week 6 forum post responses

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In need of a 250 word response/discussion to each of the following forum posts. Agreement/disagreement/and/or continuing the discussion.

Original forum discussion/topic post is as follows:

Select one of the following topics for your Forum post:

  • Learning and Age. Does the research on neurogenesis suggest that the ability to learn decreases with age? If so, how would you approach fostering learning for people in an age range where learning has been identified to be markedly decreased?
  • Human emotions can be a positive experience or a negative experience. The brain is able to handle these emotions and prevent them from interfering with mental functioning by having a specific “executive processing” area of the cortex which inhibits the activity of the emotion-processing region. Negative emotions such as anxiety are a common psychiatric condition with nearly a dozen different disorders classified in medical literature. New research finds differing patterns of brain activity associated with each of two types of anxiety: anxious apprehension (verbal rumination, worry) and anxious arousal (intense fear, panic, or both). Discuss what is known about the neurobiological basis of anxiety. What types of drugs have been used to treat this disorder?

forum post response #1

Choose: Human emotion

This is another topic I know all too well. In 2007, I was diagnosed with stress and panic disorder. I had a panic attack during a military exercise that was convening in Japan with the Air Force and coalition forces. At first, medics thought I was having a seizure because I was foaming at the mouth, violently kicking, gasping for air, and then went unconscious. They sedated me to let me rest, conducted an EKG, and once I was coherent, it was determined that I suffered a panic attack. I didn’t know what it was and very confused, as this attack came out of nowhere. The doctor stated the attack was brought on from stress and lack of sleep. It’s funny because I didn’t consider myself to be a “stressful” state or environment. I was living on a beautiful island, had the job of my dreams, was going to school part-time, and enjoying times with friends and co-workers. The job I was performing was considered a “high-pace, potentially stressful,” because of the sensitive the mission that impacted American national security. I was excited (as a junior noncommissioned officer), the Senior Intelligence Officer, who was the commander of my unit chose me to be the Acting Superintendent while both our senior enlisted members were deployed. I loved the extra responsibility, plus my job duties, but didn’t realize I was working so many hours. Because the job was so intense, I could easily be at work between 14 and 16 hours a day, plus still was a mother, wife, and student at the end of the work day. I wasn’t getting sufficient sleep, sometimes not even sleeping at all, and just going back to work if my eyes refused to close. Unbeknownst to me, the physiological functioning of my body is what caused the stress. The American Psychological Association (2018) states “with onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their own tension when the stress passes” (para. 1). The organization also states “stress can make you breathe harder, cause rapid breathing, or hyperventilation, which results in panic attacks (APA, 2018, para. 8). The stress from the multiple responsibilities and lack of sleep caused the panic attacks, which caused extreme bouts of anxiety.

It’s quite a phenomenon how human emotion can affect human functioning. This week’s discussion states that negative emotions, such as anxiety, are considered common forms of psychiatric conditions. However, modernized research efforts have found brain activity is predicated on anxiety apprehension and anxious arousal. Anxiety apprehension is the state of extreme uneasiness/nervousness/worry while anxious arousal identifies apprehensive signals that are based on the stimulation of sense organs. Nitschke, Heller, Palmieri, and Miller (1999) suggest anxiety apprehension and anxious arousal are responsible for many discrepancies in research that discusses how brain activity is linked to anxiety. However, Finn, Sawyer, and Behnke (2009) expresses that apprehension is a form of cognitive responses while arousal is primarily physiological. The types of medicinal treatment used for anxious apprehension are antidepressants (i.e. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclics, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors), anti-anxiety drugs (i.e. buspirone, benzodiazepines), and beta-blockers (Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, n.d.). Researchers state the neurobiological basis of anxiety can be based on the central part of the brain (called the amygdala) and can possibly play a role in anxiety. This part of the brain is responsible for storing emotional memories, which can lead to anxiety. For instance, I hate public speaking, but it’s part of my job. The thought of speaking to a large population sometimes makes me anxious and I can feel symptoms of nervousness, sweat, rapid heartbeat, and not even be in the environment. It’s also the thought (cognitive response) of the environment that presents those symptoms. The hippocampus (part of the brain) is accountable for the feelings of anxiety and converts those symptoms into memory form. Also, there’s the chemical imbalance theory. Again, researchers have shown that “severe or long-lasting stress can change the balance of chemical in the brain that controls one’s mood” (Cleveland Clinic, 2018). Furthermore, research has suggested that anxiety disorders can be hereditary and be environmental. The same medications for anxiety are essentially the same medicinal treatment clinicians use for the neurobiological treatment of anxiety.

Forum post response #2

Contemporary research on neurogenesis does not suggest that the ability to learn necessarily decreases with age. Previously, it had been held that learning capacity peaks at a prime time during a human being’s twenties; then, it allegedly slowly but surely declines. Similarly, it was held that the elderly’s cognitive abilities would also decline in a somewhat parallel fashion. Additionally, neurogenesis was thought to diminish during the aging process (Broad, 2017), impacting many of the processes people counted on. The majority of scientists concentrated on the shrinking brain regions resulting from aging, particularly the loss of the vital hippocampus. Recently, all of these ideas have been heaved into the wastebasket.

Instead, contemporary research shows that healthy elderly people demonstrate no decline in learning ability or capacity and actually show enhanced learning ability or capacity, with some caveats. To support this idea, scientists did discover that the protective hippocampus myelin sheath might, indeed, start to erode during aging; but that is when the physiological magic begins. About the same time, dendrite branching amplifies in aging brains, thus bettering communication connections and speed. Also, neurogenesis, or the birthing of new neuronal cells, is once again jump-started, just as it had been repeatedly jump-started throughout the whole of adult life (Galvan, & Jin, 2007). In other words, neurogenesis is not simply restricted to a developing human nervous system or restricted to early to mid adulthood in order to assure functional stability of the adult brain as it had been previously (but wrongfully) thought (Galvan, & Jin, 2007). Rather, neurogenesis continues largely unfettered from developmental phases to old age. Lo and behold, other researchers discovered that mature adult neurogenesis remains seated within the human hippocampus (Kempermann, Song, & Gage, 2015), the very brain part that had researchers concerned because of aging changes. According to Kempermann, Song, and Gage (2015), adult hippocampal neurogenesis continues to be a multi-step process that begins with a special sequence of proliferative precursor cells that ultimately ends up as a brand new granule cell located within the dentate gyrus (or the crucial input area for the hippocampus). Based on this research, the human body contains innate processes to compensate for brain part degradation.

Galvan and Jin (2007) provided an important caveat to all of this: neurogenesis of the hippocampus remains hugely gainful for aging adults; but stress and depression are big minuses to the effectiveness of the renewal process. There are other potential agents that hasten hippocampal atrophy such as prescription drug abuse, a current crisis of the elderly in the United States. There is another agent worthy of discussion: the elderly – for one reason or another – fail to “take their brains out for a walk” (Sample, 2014, para. 1). They shut down and stop learning. The brain obliges. Many wrongfully think that watching television and assembling colorful jigsaw puzzles will keep their learning ability sharp. It does not work that way. To streamline learning in the mature population, stimulation via new knowledge and experiences must occur. I can still remember receiving a phone call from one of my friends in the northeast, who had just returned from a visit to her elderly aunt in a nursing home. She was mortified. The nursing home had arranged for a learning “challenge” that day. The challenge involved “shooting” peanut-buttered marshmallows at the seated elderly residents (none of whom had dementia) to see if they could catch the treats in their mouths. This does not stimulate learning. This does not stimulate cognitive abilities in an aging population. This just made a big mess, while the attendants erroneously thought they were doing something worthwhile for the residents. Scientific research shows otherwise. To foster learning in an age range where, evidently, learning has decreased, real learning has to be offered and encouraged, with an emphasis on lifelong learning. Assistance with the initiation of new hobbies, such as arts and crafts; the offering of participation in educational classes, such as gourmet cooking; training on new skills, such as computers and technology; and so forth, may be all good starts. The above information, however, is not expressly applicable for elderly people meeting the criteria for Ahlzeimer’s, etc

Forum post response #3

Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders diagnosed in today’s society. While some people are simply hired wired to be anxious, it is not uncommon for many people to develop anxiety due to an experience in their life. However, not all experiences that can trigger anxiety have to be traumatic. For example, it is extremely common for new parents to experience anxiety after the birth of a baby. Even when a child is born healthy, many new parents will repeatedly check on their child throughout the night to make sure it is still breathing, even though there is not obvious reason for them to think that their baby may be in danger. This is because symptoms of anxiety are believed to be most active in the part of the brain that controls emotions and behavior. While events such as having a new baby can trigger the frontal cortical regions, where emotion and behavior are controlled, people who are born naturally anxious have also been found to have abnormal functioning in their neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters provide communication between different regions of the brain, and if they provide too much information (or too little), the delicate chemical balance can be disrupted, thus resulting in feelings of anxiety. Psychopathologists who study anxiety disorders have been able to locate lower metabolism in the left inferior parietal lobe and overall decreased bilateral cerebral blood flow in patients who suffer from extreme anxiety or panic disorders. Furthermore, decreased inhibitory signaling in neurotransmitters have also been identified in contributing to feelings of intense anxiety or panic (Martin, Ressler, Binder & Nermoff, 2009).

Patients who have experienced a traumatic event (or life changing event, such as having a new baby) and who are also genetically predisposed to anxiety disorders will often have a harder time responding to medicinal treatment alone due to the fact that they will more than likely need medication in addition to therapy or counseling in order to gain control of their feelings. Not surprisingly, anti-depressants are typically prescribed in order to help control anxiety, because both mental disorders take place in the same region of the brain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the most widely prescribed medications due to decreased serotonin often resulting in feelings of depression or anxiety. Chronic anxiety disorders are typically treated with these selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Antihistamines and beta blockers, such as Hydroxyzine and Propanolol are often used for mild cases of anxiety that are not foreseen to last more than 6 months (Understanding Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Diagnosis and Treatment, 2018).


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