Take the 2-minute tour ×
Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm wondering if the human brain "predicts" how certain weeks of the year should feel?

For example, a child who is going to school may have a more positive affect in anticipation of summer holidays, and may feel more negatively towards the end of the summer, as he/she knows that freedom and fun are about to end.

Another example may be siblings' or parents' birthdays, where the anticipation of the birthday increases positive affect.

I'm wondering if year after year of such patterns (in childhood, the teenage years and maybe young adolescence) can create an association in the brain between positive/negative affect and the specific time of the year, or specific photoperiod duration (day length). What I'm trying to understand is, if a pattern of such ups and downs that may have been established in the childhood persists throughout adulthood?

Have there been any studies that looked at the previous life history and incidence of mania/depression episodes in bipolar disorder, or the onset of depression in Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD), and correlated them with holidays, birthdays, etc? I've read that SAD may manifest a depression in any season, not just winter, which got me thinking of the possible causes.

share|improve this question
    
This question does not relate to behaviourism, please read tag wikis and use standard tags –  Artem Kaznatcheev Oct 30 '12 at 12:28

1 Answer 1

"Association" in psychology refers to a connection between conceptual entities or mental states that results from the similarity between those states or their proximity in space or time. The idea stems from Plato and Aristotle, especially with regard to the succession of memories, and it was carried on by philosophers such as John Locke, David Hume, David Hartley, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and Alexander Bain. It finds its place in modern psychology in such areas as conditioning and in neural network models of memory.

-wiki Association Psychology

Associations form between temperatures, auditory cues like days of the week and times of day, visual clues like sunshine, snow and rain, tastes and textures like pumpkin pie, birthday cake and sensations like sex, kissing, hugs, pats, hand shakes and being abused physically.

Disorders form as negative and positive associations with the wrong thing build in a persons life. When I was 12 my mother stopped talking to me. She did not require my father to honor the court ordered visitation rights. She may have sent cards a few at my birthday and Christmas but it felt shameful that such little effort was being made to parent. My paternal relatives encouraged a quasi-negative view of her. The pain of the constant negative events surrounding my birthday and then christmas caused me to develop negative associations with those days. It also caused a positive association with other people birthdays. I tried to celebrate them to a certain extent as I grew older. Exacerbated by the fact that in general I grew up poor and my grandparents struggled right before christmas and around my birthday financially due to thier kind of business. My grandfather passed away in mid winter and each year I remember his passing and am sad around that time as well. Its not really a disorder only a sadness at that which has happened in my past.

We may pass these associations on to our children like plants do in a epigenetic method called genetic memory.

In biology, memory is present if the state of a biological system depends on its history in addition to present conditions. If this memory is recorded in the genetic material and stably inherited through cell division (mitosis or meiosis), it is genetic memory.

-wiki Genetic Memory

Major depression sometimes happens when everything has a negative association. Some of those are rational others are not. They crowded out the positive ones and prevent the person from being able to see the good in life. Psychologist use some reconditioning of the feelings associated with some memories to retrain the brain not to subconsciously be so sad.

Bipolar disorder happens when the brain breaks trying to correct negative or positive excitement caused by memories or sensations. Venturing too far in the opposite direction.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.