McKeen's Blackboard

Food For Thought

     ------ Intro-----

After reading a few pointed articles in newspapers and magazines on the importance of combining both physical and mental exercises, I decided to take up the challenge of learning everything I could about Brain Pathology and live to write about it.


 Brain Matter

The mind consist less than three percent of your body weight yet consumes 20% of your total energy. Most of your experiences are recorded in many different areas of your brain. It looks for and finds an open spot. Pictorial memory is the strongest and most lasting. People memory is second. With exception of voice recognition (inflections), verbal and written words are easily forgotten. We can remember the face but not the name. Place memory is also pictorial which includes streets, buildings, work places, schools, and homes, including layouts and rooms.

Deep  into the brain, near the brain stem and spinal cord resides the Limbic System which includes the amygdala and hippocampus. This is the place where all different aspect of emotional expressions are generated. All outside simulations must pass through the Limbic System. It will either get a pass unscathed or it will not. There many "trip wires" in the amygdala and if activated will set off an explosion (outburst) or an implosion (depression). It also has many candles that will flicker a flame of greater or lessor intensity involving worry, concerns and anxiety. Prolonged and intense exposure can lead to a trip wire effect.

 The best way out of this (without drug intervention) is to slow down the traffic, get off the highway and take some side roads, A sensory overload of one sort or another can help in relieving a funk or a frenzy. A sensory overload on any one of the following activities will help in the releasing of a neurotransmitter from amygdala, called dopamine (sweet juice). Physical exercise, meditation, prayer, music, creative enterprises, either at work or home and some kind of religious epiphany. There is a downside or caveat to the repeated release of dopamine which could cause a serious addiction problems. Shopping binges, gambling, drug and alcohol abuse,, pornography, sexual perversions and salking. Some of these problems are very difficult to deal with because they are foundation based from all the bad stuff already stored in the Limbic Memory System.

The brain is divided into two different hemispheres. Most people are left side dominant. The left side is analytical, rational and itelligent. It is sometimes referred to as the arousal side. It sorts out and evaluates everything. It always has a green light which contributes to its racing tendency. The right side is intuitive, creative and calm. It has the ability to  process and make sense of the abstractions and tidbits it receives from the left hemisphere. This essay is a result of information garnered from the right side of my brain.

Designer Drugs

There are several antidepressants available in the open market, such as Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin and Desyrel, which attempt to balance the interaction between a trifecta of three major neurotransmitters, namely serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Anyone who has been in the deep, dark and black hole of depression can appreciate their true value. It definitely has a place but must be used with caution and on a temporary basis. Long enough to allow nature to resume its role in restoring a natural balance between the three major neurotransmitters.

Pharmaceutical companies will continue to do research for new and better drugs. There is a lot of money to made in this. Major universities that deal in research studies should also be devoting more time in testing some of the drugs that are already available.

Magic Pill ?

The left and right hemisphere's have  also been called sympathetic and parasympathetic. The parasympathetic system is responsible for bodily functions and maintenance. It controls sleep, relaxation, cell growth, digestion, waste collection and most importantly blood pressure  and heart rate. Beta Blockers are a pharmaceutical inhibitor that reduces the arousal effect of the left sympathetic hemisphere. I believe it to be a magic pill. It does so by controlling blood pressure and heart rate. It produces calmer emotional responses to the daily stresses of life. It has been used with some success in the treatment of anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). I have been using atenolol, a type one beta blocker (25mg) for the last 20 years and it has served me well. There could be some side effect involving concentration, balance, short term memory, and the feeling of cold in the extremities. Also without a proper warm up before exertion exercise you will feel a quick depletion of your oxygen. Depending on the dosage there could be some risk factors involving diabetes and congestive heart failure. On the latter, I believe that exercising (walking) three or four times a week with the heart rate 25 or 30 beats higher than normal will help avoid the "lazy heart syndrome" that could lead to heart failure.

Everything has a life span, including the human heart. If the average person lives to age of 72 and has an average pulse rate of 72 per minute, he or she will accumulate 2.7 billion heart beats in a lifetime. At that time or shortly after , the heart will start to wear itself out and medical problem of one sort or another will begin to develop. A person with a higher heart rate of 82 beats per  minute will reach the hypothetical limit  (2.7 billion) at age 62. So in my opinion the total benifits derived from taking beta blocker far outweight any risk factors. The bottom line, heart rate is very important in the promotion of a long and healthy life.