In the human brain, the cortex is responsible for a multitude of important functions, including the processing of memory, perception, thought, attention, language and consciousness. The cerebral cortex is connected to other brain structures, including the thalamus and the basal ganglia. The cortex both sends signals to these other regions of the brain and receives and processes information from other structures. Sensorial input is processed on the opposite hemisphere from where it was experienced: for example, visual input that passes through the right retina is processed on the left side of the brain.
Eye movement is one of the human functions controlled by the basal ganglia. This region of the brain also serves to aide in the process of learning procedures and habits and plays a role in the processing of emotions and motivation. Feelings such as hunger and stress are processed in this region and the information processed here aides in the motivation to seek food, escape a dangerous situation or seek warmth. Additionally, the basal ganglia plays a central role in addiction and pleasure and the limbic regions of the basal ganglia activate whenever pleasurable activities take place.
Memory formation is one of the main jobs of the limbic system. The limbic system is comprised of many sub-structures, including the hippocampus and the amygdala. The hippocampus is responsible for the development of spatial memory and learning, while the amygdala plays a major role in the processing of attention and emotion.
The corpus callosum is responsible for connecting the right and left hemispheres together. Since sensory information and movement is initiated on the opposite side of the body, this structure is required in order to ensure that a human can move and process information quickly.
The cerebellum is necessary for motor control and may also play a role in language, memory and learning. The cerebellum allows for movement to take place quickly and precisely by allowing for neurotransmitters to quickly activate and pass along the necessary information.
Outlining the Differences in Research between Kanner and Aspberger
Leo Kanner's studies focussed on a five year old boy named Donald. This child exhibited anti-social tendencies, obsessed over certain behaviors and exhibited abnormal speech and motor patterns. Kanner borrowed the term “autism” from the medical description of a schizophrenia symptom where the patient appears to be primarily concerned with their own thoughts and feelings while disregarding the emotions of others. Kanner did not believe that autism was a precursor to schizophrenia, nor did he believe that autism was something that a child developed later on in life. Kanner's research started to discuss the issue of differentiating autism and schizophrenia by showing that autism was different that psychotic episodes found in schizophrenic patients.
Hans Asperger's research suggested that autism consisted of a lack of empathy, inability to form friendships, a tendency towards one-sided conversations, becoming immensely interested in very specific activities, and difficulty with fine motor skills. Asperger believed that children who grew up with these symptoms would later become over-achieving adults given their ability to intensely focus on specific subjects. Asperger later cited research from Kanner, stating that the two researchers were exploring two separate diagnoses with a great deal of overlapping symptoms. Asperger's guidelines of autism did not include any learning disabilities, but did emphasize the lack of fine motor control, nor did it emphasize difference in speech patterns.
Despite the differences in diagnostic criteria, both Asperger and Kanner's work laid the foundation for further discussion about autism in its various forms. Both researchers were revolutionary in their willingness to explore autism and differentiate the condition from schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Characterized broadly by difficulties with social interactions, fascination with very specific activities or interests and other behaviors not commonly seen in children, Kanner and Asperger dedicated their research to pinpointing commonalities between children perceived as different.
Applying Crick and Dodge's Social Information Processing Theory
David's response to Goliath kicking a ball at his head can be outlined by Crick and Dodge's research on Social Information Processing. Since David is processing this incident from a hostile attributional bias, his response will differ from his peers who may have found this incident humorous or harmless. Throughout this process, David will rely on schemas, memories and social cues. The first step that David will go through involves encoding the internal and external cues related to the incident. David will use his past experiences and what he knows about his aggressor to make a determination on whether or not this event was hostile or harmless. Perhaps David notices Goliath laughing and chatting with his friends following, the attack, which reminds David of other incidences where Goliath has bullied him. The second step of the system involves interpreting the information and past knowledge into a concise thought. David feels threatened by this behavior and does not see it has accidental or good natured. Next, David must generate goals about the situation. David might want to retaliate against Goliath, or, he may want to retreat from the situation entirely. What David decides to do will depend on his past experiences with Goliath and any schemas that he holds about how to stand up for himself. Whatever goal that David thinks is the most important will be the one he acts on. The fourth step will involve searching his existing social strategies, which involves examining previous social interactions and their outcomes. The fifth step is when David decides exactly what goal he wants to achieve and how he wants to achieve it. David's decision will require a behavioral response that he feels confident about and is morally appropriate. The sixth and final step of Crick and Dodge's response model involves enacting the behavior required to achieve the outcome that David feels is appropriate.