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The Forbidden Experiment: A Book Review

When I was thinking about what kind of book I wanted to review for this assignment, all I knew was that I wanted to learn and think about something new. In the end The Forbidden Experiment by Roger Shattuck grabbed my interest. This 214 page book is extremely interesting and thought provoking, in fact it is one of those books you pick up and don’t want to put down until it is finished. This book retells the story of the Wild Boy of Aveyron and the men who tried to bring him back into society, of whom Itard was the primary teacher of the boy. Shattuck chronicles his life and his progress through documents written by these men, as well as making some conclusions of his own.

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The Puzzle of Tourette's

As this last paper approached, I was having major difficulties trying to think of a topic to choose. I knew I wanted to do something with a lot of scientific evidence about it, but also something that was still a little bit of a mystery. After searching the internet, I finally came upon a subject that seemed to meet these criteria, Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s syndrome was first described in 1885 and since then has only increased in recognition and controversy. (1) Wikipedia defines Tourette’s as, “an inherited neurological disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by the presence of multiple physical (motor) tics and at least on vocal (phonic) tic.” (1) This definition is well and good, but what is the cause of these tics, who do they affect, and what can be done to stop them?

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God in the Brain

As someone who went to Catholic schools for the majority of my life, I have never understood God. I can rationalize why people may want to believe in a higher power, it’s the actual believing that has always been beyond my grasp. For this reason, I wanted to look at why humans believe in a higher being. What is it that compels us to find an ultimate cause for everything? I had never heard a scientific answer for this question; I wanted to find out what parts of the brain are suspected to be the cause of humankind’s belief in a higher power.

The first thing I looked into was why humans feel compelled to find a specific cause for things and for the organization of the universe. It has been suggested that this perhaps occurs because the human brain desperately tries to search for order and patterns in a world where these things are not readily observable. Experiments on people who have had their corpus callosum cut have revealed that at our core we are organisms who search for patterns and meaning. These people are shown two different pictures that register in two different sides of their brains. However, only the left side of the brain is able to verbally communicate what they chose and why. When they see the choice of the right side of the brain, the person instantly searches for meaning and finds a way to connect the two pictures (1).

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Schizophrenia - A Disease of Risks

Schizophrenia is a disease that has played a significant role throughout my life. One of my uncles was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in college. The cause for the onset of the disease was always shrouded in mystery, however. If anyone in my family was asked why he developed schizophrenia or if there were signs of schizophrenia in him when he was younger, you would receive a different answer from each person. For this reason I always wanted to know what caused schizophrenia and why it is not always evident early on in a persons life.

When I began to research, the debates regarding schizophrenia centered around three main areas: dopamine production, genetics, and issues with neural development. In this paper I am going to focus on issues in early neural development, how neuron issues can cause schizophrenia, and why the symptoms of schizophrenia may not become evident until later in a persons life.

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