AriannahM's blog

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Blink—A Journey Into the Unconscious

    Blink, by Malcom Gladwell, is a non-fiction work which examines the assumptions and conclusions that people reach each day through a series of unconscious decisions.  How are these opinions and decisions made without us conscious of them?  This book gives the reader incredible insight to the inner workings of the sub-conscious by providing several examples of instant “gut” feelings and judgments.  Gladwell highlights the first impressions and reactions of art experts, marriage counselors, consumers, political leaders, military leaders and musical experts to illustrate the complexity and still vastly unexplored field of unconscious reasoning.  The idea of unconscious re

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SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a disease which effects between 0.4-9.7 percent of the population (2). SAD was originally defined by Norman Rosenthal in 1984 as “the occurrence in autumn and/or winter of at least two episodes of serious depression, which disappear in the spring and summer, and where there are no clear-cut, seasonal, psychosocial precipitating factors” (1). It is characterized by episodes of major depression which often correspond to the winter months. The episodes may vary in duration and severity but must occur at the same time each year. For people suffering from SAD there is no escape from winter. This paper will explore the causes, symptoms and possible treatments for seasonal affective disorder.

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Sleeping to Dream

Sleeping is something everyone does each day without consciously thinking about why it is so important. We know we are tired before we sleep and if we don’t sleep, but have we ever stopped to think about what our dreams do? Dreams are part of every night’s sleep whether we remember them or not. They are an integral part of our daily rest cycle.

There are five main stages of sleep. Stage I only lasts a few minutes and is characterized by the individual being somewhat awake and aware, but very relaxed. Stages II and III are deeper levels of sleep but the individual will still wake easily. Stages II and III only last for about 40 minutes before Stage IV sleep begins. Stage IV sleep is difficult to wake someone from and is characterized by decreased blood pressure, heart rate, movement and breathing. This type of sleep helps the body recover physically from the day. Stage IV sleep becomes longer if one engages in a lot of strenuous activity and is usually the type of sleep recalled in the morning. After Stage IV sleep is achieved for about 50 minutes, the individual starts to move back down through the levels of sleep back to Stage I. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep begins at this time and is distinguished by “frequent bursts of rapid eye movements…autonomic activity, muscular twitching, dreams and profound muscular relaxation” (2). Both genders experience irregular heart rate and irregular blood pressure as well as increased gastric secretions during REM sleep, while males also experience erections. The cycles of sleep do not last for the same amount of time all night; “Everyone goes through an average of four or five cycles of sleep each night, each lasting from 90 to 100 minutes. Stage IV decreases and REM sleep increases progressively with each cycle, so that most Stage IV sleep occurs early in the night and most REM sleep during the last few hours before arising” (2).

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The Prenatal Causes of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness affecting nearly 2.2 million Americans (5) or 0.5% (3) people world wide. Although this is a relatively low prevalence rate, it is a very debilitating disease which still has no known cure or direct cause. By studying the histories and symptoms of current schizophrenic patients, more can be learned about the disease to help future victims.

Symptoms usually develop between 15-25 years old for men and between 25-35 years old for women (3) and are characterized by both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include auditory hallucinations, olfactory hallucinations (unpleasant smells), gustatory hallucinations (unpleasant tastes), somatic hallucinations (pain), visual hallucinations, delusions and loosening of associations or “word salad” (3). Negative symptoms are those which affect normal functioning. These include avolition, poverty of speech, or even catatonia (3). Patients who suffer from primarily positive symptoms are said to have acute schizophrenia, while those who suffer from primarily negative symptoms are said to have chronic schizophrenia.

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Brain = Behavior

 

I also agree with the theory that brain equals behavior. Data from fMRIs and PET scans is pretty convincing for me, but at the same time I think it is important to realize that these machines do not yet show “real time”. “Such images can be acquired with moderately good spatial and temporal resolution; images are usually taken every 1–4 seconds...(Wikipedia)”. Thinking about how quickly one can feel pain or think or react to any stimulus tells me that taking images every 1-4 seconds doesn’t give a very clear picture. So much more is most likely going on within the brain during those 1-4 seconds than the final image shows. Although the parts of the brain that were activated are still shown, they are not precise pictures.

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