Author Archives: La Wanda G Golub

Top-Down and Bottom-Up Processing Road Blocks




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I have truly enjoyed my Cognitive Psychology course this semester. Though, I had some personal set-backs that I let to work as time-consuming road blocks the content was enough to keep me interested and to push forward.

However, if there was one area of the course that I struggled with more so than any other area it would have to be top-down processing and bottom-up processing. It has taken me nearly the whole semester to understand that top-down processing, also know as knowledge based processing involves our expectations of prior knowledge and that bottom-up processing involves information received, also known as data-based processing. ( I was having to go back in and reread many writings to see if it would ever click. However, it took only the one above statement for me to have a true aha moment!


Retrieved from

Problem Solving and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”

Problem Solving and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself”

By LaWanda Golub


In today’s overwhelming, controversial society many people are consumed with more problems than answers. As a problem arises, how a person addresses the problem and comes up with the solution may create a pyramid other problems. I myself find addressing my own problems. My problem-solving techniques are “reactionary” (I react merely to actions confronted to me). But in my search to move forward, I am studying personal coping skills. Such coping skills can be found in form of a 12-Step Program, meditation, and behavioral therapy programs. One such model is Cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving.( “In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”) Similar to means-end analysis, in which by comparing the goal to the starting point of  point of the problem and finding the best path to overcome the issue. (“In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”) The cognitive behavioral therapy goal is to change a person’s pattern of thinking or change the behavior that initially created the person’s problems in hopes of changing the way the person feels. ( ) CBT has been used to treat many problems that a person experiences in their lifetime from sleep issues, anxiety and depression, relationship struggles, to drug and alcohol abuse. (“In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”) We must focus on how people direct their thoughts, images, and beliefs to change a person’s attitude and behavior. (“In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”) How we deal with our emotional problems has a lot to do with how we behave.

In the 1960s, Aaron Beck, a psychiatrist, observed most people have an internal dialogue “talking to ourselves in our minds” going on in our minds. But what are we saying to ourselves? Beck coined the phrase “automatic thoughts”; these are thoughts that have an emotional link that pop-in a person’s mind. Beck found the key to understanding one’s own automatic thoughts was a valuable tool in overcoming their problems. (“In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”) Based on the CBT model, if our thoughts are too negative, it can hinder us from seeing things or argue against what we believe as being so. Such as Functional Fixedness, we restrict our problem solving skills because no one can change our mind. (Lesson 14, pg 07) Therefore, with negative thinking we can not learn anything new. ((“In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”)

One would think to quit thinking negatively we need to replace our thoughts with positive thinking. True, this is an optimistic view and could working for many. However, cognitive behavioral therapy involves recognizing your negative thinking and replacing it with realistic and balanced thinking. (“In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5”) “Realistic thinking means looking at yourself, others, and the world in a balanced and fair way, with being overly negative or positive.”. ((“Self Help – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) | Anxiety BC”) We need to pay attention to what we are thinking. When our minds begin to wonder and we notice our emotions start to change negatively, STOP! Examine what thoughts we were having at that time and measure how realistic and helpful they actually are. Do we let our minds wonder into “Thinking Traps”? Overly negative ways of seeing things are thinking traps. (“(“Self Help – Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) | Anxiety BC”) change ‘xx’ to page number) I like to call my thinking traps self-created land mines randomly placed in my field of daisies.

People do not like others talking down to them. It can hurt your feelings and self-esteem. This includes YOU!  When you find that you’re absent mindedly talking down to yourself challenge yourself to be a better person. Start by being a better person to you.

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In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psych Central – Part 5. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Self Help – Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) | Anxiety BC. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hungry Hungry Hippo; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and The Hippocampus



Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, reliving memories of trauma, and avoiding places, events, people or objects that are reminiscent of the traumatic event.  PTSD is an event often with an unknown cause, mysterious, and always unpleasant. In American the common cause in is childhood abuse, 16% of American women (out of 40 million) are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. (1) Though, the most common cause of PTSD is childhood abuse it may also be caused by many other psychological traumas- car accidents, military combat, rape and assault.

Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, increased vigilance, social impairment, and problems with memory and concentration.  While most symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder relate to psychological problems, some or of these problems could have to do with the physical effects of stress on the brain. (2)

Physical changes have been seen in recent studies of combat veterans and child abuse victims. The hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning new memory, and also handles stress. (3) The hippocampus works with the medial prefrontal cortex, and area of the brain that regulates our emotional response to fear and stress. PTSD patients often have impairments in either one or both of the regions of the brain. When children have problems with these areas of the brain they can have difficulty learning.

Other symptoms of PTSD in children, include fragmentation of memory, intrusive memories, flashbacks, dissociation (the unconscious separation of some mental processes from others, a mismatch between facial expression and thought or mood), and pathological (“sick”) emotions, may also be related to the impairment of the hippocampus.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers have a big problem with memory and report issues with declarative memory (remembering facts or list), fragmentation of memory, and dissociative amnesia (gaps in memory lasting from minutes to days that are not caused by forgetting). Many victims report they forget central events but remember minor details of the abuse. During onne incident, a woman, as a child, had been asked to fold fresh towels and put them away on a shelf where a, still living, rat had been captured in a trap and was clawing to be freed. She had isolated memories of folding the towels incorrectly and of the rat. Over time, she connected these details of feelings with fear. She created an obsessive compulsive trait of having to fold the towels trifold and a fight or flight fear of rats. Only when she was able to remember the whole picture of what happened to her was she able to address her fear.

However, recent research has shown that the hippocampus can regenerate nerve cells (neurons) when working properly, and that stress hinders the process by stopping or slowing down the regeneration. A recent study tried to see if PTSD symptoms matched up with a measurable loss of neurons in the hippocampus Vietnam combat veterans with declaratory memory problems caused by PTSD were tested. When measuring the brain with MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) the combat veterans were found the right hippocampal reduced by 8% and no other differences were found in the brain. The study showed that diminished right hippocampal volume in the PTSD patients was associated with short-term memory loss.

The traumatised children of war-torn Syria

This new understanding of how childhood trauma affects memory and the brain has important factory for the public health policy. The different kinds of stress impacting small children around the world from sexual abuse, intercity violent crimes, and war-torn countries with effect how children learn and the disadvantages they may have with the rest of society.

In an ideal world we would take away all the trauma and stress in world. However, the hope of today is with new studies and better understanding of how stress affects the mind and body that we may be able to help more victims.



(1) McCauley J, Kern DE, Koloder K, Dill L, Shroeder AF, DeChant HK, Ryden J, Degrarogatis LR, BASS EG (1997). Clinical Characteristics of women with history child abuse; Unhealed Wounds. JAMA 277: 1362-1368

(2) Brenner JD, Momar C (eds.) (1998) Trauma, Memory and Dissociation, APA Press, Washington DC.

(3)Bremner JD, Narayan M (1998); The effects of stress on memory and the hippocampus thoughout the life cycle: Implications for childhood development and aging. Develop Psychopath pp 871-886

(4)Bremner JD, Southwich SM, Charney DS (1999): The neurolobiology of posttraumatic stress disorders: An intergration of animal and human research. In: Saigh, P, Bremner, J.D. (Eds.): Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Comprehensive Text, Allyn & Bacon, New York, pp 103-143

(5)Gould E, Tanapat P, McEwen BS, Flugge G, Fushs E (1998). Repeated stress causes reversible impairments of spatial memory performance. Brain res: 639:167-170

“I’m a Maniac” by LaWanda Golub



 I’m a maniac. No really, right up until 1980 before they revised the “American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” 3rd Edition. I would have been called a maniac for most of my life. I am a maniac, along with 2.4% of other “maniacs” around the world. Today, I am included with the largest population of 4.4% of the “maniacs” living in the United States. (1)

Am I a maniac? Possibly on any given day I could be described that way by some. We would not want to ask my ex. I remember the day I left him. He was talking, and I asked him to stop. He continued, and I believe he even got louder. I simply picked up my purse and car keys, walked out the door, got in my car, and drove away. It had taken him two weeks to find me, but by then I had already started a new life. To this day, I have no emotional connection to the man I once spent eight years of my life. However, since that March day back in 1980, I am no longer a “maniac” now I am referred to as a Bipolar.

Bipolar is defined as;

(of psychiatric illness) characterized by both manic and depressive episodes, or manic ones only. (2)

Bipolar is not a new disorder.  In as early as the 1st Century of Greece, Arteaus of Cappadocia began writing and detailing symptoms in the medical field. Terms we use today, such as, manic and depression were once defined as mania and melancholia by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Romans were known for the “lithium salt” baths to raise the spirits of the melancholy and relax the mania. Today, lithium is still used in treatments for balancing bipolar patients. Even Aristotle was noted for crediting melancholy for contributing greatly to artist of his time with inspiration. “For as men differ in appearance not because they possess a face but because they possess such and such a face, some handsome, others ugly, others with nothing extraordinary about it, so those who have little of this temperament are ordinary, but those who have much are unlike them, majority of people. For if their melancholy habitus is quite undiluted they are too melancholy but if it somewhat tempered they are outstanding. (Aristotle 954b21-27) (3)   It was not until 1851 when French Psychiatrist Jean- Pierre Falret published the article “la folie circulaire “  (translated “Circular Insanity”) he describe one’s switching from severe depression to manic excitement. Falret, was also the first in the medical field to bring to light the genetic connection. This is believed to be the earliest document diagnosis of what is called bipolar today. (4)


Have we advanced much in our research on mental illness from the Greece 1st Century? Has the advancement of technology and understanding of the human body given us answers to reduce this illness to similarities of the common cold? What are the goals of today’s psychiatrist and what do they see for us “the maniacs” and our offspring in the future?

“It is all in your head.” I have been told that since I was a small child. In fact, looking back on my childhood, what memories are mine and what memories did “my head” create?  However the amazing fact, it is all in my head. Bipolar affects several areas of the brain. The main areas of the brain involved with Bipolar are the frontal and temporal lobes of the forebrain.  Bipolar affects the hippocampus, which helps us regulate the creation of memories and stress management, the thalamus, which helps us control emotions (especially, fight or flight), and the anterior cingulated, which helps us to respond to our environment. The cerebral cortex is accredited with being responsible for the negative thoughts associated with the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder. (5)

Over my lifetime, I had been described as someone who switches on and off.  Most of the people would say they are describing a character trait. However, with the advancement of technology I have learned that is exactly what I do. Now, we know neurotransmitters are involved in the causes of mood disorders. The two main neuroanatomical circuits in mood regulation are the limbic-thalamic-cortical circuit and the limbic-striatal-pallial-cortical circuit. A mood disorder may develop with any dysfunction of these mood-regulating circuits. Include that with the lack of control of a cell with the imbalance of chemicals, such as, the monoamines (noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine) and acetylcholine we have enough spark to set-off the roller coaster ride. A roller coaster ride, a common expression I find in group sessions after group sessions. (6)

What do the medical pioneers see for us “maniacs” in the future? One such pioneer is Dr. Yurgelun- Todd. To monitor brain activity she uses an imaging technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). “When we perform a task, like lifting a finger or memorizing a list of words, the regions of the brain that enable us to carry out that job is turned on. “The neurons are firing more and require more energy that changes the blood flow in the brain,” explains Dr. Yurgelun-Todd. (7) She one day hopes to advance preventive care so that we may have a medical exam that not only include a blood profile to help evaluate our physical health, but also a brain profile, as well.

I am Bipolar. I am a medicated coupled with therapy Bipolar patient. I do not carry it around like a privilege granting me exceptions or excuses for my daily actions. I am not a product nor a prisoner of my environment. I have hopes for future medical advancements but none so grand that it keeps me from confronting today. I have been reconditioned over the years to take the “excess” my mind allows in and create outwardly. I work and befriend other bipolar patients. We are not a club. We do not all have the same tendencies, likes, dislikes, and boundaries. But we are known to short circuit. No. I am not a “maniac”.

(1)A study was conducted by researchers around the world and funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pfizer Foundation, and a variety of other pharmaceutical companies and public health organizations.

(2) Merriam-Webster Dictionary

(3) This is the translation by Klibansky et al. (1964, p. 26)

(4) Wikipedia

(5, ) (6)(Manji & Lenox, 2000).

(7) Dr. Yurgelun-Todd was hired by the Brain Institute under the USTAR initiative and joined the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah July 1, 2008. She comes to Utah from the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School. She was also the Director of the internationally recognized Cognitive Neuroimaging laboratory at the Brain Imaging Center of McLean Hospital.