead of providing samples from thought, graphologists did no better than chance at predicting traits. One explanation for this failure is because graphologists may have based their interpretations on the content of participants' autobiographies rather than their handwriting. Although graphology is not reliable, it is still widely used. I think it is still popular because people often try to find ways to predict others' personality based on surface information, falling prey to the representative heuristic. When it comes to personality analysis, it takes more than one aspect, such as handwriting, for indication.

Here is a video showing how graphologists interpreted handwriting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL0R3mhqBv0

Culture and Social Psychology

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http://www.ted.com/talks/sheena_iyengar_on_the_art_of_choosing.html


This video explores different cultures and how they perceive and react to choices when presented or not presented with them. This woman claimed that Americans are not as happy or satisfied overall due to the amount of choices they are presented with, and also pushed that choices should be withheld, rather people should look at situations in different ways. The presenter in the video was very absolute about her experiments though and what their findings definitely meant.

This bothered me first of all, but second of all made me wonder how much our reaction to choices was altered by the culture we were raised in. It would be interesting for me to see how differed the results of social psychology tests would be depending on where these tests are produced. I wonder if there are completely different social psychology institutions around the world that come up with completely different theories.

Secondly, this woman was very absolute in what she was saying the findings must mean about the world. This bothered me because there are many confounding variables that she didn't decide to mention, so in my opinion, everything that she was saying, even when paired with all the studies presented, were just inconclusive. There are way too many confounding variables.

In the end, I just wonder how exactly social psychologists come up with any sort of conclusions because reactions to certain stimuli have so much to do with background culture and the exact situation in which it was presented. I also wonder how different the findings are depending on region of the world. I also wonder why Americans are so similar according to the presenter if we have such a diverse culture.

It Sparked My Interest

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It has been a very interesting year in my psychology class, but the concept I will most remember in the future is how the corpus callosum is so important for the transfer of information between the two halves of our brain. However, I especially will remember the split brain effect. I found it extremely intriguing that one of the studies in our book found that even though we see both of the presented images, our interpretations and speech are influenced due to what functions are controlled in each hemisphere of our brain. Since speech is controlled in our left hemisphere, whatever goes to our right hemisphere must be transferred to our left hemisphere via the corpus callosum in order for us to talk about that information. I feel that I will remember this in the future because of how easy the concept is and how interesting it is to me. I took for granted how complex our brain really is and how completing a seemingly easy task requires many steps to ensure that it is performed smoothly. I have always wanted to know how the brain works, and the transfer of information between the two hemispheres of our brain is a crucial component to learning about how our brain works.

STRESS!!

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Everybody goes through periods of time in their life where they are connected with high levels of stress. Lilienfeld defines stress as a type of response that consists of the tension, discomfort, or physical symptoms that arise when a situation strains our ability to cope effectively. Meaning how an individual reacts to a tough/dangerous situation, both mentally and physically. Since everyone is involved with stress, whether it's as big as the loss of a loved one or as little as going on a date, the importance of low stress lifestyles is becoming more significant.
How an individual handles the stress thrown at them is how most people differ. People, especially students, tend to find little ways or techniques to deal with the stress that they are given. The thing is, nobody really understands the importance of lowering your stress. When you're under high loads of stress your body gives off toxins and hormones that throw off your bodily balance. High levels of these toxins can lead to an endless list of effects such as; hair loss, an imbalance in the digestive system, an increase in cardiovascular disease and is even known to increase the risk of asthma and diabetes. The health problems associated with high levels of stress are extremely alarming, especially with the constant increase of obesity in the United States. If a child develops asthma at a young age due to continuous high levels of stress, he/she is more likely to not get adequate time of physical activity everyday. Which will lead to an increased risk of becoming obese down the road. Obesity is nothing to joke about and is on the rise, showing little evidence of when the numbers may plateau. Overall, stress is everywhere you go, you just need to take one step back and think about what is going on. Try to use any method possible to reduce extended periods of stress because you only live once, why waste it with health problems due to high stress levels.

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