Neurochemical explanation for depression
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What is the dopamine hypothesis?
- Dopamine is thought to play a role in cognitive function
- Too much dopamine can cause cognitive disturbance
- Schizophrenic brains have too many D2 receptors meaning too many impulses are sent in the brain
How do anti psychotic drugs support the neurochemical explanation?
- Drugs that block D2 receptors, preventing dopamine from binding and returning it to normal levels and making the neurone fire at a normal rate
- Reducing levels of dopamine in the brain reduce schizophrenia symptoms such as hallucinations
What can be concluded from the use of anti psychotic drugs as evidence?
- The reduction of symptoms suggests that dopamine plays a part in schizophrenia
- These drugs do not work on all patients suggesting dopamine is not the only cause
- Treatment fallacy is a possibility
How does Parkinson's disease offer support to the neurochemical explanation?
- Parkinson's is a motor functioning inhibiting brain disorder caused by low levels of dopamine in the brain
- I dopa, a symptomatic relief drug increases dopamine levels in the brain
- Overdose of the drug can lead to schizophrenic symptoms
How do amphetamines offer support to the neurochemical explanation?
- When amphetamines are taken in excess, schizophrenic symptoms are often exhibited
- Amphetamines increase dopamine levels in the brain
What did Wong et al find?
- PET scans were carried out on the brains of schizophrenics
- A higher density of dopamine activity was recorded in schizophrenic brains than the control group
- The findings haven't been replicated and might not be reliable
How does the neurochemical explanation over emphasise on nature?
- It ignores the effect of the environment and other explanations
- An interactionist approach is needed to fully explain the disorder
How is the neurochemical explanation deterministic?
- It states that people have no free will and are completely controlled by dopamine levels
- This leaves sufferers helpless and passive and can lead to forced medication of patients
How is the neurochemical explanation reductionist?
- It reduces a complex disorder down to a simple cause, dopamine
- This means other factors such as cognitions and environment are ignored when schizophrenia is likely caused by an interaction of factors
How has Dopamine been linked to other illnesses?
- It has been linked to other disorders such as OCD and Depression
- This suggests that dopamine could be caused by other brain chemicals and dopamine alone is not the cause of schizophrenia
What did Durand and Barlow suggest?
- Serotonin plays a bigger part in schizophrenia
- Serotonin is a master neurotransmitter that controls other neurochemicals such as dopamine
- New drugs such as clozapine that are more effective in reducing symptoms affect serotonin rather than dopamine
How is the neurochemical explanation unfalsifiable and unscientific?
- It is difficult to prove or disprove that a single neurotransmitter is causing schizophrenia
- The studies into neurotransmitters are flawed and only lead to correlations
- Schizophrenia is likely caused by many different chemicals
Why is there a problem with generalisability for the neurochemical explanation?
- Only type 1 symptoms can be explained by the dopamine hypotheses
- Type 2 cannot be explained
What applications has the neurochemical explanation led to?
- Drugs have been developed to treat patients, replacing barbaric practices such as ECT and Psychosurgery
- These drugs are less traumatic to take and allow patients to lead a more normal life
How does treatment fallacy affect the explanation?
- Just because drugs reducing dopamine levels reduce symptoms, schizophrenia is not necessarily caused by an excess of dopamine
- An unknown third variable could be the cause
How can drug treatment be criticised?
- Not all patients respond to drug treatment suggesting there are other causes
- There are ethical issues with forcing treatment upon patients
What would the interactionist approach suggest?
Schizophrenia is too complex to be caused by a single chemical and is probably the result of many factors
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