Neurobiological Assignment – Questions And Answers

Part 1

  1. Explain what affect regulation is and how it is developed in the brain. What mechanisms in the brain have contributed to the creation of Javier’s behaviors?

Affect regulation refers to extending or changing a person’s emotional disposition or attitude. It refers to the individual aptitude to increase or maintain the state of wellbeing and positive feelings and to regulate or minimize defensive states and stress feelings. Affect regulation is developed in the brain through interaction; observation or listening, and experiencing different things that are happening in the surrounding. This determines the direction of individual emotional disposition or attitude change. Information collected in the environment is transmitted into the brains triggering different reactions and recordings in the individual’s memory. Thus, individual’s experience either by seeing, hearing or being involved in particular situation impacts the functionality of the brain initiating fear, anxiety, aggression and other negative aspects in case the surrounding is cruel, or joy, satisfaction and other positive aspects in case the situation is positive (Shore, 2009).

Javier’s behavior has been contributed by affect regulation mechanism where the child develop a certain behavior based on how those close to the child handles different emotional situations. Child-parent relation serves a great deal in determining the kind of behavior a child will develop in the future. Negative interaction nurtures the development of anger or other negative related behaviors that include aggression, anxiety and sometimes fear. Just like positive therapy change individual emotions positively, negative interaction creates an opportunity for a child to develop negative reaction to different situations, making a child to be unruly and hard to deal with. This develops in unconscious part of the child brains and with time, the behavior sticks as the only response to a particular life situation. This explains why Javier can sleep in class and not at home. The sense of security and the need to be calm is highly seen in school as compared to the sense of insecurity and fear of being left alone or being unprotected while asleep  at home.

  1. How does an understanding of implicit memory help frame an understanding of the mother (Isabel) and Javier’s current difficulties with each other.

Implicit memory refers to automatic memory or unconscious memory. It employ’s past experiences to recall things without paying much attention about them. Implicit memory performance is enhanced by past experiences, despite the length of time that the incident took place. Most explicit memories are naturally procedural. They basically entails learning novel motors skills and relies on basal ganglia and cerebellum. Another implicit memory subset is priming. This entails employing word, pictures or other stimuli to assist someone acknowledge another phrase or word in the future. For instance, remembering apple with red color and grass with green color. Understanding this implicit memory can highly assist in understanding the current difficulties between the mother and the son (Bonoit, 2004).

Understanding implicit memory can easily make one conclude that Javier learnt his current behavior from his parents either based on how they were relating to each other or how they were relating to him (Bonoit, 2004). For instance, if Javier father always used violent, physical techniques to get something from his wife in Javier’s presence, then Javier could have copied this behavior or interpreted it as the only way to communicate to his mother when he needs something. Javier developed implicit memory by observing and listening, while no one in the family was noting the harm their daily reaction was doing to their children. The child is very likely to have adopted his father’s behavior being his favorite parent. He could have also taken this behavior from habit. For instance, he could have been denied something by his mother in the past, but when he insisted by crying and acting violently he was given what he wanted. This registered in his implicit memory as the only technique he can employ to get what he wants without fail. Whatever event that took place in the early stage of his growth was registered in implicit memory and it is currently being reproduced unconsciously.

  1. Describe what type of attachment style Javier is exhibiting? Explain how it was developed? How does it affect the neurobiology of the brain and the emotional life of Javier in the long term? Support your answer with facts from text and class readings.

Javier and his mother contains a negative relation. This relation can be classified as avoidance attachment relationship. In this case, Javier did not use his mother as a base of secure exploration. Thus, when the mother started to leave the room, he did not move toward him and instead, he developed a bond with his father who instead of enhancing his relation his mother, he destroyed it further by not correcting the child, and by making the mother to appear wrong before the child all the times.  This must have made Javier to believe that his mother does not love him. This made Javier to appear to be emotionally unavailable, rejecting, unresponsive, and imperceptive towards his mother. However, despite this, the boy needed someone to comfort him while angry, frustrated, and in any other emotional needs. Nevertheless, these needs cannot be addressed by his mother since the child has already distanced himself from the mother and the father is hardly available (Granic et al., n.d.). This makes him to turn to be violent, and tries to refuse his mother’s attention by making demands that cannot be understood, hoping that the father will appear and understand. When this does not happen, he turns to be aggressive and does not spare his mother from his anger.  This lack of attachment with his parents makes him feel insecure and thus, he cannot sleep properly since he is worried of his safety. Although Javier loves his father and they both have a good relationship, the father does not have much time for him. In this regard, the child will grow feeling rejected and less valuable. The child will safeguard himself from hard situation by detaching contact with his usual needs for association, and generally repress his emotions (Moroz, 2005).

Part 2

  1. Discuss the impact that childhood trauma can have on neurobiological processes that influence early affect regulation. Can therapy influence affect regulation? How?

Severe psychological trauma results to the neuroendocrine systems impairment in the body. Extreme stress initiates the flight or fight survival response that activates sympathetic and conquers the parasympathetic nervous system. Flight or fight responses augment levels of cortisol in the central nervous system that allows a person to take action to endure, but which at dangerous degrees can result to changes in development of brain and cause brain cells destruction (Moroz, 2005). High cortisol levels in children can disrupt cell migration, cell differentiation, and the functioning and integration of essential factors of central nervous system. Trauma impacts primary regulatory procedures in the neocortex, which demonstrates the world- and self-perception, the limbic brain which focuses on regulation, memory and emotional of arousal and impact, the brain stem and a combined functioning across different networks in the central nervous network (Shapiro & Applegate, 2005). Experiences of trauma are store in the mind and body of the child. Dissociation, arousal and fear related to the original trauma might get on after the arousal and danger threat has subsided. This is a clear indication that children’s trauma impacts affect regulation of a child, by extending or changing their emotional disposition or attitude negatively. Trauma destroy trust a child may have for a person the child initially trusted and could depend on during chaos. It also instill fear and other negative perspective of self and life. The affect can be influenced by therapy or by restoring the child parent interaction which was destroyed during trauma. It changes the negative perspective and feeling created during trauma, to create a more positive perspective and also restoration of relations.

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