Hangry Caterpillars

This NY Times article by Katherine J Wu discusses the monarch butterfly caterpillars’ behavior when food sources are diminished. Researchers have recently observed and studied caterpillars who, when food- stressed, use “bumping, boxing, and body-checking” to protect their food source. The caterpillar’s must consume large amounts of food before their metamorphosis transition into butterflies. This caterpillar aggression has been underappreciated and under- researched but could aid entomologists in the preservation of monarchs and milkweed plants. As milkweed plants continue to decline, this battle could be a key factor in monarch survival. Larva are born hungry and consume a significant amount of food as they grow in size. As caterpillars grew, their aggression increased, likely because food/energy consumption in these final stages before metamorphosis are especially important. Dr. Keene’s spouse observed this behavior in their backyard and Dr Keene, interested, looked for research on this but found none. He decided to fill the gaps.

This study discusses the aggression induced by limited resources in monarch caterpillars. The authors highlight the fact that food sources, like milkweed, can limit development in these species. The competition for food has shown to trigger aggressive or territorial behavior in a number of species. They found that monarch caterpillars can model resource availability and aggression interactions. The measured aggression by quantifying the number of aggressive attacks/physical contact and tracked the location and quantity of attacks throughout developmental stages. The display of these aggressive attacks or lunges become more common throughout development and peak just before metamorphosis, when demand for food is highest. These attacks also increased when food availability decreased/ was particularly low. The authors acknowledge a high level of variability between individual caterpillars.

Overall, I thought the NYTimes article did a good job of representing the scientific research. I think the purpose of the article is to share this novel behavior that has been observed in monarch caterpillars. The author acknowledges that there has been limited data surrounding this area and emphasizes the potential importance of researching this phenomenon/behavior as milkweeds (essential for monarch populations) are declining. The author also recognizes that this research has been conducted in a lab-setting which may provide different variables and circumstances and resulting behaviors in natural settings. I think these kinds of studies are important as they provide insight into how species will respond to changing environments, like reduced milkweed populations. As climate change continues to stress ecosystems around the world, I believe that an understanding and appreciation for this kind of research becomes increasingly important. (Not to mention, reading about hangry, boxing caterpillars is a nice escape from current COVID progressions/articles/stress).

Hannah Dillenbeck

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Could biomining microbes help “Martians and Moon people” mine metals?

A NYTimes article by Kenneth Chang discusses microbes that may aid in separating rare earth elements from rock. These elements have proven critical for modern technology like cell phones as they provide for advanced lasers, metallic alloys, and impressive magnets. Mining these elements on Earth without the use of microbes can be quite challenging, requiring a lot of force and creating a significant amount of toxic waste. Researchers have investigated and identified microbes that catalyze the reaction and help extract these rare elements out of the earth. Researchers then wondered if these microbes would survive and function efficiently on Mars and other planets. They found that the Sphingomonas desiccabilis species of bacteria is unaffected by the different environment and gravitational forces on mars. In their study, they launched 36 sampled to orbit with basalt. 18 of these samples contained plain basalt while the other 18 contained one of three kinds of bacteria. It was found that, of the three species, S desiccabilis was the only species that created an increase in the rare elements extracted from the basalt, even in a zero-gravity environment. Follow-up SpaceX experiments will involve pieces of meteorites and fungi, rather than basalt and bacteria.

This study, entitled BioRock  examines this relationship between microbes and mineral mining in space. The authors explain that microbes can be used for this mineral extraction, generating oxygen and food, recycling waste and enhancing soil formation for plant growth. T0 investigate how microbes behave on diverse surfaces and within space environments. They studied how Spingomonas desiccabilis, Bacillus subtilis, and Cupriavidus metalliduras behaved and interacted with minerals (like basalt) in simulated space environments with low gravity at the international space station. They chose these organisms because they have been found mineral rich environments, can survive desiccation, can be grown in standard laboratory environments, and are safe to have on board the ISS. They use miniature BMRs to test how the microbes grow and interact with the minerals.

In this article, researchers tested these microorganisms and their ability to extract elements from basalt rock (found on the moon and Mars) on the ISS to test how they behaved in microgravity and simulated earth and mars gravities. They found that Bacillus subtilis had reduced efficacy. Cupriavidus metallidurans behaved similar to non- biological controls, and S desiccabilis enhanced the concentration of elements leached in all gravity simulations. They found S desiccabilis formed more extensive biofilms on the basalt compared to the other two species. Overall, they demonstrate the possibility of biologically mining crucial elements in space and in different gravity conditions and the leaching abilities of S desiccabilis which could be used in future biomining applications.

Overall, I think the researchers did a good job in presenting this data in a clear and understandable manner. I think the purpose of this article was to shed light on new technological advancements that may aid humans in the future and offer potentials for “future colonists” living in other areas of the solar system such as on the moon or Mars. Furthermore, just as biomining rare earth elements has advanced areas of modern technology,  the ability to mine elements in space could present more opportunity for technological developments. I think an awareness of this kind of research is important as we consider that fate of our Earth (especially if Earth’s climate change continues to be ignored).

 

Hannah Dillenbeck

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How do Oxen survive the long-days and harsh nights of the Arctic?

This NY Times article by Veronique Greenwood discusses how Musk Oxen survive life in the Arctic. With the strange patterns in the arctic, these animals adopt cycles based on grazing and digesting in place of normal circadian rhythms. Researchers tracked oxen with GPS collars and monitored when the animals were eating, resting, or moving around. They analyzed if there were patterns/ rhythms in how these animals behaved and if these patterns repeated. Their findings did not align perfectly with normal circadian rhythms, implying that these animal aren’t repeating behavior every 24 hours. Rather, they foraged for periods less than 12 hours, and these rhythms appeared to change depending on the season. Researchers found that in the winter, with long nights, oxen maintained their cycles, but their  rhythms. In the long days of the summer months, when high quality food was nearby, oxen did not maintain their winter- time pattern and grazed continuously. However, in areas with low quality food, oxen maintained their patterns even in the warmer months. Researchers concluded that these cycles repeated on a scale of hours (not days) and that maintaining a rhythm may allow the oxen to maximize their energy from sparse food sources. Researchers wonder if this “free-for-all” mode in the summer-time may have a positive effect on survival and/or reproduction.

In a study  exploring how environmental conditions alter the behavior and rhythmic patterns of large arctic ruminants researchers suggest that a large number of biological rhythms, that differ from expected circadian rhythms, exist in response to environments like the arctic. They tracked artic musk oxen and modelled rhythmicity based on behavior and environmental factors. They found circadian rhythmicity throughout the year but, especially in winter months, ultradian rhythms (recurrent cycled repeated throughout the day) were more prevalent. Furthermore, this rhythm shifted with longer days in the summer depending on the resources available. With statistical analyses of their rhythmicity/ behavioral data, they concluded that these oxen use interval timers to schedule their foraging behavior when their resources are low but this timer is reduced when resources are high (and energetic reserves can be easily replenished).

Another study,  looking at circadian rhythms (measured by behaviors, heart rate, and temperatures) in reindeer, found that these animals did experience circadian rhythms, but these could be altered in changing environmental conditions. During polar nights, the rhythms were attenuated and free running but during the long days of summer, rhythms followed 24-hour cycles and shifted depending on daylight and foraging behaviors. These authors suggest that the variations in foraging behavior, metabolic activity and shifts in rhythmicity are adaptations to extreme seasonal changes and harsh conditions of the artic.

Overall, I think the NY Times article did a good job in explaining the science behind these animal’s behavioral rhythms. Greenwood described the rhythms of these animals, as compared to normal circadian rhythms, and discussed what factors may alter these patterns.  The popular article did not discuss all of the nuances and fine details of the data collected and the statistical analyses performed but, I think the purpose of this article was to discuss how these animals respond to their environment. Greenwood did a great job of synthesizing the data and making it a little more attainable and understandable for the general public to consume. This research is especially important as we continue to navigate climate change and try to predict how different species will (or won’t) be able to respond to their shifting environments.

Hannah Dillenbeck

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A New Salivary Gland and it’s Implications in Radiotherapy

This NY Times article by Katherine J Wu discusses a “secretive” new organ near the nasal cavity. Doctors from the Netherlands believe this to be an additional pair of flat, spindly salivary glands located on the tubes that connect the throat and ears. These doctors believe that these organs, nestled between the nasal cavity and the throat, have never been identified. Wu explains that the sample size was small and limited but the identification of this new structure could change the understanding of disease and oncology relating to this region of the body.  Salivary glands and the production of saliva assist in speaking, swallowing, gustation, and can play roles in healing. Damage to these areas can significantly reduce one’s quality of life. In radiation therapy and cancer treatments, doctors prioritize preventing damage to these areas. After visualizing these glands with very sensitive imaging, researchers dissected the tissue and found striking physiological similarities to the other known salivary glands. Researchers believe these glands may help explain why several patients undergoing radiation therapy experience ‘unexplained’ chronic dry mouth, doctors were not aware of these glands and so did not try to avoid them. Wu emphasizes the fact that research in this area requires more data and a more diverse sample.

study from Radiotherapy and Oncology discusses this potential new organ, the tubarial salivary gland, in the context of radiotherapy. The authors explain that this organ located in the human nasopharynx is clinically relevant but was previously unnoticed, until it was recently imaged with PSMA PET/CT imaging for prostate-specific membranes. The authors observed this bilateral structure and observed ligand uptake similar to the salivary glands. They hypothesized that this organ played a role in lubrication and swallowing and, if spared in radiotherapy, could improve the quality of life for cancer patients. The researchers observed PSMA PET/CT images for 100 patients (99 male, 1 female) and observed this organ in each of these scans. They then dissected 2 human cadavers and found this gland wrapped around the torus tubarius (cartilage supporting the entrance of the auditory tube). They analyzed the ligand uptake, imaged and modelled the histology, and tested the effects of varying radiotherapy doses on these glands after 1 – 2 years of toxic treatment.  They found that high-dose radiotherapy on this new organ led to significant clinical toxicity. The authors go on to discuss some possibilities as to why these organs have not been noticed previously and recognize that more data is needed regarding these organs and the effects of radiotherapy.

Overall, this NY Times article did a good job of addressing the research on this new organ. I think the purpose of this article was to call attention to the newly imaged organ/ salivary gland. The scientific research article has a stronger emphasis on this organ in relationship to it’s risk associated with the toxicity in radiotherapy and how this may impact oncology treatments. While the NY times article did mention this connection, it was not the major focus of the article. I appreciated that the popular science article echoed the researchers opinions that more data and a more diverse sample is needed in studying and understanding the physiology of this new salivary gland. I was surprised to read about an organ that has not previously been identified, especially with the advanced medical imaging we have now. I think this anatomical and physiological research is important in improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

 

Hannah Dillenbeck

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Oil Demands, Methane Emissions and Global Warming

In her NBC news article, Denise Chow discusses how increased methane emissions threaten climate change goals and the hopes to slow global warming. Scientist’s have emphasized that methane, a greenhouse gas, can combine with carbon dioxide and could warm the atmosphere to levels significantly greater than what scientists have previously warned (3-4 degrees Celsius) within this century. Chow quotes Benjamin Poulter, a NASA researcher at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Poulter explains that this increase overshoots the 1.5 to 2 degrees “warming budget” and suggests that the largest source of methane emissions comes from agricultural activity (livestock) and coal/oil/gas/ fossil fuel industries. Chow explains that the research suggests human activities make up about 60% of methane emissions worldwide and agriculture account for 2/3 of the human impact (with fossil fuel accounting for most of the remaining 1/3). Chow then references an IPCC report explaining alarming warming trends for the planet since the 19th century. In recent years (in 2017, compared to 2000-06 averages) agricultural methane emissions increased by ~11% and fossil fuel methane emissions have increased ~15% (since the 2000s).

The mining of coal, oil, and natural gas can release methane into the atmosphere but microbes in low-oxygen environments (wetlands, landfills, guts of ruminants) can also produce methane. While CO2 produces a larger percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions and lasts longer in the atmosphere, methane’s chemical properties allow it to trap heat/absorb thermal radiation more readily. Researchers suggest a reduction in fossil fuel reliance and agricultural practices to reduce methane emissions, but society’s diet also can play a key role. Reducing the consumption of red meat and beef, especially in the US with one of the highest rates of red meat consumption, can also help to curb the effects of global warming.

This study in Nature suggests that peatlands are significant sources of atmospheric wetlands. Petroleum explorations can result in enhanced methane emissions because of wetter environments and soil compaction. Researchers use soil conditions and seismic exploration to map viable deposits of gas and oil and found shifting conditions on seismic lines (caused by petroleum exploration) likely increases CH4 emissions compared to undisturbed areas. In the northern peatlands of Alberta, Canada (with the worlds 3rd largest oil reserve) at least 1900km^2 have been impacted causing an increase in methane emissions (at least an additional 4.4-5.1 kt CH4/yr) compared to undisturbed conditions.  The authors conclude that petroleum explorations are negatively impacting the environment and increasing methane emissions significantly but they  acknowledge that more research is needed in this area and emphasize the importance/ need for this research.

In these environmental research letters, Jackson et al found that increasing anthropogenic methane emissions arise from fossil fuel and agricultural sources equally. They concluded that methane emissions have continually increased and current patterns align with the warmest marker scenario of the IPCC, yielding a global warming of 4.3 degrees Celsius by 2100. They explain that methane emissions from agriculture, waste and fossil fuels industries are the key players in causing this global increase.

Overall, I think the NBC news article did a good job in addressing the concerns of methane gas from both agricultural and fossil fuel sources and it’s effect on global warming. Chow sited multiple sources and referred to research from climate experts and the IPCC. The purpose of Chow’s article is to address how methane emissions challenge climate change goals and she thoughtfully and thoroughly addressed the research on this issue while highlighting the importance of protecting our planet addressing global warming.

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Are cats shedding COVID19 more than dogs?

(1) An article in the NY Times highlights the effects of Covid-19 on cats and dogs. James Gorman explains that cats and dogs can both be infected without symptoms, while naturally infected cats have presented a strong immune response. Gorman explains that researchers do not believe pets are a significant consideration for human infection and only a handful of pets have been reported as infected naturally.

When the SARS-CoV2 virus was administered to domesticated pets using a pipette through the nasal cavity, researchers found that infected cats shed the virus to non-infected cats placed nearby while no shedding was observed in dogs. While this study showed that dogs did not produce Covid-19 in their upper respiratory tract, and so did not shed the virus, Gorman recognizes that other studies have found different results (though he does not discuss these). Low infection rates in household cats may be linked to a low chance of exposure to sick cats or the fact that humans simply may not notice a sick cat because they often don’t present symptoms. Gorman discusses research that has shown infection (at varying rates) in ferrets and minks as well. Gorman goes onto address that research has shown certain genetic barriers with infection may be mis-represented in a lab because of the administration of higher concentrated doses of the SARSCoV2 virus, when compared to natural settings.

(2) In a study discussing the susceptibility of experimental infection in domestic dogs and cats with SARS-CoV2, the authors found that cats are susceptible to infection, transmission, and show a response to re-exposure. Cats presented with a significant period of oral and nasal shedding but did not show any clinical symptoms. The authors address a concern for human- pet transmission and suggests that in cases where pets have naturally been infected with SARS-CoV2, they are not likely a significant source of infection for humans. In most cases, it is more likely that infected pets have been exposed by their humans, and pets are unlikely to develop severe symptoms. A significant IgG antibody response was found in cats that prevented reinfection, which may be promising in future vaccine research. This study only analyzed ten animals, seven cats and three dogs, which limits the conclusions that can be drawn. However, there was a significant presence of infectious virus in the nasal cavity, trachea, esophagus and oropharynx of cats for several days after infection and viral shedding was detected by plaque assay in cats. Furthermore, the authors observed pathology changes and found mild lung changes in all of the cats after infection.

Another study investigated the susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs and other domesticated animals in close contact with humans, to SARS-CoV2. Animals were inoculated through the nasal cavity, isolated, and later tested for viral RNA detection and virus titration. They found that the virus does not replicate well in dogs (and pigs, chickens and ducks), and the mechanism that prevents or interferes with this replication is not yet fully understood. Cats and ferrets appear to be susceptible and permissive to infection and cats to airborne transmission. Ferrets presented with effective SARS-CoV2 replication in their upper-respiratory tract and so may serve as a candidate model in vaccine studies.

(3) Overall, I think the NY Times article by James Gorman presented the scientific research well but may have failed to address some of the nuances of the research out there. While Gorman cited several sources, at least two of them are yet to be peer-reviewed, though he did acknowledge this in his article. I think the purpose of Gorman’s article was to present this area of research regarding COVID19 and domestic pets, and reduce concern regarding pet-to-human transmission of the virus. I appreciate that he emphasized the fact that research suggests that domesticated pets are not a considerable concern for human infection. I think Gorman did discuss the research in an appropriate way, though he failed to acknowledge that scientists still do not understand everything about COVID-19 and many of these studies investigating domestic animals will require additional research as we learn more about this virus.

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My blog 2020-09-25 03:39:46

(1) This article by Tony Ewing discusses different techniques to reduce stress and increase productivity. Ewing addresses the negative effects of stress and encourages leaders to develop strategies to cope with stress. Ewing addresses different ways to cope that are supported by research such as: self-distancing, avoiding perfectionism/ doing things badly and embracing a “stress is enhancing” mindset. Self-distancing consists of removing one-self from the stressful situation to gain clarity and perspective before reacting. This helps to reduce negative behavior but also alleviates some of the internal negative effects of stress. Doing things badly is a proposed solution for the stresses that perfectionism can create. By allowing space for mistakes and later corrections we remove some of the pressure that perfectionism causes and may be able to accomplish the task more efficiently. Finally re-framing stress as something beneficial may allow for increased persistence and stronger performance. Ewing concludes that stress is a complex condition that requires individualized attention and both short- and long-term management. He offers these 3 techniques as scientific ways to manage stress when we need to be productive.

(2) Research from the Ohio State University addressing the effects of self-distancing in angry/ stressful situations found that provoked individuals who experienced stress and self-distanced scored lower in anger and aggression meaning they experienced less angry thoughts and less aggressive behavior compared to individuals provoked in a control group who could not self-distance.

An article from Stanford regarding Stress, Mindsets and Success in Navy SEALs assessed how different mindsets and perspectives of stress effected performance. The mindset of individual participants was determined using a survey with specific phrasing and agreement scales with options 1-5. The study gathered information about persistence (how long participants stayed in training), success (whether students graduated or not) and performance (completion times for different activities) as well as peer and instructor analyses. They found that participants with mind sets that “stress is enhancing” showed significantly better performance times, lasted longer in the program and were rated more positively by others. They concluded that stress perspectives can predict outcome better several characteristics like demographics and fitness/ BMI. The authors suggest that mindsets relating to stress, rather than just stress management or reduction, may be an important factor in dealing with stressful environments.

Lastly, a study regarding maladaptive perfectionism’s link to aggression and self-harm suggests that perfectionism is associated with increased self-harm and/or aggression towards others for emotional regulation after receiving negative feedback. They concluded that perfectionism could foster hard work, increased attention to detail and increased ability to overcome adversity, but when setbacks threaten a perfectionist’s well- being they have a higher chance of becoming agitated and behaving aggressively to improve their mood. Acknowledging that mistakes and failures is inevitable results in less rigid standards and less aggressive behavior when negative feedback is received.

(3) I think Ewing used the science in an appropriate way in this article. Stress plays a large role in most people’s life today, especially in today’s climate of high political and social tensions, and the additional stressors of the pandemic. I think it is important to continue to research stress and maintain a conversation about how it impacts individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally. The purpose of this popular article was to discuss some scientific techniques that individuals may be able to adopt when dealing with stress. Ewing presented the science well and acknowledged that stress is a complex condition that requires more research and can be managed in a many ways that extend beyond his three “emergency” techniques.

 

Hannah Dillenbeck

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A Discussion on the Rankings of Masks during Covid-19

 

(1) This article from the New York post ranks popular face masks from most effective to least. Kirsten Fleming and Catherine Kast reference research done by Duke University. They describe the setup of the experiment as an individual repeats a phrase several times in the direction of a laser, a cellphone camera records the respiratory droplets produced and an algorithm calculates how many respiratory droplets escaped the mask. The article ranked masks from best to worst with N95 and surgical masks as the best, bandanas and neck gaiters as the worst, with several variations of masks made with cotton and/or synthetic material in between. The authors express a few times that outstanding variables like low loud someone speaks or how well the mask fits may affect the amount of respiratory droplets that pass through.

(2) This article from Duke University investigates facemask efficacy in filtering respiratory droplets expelled during speech with a replicable setup. The authors address that this study was designed to be a quick and affordable way to estimate the efficacy of a mask, that should be expanded upon. They identify the need for further research as they only studied 1-4 speakers per mask, did not account for speaker volume or speech patterns, and were limited by the camera quality (can only detect droplets larger than 0.5um). The results show masks ranked from medical N95 and surgical masks, to different varieties of cotton masks, and on to bandanas, no mask , and fleece gaiters. They represent their data in a figure showing the time evolution of droplet count and with box and whisker plots comparing the mean and standard deviation of each mask’s efficacy over 10 trials. They also include a figure regarding the light scattering properties of droplets, which reflected aspects of their setup.

(3) I think the science was used well in this NY Post article. The authors presented the overall findings of the data and accurately ranked the masks from best to worst. The authors did not discuss the variability of each mask or present the actual data (mean and standard deviation of respiratory droplets that the mask transmitted). However, they did a good job of ranking the masks and acknowledging that extraneous variables (like different speakers, speech volumes, etc) likely influenced results and could explain a lot of the variability among similar cotton masks. Overall I think it was important that the authors stressed the need to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while acknowledging that most of the types of masks commonly worn proved to be reasonably effective (except gaiters and bandanas).

 

Hannah Dillenbeck

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Pneumothorax or Punctured Lungs, A Possible Complication of Covid-19

(1) This article by Victoria Foster sheds light on a symptom of Covid-19 that surprised several medical professionals. Foster discusses the occurrence of pneumothorax or punctured lungs appearing in individuals hospitalized for Covid-19. Pneumothorax is usually most common in tall men or elderly individuals with lung disease. Doctors have reported these symptoms in individuals with Covid-19 that do not fit into those two groups and even extends to individuals with Covid-19 that were not put on a ventilator. A few UK doctors shared this concern on social media and found that other health care professionals were witnessing similar cases. A reported 63% of individuals who experienced a pneumothorax while suffering from Covid-19 survived. Pre-existing conditions, gender and age of these individuals were considered, elderly patients experienced a lower probability of survival with this complication.

(2) The focus of this study , was to analyze pneumothorax and pneumomediastinum and how they may cause complications in patients with Covid-19. Data was gathered from several healthcare systems and details of demographic, radiology, clinical management, lab results, and survival rates were included with the records. This study could not establish a causality relationship between pneumothorax and Covid-19. However, because of the relative frequency of the co-occurrence of Covid-19 and pneumothorax it is unlikely that all/most of these cases were coincidental. The pneumothorax cases that were studied were separated into groups: patients with acute presentation that may be a direct complication of covid-19, ward inpatients who developed pneumothorax while admitted at a hospital, and patients with pneumothorax who were on invasive ventilator support. While the association between pathologies is not fully understood, cyst-formation in the lungs that has been noted to occur with SARS may be involved. The findings allowed them to reasonably conclude that these cases of pneumothorax were likely a consequence of Covid-19.

(3) I think the science was used well and interpreted accurately in this article. It seems that the purpose of Foster’s story was to shed light on a new possible complication that may occur with Covid-19 patients. The connection and pathology of pneumothoraxes in relationship to Covid-19 are not fully understood yet, but studies surrounding this complication must evolve as research and time continue to reveal more about Covid-19 and how it effects human physiology. I think it is important to increase awareness of new complications surrounding Covid-19 and to share these findings with other healthcare professionals and with the public. I think that Foster does a good job in summarizing the details surrounding this research in an accurate way that the public could understand, while not misinterpreting the scientific details.

 

Hannah Dillenbeck

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A Discussion on Mental Disorders in popular and scientific articles

(1)Researchers Doubt That Certain Mental Disorders Are Disorders At All discusses research that calls attention to the root of mental disorders and questions whether they are truly disorders or more of an adaptation for defense in response to our environment and adversity.

This Forbes article argues that science has never “proven” the heritability of mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It also highlights that areas of the world with increased conflict tend to have higher rates of mental disorders and while treatments have increased universally, no reduction in the frequency of these mental disorders has been seen. The author also argues that there are negative implications of labels and their effect on treatment; “mental disorders” must be managed with medicine, but “responses to adversity” could be overcome and relieved with social/educational reforms.

(2) The research in Mental health as biological health: Why tackling “diseases of the mind” is an imperative for biological anthropology in the 21st century discusses how, as medicine continues to decrease the stresses that infectious diseases have on our population, the need to address a rise in mental illnesses and deepen our understanding of their causes continues to rise. The best way to understand these complex mechanisms of mental illnesses is in an integration of biomedical, sociocultural, and evolutionary knowledge. Understanding the biomarkers, neurotransmitters, physiological symptoms, and genetics of mental disorders can only do so much if the cause of some of these disorders actually lies in a “response to adversity” caused by social circumstances. Furthermore, some illnesses may be rooted in the adaptations of humanity, or a “mix-match” in traits and the shift from ancestral to modern environments.

An incredibly wide array of mental illnesses are grouped into these categories for possible causes and analyzed intensively. The array of mental disorders includes but is not limited to OCD, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, depressions, anxiety, PTSD, dementia, Alzheimer’s, other neurological disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc.

(3) The scientific researchers offer an extensive analysis with a clear attempt to discuss the wide array of several known mental disorders. Meanwhile, the Forbes article focuses on a few disorders and exaggerates the idea of “doubt” in the biological side of mental disorders.

The author of the Forbes article does address the importance of biology but appears to have selectively chosen aspects of the research to ‘frame’ their argument in a certain light. The scientific research continues to respect, address and discuss the deeply biological side of many of these disorders but analyzes the complex relationships of these disorders and calls for a more multi-disciplinary approach to understand the causes of and effective treatments for mental illnesses (that incorporates a sociocultural and evolutionary understanding in addition to, not in spite of, the biological research).

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