Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reading about the Brain when I am faced with difficulties, I research. Those close to me are normally the ones where all of the information I recover is thrown upon. Not that I expect those close to me to want to know what I am reading and researching, but they are stuck with it anyway. I guess that I could probably give you a taste of all the stuff that I read about...I warn you will be even harder to follow my line of thinking...

Earlier this week I have posted about depression....and I do not under any circumstances want to have to go on medication for this...and this means, Yes! Research! Chemically, depression shows itself as lower levels of dopamine and seratonin. You can take pills to increase your levels, you can eat foods to help increase your levels, but because these things are entering your bloodstream they are not going to be as effective in your brain as if they were produced naturally by your brain. From my reading (and oddly enough this played into alot of the reading that I have done about PTSD and the brain) talk therapy, where you learn coping mechanisms to deal with emotional issues, has shown itself to be much much more effective in the long term in dealing with issues of depression, PTSD, and overall mental health. Another way of naturally raising your seratonin and dopamine levels is by having sex, because the endorphins released create the natural seratonin and dopamine that your brain really likes. Of course, in order to use this method to help counteract depression...I need Mr.3 to be home. :)

This lead me to want to do more research on the brain...and of course a book purchase. I bought a book called "A User's Guide to the Brain" and it has been fascinating to say the least. Basically with your brain it is "use it or lose it" when it comes to neurons and synanpasis' and such. There was a study on some nuns in Minnesota who stayed very actively intellectually and not only lived longer but also suffered much much lower incidents of dementia. The book has also talked about how the brain can re-train itself to handle certain things that it has lost the ability to. So like in the case of PTSD, prolonged trama can lead to short term memory loss and affect decision making abilities...but with therapy in which coping mechanisms are developed to help with memory the brain can re-learn to act within normal perimeters. With practice, a skill can return...just like riding a bike.

What has really sparked my interest in my reading today was reading about how the brain initially develops. At conception, cells begin to divide and divide and divide. By two weeks into this process the cells are folded into each other into a long tube, this tube is the beginning of the spinal column and the brain. Two weeks into conception! How friggin' cool is that?! The book gives a figure of 250,000 nerve cells are being created every minute at this time in development. And while the brain is one of the first structures to form in a fetus, it isn't fully developed until 8 months, and after birth it begins this process of testing all of the neuron pathways it has formed to see which ones work well and which ones the body would do better without. Constantly revising itself, over and over and over again, until we die. Oh so cool.

While reading this I was overcome with the feeling that I really wanted to be pregnant (and I think that this is separate from the baby lust thing), just because I thought that it is so cool that being female that this fantastic development process could be happening inside my body. And one day, when it does happen, I want to make sure that I appreciate every single moment of it, and every moment of my child's life because what happens in nature is so completely wondrous...and to use the same word that I have been using through this entire post...something so completely...


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