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Linear and Nonlinear Thinking - Excerpt

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1: Introduction

“The ability to understand technical explanations decreases with formal education”

                                        -- P. M. H. Atwater

An analytic minstrel had referred to neuroscience as the “wild west of science”. He would perhaps find in modern “physics” and economics more appealing pastures! We must thank our stars that the analytic "school" hasn’t yet completely dominated the noble, self-actualizing field of neuroscience (though our younger brothers in psychology may not always have been so lucky – read: “psychoanalysis”! A compulsive theorist like me may even suspect that it was not “cancer” that compelled Freud to go for “seven jaw surgeries”!)

Back to the topic!

All of us know Dopamine, the chemical corresponding more to gray matter; Norepi, the chemical corresponding more to white matter.

The most relevant finding is that psychological neural circuits are comprised of Dopaminic and Norepic work stations, that can be compared to logic gates; the Dopaminergic work station can be called a simple “booster gate”, for which no standard comparisons exist; the Norepic workstation can be called the biological “And” Gate. These claims are proven true in the subsequent chapters. Of course, depending on genes and epigenetics[1], one's neural circuits may tend to use either more Dopaminergic, or more Norepic work stations. If more Dopaminergic work stations are present; if a man’s neurostructural ideology is more Dopaminic – it translates into a higher electric signal density, which leads to overheating of certain brain sectors. It is proposed that this overheating causes dementia progression; that neuroinflammation is merely a repair reaction.

Why?
The pathogenic detail seems to be: there is too much Dopamine in brains lacking enough Norepi (i.e., brains suffering “white matter disease”).  

"The loss of noradrenergic [Norepic] neurons is a striking feature of dementia (AD)."

A simple model can help us understand which brains are prone to dementia.

There are 2 types of brains;

In type A there are, say, a trillion Norepi and 20 trillion Dopamine check posts (wild guesses, the ratio of ~ 1:20 is what is important); in type B there are, say, half a trillion Norepi and 100 trillion dopamine check posts. Type B uses a lot more Dopamine than usual for processing. The chief detail is that Dopamine and Norepi work-stations bear witness to the addition of an equal amount of energy to the signal(s) operated upon – so in type B brains, there is higher average density of current; this leads to local overheating and probably suboptimal functioning events, causing the neuronal and network breakdown which characterize dementia.

This book is helpfully brief and is directed at the all-important layman, mainly.

The modern-day dominant “Analytic tradition” – which makes the unwise assumption that man’s actions are “mostly intelligent” (as seen in the Positivist messiahs who held that “all man does is towards positive”) – encourages – down a path aided possibly by the consumerist habits prevalent in modern society (excess sugar intake etc.) – a more Dopamine-biased "education" and "growth" of the brain. At the end of this book, a logical recommendation is given.


2: Fundamentals of Neuroscience

These figures may not now by all be understood; understand them eventually!

Fig. 1: The typical neuron

[pic 1]

Fig. 2: The various players in the Schwerpunkt area        

[pic 2]

“Each dendrite may have hundreds to thousands of spines”. These rapidly evolve and die out if not needed, but in adulthood spines stay for a longer time”. Thus spines rise and fall as do the leaves of plants, and some spinal paths are more developed (sturdier) than others.

"Spines cover the dendritic tree of most forebrain neurons (Cajal, 1888); it has been known for over five decades that they receive input from excitatory axons (Gray, 1959)”.

Just how a leaf detects light, a dendrite’s spine picks up travelling signals; every incoming signal cable feeds a myriad of dendritic spines.

  • The brain’s roughly 1011 neurons are randomly connected by roughly 1014 interneuron connections (synapses)
  • The dendrites and axons act as signal cables, forming paths that transmit information in the form of electrical signals
  • Whether a particular path signals or not is in itself the information… information is not encoded in modulated signals.

A “Transport Axon” might bring in visual information (“red”) from the Eye.

[pic 3]

When enough input data red combines with other preconfigured neurons bringing shape information etc. through long-marching transmissions, we get the sensation “apple”. This is a rough example how the psychology of the Central Nervous System (CNS) works.

The three so-called “Classical Monoamine neurotransmitters”, Dopamine (D), Norepi (N), and Serotonin (S), are particularly important in the CNS[2]. While D and N are particularly important in the psychology of the CNS, Serotonin/S is more important in its physiology. Norepi is more in the Right Brain; Dopamine is more in Left Brain.

The generator of N is the Locus Coeruleus (LC) and the generator of D is the Substantia Nigra (SN); these areas are shown below:

[pic 4] [pic 5]

The brain’s two psychological[3] chemicals are Dopamine and Norepi, D and N.

Why the great importance of D and N? Let's define the milieu in which these neurotransmitters occur -- as the "Schwerpunkt" (from German Schwerpunkt: “main focus, focal point, center of gravity”). This consists of the inter-neuron area, where travels the transmitter.

Fig. 3: (Parts of) the Dopamine-Linked Micro-system

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