Media: Explore Neuro in the Patch

Recently, the story behind my path towards creating Explore Neuro was published in the Patch, a local news platform. I’m so excited that Explore Neuro can gain more exposure and people can learn a little bit more about myself. The article highlights my experiences with epilepsy and volunteering with Friendship Circle that inspired me to create this website, so, if interested, you can read more here:

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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Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, so it is the time to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s and inspire action to aid individuals suffering from the disease and the path to a cure.  Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, causing memory loss and cognitive decline. According to the Alzheimer’s Association,  Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. The majority of individuals with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, yet the disease is not a normal part of aging. Although Alzheimer’s has no cure, aducanumab is used as a treatment to potentially delay clinical decline. However, the disease is progressive, where sympyoms gradually worsen over time going from mild memory loss to losing the ability to perceive the environment and interact with others. As the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., a person with Alzheimer’s generally lives 4 to 8 years after diagnosis.  Signs and Symptoms One …

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Non-Verbal Learning Disorder

blue arts and crafts

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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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

puzzle pieces with brain in lightbulb

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!

Tourette’s Syndrome

analysis, biochemistry, biologist

Recently, I watched the movie “Front of the Class,” a story about a man with Tourette’s syndrome who learns to appreciate his tics as a reason for his success. Throughout the movie, the audience sees the man where he is in the present time, striving to become a teacher and spread awareness of Tourette’s, as well as his childhood.  As a child, the boy struggled with feeling outcast and misunderstood due to his tics. He was viewed as disruptive by his teachers due to his uncontrollable sounds, and as a joke by his fellow classmates. Even his own father could not accept his son’s condition until it was formally diagnosed.  When he grew up, the man hoped to become a teacher to instill the importance of uniqueness and acceptance in his students. However, with these goals came obstacles as he went from one interview to the next without any success. …

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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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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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Socially Aversive Traits Over Time

drama, comedy and tragedy, theater

Although people’s overall temperament remains constant throughout life, people become less socially aversive as they age. According to the article, “People Seem to Become Less Socially Aversive with Age,” over time, dark personality traits, which causes individuals to put themselves over others, lessen. To prove this claim, researchers followed around 500 German adults, between the ages of 18 and 65 years, over a four year period. To assess their aversive traits, such as egoism, moral disengagement, narcissism, psychopathy, sadism, self interest, and machiavellianism, participants filled out personality questionnaires. Using their responses, researchers found evidence that, apart from psychological entitlement and sadism, people’s level of socially aversive traits decreased through the four year period. At the same time, these findings show that knowing how a person’s level in the dark core of personality develops helps predict how that person’s level in socially aversive traits develop. Thus, there is an underlying Dark …

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