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Keyword: ‘schizophrenia’

Memory in People With Schizophrenia: What is Impaired, What is Preserved?

April 30th, 2013 3 comments

One in four: This is the proportion of Americans living today that have suffered from a diagnosable mental illness within the last year (“Mental Illness,” 2011). Examining this statistic, it is clear that the effects of mental illness are widespread. In the US, for example, costs for direct treatment of mental illness are estimated to be US$ 148 billion annually, and indirect economic costs – like lost employment (due to medical leave) and decreased productivity, are two to six times higher than that (Panthare, 2003).

If you yourself aren’t directly afflicted with a disorder, chances are someone in your immediate or extended family may be. The outward physical manifestations of these disorders may be minimal for those possessing them, making them seem at times like “invisible illnesses;” that is, you may not be able to tell that someone has one of these disorders simply by looking at them. Complicating things even further for individuals with a mental disorder, many who are afflicted may not have received a proper diagnosis or are struggling without professional medical help.

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I’m Gettin’ Me Mallet: Society’s Impact on Aging

November 11th, 2022 No comments

There are so many stereotypes associated with aging. Just about every negative trait is thrown at older adults with the hope that it sticks. Some claim that older adults are closed-minded, grumpy, forgetful, and slow. And of course, on top of these there are positive stereotypes as well, like older adults being wise, kind, generous, and so on. Between these stereotypes, though, there is the reality that our behavior is influenced by the various social factors around us. These explain the reason why stereotypes are so pervasive. Essentially, one’s social environment has an impact on their cognitive development, two ways of which I will attempt to highlight in this blog: through positive/negative environmental support and through internalization of stereotypes.

This is a picture of Eustace Bagge from Courage the Cowardly Dog. Eustace is a prime representative of the stereotype of older adults being grumpy and stuck in their ways (Copyright Cartoon Network)
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Cognitive Implications of a “Journey Through Madness”

November 20th, 2020 No comments

Misconceptions about schizophrenia

Elyn Saks, an accomplished Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences at University of Southern California Gould School of Law, has lived with schizophrenia for her entire life.  In her memoir, “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness”, Saks explains that the cognitive nature of her illness was a large factor in her decision to write a book. She speaks out about how she has struggled every single day living with this disorder, yet she was ultimately incredibly cognitively and professionally successful.  Her disorder made it very difficult to hold attention in class or on school work when she was having a schizophrenic episode, and her diminished memory abilities made her work and relationships endure a different level of impairment. Elyn struggled with schizophrenia at a time when mental health was not at the forefront of societal concerns as it is today, and all of the symptoms she dealt with left her feeling alone and depressed, as making and keeping emotional connections with others was quite a troublesome task for her.  So, here is an incredibly accomplished woman working at a prestigious institution who has endured a debilitating disorder that is stereotypically portrayed and misunderstood with a connotation of violent, dangerous, and potentially crazy individuals.  The impressive work that Saks has done in sharing her story has contributed significantly to reducing the stigma of schizophrenia and has provided useful information in terms of the efficacy of various forms of treatment for the disorder, and you can click here to learn more about the efficacy of psychological treatment in schizophrenia.  My interest focused on how this crippling disorder affects individuals’ cognitive processes, in particular considering the detrimental effects it has on both memory and attention.

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“I Swear It Happened!” But It Never Did…

April 27th, 2018 2 comments

Image 1- Ok, Gerard… 

Has someone ever told you a tale that made you think, “That just can’t be true!”. Well, you may be right. Here’s the thing, you may fondly remember your eighth birthday party at a local barn with a bunch of cute animals. You and your friends rode the horses, brushed the horses, and you even remember feeding the horses straight from your hand. Oh, and the cake! Your mother ordered a special strawberry shortcake for your birthday party. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day, and you remember that party like it was yesterday. But the even more important thing is, none of this really happened.

In reality, you have never ridden a horse in your life and you are allergic to strawberries… Even when a childhood friend of yours gently reminds you that that never really happened, you still firmly believe (and can even remember specific details!) that your eighth birthday party happened exactly that way (Pederson, 2018). Your friend softly says to you, “You have created a confabulation”, to which you respond, “I’ve created a WHAT?!”

Image 2– Maybe… 

Confabulation is a memory disturbance that results in people reporting memories of events in their own personal history that actually never happened. Confabulations can take the form of small inaccuracies, such as simply filling in gaps in one’s memory with false details, or they can be large events, such as the horseback riding birthday party described earlier. Regardless of the magnitude of the memory, it is difficult to convince the person that their “memories” are false.

It is sometimes difficult to identify a confabulation because the person reporting the memory could seem very convincing and in touch with reality, but really the story is untrue (Shingaki et al., 2016). People who confabulate confidently describe imagined scenarios and present them as being completely true (Pederson, 2018). Another difficulty in identifying a confabulation is that a person’s autobiographical memory is generally quite difficult to study because if we did not experience the event with the person telling the story, then we can never really know if it actually happened or not. Even if we can’t thoroughly study someone’s episodic history, we can at least know that the person who experiences these confabulations is not purposefully deceiving you with inaccurate information. In fact, they wholeheartedly believe that what they are saying is the truth (Nall, 2017).
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Can Variability In Concussion Testing Really Tell Us Something Important?

May 1st, 2014 No comments


In the past decade, the negative consequences of traumatic brain injuries, more commonly referred to as concussions, have become highly publicized. Once brushed off as an innocent hit to the head, concussions are now taken much more seriously. Although concussions can occur for many reasons, due to their frequency, sports related concussions have become the target of concern. It is estimated that among the 38 million children and adolescents and 170 million adults participate in athletic activities in the US, there are as many as 3.8 million mild traumatic brain injuries that occur each year. Many of these go untreated (Giza et al., 2013).

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