What are some examples of learning disorders and memory disorders (these are different from behavioral disorders)? How might a clinician evaluate each of these (what methods or instruments would be used)?
Learning Disabilities (LD) are neurologically-based processing problems, which can interfere with the performance of important things in the mind like reading, writing, mathematics calculation, and coordination. They can cause severe brain complications and interfere with a person’s skills like planning, organization, and reasoning. This damage hinders the storage, retention, and recollection of memories. There are several disorders associated with memory and learning. Some of them include the following discussed disorders:
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This is an example of inherited metabolic disorders that usually affect the development and functioning of the brain. It is caused by an inherited lack of an enzyme that converts amino acid phenylalanine to another amino acid tyrosine. Eventually, there will be a high accumulation of the amino acid phenylalanine in the blood. Large amounts of phenylalanine in the blood will result in complications of the neurons in the central nervous system (C.N.S.) referred to as myelinization of the cerebral hemispheres.
This disorder will normally result in severe mental retardation. Much of this condition occurs before birth; therefore, it is essentially important to diagnose babies immediately after birth before their brain is subjected to phenylalanine. The good thing is that PKU can be easily treated, subjecting the baby under a low amount of phenylalanine diet (Carlson, 2010)
This refers to a condition that occurs because of the degeneration of brain cells. It is caused degeneration of the nigrostriatal system, a type of neurons of the substantia nigra responsible for sending axons to the lower (basal) ganglia. The slow movement, tremor resting and rigidity of the muscular characterize Parkinson’s disease. Treatment is through a precursor of dopamine known as L-DOPA. When L-DOPA is administered to the brain, the dopaminergic neurons produce more dopamine that removes all the symptoms. Deprenyl is an alternative drug for L-DOPA (Carlson, 2010).
This is a mathematic learning disorder, where some students reverse numbers and cannot align them in the right way. Math requires attention to perform certain tasks in a specific order. Some people have difficulty in interpreting different shapes, objects, as well as sections of multiplication, adding, and subtracting. Therefore, the application of the basic operations to real-world math problems is very difficult. Flexibility and adaptation of the patient can help to reduce this disorder (Chandler, N.d.)
Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia
This disorder results in deterioration of mental intellectual abilities caused by an organic brain disorder. Patients show memory loss and may have difficulty remembering appointments and sometimes fail to think of words or other people’s names. Treatment is through pharmacological administration of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine) and an NMDA receptor antagonist (memantine) drugs (Carlson, 2010).
From an evolutionary perspective, short-term exposure to stress is adaptive and necessary for survival. Unfortunately, long-term exposure to stress is considered maladaptive, yet common, in Western society. Describe some adaptive effects short-term stress has on the brain versus some maladaptive effects long-term stress has on the brain based on the scholarly literature
Stress occurs because of our reactions or response to scary or threatening situations. Stress results in several effects on the brain. Most of the harmful effects of long-term stress are caused by glucocorticoids, although they are very important for short-term stress. Effects such as muscle damage, blood pressure rise, infertility, and immune system suppression are some of the effects of long-term stress. Blood pressure may result in stroke or heart attacks.
Head damage in some individuals is a result of long-term stress because of the degeneration of brain structure cells. Studies show that young primates such as monkeys if exposed to intense stress can cause brain damage (Carlson, 2010).
They also result in Inhibition of growth, especially in children. Children in this condition normally do not attain their real height of growth. It is also evident that short-term and long-term stress will interfere with normal hippocampal functions, as Brunson and his colleagues proved it. They discovered that long-term exposure of female rats and their newborn pups to hard floors resulted in less development and impaired performance in their hippocampus.
Short-term stress may interfere with the normal functioning of an animal’s hippocampus but long-term stress causes depression through hippocampal neurogenesis. Prenatal stress can cause long-lasting malfunctions in learning and memory by interfering with normal development of the hippocampus, as proved by son and his colleagues (Carlson, 2010).
Long-term stress can cause Inhibition of the inflammatory response making it more difficult for the body to heal after an injury, and suppression of the immune system makes an individual vulnerable to infections. An investigation done by Kiecolt-Glaser and his colleagues on injured people’s wounds found that the healing of the wounds took a long time. The subjects were the caregivers, relatives with Alzheimer’s disease (Carlson, 2010).
Carlson, N.R. (2010). Physiology of Behavior. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.
Chandler, J. (N.d.). Learning Disorders, Learning Disabilities. Web.