How the Brain and Nervous System Work
As space is limited, I have selected depression and memory to use as examples in explaining brain function. Much of the brain’s functioning follows similar processes using different chemicals or the same chemicals in different amounts.
Depression is the result, in part, of an imbalance of brain chemicals. It sounds simple, but the biological dimension of depression has multiple layers of complexity.
Memory is also associated with Neurochemistry
Neurochemistry and Neurotransmitters - It’s all a matter of science
The brain uses many brain chemicals as messengers to communicate with other parts of itself and with the nervous system. These chemical messengers are called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are released and received by the brain's many nerve cells, called neurons. Neurons are constantly communicating with each other by way of exchanging neurotransmitters. This communication system is essential to all of the brain's functions.
A microscopic space between the nerve cells is called the synapse and it connects nerve cells to one another. The sender neuron sends a message across the synapse and the neighboring receiver neuron receives that message by way of a receptor site on its surface. Receptors are tiny molecules that function like a lock on a door. Receptors have chemical channels with particular shapes, which perfectly match the shape of neurotransmitter molecules that are sent across the synapse. When a matching neurotransmitter and receptor come into contact with each other, the neurotransmitter fits itself into the receptor molecule's channel. As a result, the receptor becomes activated or opened, just like when a key opens a lock. When there are no neurotransmitter molecules around to unlock the receptors, the receptors remain in a closed or inactive state.
Neurons need inactivity between messages for them to provide meaning to a situation. It is important that receptors be allowed to reset and deactivate between messages so that they can be ready to receive the next burst of information; this is called resetting. The neurotransmitters are then repackaged and reused the next time a message needs to be sent across the synapse. The entire information transmission cycle occurs in the brain within in a matter of seconds and anything that interrupts the smooth functioning of this chain of chemical events can negatively impact both the brain and nervous system. Let’s look at how depression impacts this cycle.
Depression has been linked to problems or imbalances in the brain with regard to the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Antidepressant medications (used to treat the symptoms of depression) are known to act upon these particular neurotransmitters and their receptors. The neurotransmitter serotonin is involved in regulating many physiological functions, including sleep, aggression, eating, sexual behavior, and mood. Current research suggests that a decrease in the production of serotonin by these neurons can cause depression in some people, and more specifically, a mood state that can cause some people to feel suicidal.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is also linked to depression. Dopamine plays an important role in regulating our drive to seek out rewards, as well as our ability to obtain a sense of pleasure. Low dopamine levels may in part explain why depressed people don't derive the same sense of pleasure out of activities or people that they did before becoming depressed. Recently, another neurotransmitter, glutamate, has been implicated in depression as well, but more research is necessary at this time to determine the nature of this chemical.
What helps depression and memory?
Limited Attention Span
Limited attention span means that only part of the memory surface is activated at any one time, so focus! Limiting your attention is important as the activated area in a coherent area of the brain is the most easily activated part of the memory surface. It is part of the memory that is the most familiar and has been encountered most often. Because a familiar pattern tends to be used often, it becomes ever more familiar over time. In this way the mind builds up certain patterns which are the basis of a code of communication
Your Brain Can Process Only Positive Information
The language of the brain is pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells which are inputs from your senses. Your brain does not interpret negative information, or incidents you have not experienced. It can work only with information from the experiences of your five senses, which is called imagination
Thinking and Acting at the Same Time
Thinking and acting at the same time is difficult as the mind can only hold one thought at a time. You can move along periods of thought and action at the same time but at any specific moment the focus is only on one of the two activities. The mind is able to switch quickly and effortlessly to the other polarity when required. This is an important point to remember when considering focus and balance in life.
Left Brain and Right Brain Functioning
Research on the brain has shown why some people are great inventors but poor producers or good managers but weak leaders. The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and the right, and each hemisphere specializes in different functions, processes different kinds of information, and deals with different kinds of problems. The left brain works more with logic and analysis, the right works more with emotions and imagination.
If a person will focus and divide their time consciously between right and left brain activity, rather than bouncing back and forth between creative and analytical activities, they will get a better result. Analysis, evaluation and judgment prevent creativity. During brainstorming sessions, we suspend judgment while we generate ideas. Similarly, innovative people apply different leadership techniques at different project stages.
Meditation is the most powerful mind tool ever developed. Meditation has been scientifically proven to improve creativity, intelligence, memory, alertness, and to integrate left and right brain functioning. It has been shown to improve physical, mental, and emotional health. It is an underutilized tool; it costs nothing and it improves health.
Capacity of Our Working Memory
The maximum amount of items we can store in our working memory, or conscious mind, is three or four. Sometimes we must remember more. If so, we must use memory tricks such as repeating items over and over or grouping items together, like when remembering a phone number. Intelligence is related to working memory. The more information one can hold in the mind at one time, the more information can be utilized. The better the working memory, the more creative and problem-solving abilities one is able to access.
Find additional information at http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=12999&cn=5
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