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# Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr

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Senior RC Moderator
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Location: Pakistan
GPA: 3.39
Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 18 Jan 2019, 00:10
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Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depression. Laboratory experiments with animals have uncovered a phenomenon designated “learned helplessness.” Dogs given inescapable shock initially show intense emotionality, but later become passive in the same situation. When the situation is changed from inescapable to escapable shock, the dogs fail to escape even though escape is possible. Neurochemical changes resulting from learned helplessness produce an avoidance escape deficit in laboratory animals.

Is the avoidance deficit caused by prior exposure to inescapable shock learned helplessness or is it simply stress-induced noradrenergic deficiency leading to a deficit in motor activation? Avoidance Escape deficit can be produced in rats by stress alone, i.e., by a brief swim in cold water. But a deficit produced by exposure to extremely traumatic events must be produced by a very different mechanism than the deficit produced by exposure to the less traumatic uncontrollable aversive events in the learned helplessness experiments. A nonaversive parallel to the learned helplessness induced by uncontrollable shock, e.g., induced by uncontrollable food delivery, produces similar results. Moreover, studies have shown the importance of prior experience in learned helplessness. Dogs can be “immunized” against learned helplessness by prior experience with controllable shock. Rats also show a “mastery effect” after extended experience with escapable shock. They work far longer trying to escape from inescapable shock than do rats lacking this prior mastery experience. Conversely, weanling rats given inescapable shock fail to escape shock as adults. These adult rats are also poor to nonaversive discrimination learning.

Certain similarities have been noted between conditions produced in animals by the learned-helplessness procedure and by the experimental neurosis paradigm. In the latter, animals are first trained on a discrimination task and are then tested with discriminative stimuli of increasing similarity. Eventually, as the discrimination becomes very difficult, animals fail to respond and begin displaying abnormal behaviors: first agitation, then lethargy.

It has been suggested that both learned helplessness and experimental neurosis involve inhibition of motivation centers and pathways by limbic forebrain inhibitory centers, especially in the septal area. The main function of this inhibition is compensatory, providing relief from anxiety or distress. In rats subjected to the learned-helplessness and experimental-neurosis paradigms, stimulation of the septum produces behavioral arrest, lack of behavioral initiation and lethargy, while rats with septal lesions do not show learned helplessness.

How analogous the model of learned helplessness and the paradigm of stress induced neurosis are to human depression is not entirely clear. Inescapable noise or unsolvable problems have been shown to result in conditions in humans similar to those induced in laboratory animals, but an adequate model of human depression must also be able to account for the cognitive complexity of human depression.
1. The primary purpose of the passage is to

(A) propose a cure for depression in human beings
(B) discuss research possibly relevant to depression in human beings
(C) criticize the result of experiments which induce depression in laboratory animals
(D) raise some questions about the propriety of using laboratory animals for research
(E) suggest some ways in which depression in animals differs from depression in humans

Difficulty Level: 550

2. The author raises the question at the beginning of the second paragraph in order to

(A) prove that learned helplessness is caused by neurochemical changes
(B) demonstrate that learned helplessness is also caused by nonaversive discrimination learning
(C) suggest that further research is needed to determine the exact causes of learned helplessness
(D) refute a possible objection based on an alternative explanation of the cause of learned helplessness
(E) express doubts about the structure of the experiments that created learned helplessness in dogs

Difficulty Level: 750

3. It can be inferred from the passage that rats with septal lesions do not show learned helplessness because

(A) such rats were immunized against learned helplessness by prior training
(B) the lesions blocked communication between the limbic forebrain inhibitory centers and motivation centers
(C) the lesions prevented the rats from understanding the inescapability of the helplessness situation
(D) a lack of stimulation of the septal area does not necessarily result in excited behavior
(E) lethargy and other behavior associated with learned helplessness can be induced by the neurosis paradigm

Difficulty Level: 700

4. It can be inferred that the most important difference between experiments inducing learned helplessness by inescapable shock and the nonaversive parallel mention edin is that the nonaversive parallel

(A) did not use pain as a stimuli to be avoided
(B) failed to induce learned helplessness in subject animals
(C) reduced the extent of learned helplessness
(D) caused a more traumatic reaction in the animals
(E) used only rats rather than dogs as subjects

Difficulty Level: 750

5. The author cites the “mastery effect” primarily in order to

(A) prove the avoidance deficit caused by exposure to inescapable shock is not caused by shock per se but by the inescapability
(B) cast doubts on the validity of models of animal depression when applied to depression in human beings
(C) explain the neurochemical changes in the brain that cause learned helplessness
(D) suggest that the experimental neurosis paradigm and the learned helplessness procedure produce similar behavior in animals
(E) argue that learned helplessness is simply a stress-induced noradrenergic deficiency

Difficulty Level: 650

6. Which of the following would be the most logical continuation of the passage?

(A) An explanation of the connection between the septum and the motivation centers of the brains of rats
(B) An examination of techniques used to cure animals of learned helplessness
(C) A review of experiments designed to create stress-induced noradrenergic deficiencies in humans
(D) A proposal for an experiment to produce learned helplessness and experimental neurosis in humans
(E) An elaboration of the differences between human depression and similar animal behavior

Difficulty Level: 700

Source: Master GMAT (108)
Difficulty Level: 700

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Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 18 Jan 2019, 00:10, edited 3 times in total.
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Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr  [#permalink]

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22 Jan 2019, 09:31
Official Explanation

Question # 1

The correct answer is (B). This is obviously a main idea question. The main purpose of the passage is to review the findings of some research on animal behavior and suggest that this may have implications for the study of depression in humans. (B) neatly restates this. (A) can be overruled since the author proposes no such cure, and even notes that there are complex issues remaining to be solved. (C) is incorrect since the author does not criticize any experiments. It is important to recognize that in the second paragraph the author is not being critical of any study in which rats were immersed in cold water, but rather anticipating a possible interpretation of those results and moving to block it. So, the author’s criticism is of a possible interpretation of the experiment, not the experiment itself or the results. In any event, that can in no way be interpreted as the main theme of the passage. (D) is wide off the mark. Though one might object to the use of animals for experimentation, that is not the author’s point. Finally, (E) is incorrect because the author mentions this only in closing, almost as a qualification on the main theme of the passage.

Question # 2

The correct answer is (D). This is a logical detail question. As we have just noted, the author introduces the question in the second paragraph to anticipate a possible objection: Perhaps the animal’s inability to act was caused by the trauma of the shock rather than the fact that it could not escape the shock. The author then lists some experiments whose conclusions refute this alternative explanation. (A) is incorrect since the question represents an interruption of the flow of argument, not a continuation of the first paragraph. (B) is incorrect and might be just a confusion of answer and question. (C) can be eliminated since that is not the reason for raising the question, though it may be the overall theme of the passage. Here we cannot answer a question about a specific logical detail by referring to the main point of the text. Finally, (E) is incorrect since the author does not criticize the experiments but rather defends them.

Question # 3

The correct answer is (B). This is an inference question. There we find that stimulation of the septal region inhibits behavior “while rats with septal lesions do not show learned helplessness.” We infer that the septum somehow sends “messages” that tell the action centers not to act. If ordinary rats learn helplessness and rats with septal lesions do not, this suggests that the communication between the two areas of the brain has been interrupted. This idea is captured by (B). (A) is incorrect and confuses the indicated reference with the discussion of “immunized” . (C) seems to offer an explanation, but the text never suggests that rats have “understanding.” (D) is incorrect since it does not offer an explanation: Why don’t rats with septal lesions learn helplessness? Finally, (E) is irrelevant to the question asked.

Question # 4

The correct answer is (A). This is an inferred idea question. The author contrasts the inescapable shock experiment with a “nonaversive parallel” in order to demonstrate that inescapability rather than trauma caused inaction in the animals. So the critical difference must be the trauma—it is present in the shock experiments and not in the nonaversive parallels. This is further supported by the example of a nonaversive parallel, the uncontrollable delivery of food. So the relevant difference is articulated by (A). (B) is incorrect since the author specifically states that the nonaversive parallels did succeed in inducing learned helplessness. (C) is incorrect for the same reason. (D) is incorrect since the value of the nonaversive parallel to the logical structure of the argument is that it was not traumatic at all. Finally, (E) is incorrect because even if one experiment used rats and the other dogs, that is not the defining difference between the shock experiments and the nonaversive-parallel experiments.

Question # 5

The correct answer is (A). This is a logical detail question, and it is related to the matters discussed above. The author raises the question in paragraph two in order to anticipate a possible objection; namely, that the shock, not the unavoidability, caused inaction. The author then offers a refutation of this position by arguing that we get the same results using similar experiments with nonaversive stimuli. Moreover, if trauma of shock caused the inaction, then we would expect to find learned helplessness induced in rats by the shock, regardless of prior experience with shock. The “mastery effect,” however, contradicts this expectation. This is essentially the explanation provided in (A). (B) is incorrect since the author does not mention this until the end of the passage. (C) can be eliminated since the “mastery effect” reference is not included to support the conclusion that neurochemical changes cause the learned helplessness. (D) is incorrect, for though the author makes such an assertion, the “mastery effect” data is not adduced to support that particular assertion. Finally, (E) is the point against which the author is arguing when mentioning the “mastery effect” experiments.

Question # 6

The correct answer is (E). This is a further application question. The author closes with a disclaimer that the human cognitive makeup is more complex than that of laboratory animals and that for this reason the findings regarding learned helplessness and induced neurosis may or may not be applicable to humans. The author does not, however, explain what the differences are between the experimental subjects and humans. A logical continuation would be to supply the reader with this elaboration. By comparison, the other answer choices are less likely. (B) is unlikely since the author begins and ends with references to human depression, and that is evidently the motivation for writing the article. (C) is not supported by the text since it is nowhere indicated that any such experiments have been undertaken. (D) fails for a similar reason. We cannot conclude that the author would want to test humans by similar experimentation. Finally, (A) is perhaps the second best answer. Its value is that it suggests the mechanism should be studied further. But the most important question is not how the mechanism works in rats but whether that mechanism also works in humans.

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##### General Discussion
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Re: Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr  [#permalink]

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04 May 2018, 02:40

could you please format the passage a bit? In its current state it is very hard to read and to understand. Additionally, one of the question talks about a specific paragraph, which isn't currently instantly detectable.

Thank you
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Re: Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr  [#permalink]

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04 May 2018, 03:00
1
Masterscorp wrote:

could you please format the passage a bit? In its current state it is very hard to read and to understand. Additionally, one of the question talks about a specific paragraph, which isn't currently instantly detectable.

Thank you

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Edited. Hope now it's better.
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Re: Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr  [#permalink]

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17 Jan 2019, 20:42

+1 kudos to all the posts containing proper explanations for all questions

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Re: Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr  [#permalink]

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18 Jan 2019, 10:22
Got the last question wrong.

Can someone help explain why choice E is right and not choice D?
Re: Helplessness and passivity are central themes in describing human depr   [#permalink] 18 Jan 2019, 10:22
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