Category Archives: psychology

What is “Phantom Pain?”

Phantom pain sensation refers to a person’s feeling related to limbs or organs that are physically not a part of their body. For example, let’s say that a part of a person’s body, such as an arm, was amputated because of an accident. If the person has a phantom pain sensation, then he would feel pain in the position where his arm supposed to exist, even though he doesn’t have an arm (this particular phantom pain related to the limbs are called phantom limb pain).

Then why do these kinds of phenomenon occur? According to the scientists, when a part of a body is amputated, then the region of the brain that was needed for the control of that part of the body is no longer needed, and the neuronal system in the part of the brain falls into disarray. To fill the empty spots in the brain, those parts of the brain take over the tasks of the neighboring neurons and become rearranged to do different things. However, when the brain tries to adapt to the new situation, in some cases this process goes wrong, which eventually causes the phantom pain.

As you can see, there are no apparent causes of the phantom pain discovered by scientists because there might be other reasons other than the cerebral shifts such as inherited nerve damages. However, using fMRI, a method to distinguish the active parts of the brain while it’s working, scientists have discovered that degree of the shifts related to the functions in our brain caused by amputation (and many other factors) is directly proportional to the intensity of pain the patient receives through the phantom pain. Also, researchers found out that a person with a functional artificial limb has felt less phantom limb pain than the patients that do not have it.

Even though it might take some time, a cure for phantom pain keeps on developing as the researches related to phantom pain proceed. I hope that later, the patients would not suffer from their phantom pain, or, in my own words, “false pain.”

 

References

12 July, 2017 – Episode 627 – This Week in Science Podcast (TWIS)

http://www.twis.org/broadcasts/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_pain

3 Things YOU Don’t Know about YOURSELF

 

brain에 대한 이미지 검색결과

“People live without knowing”, a famous quote mentioned by an ancient philosopher, may seem to be a little absurd. However, through the years of development of psychology, researchers realized that this quote is far from false, but is correct. People exclaim that the study of psychology started ever since ancient Greek’s philosophers thought about humans. Chronologically speaking, psychology was studied by scholars for over thousands of years. However, ironically, people understood less than 17% of themselves: the brain.

Yes, we know what it’s made of (77% water, for a start) and how much it weighs (about 3 pounds). We also know that it has somewhere in excess of 80 billion neurons, each one connected chemically and electrically with 10,000 others, creating the world’s most complex network, with more interconnections than there are stars and planets in the Milky Way. But we don’t know how the brain works. Astoundingly, what we don’t understand the most is actually what we are always doing; we just don’t know.

 

  1. What is consciousness?

Without question, conscious awareness is the most astounding — and most perplexing — aspect of the human brain. Consciousness allows us to experience and reacts to our environment in an apparently self-directed way.

We have our own private thoughts, feelings, opinions, and preferences, and these traits allow us to figure out the world and operate within it.

 

 

But we are still quite a ways off from understanding how the brain produces phenomenal experience. Neuroscientists cannot explain how incoming sensations get routed around such that they can be translated into subjective impressions like taste, color, or pain. Or how we can form a mental image in our minds on demand. Scientists think it has something to do with the way the sensory parts of the brain are linked to midbrain structures. Consciousness may also arise from, in the words of Marvin Minsky calls the “Society of Mind.” As Minsky notes, “Consciousness is a word that you use to not discuss the 40 or 50 different processes that are going on at various times…” In extent, there are lots of theories that attempt to understand humans’ consciousness. Some scientists have even proposed quantum effects. But ultimately, people haven’t really got a clue.

 

  1. How do we store and access memories?

Like a computer’s hard drive, memories are physically recorded in our brains. But we have no idea how our brains do this, nor do we know how this information gets oriented in the brain.

Also, there isn’t just one kind of memory. We have both short-term and long-term memory. There’s also declarative memories (names and facts), and nondeclarative (muscle memory). And within our long-term memories, we have”flashbulb memories” memories where we’re able to remember the precise details of what we were doing during momentary events. To perplex things further, different parts of our brain perform different memory tasks.

Neuroscientists think that memory storage depends on the connection between synapses and the strength of associations; memories aren’t so much encoded as discrete bits of information, but rather as relations between two or more things. In other terms, memories of an event may be stored in a matrix of interconnected neurons in our brains. However, these are also just theories, so theories.

 

 

  1. How much of our personality is determined by our brain?

An old “nature versus nurture” debate, this topic is a conundrum that’s difficult to quantify. Some scientists, like Steven Pinker, argue that we’re all born with genetic predispositions that influence our psychologies. A mind has no innate traits, and that most of our individual preferences, if not all, are socially constructed. It’s difficult to tell where the effects of genes start and where they end, particularly as they’re either reinforced or suppressed by social experiences. Epigenetics, in which gene expression is either paused or activated according to environmental circumstances, complicate the issue even further. But in a way, the nature versus nurture debate is moot; the brain is a constant work in progress, a sponge that’s perpetually feeding off the environment.

 

Why do we SLEEP?

We feel the urge to sleep when waves of tiredness fall upon us that has been accumulated along the day. After a good rest, we can feel the burden of physical and mental fatigue removed from our  body.

Through this, we can emit a question, “Do people sleep to relieve stress?”.

Although this is the significant answer to the question, there are other reasons why sleeping is crucial to our body.

1 Necessary Energy source; Sleep

One way to think about the function of sleep is to compare it to another of our life-sustaining activities: eating. Hunger is a protective mechanism that has evolved to ensure that we consume the nutrients our bodies require to grow, repair tissues, and function properly.

2 Sleep is crucial for LEARNING

Studying mice, scientists at Johns Hopkins have fortified evidence that a key purpose of sleep is to recalibrate the brain cells responsible for learning and memory so the animals can “solidify” lessons learned and use them when they awaken. Without at least 4~6 hours of sleep, more than 40% of the content one studied are not solid in the recollective systems in one’s brain. For young infants 11~13 hours of sleep is required for this ability to function correctly.

But still, the answer to the question cannot be satisfied with the pre-suggestions, for the question is asking for the fundamental reason why animals started the action, “sleeping”.There are several theories to clarify the reason to this action that existed to all living organisms from birth .

Inactivity Theory