The Journal of Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences - 2000
Volume 14, 2000
Terms and Conditions: Copyright 2000 by the Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham-Madison, N. J. Volume 14, published Spring, 2000. All rights reserved. Permission for reproduction in whole or part must be obtained from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Journal of Psychology and the Behavioral Sciences, Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey 07940.
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Phone: (973) 443-8974
Journal of Psychology
and the Behavioral Sciences
The Founding Student Managed Journal
for Student Research 1966-2000
Volume 14, 2000
JPBS MAIN MENU
- Faculty Advisor Editorial Commentary
JPBS Call For Papers
and Submission Requirements
- Volume 15 Deadline & Contact Information
1. Second Language Proficiency and Priming Effects in Spanish-English Adult Bilinguals -
Sandra Ribera and Judith G. Foy, Loyola Marymount University
(Note: On website only)
2. Rolipram, a Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor, Increases Immediate Post-shock Freezing, But Does Not Facilitate Long-term Conditional Fear Learning in Rats - Eric H. Chang, Greg D. Gale and Michael S. Fanselow, University of California at Los Angeles
3. Networks of Attachment: Toward an Integration of Working Models and Relational Schemas - Michael Johns, University of Colorado
4. Personality Correlates of Visual Attentional Processing - Graham C. Pluck and Richard G. Brown, The Institute of Neurology, University College London
5. The Relationship Between Academic Procrastination and Fear of Failure in College Students -Molly Griffith and David Hogan, Northern Kentucky University
6. Ziprasidone, a Novel Antipsychotic Drug for the Treatment of Schizophrenia and Other Psychiatric Disorders - L. Eleonora Troia,
Fairleigh Dickinson University
7. Seizure-Alert Dogs: The Saving Sense of Smell - Justin A. Browne, Fairleigh Dickinson University
8. The Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Adolescent Substance Abuse -
Elizabeth N. Nissim and Kristi-Anne Seymour, Fairleigh Dickinson University
9. Music from Sound to Perception -Crista Trippodi, Fairleigh Dickinson University
10. A Journey into the World of Psychedelic Art with Alex Grey -Eileen Porfido, Fairleigh Dickinson University
11. The Effects of Organization and Cognitive Distraction on Long-Term Recognition Memory -Billie Draper, Jeremy Rubingh, Sherri Lantinga, and Paul Moes,
THEME SECTION FOCUS ON STEROIDS
12. Methyltestosterone: An Examination of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Compounds and the Effects on the Brain and Behavior - Amy L. Villano, Fairleigh Dickinson University
13. Effective Use of Anabolic Steroids as Treatment for AIDS Wasting Syndrome -Christina Cipriano, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Faculty Advisor Editorial Commentary
Volume 14 of JPBS features manuscripts addressing
One aspect of JPBS which sets it apart from other journals publishing student contributions is the inclusion of a theme section. Volume 10 focused upon the efficacy of naltrexone (ReVia) as a potential treatment drug for alcoholism. Volume 11 focused upon the impact of nicotine-containing products (435,000 Americans a year, and perhaps 3 million people world-wide die prematurely from exposure to nicotine-containing products). Volume 12 focused on the effects of methcathinone as a drug of abuse rampant in Russia. Volume 13 focused on the effects of caffeine; the drug most consumed worldwide. In this present issue, we are pleased to present manuscripts that provide overviews of steroids. Our next issue (JPBS Volume 15, 2001) will focus upon Ketamine hydrochloride and Ibogaine as both drugs of abuse and medications for addictions. We invite the submission of manuscripts that will interest and educate our readers regarding the abuse and psychotherapeutic uses of these drugs.
In closing, I congratulate the student staff for their time and efforts to bringing this volume to print. I thank the FDU-Madison Campus Administrator and Mr. Gregory O. Buck, President Penny Press, Madison, NJ, for his publishing talents that continue to make our journal a pleasure to read. Lastly, this journal serves as an example that students who are fortunate enough to have found caring and creative mentors can and will become published.
My Regards, Daniel J. Calcagnetti, Ph.D., JPBS Faculty Advisor
Provided that you have not read our journal before, allow us to provide a brief introduction. JPBS is a non-profit Fairleigh Dickinson University journal produced by students. JPBS is the original student managed journal for student research in psychology (first published in 1966). Our mission is to review research submissions from students and promote the student-mentor relationship leading to publication.
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Graduate studies in Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University - Madison Campus include Masters programs in Applied Community and Social Psychology, Clinical Counseling, Industrial/organizational and Combined Master of Business and Psychology. Please visit our web page http://alpha.fdu.edu/psychweb for more information.
Other Journals that highlight Student Publication/Research in Psychology include:
1) Der Zeitgeist: The Student Journal of Psychology (TM) (ISSN 1080-6725) is an electronic journal devoted to publishing the work of psychology undergraduate and graduate students. The journal is published annually on the World Wide Web. All APA approved articles are considered. URL: Der Zeitgeist can be viewed at http://www.wwu.edu/~9140024/index.html
Submission deadlines: July edition deadline: May 1
2) Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research: Founded 1996; Telephone (423) 756-2044
3) Modern Psychological Studies: Founded 1992; Telephone (423) 785-2238
4) Journal of Psychological Inquiry: Founded 1996; Contact Mark Ware, Psych. Dept., Creighton Univ., Omaha, NE 68178
5) Journal of Undergraduate Sciences, Harvard University Science Center, 1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~jus
6) PARALLAXIS (Journal of the Romanian Psychologists Students) PUBLISHED TWICE A YEAR http://www.dntcj.ro/edu/ubb/psychology/reviews.htm#parallaxis
JPBS Volume 14 - STUDENT OFFICERS
Kalindi Bakshi and Heather DeYoung
STUDENT WEB MANAGER:
(in no particular order)
Vincenza Paparella, Lisa Barrington, Kalindi Bakshi, Heather DeYoung , Anuja Parikh, Brooke Chiusano, Kathleen Thomas, Tara Flinchbaugh, Dana Dawson, Julie Nissim, Herardine Lacrete, Stephanie Bowman, Barbara Donovan, Christopher Williams
Lucy A. Quatrella, Ph. D., Seton Hall (*Lifetime Journal Member)
Diane Keyser Wentworth, Ph.D., Fairleigh Dickinson University
Ray Baylouny, Ph.D., Fairleigh Dickinson University
Elizabeth Hixenbaugh, Ph.D., Fairleigh Dickinson University
Glenn L. Cavanagh, J.D.,M. A., Fairleigh Dickinson University
Jennifer Siler, M.A./MBA, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Jane Cooper, M.A., Fairleigh Dickinson University
Julian Paul Keenan, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
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JPBS is an annual periodical published by the Psychology Department of Fairleigh Dickinson University at Madison, NJ. The review of manuscripts is the responsibility of our undergraduate and graduate journal student officers, coordinated by the current student editors. Volume 14, published 2000, Copyright © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2000 by the Department of Psychology, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ. Permission for reproduction in whole or in part must be obtained directly in writing from the Faculty Advisor, Dr. Daniel J. Calcagnetti. Our ISSN # is: 1061-6799; US copyright registration # for our past issue, Vol. 13, is TX-5-066-623. The print font type is Arrus BT Roman, 9-16 point. Computer co-production by Macintosh and PCs.
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Below is our first offering available on the web.
Second Language Proficiency and Priming Effects
in Spanish-English Adult Bilinguals
Sandra Ribera and Judith G. Foy
Loyola Marymount University
Studies of semantic organization in bilinguals may reveal how linguistic information is stored in the brain. We hypothesized that increasing proficiency in a second language may modify the nature of the links between cognates in the two languages. We hypothesized those differences in reaction times to lexical decisions for between- and within-language primes would be correlated with proficiency. The present study investigated the hypothesis in college-aged Spanish English bilinguals, controlling for print exposure. Results showed that bilingual participants were significantly faster in making decisions when the stimuli were same language repetitions than for translations and that proficiency was indirectly related to priming effects. These results suggest that proficiency in a second language modifies semantic organization of the lexicon or access to it. Print exposure only affected within-language repetitions, suggesting that its effects occur at a relatively shallow level.
Although bilingualism has been studied for many years, relatively little is known about how semantic information is stored in people who know more than one language. For example, we do not yet know how proficiency in the second language affects cognitive processing of verbal stimuli.
Priming, where participants are exposed to a pair of words that are related in some way, is a common paradigm for studying bilingual word processing. For example, Klein and Doctor (1992) conducted a study on bilinguals using interlingual polysemes (words that share spelling and meaning in both languages) and interlingual homographs (words that share spelling but not meaning). The results showed faster response times for polysemes than for homographs, suggesting that words may be stored at a semantic, or meaning, level in bilinguals. Recently it has also been reported that a printed string of letters can simultaneously activate lexical representations in both of the bilinguals languages even when participants are performing a monolingual task (Bijeljac-Babic, Biardeau, & Grainger, 1997). The authors concluded that representations for words associated with the same concept in two languages may be strongly linked at a semantic level in bilinguals. Although this activation may be relatively automatic, Hernandez, Bates, and Avila (1996) proposed that cross-language priming may involve strategic activation processes by the bilinguals that allow them to process information at a much deeper level.
The degree of proficiency achieved by bilinguals in their acquired second language has been recently recognized as an important variable. Among English and French bilinguals, Favreau and Segalowitz (1984) found that less fluent bilinguals (slower second language reading rate) had evidence of automatic processing only in their first language, and not in their second language. Dufour and Kroll (1995) investigated the relations between lexical and conceptual connections in bilingual memory using bilinguals who were more or less fluent in their second language. The French-English bilinguals viewed category names and then decided whether a target word was a member of that category. The researchers found that categorization latencies were independent of the language of the category name in more fluent bilinguals, and that there was no significant difference between response time for within- and between-language category names and target words. In contrast, less fluent bilinguals were faster at categorizing words in both languages when the language of the category name matched the language of the target word (DuFour & Kroll, 1995). This suggests that proficiency may affect the access to semantic/conceptual information from the second language. Priming for proficient bilinguals has also been shown to occur in pure lists (single language), but not in bilingual mixed lists (Basden, Bonilla-Meeks, & Basden, 1994).
Although proficiency appears to be an important factor in bilingual studies, the effects of bilingualism on cognitive development appear not to be solely dependent on the level of second language proficiency. The relationship between bilingualism and cognition has been shown to be a function of age and cognitive level (Jarvis, Danks, & Merriman, 1995). Furthermore, in studies of monolinguals, print exposure has emerged as an important independent predictor of verbal proficiency (e.g., Stanovich & Cunningham, 1993). Thus age, cognitive level, and print exposure are important variables to control in studies of bilingual language.
We examined whether associative links between translations become replaced by conceptual links with increasing proficiency. Specifically, this study tested four specific hypotheses. First, we predicted that reaction times for between- and within-language conditions for the second language (Spanish) would become more similar as proficiency increases. Second, we predicted that response times would be faster in within-language repetitions than in between-language pairs. Third, we predicted that print exposure would be more strongly associated with response times for within- and between- language repetitions. Fourth, we hypothesized that reaction times for between- and within-language conditions for the second language (Spanish) would become more similar as print exposure increased.
Thirty-eight Spanish-English bilingual college students (11 males, 27 females) volunteered for this study as part of the university participant pool at a medium sized liberal arts institution in Southern California. All APA guidelines with regard to the ethical treatment of participants were followed in this experiment.
Spanish Proficiency Levels. The participants completed the vocabulary, verbal analogy, and word identification subtests of the Woodcock-Munoz Language Survey (Woodcock & Munoz-Sandoval, 1993). The scores on these tests were combined into a composite Spanish Proficiency score.
Print Exposure. Scores on the Reading and Media Habits Questionnaire (Stanovich & Cunningham, 1993) were used as a measure of print exposure (i.e. how often the participant reads), regardless of language. This self-report survey, which was administered in a group setting, provides a measure of the participants’ book, magazine, and newspaper reading habits, as well as their practices with regard to using libraries and frequenting bookstores.
Priming. Stimuli for the priming task were derived from a previous study (Hernandez, Bates, & Avila, 1996). Half of the English stimuli in this study were translated into Spanish by the first author. The participants made lexical decisions to 192 word pairs (48 English-English, 48 Spanish-Spanish, 48 Spanish-English and 48 English-Spanish word pairs) and 192 pairs containing nonwords, The nonwords were constructed by randomly changing one letter in words eligible for targets (Spanish and English). Participants had to press "1" indicating that the pair consisted of real words or "2" indicating that one or both of the words in the pair were not real words. Accuracy and reaction time (RT) in milliseconds was recorded online. Only stimuli that were responded to accurately within 2000 msec were analyzed for the RT measure. The priming task consisted for two blocks of randomly presented trials. The priming task was conducted on a Dell desktop computer using software developed by the second author. Stimuli were displayed on a color monitor controlled by Micro Experimental Lab (MEL) software (Psychology Software Tools, 1995) implemented on an IBM compatible computer. Responses were collected on a computer keyboard. The MEL software measured response accuracy and latency to the nearest millisecond. A centered fixation stimulus was presented for 500 msec prior to stimulus onset. Stimuli were presented for 2 seconds. Feedback about item and task accuracy and item reaction time was provided after each response. Pseudowords occurred with equal probability to true words, and were presented in random order. Only trials with accurate responses within 2500 msec were used for reaction time analysis.
Design and Procedure
Participants completed the questionnaire in a separate group session from the administration of the verbal proficiency and priming tasks, which was administered individually.
The difference between Spanish within- and between-language reaction times was significantly correlated with second language proficiency, r (31)= -. 476, p < .01. Increased proficiency in Spanish was associated with smaller differences in reaction times to within- and between- language repetitions. When print exposure was controlled in partial correlation analyses, the relationship between proficiency and repetition priming for Spanish words was no longer significant, r (29)= .786, p > .05. Thus, the relation between proficiency and priming effects are not independent of the effects of print exposure.
Print exposure was significantly correlated with reaction times to English-English word pairs, r (35)= -. 344, p < .05, and Spanish-Spanish word pairs, r (35)= -. 401, p< .05, but not associated with between- language conditions. Print exposure was also significantly positively correlated with the between-within language reaction time differences, r(35)= .438, p< .05 in zero-order correlations, and when Spanish proficiency was controlled in partial correlations, r(28)=. 384, p< .05. In order to guard against Type I error in multiple comparisons Greenhouse-Geyser corrections were made for the repeated measures ANOVAs. A repeated-measures ANOVA revealed a significant difference between word pair types, F (3, 87)=10.126, p< .0001, and a significant interaction between proficiency and word pair type, F(3,87)=4.845, p< .01. When print exposure was added as a covariate, the main effect of word pair type was not significant. Planned t-tests were used to explore the data in more detail. In order to be significant using Bonferroni corrections, the results needed to be significant at the p< .01 level (.05/4). Reaction times were faster for Spanish-Spanish (M=838.156) than for Spanish-English word pairs (M=1000.064, t(34) = 10.18, p< .01) and for English-English (M=773.944) than English-Spanish word pairs (M=1026.815, t(34) = 12.90, p< .01). The participants processed the word pairs faster when the stimuli were in the same language. Further t-tests showed that Spanish-English reaction time (M=1000.064) was significantly greater than English-Spanish response time (M=1026.815, t(34) = 34.02, p< .01).
In analyses of covariance where Spanish proficiency was statistically controlled, the results were no longer significant for the English words, but still significant for the Spanish words, F(1,29)=5.121, p< .05. The task of processing Spanish words and then English ones may invoke more strategic processing, regardless of the participants’ proficiency in Spanish, since for all of the participants Spanish was the language used less frequently in their daily lives. English-English reaction times were significantly faster (M=773.944) than Spanish-Spanish reaction times (M=838.157, t(34) = 32.20, p< .01), again most likely reflecting that the participants were more fluent in English.
Finally, there was also a significant difference between the reaction times in English-nonword and Spanish-nonword pairs. English-nonword reaction times were significantly faster (M=1137.731) than Spanish-nonword reaction time (M=1207.7603, t (31) = 36.47, p< .01). This, again, could be an indication that, in general, the participants were more fluent in English.
This study investigated the relation between second-language proficiency and semantic organization. Our present results showed that higher proficiency levels were associated with smaller differences between between- and within- language repetitions, as predicted. These findings confirm work by Peynircioglu and Tekcan (1993), suggesting that proficiency does influence lexical processing by bilinguals perhaps by facilitating cross-language concept activation that is relatively faster, and perhaps more automatic than that for less proficient bilinguals. Our data also demonstrated that these effects were not independent of print exposure, a finding that should be further investigated.
The second hypothesis addressed in this study was also confirmed. We had hypothesized that participants would have faster reaction times in within-language tasks than in between-language tasks. Our findings showed that participants were significantly faster in tasks involving two words of the same language (English or Spanish) than in tasks involving two words of different languages. Our bilingual participants were also faster in making lexical decisions when the first word in the pair was Spanish than when the first word was English, suggesting that activation of conceptual processing may be more automatic for Spanish-English translations than for English-Spanish translations. These results were not independent of the effects of proficiency.
The third hypothesis, that print exposure would be associated with faster responses for within- and between-language repetitions, was only partially supported. Print exposure was correlated only with within-language repetitions. This finding suggests that between- and within-language tasks may involve different cognitive processes and that the processing involved in between-language tasks is relatively independent of the effects of print exposure. We propose that the between-language condition may invoke the use of controlled strategies as Hernandez and colleagues (1996) have suggested, whereas within language tasks may invoke relatively automatic lexical processing.
Our final hypothesis, that print exposure would be associated with more similar response times for within- and between- language repetitions was not supported. The more print exposure, the greater the differences between between- and within-language repetition reaction times, independent of proficiency level. Print exposure appeared to have exclusive effects on within-language reaction times, suggesting that print exposure may facilitate access to lexical items but these effects appear not to occur at the semantic level. Future research is needed to explore this hypothesis more definitively.
In conclusion, this study showed that proficiency in a second language facilitates activation of cross-language concepts. We propose that with increasing proficiency, associative links between cognates become replaced by conceptual links. Print exposure operates at a relatively shallow level compared with the strategic processing required for cross-language concept activation.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to. Electronic mail may be sent to Dr. Foy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Basden, B., Bonilla-Meeks, J., & Basden, D. (1994). Cross-language priming in word-fragment completion. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 69-82.
Bijeljac-Babic, R., Biardeau, A. & Grainger, J. (1997). Masked orthographic priming in bilingual word recognition. Memory & Cognition, 25(4), 447-457.
Dufour, R. & Kroll, J. (1995). Matching words to concepts in two languages: A test of the concept mediation model of bilingual representation. Memory & Cognition, 23(2), 166-180.
Favreau, M. & Segalowitz, N. (1993). Automatic and controlled processes in the first- and second-language reading of fluent bilinguals. Memory & Cognition, 11(6), 565-574.
Hernandez, A., Bates, E., & Avila, L. (1996). Processing across the language boundary: A cross model priming study of Spanish-English bilinguals.
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Jarvis, L., Danks, J., & Merriman, W. (1995). The effect of bilingualism on cognitive ability: A test of the level of bilingualism hypothesis. Applied Psycholinguistics,16, 293-308.
Klein, D. & Doctor, E. (1992). Homography and polysemy as factors in bilingual word recognition. S.-Afr. Tydskr. Sielk, 22(1), 10-16.
Nagy,W., Garcia, G., Durgonoglu, A., & Hancin-Bhatt, B. (1993). Spanish-English bilingual students' use of cognates in English reading. Journal ofReading Behavior, 25(3), 241-258.
Peynircioglu, Z. & Tekcan, A. (1993). Word perception in two languages. Journal of Memory and Language, 390-401.
Psychology Software Tools. (1995). MEL Professional v2.0 [Computer software]. Pittsburgh, PA: Authors.
Stanovich, K.E. & Cunningham, A.E. (1993). Where does knowledge come from? Specific associations between print exposure and information acquisition. Journal ofEducational Psychology, 85(2), 211-229.
Woodcock, R.W. & Munoz-Sandoval, A.F. (1993). Language Survey (Spanish). Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing Company. Subtests: Verbal analogies, Letter-word identification, Vocabulary.
Rolipram, a Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor,
Increases Immediate Post-shock Freezing in Rats
Eric H. Chang, Greg D. Gale and Michael S. Fanselow,
University of California at Los Angeles
This study examines the effects of Rolipram, a type 4 phosphodiesterase inhibitor, on fear conditioning in rat subjects. Since rolipram increases long-term, but not short-term retention in freezing to context in mice, the goal was to investigate whether rolipram is able to facilitate the establishment of long-term fear memories in rats. Results demonstrate that rolipram has no significant augmenting effect on the establishment of long-term fear memories in rats, but does increase levels of freezing immediately following delivery of footshock. These results suggest that rolipram may act on the components of short-term fear learning by strengthening the association between a contextual representation and the electric shock.
Networks of Attachment: Toward an Integration
of Working Models and Relational Schemas
University of Colorado
Attachment theory is a framework that describes the significance of the affectional bonds formed between a primary caregiver and child. Research on attachment theory reveals that predictions can be made about the quality of a child’s development based on the quality of the parent-child relationship. One psychological construct underlying the attachment bond is the internal working model. The internal working model of attachment is described as a set of expectations about close relationships that are derived from the attachment experience. A growing body of social-cognitive research on relational schemas also describes a similar cognitive construct of relationship internalization. Relational schemas are cognitive structures that bear a striking theoretical resemblance to the concept of the internal working model. The theoretical overlap between the two models is discussed. A network-based conceptualization of the internal working model is explored along with research ideas designed to assess that conceptualization.
Personality Correlates of Visual Attentional Processing
Graham C. Pluck
MRC Human Movement/Balance Unit
Richard G. Brown
The Institute of Psychiatry
Kings College, London, England
A great deal of research into visual attention has used search tasks. A distinction has arisen between fast parallel search and slower, serial search. Parallel search can be used when a target differs from all of the distracters by a single feature, but a serial search strategy must be used if the target differs only by a combination of features. Individual differences in performance have received scarce attention. In the current study participants performed 2 visual search tasks, 1 suitable for parallel searching and the other unsuitable, which would therefore require a serial search strategy. Participants also completed the Temperament and Character Inventory, which is based on a neurochemical model of personality. Significant correlations were found between ‘Novelty Seeking’ and parallel search slopes and between ‘Persistence’ and the ratio of negative to positive serial search slopes.
The Relationship Between Academic Procrastination
and Fear of Failure in College Students
Molly Griffith and David E. Hogan
Northern Kentucky University
The relationship between academic procrastination and fear of failure was assessed in a sample of 75 college students. Contrary to prior research reporting a positive correlation between fear of failure and procrastination, we found the variables to be negatively correlated, but only in older women; the correlation was essentially random in younger women and in men of any age. We propose that relatively older college women, especially those considered "nontraditional" students, respond to anxiety by getting a start on academic tasks sooner than less anxious, older women.
Ziprasidone a Novel Antipsychotic Drug for the Treatment
of Schizophrenia and Other Psychiatric Disorders
L. Eleonora Troia
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Ziprasidone (ZIP) is a new and promising atypical antipsychotic medication. It will be in use for the treatment of psychotic disorders and schizophrenia with likely benefits of efficacy in attenuating positive and negative symptoms. ZIP has low extrapyramidal side effects and no addictive liability. This drug profile suggests that in addition to being effective in decreasing the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, it may also be effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression. The mechanisms of action for ZIP are discussed.
Seizure-Alert Dogs: The Saving Sense of Smell
Justin A. Browne
Fairleigh Dickinson University
It is estimated that 25 million people will have a seizure at some point in their lives, subjecting them to an unpredictable world of instability, depression, and anxiety. The introduction of seizure-alert dogs into the lives of people with epilepsy may reduce this stress by forewarning them to the onset of a seizure, and possibly by reducing the occurrence of epileptic attacks. Research is in its infancy stages and many questions remain unanswered; however, the future seems bright. Technology is in the works that may compliment the benefits of seizure-alert dogs by providing electronic warning devices as well as diagnostic tools useful in the early detection of cancer and various other diseases.
The Relationship Between Childhood Trauma
and Adolescent Substance Abuse
Elizabeth N. Nissim and Kristi-Anne Seymour
Fairleigh Dickinson University
The following measures reflect data collected from adolescents with substance abuse and emotional problems. These data were collected while the participants were serving a voluntary rehabilitation in a treatment facility in New Jersey. A battery of psychological tests and a survey of drug usage as well as self-report of abuse were recorded. These data were summarized using a descriptive statistics approach. Our results reveal a high similarity with nationally provided numbers of drug abuse by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Our results, as well as other findings, suggest there is a significant correlation between childhood trauma and the self-medicating theory of adolescent substance abuse.
Music from Sound to Perception
Fairleigh Dickinson University
"… the human can… experience the succession of sounds that vary in frequency, intensity, complexity, and duration- as music" (Schiffman, 1996, p. 377). Music is complex acoustical information that cannot be explained as discrete sounds, but rather as psychologically integrated, cohesive patterns and organized experiences, with elements of rhythm, melody (sequence of notes), and harmony (consonance). Music perception is the result of visual (social feedback from the conductor, fellow performers, and audience), tactile (feel pitch vibrations in fingers and hands), kinesthetic (awareness of position on the instrument), and most importantly auditory cues. This topical mini-review will explore the anatomy, sensorium and perceptual aspects of the brain function known as music.
The Perception of Music
One way to start exploring "sounding" is to examine the key anatomy of the auditory pathways and neural representations involved. Sound waves first pass into the outer ear, which consists of the pinna, auditory canal, and tympanic membrane. The outer ear has many functions including signal location and amplification. Airborne sounds reach the tympanic membrane and cause vibration. The vibration is transmitted to the middle ear where it is strengthened and propagated through the malleus, incus, and stapes. The stapes transmits the vibration to the fluid filled inner ear and cochlea by pushing on the oval window. Within the cochlea is the Organ of Corti, and thus the transducer stereocilia. The stereocilia sit atop the basilar membrane, extending to the tectorial membrane. Fluid displacement, from the vibration, bend (shear) the stereocilia and an action potential stimulates the auditory nerve, cochlear nucleus, superior olivary nucleus, inferior colliculus, medial geniculate nucleus, and finally the primary and secondary auditory receiving cortex in the temporal lobe (Goldstein, 1999, pp. 318-325).
Throughout the auditory pathway and cortex, neurons respond to specific, selective bands of frequencies and within these bands, there is usually a frequency of maximal response, called the characteristic frequency. "Frequency detectors" are tonotopically arranged in order of frequency and respond progressively less strongly to signals that are increasingly less similar. Between the lowest and highest, there are an infinite number of frequencies that can be detected. The brain is able to represent this continuum with a finite set of detectors because each detector responds to a broad range around its characteristic frequency, thus overlapping with other neurons. Therefore, any frequency activates a family of cells to various degrees, with the strongest firing response coming from the neuron whose characteristic frequency is closest to the sounded frequency.
Tones elicit both tonic responses, which are sustained throughout the duration of that tone, and phasic responses, which detect tone onset and offset and subtle changes, increasing the salience of harmonic rhythm. "Coarse coding" enables perceptual dimension denser than the array of neurons used to perceive it, giving listeners the ability to discern fine degrees of tuning and mistuning (Bharucha, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 413-440).
Development of Music Perception and Cognition
It has been shown that prenatal musical stimulation can effect infants after birth. Infants as young as five months old react favorably to related pitches (constancy and direction of change), tempos, rhythms, and patterns, demonstrating basic grouping principles. Spontaneous singing begins at around nine months. At one year, children engage in "vocal play", which is patterns of vowel sounds sung at stable pitches. From 18 months on, children can generate original recognizable, repeatable songs. The contour, melody, and rhythm are somewhat consistent, but pitch may wander (Trehub, Schellenberg, & Hill, 1997, In Deliège & Sloboda, pp. 103-128).
During the preschool and early elementary school years, there are certain innate musical abilities that are observed. Children can discriminate melodies on the basis of contour and scale structure. When presented with familiar tunes played out-of-key, children will identify, yet report the tunes sound funny. Children of these ages can also recognize the emotional feelings of music, appropriately labeling songs as happy, sad, angry, or afraid. Another possible innate ability is absolute pitch. Absolute pitch (also called perfect pitch) is the ability to identify pitches by note name in the absence of musical context, a skill even the most highly trained and proficient musician may not possess. However, according to the early learning hypothesis, it can be acquired by anyone, but only during a critical period ending in the fifth or sixth year. This hypothesis is put into practice in Japan where approximately 50% of the population (both musicians & non-musicians) develop absolute pitch (Dowling, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 603-625).
Exposure to and experience with music continues throughout life so that even untrained adults have some knowledge of contour and basic tonal scales. Music consists of an ordered sequence of tones occurring over time and perceived on the basis of global properties recognizable to both musicians and non-musicians. Gestalt-like organization is imposed by the listener when perceiving music including proximity-notes in sequence that follow rapidly appear closer together in time and are therefore perceived as being part of the same musical unit; similarity-tones similar in pitch are perceived as belonging together; common fate-two or more musical components which undergo the same type of changes at the same intervals are perceived as a unit; closure-ability to "fill in" or hear music without interference; and a figure-ground melody is perceived as figure and accompaniment as ground (Schiffman, 1996, pp. 379-380).
Elements of Music
Pitch is the highness or lowness of a note, determined by its frequency. The frequency of a single tone can usually be controlled in production and is well preserved during propagation to the listener’s ear and can be perceived with very few periods of sound waves. The frequency of sound is measured in units of Hertz (Hz). The physical frequency scale is approximately 20-5000 Hz (frequency of piano strings). For example, the frequency of an A is 440 Hz, whereas the frequency of middle C is 262 Hz, thus making it lower in pitch. Multiple pitches that co-occur are complex tones known as chords, which are characterized by a fundamental low pitch (basic tone) and harmonics (pure tones). The ability to distinguish between pitches appears to be a rudimentary ability of the nervous system performed in sub cortical area (Banich, 1997, pp. 446-448).
Chromesthesia (colored hearing) is the association of specific tones, tonalities, and modes with specific colors. Although colors tend to vary drastically between listeners, dark colors are often linked to low sounds (125-250 Hz) and light colors are linked to high sounds (Ward, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 265-298).
The physical correlate of loudness is intensity, expressed as sound pressure levels in decibels and is musically encoded as dynamics. Loudness ranges from the very soft pianissimo at 40 dB to full orchestral forte tutti at 90 dB or more. Examples of dynamic notation include piano (soft), mezzo (moderate), forte (loud), and fortissimo (very loud). However, loudness is an imprecise measurement due to variations in sound production, fixed and variable acoustics (i. e. acoustics of the room and current capacity of the room), relative position of sound source and hearing threshold (Rasch & Plomp, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 89-112).
Timbre is the tone color or quality of sound as a function of sound source or meaning of sound and is the subjective counterpart of the spectral composition of tones. Helmholtz wrote:
"Timbre is that attribute of auditory
sensation in terms of which a listener
can judge that two steady-state complex
tones having the same loudness and pitch
are dissimilar (Deutsch, p. 101)."
It is the quality that gives the capacity to assign different sounds to the same source and recognize a note regardless of what register it is played in. Hearing is highly sensitive to change and frequency and will selectively reject sounds that are dull and uninteresting. Timbre is that sensitivity to the subtleties that make music interesting (Risset & Wessel, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 113-169).
Rhythm is the temporal relationship among sounds. Music consists of not only notes, but also the specific note value (duration), as specified by the meter. Meter is the framework for rhythm determined by the number of beats and time value of those beats. It is also the division of music into measures, bars, and phrases; and in verse, the pattern of long and short syllables. The pace or timing of music is tempo. Tempo terms include: lento (slow), adagio (moderately slow), andante (walking tempo), allegro (fast), vivace (lively), and presto (very fast). Tempo affects both the performer’s interpretation and the listener’s perception. (Meyer & Palmer, in preparation).
Because the left hemisphere is specialized for temporal processing, it might be suspected that it plays an important role in rhythmic processing as well, however studies indicate small or non-existent hemispheric differences (Banich, 1997, p. 448). Grouping mechanisms in music are what lead to a unitary or multiple sound. The components of single tones are harmonicity (sounds that are pleasing to the ear) and synchronicity. The components of successive tones are pitch proximity/range which link tones close in pitch, temporal proximity which group tones between rests and pauses together, similarity of sound quality, and amplitude.
In 1974, Deutsch demonstrated the effect of grouping mechanisms with the scale and octave illusions. With the scale illusion, she presented a major scale with successive tones bouncing from ear to ear ascending and descending (i.e. ascending note-left, descending note-right; ascending note-right, descending note-left). It was perceived however, that there was a succession of notes in each ear, with high notes descending and low notes ascending. With the octave illusion, a pattern of notes (octaves) were presented alternating high to low (i. e. : high note-right ear, low note-left ear; high note-left ear, low note-right ear…). Rather than octaves, it was perceived as if all high notes were presented to the right ear and low notes to the left. (It is interesting to note that there was some correlation to handedness. Those who were right handed consistently perceived the high notes in the right ear and the low notes in the left, while those who were left handed showed variation in their perception.) These illusions clearly show that multiple tones are perceptually grouped in melodic sequences, even when they are ambiguous (Deutsch, 1999, pp. 299-349; Palmer, 1995, pp. 23-56).
Perception of Singing
Singing is a complex task which involves singing articulate pitches that reflect an underlying scale or tonal structure, performing both surface an underlying rhythmic patterns regulated by a common pulse, mastering the canons of song form, and forming structures that make possible the use of internal references (Umemoto, 1997, In Deliège & Sloboda, p. 131). The vocal organ consists of the respiratory system which provides an excess pressure of air in the lungs, vocal folds which chop the air stream from lungs into air pulses, thus providing phonation, and the vocal tract which gives each sound its characteristics (i.e. shape & tumbrel identity) and articulation. The fundamental frequency determines the pitch of vocal tones. Lower frequencies changed by altering the "articulators" (lips, tongue, jaw, etc.). Higher frequencies are significant to voice timbre and quality, as is vibrato (rate and extent of modulation of frequency).
The male speaking frequencies are approximately 110-200 Hz and the female speaking frequencies are about 200-350 Hz. However, singers reach higher (somewhat "unnatural") frequencies that determine voice classification: lowest voice, bass at approximately 350Hz; baritone at 390Hz; tenor at 523Hz; alto at 700Hz; and soprano/mezzo-soprano at 1400Hz. Females tend to have higher voices (singing and speaking) due to their smaller pharynx to mouth length ratio. Female singers have the unique ability to sing in chest, middle, or head voice (equivalent to male falsetto). Loudness varies for both men and women with changing subglottal pressure; high pressure produces loud sounds and low pressure produces soft sounds.
Perception of singing voices is directly influenced by one’s acquaintance with one’s own voice and voice quality (Sundberg, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 171-214; Repp, 1991, In Sundberg, Nord, & Carlson, pp. 257-310).
It is unclear whether singing is left or right hemisphere regulated due to individual variations (Banich, 1997, p. 451).
Performance requires planning to acquire an adequate mental representation, plan for transforming this representation into sound, and practice to reach a level of satisfaction. Mental representations depend on type of music, instrument used, and experience, knowledge, personality, and situational demands. When a piece is performed from memory, the representation is fairly complete, depending on length and complexity. Studies have shown that both hemispheres can contribute to musical memory and that the more integrated the words and tune, the greater the overlap (Banich, 1997, pp. 449-451; Gabrielsson, 1999, In Deutsch, pp. 501-602).
Practice is a combination of both mental and physical activity. Mental practice is covert or imaginary rehearsal without muscle movement by hearing the music within the inner ear. Hale (1993, In Freymuth), demonstrated that internal imagery inwardly produced activation of muscles that would be used in the actual performance. Physical rehearsal techniques should include playing (or singing) once through without stopping followed by a period of review (notes and rhythms), slowing tempos, and fingerings. What is preferable depends on size and difficulty of the piece, meaning of material, and personal performance level or ability.
Sight-reading is both a rehearsal and performance technique, which involves playing (or singing) without previous experience called prima vista. This involves reading groups of notes and note patterns essentially while performing others. Good sight-readers are usually rapid readers. When reading a piece of music, there are three eye movement patterns that vary between and within musicians. Vertical reading is the reading of successive notes in a chord (treble to bass); horizontal reading is the reading of successive notes of one clef; and there is a mixture of both (Goldsby, 1994, pp. 77-96). For musicians, most sight-reading errors are not with notes, but rhythm. Sight-reading can be improved by scanning the piece for the key and time signature, key changes, phrasings, etc. and silently fingering or singing prior to playing.
Overall, what enhances performance quality and perception is the performer’s personal meaning and intention concerning what the music should express or convey to the listeners, be it ideas, emotions, associations, memories, feelings, body movement (dance), events, or just patterns of sounds (Palmer, 1997, pp. 138-155; Palmer, 1996).
Function of Music Perception
It has been proposed by Roederer (1993) that evolutionarily, music developed incidentally as a result of complex demands on the auditory system to serve first, as a distance and location detector and later, as a communication system. Yet without doubt, the intensely aesthetic and pleasurable experience of music cannot be discredited. For music is a complex, but ordered pattern of specific elements; a language of its own that paints a picture, shaped by emotions and feelings, tension and resolution, change, uncertainty, and surprise. Personal and yet, universal, music is a highly developed art form and prominent aspect of the human experience.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ms. Crista Trippodi via electronic mail :Cristat@prodigy.net.
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Goldstein, E. B. (1999). Sensation and perception. CA: Brooks Cole Co.
Meyer, R. K. & Palmer, C. (in prep.) Music performance tempo and tactus effects on listeners’ beat perception.
Palmer, C. (1997). Music performance. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 138-155.
Palmer, C. (1996). Anatomy of a performance: Sources of musical expression. Musical Perception, 48.
Palmer, C. (1995). On the assignment of structure in musical performance. Music Perception, 14, 23-56.
Roederer, J. G. (1973). Introduction to the physics and psychophysics of music. NY:
Schiffman, H. R. (1996). Sensation and perception: An integral approach (4th ed.) NY: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Sundberg, J., Nord, L., & Carlson, R. (1991). Music, language, speech, and brain. London, UK: Macmillan Press
A Journey into the World of Psychedelic Art with Alex Grey
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Over 40 thousand years ago, humans first experienced the psychedelic properties of hallucinogenic compounds synthesized by plants. In 1943, the Swiss chemist, Dr. Albert Hofmann, accidentally ingested a quantity of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Since then, many researchers have explored the mind-altering aspects of LSD and other hallucinogens and their ability to augment creativity in artists. In 1968, after it became illegal to possess or sell LSD, some artists continued to use hallucinogenic drugs in the hopes of increasing the aesthetic value of their artwork. One modern artist who has advocated the use of LSD as a creative catalyst is Alex Grey. For Grey, LSD provides an opportunity to experience the transpersonal realms of human experience. It is his hope that the artistic depiction of his psychedelic experiences will encourage a greater level of spirituality in those who view his art.
Alex Grey and the Creative Process
Since it was first discovered to produce psychedelic effects in the 1940's, artists of various disciplines have experimented with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and other mind-altering drugs in the hopes of increasing their creativity. Many studies were conducted during the 1950’s and 1960’s to test the validity of this claim, with mixed results. After LSD became illegal to possess or sell, some artists continued to obtain the drug illegally and use it on their own. One modern-day artist who openly professes the benefits of using LSD to obtain artistic ideas is Alex Grey. Grey believes that LSD allows him to tap into a transpersonal realm, which then enables him to provide a visual portrait of this realm, in the hopes of evoking spiritual experiences for the viewers of his artwork.
In order to grasp Grey’s use of psychedelic drugs for his artistic endeavors, it will help to first develop an understanding of creativity. Actually, creativity is one of those elusive constructs of personality that is not easily defined. In principle, creativity is essential for human survival. It is valued in our society and is considered a necessity if one wishes to prosper and reach their full human potential. To be creative involves looking at the world with a novel perspective; to be constantly seeking a variety of solutions to problems; to be able to study an object from all possible angles (Maynard, 1973).
The creative process is, in itself, unique. Although it can be a frustrating process for the creator, one seems to obtain an intrinsic reward when a solution to a problem has been found. Interestingly, creative adults seem to have more theta (4 to 7 Hz) brain waves during the waking state than most adults. Such brain waves usually occur in adults only during that time period right before falling asleep, when dreams are on the brink of consciousness. Creative people are said to be able to switch more easily than the average individual from a daydreaming state to a more logical state (Goleman, Kaufman, & Ray, 1992).
Csikszintmihalyi (1992), another modern theorist interested in creativity, described what she called the "flow state" (cited in Gardner, 1993, p. 25). This is a time when ideas and thoughts flow fluidly for an individual and they may express feeling as though they are "in a groove" or is "going with the flow." The experience of being within the flow state can, in turn, lead to what Csikszintmihalyi (1992) labeled a "peak experience" (cited in Gardner, 1993, p. 25). During a peak experience, individuals have described feeling in tune and being totally satisfied.
Grey expresses his thoughts on an artist’s motivation and responsibility in his book TheMission of Art. He describes the creative process as containing the following steps:
- Formulation: discovery of the artist’s subject or problem.
- Saturation: a period of intense research on the subject or problem.
- Incubation: letting the unconscious sift through the information and develop a response.
- Inspiration: a flash of one’s own unique solution to the problem.
- Translation: bringing the internal solution to outer form.
- Integration: sharing the creative answer with the world and getting feedback (Grey, 1998, p. 75).
Of particular interest are Grey’s inclusion of unconscious input and the necessity of sharing one’s work with others. These two elements seem to be lacking in other written definitions of creativity, but appear central to Grey’s creative process and, as will later become evident, his reasons for using psychedelic drugs.
The Psychedelic Experience
It will also help to have a better understanding of just what the term "psychedelic" means and the history of psychedelic experiences, which originated in ancient cultures. Wellman (1978) tells us the term is derived from the Greek word that means "mind manifesting" (cited in Krippner, 1985). Stone records in Central America, dating from 1500 BC, portray what seem to be images of hallucinogenic mushrooms with gods emerging from the stems. Cave and rock art found in the western United States have been attributed to so-called "medicine men," who supposedly created these images while under the influence of psychedelic substances (Krippner, 1985).
Entering more modern times, Grey is not alone in advocating the benefits of using psychedelic substances. Other members of the medical, artistic, music and even military communities have publicly praised the use of psychedelic drugs in an effort to increase creativity. Interestingly, Rosenfeld (1966) recounts how a respected Navy Captain, John Busby, acknowledged using LSD to solve an elusive problem in pattern recognition that presented itself when he was developing equipment for a naval research project (cited in Krippner, 1985). In a strangely ironic twist, the psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond and the architect Kyo Izumi (1970) admitted to ingesting LSD while they were trying to work out a building design for a new mental hospital (cited in Krippner, 1985).
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD-25)
Grey tends to primarily use LSD for his idea-seeking visions, so that drug will be the primary hallucinogenic substance discussed here. LSD-25 (as it was 25th in a series of synthesis) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless solution that is usually ingested orally (Stafford, 1983).
LSD does not have a liability for physical addiction and the liability for psychological addiction is low, although tolerance develops rapidly after 3 or 4 consecutive days of use. Although there was published evidence that LSD could cause chromosomal damage (Cohen, Marinello, & Black, 1967), these results have not been replicated. Even though some LSD users express feeling uncomfortable or nauseous when using LSD, current studies have shown "no clear demonstrable danger to physical health" occurring from LSD use (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997, p. 453).
No deaths have been attributed to the pharmacological effects of LSD, as one would have to ingest a very high amount of it for the dose to be lethal. However, deaths of individuals while under the influence of the drug do occur, either because the person has ingested adulterated compounds or from the individual’s inability to differentiate between reality and fantasy (i.e., someone on LSD might jump off a building because he thinks he can fly). People have also reported having "bad trips" while using LSD, defined as "when the psychedelia experienced during LSD intoxication take a dark turn, in which case the psychological impact of the trip is traumatizing…" (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997, p. 455).
Others report experiencing flashbacks for years after using LSD, even if they only tried it one time. There is also a possibility of a psychotic reaction, although these instances usually seem to occur with those who were mentally unstable before ingesting LSD (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997). Grey himself advocates ingesting psychedelic substances in a
"supportive, group setting" (Grey, 1998, p. 120) and admits "psychically unstable artists…should avoid the drugs because further destabilization of the chemistry of their brains can lead to a psychotic break" (Grey, 1998, p. 119).
While the majority of the drug concentrates in the liver to be metabolized, a small amount crosses the blood brain barrier to primarily bind to 5HT receptors in the visual areas of the brain. LSD shows a potent inhibitory effect on a serotonin receptor subtype (5-HT1A) that appears frequently in the raphé nucleus of the brain stem, an area of the brain that governs slow-brainwave sleep. It is interesting to speculate about whether this aspect of LSD’s mechanism of action has an influence on one’s creativity; as it has already been stated that creative individuals exhibit more theta brainwaves during waking periods (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997).
LSD also has a high affinity for 5-HT2 receptors, which are found primarily in the cerebral cortex and are believed responsible for perceptual and cognitive functions (interestingly, they are the same receptors that many antipsychotic drugs block). A third mechanism of action activates the norepinephrine (NE) neurons of the locus coeruleus (the brain site that is involved in filtering sensory input from the body to other parts of the brain) through its 5-HT modulation (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997).
Also affected are parts of the limbic system which regulate emotion, and areas of the reticular formation, which mediates the level of arousal and alertness within the brain. The half-life of LSD is about 3 h, the rate of onset takes about 60 to 90 min and an LSD experience (trip) lasts on average 5 to 12 h (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997). LSD was classified as an illegal drug in 1968 and is currently included as a Schedule 1 substance according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. A Schedule 1 drug is defined as a substance having no medical value and being the greatest risk to society.
Studies Regarding Psychedelics and Creativity and Grey’s Use of LSD
When Grey, born in 1953, was just a young child, studies regarding psychedelics and creativity seemed to be at their height. Albert Hofmann, a research chemist employed by Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corporation, accidentally discovered LSD’s psychoactive effects in 1943 when he was testing it for such uses as a possible circulatory and respiratory stimulant (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997). Grinspoon and Bakalar (1997) report, "Between 1950 and the mid-1960’s, there were more than a thousand clinical papers discussing 40 thousand patients, several dozen books, and six international conferences on psychedelic drug therapy" (cited in Doblin, Beck, Obata & Alioto, 1999, p. 1).
During this period, Dr. Humphrey Osmond began researching LSD as a model psychosis and the U.S. Army was looking at LSD as a possible "truth drug" (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997, p. 444). In the 1960’s Timothy Leary on the East Coast and Ken Kesey on the West Coast became identified with the psychedelic movement in the US. They openly proclaimed the benefits of the stimulating and mind-opening effects of LSD. Artists of all media and professional levels seemed to embrace their affirmations (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997).
Oscar Janiger, a Los Angeles based psychiatrist, conducted his own examinations of the effects of LSD from 1954 to 1962, including a substudy on LSD’s effects on creativity (Doblin, et al., 1999). In his own words, "My initial contact with the drug was so remarkable that it moved me to spend the next 45 years of my life studying it"(Janiger, 1999, p. 1).
As his psychiatric clients and their friends and acquaintances heard about Dr. Janiger’s work, many volunteered to be participants, including a large group of artists. When one of those artists asked if he could paint while under the influence, Dr. Janiger came up with the idea to have established artists (who were somehow working within the field) draw an image of an Indian doll he owned, both before and during their LSD experiences. According to Dr. Janiger (1999),
… ninety-nine percent, if not all of them (the artist’s experiences) were positive! Ninety-nine percent expressed the notion that this was an extraordinary, valuable tool for learning about art the way one learns about painting or drawing (cited in Doblin, et al., 1999, p. 9).
Grey agrees that the use of psychedelic drugs can enhance the creative experience for the artist working in any media. For Grey, the role of the artist involves transcending the polarity of the mundane world and opening the doors to the spirituality of the mystical world available to all of us, but which few are able to recognize and acknowledge. By ingesting a psychedelic substance like LSD, the artist can "catalyze the visionary state" and will be rewarded with "a glimpse of the divine within" (Grey, 1998, pp. 118-119). He describes his first LSD experience as such:
In 1975, after returning from a journey to the North Magnetic Pole in which I attempted to psychologically link up with the geomagnetic field around the earth, I realized what I was looking for was God. I wasn’t sure what ‘a search for God’ meant, but I put it out as prayer. The very next day I was given my first LSD trip, and I met my future wife, Allyson. My prayer had been answered (cited in Art and
Spirit – Interview with Alex Grey, 2000, p. 1).
There have been several other studies specifically interested in the study of the use of psychedelic drugs to increase creativity. Interestingly, the findings from these studies reflect some very diverse results. Krippner (1985) further explains the "model psychosis" sought after by Osmond in his experiments with LSD, to be a model very similar to the attributes Grey perceives as advantageous to the artist. This model psychosis implies that one will experience the mind altering visions and sensory experiences of a psychotic episode, without the loss of touch with reality or the fear of being out of control that can terrify a psychotic person (Krippner, 1985).
However, this model psychosis was not always the result for the participants in the hallucinogenic drug studies. In fact, participants often reported experiencing unwelcome effects from the drugs. Other times, the hoped-for increase in creativity was not validated. Tonini and Montanari (1955) gave mescaline and LSD to an artist and encouraged him to paint during session. Their hope was that he would have a revelation that would revitalize his painting style. They concluded, "The pictures (created during his psychedelic session) do not contain any new elements in the creative sense, but reflect pathological manifestations of the type observed in schizophrenia" (cited in Krippner, 1985, p. 236). This observation further encourages speculation about a connection between mental illness and the areas of the brain affected by hallucinogenic drugs.
Interestingly, other studies (Arieti, 1976; Pittel, 1970) offered credibility to the idea that hallucinogenic drugs do indeed promote a better connection to unconscious material (as cited in Krippner, 1977). However, when prodded to utilize their newfound connection to the unconscious in their artwork, the participating artists seemed unable to take this new level of awareness one step further by manifesting it in tangible form. As any artist knows, creating is about taking chances and rectifying any perceived, unwanted incongruent aspects within a work. It seems that those tripping on LSD sometimes lost the ability to analyze and successfully alter their visionary experiences for aesthetic purposes.
Similarly, highly creative individuals "who participated in a test run by Barron (1963) with another hallucinogenic, psilocybin, felt that their psychedelic experiences gave them an increased sensitivity (p. 236) to everything around them (cited in Krippner, 1985). However, they too discovered that their enthusiasm about this increased sensitivity could be misleading. Some of the participants found that, once the effects of the drug wore off, their work lacked the levels of "artistic merit" (p. 236) they had perceived while under the influence of the drugs (Krippner, 1985).
It was as though the psychedelic experience allowed them to tap into an increased level of sensitivity yet adversely affected the analytical skills necessary to refine and cultivate a creative piece of art. It is especially interesting because Barron’s finding reflects the artists’ own views and perceptions of their work; not those of an outside critic whose subjective feelings may interfere with his evaluation.
Other studies reinforce the finding that hallucinogenics may increase creative perception, but that technical and analytical ability may suffer. In 1963, Timothy Leary conducted a study with 65 writers, musicians and artists. When they produced written reports about their psychedelic sessions, most described having "a creative experience" (Leary, 1963, cited in Krippner, 1985, p. 240) and an overall increase in their awareness of the world around them (Leary, 1963, cited in Krippner, 1985, p. 237).
Hartman tested well-known artists in West Germany in the late 1960’s and found that the ingestion of LSD by the participating artist resulted in thematic changes, loss of formal elements and even a refusal to create while under the influence of the drug (cited in Krippner, 1985). When Fischer, Fox and Ralstin (1972) tested a random sample of college students before and after ingestion of psilocybin for creativity and brain damage, they found that when the scores for creativity decreased, scores for brain damage inversely increased (cited in Krippner, 1985). This raises interesting questions about the origins of creativity, if nothing else!
Admittedly, Grey also acknowledges the limitations of trying to engage in a creative act while under the influence of a psychedelic drug. He states, "Visionary drugs have provided crucial insights to artists…" (Grey, 1998, p. 119).
However, Grey states:
…in my own experience, LSD has provided access to very high spiritual realms, but the artwork that I produce during that time is not very accomplished. Later, when my hands are steadier, I recall the peak visions and sometimes base my work on them (Grey, 1998, p. 120).
One’s expectations about the drug also seem to play an important role in the level of creativity perceived by the individual. McGlothin, Cohen and McGlothin (1967) studied the effects of LSD on 72 volunteer graduate students and found:
…persons who place strong emphasis on structure and control generally have no taste for the experience and tend to respond minimally…Those who respond intensely tend to prefer a more unstructured, spontaneous, inward-turning…life, and score somewhat higher on tests of aesthetic sensitivity and imaginativeness. They also tend to be less aggressive, less competitive and less conforming (cited in Krippner, 1977, p. 277).
Masters and Houston (1968) stated that a person’s reaction to LSD-type drugs is "heavily influenced by expectancy, personality and setting " (cited in Krippner, 1977, p. 287).
Again, Grey seems to be in sync with the findings from these studies. One must keep in mind that Grey presents the artist’s role to be one of sharing the truth of the spiritual and transcendent world with those who view his art. He describes two necessary elements for a successful psychedelic session: "set and setting" (Grey, 1998, p. 120). First, Grey readily admits that one must have the appropriate attitude upon entering into the psychedelic realm. "Set means the psychonaut’s predetermined attitude, that is, his or her preparation and willingness to experience directly the infinite spirit within….mystical experience favors the spiritually inclined mind" (Grey, 1998, p. 121).
Additionally, the place where one takes LSD (the "sacrament") is just as important (Grey, 1998, p. 118). Grey (1998) states, "Setting" refers to the physical and psychological environment one chooses to surround oneself with during the period of the session" (p. 121). He recommends a "meditative environment where one feels secure and supported by the beauty of nature, art and loved ones…" (Grey 1998, p. 121). In Grey’s mind, the taking of a hallucinogenic drug is an avenue to the mystical realm. Ingesting hallucinogenic drugs is one way that Grey feels a person with the right mindset and within the right type of environment can:
"...trigger experiences that take the aspirant from a mundane perception of reality, wherein objects seem separate and composed of only material properties, to a view of divine unity with boundless depth of dimension and meaning" (Grey, 1998, p. 117).
It is really not surprising that LSD affects the areas of the brain that it does, as the psychedelic drug experience is often described in terms of vibrant and colorful visual images containing moving geometric shapes. In the second phase of a study conducted by Siegel in 1973, eight male participants were divided in half, with one half being given training in how to describe the different aspects (form, color, movement) of perceptible images. All eight participants were then given differing doses of LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs, THC, BOL, phenobarbital, d-amphetamine or marijuana and then were placed in a dark room to describe the visual imagery they saw (cited in Krippner, 1977). Krippner describes Siegel and Jarvik’s (1975) subsequent theory of visual imagery as:
(the imagery that presents itself) in the ‘mind’s eye’ … reflects both physical structures and experiences…When arousal is increased, retrieval of information by this system is more successfully obtained, and it may contain increasing amounts of complex information and fantasy. When arousal is further increased, the information may appear to be projected on a field outside the body; in these instances, the term ‘hallucination’ is used to describe the imagery (Krippner, 1977, p. 282).
Grey describes his psychedelic experiences as giving him an opportunity to reach the Divine in such a way that he can then use his psychedelic visions in his art. He feels the artist should be determined to create "sacred art" - art that offers the viewer "transcendent potential" and "hope" (Grey, 1998, p. 38). He states that the imagery he sees in his psychedelic visions has further enabled him to express the sacredness of the Divine Being in a way that the viewer can relate to and hopefully will respond to with a spiritual reaction of his own. Grey states, "Over the years (my wife, Allyson, and I) continued our sacramental psychedelic experiences together, which gave us the confidence in the infinity of Divine Love and the Imagination" (cited in "Art and Spirit – Interview with Alex Grey," 2000, p. 1).
From his statements above, it seems safe to conclude that Grey may possess what Masters and Houston (1968) called a proclivity towards the expectation of a positive creative experience when using psychedelic drugs (cited in Krippner, 1977). It seems that Grey’s willingness to be open to alternative avenues of insight and his concern with the abstract and spiritual qualities of the images he creates may influence any psychedelic image that he may see. In other words, his expectations may encourage him to interpret his psychedelic experiences as positive, legitimizing and truly mind-altering.
In 1990, Grey released some of his images geared towards the universality and spirituality of man in Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey (Readers are invited to view the discussed images of Grey’s artwork on the web site: www. alexgrey.com). The images of Sacred Mirrors pictorially take humankind through a journey - a journey where individuals are implored to witness their oneness with a collective sense of spirituality. From Grey’s perspective, the physicality of a human’s body gives way to a higher, more advanced form of being. This higher form is esoteric and can not be contained by the physical, concrete time/space-oriented world. Instead, it is a life form that is part of all things, but contained by none. In this sense, each human is one with his universe, and every action they take will affect the world in a type of ripple effect.
Masters and Houston (1968) described elements of the psychedelic experience that were especially relevant to the artist. These included
accessibility of unconscious materials, fluency and flexibility of thought, seeming awareness of internal body processes and organs and awareness of deep psychical and spiritual levels of the self with capacity in some cases for profound religious and mystical experiences (cited in Krippner, 1977, p. 284).
When viewing Grey’s artwork, it is obvious that he is well skilled at depicting the human anatomy. Grey did in fact spend several years working in the morgue of a medical school (one wonders how that played into his feelings about death) and avidly studied human anatomy. As he developed his sacred art paintings, he decided to base his works about consciousness in gross anatomy because, "the physical vehicle is the temporary residence of the mind" (cited in "Art and Spirit – Interview with Alex Grey," 2000, p. 2). Grey’s use of the human anatomy to aid in the visual depiction of a human’s spirituality greatly echoes Masters and Houston’s observation about the artistically relevant elements of a psychedelic experience.
Siegel (1975) stated that the hallucinatory episodes brought on by psychedelic substances usually begin with black and white forms which then become increasingly colorful and complicated (cited in Krippner, 1977). According to Siegel (1975), the color blue enters the visual field next and the visions pulsate and seem to organize themselves (cited in Krippner, 1977).
Then the hallucinogenic drug user often witnesses an increase in lattice, tunnel and kaleidoscope patterns, also moving in front of his field of vision. As the psychedelic experience reaches its 90 to 120 min mark, more reds, oranges and yellows are often seen in patterns that move explosively and rotate more rapidly. As the psychedelic trip progresses further, the images the drug user sees seem to become more personal, complex and more random, often invoking a strong religious, emotional content. The next phase typically finds the individual hallucinating about his body in rapidly moving images (Siegel, 1975, as cited in Krippner, 1977). At this stage, his sense of what is real often becomes distorted (Palfai & Jankiewicz, 1997).
Knowing this, it is interesting to think of Grey’s artwork in Sacred Mirrors in terms of how much it may have been affected by his experiences with LSD. As described above, people who are going through psychedelic experiences go through phases with the types of visual images they witness. The use of bright and vivid colors consistent with LSD hallucinations is clearly apparent in Grey’s images from Sacred Mirrors. One can almost see the exact color progression Siegel describes. For example, one of the earlier images in Sacred Mirrors, "The Skeletal System" is almost devoid of color. Other images from midway through the Sacred Mirrors series exhibit a noticeable increase in the use of vivid blues and a later piece, "Christ," is intensely bold because of Grey’s use of pulsating reds and yellows.
Also, the Sacred Mirror images show an increase, then decrease in the use of geometric patterns. The beginning images of this series exhibit backgrounds containing increasingly complex geometric patterns. The pattern in "Universal Mind Lattice" especially, seems to exhibit an aspect of motion and energy, just as Siegel (1975) told us the patterns witnessed during psychedelic trips become more complex and begin to move around the drug user (cited in Krippner, 1977). By interpreting Grey’s writings about the Mission of Art, it is clear that his psychedelic experiences have indeed been very personal and religious for him, just as Siegel (1975) described happens for most psychedelic drug users (cited in Krippner, 1977). The religious aspect of "Christ" can not be denied, as Grey has depicted a glowing, calm, yet strong image of the Christ figure.
Interestingly, Palfai and Jankiewicz (1997) state that these types of hallucinations are not particular to a psychedelic drug experience:
"There are many states in which
LSD-like hallucinations can be evoked, among them twilight states between sleeping and waking [remember the increase in theta brain waves in creative people], insulin hypoglycemia, fever delirium, epilepsy, psychosis, advanced syphilis, sensory deprivation, extreme hunger or thirst, sensory bombardment, electrical stimulation, crystal gazing, dizziness, and migraine headaches"
Indeed, Grey does not deny that one can reach a transcendental state through means other than taking psychedelic drugs. He states (in terms which clearly echo Palfai and Jankiewicz’s):
There are many ways by which the aspirant may access the mystical dimension: meditation, prayer, yoga, breathwork, tantric practice, dream, vision quest, working with a qualified spiritual master, visualization, fasting, sleep deprivation, sensory isolation, shamanic drumming, chanting (and) near-death experiences…(Grey, 1998 p. 117).
Krippner (1977) interviewed 180
well-respected artists who self-reported using psychedelics one or more times. Most described their psychedelic experiences as "pleasant" and as "stimulating artistically" (Krippner, 1977, p. 285). When asked how the psychedelic experiences had influenced their artwork, none felt that it had adversely affected their art (although some felt critics and their friends would debate this). Those who described their art to Krippner as being changed, cited results which fell into three categories: changes in the content of their work (it became more "eidetic" (Krippner, 1977, p. 286), changes in their technique (including greater ability to use color) and changes in the approach they took to their work (in their subject matter and in their
self-described "depth as people and creators" (Krippner, 1977, p. 287). Interestingly, 18 artists stated they had never used a psychedelic substance, but "found creative benefits in their nonchemical, psychedelic experiences" (Krippner, 1977, p. 285).
Although he advocates the use of LSD in reaction to the positive psychedelic experiences he has had, Grey’s primary concern seems to be to encourage artists to attempt to reach the spiritual realm in any way possible, so that they can then share their discoveries with the rest of the world. In essence, Grey describes his psychedelic experiences in mystical terms, while the studies concerning psychedelics and creativity are based on logical scientific analysis. Grey clearly states how his use of psychedelic drugs "led to breakthrough spiritual experiences that transformed the focus of my art" (Grey, 1998, p. 52).
Alex Grey is a unique artist who has been able to input his personal feelings about sacredness and the Divine Power into his artwork. Grey seems to be a modern day example of the possibilities afforded an artist who uses psychedelic substances for inspiration and to increase his repertoire of visual images. For Grey, the use of LSD has enabled him to experience what he perceives as a spiritual and sacred way of being and as a way to see a human’s befitting place in the world.
Since it was first discovered to have psychedelic properties, LSD has fascinated scientists and psychologists. Before they were made illegal in 1968, many experiments were held with psychedelic drugs in controlled environments, in the hope of discovering their mind-altering capacities. It seems that individuals from all walks of life were intrigued, but especially those who were involved in the realm of creative thought.
Creativity remains an elusive psychological concept today. It is easy to see why psychologists would have been excited to discover how psychedelics influence the visions of the mind’s eye in the hopes of better understanding the origins of creativity. However, while many artists described their experience with psychedelics as being positive and creativity-inducing, there still remains a debate within the data collected as to just
what degree and in what direction the psychedelics influenced the artists’ work.
Interestingly, it seems that the elements Grey calls "set and setting" are of primary importance in the artist’s reaction to psychedelic drugs or any experience that may put the mind in a transcended state. In some ways, the individual’s expectations about taking the drug seem just as crucial as the mechanism of action of the drug. It is also fascinating to note that there appear to be other ways to reach such a mind-altering state, including yoga and meditation. Although the risk of dying from the physiological effects of LSD seems minimal, one has to seriously consider the possibilities of having a negative trip, or even a psychotic break, before taking a hallucinogenic drug.
With this in mind, it seems important to question whether the psychedelic substance is merely advancing one more quickly to a state he probably could reach otherwise. If this is true, are there safer and "more natural" ways to access a transcendental state through other means, which might take longer, but where psychedelic substances are not ingested? It also raises the question as to whether or not the visions seen and the emotions experienced during a drug-induced state are indeed akin to the spiritual world or if they are merely occurring because of the drug’s affect on the visual cortex! Then again, even if it is just because of the physiological effects of the drug, does it matter how the user perceives his trip? If he perceives it as life changing and mind altering and the end result is an increased personal spirituality, a renewed sense of being and a new life purpose for the good of humanity, does it matter how he came to this realization?
Of course, these are philosophical questions that are akin to defining the meaning of life. Upon initial contact with his work, one might have expected to find Grey to be some sort of self-involved, deranged artist who saw himself as the next Christ. Instead, his theory is fascinating and his perceived responsibility to humankind is impressive. In The Mission of Art, Grey demonstrates an attempt to address all aspects of the definition of sacred art, including what an artist’s role and mission should be in our world today. The use of LSD is just one of many aspects Grey advocates in reaching for the transpersonal realm. For him, the psychedelic experience is purely spiritual and enables him to better share his artistic vision. For Grey, LSD has provided an alternate way to reach what is beyond the mundane and, in turn, he has been able to advocate a more loving, kind and spiritual way of being. It is Grey's hope that the viewer is able to recognize this way of being in his art and perhaps will react with their own sense of renewed spirituality.
Correspondence concerning this article should be sent by email to LuArt33@aol.com.
Art and spirit: Interview with Alex Grey. (2000). Retrieved July 8, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.alexgrey.com/artsandsp/interview.html
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The Effects of Organization and Cognitive Distraction on
Long-Term Recognition Memory
Billie Draper, Jeremy Rubingh, Sherri Lantinga, and Paul Moes
The present study investigates the effects of organization and cognitive distraction on long-term recognition memory. It was predicted that organized verbal information would increase memory compared to disorganized information, while a distraction task would decrease memory compared to a group without a distraction task. An interaction between organization and distraction was also anticipated. While organization condition did not significantly affect memory, participants who did not receive a distraction task scored significantly better than those who did receive a distraction task. Future research may want to explore how perceived organization of information affects memory compared to how actual organization of information affects memory.
People encounter unfamiliar information in almost every aspect of their lives: the workplace, the classroom, while driving, or while watching television. The degree to which people remember unfamiliar information varies greatly according to how the information is first presented. At times, the information is organized, such as a history textbook, while at other times it is disorganized, such as numerical information about the 12 cranial nerves. If information is disorganized, people may often organize it themselves by forming associations, such as mnemonic devices. Sometimes information is presented alone, or sometimes it is presented while people are performing another task, such as listening to the radio, eating, reading, writing, or talking. As a result of how it is presented, some information may never be processed, and, therefore, never stored in long-term memory. If the information is processed, it can be stored in a number of ways, one of which is in hierarchies.
Collins and Quillian (1969) first developed the Hierarchical Model of memory. This defined hierarchy as the organization of information from general category to a specific
sub-category (Matlin, 1989), by timing people’s responses to different statements. Some statements were part of a broad category (e.g. "A canary is a bird"), while others were part of a specific, subordinate category (e.g. "A canary has feathers"). They found that it takes longer for people to respond to specific subordinate category statements compared to broad category statements, which may be caused by the added time needed to move from a broad concept to a specific concept. Broad concepts are associated with more information, which may also decrease response time.
As a result of Collins and Quillian’s findings, many researchers began to study how hierarchies affect learning. Research suggests that recall increases when information is presented in organized hierarchies. Bower, Clark, Lesgold, and Winzenz (1969) illustrated this when they presented words to people either randomly or grouped into categories. When the words were presented in organized categories, long-term recall was two to three times better than when they were presented randomly. Wortman (1975) presented information to undergraduates in either a hierarchical condition or a single list condition and then tested recall a week later. Participants recalled significantly more words for the hierarchical condition than the single, unorganized list condition. Other research indicates that textbooks, which make use of these organizational techniques by providing structured outlines and paragraphs, increase the recall of specific facts compared to textbooks that do not make use of these techniques (Glynn & di Vesta, 1977).
Based upon the Hierarchical Model and other research, it can be concluded that organized information is retrieved faster than disorganized information because it is associated with more items. These associations give organized information more memory cues and retrieval aids. When given organized information, people also save processing time because they do not have to organize the material mentally themselves. Instead, they know what to associate it with and where to store it in long-term memory. From the model and the research, it seems possible that the efficiency of processing and retrieval time increases recall. While previous research has examined the effect of organized, printed information on memory recall, no study has examined the effect of organized, verbal information on recognition. Would organized, verbal information increase long-term recognition memory in comparison to disorganized, verbal lectures?
Not only are researchers interested in how hierarchies affect memory, but many researchers are also interested in how attention affects memory. Two different theories have been developed to explain why people’s attention is limited. Both theories make similar predictions about simultaneous performance of multiple tasks. Broadbent (1958) proposed the bottleneck model, which stated that people are restricted in their capacity to attend to information because their brain can only process a fixed amount of information. Since the human brain cannot filter all information at the same time, some information is never processed. Thus, it is never stored. Another theory that makes similar predictions to the bottleneck model is the limited processing capacity theory (Kahneman, 1973; Norman & Bobrow, 1975). This theory states that people’s attention is restricted because the amount of cognitive effort people can use on a task is limited. Performance on a task, therefore, varies according to the amount of cognitive effort or mental processing required. If a person performs two tasks, the first task will prevent them from using all of his or her cognitive processing on the other task.
Since attention is limited due to either fixed cognitive capacity or fixed cognitive energy, many researchers have investigated what happens when attention is divided between two tasks. In a classic study, participants wore earphones that gave each ear a different message (Cherry, 1953). After listening to the messages and verbally repeating one of them, participant recall was significantly greater for the repeated message than the message that was not repeated. In another study, Neisser and Becklen (1975) had participants watch people on television perform one game, a different game, and then both games at the same time. When participants viewed both games at the same time, their performance significantly decreased compared to when they viewed each game separately. Schimek and Wachtel (1969) found that participants were less able to recall letters when they simultaneously had to listen to an audiocassette-taped item. Other research (Bonnel & Hafter, 1998; Janelle, Singer, & Williams, 1999; Nissen & Bullemer, 1987; Zimmer & Brachuli-Raymond, 1978) confirms that dual-task performance decreases recall, which some propose is the result of people’s attention being distracted from one task as the result of another task (Kontsevick & Tyler, 1999).
While these studies explored the relationship between performing two tasks and recall, few studies have investigated how a distraction task affects memory and relates to hierarchical organization. Some have hypothesized that shifts in attention interfere with memory because temporal organization and practicing is disrupted (Stadler, 1995). No study, however, has investigated how a shift in attention between two tasks disrupts memory organization. Research (DuBois, 1987; Kee & Bell, 1981) suggests that people who spontaneously use or impose organizational strategies, such as hierarchies, greatly increase the amount of learning, retrieval ability, and recall compared to those who do not spontaneously use these strategies. No study has examined what happens when people are too busy performing one task to spontaneously organize information internally for a different task. Would long-term recognition memory decrease for these tasks compared to when people do not perform a distraction task? Is there an interaction between performing a distraction task and verbal organization such that long-term recognition memory decreases the most for those that are distracted and given disorganized information?
The present study was designed to investigate the effects of verbal organization and cognitive distraction on long-term, recognition memory of verbal material. It was expected that people who view a hierarchically organized lecture would score higher on a recognition memory test two days after the lecture than those who view a lecture that uses no organizational techniques. It was also predicted that people whom are presented with information and not prevented from spontaneously organizing it would score higher on a recognition memory test than those whom are distracted. Finally, it is predicted that there will be an interaction between the former two effects, such that people who are presented with information in a hierarchically organized lecture will score higher on a long-term recognition memory test than people whom are presented with information that is disorganized. The largest difference will be between the organized/undistracted condition and the disorganized/distracted condition.
A 2 (information organization: organized, disorganized) x 2 (distraction: yes, no) between-subjects, factorial design was used. Undergraduate students were presented with unfamiliar information for the organization conditions by means of a videotaped lecture. For the distraction conditions, participants completed mathematical problems during the lecture. After viewing the lecture, participants returned two days later to complete a questionnaire that assessed recognition memory for the lecture material. They were not tested on the mathematical information. The level of statistical significance was set at
Participants were N = 61 undergraduate students (n = 37 male and n = 24 female), with a mean age of 19.38 years.Each participant was randomly assigned to one of the four conditions and was from a lower-level, psychology course. All participants volunteered and received extra credit for their participation. Volunteers were treated in accordance with the "Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct" (American Psychological Association, 1992).
All four of the conditions used a videotaped lecture on the topic of ancient Far East history. Prior to testing, an experienced, male professor in this field of study lectured for 15 min on the material and was videotaped. Only two of the participants had previous exposure to the professor. For the organized conditions, the video presented the information on Far East history following an organized, outline format with sentences that were explicitly categorized (e.g. major point, point,
sub-point). For the disorganized conditions, the videotape contained exactly the same information, except the information’s order had been mixed up by moving one sub-point from each major point to a different category. This differed from the organized videotape in that the information was not presented in categories or outline format.
For the distraction conditions, mathematical problems were used. The problems involved addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Mathematical problems were selected for the distraction task since research indicates that distraction reduces performance for complex tasks, such as math problems, rather than simple tasks (Graydon & Eysenck, 1989).
A post-lecture, 20-item, multiple-choice questionnaire was developed based on the content of the lecture to assess recognition memory. The questionnaire also contained four questions on demographic information (gender, age, class, and grade point average). Three manipulation check items used 5-point response scales to measure prior knowledge of the topic, perception of the lecture organization, and frequency of spontaneous organization of the information. For example, one item asked, "How organized did you perceive the lecture?" where 1 = "very disorganized" and 5 = "very organized."
Prior to arrival, participants were randomly assigned to a condition. When the participants arrived in groups of about 15, they completed an informed consent form and were informed that the purpose of the study was to examine factors influencing learning. The participants were verbally instructed to watch the video without taking notes or talking. Participants in the distraction condition were additionally instructed to complete mathematical problems during the videotaped lecture. The undistracted conditions did not complete mathematical problems. All conditions were told that they would be tested in two days to assess what they had learned from the tasks performed during the experiment. Participants were never tested on the math problems. Participants were only told that they would be tested on both tasks to motivate them to complete the math problems. After viewing the videotape, the participants were reminded to return two days later without talking to anyone else about the study. When they returned, they completed the questionnaire on the lecture material. They were then thanked, debriefed, and dismissed.
This experiment tested the effects of organization and distraction on recognition memory. Two participants, both from the disorganized/distracted condition, indicated that they had prior knowledge of the videotaped topic. Therefore, they were both excluded from data analysis, which left 59 participants (n = 36 male and n = 23 female). The number of items answered correctly on the memory test ranged from 2.00 to 18.00 (M = 7.00, SD = 2.99).
Six participants did not fully complete the manipulation check section of the questionnaire; therefore, they were not included in the analysis of the manipulation check items. The first manipulation item measured perceived level of the lecture’s organization. A Chi Square test was conducted and revealed that the video was not correlated to perceptions of its organization, c 2 (1, N = 53) = 2.79, p > .05.
Another item asked participants how often they spontaneously organized the information in their head during the lecture experiment. A Chi Square test indicated that students in the undistracted condition (mean rank = 30.37) reported significantly more spontaneous organization than students in the distraction condition (mean rank = 22.41), c 2(1, N= 53) = 3.83, p< .05. Organization condition did not significantly correlate with the amount of spontaneous organization, c 2(1, N= 53) = .73, p> .05.
It was expected that people who viewed an organized lecture would score higher on a recognition memory test compared to those who viewed a disorganized lecture. It was also expected that people who did not perform a distraction task would score higher on a memory recognition test than those that did perform a distraction task. Finally, an interaction between the former effects was expected, such that people who were presented with organized information would score higher on the memory recognition test than people who were presented with disorganized information, but this difference would be especially large for those who were distracted.
A factorial ANOVA was employed to evaluate whether organization and cognitive distraction conditions influenced long-term memory. Organization condition did not significantly affect the number of answers correct, F (1, 54) = .55, p > .05. For the distraction condition, the undistracted group (M = 8.92; SD = 2.81) answered significantly more questions correct than the distracted group (M = 5.29; SD = 2.00), F (1, 54) = 30.12, p < .05. No significant interaction was found between organization condition and distraction condition, F (1, 54) = 1.48, p > .05. These results indicate that participants who were not cognitively distracted performed better on the memory recognition test than those who were distracted. Yet, the organized information did not increase memory recognition compared to the presentation of disorganized information.
A number of exploratory analyses were conducted. Students whom use organizational techniques on their own were expected to do better on the memory questionnaire than students whom do not use organizational techniques (DuBois, 1987). Yet, a one-way ANOVA with GPA as a co-variate and spontaneous organization as the independent variable showed that spontaneous organization did not significantly affect the number of questions correct, F (1, 31) = 0.12, p > .05. Other research indicates that women perform better on memory tasks (McBurney, Gaulin, Devineni, & Adams, 1997) and that women display higher levels of immediate and delayed free recall compared to men (Kramer, Delis, & Daniel, 1988). However, t-test analysis supported the hypothesis that gender did not significantly affect the number of questions correct, t (57) = -0.18, p > .05.
Although prior research supported the hypothesis that organization of verbal information increases memory recognition, in the present study, organization condition did not increase memory recognition compared to the disorganized condition. Due to this result, further exploratory analyses were performed to investigate if perception of organization or actual organization affects memory recognition. These tests indicated a significant Pearson positive correlation between perception of lecture organization and the number of questions correct, r (51) = 0.29, p < .05, which indicates that those whom perceived the lecture as organized scored better on the questionnaire than those whom did not perceive the lecture as organized.
The present study tested the effects of organization and distraction on recognition memory. The primary hypothesis that organized information increases memory was not supported. The results also failed to give significant evidence to show an interaction between organization and distraction. However, there was significant evidence that the distracted group recognized less of the information from the video than the group that was not distracted.
The present study extended previous research by examining how recognition memory is affected by organization. It was also the first study to examine the relationship between verbal organization and distraction. This study supports both the bottleneck theory (Broadbent, 1958) and the limited capacity theory (Kahneman, 1973; Norman & Bobrow, 1975), along with prior research on cognitive distractions (Cherry, 1953; Nissen & Bullemer, 1987; Schimek & Wachtel, 1969; Zimmer & Brachuli-Raymond, 1978), as those who were in the undistracted condition scored higher on the memory recognition test than those in the distracted condition. This study did not support the Hierarchical Model (Collins & Quillian, 1969) or other research (Bower, et al. 1969; Wortman, 1975) since those who received organized verbal information did not score better on a recognition memory test than those who received disorganized verbal information.
Although research (Bower et al., 1969; Wortman, 1975) indicates that organization decreases recall, organization may not affect recognition memory. However, there are many possible explanations for why the present study did not confirm the primary hypothesis that organization affects memory. Since perception of video organization did not significantly change between the organized and the disorganized condition, it is possible that the lecture was not disorganized enough. Although a two-day interval is long enough for recall, perhaps it may not be long enough to assess the effect of organization on memory recognition. The complexity of the lecture topic (far east history) may have hindered the results by causing participants to become disinterested, which encouraged them to stop attending to the lecture or become bored. This occurrence is called the "floor effect" (Rogers, Harrell, & Liff, 1993). It is also possible that participants received an overload of information, so they could not attend to or retain it all. This occurrence is called the "ceiling effect" (Theisen, 1997). Another factor that may have influenced the unexpected results for the primary hypothesis could be that information in the disorganized condition was referred to more. As Eich and Birnbaum (1982) demonstrate, this repetition may have increased memory recall. If the questionnaire asked for information from more specific subcategories, rather than higher levels in the hierarchy, research (Bower, 1976) suggests that recall would decrease. The significant relationship between perception of organization and memory test score may also indicate that it is the individuals’ perception of information that affects memory rather than the actual organization of information. Based upon the Hierarchical model (Collins & Quillian, 1969), it seems possible that the perception of information is linked to the perception of associations between information and the perception of retrieval cues, which could explain the correlation and insignificant results.
Questions that may be explored in future research include length of time between encoding and retrieval, degree of information disorganization, perceived organization, types of information, and frequency of information. If the participants had been given other information, besides Far East history would the effect be different? Researchers may also want to explore if increasing the time between encoding and retrieval of the presented information or if the repetition of information in the disorganized conditions affects memory. As a result of this study, future research may also study how perceived organization of information affects memory in comparison to how actual organization of information affects memory.
Research on the effects of organization and distraction on memory is important to society because people encounter unfamiliar information every day. People also commonly perform two or more tasks at the same time (Pashler, 1992). This present study demonstrates that if people are distracted from a main task, their recognition memory of the main task may decrease. For example, if a businessperson is presenting a new product while the board members are busy examining the presenter’s statistics, it is likely that the board members’ recognition memory will decrease. If a husband tells his wife that he wrote a check out while she is reading, it is possible that she will not recall the information later. Because college students are frequently presented with unfamiliar information, they may be a specific population which can benefit from the use of this research (DuBois, 1987). Lecturers should not ask students, especially students with learning disabilities (Soraci, Carlin, Deckner, & Baumeister, 1990; Towle, 1982), to perform other tasks while they are lecturing because it is likely that this distraction will decrease recognition memory.
In the present study, organization did not affect memory recognition or interact with distraction. Yet, distraction decreased memory recognition. This finding is valuable to society because people are constantly bombarded with new information, performing multiple tasks, and searching for ways to increase their memory. Since this study was limited by possible diffusion effects, future research may want to investigate how the frequency of information, the degree of disorganization, the types of questions asked, the perception of organization, or the type of information affects memory.
Correspondence concerning this article should be sent by electronic mail to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. The authors would like to thank Mr. Arnold Koekkoek for his assistance in carrying out the experiment.
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THEME SECTION FOCUS ON STEROIDS
Methyltestosterone: An Examination of
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Compounds
and the Effects on the Brain and Behavior
Amy L. Villano
Fairleigh Dickinson University
The Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid (AAS) compounds and methyltestosterone's effects on brain function and behavior are examined. Empirical studies are used to highlight the effects of AAS compounds. Research exploring how androgens function in the brain, as well as the differences between androgenic effects in humans, and male rats serve as one focus. A second focus examines research on the effects of the compound, 17-methlytestosterone in male rats and human males. The significant findings of these comparative studies overall, reveal that AAS compounds result in psychological and behavioral detriment when used in excessive doses.
The concept that androgens influence behavior can be traced back over two thousand years to Aristotle. This philosopher observed in his biological treatise Historia Animalium, that the castration of immature male birds prevented the development of characteristic male singing and sexual behavior (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). Others throughout history have attempted to utilize this theory to devise beneficial means for male hormones. It was in 1935, that the prototypical androgen was characterized. This androgen, known as testosterone, was identified as a result of the examination of the male testes. Anabolic steroids are artificial, synthetic derivatives of the natural, male sex hormone, and testosterone. Anabolic steroids were originally synthesized to retain and magnify some of the effects that testosterone produced on the body, while simultaneously reducing or alleviating some of the other effects of testosterone (Taylor, 1991). German medical scientists during World War II completed the first synthesis of anabolic steroids. However, credit was given to John B. Ziegler for the original synthesis of anabolic steroids. From the early pages of the epic Hormonal Manipulations of Athletes, Ziegler learned that at the 1956 World Games, Russian athletes were using testosterone to enhance performance (Taylor, 1991). After returning to the United States, Ziegler began to conduct his own research on steroids. This involved the administration of the steroid compound, Dianabol to the participating athletes. The purpose of his study was to examine the benefits and safety issues involved in the use of steroids. Without his knowledge, the athletes began to abuse the steroids and they experienced medical abnormalities as a result. By 1963, several other pharmaceutical companies synthesized versions of anabolic steroids to go along with the already available testosterone preparations: methyltestosterone and dianabol (Taylor, 1991). A trend developed as other manufactures began to follow the lead of the pharmaceutical companies in steroid production. As the abuse of steroids became apparent, these drugs were made illegal and, as a result, became available for sale on the black market.
The original purpose of steroid synthesis was to intensify the effects of testosterone on the body, while simultaneously alleviating other undesirable effects of testosterone. Testosterone has a stimulant effect on skeletal muscle mass, some visceral organs, the hemoglobin concentration, and the red blood cell number and mass (Taylor, 1991). Androgens are steroid hormones that have two different effects. The first, being androgenic effects, include; differentiation, growth, and development of the male reproductive tract. The second classification of effects is known as anabolic effects, these include the stimulation of linear body growth, and somatic growth (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). Structurally, androgens are members of the larger family of steroid hormones; derivatives of cholesterol that contain a basic makeup of four fused carbon rings. Many, but not all effects of testosterone and other androgens, are activated through the androgen receptor, an approximately 919-amino-acid-protein, which is widely but selectively distributed throughout the brain (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). At the point where the androgen binds to its receptor, structural changes occur that facilitates its binding to complimentary regions of DNA in the cell nucleus. The receptor binding activates transcription of the gene or genes, producing messenger RNA transcripts, which encode a wide array of enzymatic, structural and receptor proteins (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). Therefore, it can be said that androgens serve to regulate the actions of a number of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides.
Androgens and estrogens acting through their respective receptors, are responsible for most of the observed differences between males and females in brain structure and function. Gender-related differences in the structure of the brain include the size of the brain nuclei; the number of neurons contained in those nuclei; the patterns of connections between neurons and different brain regions, for example synaptic development; and axonal and dendritic branching patterns (Rubinow & Schimdt, 1996). The gender-related differences appear in the form of sexual dimorphisms, as well as in the physical aspects of the brain. These differences have been observed and identified in studies using male and female rats. For example, if a female rat is exposed to testosterone perinatally, the size of the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the hypothalamic preoptic area will thereafter approximate that in the male, three to five times larger than that usually seen in the female (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). Permanent alterations of behavior were also observed as the rats were again administered the gonadal steroid after puberty. While central nervous system sexual dimorphisms have been more extensively demonstrated in animals, they have also been identified in humans. For example, these dimorphisms include differences in cognitive processes. When examining cognitive test performance, females showed greater articulation and fine motor skills, and males showed greater spatial ability (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). Along with reinforcing the already identified physical effects of AAS compounds, the following studies have confirmed that psychological and behavioral changes are linked to steroid use.
Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid (AAS) compounds differ in action, effects and toxicity. The liver slowly metabolizes the
17-methylated AAS compounds, for example, 17-methyltestosterone and methandrostenlone and their use is associated with liver toxicity (Clark & Fast, 1996). Methyltestoserone, as mentioned previously, is an androgenic preparation, usually given by the oral route of administration in capsule form. Adverse reactions on the human nervous system have been reported to include increased or decreased libido, headache, anxiety, depression, and generalized paresthesia (The Physicians Desk Reference, 1999). Research studies have shown that
17-methyltestosterone affects aggressive behavior in animals as well as in humans. A study by Clark and Fast (1996), was conducted to examine the androgenic effects of commonly abused doses of
17-methyltestosterone in gonadectomized, male rats. The results of the experiment showed that 17-methyltestosterone maintained mounting and intromission behavior in castrated male rats only when administered at high doses (Clark & Fast, 1996). The methyltestosterone had an effective increase on the male rat’s seminal vesicle weight, as well as body weight. The
17-methyltestosterone proved the least potent at doses typically taken by human steroid users and was effective only when administered at the highest dose. The administration of individual AAS compounds produced quantifiable and distinct effects on the reproductive behavior of castrated, male rats. It is important to note that the ability of a dose of AAS to stimulate seminal vesicle or prostate gland growth, as well as the absolute level of growth, did not predict the central potency of the AAS compound with respect to male sexual behavior (Clark & Fast, 1996). One important aspect of the study, was the finding that the researchers could not report with certainty that the active compound, the actual chemical that maintained sexual behavior, was the compound administered to the rats, and not the metabolite of the compound. The future analysis of the metabolic fate of individual AAS compounds, as well as the relative binding affinities at brain steroid receptors will enhance scientists understanding of potency at central nervous system sites (Clark & Fast, 1996).
There are few reports available on the effects of AAS on sexual behavior in humans. In contrast to studies of castrated, male rats, analysis of AAS effects in humans must take into account interactions with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Given these considerations, it is noteworthy that in one young man, long-term suppression of
libido was observed to persist for at least 3 years after cessation of use (Clark & Fast, 1996). AAS compounds are also believed to effect sexual performance along with sexual motivation in males. Differences of this nature have been researched in humans. Three types of studies have been performed for the purpose of gathering more information on the behavioral effects of androgens. These studies include group comparison studies, in which groups are selected for the presence or absence of a particular characteristic (for example aggression); correlational studies that examine the degree of association between measures of androgens and selected behaviors; and treatment or experimental studies, in which the behavioral consequences of manipulations of androgens levels are observed (Rubinow & Schimdt, 1996). Sexual feelings, desire, and activity in males are dependent on androgen levels. It has been shown that after the administration of testosterone to males with diminished sexual response, an increase to normal activity. Similarly, androgen replacement therapy increases libido in women who are androgen-deficient for example, after surgical menopause, but does not affect sexual arousal or behavior in naturally menopausal women. Therefore, it can be concluded that androgens do play an important role in human sexual functioning (Rubinow & Schimdt, 1996).
The most prevalent adverse conditions brought on by the self-use of anabolic steroids are due to psychoactive effects on the limbic system of the brain. This group of brain structures play a crucial role in many autonomic functions and certain aspects of emotion, behavior, and personality (Taylor, 1991). Scientists believe that anabolic steroids bind to various receptor sites within the limbic system directly, and cause an alteration in behavior. In addition, anabolic steroids are thought to serve as direct neurotransmitters in other areas of the brain. Although the exact mechanisms of action of steroids in the brain remain unknown, they are influential psychoactive drugs with powerful effects.
The study of the psychoactive nature of anabolic steroids has been influenced by several male-related factors. First, the major biochemical difference between the male and female genders is due to the strong influence of testosterone and its concentration in the human body. Second, it has traditionally been more acceptable to look for the physical answers to medical problems and to discount anything psychological as merely a weak excuse because a physical reason just could not be found. Finally, much of the research has been conducted by males and because of this, there is some bias as to the extent that testosterone influences male behavior (Taylor, 1991).
Testosterone’s masculine effects are displayed in two predominant ways. The first is physical effects, which includes increased body size and muscular strength. The second effect is seen with male-pattern dominance. When testosterone is released in higher than normal amounts, or when steroids are ingested or injected enough to raise the total "androgen burden" in the user, a number of "macho" behavioral patterns may arise in some people. This includes patterns that can become aberrant, violent, sexually violent, and criminal (Taylor, 1991). It has been researched that testosterone and anabolic steroids can produce aggressive and violent behavior in humans. A study published in 1980, on 56 normal, adolescent males is perhaps the most definitive human study that links high testosterone levels to certain personality traits (Taylor, 1991). A group of sixteen-year-old males were studied utilizing various personality inventories. Results showed that these adolescents who naturally have higher testosterone levels, exhibited verbal and physical aggression which correlated with the increased testosterone. It was concluded that if an adolescent male takes steroids, this combined with their already higher levels of testosterone, could facilitate behavioral effects such as increased aggression, hostility, and violence. The term "roid rage" was used to describe the behavioral effects of steroids. Then, in a later study, two psychiatrists, Pope and Katz, reported that twelve percent of 33 regular steroid users exhibited psychotic symptoms, and many others exhibited near psychotic symptoms, mania, and withdrawal depression (Taylor, 1991). It was also concluded that dosage plays an important role in the severity of effects. In other words, the higher the dose of steroids taken, the higher the probability that the user will experience major changes in personality.
Anabolic steroids have been used by members of the athletic community because of the belief that they increase lean body mass, physical strength, and aggressiveness; and reduce recovery time between workouts. Users of steroids have reported mood, as well as behavioral disturbances. Case reports have observed the following: Psychoses, hypomania, delirium with the presence of choreiform movements, and violent criminal acts (Su et al., 1993). Accompanying the withdrawal of steroids, users have experienced depression as well as thoughts of suicide. These particular withdrawal effects have been reported during the first three months after termination of long-term steroid use.
Drs. Su, Pagliaro, Schmidt, Pickar, Wolkowitz, and Rubinow (1993) evaluated the acute effects of anabolic steroids on mood and behavior, in normal male volunteers. None of the participants were conditioned athletes or had taken any type of steroids in the past. After a medical evaluation, these 33 male volunteers, was administered 80 mg of the oral anabolic steroid, methyltestosterone, or placebo. The recommended dosage is usually 40 mg per day, but these volunteers received 80 mg, three times a day. All participants completed daily at 10 a.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m., a visual, analogue,
self-rating scale (VAS) that measured a variety of mood, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms reported in association with anabolic steroid exposure (Su et al., 1993). Participants kept a diary of what they experienced during the study, and vital signs were recorded daily as well. Significant increases were found in the high-dose condition for the symptoms of distractibility, level of energy, irritability, and sexual arousal; and a trend in the symptoms of insomnia, anger, violent feelings, and fatigue. Additionally, significant increases for each rating time were identified during the
high-dose condition on distractibility (evening), mood swings (at night), violent feelings (at night), euphoria (morning), forgetfulness (morning), and night confusion (Su et al., 1993). Profound "psychoactive effects," which includes mania, were observed in only five percent of the participants. The results of this study did confirm earlier studies suggesting both the activating and adverse mood and behavioral effects of anabolic steroids, and further suggest that identification of the possible mechanisms of these effects may significantly advance our understanding of behavioral regulation in humans (Su et al., 1993).
In updated research presented by Rubinow and Schmidt (1996), reports of major psychiatric symptoms and syndromes which include; aggression, psychosis, mania, hypomania, and depression, that are associated with AAS compounds, have replaced the earlier reports of their therapeutic efficacy in psychiatric disorders. These psycho-toxic effects may be an indication of the excessive amounts of steroids abused by athletes. Behavior is multiply encoded, and prior experience can negate the influence of testosterone on behavior (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). However, it is consistently reported that androgens are major modulators of brain biochemistry and behavior. Androgens regulate and interact with growth factors, neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, neuroactive steroids, and neuronal second messengers to influence neuronal differentiation, growth, survival, activation, and synapse formation (Rubinow & Schmidt, 1996). Lastly, androgens are influential in the determination of behavioral effects of a number of neuropeptides.
At the present time, AAS compounds are prescribed for the medical treatment of refractory anemia, breast cancer, and individuals in starvation states as a result of illness. However, it is reported that at least one million Americans have used these compounds to improve athletic ability or muscle mass, making it one of the most widely abused drugs in the United States. The doses and combinations of AAS compounds used by athletes, are commonly in amounts that exceed the recommended therapeutic doses.
AAS compounds will continue to be a hot area of research as there is a limited understanding steroids actions in the human brain. It is important to note that although the exact mechanisms of action of steroids in the brain is not certain, they are psychoactive drugs with serious effects. It is known that steroids bind to specific receptor cites, thus producing its powerful alterations of behavior. Further research will serve to limit the uncertainty surrounding these potentially addictive drugs of abuse.
Correspondence concerning this article should be sent via email to: email@example.com.
Clark, A. S., & Fast, A. S. (1996). Comparison of the effects of
17-Methyltestosterone, Methandrolone, and Nandrolone Decanoate on the sexual behavior of castrated male rats. Behavioral Neuroscience, 110, 1478-1486.
Rubinow, D. R., & Schmidt, P. J. (1996). Androgens, brain, and behavior. American Journal of Psychiatry, 153, 974-981.
Taylor, W. N. (1991). Macho medicine: A history of the anabolic steroid epidemic. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Incorporated, Publishers.
The Physicians’ Desk Reference.
(53rd ed.). (1991). Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Incorporated.
Tung-Ping, S., Pagliaro, M., Schmidt, P. J., Pickar, D., Wolkowitz, O., & Rubinow, D. R.. (1993). Neuropsychiatric Effects of Anabolic Steroids in Male Normal Volunteers. Journal of the American Medical Association, 269, 2760-2764.
Effective Use of Anabolic Steroids as
Treatment for AIDS Wasting Syndrome
Fairleigh Dickinson University
This research review regarding the most potent and long-lasting treatment program for AIDS Wasting Syndrome (AWS) revealed that anabolic steroids, specifically oxandrolone, are effective in combating the disease process. AWS is a life-threatening complication of AIDS that continues to claim the lives of many that are infected with this virus. Currently, there are only 2 treatment alternatives available to fight AWS. Use of appetite stimulants and recombinant human growth hormones (r-hGH) are reviewed and critiqued in relation to their effectiveness in convalescing AWS. Historical uses of anabolic steroids as well as results from recent clinical trials are discussed as a measure of their present-day applicability.
Anabolic steroids were originally introduced in the late 1940’s in response to the urgent medical needs of concentration camp survivors and prisoners of World War II. Many of the health problems that were threatening the lives of these severely malnourished war victims are similar to what AIDS patients' face today. Specifically, steroids were designed to address the damaging metabolic malfunctions, which become more pronounced as the HIV disease advances. It is in these chemical and hormonal changes that the similarity arises between post World War II victims and AIDS patients today. Medically speaking, the wasting that occurs is almost identical. Patients suffer from a decrease in lean body mass, increased catabolism, decreased energy utilization, negative nitrogen balance, decreased red blood cell volume, decreased oxygen efficiency, decreased glycogen stores, and an increased production of cortisol. Lean body mass is composed of muscle and bone, also including vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver (Beard, 1997). The human body recognizes the loss of lean body mass as a sign of starvation and responds to that message by deriving protein from muscles instead of from nutrients in the food eaten. Without interfering in this process, a body will continue to catabolize its muscles to the point of causing death.
The Center for Disease Control has defined AWS as containing the following conditions:
1) An involuntary weight loss of greater than 10% of baseline body weight; 2) either chronic diarrhea or chronic weakness and fever that lasts for more than 30 days; and 3) the absence of an infection or condition other than HIV infection that could account for these symptoms (Dieterich, 1997).
AWS is the second most common
AIDS-related condition and is strongly correlated with the progression of the disease and death (http://www.aegis.com/pubs/aidsline/1977/dec/m97c1419.html). The overbearing weakness and fatigue leading to substantial decreases in motivation known to exist in HIV+ patients is also thought to be a resulting function of AWS (http://www.aegis.com/pubs/aidsline/1977/dec/m97c1419.html). This type of unintentional weight loss has been reported to exist in more than 50% of patients with AIDS (http://www.oxandrin.com/aboutoxa-product.html). Wasting also causes a decrease in clinical Well-being, a decrease in tolerance to medications, an increase in symptoms and side effects, and a stronger tendency for therapies to fail (Beard, 1997).
Currently the treatment options available to doctors and patients alike often focus on one aspect of the disease while neglecting other health concerns. Poor nutrient absorption (often due to gastrointestinal opportunistic infections, vomiting, and diarrhea), lower food intake (due to nausea, painful sores in the mouth and throat, and depression), and altered metabolism and abnormal energy expenditure (as a consequence of HIV) all contribute to the general threat of AIDS related wasting (MacLaughlin, 1998). Oftentimes, this relationship of AIDS/HIV and wasting is a cat-and-mouse game. AIDS weakens the system, which in turn provokes wasting, which in turn further weakens the system. It is difficult to ascertain which factor appeared first in a patient and which to treat first. All of these factors contribute to the progression of AIDS itself as well as the procurement of the wasting syndrome.
Presently there are three major approaches to the treatment of AWS: Appetite stimulants, recombinant human growth hormones, and testosterone-related treatments (anabolic steroids). The benefits and risks associated with each treatment strategy, relying on the findings of clinical trial experiments will be evaluated. Unfortunately, much of these clinical findings are based on the significant changes observed in male HIV+ individuals. There are several studies currently underway that are specifically researching the effects of incorporating anabolic steroids and testosterone for HIV+ women. Preliminary findings are encouraging and hopeful for women suffering from AIDS and its associated wasting syndrome; however, more research must be conducted before the applicability is fully understood.
Many research findings are discovering the benefits of a healthy, well-balanced diet, combined with supervised resistance weight training exercises for 1 hour at least 3 times a week. This fundamental component of the overall general treatment of AIDS/HIV should not be disregarded. Certain studies have found that when patients are educated and trained on how to properly structure their diet and exercise habits, significant health improvements were noticed, up to and including weight gain (Gold et al., 1996). As a result of these impressively positive changes in the course of AWS, it is strongly recommended that any treatment approach dealing with ameliorating AWS involve proper diet and resistance weight training exercises.
Much research has been done regarding the long-term efficacy of introducing appetite stimulants as a way to contest AWS. Studies reveal that several synthetic appetite stimulants (megestrol acetate and dronabinol in particular, which contain THC) are successful in adding body weight to those suffering from AWS. Unfortunately, the weight gained is largely from fat and water. Sufferers of AWS are experiencing catabolic loss of lean muscle tissue, often involving a loss in size and weight of organ tissue as well. Gaining fat and water weight does nothing to defend the body from further catabolism or repair the devastating damage that has already been done. The largest benefit noticed from the administration of synthetic appetite stimulants is the increase the patients feel in their appetite. The stimulants containing THC work to diminish the nauseous feelings that would normally stop the patient from wanting to eat. These stimulants remove that unpleasant nauseous feeling, allowing for a greater intake of food. However, there is no corollary guarantee that a hungry person will eat the types of food that are necessary for proper nutrition or that their body will effectively absorb the nutrients. This treatment approach only addresses one of the important critical factors of why AWS occurs. This treatment approach does not begin to confront the larger medical concerns of how to reverse the destruction being done internally to lean muscle mass and organ tissue or how to stop further catabolism from occurring. A second drawback to relying on appetite stimulants as a treatment for AWS is the dose-response curve. Once results are noticed in weight gain and a newfound interest in eating, oftentimes a higher dose of the drug is required to sustain that same increased level.
There are also several negative side effects of these drugs. More than half of the men examined during clinical trials reported a reduction in serum testosterone levels. Aside from causing impotence, low levels of serum testosterone are a causal factor in hypogonadism. This condition is related to the onset of severe illness, malnutrition, and opportunistic infections. Studies have found that hypogonadism further reduces the quality of life for the patient by bringing on depression. As stated earlier, the presence of depression, malnutrition, as well as opportunistic infections all negatively impact the patient and further strengthen the course of AWS. Based on potential side effects of appetite stimulants, it seems that any benefit experienced will most likely be short-lived and superficial.
Hypogonadism is the most prevalent endocrine abnormality in AIDS and is estimated to occur in more than half of all men with advanced HIV disease (MacLaughlin, 1998). A lowered level of testosterone is a key component in AWS, as the low level of testosterone allows for the catabolism and further reduction in lean tissue mass. Once this reduction in the level of testosterone occurs, AWS will continue regardless of the increase in appetite. This treatment approach is equivalent to placing a Band-Aid over a compound fracture; things may appear to have been effectively treated, but under the surface there are many more serious complications that need to be addressed. Testosterone is known to play an extremely important function in how human bodies utilize the vitamins and minerals consumed. Testosterone increases muscle mass, skeletal growth, spermatogenesis, and sexual functions (Dieterich, 1997).
The synthetic appetite stimulant, Megestrol, has also been found to lower corticotrophin (ACTH) and serum cortisol levels, suggesting a suppressive effect in the central nervous system from the drug. This may work to increase the level of depression in the patient, which potentially can aggravate AWS. This suppressive effect in the central nervous system often leads to adrenal insufficiency and an unexplainably high prevalence of candidal infections (Dieterich, 1997). Again, every new infection in an HIV+ patient further weakens the immune system, making wasting of lean tissue mass more conceivable. Megestrol has also been found to cause hyperglycemia and diabetes (Cofrancesco, 1999).
Several patients involved in the clinical trials of synthetic appetite stimulants reported feelings of confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, and a dose-related high (Dieterich, 1997). It is quite evident how these side effects can interfere with the successful treatment of AWS. If patients are confused, dizzy, and tired, it is more likely that they will sleep and not concern themselves with their precise nutritional needs. Further studies have revealed that the effectiveness of dronabinol tends to diminish after one year’s use (Dieterich, 1997). All information pertaining to the applicability of synthetic appetite stimulants containing THC report that the beneficial effects were more cogent when this chemical was introduced into the body as inhaled marijuana. Obvious political and legal reasons disallow this type of treatment method.
Recombinant Human Growth Hormone
This approach to treating AWS is much more effective than appetite stimulants in increasing overall body weight and lean tissue mass while reducing the level of fat mass. Since human growth hormone (r-hGH) treatment is extremely expensive, this type of treatment is not an affordable option for many individuals who suffer from AWS (Beard, 1997). This treatment was reported to cost more than $40,000 a year (nmia.com). A second source indicated that r-hGH treatment costs approximately $6,000 a month (Dieterich, 1997). A third source reported the cost of this type of treatment to be as much as $280 a day (Cofrancesco, 1999). In any case, the extremely high cost of treatment makes it financially impractical at best, if not intrinsically obsolete.
Aside from the high cost, a second disadvantage to this treatment is that daily subcutaneous injections are required. Many weak and frail AWS patients find these daily injections to be extraordinarily painful (Dieterich, 1997).
Generally, r-hGH treatment is well tolerated in persons infected with AIDS. The known side effects include increased tissue rigidity, edema, joint stiffness, and diarrhea (Dieterich, 1997). In another study, researchers reported the additional side effects of pain in muscles and joints as well as carpal tunnel syndrome with the potential for acute pancreatitis, hyperglycemia, and various allergic reactions (Cofrancesco, 1999). These side effects, especially diarrhea, may work to advance the AWS by further decreasing the amount of nutrients absorbed into the body. The effects of muscle and joint stiffness and pain could theoretically reduce the patient’s sense of well being and bring on depressions. Experiencing pain might allow the patients to believe that they are not doing well, which could lower their motivation to take care of themselves.
Despite its high cost, employing r-hGH as a treatment is a much better way to attack the progression of AWS. The r-hGH works to stop the catabolism of lean muscle mass by reversing the metabolic abnormalities of AWS via an increase in amino acid transport and an increase in the rate and efficiency of protein synthesis (Dieterich, 1997). Its chief effects are noticed in the sparing of protein breakdown, which increases the mobilizing and metabolizing of fat (Dieterich, 1997). Unlike the use of appetite stimulants, r-hGH has revealed observable benefits of increasing lean body mass.
The theory behind the use of anabolic steroids as a treatment for AWS mimics the original reason why steroids were invented: To increase lean body mass quickly and safely. Unfortunately, the benefits of anabolic steroids are often overlooked as a result of the prevalence and magnitude of the negative publication of steroid abuse by athletes. However, athletes who abuse steroids are not following the same agenda as patients with AWS. Athletes are looking for a quick way to grow muscle. Athletes ingest a combination of different steroids in doses 4 to 400 times what would typically be prescribed by a physician.
As a result of the historical bad press that anabolic steroids have received, a law was passed in 1990, the Anabolic Steroids Control Act, making the purchase or use of any non-FDA approved steroid a felony (http://www.projinf.org//fs/anabolic.html). As a result of this political and legal decision, many HIV+ patients needlessly suffer and die. For years, many aggressive HIV doctors have known that AWS is not an irreversible consequence of AIDS and that it can be effectively treated (LeBlanc, 1996). There is sufficient evidence to support the notion that with proper treatment, AWS patients can regain and maintain their normal weight and live a fulfilling and satisfying life (LeBlanc, 1996). However, less aggressive doctors are hesitant to offer this type of treatment because they are unsure about the long-term effects and are concerned over its DEA Schedule III controlled substance rating
(http://www.actupgg.org/BAR/art0044.html). Anabolic steroids, when used properly and under the supervision of a trained medical professional, have proven to be extremely successful in combating the detrimental and life-threatening complications of AWS. After all, these drugs were produced and studied since the 1940’s, some with limited FDA approval as far back as the 1960’s (LeBlanc, 1996).
The viscous cycle of AWS as it simultaneously weakens the body by catabolizing muscle mass and increasing depressive moods is extraordinarily difficult to break. Each of these factors supplies fuel for the other, ensuring that the wasting continues (Dieterich, 1997). It is this obstinate cycle that anabolic steroids have the greatest impact. In addition to preventing the catabolism of lean muscle mass, anabolic steroids work to fight the fatigue and depression often experienced as a result AWS. The patients begin to feel better about themselves, their health, and the prognosis of their disease. This seemingly subtle change in the emotional and psychological outlook of AWS patients must not be overlooked. Science and medical practitioners have long known how powerful the effects of a positive mental attitude can be on a person’s medical and physical state. Thus far, use of anabolic steroids is the only regimen that even considers this phenomena to play a role in the treatment process. Steroids work not only to immediately relieve symptoms, but also to fight the underlying impacting factors that help sustain those symptoms.
As previously stated, hypogonadism is a serious endocrinologic complication often associated with the presence of AWS. Testosterone deficiencies are known to exist in approximately 80% of all patients with advanced HIV disease (Smart, 1995). Treating this condition with anabolic steroids has been shown to increase lean muscle mass and improve quality of life. According to AWS experts, in order for the androgen therapy to be successful, it must:
"...be effective in correcting the signs and symptoms of androgen deficiency, be convenient and have an acceptable route of administration, have predictable pharmacokinetics, produce a pattern similar to the normal circadian androgen pattern, be relatively inexpensive, have a low potential for abuse, and be safe" (Dieterich, 1997).
Based on the discussion of the only other treatment options available for AWS, this list clearly disqualifies both appetite stimulants and r-hGH as being successful. A word of caution is necessary. Unfortunately, androgen replacement therapies are at risk of inviting atherosclerosis, prostate disease, sleep apnea, polycythemia, and hepatotoxic effects (Dieterich, 1997). The FDA requires warning labels to this effect on all steroid packaging. These risks are no greater for anabolic steroids than for any other type of treatment for AWS.
Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of adopting testosterone treatment to abate AWS. Usually the testosterone is administered via a transdermal patch or a deep intramuscular injection. Unfortunately, each of these routes of administration inherently possesses painful and irritating side effects for the patients. Testosterone alone is not a practical or possible treatment for women with AWS due to the high presence of virilizing side effects. Some men also may not be candidates for testosterone treatment if their testosterone levels are not sufficiently low enough (MacLaughlin, 1998). A research study examining the benefits of testosterone treatment as compared to placebo found no significant changes in weight, fat mass, or exercise functional capacity (MacLaughlin, 1998). The long-term safety and behavioral consequences of testosterone treatment are not yet known. Some scientists are concerned over the likelihood of testosterone causing prostate problems, mood swings, and acne (Corcoran, 1999).
One of the better known anabolic steroids, oxandrolone, was approved by the FDA at a daily dose of 10 mg in the early 1960’s (LeBlanc, 1996). The mechanism of action, path of metabolism, and side effects have all been researched and studied long before the FDA approval was granted. Oxandrolone is unique in that the liver minimally metabolizes it. This allows for patients to safely consume the steroid while taking other medications for AIDS-related illnesses. Patients with liver diseases or malfunctions may also benefit from oxandrolone without experiencing liver toxicity leading to further medical complications (LeBlanc, 1996). This information bears promising and hopeful results for many AIDS/HIV+ patients who otherwise may have to select which
AIDS-related illness to treat at the neglect of another.
Oxandrolone possesses prominent anabolic, with minimal androgenic, properties. It was designed to be less masculinizing than testosterone (Smart, 1995). Studies have found oxandrolone to contain approximately six times the anabolic properties as the same amount of testosterone (James, 1995). Studies have shown oxandrolone to promote muscle anabolism, decrease catabolism, increase muscle protein synthesis, and stimulate growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors (MacLaughlin, 1998). Oxandrolone goes to work in the body in the same pathways (anabolic and anticatabolic) where AWS is at work (Dieterich, 1997). AWS, in its advanced stages, blocks the normal process of creating energy from ingested proteins. Oxandrolone works to reprogram the body back to deriving protein from food sources and away from catabolic muscle destruction.
A second largely held misconception pertaining to the use of anabolic steroids in AWS treatment is that there will be virilizing, maleficent effects on women. Several studies have found this not to be the case (Dieterich, 1997; Pharo, 1997). Although there are studies indicating the applicability of anabolic steroid use with HIV+ females, not enough research has been conducted at this point to make a broad statement regarding the effectiveness for use with all HIV+ females. There are studies currently underway investigating the short and long-term effects of anabolic steroids for use with women. Perhaps these trials will demonstrate safe and effective use for HIV+ women.
Every clinical trial reviewed as research for this paper clearly demonstrated the benefits of anabolic steroids in conjunction with proper nutrition and resistance weight training exercise. Three such research studies will be included to illustrate the effectiveness of oxandrolone.
A study of 63 men with AWS (greater than 10% loss in normal body weight) randomized the participants to receive 5 mg oxandrolone per day, 15 mg oxandrolone per day, or placebo. The results at weeks 14 and 16 revealed substantial gains in body weight (0.6 kg and 1.87 kg respectively), appetite, and physical activity in the 15 mg/day dose group. Body weight actually declined in the placebo group by 0.7 kg at week 14 and 1.1 kg at week 16. The 5 mg/day group maintained its baseline body weight. No adverse side effects were observed during the course of the study (MacLaughlin, 1998).
A second study found similar results. This study included 22 patients randomized into a placebo or oxandrolone group. Participants in both groups took identical tablets and were unaware of the group they belonged to. Results after 8 weeks indicated substantial gains in weight (average 14.7 lbs. vs. 9.3 lbs. in placebo) and gains in lean body mass (average 2.0 lbs. vs. 1.0 lbs. in placebo). Participants in the oxandrolone group also reported having a 0.04% increase in muscle strength as determined by chest, tricep, and leg weight lifting exercises (Key, 1999).
A third study revealed that oxandrolone significantly and successfully reverses the damaging and life-threatening effects of AWS without any adverse effects (Dieterich, 1997). After 120 days, an average weight gain of 7.3 kg was observed. This gain was stable and sufficient enough to bring the participants back up to their normal weight.
Another commonly used anabolic steroid in the treatment of AWS, nandrolone decanoate, has also found similar, yet less hopeful results. This steroid requires a deep intramuscular injection every 2 weeks, which many AWS patients find extremely painful and inconveniencing. Nandrolone decanoate showed an increase in lean body mass (fat free mass), cell body mass, quality of life, and functionality in all four clinical trials researched for this paper. However, one study found a large portion of the gain in body weight to be from water (http://www.projinf.org//fs/anabolic.html). Several deleterious side effects were also reported. Some AWS patients were required to withdrawal from the study due to mood swings, restlessness, and an increase in libido. Other participants reported having insomnia, impotence, and acne, which was found to be disheartening. One study involved a woman who withdrew participation after she stopped menstruating. Unfortunately, her cycle has not resumed since she has been off of nandrolone decanoate (http://www.projinf.org//fs/anabolic.html). Another study’s results were confounded due to the drop out of participants because of opportunistic infections (Gold, 1996). None of these side effects were reported to exist in the oxandrolone studies.
These findings work together to demonstrate the effectiveness and utility of adding anabolic steroids to the treatment of AWS. Anabolic steroids have many benefits over the other two presently used treatment methods. Steroids directly work at the chemical and hormonal level to stop and reverse the tissue damage. The oral tablet route of administration is much more convenient and less painful than the deep intramuscle injection often used with r-hGH. Preliminary studies suggest that oxandrolone is a safe and effective treatment. Results have already classified this drug to be safe for patients with liver diseases. Oxandrolone allows for safe use with other medications.
No symptoms or signs of overdose have been reported in human use.
While attempting to treat AWS successfully and comprehensively, more factors than weight loss and weight gain must be considered. Bearing this in mind, it becomes clear that the only treatment option that addresses the many complications of AWS is anabolic steroids. As discussed, appetite stimulants simply mask the problem, adding weight that is mostly water and fat. This does nothing to halt the advancement of the wasting, nor to repair the internal damage already caused. Human growth hormones are still expensive and painful, making their general use unlikely. Alternatively, anabolic steroids work in the same chemical pathways that AWS damages. The oral tablet route of administration and liver tolerance is two factors that recommend oxandrolone use by patients diagnosed with AWS. This drug represents an effective treatment option for AWS since it is painlessly and quickly administered, produces few side-effects, and enhances the psychological well-being in patients. Each of these benefits work together to treat AWS.
Correspondence concerning this article should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Any comments or questions? Please write to Dr. Dan Calcagnetti at email@example.com