Because I love to laugh at stuff like this.

Posted by adrionna on Nov 15, 2012 in Just for Giggles


Stress and Memory

Posted by adrionna on Nov 14, 2012 in Information Station

Finals week has begun! I’m studying for my Biology of Emotion class now, so it’s great that I find it absolutely fascinating. There are so many concepts we learn about (fear, love, personality) that are very applicable to daily life. The professor makes difficult ideas accessible and her extra effort motivates me to try and really learn — and remember — what she thinks is most important for us to know. Despite my fascination with the subject, the fact that the exam is tomorrow stresses me out a little. I will need to remember a lot of information. What does that mean about how I will perform on the exam? Doesn’t this situation directly connect to what I learned about stress and memory in class? One of the points on the study guide asks “Know in detail how stress affects memory, aiding it on some occasions and disrupting it in others?” To help put this stuff in my long-term memory, I need to rehearse it. What better way to talk about it than on a prettynerd blog? Seems like a match made in heaven.

Here’s the deal: stress can either help me remember my biology of emotion information, or it can absolutely sabotage my exam.

Timing is everything:

  • I have a better chance of recalling information if I stressed earlier in the week.
  • If I just started stressing out now, the night before the test (“late and chronic stress”), the stress will inhibit memory.

Amount of stress:

  • Mild, acute stress enhances memory. [Fun fact: Yerkes-Dodson Law states that moderate arousal will aid memory in accomplishing difficult tasks (like taking an exam or parallel parking). For simple tasks (like picking up an apple from the ground or ducking from a projectile coming towards you), increased arousal helps memory.]
  • Severe, chronic stress disrupts memory. It disrupts explicit memory (your conscious, intentional recollection of previous experiences and information) and long-term potentiation (the process of strengthening neurons, and thus connections). It literally degenerates your dendrites (“dendritic atrophy”), which help connect your neural synapses to each other. Furthermore, chronic or high stress can be toxic to neurons located in your hippocampus (which is responsible for learning in memory) so then you have a smaller hippocampus. This loss of neurons results in poor memory. Not a pretty picture of chronic stress, I’d say.

So there you have it, folks: stress early and not too much; moderate arousal is a-okay for difficult tasks. Increased arousal is better for simpler tasks, but chronic stress starts deteriorating your brain and limits what you’ll be able to learn in the future (because of a smaller hippocampus).
Thanks for helping me study!


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Driving your life.

Posted by adrionna on Oct 30, 2012 in Wisdom and Life

You drive the car, but ultimately the conditions outside let you know how fast or slow you need to go, or whether you need to detour. Just keep your eyes on the road–be alert–so that you a) don’t run out of gas and b) don’t crash into a tree.

Follow those directions and you’ll be happy once you reach your destination, wherever that might be.


A Different Way of Looking at “Opposites Attract”

Posted by adrionna on Aug 19, 2012 in Wisdom and Life

A couple posts ago, I wrote about the stay Cody and I had in an Arkansas cabin two years ago. Dark surrounded us and the dead quiet seemed so unnatural to a pair of kids who had gotten used to city noise. I had mentioned Cody’s sudden protective, almost primal, reaction to the silence and our presumed openness to vulnerability. He was hyper-aware and cautious of any potential dangers, while I was feeling pretty much the complete opposite. It seemed that the more I sensed his nervousness, the more I felt I was okay – I felt stronger and more reassured than I ever would have in such a creepy situation. I guess I wanted my tranquility to seep into his anxiety. I suppose I just wanted him to know that, even though it was incredibly gentlemanly (and attractive) that he wanted to protect me, I was okay, and he would be okay, too.

Just yesterday, Cody and I decided to grab a quick dinner at Portillo’s and got our entrees before we got 2 cheese fries orders (that’s about a 30 min wait for fries; turns out they lost the receipt). Cody was understandably upset: he was really hungry, and there’s really no reason for a 30-second job to multiply into a half hour one. While I could sympathize with Cody, I could also forgive the employees – we had arrived at dinner time and there were a lot of orders to keep up with! We just happened to be the unlucky order that got lost in the sea of receipts. Cody made a valid point when I told him to mind his temper, though: “If I weren’t upset right now, you know you would be.” He was right – if he would have been calm in that situation, I probably would have felt more upset than I did. Rather, I was what he needed – the tranquility that just wasn’t happening in that moment. I balanced him out. We balance each other out.

And isn’t that what a relationship is about? “Opposites attract” might not mean what we generally take it to mean. Maybe it’s not “good girl and bad boy” or “preacher’s daughter and high school drop out.” Maybe we are attracted to the people who are acting the way we would like to act more often. The person who’s losing her patience might feel attracted to the guy who’s holding the door open for the elderly woman who’s still feet away. Maybe the homebody-girl who’d like to get out more often finds the opportunity in the club-guy who goes out all the time.

Perhaps we’re really just looking for a balance, and we find that in people who are acting differently than we normally do. Don’t get me wrong: a solid foundation built on common beliefs is necessary for a relationship to work and grow and thrive. It’s interesting to consider however, that in the beginning, when we’re trying to find our other half – the one who’ll share the weight — the one who completes the part that’s missing within ourselves.. we’re attracted to our opposites, first.

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A Note to my High School Friends

Posted by adrionna on Aug 7, 2012 in Just for Giggles

I posted this in 2010, and I think it would be good to re-post it now. Even though I love the university I currently attend, most of what I said two years ago rings true today. I don’t miss my high school as much, but that’s because I know that, if I were to go back, almost nothing would be the same as it was before. The girls I graduated with have changed so much – they are becoming amazing women who are following their dreams – and some are living a dream they never thought of before, through motherhood. Regardless, I’m proud of the friends I made and wish only the best for them. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see them, or talk to them, as often as I used to, and the void is felt. Hopefully, however, the feeling of the sisterhood I formed 3 years ago will be enough to hold me through. I think it will – a Pride always sticks together.

From my post in 2010: “Before I begin, let me say this: I miss my high school. Not the physical building, the dances, the sports.. but the girls – the teachers – the environment itself. I feel ashamed that I haven’t updated PrettyNerd for such a long time. I’ve definitely noticed a trend though.. when I’m busy with new friends, new classes, and new experiences, it’s almost easy to forget my roots – where I’ve come from — who has shaped me into who I am. This is my attempt to garner those memories back into conscious thought. The intense nostalgia building up the past few days from thinking about my amazing friendships is motivation for this new post. I love every single one of my girlfriends differently, and they all mean a ridiculous amount to me. They really helped make my high school experience what it was, and even though I’m meeting people who, in their own ways, are building my college experience with me, I still want my ‘old’ friends to be a part of my life.

New Friends and Old Friends
Joseph Parry

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine;
Friendships that have stood the test–
Time and change–are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.
For ‘mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas!  may die,
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast–
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.


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