Neural Basis of Behavior: Ch 17

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21 Mar 2012
Anxiety Disorders
Characterized by unrealistic, unfounded fear and anxiety
Panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder
Panic disorder: suffering from episodic attacks of acute anxiety (can range from seconds
to hours)
Leads to sweating, irregular heartbeats, and feelings of unreality; victim often feels like
they are going to die
Anticipatory anxiety: anxiety caused by the fear that another panic attack will occur -
often leads to agoraphobia
GAD: excessive anxiety and worry and difficulty controlling the symptoms
Social anxiety disorder: persistent fear of being exposed to the scrutiny of others and
causes the person to avoid situations in which they are asked to perform
Possible causes
Has a hereditary component; presence of the short allele of 5-HT is associated w/increase
The amygdala, cingulate, prefrontal and insular cortex are all associated
Increased activation of the amygdala is associated w/a higher severity of anxiety
Can be treated w/ benzodiazepines (used to target GABA and decrease activity in the
amygdala and insular) - when given a tranquilizer to decrease GABA, panic attack patients
increased in anxiety, but control patients did not
SSRI’s w/ CBT are the most effective treatment
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Desensitization CBT is also very effective, by using the hierarchy to extinguish the fear
Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessions: thoughts; compulsions: behaviors
Most compulsions fall into 1 of 4 categories: counting, checking, cleaning and avoidance
Begins in young adulthood and the person is unlikely to marry bc they want to avoid social
contact (shame from the disorder)
Forms of OCD are species typical i.e. Grooming, cleaning and attn to sources of danger -
are caused by brain dysfunctions (they are pathological examples of natural behaviors)
Possible causes
The disorder is somewhat heritable; children who get the disorder are likely to have
Tourette’s syndrome as children - having muscular and vocal tics, which includes pacing,
sniffing, barking, grunting and repeating certain words
The disorder is not always genetic and can sometimes be due to damage in the basal gan-
glia, PFC or when someone has head traumas or encephalitis
Tic disorders, like OCD, can be caused by beta-hemolytic streptococcal diseases; symp-
toms of OCD are caused by damage of the basal ganglia (especially the caudate nucleus)
Cingulotomy: surgical destruction of specific fiber bundles in the cingulate and other frontal
Capsulotomy: destroys fiber bundles in the caudate nucleus connected to the medial PFC
These procedures are effective, but are only used as last resort
Deep brain stimulation can also decrease symptoms and is better than surgery, since if un-
successful, the electrodes can be removed
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Drug treatments are also used as 5-HT agonists
Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling and sometimes eating) and onychophagia (com-
pulsive nail biting) are both effectively treated by using the drug clomipramine (5-HT agonist
and is also the drug of choice for OCD)
Acral lick dermatitis: disease in dogs, where they lick their hair that it can often erode the
skin as well - also treated with clomipramine
Autistic disorder
Symptoms: failure to develop normal social relations, impaired communication abilities, and
presence of repetitive stereotyped behaviors; most ppl also display cognitive problems
Social impairments are more common in males; cognitive and communication impairments
are evenly shared
The increase in incidence of the disorder is based on a heightened awareness of the disor-
der, and the broader diagnostic criteria
Autism is not linked to childhood immunization as well
Asperger's disorder: less severe type; symptoms include absent social interactions and
repetitive behaviors
Rett’s disorder: genetic neuro syndrome seen in girls w/ arrested brain development
Childhood disintegrative disorder: shows normal cognitive and social skills, but b/w age 2
and 10, the person has severe regression into autism
Diagnosis for autistic disorders includes: impaired social interactions, deficits/absence in
communication, and presence of stereotyped behaviors
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