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Bailey Baumann-Introduction

1. For the last couple years my 65-year-old grandmother has been living with us for the majority of the year. During these years she has become decidedly more impaired and has lost much of her memory and her ability to complete even basic tasks such as cooking and turning on the television without constant supervision and guidance. Because of her stubbornness she has not seen a proper doctor in many years but our family believes that she has developed a form of dementia or possibly Alzheimer’s. The experience I had with my grandmother was both devastating and intriguing because I literally saw her deteriorate before my eyes; I saw the breakdown on her memory and the slow death of her brain. Seeing my grandmother age has made me interested in the mechanisms that determine when and to what extent a person’s brain will chemically deteriorate as they age. I am interested in understanding the structural and chemical differences between the brains of children, adults, and older adults.

2. I also have a lot of experience with individuals that have developmental delays, especially Downs Syndrome. I have family members and several close family friends who suffer from the disorder and I have learned many things about the causes and defining features of the syndrome. I know the current treatments and I intimately understand the adverse effects that Downs Syndrome can have across a lifetime from infancy through adulthood. What I don’t understand is how the thought process of an individual with Downs Syndrome differs from my own thought process. For instance, when my family member with the disorder tells me he loves me, does he experience the same feelings that I experience when I tell him that I love him?

3. As we discovered in class on Tuesday, most of the class feels that they have some kind of split identity. I also feel that I have a split identity because of the vast differences in the socio-economic status of my parents. My mother grew up in an upper middle class home while my father grew up in a poor single family home. The differences in my parent’s upbringing have had an obvious effect on their personalities as adults. I have found that most individuals tend to interact and marry individuals that have relatively similar economic backgrounds and I would like to find some research on marriages and families that come from mixed economic backgrounds.


1. Are there any significant chemical and structural differences between the brains of individuals that have been identified as extroverts and individuals who have been identified as introverts? Are these terms both culturally and biologically significant?
2. Are there differences in the brains of individuals who consider themselves extremely religiously devout and individuals who identify themselves as stanch atheists? Does religious belief produce a very specific response, or is the same chemical reaction observed in individuals who have strong beliefs about anything such as animal welfare or abortion rights. In other words, does passion produce the same chemical response independent of the context?
3. This answer has probably already been explored many times, but I am interested in the similarities in brain activity between individuals that are dreaming and individuals who are experiencing a seizure. From my basic understanding, both situations occurs when the brain begins to fire at random, although in dreaming, the mind is able to function enough to string these firings together and form a semblance of meaning.


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