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The Unified Theory of the Nervous System
and Behavior

Cognitive Philosophy /Brain Theory by Steven Michael Harris


Places in the brain that collect stress

I'm going to go into some theory that will just have to be considered with skepticism for a while here. (As if I've not been in the same position all along already.) I'm going to make some suggestions about why stress (increased sensitivity to inhibition relative to that of healthy logic) will collect in certain regions of the brain.

Consider my description of emotion first. [See Essay: What is Emotion?]

As I write earlier, what we call emotion is a kind of logic that makes sense (spots patterns and congruence then calculates understanding, etc.) from a large number of different areas of the brain and different kinds of information. Emotion is a straw poll of the brain, the master vote taking into account the many different decisions of different realms. All nervous system processing is emotion as there is the emotional component to all perceptions and thinking, but the emotions we identify culturally are this calculating of everything. Cells or networks of cells that make some kind of sense of this broad range of information can be in a geographical region of the brain or scattered throughout the brain or both (probably both).

Mathematically it is most likely that there would be a greater increase in the statistically predictable movement towards inhibition (stress) in these emotional centers of the brain for a variety of reasons. This is the switchboard of the brain. It is where the roads converge (and clog, in a sense). Because of the different natures of the information that are assimilated in emotional straw polls, the greater conflict of information is also likely which also increases the movement towards stress (inhibition). (Remember that in a cell where inhibitory impulses are competing with excitatory impulses, the inhibitory impulses hold more sway. Short-term inhibition can lead to long-term inhibition. And rest can reverse this, or most of this.) Another reason this region will collect more stress is that cells communicate their state to the other cells that receive their impulses. Should another region of the brain be abnormally stressed through trauma, disorder, genetics or whatever, the emotional switchboards will be the region receiving the most impulses from this region of the brain as opposed to the other regions that are not as well connected, so some of that stress will transfer over to the emotional center as well.

These regions with the most connections from the greatest variety of regions of the brain are also the places where a lot of information routes from one center to another. If a conglomeration of regions of the brain is receiving impulses from throughout the brain, those other parts of the brain are not as well connected to each other as they are to this switchboard of the brain, so these other parts send information to each other through the switchboard. Vision can coordinate with hearing, but mostly through the emotional center paths.

This is the region of the brain that will be the most likely to attract stress. We can identify what these regions are later in terms of medical terminology.

The next most likely region of the brain to collect stress is the language or language/logic region.

The development of language radically changes the nature of the wiring of the brain.

Let's me say the word "cup" to you. Your brain will cover an enormous amount of information with that simple and singular word. The sound of the word "cup" will be processed in the auditory centers. The many images of different cups that have been in your presence will be experienced at the same time in the visual centers of the brain. Without any elaboration the numbers of images are greater. You cannot be aware of this because you can't articulate a very large number of different things at the same time in language, and we are biased to think of our language sense or internal monologue as our consciousness. With too many images at the same time being experienced in the brain, we are conscious of none of them and might just have a vague sense of "cup" in mind, but we still clearly know what the word can mean with confidence. Images of porcelain cups could be mixed with images of trophies and athletic supporters and measuring containers for cooking, etc. Images are processed and experienced in the visual center. (They are not sent from the visual center to another center as every part of the brain involved with a thought has a proportional piece of the thought relative to numbers of other cells in other regions that are firing at the same time.)

The spelling of the word "cup" occurs in other parts of the brain, the sense of shape and touch of the possible objects are experienced in other parts of the brain, the visual memory of the shapes involved in the letters of the spelling in other parts of the brain, the smells of various substances that have been held in a cup will be experienced in the olfactory processing (especially if you often use a cup to hold a particular substance such as coffee)É on and on. So the development of language with it's various mathematical rules creates another kind of switchboard of the brain because all of these various regions of neurological processing are involved along with the words that are used and experienced.

Because the emotional switchboards occur in all animal nervous systems, and because they develop first, before language develops in humans, the emotional switchboards also serve to as switchboards for a great amount of that information that comes to the language/logic centers from all of the other regions of the brain. So language is a very busy switchboard, but it just serves to enlarge the connections going through the emotional switchboard as well. The many connections between language/logic and emotional switchboard also communicate stress between these centers.

Language has a very large auditory component. It is something you hear and something you articulate. So the vocal apparatus and the hearing apparatus of the nervous system will have a lot of connections to language and have a statistical proportion of the stress the can be communicated that way.

Vision is involved with the written aspect of language but so is the auditory and the vocal so the vision will have a statistically smaller chance of receiving stress from these centers.

I'm explaining this in a simplistic manner because too much detail will just make your brain explode if you try to compute it all at once. But I've given you enough at this point to start explaining the percentages of particular symptoms in a population and the groupings of symptoms (what the establishment calls different disorders) and explaining the likelihood of associated disorders and symptoms.

The bulk of symptoms will be emotional in a population. Language/logic expressions of that emotion and language/logic problems themselves are next in line and often concordant with the emotional problems. (There are many forms of language problems from stuttering to reading disorders to Tourettes to obsessionsÉ we express our emotions using language and the connections are strong.)

The mechanisms I explained about the nature of increasing stress in the previous essay [See Essay: Factors in the brain are mathematically very much like the evolution of a mud swamp] affect short-term learning and memory recall and control of focus first, so those are the first problems to occur and likely in the greatest part of a population and most likely to occur with old age. These factors lead to a large number of symptoms. (Remember that control of focus is really a factor in just about every mental illness and neurological disorder that has been identified.)

If a region of the brain becomes too inhibited, too stressed, it can shut down at times when it shouldn't. Extreme disorders will lead to such shutdown a great amount of the time. If a part of the brain is shut down or inhibited, it is asleep, even if the organism is awake. What we call sleep is really a coordination of sleep throughout the nervous system so that certain busy regions of the brain have a chance to reset the sensitivities towards more reception of excitation. If a major region of the brain is sleeping a good amount of the time when the organism is awake, that region does not need as much sleep when the organism is trying to sleep as a whole, so the lack of coordination of sleep then interrupts the ability to sleep in that organism (when there is a serious disorder such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, autism). Factors described in the mud swamp essay also contribute to the problems with sleep.

Should a center of the brain shut down, it can have a great affect on behavior and logic. The center of the brain most likely to shut down is the emotional switchboard for reasons stated earlier. (Most likely to collect stress.) If that center of the brain is often shut down, the brain loses its switchboard and the information needs to find new routes. In autism, a great amount of inhibition in the brain, early in life, causes a great amount of emotional pain for the individual so that individual learns to shut off the emotional switchboard, shut off feeling. Because this person is doing this before the development of language, when language develops (if it does in spite of the lack of the switchboard connections), the logic routes itself without the emotional center and emotional understanding. The autistic savant develops great abilities that are not tainted by the stress that occurs through emotional participation. These abilities do not ever include social understanding and emotional understanding. (A great deal of social understanding is non-verbal and emotional, many things we do for society such as develop shame about nudity make no sense to the body but are done to please mommy, for emotional reasons and without any logic behind it.)

Schizophrenia is really late onset autism that develops such stress in the system after the development of language. Because a lot of the logic is developed to route through the emotional switchboard, the shutdown of that center does not lead to emotionally-free savant talents but to extremely bad logic because a part of the brain that has usually contributed to the mix of logic has been excluded from the mix or is giving extremely bad signals because of the degree of stress that is there. (The psychotic is not as comfortable shutting down the emotional center because the person has developed for so many years using feelings. When the feelings go awry that sufferer tries to make sense of the illogical emotions by trying to come up with a logic that explains the emotions - which leads to paranoia and other crazy notions.) (Consider the large numbers of symptoms that are very similar in autism with the psychotic disorders.)

In the serious disorders, problems with language come after problems with emotion. Problems with auditory processing come after problems with language. Problems with vision after problems with auditory. All because of the statistical likelihood that certain centers of the brain will collect the most stress first. (For instance a person declining into schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder is more likely to experience auditory hallucinations before experiencing visual hallucinations for this reason.)

This essay could go forever. Just let me say that if I could animate a diagram for you and keep going with this. I could show you how to predict most of the numbers that are observed in data that is in the DSM-IV and predict the observed relationships of disorders to each other.



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