Tourette’s Syndrome: Cause, Onset, Symptoms, and Treatment Options (Part 3)

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

«PrevNext»

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] |  [Part4] |  [Part5] |  [Part6] | 

In addition to disagreement among researchers concerning the biological brain mechanisms responsible for the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, a debate has developed pertaining to the origin of this disorder: Is Tourette’s syndrome inherited genetically or through environmental interactions? The Tourette Syndrome Association proposes that Tourette’s may result from an autosomal dominant gene with high sex-specific penetrance, while other researchers feel that a combination of genes working together may be responsible. Genome scans of family history pedigrees of those affected suggest that three regions may be to blame for Tourette’s syndrome on chromosome five, ten, and thirteen (Curtis), although there is no conclusive evidence. Additionally, the dominant gene is expressed differently in each affected family member along a specific history pedigree, and only ten percent of the offspring of an individual affected by Tourette’s syndrome will develop severe enough symptoms to warrant medical attention (Tourette Syndrome Association). In a scientific study conducted by Klug et al, researchers have concluded that in terms of parental, prenatal, and perinatal risk markers, manifestations of interacting environmental and genetic variables, “Tourette’s syndrome is influenced by genetic factors, and is less influenced by environmental factors. ” Approximately seventy percent of Tourette’s syndrome cases are reflections of either an autosomal dominant or polygenetic disorder. In the instances of Tourette’s syndrome that do not have obvious lines of inheritance, environmental roots are suspected in a variation known as sporadic Tourette’s syndrome. Environmental influences on the expression of this condition appear to occur primarily during childhood, and may result from low birth weight (Klug et al. Another discovery recently made in biological research involves the role of immune related disease in the acquisition of Tourette’s syndrome in the form of Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS) (Snider et al. In this theoretic diagnosis, doctors suggest that streptococcal infections, the cause of rheumatic fever, might be behind some cases of Tourette’s because many children first shown signs of the disorder after a strep infection and later infections seem to increase tics in this group of children (Packer). In this conjecture, antibodies generated to combat strep misidentify and damage neurons in the basal ganglia. Further research has shown that the average sizes of the caudate, putamen, and globus pallidus, structures of the basal ganglia, but not the thalamus or total cerebrum are significantly larger in a sample of children with streptococcus-associated OCD and/or tics than in healthy children (Leckman). Although there is no way to determine if streptococcal antibodies are actually “cross-reacting” (Tourette Syndrome Association) with proteins in the basal ganglia, specialized blood tests can be used to indirectly determine ASO and AntiDNA-se-B titers (Leckman). Despite strong evidence from both an environmental and genetic standpoint, an interaction of the two is most likely to blame for the origin of Tourette’s syndrome. This prominent and unresolved question continues to obtain funding to develop a solid understanding. I personally would follow-up the research conducted on PANDAS with the creation of a vaccine that will prevent streptococcal or a development of early diagnosis for this bacterial infection so that it may be treated immediately with the proper antibiotics. Taking a large sample size of vaccinated children or those who had been treated immediately after exposure to the bacteria and comparing these children to a control group, which for ethical reasons would have to voluntarily refuse these early treatments of streptococcal first before joining the study, I would conduct a longitudinal study to determine if there is a high degree of correlation between the illness and the development of Tourette’s. Although I would be unable to infer causation from correlation data, this specific information could provide another avenue for research. In another follow-up experiment, I would also advise a more in-depth study of the human genome now that its initial mapping is completed.

In terms of treatment, various forms of therapy including cognitive behavioral psychotherapy have proven to be helpful in assisting the affected patient and his or her family cope with the implications of diagnosis, and behavioral therapies including behavioral modification, habit reversal, awareness training, competing response, group therapy, hypnosis, exposure-response prevention, relaxation, and a variety of vitamin diets, herbs and trace elements are found to be affective on varying levels of treating symptoms (Tourette Syndrome Association).

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] |  [Part4] |  [Part5] |  [Part6] | 

«PrevNext»

Tourette’s Syndrome: Cause, Onset, Symptoms, and Treatment Options (Part 2)

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

«PrevNext»

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] |  [Part4] |  [Part5] |  [Part6] | 

OCD is characterized by an obsession or a thought that one’s mind tends to get stuck on, causing great anxiety. To alleviate the anxiety created by this obsession, one must perform a compulsion, such as a tic. Learning disabilities are commonly diagnosed among individuals with Tourette’s syndrome as well, primarily problematic in nonverbal tasks usually in the areas of auditory processing, fine motor and visual-motor impairment. In a classroom setting, those with visual-motor impairment may have difficulty copying information from a chalkboard to paper, while fine motor impairments translate into messy and time-consuming handwriting (Tourette Syndrome Association). Finally sleep disorders are common ailment among individuals with Tourette’s syndrome as brought on by frequent awakenings or walking or talking in one’s sleep.

Onset during childhood, the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome must be displayed between the ages of two and eighteen years of age to be classified as true Tourette’s based on DSM-IV criteria. However, the most common age of onset is between a child’s sixth and seventh birthday (Handler 33). The disorder occurs in all ethnic groups with males affected three to four times as often as females. Although individuals may experience varying levels of severity, the great majority of patients fall into the mild category of symptoms, which decrease significantly in many during adulthood. In fact, one third of patients with Tourette’s syndrome experience remission of the tic symptoms in adulthood.

Although a concrete explanation has yet to be established, current research presents convincing evidence that Tourette’s syndrome results from the abnormal metabolism of at least one brain chemical, perhaps the interaction of many more. Although numerous central neurochemical systems are thought to be involved in the manifestations of tic disorders, including cholinergic, serotonergic, noradrenergic, GABAergic, endogenous oppioid, and gender-specific neuroendocrine systems, according to Cohen, “the strongest evidence supports the role of midbrain dopaminergic systems acting in concert with compensatory and modulating neurotransmitter systems. ” (11). According to the Tourette Syndrome Association, “Tourette syndrome appears to arise from defects in neural circuits passing from the cerebral cortex through the structures constituting the basal ganglia and back to the cerebrum. ” To help integrate brain functioning, neural circuits run from the cerebrum through the basal ganglia and then back to the cerebral cortex, providing a feedback loop in which volitional acts are transmitted to the nerves and muscles that carry out their instruction. The primary function of the basal ganglia is to regulate the expression of discrete mechanisms of behavior, including particular movements and thoughts connected with tic symptoms. Further evidence in the significance of the basal ganglia in this disorder is based on the notion that eye blinking that occurs in tics is similar to the abnormalities of blink reflex recovery cycle diseases which begin in the basal ganglia (Raffaele). Because most symptoms resulting from Tourette’s syndrome appear to stem from abnormal functioning in the basal ganglia, it is believed that such symptoms are caused by altered dopamine functioning, a neurotransmitter produced in midbrain structures. A defect in norepinephrine can lead to an overactivity of dopamine throughout the midbrain, specifically in the basal ganglia. However, measurements of the breakdown products of dopamine in the spinal fluid of Tourette’s patients have been inconsistent, suggesting that dopamine may only be part of the problem (Bruun 56). Furthermore the observation that stress will cause an increase in tic symptoms suggests that norepinephrine, specifically known for its association with stress, may contribute to the disorder. (Bruun 56) Acetylcholine is also present in the basal ganglia along side of dopamine and is released by neurons outside the brain that send signals to muscle cells, causing them to contract and facilitating physical movement such as tics. Subjects actively attempting to suppress these tics have been shown to have marked activation in the frontal superior temporal and anterior cingulated cortices in testing by blood oxygen level-depending functional MRI, suggesting that “Tourette’s syndrome stems from an underactive prefrontal governing system. ” (Chae et al. Finally, the differing rates in which Tourette’s syndrome are exhibited in men versus women could imply a hormonal induce abnormality in the neurotransmitter systems. Estrogen, androgens, progestins, and steroids may all be a significant factor in the display of symptoms, and it has been shown in experiments with animals that androgens present early in life are capable of changing dopamine receptors (Chae et al.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] |  [Part4] |  [Part5] |  [Part6] | 

«PrevNext»

Tourette’s Syndrome: Cause, Onset, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

Next»

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] |  [Part4] |  [Part5] |  [Part6] | 

Tourette’s syndrome, once believed to be an extremely rare neurological spectrum disorder, is now demanding increased attention in the field of medicine as more is learned about the condition, specifically focusing on its biological and environmental causes, developing affective treatments, and the associated astoundingly high comorbidity with other neurological disorders. An inherited, neurological disorder characterized by repeated and involuntary body movements and uncontrollable vocal sounds often manifested in situations that inappropriate in both time and location, Tourette’s syndrome was first assessed by Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French neuropsychiatrist, in the late 1800s. According to the Tourette Syndrome Association, vocal outbursts that are a defining characteristic of the disorder, including coprolalia, a vocal tic containing socially unsuitable words, are neither intentional nor purposeful and often cause great anxiety in the patient with this disorder. Broadly resulting from a chemical imbalance in the brain, Tourette’s syndrome is one of the most misunderstood and perhaps misdiagnosed neurological disorders that significantly impacts a child’s educational performance and social and emotional well-being (Tourette Syndrome Association). Children with Tourette’s syndrome often develop poor peer relationships and are comparatively more withdrawn and aggressive particularly during adolescence when symptoms, specifically motor and phonic tics, peak. Although many people with this syndrome have not been diagnosed, one hundred thousand Americans are estimated by the National Institutes of Health to have full-blown Tourette’s.

–more–>

The first symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome often manifest themselves during a child’s third year of life and will increase in severity and frequency throughout childhood, reaching greatest severity during puberty and up until twenty years of age when at this time, a small percentage of the affected population will begin to see a significant reduction in symptoms. To be diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome according to the DSM-IV, an individual must fit within the following criteria: (1) age onset between two and fifteen years of age; (2) multiple involuntary muscular and verbal tics; (3) tic severity and frequency wax and wane (increase and decrease) but are present for more than one year. The first symptom to be recognized in small children with this disorder is the presence of phonic tics which can begin as early as the age of three. A phonic or vocal tic can be defined as the repeated uttering of a sound, word, or phrase and can be divided into two categories: simple vocal tics and complex vocal tics. Examples of simple vocal tics which frequently begin in toddlers include throat clearing, yelping and other noises, sniffing and tongue clicking (Tourette Syndrome Association). The complex variety of vocal tics include cases where an individual will utter words or phrases out of context or when one exhibits coprolalia, verbalizing socially unacceptable words, and are later present in middle childhood. Motor tics or rapid, repetitive movements of any voluntary muscle group in the body will begin to occur between the ages of three and eight years old and these again are classified into simple and complex variations. Simple motor tics are distinguished by eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, arm flailing and/or finger tapping, and facial grimacing and can often be exhibited in bouts that sometimes seem quite purposeful. On the other hand, many individuals will develop complex motor tic symptoms later in childhood such as jumping, touching other people or things, smelling, twirling erratically and only rarely, self-injurious actions including hitting and biting oneself. Just before a tic occurs, sufferers may experience sensory symptoms, or the “premonitory urge that incessantly prompt tics. ” (Tourette Syndrome Association), or auditory and visual cues can lead to tics as well. Finally, tics often present themselves in a pattern known as waxing and waning, implying that tics change persistently over time, especially more frequently in children than in adults, and in severity depending on environmental circumstances such as stress and anxiety, excitement and fatigue.

Many neurological disorders occur in conjunction with Tourette’s syndrome suggesting a high degree of comorbidity. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is often a precursor to Tourette’s syndrome in very young children and can result in increased irritability, impulsivity leading to rage attacks, depression and anti-social behavior, and increased tendencies towards drug use, leading to poor performance in school and personal low self-esteem. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder often occurs in combination with Tourette’s syndrome when symptoms begin to become apparent during the first two and a half years in a child’s life.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] |  [Part4] |  [Part5] |  [Part6] | 

Next»

Courtly Love in Dante’s The Divine Comedy (Part 3)

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

«Prev

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] | 

370). This idea of repentance is the first step towards salvation; however, he still does not understand fully what Beatrice is getting at. This scene of understanding is aided by another pair of scenes from The Divine Comedy. The first occurs when the Pilgrim is in Hell and encounters those who committed suicide. Here the man he meets tells of his suffering: “My mind, moved by scornful satisfaction, believing death would free me from all scorn, made me unjust to me, who was all just” (p. 70). Here the man is describing how he committed suicide to save himself from his punishments. For his crime against himself, he ended up in Hell. The second is when the Pilgrim first reaches Purgatory, he encounters another man, Cato, who reveals his story of suicide: “You know, you found death sweet in Utica for freedom’s sake” (p. 198). Here, Virgil is describing how Cato took his own life instead of becoming a slave of Caesar’s. This illustrates the idea of free will. The first man is in Hell because he killed himself in order to escape his sins, while Cato killed himself in order to not be oppressed. This idea of motive is what lead one to Hell and the other to Purgatory. This same idea applies to Dante and Beatrice. The love that Dante has for Beatrice was bad on Earth because it was only courtly love; however, Beatrice leads him “toward that Good beyond which naught exists to which a man’s heart may aspire” (p. 370). This is what both the Pilgrim and the Author understand. They understand that courtly love is wrong, and that there is a need to attain this higher love, which is described at the end: “I felt my will and my desire impelled by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars” (p. 585). Dante the Pilgrim is not going to Hell because he repented for courtly loving Beatrice, and further used her as a guide to find this higher love. By first repenting, and then by understanding, Dante (both the Pilgrim and the Author at this point) realizes the truth, and therefore attains salvation.

Through Dante the Pilgrim’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, he develops an understanding of the proper way to love. When he first beings his journey, he believes that courtly love is a just love. But once he encounters Francesca de Rimini in Hell, he starts to realize it may not be the correct love. Dante the Author also tries to show this point as well. Once The Pilgrim reaches Beatrice, however, his ideals of love are corrected and he repents for his past thoughts. Here is when The Author’s ideals are revealed: courtly love is wrong, and divine love is correct. The Pilgrim understands courtly love is wrong with Beatrice, and finally understands divine love at his final meeting with God. Therefore, Dante Alighieri views courtly love as a sin, and divine love as salvation.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] | 

«Prev

Categories: literature, summaries Tags:

Courtly Love in Dante’s The Divine Comedy (Part 2)

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

«PrevNext»

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] | 

31). The fact that he swooned illustrates the idea that he was so overcome by emotion that this idea of courtly love must in fact be right. Furthermore, The Pilgrim continues to express his pity towards the two lovers: “Regaining now my senses, which had fainted at the sight of these two who were kinsmen lovers, a piteous sight no confusing me to tears” (p. 32). This passage, in fact, is supposed to be confusing for Dante the Pilgrim, because throughout his life, he had believed that this idea of courtly love was in fact correct. But it is Dante the Author here who is showing the correct light. The Author puts these two lovers in Hell, so that should be the first clue that this is not a proper love. The Author is even revealing that The Pilgrim is starting to understand, because when The Pilgrim “swooned,” The Author also included the fact that he “fell to Hell’s floor,” as if to say it is not proper to swoon at this scene or you will end up on Hell’s floor. This scene shows the differentiation of the Author from the Pilgrim, but both relate to the central idea that courtly love is not a good thing and that there must be a higher love because if courtly love was all there was, everyone would end up in Hell.

Another example of courtly love in The Divine Comedy is Dante’s relationship with Beatrice. Throughout the entire journey, the Pilgrim expresses how he adored Beatrice and how she was the picture of perfection to him on Earth. This love for Beatrice can be seen when he first encounters her: “And instantly—though many years had passed since last I stood trembling before her eyes, captured by adoration, stunned by awe” (p. 365). The Pilgrim’s impression of Beatrice exemplifies the ideas of desire and longing by describing “adoration” and the “many years” that had passed since he saw her last. The Pilgrim’s suffering can also be seen since Beatrice left him on Earth: “To such depths did he sink” (p. 369). These characteristics of Dante’s love for Beatrice are perfect examples of courtly love. But yet this love is still not the best love. The Author tries to illustrate this point to both the reader and the Pilgrim as he describes this scene of rebuking: “and though I speak to you, my purpose is to make the one who weeps on that far bank perceive the truth and match his guilt with grief” (p. 368). This example can be perceived two ways. First, it is of Beatrice talking to her companions. Therefore, it can be seen as a way that The Pilgrim is being educated by Beatrice that his courtly love for her was not proper and that he needs to find a higher love. Secondly, it can be seen as Dante the Author speaking on his purpose to also show that there is a higher “truth” and courtly love contains “guilt. ” By taking into perspective the fact that The Author is writing this after the fact, it is evident that he is trying to educate and enlighten, and Beatrice’s rebuking of The Pilgrim is a prime way to show how courtly love is wrong and that a higher love needs to be found.

However, this scene raises the question, ‘If courtly love is wrong, and Dante the Pilgrim understands that he courtly loved Beatrice, then why doesn’t he end up in Hell? ’ Francesca and Paolo both ended up in Hell for their actions and it appears that Dante and Beatrice shared the same love for each other. Beatrice describes to her companions of a time when she shared this love with the Pilgrim: “There was a time my countenance sufficed, as I let him look into my young eyes” (p. 368). Beatrice continues to elaborate on this when talking to The Pilgrim: “In your journey of desire for me…” (p. 370). It is clear that there was definite courtly love between them. All three of the characteristics were present: desire, longing, and suffering. Yet, this love is still justified, even though the Pilgrim must first repent for this lustful act of courtly love: “Those things with their false joys…led me astray” (p.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] | 

«PrevNext»

Categories: literature, summaries Tags:

Courtly Love in Dante’s The Divine Comedy

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

Next»

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] | 

Based on the definition of courtly love from The Lais de Marie de France, both Dante the Pilgrim and Dante the Author judge courtly love in a different way; however, in the end, both view it in the same negative light. The Pilgrim starts his journey with a favorable view of courtly love, but by the time he reaches Paradise, he understands that there is a higher love and courtly love is not the answer. Dante the Author, however, judges courtly love as wrong the entire time, as can be seen by his placement of Francesca de Rimini in hell. This differentiation of the Author from the Pilgrim leads to a higher understanding of love, especially the differences between courtly love and a higher love.

–more–>

Courtly love is defined best in The Lais of Marie de France. In her Lais, she defines courtly love as desire and longing for someone, and personal suffering by loving this person. Her description of desire and longing can be seen in her Lai, Lanval, “Fair lady, if it were to please you to grant me the joy of wanting to love me, you could ask nothing that I would not do as best I could, be it foolish or wise. I shall do as you bid and abandon all others for you. I never want to leave you and this is what I most desire” (Lais, p. 74). In this example of courtly love, Lanval is proclaiming his desire and longing for his princess. This desire is a recurring theme, also seen in Yonec: “I have loved you for a long time and desired you greatly in my heart. I never loved any woman but you, nor shall I ever love another” (Lais, p. 87). This idea of desire and longing, especially when there is separation, such as in Yonec, is a key idea in to courtly love as it is a recurring theme in The Lais, and it is also a key theme in the description of courtly love in The Divine Comedy. Another key factor of courtly love is suffering. In Lanval, his suffering comes with the separation from his love: “Alone in his chamber, distraught and anguished, he called his beloved repeatedly, but to no avail. He lamented and sighed, fainting from time to time; a hundred times he cried to her to have mercy, to come and speak with her beloved” (Lais, p. 77). Here the suffering of courtly love is best illustrated. Lanval is “anguished” from being apart from his loved one. This theme also recurs in Yonec: “He who loved her deeply took her in his arms and lamented his misfortunes repeatedly” (Lais, p. 91). All the lament and sorrow is a central idea of courtly love. So suffering, along with desire and longing, forms the idea of courtly love. And it is this idea of courtly love is judged throughout The Divine Comedy.

One of the most famous examples of courtly love in The Divine Comedy occurs when The Pilgrim is journeying through hell. It is here where he encounters the love story of Francesca de Rimini. This scene is the most clear cut example of courtly love because it clearly shows all three aspects of courtly love: desire, longing, suffering. The desire between the lovers can be seen with the lines: “Time and again our eyes were brought together by the book we read; our faces flushed and paled” (p. 31). The fact that their eyes would meet and their faces would flush and pale shows how there is a secret desire for the other, and a longing to be with each other romantically. This scene further depicts courtly love by showing how they suffered: “And all the while the one of the two spirits spoke these words, the other wept, in such a way that pity blurred my senses” (p. 31). This sad sorrow they feel for each other continues to express that fact that the love they shared was courtly love. But simply calling it courtly love does not imply whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. By analyzing Dante the Pilgrim’s reaction, it appears that courtly love is a good thing: “I swooned as though to die, and fell to Hell’s floor as a body, dead, falls” (p.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] |  [Part3] | 

Next»

Categories: literature, summaries Tags:

Summary of Milward’s “The Economic Effects of the Two World Wars on Great Britain” and Cooley & Ohanian’s “Postwar British Economic Growth and the Legacy of Keynes” (Part 2)

June 7th, 2010 Comments off

«Prev

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] | 

Milward argues his points well, based on numerical data and the statistical research of many individuals. His sound arguments allow him to give accurate information with a clear level of detail on Britain’s economy during the two wars. Cooley, on the other hand, focuses on the time period following WWII. This war imposed a tremendous financial burden on Britain’ economy; Cooley investigated different possible methods to pay for it compared to the actual payment scheme used by the British government. He argues that the high tax rate Britain utilized after the war was very costly, and impeded economic performance after the war.

Cooley’s method differed greatly from that of Milward, in that it was primary research based on a mathematical model. Cooley’s method compares Britain’s economic data from the time after the war to predicted data if Britain had instituted other financial policies. He wished to investigate the potential of the tax system that had been suggested by John Maynard Keynes, which called for high tax rates immediately following the war, versus a “tax smoothing” policy that defers the costs by means of government borrowing. These are both compared against the actual policy employed, that utilized aspects of both theoretical policies.

The format of the work begins with an overview of the government’s financial situation at the time. During the 200 years preceding WWII, the British government had traditionally used the tax smoothing policy relying on heavy borrowing to pay for the wars. However, at the time, Keynes, a prominent economist, criticized government economic policy and suggested a system relying on sharp increases on taxes of capital income. This would immediately cover the cost of the war, instead of postponing it for later decades. The government ended up following much of Keynes’s advice, but not all. Nonetheless, the financing of WWII represented a striking change in public finance for Britain.

The paper then divulges the details of the mathematical model used to predict economic performance for both Keynesian and traditional financial schemes. The model is used to predict capital stocks, government spending and output, economic investment and consumption, among other factors. After giving thorough and detailed descriptions of the mathematical methods used for the research, the paper states the conclusions made by it. Cooley successfully proves his points, basing his argument off of real world data and mathematical models. He is able to objectively prove his argument based on these facts.

Cooley finds that the policy suggested by Keynes would have been dramatically more costly than the one followed by the government. Furthermore, tax-smoothing policy would have been much less costly to the British economy than the actual policy employed. However, the welfare implications of the policy followed were just as good as those for the tax-smoothing policy. The lower and working classes were not hurt by the economic policy followed. This finding agrees with Milward’s work, demonstrating that the lower classes ultimately benefitted from the wars. Despite the overall damage to the economy, the income gap was reduced, the lower and working classes ended up with a higher standard of living.

The two works provide an encompassing viewpoint on the effects the wars had on Britain’s economy. They provide a prime example of how total war can disrupt a nation’s foothold in foreign trade. Furthermore, they describe the local impact, describing the manner in which the lower classes were able to benefit from changes during these wars even while the overall economy suffers. These changes are indeed thought provoking. One is lead to question whether the United States would have gained its manufacturing economy without the gap left by Britain because of the wars. The latter half of the twentieth century may have played out very differently, had the wars not occurred. Britain may still have been a world economic leader. Additionally, one is led to wonder if similar domestic effects resulting from other wars. Even if a country is not ravaged or defeated in a war, will there be lasting social effects? Do special conditions during a war allow political changes that would otherwise not occur, such as the National Health Service? If one is to generalize the conclusions coming from Britain’s example, it seems that wars can have a far reaching impact long after they have concluded. The First and Second World Wars disrupted Britain’s economic structure, and produced lasting forces of change.

Sources:

1. Milward, A. The Economic Effects of the Two World Wars on Britain. 2nd ed. Hong Kong: Macmillan, 1984.

2. Cooley, Thomas. "Postwar British Economic Growth and the Legacy of Keynes. " The Journal of Political Economy 105 no. 3 (1997): 439-472.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] | 

«Prev

Categories: economics, state power, summaries Tags:

Summary of Milward’s “The Economic Effects of the Two World Wars on Great Britain” and Cooley & Ohanian’s “Postwar British Economic Growth and the Legacy of Keynes”

June 7th, 2010 Comments off

Next»

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] | 

As early as the mid 1700’s, the British led the world in economic mass production. Britain had truly been the “workshop of the world,” and was the dominant economic figure of its time. However, starting with the First World War, many changes occurred in the British economy. The wars required the full effort of the production of the nation, and mobilized its manufacturing resources to provide for the war effort. This situation provides an interesting case of the dramatic effects of a nation’s economy becoming engulfed in war. Studying this case can lend insight into the effects of war on the international balance of trade, and also on a localized level.

–more–>

Economic change began with the First World War, continued through the second, and had lasting effects in the post-war era. Alan S. Milward details the changes during WWI and WWII in The Economic Effects of the Two World Wars on Britain. His book describes in detail the particular domestic and international impacts relating to the economic status of the UK. Thomas F. Cooley and Lee E. Ohanian investigate these impacts during the years after WWII in Postwar British Economic Growth and the Legacy of Keynes. They pay particular attention to the way the British government handled finance during and following the Second World War, and discover the lasting effects of its efforts. The two works complement each other, with Milward’s book and Cooley’s article providing an encompassing view of the large changes from these wars that affected Britain for a large portion of a century. They show that the wars caused Britain’s decline from international trade, while simultaneously economic status of the lower and working classes.

Milward argues that the two world wars caused numerous economic and social changes in Britain, most importantly Britain’s decline from status as the primary manufacturing exporter of the world, reform in social health services, and changes in income distribution. He formats his work in an extended essay structure, first addressing the importance of the changing interpretation of the history of the topic, and then discussing the separate domestic and international economic impacts of the war. His methodology is sound, calling on primary research by numerous individuals, and citing hard numerical data to support his claims.

Milward shows in the work that income distribution was changed in two distinct ways. First was the dramatic increase in income for agricultural workers in Britain. Efforts by German blockades in WWI forced the British government to incentivize increased crop production, causing 3 million additional acres of arable farmland at a time when the crops produced there were in high demand. This in turn caused a greater volume of domestic foods to be sold at higher prices, putting more money in the pockets of farmers. World War Two also saw an increase in their earnings. By the time of WWII, a law passed guaranteeing a minimum wage for agricultural workers, allowing their income to increase seven and a half times between 1938 and 1949.

The second change in income distribution was a result of rapid factory mechanization. Starting in WWI, unskilled laborers saw a constant improvement in their earning power. They saw higher employment levels and greater regularity and formality of employment. Additionally, the unskilled replaced the former jobs of many semi-skilled workers. These factors contributed to a reduction the income gap between working class individuals and the middle classes.

Milward points out the lasting effects of social health service reforms. Most interestingly was the WWI’s impact on the formation of Britain’s National Health Service. The increased levels of organization in the country due to the war prompted inquiry into the “ill-organized public effort” of medicine. He makes an interesting point that this lasting change allowed by a brief shift in political power brought about by the changing economic conditions of the war. In this way, a tremendous social impact was created due to the unique conditions of the war.

Perhaps the most important economic impact of the wars was Britain’s decline from the role of the world’s chief manufacturing center. WWII in particular caused a great change in the pattern of trade worldwide. Britain’s earlier economic powerhouse had relied on its ability to “continue to earn even in wartime conditions the wherewithal to pay for the imports which sustained its economy,” requiring the island to continue to export goods as well. The great draw on manpower for the wars meant that production effort shifted away from exports and trade in order to provide supplies. Decreases in foreign investment and pressure from German submarine attacks compounded the change. This manufacturing gap was filled by the United States, which provided manufactured war goods to Britain during both wars, and continued to provide commercial goods after the wars were over. In this way, Britain lost its foothold as the primary “workshop of the world.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] | 

Next»

Categories: economics, state power, summaries Tags:

The Psychological Principles of Learning: An Overview

May 31st, 2010 No comments

Summary

This article lays out Psychological learning principles that can guide technology-enhanced teaching as well as more traditional forms of instruction. Drawn from both traditional learning theory as well as current research about how people learn, the principles integrate these findings in a helpful set of guidelines that give emphasis to issues of instructional design. The principles outlined here can serve as a guide to the design of learning experiences in both online environments and traditional campus classrooms.

Psychological Principles of Learning

 

The Principle of “Learner at the Center”

This principle offers a framework that helps reduce the complexity of the learning experience. This framework has four elements—

  • The Learner: The first element, the learner, may be an individual student (or a group of students in the case of collaborative and group learning activities).
  • The Mentor/faculty member: Provides instruction and support to the learner. The mentor/faculty member may be physically present on stage, may remain in the wings directing the learner, or may only be present implicitly by virtue of having designed the instructional event. This element may also be an inanimate learning object such as a text or video component that provides instructions and guidance from the faculty member.
  • The Knowledge: the content, or the problem that is the focus of the instructional experience. For instructional design, the knowledge component is the answer to the question, "What is the knowledge, what is the skill, what is the attitude that the instructional event is intended to facilitate in the student?"
  • The Environment: the environment is defined by the answer to the question, "When will the event take place, with whom and where and with what resources?"

Whatever be the scenario, it is the student who is at the center of the learning experience: The student is on stage, guided by the task design created by the faculty member, accessing whatever resources might be needed, and acquiring useful knowledge from the experience. This fundamental design framework serves as a context for the principles that follow.

The Environment in which the Learner Interacts

Every learning experience occurs within an environment in which the learner interacts with the content, knowledge, skill, or expert. The environment might be simple—for example, one learner with one resource at home, work, or some other community space. The environment might be complex, such as several learners with many resources in a classroom, library, media center, or café. Another type of environment might be a synchronous virtual meeting place, such as when several students collaborate online with many resources in different locations. The faculty member’s involvement and presence can vary in any of these environments.

Usage of Learning Tools

Tools make a difference in any learning environment. In previous generations, the faculty member lectured, the students took notes, and the learning process unfolded within a relatively limited and discrete environment of tools and technologies. The learning environment is considerably more complex today, including a network in which all students and faculty have access to powerful digital tools for communication and research. The first wave of laptop universities rolled out in the mid-1990s and were followed quickly by a wave of wireless and Web-enabled cell phones, and we are now in the middle of a third wave of mobile and hand-held digital tools. A learning environment in which all learners and faculty have their own personal laptop computer and other mobile tools such as iPods and PDAs transforms teaching and learning experiences. Meanwhile, students have discovered the community-building and networking power of instant messaging, discussion boards, online forums, blogs, and wikis while still occasionally using e-mail. These tools are dramatically changing the communication patterns and relationships between learners and the faculty.

Faculty are the Directors of the Learning Experience

Faculty can monitor student learning and facilitate discussions from anywhere there is a high bandwidth wireless connection. The point is not that faculty will be less involved in classes, but that these new instructional options will provide faculty with more effective ways to leverage their expertise. Using technology to encourage peer-to-peer learning enables students to make better use of the faculty member as a source of specialized guidance and feedback. Likewise, one of the more important ripple effects of a course design incorporating an instructional team is that the faculty member has more time to mentor the learning processes of students. With less time is spent on administration, more time can be spent on the formation of new thoughts and lessons.

Learners Bring Their Own Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes to the Learning Experience

The learner is an individual. In traditional classrooms instructors have typically solicited this information at the beginning of a course through in-class discussions or through informal writing assignments that ask students to discuss their personal interests, academic goals, and educational background. In turn, currently available technological tools provide instructors with a wider range of avenues for gaining this valuable information about their students. Some of the tools that are helpful for this purpose include discussion boards, student response systems, and online testing modules that assess current skill sets as well as more complex forms of knowledge.

Conclusion

We each do experience and remember events just a little differently. This richness of perspective and worldviews is both a challenge and a potent creative force. The combination of the uniqueness of each learner and the richness of each learner’s perspective argues persuasively for more emphasis on community, culture, and ethics as well as the acquisition of knowledge, content, and skills.

Categories: education, summaries Tags:

The Music Industry as Counter-Example to the Technological Explanation for Shakeouts (Part 2)

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

«Prev

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] | 

Currently, the music market is dominated by six major firms: Time/Warner, Sony/CBS, Thorn/EMI, Philips-Polygram/PMG, Bertelsmann Music Group/BMG, and Matsushita/MCA.

One important factor stands above all other explanations for this consolidation: distribution. While prior to 1962 there were several strong and independent music distributors who provided an alternative to the major firms’ distribution networks, major firms began making significant buyouts in the 60s onward, creating a dominant market tendency toward the horizontal integration of distribution. Many independent distributors went bankrupt, and this tendency grew even more exaggerated in the 1980s. The six major firms mentioned above presently constitute almost the entirety of the industry’s market share at the distributor level.

In light of this evidence, one revised hypothesis is that technology can play a role in market concentration in as much as it augments scale economies. Technological innovations such as widespread personal computers with sound processing and recording capabilities, as well as advanced software for manipulating recordings, have reduced the necessary scale to begin producing consumable music recordings to anyone with or without talent, with just a $300 personal computer, a $30 microphone, and some small degree of sound engineering skills. The internet has also drastically reduced the scale required for significant levels of distribution, with peer-to-peer sharing networks, internet-based record stores, and social networking pages like MySpace. com.

On the other side of the story, some non-technological things may account for firm “lock-in” or other phenomena that lead to high industry concentration. Distribution strategy is one possible example of this, but it is likely that the dominance of particular firms that allowed them to construct their distribution networks shares a cause with their distribution strategies. Music is a very unique kind of product. Each new “product” (a song or album) also happens to be distinctly associated with a set of individuals. The quality of the music itself is controlled from a non-technological (in the physical sense) set of innovations relating to meter, pitch, tone, content, or overall theme. Some major firms may have the musical brainpower to “get it”- a group of experts, who manage bands and affect the musical product, that ultimately represents a stock of knowledge the firm has about stimulating and satisfying demand for music. Furthermore, labels fortunate enough to enlist legendary bands, perhaps by only good fortune, gain a long-lasting advantage, both from their experiences with a popular band (more concerts, albums, events, merchandising, etc. as well as from the profits, which attract more expertise, which attracts and creates better bands, etc. There appear to be many opportunities for self-reinforcement in the industry. Whatever is the case, the technology-based shakeout story lacks explanatory power in music.

Source:

Alexander, Peter. New Technology and Market Structure:

Evidence from the Music Recording Industry. Journal of Cultural Economics, Volume 18, 113-123, 1994.

 |  [Part1] |  [Part2] | 

«Prev

Categories: business, economics Tags: