Rachael Roizer

Rachael is a high school senior and the creator of Explore Neuro.

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder

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Children with non-verbal learning disorder (NLD) have a combination of social, emotional, and learning deficits. Unlike other learning disorders, NLD does not impact the ability to process language; instead, it affects social interactions, executive function, organization, and problem-solving. According to the Child Mind Institute, five major areas are impacted by NLD. Firstly, visual and spatial awareness is an area of weakness for those with NLD. Oftentimes, this leads to children with NLD being physically awkward and unable to perceive shape and position. Another aspect of NLD is higher-order comprehension, which is the ability to relate the big picture of something and to smaller details. This weakness makes it difficult for children with NLD to take notes in school because they tend to write everything being said, rather than identifying important information. Additionally, students with NLD struggle with math that goes beyond the data memorization. The importance of recognizing concepts and …

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Intelligence

chalkboard with math

Intelligence can be defined as the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new situations. Simply Psychology states that intelligence “has been defined in many ways: higher level abilities (such as abstract reasoning, mental representation, problem solving, and decision making), the ability to learn, emotional knowledge, creativity, and adaptation to meet the demands of the environment effectively.” Specifically, psychologist Robert Sternberg defined intelligence as “the mental abilities necessary for adaptation to, as well as shaping and selection of, any environmental context.” With its many definitions, intelligence is a fascinating and multifaceted topic with a rich history and diverse explanations.  History of Studying Intelligence  To begin with Charles Spearman, an English psychologist, established the two-factor theory of intelligence in 1904, using factor analysis. By identifying custers of closely related test items, factor analysis revealed that people who did well in one skill area also tended …

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Clinical Psychology with Dr. Lauren Riordan

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Watch now to learn from Dr. Riordan, PhD, a clinical psychologist, founder, and co-director of the Waverly Group for pediatric therapy and assessments. Through psycho-educational evaluations, Dr. Riordan works with children to better understand how they think and learn best. With her evaluations, Dr. Riordan can assess a child’s strengths and weakness and provide a diagnosis which serves as a foundation for treatment plans. Dr. Riordan’s work also extends into education as her evaluations are utilized in forming Individualized Education Plans and accommodations for students so they can thrive in a school setting. With her years’ of experience, Dr. Riordan provides insight into diagnosing different disorders, as well as the increase in mental health and social development issues in the past year due to Covid-19. To learn more about the diagnosis process, non-verbal learning disorder, and the effects of the pandemic on mental health, watch the video linked below!

Hearing

head with music notes

Our body’s auditory system allows us to process external sound to better understand the world around us. In doing so, we utilize the parts of the ear to absorb sound and the steps of processing in the brain to interpret what we hear.  Soundwaves  We hear sounds (measured in decibels), through sound waves, whose height, length, and complexity determine what we hear. The amplitude, or the height of the sound wave, dictates the volume of the sound. A high amplitude means that the sound is loud, whereas a low amplitude causes a soft sound. Within the ear, loudness is determined by the number of activated hair cells in the cochlea.  In contrast, the frequency, or the length of the soundwave, affects pitch: a low frequency is a low pitched sound and a high frequency is a high pitched sound. There are multiple theories used to help us understand pitch perception. …

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Parts of the Brain

anatomy of brain

To understand our behaviors, thoughts, and actions it is crucial we recognize the functions of the different parts of the brain. Depending on the type of sensations being perceived and the section of the brain being actively, we will respond to stimuli differently. Below are some of the most important parts of the brain to know. Firstly, there is the old brain, whose parts occur without conscious effort. This includes the brainstem, which is the oldest part and central core of the brain. The brainstem is responsible for automatic survival functions, and at its base is the medulla, which allows for heartbeat and breathing. Above the medulla, is the pons, which helps coordinate movements.  At the top of the brainstem is the thalamus, which acts as the brain’s sensory switchboard by directing messages to the sensory receiving areas in the cortex and transmitting replies to the cerebellum and medulla. To …

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Motivation

light bulb, lightbulb, light

What is Motivation? Motivation refers to a need or desire that energizes a direct behavior.   Motivated behaviors are caused by a combination of nature and nurture. There are four perspectives to explain motivated behavior  Instinct theory  Drive-reduction theory  Arousal theory  Hierarchy of needs “Growth needs do not stem from a lack of something, but rather from a desire to grow as a person. Once these growth needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization” (McLeod, 2020)  What is evolutionary psychology?  Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory popularized the use of “instinct” to name behaviors, rather than explain them.  “According to evolutionary psychology, individuals are motivated to engage in behaviors that maximize their genetic fitness” (Lumen, 2021). An instinct is a complex behavior that is unlearned and rigidly patterned throughout a species.  Although instinct theory failed to explain human behavior it opened the door for …

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Associative Learning

left and right side of brain

Learning refers to the relatively permanent change in an organism’s behavior to a given situation due to repeated experiences in that situation, so long as the behavior change is not because of nature response tendencies, maturation, or a temporary state. One type of learning is associative learning, which is made up of classical conditioning and operant conditioning.  Classical Conditioning Classical conditioning refers to learning to link two stimuli in a way that helps us anticipate an event to which we have a reaction. Ivan Pavlov’s studies with the salvation response in dogs demonstrated this concept: Pavlov found that salvation from eating food was eventually triggered by what should have been a neutral stimulus, or a stimulus that does not normally trigger a response. Initially, food was the unconditioned stimulus, since it naturally triggered the unconditioned response of salivation before any conditioning took place. Prior to conditioning, the neutral stimulus was …

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Nervous System

neurons with black background

The nervous system is the body’s speedy electrochemical communication network. It consists of nerve cells within the peripheral and central nervous systems.  Central Nervous System (CNS)  The central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord, which contain neural networks: brain neurons that cluster into work groups. The spinal cord acts as a two way information highway connecting sensory organs and the brain. Sensory information ascends up the spinal cord, while descending neural fibers send back motor control information to the muscles in the body.  One of the most important functions of the central nervous system is reflexes, which are simple, automatic responses to a sensory stimulus. For instance, a pain reflex is demonstrated when one’s hand touches a flame. As the brain receives the stimulus, it responds by causing the hand to jerk away. Reflexes are composed of sensory and motor neurons that communicate between interneurons.  There are many …

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Applied Behavior Analysis with Dr. Peri Seshens

purple brain

Watch now to learn about the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA), from Dr. Peri Seshens, PsyD, BCBA, LBA. She is the owner of Bridge Kids, a company that provides behavior therapy to children with autism and other related disorders in New York. Through evaluations and collecting data, Dr. Seshens and her team gain a well-rounded understanding of the children they work with to improve their life, social, executive function, and education skills. From her unique experiences working in Vietnam to her passion of working with children, Dr. Seshens provides a fascinating insight into the world of therapy and understanding behavior. To learn more about evaluations, the importance of early intervention, autism spectrum disorder, and ABA, watch the video linked below!

Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy

two faces purple and blue

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to different sets of characteristics and symptoms. Both psychopathy and sociopathy are classified under antisocial personality disorder, which is a part of the Cluster B personality disorder group. Behaviors of those in this group demonstrates a disregard for societal rules and others, as well as unpredictability.  According to Psychology Today, some symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include criminal activity, manipulation, impulsiveness, aggression, irresponsibility, irritability, disregard for the safety of self and others, and a lack of remorse.  Within the category of antisocial personality disorders is sociopathy, which is distinct in its volatility. Sociopathy is primarily shaped by environmental traumas, such as abusive relationships or a troubled childhood, but individuals who are genetically predisposed have a higher likelihood of developing the disorder. Some common behavior of sociopaths include emotional outbursts, lack of self control, and a disregard for societal rules.  Sociopaths lack …

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