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Today, the total number of Americans with mental illnesses sums to around 44 million; that’s nearly one in five Americans suffering from mental health problems (1). These unfortunate statistics bring into question the topic of diagnosis. How are mental health disorders detected, categorized, and treated? This article will seek to explore these topics. Specifically the history, current applications, criticisms, and implications of the various frameworks that are currently being used to identify, study, and treat mental health conditions.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

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Image Source: https://www.statnews.com/2016/12/12/psychiatry-dsm-update/

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a handbook that was originally published in 1952 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The DSM was the first official manual of mental disorders to focus on clinical use. The DSM has since been considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing mental health disorders. Over the years, the DSM has undergone several revisions to update and reorganize its diagnostic criteria. Currently, the DSM is in its fifth edition (DSM-V) and has served as a revolutionary manual for understanding, classifying, studying, and standardizing mental health disorders in America and around the world. …


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Are aliens among us? Some marine biologists may be able to convince you that indeed there are. The precocious underwater group of marine creatures known as cephalopods sparks interest and intrigue in every marine field due to their unique and beautiful features. Cephalopods (which include the octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus) belong to the Mollusca phylum and possess a large head, bulbous eyes, and sprightly tentacles. The reason these animals seem so celestial to biologists comes from both the evolutionary history of the cephalopod and the baffling complex cognitive abilities that have resulted from their unique evolution. Who would have thought that an animal evolutionarily neighboring snails would be able to calculate an escape from an aquarium tank all the way back to their home in the ocean? …


Editor’s note: This article was originally written in the final weeks of our Spring 2020 semester. At the time of publishing, UC Berkeley is operating fully online, with students scattered across the globe, glued to our laptops for classes, internships, and social lives. In the US, this summer was one of reckoning, with the pandemic, mass protests for racial justice, wildfires, and an unprecedented economic crisis, all of which have brought the nation to its knees. Reading this article again, I can’t help but think about how deeply my own outlook on the world, this field, and my own self has changed since March. It is my hope that through the articles we publish this semester we can all learn more about what it means to be human, and how it brings us together rather than divides us. …


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Some people can work anywhere. Sitting next to chatty coworkers or peers? Not a problem. Working in an office building right next to a busy railroad station? Bring it on.

But for most people, the environment and the surroundings have a significant impact on how focused they are on the task at hand and how efficient their work session ends up being. Environmental cues play a huge role in productivity. …


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If you want to become smarter and more focused, you might try meditation, ample sleep, and intensive study. Other people, particularly and increasingly college students, are substituting the first two recommendations with amphetamines. And they are studying harder than ever… maybe. It seems as though society doesn’t know the actual effects of amphetamines like Adderall and Ritalin, but instead assumes they are akin to Bradley Cooper’s experience in Limitless. Here is some of what we know about the ways amphetamines work on the molecular, psychophysical, and social level.

What are amphetamines and how do they work?

The short answer is that they kinda look like neurotransmitters and they determine the amount of free-floating dopamine in the brain. If the reader would prefer to skip the technical explanation (which we have tried to make as straightforward as possible), do you really? Are you sure? Fine, then there is no need to read this section. …


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What’s going through your mind when you watch a commercial on TV, or see an advertisement on a billboard? According to neuromarketing, the answer is much more than meets the eye.

Neuromarketing emerged as a promising venture for advertisers when researchers began demonstrating that marketing techniques triggered tangible impacts on brain behavior. A 2004 study at Emory University was one of the first to demonstrate these impacts. Using an fMRI machine, researchers measured subjects’ responses to drinking Coca-Cola and Pepsi. When the drinks weren’t identified by name or visual branding, neurological responses were shown to be fairly stable. …


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Since time immemorial, humans have been puzzled by the problems of behavior, cognition, and the perpetual suffering that is the human condition. Time and again, we have turned to models of the mind to explain these phenomena. Plato was one of the first to try and explain the human mind through models. He proposed that the human psyche was akin to a chariot, there are a driver and two horses. One horse represents our moral impulses and righteous instincts, while the other pulls the cart towards irrational passions and appetites. The charioteer must guide the two horses with intellect. …


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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a neuroimaging technique gaining greater momentum and use by professionals since its invention in 1990. Today, not only have researchers used this way of imaging to link psychological and neural mechanisms, but also in clinical work; fields such as neuro-psychiatry and surgery have quoted a high value for fMRI’s role in understanding neurobehavioral disorders and presurgical mapping. As advances of its application in the science of brain and behavior are made, it is critical to note the foundation in which fMRI is posited on, and the increasing demands for research circling back to the hemodynamic coupling problem. …


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It’s an early Sunday morning when your Roomba bumps into you. It beeps, noticing the foreign object in its path, before slowly turning away to continue its work.

You reach down to give the robot vacuum cleaner a pat. His name is Zoomer.

We’ve seen warnings of a cybernetic takeover in science fiction before: with robots waging a cybernetic war against humans with Daleks in Doctor Who, or the takeover of Skynet in Terminator. But despite these red flags, humans have still developed a soft spot for robots — in the form of virtual personal assistants, mini-vacuum cleaners, and more.

Alexa, Siri, and your friendly neighborhood Roomba may be miles away from becoming the superintelligent AI systems showcased in sci-fi movies and books, but they’ve already succeeded in gaining your love and affection. …


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The average honey bee has close to a million neurons. This is a shockingly large number for an insect–but to put it into a larger perspective, the human brain is estimated to have almost a hundred billion. The human nervous system, by numerical estimate, is approximately 100,000 times larger in cell count than the nervous system of a honey bee. And yet, we have been able to build machines and devices to study our own brains and understand the different processes that occur in our nervous systems, as well as stimulate certain regions of the brain to execute different functions.

Imaging techniques such as fMRI allow us to build a functional map of the brain and tell us a lot about the areas of the brain involved in different tasks such as cognition and memory. Techniques like deep brain stimulation are used by neurosurgeons to controllably alter neural activity. …

About

Neurotech@Berkeley

We write on psychology, ethics, neuroscience, and the newest in neural engineering. @UC Berkeley

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