Media Project: Does exercise truly help our brain functioning ?

For generations people have associated old age with a decline in memory capacity, and a healthy mind to a heathy body. In many instances people mistake old age in general for being responsible for this “decline” when in reality it’s the brain alternations due to age that cause this decline.  Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine compared the levels of activity in different brain regions between young people (18-31years), and old people (55-74 years) while performing a memory task. The trick to this study was to determine if being physically active helps reduce memory deficiency within individuals.

The study was split into two different parts in order to compare how different levels of physical activity affect associative encoding in the brain. The first part of the study required the participants to perform physical activity on a treadmill in order to collect data on their peak oxygen uptake (VO2),  which is a ratio of  gas exchange that occurs while performing physical activity. The data on VO2 was used to determine the cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) of each of the individuals in order to compare them with each of the other participants. The second part of the study required the participants to take on a memory task that involved recalling face-name pairs that were presented to them in pictures during various different time periods with a limited amount of time to recall the information. The researchers also used Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to observe the level of brain activation in each of the participants while performing the memory task.

The results demonstrated that older individuals with higher CRF and higher levels of physical activity  have more activation in brain regions involved in learning and memory such as the left hippocampus and bilateral thalamus when compared to younger adults with low VO2 levels. This correlates to the idea that high CRF scores correlate to a diminish in cognitive decline in individuals as they age.

The researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine later correlated their study to one from the Univeristy of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The study done at UCLA collected data on the affects of different levels of physical activity on brain size and how different brain sizes correspond to the possibility of developing some sort of disease related to cognitive decline such as dementia.

The correlation that was found was that higher levels of exercise in older individuals leads to higher brain activity which in turn leads to a decline in the possibility of developing dementia.The researchers at UCLA also determined that the hippocampus which is the part of the brain used during learning activities does actaully grow with more physical activity. The growth of the hippocampus demonstrates that the brain can change in size due to external factors such as daily exercise.

It is important to understand that partaking in physical activity does not mean that an individual can never develope dementia or any other type of cognitive decline, but the process does slow down. Being involved in physical activity does not mean once in a month it has to be a constant routine that is done even at an old age in order to see the benfits later on in life.

Both of these studies show a positive correlation between physical activity and higher memory capacity at an older , which in turn demonstrates that old age is not the only cause  for deficiencies in memory capacity/recall because there are ways of slowing down the process of brain alternations. So exercising has its perks: a fit body and a lower risk of developing dementia so I guess next time you  don’t feel like getting off the couch just remember you are killing two birds with one stone so why not partake in a little daily exercise!

 

 

 

Reflection:

Many times when we read news articles we are quick to judge the author of the article and assume that they are giving false information out to the public for the mere purpose of getting increased rates of viewing. Before completing this assignment I always thought journalist exaggerated the claims in their articles in order to reel people in. After writing this summary of the news article found in the magazine “Psychology Today,” I can say I respect these individuals for taking the time to write these articles. I now have a changed view on these journalist because it was extremely difficult to incorporate the information found on the scholarly research paper into a limited amount of words. It is often times difficult to understand the statistics reported on the research studies in order to properly present their findings without falsely reporting the results. Research reports tend to be extremely long so it is impressive how these journalist are able to compact everything in a well organized and interesting way while still presenting the important parts of the study to their audience. My summary is approximately 300 words shorter than the actaully news article and much less extensive than the scholarly article. I made sure to incorporate some of the information not reported on the news article in order to bring both reports together. I made sure to include enough “important” information to allow people enough basis to understand what the research and its results were about. It was extremely difficult to incorporate/understand the statistics behind the research so even though it was important I decided to leave it out instead of including information I did not understand. It was also very difficult to incorporate information from both because the news article was straight to the point, while the scholarly article extensively reported the results. In all I have learned to appreciate the work these journalist do instead of just assuming they are writing about topics they have no clue about. So next time I read an article from a magazine, newspaper, or blog, I will read the content of the article with more knowledge of how hard it is to present this type of information to a public that might not have any background on the topic , and prevent from falsely informing them.

References:

Scott M. Hayes, Jasmeet P. Hayes, Victoria J. Williams, Huiting Liu, Mieke Verfaellie. FMRI activity during associative encoding is correlated with cardiorespiratory fitness and source memory performance in older adults. Cortex, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2017.01.002

Zaldy S. Tan, Nicole L. Spartano, Alexa S. Beiser, Charles DeCarli, Sanford H. Auerbach, Ramachandran S. Vasan, and Sudha Seshadri. Physical Activity, Brain Volume, and Dementia Risk: The Framingham Study J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2016 : glw130v1-glw130.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201701/physical-fitness-keeps-your-brain-in-good-shape-study-finds%3Famp

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.01.002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Week 14: Schizophrenia

This week in class we have been talking about mental health. For this blog prompt I decided to watch the YouTube video demonstrating the daily life of a patient suffering from schizophrenia. Before starting the video I was afraid of what I would see and I felt uncomfortable as I watched the progression of the video. The most uncomfortable part of the video was hearing the background voices and seeing how it affected the daily life of the man. It made me sad to see that these patients have trouble performing simple daily activities such as taking medications, answering the phone, and watching television. It was so disturbing to experience how these patients are controlled by the voices they hear,and the darkness throughout the video made me feel the anxiety that the person in the video was experiencing. Towards the end of the video the experiences seemed to become very personal, and I felt as if the voices were directed towards me.

The media often portrays different mental health related disorders in an extravagant way. I feel like the media often depicts schizophrenics as people that have no self control, and that these people are extremely dangerous. It is hurtful to see that the media shows these false sides to these important health issues. The media should work to inform the public about these health issues in order to teach people about a disorder that not most people know about. The media takes a toll on the way we view this mental health disorder because it depicts schizophrenics as crazy people that are scary and have no way of controlling their emotions.

The YouTube video made me see schizophrenia in a more personal way that allowed me to feel the anxiety that these people face on a daily basis. I think it is important to fully comprehend a topic before displaying it in the media, and I feel like it is wrong to depict it in false ,extravagant ways just to get more views from the public; even though that might not be the primary intention. It is important to teach people about this topic instead of scaring them and allowing them to think that there is no way of helping these patients.


Week 13: Social Psychology

This week in class we have been talking about social psychology. The task this week was to take two different IAT tests and discover our results. I decided to take the sexuality IAT and the race IAT. I have never taken one of these tests before so it was a very new and interesting experience. For the sexuality test I had to select between pictures and words related to homosexuals and heterosexuals , and for other sections I had to pick between words that represented something good and between words that represented something bad. The hardest task was when both the pictures and the words were placed together and I had to view one group as bad and the other as the good group. I found it very difficult to select words that represented something bad and connect it to a certain group. My results were very shocking to me because I am a very open minded individual and I am very accepting about different ideas. For the sexuality IAT my results showed that I preferred heterosexuals , and for the race IAT my results showed that I preferred European Americans. I personally feel that I treat everyone with the same respect no matter what their sexual preferences are and what their color of their skin is. I was very skeptical of both of my results and it hurt to see that my results in a way demonstrated me to appear as an unfair individual that places a greater value on a certain group. I know these tests don’t have the capacity of pin-point someone to be either homophobic or racist , but it is still tough to see how our instinct to pin-point one group as good and the other as bad is due to that split second decision that is made due to the affect that different social experiences have caused within us. These test could be helpful to us in different college settings to teach students about different people around them. It would be interesting to give these tests during freshman orientation and allow the students to share their results and to see how everyone reacts to their results and to the results of the people around them. I think it would be eye-opening to some and it could teach everyone that there are different people we come into contact each day, and in a way there’s no way of escaping that. I think that by seeing how different we all are it could help students become more accepting of the idea and allow them to create a closer bond with one another.


Motivation: Why I chose Austin College ?

Motivation is driven by many different factors ,whether physical or emotional. Choosing where I wanted to attend college was definitely driven by motivation. I have lived in Sherman, Texas ever since I moved to the United States when I was 5 years old. Ever since I was little and my family and I would drive past Austin College I would always say “that’s where I want to go to school.” Throughout my high school career I got involved in many different health care related classes and I became fascinated with the idea of becoming a doctor. After I attended a tour on campus I fell in love with the environment and the fact that everyone was so nice. My decision was definitely driven by the incentive theory of motivation as we talked about in class. The incentive theory describes how people accomplish things do to different intrinsic or extrinsic incentives. To me knowing that I could be a part of such a great pre-med program at Austin College and become a doctor later on was motivating because I was associating my hard work as being paid off later on by the reward of fulfilling my dream of becoming a doctor. I could also attach my decision of attending this school to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. My basic need was first graduating with a high gpa from high school in order to be accepted into Austin College and receive a good scholarship, and the higher levels are accomplished as I surpass all the prerequisites for medical school. The further along in my pre-med career the more higher level needs that are accomplished. As Maslow explained, there is a combination of needs on this pyramid of hierarchy that drive our behaviors, and as for me the highest need would be achieving my dream of becoming a doctor and attending medical school once graduating from Austin College. All these are positive things related to my motivation, but at times I can find myself lacking that motivation. When dealing with so many deadlines, lab reports, and exams I question whether or not I am capable of this. Like any typical college student I stress and I have a mental breakdown every week ( or maybe once a day). They way that I can continue pushing myself is by working through with a reward system and knowing that if I stick to this it will pay off in the end. When I breakdown and I question my capabilities, I always sit down and talk to myself about the pros and cons of becoming a doctor. Most of the time there are definitely more pros and I can relate this back to the incentive theory. The satisfaction I get after getting a good exam grade, or meeting a deadline is what drives me and fulfills my needs that continue pushing me. I just think about me receiving my diploma and one day being able to wear that white lab coat with pride. The satisfaction of all these things is what I use everyday to continue pushing me until I accomplish the journey I set out to do.


Spotlight post: Divorce

 

When it comes to the topic of divorce there are many opinions on what the repercussions of the situation can be on the kids involved. Divorce is a very common topic in many American households in this time period because it has become more socially acceptable.  I think society has become more open minded as time  has progressed which has caused families to see divorce as an everyday thing. In many families; such as in minority families, the topic of divorce is very controversial because family ties and reputation is very important. Marriage in Latino communities for example is highly tied with God and religion therefore making it harder to approve of divorce. I think that Americans are more likely to consider divorce because they have a more liberal mentality than compared to minorities, in my opinion. Today I found 4 different online sources that talk about this controversial topic and differ on the idea of what the divorce consequences are.

In a college study that took place in Bridgewater State University , the student talked about the effects of divorce on academics. Based on this source I discovered that divorce leads many children to face depression while the divorce process is taking place which in turn causes a detrimental decline in their focus on their education. This source mentioned how the behaviors of the parents affected the actions of the children during childhood and how it could continue on into their adulthood. This source also used a lot of quotations from different scientific studies to back up their data. Another point mentioned here was that the emotions and behavior of the children are highly tied with how strong their relationship is with their parents. Another source that talked about the negavtive effects of divorce was one from public.iastate.edu. This source mentioned that one of the major effects of divorce is the pressure that it places on children to decide which parent they want to have their custody. It mentioned how the limited amount of time spent with the parents drastically effects the ties  between parent and child relations. This post mentioned that children that go through divorce are more likely to develope social problems and have a harder time maintaining intimate relationships due to what they experienced at home. These two sources both urge that divorce is highly detrimental to the behavior and state of emotion of children that experience custody battles and the unhealthy pressures of divorce. I think these two sources are credible because they back their statements with many research papers, books, and journals. They base their ideas around primary sources that present the effects of divorce.

On the contrary, their are many people that believe that divorce does not have a long-term effect on children. A source that backs this up is an article from Scientific America titled, ” Is divorce bad for children?” The main topic behind this article is that children only undergo a short-term effect when presented with a divorce. This article backs this idea up with the 2002 study from psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington suggesting that the negative reactions to the divorce often diminish after the second year. This article suggests that with discipline and adjustment these children can become well adjusted adults later on. A second source supporting the idea that children can endure the effects of divorce is one from Kidshealth.org. This article claims that having a routine and adjusting to a new living environment right away can properly help kids understand the situation they are in which makes it easier for them to adjust. This article mentions that encouragement, support, and consistency help children cope with the idea of a loss of union in the family. Even though these two sources take an opposite stance on the controversy of divorce they are credible as well. These sources are credible because they use back up support from many psychologists, research, and online organizations that deal with helping families with divorce.

When presented with these two different views I think that I agree that divorce can be very harming to children. I can take this from personal experience. Many times my parents have had conflicts and many times I have been scared of them getting a divorce. I think that if my parents were to get a divorce I would greatly be affected emotionally, mentally, and academically because the bond that I have with both parents would be broken and I would be exposed to a negative view on marriage that could possibly later on take a toll on my investment with relationships.

 

 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-divorce-bad-for-children/

http://m.kidshealth.org/en/parents/help-child-divorce.html?WT.ac=

Odenweller, Bri any. (2014). Does Parental Divorce Have an A ect on a Child’s Education?. In BSU Honors Program eses and Projects. Item 48. Available at: h p://vc.bridgew.edu/honors_proj/48 Copyright © 2014 Bri any Odenweller

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rhetoric/105H16/cova/jlscova.html

 

 


Week 9: Intelligence

When we talk about intelligence my brain instantly triggers me to think of someone who is not “naturally smart”, to me intelligence represents someone who has been shaped by their experiences and has gained knowledge through their failure. I personally think that social experiences and our surroundings play a greater role in our intelligence than our genetics do. I have always thought that everyone has the ability to be intelligent if they work hard enough to achieve what they want. Some people become disappointed when they do not receive a high score on an exam even though they did not put in the effort to achieve a high score. I think that perception is very important because like the Pygmalion effect demonstrated, if others have high expectations of ourselves then that will influence how we also perceive ourselves, and it will trigger us to do what it takes to meet those standards. I think that this applies to me because I am a pre-med student. Even though, I chose my own career path I still work harder each day in order to “make my parents proud”, as a pre-med student they have really high expectations for me. At times these high standards do become overwhelming because when I get a low score on an exam it makes me question what they will think of my intelligence and it triggers me to reconsider if I am truly smart enough to be on this path.

Another way that social experiences shape our intelligence is through stereotypes and discrimination. In my point-of-view I think that the brown eye vs. blue eye experiment that Jane Elliot did with her students was highly unethical. In my point she did not have the need to put those children through all that hatred against one another, but her study did show that power is what drives discrimination. That need to feel superior and more intelligent is what has driven our country to be facing issues related to discrimination even now in 2017. feeling inferior can definitely take a toll on how we perceive ourselves. If others consider us to be inferior that can start causing us to worry less of our performance because there are no standards to be met. This also ties in with the stereotype threat. Sometimes people’s fear of failure and discrimination is what causes them to perform badly on a given task. I can relate to this because many times I am scared to answer out-loud in class when I am hesitant of an answer because I am scared of people laughing or making correlations between my ethnicity and my level of intelligence.

Even though genetics can play a role on how intelligent we are I think that humans are more widely defined/shaped by their social experiences and their interactions with their environment. In a way being seen as more intelligent will make us feel that way which in the long run can cause us to be more adapted to our surroundings.


Violence in Video Games:

The usage of video games in the United States is at a high rate with video games available to all ages. Personally, I think that video games do play a part on the behavior of the people playing them , but I do not think it is the main reason why there is so much violence in society. I think that the environment the children are exposed to at home plays a major role in how the child behaves. Being exposed to violent situations at home may cause the child to see these behaviors as “normal” in turn causing them to become violent themselves. Although video games are not a major reason as to why children become violent they still play a minor role because the kids are being exposed to killing, blood, guns, and gore for the “fun” of it.If parents allow their kids to play violent video games for hours they are allowing their kids to grow up learning that killing people for “fun” is okay both in a fictional as well as the real world setting.

I think that video games should not be banned because they provide entertainment to many different people. I think it should be the parents decision and responsibility to prevent the younger kids from playing these violent games because they may not be aware of the situation. Younger kids at times are not able to comprehend what is real and what isn’t and in turn it could cause them to behave as the characters in the game do just because they are being taught that this is normal or cool in a sense. All video games provide information to let the parents know what age groups should be allowed to play, and that is why the parents should pay more attention to what their kids are actually playing.

Personally, if I was a parent I would not allow my kids to play violent video games because they are being exposed to preposterous situations. The violence in the games can have a minor effect on the kids, but no matter how small the games are still glorifying violent situations ;therefore,  making the children want to behave like the characters do because that is what is in “style”.


Week 7: Synesthesia

Daniel Tammet’s Ted Talk about sensation and perception opened my eyes to see that there are many ways of taking in our surroundings. I have never heard the word “synesthesia” before but I found it fascinating how one factor can activate another in our brains. I have always thought that one thing can have many different meanings depending on a persons perception, and this was made clear to me by observing how Tammet was able to create abstract paintings from one simple number. I would have never imagined that a person could see color or emotion behind something so insignificant to me. The way he described a shape for each number made me realize that there is lots of things that I am missing out on because I do not take the time to place meaning behind them. It was also interesting how at first, when Tammet presented his three questions I was going about my normal learning techniques to figure out the answer. After listening and seeing how synesthesia works, I was able to compute the answer to the questions in a way that strongly deviates from my normal day to day thinking process. I was fascinated how a 10 minute TED talk was able to impact for an instance the way I was processing information. I think that people who learn through this process have a highly more “active” or in a sense more vivid perception of their surroundings. Being able to make connections between things in our world makes them have more meaning ;therefore, allowing us to place more value to those things. Sometimes I go through my day thinking how boring it all has been, but if I were to see color behind numbers, to place emotion behind words, I would definitely take in more about the world around me than I usually do.


Week 5: Memory/Studying

This week in psychology we will start to study about memory. One very important topic for college students that is closely related to that of memory is study habits. The way you study is very important because it can determine how well you will do on your exams. Different people have different ways of retaining information but it is always important to learn and understand the material rather than just memorizing. I think just memorizing the material without any true understanding will only allow you to retain it in your short-term memory. Learning the material in a timely manner and allowing yourself to process the information little by little will allow you to remember that information for a longer period of time.

Personally, my study habits have drastically changed from my first semester as a freshman to now as a sophomore. I usually start my week by writing down all my due dates for assignments in my planner. On a separate sheet of paper I make a weekly schedule where I include all the assignments I have to complete for each class as well as when I need to be studying. Last semester I made the mistake of studying the night before every exam and my grades were not all that great;therefore, I challenged myself to change that. This semester has been such an improvement for myself because I study my lecture notes daily and allow myself time to process the material before the exams. For example, for psychology I study the lecture notes every night , read the textbook and place sticky notes on important parts of the chapter, and make  notecards for all of the vocabulary . Giving myself time allows me to take things slowly which in turn allows me to understand the material more in depth.

As a college student I have a very busy schedule, but I have made it my priority to find time for studying. Having a job, being a part of many different organizations on campus, and being a pre-med student is really challenging, but I think it keeps me on track in order to accomplish my goals.

 

 


Development: Parenting Styles

As members of society we all question what makes a good citizen? The way that we respond in society in my opinion has to do with the way that we are raised by our parents. The big dilemma is knowing what is the perfect method of raising our children so that they will be happy, but they will also be productive adults in society.

Based on my own experience I think that children have to be raised with a mixture of parenting styles in order to get a well balanced outcome. In society we see two main parenting styles that are found on very opposite sides of the social spectrum. Some parents tend to be very strict while others seem to be very hands off and trustworthy of their children’s decisions.  Children should be treated with respect, an acceptance for responsibility, and the idea that great rewards come with hard-work. I think that at an early age children should be taught to be responsible for their actions because that helps build their character, and it shows them that their bad behavior can have many repercussions. It is important to always make children feel that they are respected because that makes them understand that their character is how we present ourselves to the people around us. By laying down a strict hand on children, they are able to see that life is not all fun and games, and that they must  be responsible for their actions. Placing a little bit of fear in children allows them to really think twice about their decisions. By fear I mean a fear that they can harm themselves or others around them. Most children grow looking up to their parents that is why the establishment of good character comes from the actual behaviors of the parents.

On the other hand, being too strict can cause children too become unhappy and rebellious towards the decisions of their parents. I sometimes have experienced this because as the oldest child I am responsible for setting a standard of good character for my two younger brothers. Many times I have questioned why my parents are too harsh when it comes to my education and decision-making, but now at an older age I realize they did this so that one day I would be prepared to face the world alone. In order to allow children to be happy parents should give them a sense of trust. If children know that they are trusted they will try to prove themselves to their parents; which in turn will help them make good decisions. At times a greater sense of trust can lead children to make mistakes,but this will allow them to learn how to improve themselves when faced with obstacles. No human is perfect, and our mistakes do actually help us grow into better versions of ourselves. Children should be rewarded with some freedom once in awhile so they can see that their good behavior will bring about positive outcomes in their lives.

All children are different making it nearly impossible to have one universal parenting style. Parents should always be open to new experiences in order to help their children grow, but also let them make mistakes so that they know that life can be hard but there is always a way to make things end in a positive way. The best parenting style is to be strict to allow children to grow, but also have lots of  trust so the children can see that life can always have a bright side, but the choice to be happy lies in their own hands.