Re: Greetings..

Anders Sandberg (
12 Dec 1998 22:13:06 +0100

xebec <> writes:

> Anyway... It has occured to me that in all of this "technological
> advancement" that we have already (here in 1998), when it
> comes to the science of the mind (psychology, and psychiatry), we have
> no REAL CLUE of what levels of what chemicals
> are supposed to be present in our brain.

Hmm? Do we really not have any clues? Obviously there are huge gaps of knowledge (especially frustrating to computational neuroscientists like me who need the data to build models) but I wouldn't really say we don't know anything about the levels. There are plenty of studies in the distributions of various synapses and receptors, and we know the sizes of synaptic release of various neurotransmittors. For the more common transmittors like glutamate and GABA we could definitely derive good estimates, and I guess we at least know some things about the amounts of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline.

Remember that we can do microdialysis studies inside living brains to really find the concentrations of chemicals at certain sites.

> The reason I find this "depressing" is because basically, the way
> our brain (seems to) work is that all of your cells operate
> in a "logical" manner -- that is, neurons communicate back and forth and
> logically decide what is the next course of action based
> upon a series of algortythms and timing. Of course, cell efficiency,
> and the health of the cell can alter these things, which could
> give us different actions than otherwise "predicted" by the brain -->
> the REAL modifier of behavior is what chemicals that
> have been released into our brain and are floating through the cells.
> THIS is what effects the "efficiency" of cells, and alters the
> likely course that course that they decide to take..

Cells do not operate in a logical manner, essentially they just sum the synaptic inputs and fire if the result goes over a certain threshold. This is then modulated in a complex way by chemicals and past activity. All the logical decisions are made by *networks* of cells, and neuromodulators certainly change the way they act.

> If we cannot determine what are NORMAL levels or what we can change
> to change our emotions, then theoretically, the
> more intelligent someone is, the more trouble they can run into when
> something goes wrong.

Depends on if their "intelligence" includes emotional intelligence, the ability to manage and regulate their own emotions. After all, we don't need to know the serotonine levels of our brains in order to change our own mood by (say) positivr thinking or visualization.

Personally I disagree with the view that more intelligen people have higher ups and downs - it smacks of the romantic notion of the tormented genius. Psychological studies seem to suggest that gifted people tends to be more social and have fewer psychological problems than normal people.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y