Saturday, May 5, 2012

Two! Two! Two Entries in One!

Like the super-sleuth that I am (I'm not), I discovered the phantom entry I was missing! The ironic thing is that it was the one on memory.

Smell You Later (Olfaction and Memory)

It's been noted that smell and memory operate hand-in-proverbial-hand, one often retrieving the other in intense, specific detail. A particular odor can trigger vivid memories-- the strident aroma of iodine recalls booster shots and the coldness of a metal stethoscope, or the sick-sweet smell of regurgitated formula can prompt a mother to remember the feeling of the old tweed couch she used to sit on while she rocked her baby.

Scientists propose that the physiological connections between the olfactory and memory functions play a large role in this phenomenon. The primary olfactory cortex is directly linked to the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for emotions and emotional memory (hence the emotional potency of the memories retrieved), as well as the hippocampus, which deals in short-term and working memory. Therefore, when olfactory sensations are processed for simple identification, they are also leaving their residue in the neural archives.

Though memories that are primarily auditory/visual can be definite, the olfactory sense seems to be the most adept at evoking the full dimensions of an event. This is perhaps because the olfactory receptors are the only sensory receptors completely exposed to the environment. The processing of odor is immediate.

Olfactory memory functions are crucial in the animal kingdom, as many animals identify their young, mates, and food sources by smell alone. While this isn't necessary in humans, scientists say there isn't a particular reason for us to have evolved beyond it.

Asperger's Syndrome (or "I Don't Have a Joke for This One because That'd be Downright Ableist")

Asperger's Syndrome was identified by Austrian pediatrician Dr. Hans Asperger in 1944. Though diagnoses are prevalent to this day, it is difficult to diagnose, as there is some question as to whether Asperger's is a subcategory of autism or something unique in and of itself. Though recognized as similar disorders, people with Asperger's Syndrome often lack the speech and developmental delays that people with autism exhibit. That being he case, Asperger's Syndrome is regarded in context of the Autism Spectrum, placing on the "high-functioning" end of the scale.

Asperger's Syndrome doesn't usually affect a person's ability to function in society. Somebody with Asperger's can be capable of holding a job, going to the store, performing their expected duties as a contributing member of the human race, and maintaining relationships with very close friends and family (of course, there are always exceptions). A person with Asperger's is also capable of identifying their emotions and their causes. The syndrome is often diagnosed when a series of communication skill deficiencies are present. For instance, somebody with Asperger's might fixate on an obscure topic, thus making it difficult for them to relate to other people who don't feel the same way. They may come across as pedantic in their attention to small details or inconsistencies. It can be difficult for somebody with Asperger's Syndrome to pick up on certain cues that other people project, especially when another person is bored or feeling negatively about an interaction.

There is no "cure" for Asperger's, but there rehabilitative therapies to assist people in managing the syndrome, should they feel it is truly detrimental to their existence as a functioning person. Some people don't see it as an issue, and that's a-okay too.

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