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The Science Journal of the Lander College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

The legitimacy of psychotherapy can often be thrown into doubt as its mechanisms of action are generally considered hazy and unquantifiable. One way to support the effectiveness of therapy would be to demonstrate the physical effects that this treatment option can have on the brain, just like psychotropic medications that physically alter the brain’s construction leaving no doubt as to the potency of their effects. Beginning with the understanding of therapy as a behavior, this paper first questions the possibility of behavior effecting measurable change on the brain. Examining diverse samples of both animals and humans repeatedly shows that the excessive exercise of spatial memory and mapping activities, which rely on the hippocampus, correlates with targeted hippocampal growth and modulation. The hippocampus reliably enlarges when over exercised. With this correlation demonstrated, this paper returns to therapy to find that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), of all psychotherapies, modulates the brain in the very same pattern effected by targeted spatial and mapping behavior. These twin correlations lend credence to each other and their surprising similarity is best explained by the hippocampus’s chief role in declarative memory. Both spatial memory and CBT rely on skills and behaviors regulated by declarative memory, lunder the jurisdiction of the hippocampus. This paper aligns the strong evidence of the spatial memory- hippocampal growth correlation with the CBT- hippocampal growth observation to show that CBT does indeed leave observable effects on the brain and real impressions on the patient.

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