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Select a major neurological condition of your choice and provide a critical account of the nature and impact of the condition.

Select a major neurological condition of your choice and provide a critical account of the nature and impact of the condition.

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Jane Meleady. Originally submitted for Psychology at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr. Teresa Burke in the category of Psychology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Jane Meleady. Originally submitted for Psychology at University College Dublin, with lecturer Dr. Teresa Burke in the category of Psychology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/16/2014

 
 1
TITLE:Select a major neurological condition of your choice and provide a critical account of the nature and impact of the condition.
 
 2
 Abstract 
Wernicke Korsokoff Syndrome (WKS) is a severe neuropsychiatric condition beginning withWernike’s Encephalopathy (WE), which if not treated early, leads to the development of chronic Korsakoff Psychosis/Syndrome (KP/S). The aim of the present essay was to firstlygive an accurate description of the nature, cause and development of WKS. Secondly, a criticalevaluation of the neuropathology associated with WKS was provided. Neuropathology wasdiscussed in light of regions traditionally associated with the condition such as theperiventricular nuclei, and also in light of recent research employing
in vivo
MRI, which hasdiscriminated between the acute phase of WE and the chronic phase of KP. Thirdly, theepidemiology associated with WKS was discussed, and contributing factors such as alcoholdependency, socio-economic status and, more recently, predisposing genetic factors werelisted. Fourthly, five neurocognitive effects resulting from WKS were evaluated in light of fiveempirical studies. These were severe anterograde memory loss, confabulations, executivedysfunction, decision-making deficits and impairment in emotional memory. Behaviouraleffects were also evaluated such as impairment in facial processing and ataxia. Finally, aprognosis for the disorder was stated and it was concluded that early diagnosis is crucial toprevent the development of KP. Furthermore, it was suggested, in light of recent research,that MRI be used as a confirmatory method for the condition.
 
 3Characterized by motor-ataxia abnormalities, oculomotor disturbances and confusional state,
Wernicke’s Encephalopathy (WE)
is an ‘acute neuropsychiatric condition’
(Thomson &Marshall, 2006, p. 151)
. 75% of patients with WE who have remained undiagnosed oruntreated develop
Korsakoff Psychosis/Syndrome
 
(KP/S)
and due to this marked relationship,the single entity of both conditions is referred to as
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)
 
(Thomson & Marshall, 2006)
.
This essay will aim to critically review the neuropathologyassociated with WKS; report the epidemiology; discuss the findings of 5 empirical studies onthe neurocognitive effects of WKS; review some of the social and behavioural effects of WKS;and suggest the prognosis for this disorder in light of recent research.The development of WE is a reaction to insufficient levels of thiamine
(Kolb & Whishaw, 2004)
.Primary deficiency of thiamine can be simply due to general malnutrition
(Thomson &Marshall, 2006)
. However, the development of WKS is usually caused by dietary deficiencies incombination with long-term heavy alcohol consumption, which results in the malfunction of thiamine uptake processes
(Vetreno, Hall, & Savage, 2011)
. Although WKS is most frequentlyfound in chronic alcoholics, persistent vomiting, gastric carcinoma and other disturbances of the alimentary tract may also produce thiamine deficiency leading to WKS (Victor et al. 1989).Traditionally, it has been claimed that lesions of the periventricular nuclei, periaqueductalgrey matter; hypothalamic nuclei, tectal plate and thalamus are the characteristicneuropathology of WE
(Kopelman, Thomson, Guerrini, & Marshall, 2009)
. The frontal lobes arealso highlighted as having a vulnerability to alcohol-related brain damage
(Vetreno et al., 2011)
 

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