Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Brain: The Neurobiology of Trust

I have always been interested in the Mind and Memory however the majority of my interest has been in the area of psychology. Parenting a child with a Neurological Disability has put a whole new spin on how I look at research of the Brain. Psychology is not as effective when applied to a person with a neurological disorder, for me to only consider psychology as a foundation is to ignore the fact that there is much more to the human brain then simply the mind.

Parenting children with Neurological disorders is much different then a child with the typical emotional or psychological issues to consider. It seems to me I would be expecting a child to learn ordinary skills, thoughts, emotions, social and behavioral skills and demonstrate normal development based on psychology from children with more then just the ordinary causes for these issues to become a problem.

It has not been an easy process for me to come to understand that expecting results from the psychological and behavioral modification approach is not exactly effective when my children have a Neurological Disorder. It would seem similar to telling a paralyzed person that because there are crutches and many people are able to get up and walk with crutches that they should be able to do the same.

No one would ever expect a paralyzed person to muster the will-power, self-control and courage to face their own limitations by getting up and walking on crutches. Most people would find any suggestion to be completely insane!

Yet, it seems clear to me that teachers, psychologists, therapists, case workers, social workers, doctors, and most other professionals involved in my life parenting children with Neurological Damage expect the paralyzed children to pick up those crutches and walk!
The odd thing about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders FASD, Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorders ARND and many of the other disabilities connected to drug exposure or other neurological disorders is that our children may not always be paralyzed that day. They may do well one day and not the next. It ends up looking like our children really could use the crutches but, they just don't want to.

If our children happen to be adopted, and display this kind of on and off behavior or ability however due to frustration develop any secondary behavior issues connected with the fact that they ARE SOMETIMES Paralyzed the first conclusion is to call it an Attachment Disorder or when the secondary behaviors are extreme and dynamic it may be considered Reactive Attachment Disorder RAD.

Looking at the situation and deciding that certain behaviors or inconsistencies are due to a psychological disorder means that the burden is on the child to develop coping skills and learn to manage an emotional or psychological problem. Since we all know the child can walk--the fact the child won't walk is considered to be part of the attachment disorder. It seems strange to me that other people can't seem to notice that sometimes it is not because the child Won't but in fact it is because the child Can't at that moment. It may not be about defiance or RAD behavior--it really may be about the fact that at the moment the child is having neurological difficulty, it might not be possible for the child to respond because the child may be processing information and may need time to do so.

This morning I was reading Scientific American Magazine June 2008 Issue and stumbled on the most interesting article The Neurobiology of Trust By Paul J. Zak published on page 88. This article has been so fascinating to me that I plan to write several blog about it during the next few days.

While you wait you might be interested in some of the background research and information I have found about the study and author of the article that has inspired the coming blogs.

According to the Abstract of an article The Neurobiology of Trust the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Reports:

This is the first report that endogenous oxytocin in humans is related to social behaviors, which is consistent with a large animal literature. Subjects are put into a social dilemma in which absent communication, cooperative behavior can benefit both parties randomly assigned to a dyad. The dilemma arises because one participant must make a monetary sacrifice to signal the degree of trust in the other before the other's behavioral response is known. We show that receipt of a signal of trust is associated with a higher level of peripheral oxytocin than that in subjects receiving a random monetary transfer of the same average amount. Oxytocin levels were also related to trustworthy behavior (sharing a greater proportion of the monetary gains). We conclude that oxytocin may be part of the human physiology that motivates cooperation.

In another publication Found HERE I found this excerpt to be very interesting:

In my cross-country work, the most highly correlated variable associated with generalized trust is self-reported happiness (see Figure 4; correlation different than zero at p < .01, two-tailed t-test). Why are happy people trusting (or vice-versa)? The evidence presented in this chapter strongly suggests that nature has designed us to be conditional cooperators because it literally feels good. This positive feedback is how OT facilitates bonding of mother to child, spouses to each other, and my experiments have shown, causes strangers who are shown tangible evidence of trust placed in them to temporarily attach to each other. (Page 17)

Be sure to check back often for future blogs about this subject which may be found in The Brain tags.

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