Brain Mind Center

Connected to the Environment

If we think of human brains as chemical processors whose first job is to steer the host through a chemical soup and find the right stuff to function normally, a lot of human behavior makes sense or is more understandable nonsense. Food acquisition, preparation and consumption dominate human behavior. Feeding behaviors are automated and are designed around recursive loops. Addictive behavior is an expression of recursive loops, locked into dysfunctional patterns. Eating behaviors are generated by the oldest regions in the brain and are closely linked to the basic patterns of life, which are hunger, thirst, sleep, wakefulness, sexual arousal, flight, fight, fear, and anger. Since the brain is the organ of the mind, molecular influences on the brain are manifest as mental influences. A few micrograms of LSD, for example, will profoundly alter an individual's reality and behavior, at least for a few hours

Food sharing has deep biological roots. Eating is a social activity and it is difficult for anyone to eat alone. Eating patterns are determined by ancient biological determinants, food availability and by learning. Infants learn to tolerate whatever food is available to them and children learn how to obtain the most pleasurable foods among the food made available. Learned food selection includes ethnic traditions, religious rules, family traditions, etiquette, and the food section of the local community. Sharing food with others is a prerequisite of close social grouping. Food selection and eating rituals act as social cement. An easy way to become a social outcast is to eat differently. The social basis of eating patterns often conflicts with individual needs. The biologic need is to self-regulate, to find an individual, adaptive path. Individual needs often differ from the needs of other members of the group. When a patient is ill and needs to change food choices, support tends to be short-lived. Therapists need to work with couples, families and social groups to modify one person's diet long-term.

We can assume that if a person's brain gets the right signals from inhaled and ingested chemicals, then he or she will remain on a stable, adaptive course. If, on the other hand, the wrong signals are received from the ingested chemicals, then he or she end-up on a wobbly course, unstable and maladaptive. Humans tend to be unrealistic about how easily and how profoundly small amounts of external chemicals can effect their mind. They believe that they are tougher than they really are. The molecular input to brain comes through the blood, via the blood brain barrier (BBB). The gastrointestinal tract is the first barrier selecting the molecules that will eventually become the molecular input to the brain. The liver and lungs impose secondary filtration on body input material. The BBB is the last selective barrier before brain cells are exposed to body input materials.

A reasonable model of body-brain dysfunction would attempt to explain mental and behavioral symptoms as expressions of disturbed body processes. Not a single twitch, itch, pain, or moment of anxiety would be explained away as "psychological". The term "psychological" is meaningless in any case and should be dropped from the vocabulary of all serious students of the human experience. Shifts in mood, changes in concentration, memory, motor control, and sensation can be interpreted at the hardware level of altered brain function.

Incoming food molecules can be thought of as a chaotic chemical mix. Various body procedures are called upon to deal with the incoming food materials. The responses may include alarm messages that are felt emotionally and expressed as angry, aggressive behavior. The increased presence of non-nutrient molecules in the food supply in the form of additives, contaminants, toxins, intoxicants and drugs makes brain dysfunction more likely and more difficult to interpret in terms of simple theories or single-substance models.

Three  principles of brainbodymind:

1. The brain is a delicate, precision instrument that is prone to error and requires careful input management. The brain is often the first organ to malfunction when body-input is wrong!

2. Mind-brain-body are one, interacting, whole-system. Disturbances in mental states have physical causes - cellular, biochemical dysfunction.

3.Food, as body-input, is the molecular substrate of body-mind, the foundation level, which permits or denies healthy function at higher levels of integration. Without a healthy body-input, mental health is an impossible goal.

Further reading: Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence and Learning, Language & Thinking

Persona Digital

Persona Digital Books is the publisher of The Human Brain, Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence & Learning and related books. Three books are available as print editions for mail delivery. All books are available as eBooks for download (PDF files).

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