Cerebral Cortex _________________________________________________________
The cerebral cortex is mounted on top of all the other brain structures. It is composed of two sphere-shaped hemispheres that are physical mirror images of each other. If you look close at it, you will notice that the cerebrum is divided into different structures called lobes. Each one of these lobes fulfills specific responsibilities. There are four main structures or lobes in each cerebral hemisphere: 1. The frontal lobe, which lies just under the skull in the region of the forehead, is involved in decision making. The motor cortex is also a part of the frontal lobe. 2. The temporal lobe, which lies under the skull just above each ear, in the general region of your temple, is involved in hearing, speech production and emotional behavior. 3. The parietal lobe, which lies under the top center of your skull, receives sensory input from the skin receptors and muscles. 4. The occipital lobe, which lies at the back of your head, just above your neck, is the visual input of the brain. As aforementioned, the cerebral cortex is composed of two sphere-shaped hemispheres that are physical mirror images of each other. Despite the fact that the two hemispheres are identical reverse images of each other, there are significant differences between them. As confusing as this may seem, the right hemisphere controls the left side of your body and the left hemisphere controls the right side of your body. The reason for this is that as the nerves descend from the hemispheres they cross over at a point called the pyramid decussation point. CRITICAL POINT: The cerebral cortex is divided into right and left hemispheres. It encompasses about two-thirds of the brain mass and lies over and around most of the structures of the brain. It is the most highly developed part of the human brain and is responsible for thinking, perceiving, producing and understanding language. Interestingly, if you are right handed, about 90% of the population is, you will be left-brain dominant. The dominant hemisphere is typically responsible for executing most of your body movements such as walking, speaking and writing. It is also primarily responsible for analytical thought and problem solving. This part of your brain is like your board of directors. It gets incoming information, analyzes it
Cerebral Cortexâ€™s lobes and association areas
and makes decisions as to how it will respond to that information. The minor hemisphere, which would be the right side in this case, would be responsible for more esthetic things such as music and artistic matters. Although the minor hemisphere can understand language, it neither talks nor writes. It is basically a silent partner who takes directions from its dominant counterpart. CRITICAL POINT: Most of the actual information processing in the brain takes place in the cerebral cortex. Human beings have an extremely sophisticated cerebral cortex. The cortex is truly the master organ of the body. It gives us the ability to think abstractly, engage in cognitive analysis and allows us judicious reasoning. In short, it is what separates us from any other species. No other species has anywhere near the potential that our cortex affords us. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but the human mind is a miracle. It is limitless. No one has even guessed its potential. Believe me…the powers of the brain are literally beyond human comprehension. Brain researchers estimate that even prodigies don’t use more than a fraction of their brain’s potential. “If man used the full potential of his brain,” says Dr. Stephan Berhard, a leading neurophysiologist, “he would most likely cross the parameters of mortality. He would become God-like.” Think about that. What a gift God has given us this mind of ours. That is the kind of power the cerebral cortex affords us. Yet, this is the first part of our brain that is affected when we take drugs. The general formula is I over E except after D. In brief, intellect always overrides emotion until you add drugs to the mix and then the formula is reverse to E over I. Emotion overrides the person’s intellect. That is why people under the influence of drugs make poor decisions like picking a fight with a guy as big as Andre the Giant or jumping into a swimming pool from the fifteenth floor of their motel room. All of this is ridiculous…it doesn’t make sense, but people on drugs can’t make sense because the part of their brain, the cerebral cortex, which is used for good judgment and reasoning, is impaired by the drugs. When the brain is tranquilized or influenced by drugs, you are not making decisions with your cerebral cortex. You are making decisions basically with your limbic system…emotional decisions. I will explain this in more detail in a few minutes.
Corpus Callosum _________________________________________________________
The two cerebral hemispheres of your brain are joined by a bridge of very specialized tissue called the corpus callosum. The corpus callosum contains a large number of fibers that act like telephone cables running from one side of your brain to the other. Your two hemispheres keep in touch with each other through this bridge. When the dominant side, say the right, receives sensory information from the lower brain stem, it almost automatically sends that information The Corpus Callosum to the other hemisphere. In a few words, if the dominant hemisphere receives any information, it immediately shares it with the nondominant hemisphere. Similarly, if the non-dominant side receives information, it will immediately share it with the dominant side. The situation is the same with output information. For instance, if the dominant hemisphere sends a message to the muscles of your legs telling them to get up and leave the room, it will immediately send a message to the other hemisphere letting it know what it had commanded your legs to
do. On the flip side, if your non-dominant right side hemisphere sent out a command message associated with emotional control, it would immediately communicate this command by way of the corpus callosum to the dominant hemisphere. Although the dominant hemisphere, in this case the left side of the brain, controls the right side of your body and the non-dominate side, the right side of the brain, controls the left side of your body, the non-dominant side passively yields control of most coordinated body movements to the dominant hemisphere. However, the dominant side does not take the lead when it comes to such simple emotions as laughing and crying. CRITICAL POINT: The two cerebral hemispheres of your brain are joined by a bridge of very specialized tissue called the corpus callosum. Here is something that will interest you. If the corpus callosum is severed, you will have two separate brains that act totally independent of each other. They have actually performed this surgery on individuals who were suffering from epilepsy. As you are probably aware, epileptics have some type of subtle brain damage in one of their cerebral hemispheres. If the damage is in the motor area of the brain, it can cause a grand-mal seizure in which the individual goes into convulsion. If the damage is in the association area of the brain, petite mal seizures will be experienced. In this case, the person exhibits no overt motor activity, but rather sits quietly in a stupor. What happens is that the damaged brain cells cause abnormal electrical activity in nearby cells in one of the hemispheres. When that occurs at a specific point in one hemisphere, it sends a seizure message to its mirror image in the other hemisphere via way of the corpus callosum. This causes the mirror image brain cells to be activated. The mirror image nerve cells then send seizure messages back to the original site of the trouble. This return message from the undamaged hemisphere sets off even more activity in the damaged area, which in turn sends even wilder messages back to the mirror image cells, which causes them to send even more messages. Before long, very large bursts of electrical activity are sweeping back and forth across the corpus callosum. Within a few moments, the whole brain can become involved, creating electrical storms that sweep back and forth across the corpus callosum, bringing about a grand-mal attack. In some individuals, these seizures cannot be controlled by medication. In these cases, the subjects will probably die. In order to stop these chemical storms from one side of the brain to the other, surgeons will go in and cut the corpus callosum. Normally, sensory input from each eye goes to both cerebral hemispheres along the optic nerve. When the corpus callosum is severed, the optic nerve is also split. Consequently, the eyes are separated from each other as are the two halves of the cerebrum. Now, whatever the subject sees with his left eye is recorded only in the left hemisphere and whatever he sees with the right eye is recorded in the right hemisphere. Interestingly, if a Z-lens is placed over the left eye in a dominant left hemisphere individual and the question â€œHow much is two plus two?â€? is shown to the left eye, the left hemisphere can retrieve the answer immediately. If the Z-lens is then placed over the right eye and the same question is asked, the right hemisphere cannot answer the question because the information is stored in the left hemisphere. Of course, it is impossible for the right hemisphere to retrieve that information from the left hemisphere because the corpus callosum, the bridge of communication, has been destroyed. This shows how specific the brain is and how important the corpus callosum is in coordinating thought and emotions. CRITICAL POINT: Severing the Corpus Callosum will result in "Split Brain" syndrome. The surgical operation to produce this condition is called corpus callosotomy and is usually used as a last resort to treat intractable epilepsy. Generally, individuals who had this surgery experience confusion and are unable to coordinate their body movements and their emotional reactions. This is most likely due to the fact that the two sides cannot communicate with each other. For example, the dominant hemisphere might command that the person pick up his right hand, but the non-dominant hemisphere, not knowing that the command was given, is confused as to why the right hand is being lifted. Eventually, the individualâ€™s behavior will
become fairly normal again. It is believed that the two hemispheres eventually learn to cooperate with each other by sending messages down and up the neural pathways at the pyramid’s decussation point. It has also been theorized that the hemisphire take turns in controlling the entire body. Either that or one hemisphere, most likely the dominant one, takes total control over both sides of the body. CRITICAL POINT: The front portion of the corpus callosum has been reported to be significantly larger in musicians than non-musicians, and to be 11% larger in left handed and ambidextrous people than right-handed people
Limbic System _________________________________________________________
Under the cerebral cortex lies a part of your brain called the limbic system, which is responsible for emotion. There are identical limbic systems in both of your hemispheres, but because they are in close contact with each other via the corpus callosum bridge, we can treat them as a single unit. Just as the cerebral cortex is divided into several parts, the limbic system also has several structures. Ordinarily, the cerebral cortex overrides the limbic system...that is why you don’t act like an emotional retard twenty-four seven. However, if the cerebral cortex is sedated, the limbic system takes over. Then, you become basically an emotional animal. One of the major parts of the limbic system that we are concerned with is the fornix. This structure is buried deep within the temporal lobe on each side of the head. Interestingly, the fornex has a significant influence on an individual’s libido. When the electrodes were put into a rat’s fornex and then stimulated, they became markedly over sexed. The males would try to mount anything in their vicinity, including inanimate objects. The females became just as sexually aggressive, attempting to have sex with whatever was at their disposal, including water facets. CRITICAL POINT: The fornix has a significant influence on an individual’s libido. Knowing how rats respond to the stimulation of their limbic system, a number of researchers got together and decided they would use this information to see if they could get rats to engage in homosexual behavior. Nice guys right? They put electrodes into the fornex of a number of male rats. Then, when the rats got close to each other, they stimulate their fornex. Their idea was to that once they stimulated the rats, they would immediately copulate. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. When they stimulated the limbic system of the rats, they attacked each other violently. As soon as the rats were shocked, they would stand up on their hind legs, face the other rat, open their mouth and bare their teeth. Then, they would strike out at the other animal furiously. It was obvious that something was wrong. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that they put the electrodes in the wrong place in the limbic system. They inadvertently put the electrodes in the amygdale, another segment of the limbic system, rather than the fornex. Of course, at the time no one
realized that the limbic system had anything to do with violence or aggressive behavior. As a result, a whole new area of research was embarked upon. CRITICAL POINT: The amygdala has a significant influence on an individual’s aggressive behavior. For the next few years, researchers were busy implanting electrodes into the amygdala of animals. What they found was rather interesting. For example, as mentioned, they found that if they stimulated the amygdala of rats, they would furiously attach each other. Even more fascinating was the fact that when they put a small rat in a cage with a big rat and stimulated the small rat’s amygdale, he would still attack the big rat. This was rather starling because like with humans, there is a hierarchy in the animal kingdom. Ordinarily, smaller and weaker animals will not attack bigger and more powerful animals. They will usually cower away from the more powerful animal. It seemed that when the rat’s amygdala was stimulated, he had no control of his emotions. Eventually, they took this finding to a higher level. They put a restrained cat in the cage with the rat. Naturally, when the rat saw the cat, he kept as much distance between him and the cat as possible, but when they stimulated the rat’s amygdale, guess what happened? The darn rat attacked the cat and of course, the cat ate the rat, which just goes to show you that if you can’t control yourself you can get killed…like dead even. Interestingly, certain drugs like anabolic steroids can illicit similar type of behavior in human beings. We will talk about that later on in detail.
The Nerve Cell _________________________________________________________
As you probably already know, the brain and nervous system are composed of specialized cells called neurons. The human brain alone is composed of between 10 and 100 billion neurons. All of these neurons are unique in size and shape and basic neural function, but they all contain the same major components: dendrites, soma or cell body and axon. CRITICAL POINT: A nerve cell is composed of three basic parts dendrites, soma or cell body and axon. The dendrites are at the front end or input side of a cortex neuron that reaches from the cell body to make contact with other neurons. To sum up, dendrites are a network of fibers which pick up impulses from the environment and surrounding neurons and pass those impulses on to the cell body. The cell body or soma is the main part of the cell and is responsible for the complex chemical reactions that keep the body alive and functioning. The cell body is the processing part of the neuron. Many of the drugs that affect human behavior do so by speeding up or slowing down the chemical processing that occurs naturally and continuously in the cell body. Once an impulse is passed from the dendrite to the cell body, the cell body in turn passes it on to the axon.
The axon is the output area of the neuron which stretches back like a telephone cable from the cell body. Its responsibility is to send messages to the dendrites and cell bodies of neighboring neurons or to muscles and organs in the rest of the body. One of the major responsibilities of a neuron is to pass messages or information from one part of the body to another. This is accomplished by passing the message from one neuron to another. For example, think about three nerve cells, which are connected together in sequence. The axon of the first nerve cell makes contact with the dendrite of the second nerve cell and the axon of the second nerve cell makes contact with the dendrite of the third nerve cell. Amusingly, none of these neurons actually touch each other physically. In laymen’s terms, they don’t have a physical connection, but rather a functional connection. If you looked at a series of neurons under a high powered microscope, you would see that they are separated by a microscopic space. Essentially, the space between two neurons, which is called a synapse, is so tiny that you would have trouble seeing it even with the most powerful microscope we have today. How does all of this go down? Actually, it is pretty easy to understand…at least the way I tell it. The actual process is not entirely clear yet, but that has never stopped me from coming up with a good explanation or should I say, anecdote. CRITICAL POINT: A synapse is a microscopic space between neurons. If you look at a neuron with one of those high powered microscopes, you would notice that the interior of the neuron has a large concentration of sodium. On the outside of the neuron, there is a large concentration of potassium. As you are probably aware from basic chemistry, sodium has a positive charge (+) and potassium has a negative charge (-), denoting that these two elements are polarized. In laymen’s terms, they are opposite to each other. You will also notice that the sodium can pass right through the membrane of the cell, but the potassium cannot penetrate the membrane. As soon as the potassium comes in contact with the membrane, it bounces right off of it. Obviously, the membrane is semi permeable. In plain English, some things can pass through it, and other things cannot. Here is something else that you may notice while looking through that make believe microscope of yours. When sodium passes from the inside of the membrane to the outside, it is slammed almost immediately right back inside. You might envision a number of little men, you know, homunculi, outside of the membrane with little pumps. As soon as the sodium goes outside of the membrane, the little men pump it right back in. You can call these guys sodium pumps. As a result, when you look at the cell, most of the sodium is inside and most of the potassium is outside. This is when the cell is in its resting potential. Since the charges are opposite from the inside to the outside…remember, sodium has a positive (+) charge and it is inside and potassium has a negative (-) and it is outside…the cell is said to be polarized. CRITICAL POINT: The resting potential of a neuron is when the cell membrane has charged particles (ions) on either side. When the neuron is at rest (not actively transmitting an impulse), the outside of the membrane has a net positive charge because it has more positive ions than negative ones. The inside has a net negative charge, because it has more negative ions than positive ones. A membrane potential is simply a voltage that exists across a membrane due to this unequal distribution of charges. The way a message is passed down a neuron is by depolarizing it. How does that work? Well, even though no one knows for positively sure, I can tell you how it works. How is that possible if no one else knows? Easy, I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express for the last three months, which makes me ten times smarter than those guys walking around in those little white smocks. Are you ready? Okay! When a dendrite picks up an impulse, it sends it to the cell body. The cell body in turn sends it to the axon. I know I already said that. Now, here is the part I didn’t tell you about. At the end of the axon, are these large knobs called the boutons terminex. Inside the knobs, are small pockets called vesicles, which are manufacturing companies that produce neural hormonal transmitting substances. Neural means nerve, hormonal means hormone, and transmitting means to crossover. Thus, a
neural hormonal transmitting substance is a hormone that is produced by the neuron to pass on the impulse it receives. Some of the neural hormonal transmitting substances that have been identified to date are acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. Each nerve axon contains one of the aforementioned transmitter substances. Now, let me try to tie all of this together. When an impulse is sent to the axon, it causes the vesicles to join with the membrane at the end of the axon, which is called the presynaptic membrane. Upon fusing with the presynaptic membrane, the vesicles open up and release the neuro-hormonal transmitting substance into the opening and/or synapse between the two cells. When the neuro-hormonal transmitting substance makes contact with the dendrite (postsynaptic membrane), it causes the semi permeable membrane of that cell to become permeable. You know what that means? As soon as the cell becomes permeable, the potassium which could not penetrate the cell is draw into the cell and the sodium is draw out of the cell. The reason for this is twofold. First, as I mentioned, sodium is a positive charge, potassium is a negative charge and as we know from our basic chemistry classes, opposite always attract. Well, you probably could have learned that from the dating game too, but that is an entirely different dynamic. You most likely also learned in basic chemistry that high concentrations always diffuse to low concentrations. CRITICAL POINT: At rest, a neuron is in a state of polarization. When an incoming message is strong enough, the electrical charge is changed, an action potential (neural impulse) is generated, and the neuron is depolarized. Therefore, the high concentration of sodium inside the cell will diffuse to the low concentration of sodium outside of the cell and the high concentration of potassium outside of the cell will diffuse to the low concentration of potassium inside the cell. In brief, there is an exchange of sodium and potassium until there is as much sodium and potassium on both the inside and outside of the cell. When this occurs, the cell is no longer polarized because there is as much sodium and potassium on both the inside and outside of the cell. When this takes place, the cell becomes depolarized. This chain reaction goes right on down the cell from the dendrite to the cell body and on to the axon. This is how the impulse is sent down the cell and how that impulse is passed on to another cell. Nerve impulses are due to an electric current that proceeds through the cell body to the axon, where it causes chemical events to occur due to movement of electrically charged ions such as sodium and potassium. These chemical events at the synapse in turn recreate the electric activity necessary to carry impulse to the next cell. All of this transpires faster than the speed of light. Faster than AOL even. Now, don’t get all excited because we are not done yet. Once the cell is depolarized, another impulse cannot be passed on until it is put back to its initial polarized state. The reason for this is that when the cell is depolarized, there cannot be an exchange of the sodium potassium ions because they are dispersed evenly inside and outside the cell. As noted, without this exchange, an impulse cannot be send through the cell. For that reason, we have to get it back to a polarized state before we can pass another message on it. How does that work? I am glad you asked. After the vesicles secrete their neural hormonal transmitting substance, they immediately secret another hormone called cholinesterase. This takes place faster than light, AOL and DSL combined…like real fast. Cholinesterase counteracts what the neural hormonal transmitting substance brings about. In other words, it goes across the synapse and when it comes in contact with the dendrite and/or the postsynaptic membrane, it causes the now permeable membrane of the cell to once again become semi permeable. There is still a problem though, because once the membrane is semi permeable again, you have sodium outside and potassium trapped inside. Now, if you have been paying attention, you know how sodium gets back inside the cell. Okay! How does it get back inside the cell? If you said the sodium pump, you get a red star and a smiley face because that is good thinking. The membrane was always permeable to sodium. As a result, sodium can go in and out of the cell unobstructed. Obviously, when it goes out, those little men with their sodium pumps force it right back in. Now if you said, “I don’t know how the sodium gets back in.”, for homework tonight, go and stay at a Holiday Inn Express because you need all the freaken help you can get you big dummy.
CRITICAL POINT: Incoming messages cause graded potentials, which, when combined, may exceed the minimum threshold of excitation and make the neuron fire. After firing, the neuron goes through the absolute refractory period, when it will not fire again, and then enters the relative refractory period, when firing will only occur if the incoming message is much stronger than usual. However, according to the all-or-none law, the impulse sent by a neuron does not vary in strength. Okay! You guys with the red star and smiley faces, here is the real question, “How does the potassium get back out of the cell?” Remember that potassium cannot penetrate the membrane when it is in a semi permeable state. If you answer this one, you get a red star, a smiley face, $64,000 and…Ah, what the hell, I will even throw two or three of my girlfriends in. How does that Jeopardy song go? Do do do do… do, do, do do. Can’t figure it out, can you? Go ahead I will wait… do,do,do,do,… do,do,do,do. Sorry times up! Well, don’t feel bad because no one knows how that works. The process is called active transport. Even though potassium is already in its simplest form, somehow the body breaks it down and transports it outside of the membrane, thereby bringing about the repolarization of the cell. Now, did you really think I was going to share my women with you?
Drugs and Nerve Transmission ____________________________________________________________________________
I guess you are wondering why I am telling you all of this in a textbook on drugs. Well, believe it or not, I have a decent explanation for this question. Since the synaptic connections are contingent upon chemical communication, they are susceptible to extraneous chemicals such as drugs. For instance, drugs can inhibit the production of the neural hormonal transmitting Neural hormonal transmission of a message by a neuron substance by the vesicles. They can also cause the neural hormonal transmitting substance to be broken down more rapidly than normal and alter the postsynaptic membrane so that the neural hormonal transmitting substance will have no effect on the membrane. In any of the aforementioned cases, the nerve cell’s response would be depressed because either there would be no neural hormonal transmitting substance or the transmitters would not be allowed to operate properly. Actually, this is the action that depressant drugs such as alcohol, narcotics and barbiturates have when they come in contact with nerve cells in various parts of the brain. CRITICAL POINT: drugs can inhibit the production of the neural hormonal transmitting substance by the vesicles. They can also cause the neural hormonal transmitting substance to be broken down more rapidly than normal and alter the postsynaptic membrane so that the neural hormonal transmitting substance will have no effect on the membrane.
On the other hand, drugs such as stimulants can cause an excessive production and release of neural hormonal transmitting substance or mimic the action of transmitters causing the nerve cells to fire at an accelerated rate. In short, the effect that drugs have on the nervous system is of primary consequence to the effect they have on human behavior. I know you already knew all that...RIGHT!
Understanding Human Behavior ___________________________________________________________________________________________
I am sure you have observed someone doing something and say to ∞ DRUGS in Perspective ∞ __________________________________________________________________ yourself, “What the hell was he thinking?” If you are anything like me, Society’s Influences. you may have done something and then you ask yourself, “What the hell was I Society is never the cause of drug abuse. Just ask thinking?” The point is human behavior is them…whoever “them” are. A short story might be appropriate here. A speaker at an evening high school drug and alcohol assembly for extremely complex. Even the most parents walked to the podium of the packed room and posed this brilliant minds in psychology cannot question to the parents in attendance. “How many of you believe we explain with any degree of certainty why have a drug problem in this country? Raise your hands.” Virtually people act the way they do. That is why everyone in the audience raised their hands in agreement. “How many psychology is still considered an impure of you believe we have a drug problem in this state?” Again, virtually the entire crowd agreed. “How many of you believe we have a drug science. problem in this town?” Again, the same enthusiastic affirmative First of all, we need to understand response; “How many of you believe we have a drug problem in this that human beings are incredibly complex school?” Again, virtually all the parents agreed. “How many of your living systems. There is a biological side kids have a drug problem?” There was absolute silence, no reply, and you could hear a pin drop. Drug abuse is always viewed as someone to their makeup, a mental side and a else’s problem. The truth is the causes of drug abuse are everybody’s social side. It’s not exactly a big secret problem. that our biological system interacts with Although media influences such as advertising and other our intra-psychic and social systems to influences such as movies, music videos, video games may glorify develop our behavior. Which of the three and glamorize drug abuse, teens need to be aware of the influences impacting them. Society’s influences to abuse drugs will always be systems give us the greatest indirect and subtle like the, “do drugs” messages in movies. understanding of human behavior? The Countering these messages will require teens to be on the lookout answer is all three of them taken together. continually. Are teens up to the task? Can you identify a do drug We cannot hope to understand others or message in the last movie you saw? ourselves unless we are willing to view human beings and their behavior from these three different perspectives. Also, if we are to learn to understand our friends, parents and others and why they act the way they do, we must learn to see people as being complex systems made up of interacting parts. In brief, in order to gain a reasonable control of our behavior, we cannot disregard any of the aforementioned systems. We must take into account all of our systems and see how they interact with each other. CRITICAL POINT: Eating behavior to a great extent is a learned behavior. We are the sum product of the events we experience. The environment in which we function, the people with whom we interact and the thoughts which we entertain are all data constructs by which we condition our eating behavior. Since we have already spent considerable time discussing eating behavior and how it is biologically influenced by the hypothalamus, let’s use weight reduction as our example here to address this holistic approach to understanding and solving human problems. As I have already mentioned, your
eating behavior is multi-determined. You do not eat just because the glucose running through your veins is a quart low or your swallow counter hasn’t been utilized for the past hour or so. Eating behavior, like all human behaviors, is contingent not just on your biochemistry, but also on your social and psychological behavior. As a result, if you want to lose weight, you must pay attention not only to your body chemistry, but also to your psychological makeup and social environment. I was rather shocked that more dietary experts didn’t take into account the fact that eating behavior is influenced by an individual’s social and psychological makeup. Of course, when you look at the fact that only 2 out of every 100 people who go on a diet maintain weight loss, you can see that the experts, and I use that word loosely, are doing something wrong. I can only assume that they are not giving enough credit to the social and psychological aspects of eating. CRITICAL POINT: dimensional.
I don’t know if you are aware of it, but there are almost six and a half billion people in the world and a third of them are suffering from malnutrition. Yet, in the United States, we have slightly less than 300 million people and a fourth of them are overweight. From a global standpoint, it would seem that at least a fourth of the American population is eating their share of food and someone else’s. Now, think about this, we live in the most medically advanced country in the world, yet, the success rate of most medical weight loss programs is just about zilch. As indicated previously, of every one hundred individuals who go on a weight loss program, only twelve lose weight and only two of those individuals will maintain their weight loss for more than a year. In a nutshell, the success rate of helping someone lose weight is about two percent. That’s incredible when you think that the success rate of curing cancer is about forty percent. It’s even more amazing when you think that the United States spends almost ten times more money on weight reduction research than on cancer research, and that’s not counting the billions of dollars that are spent each year on fad diets and gimmicks. If that doesn’t “freak you out,” I don’t know what will. Well, maybe this will…using the physiological facts we discussed earlier, scientists have developed various diet pills and appetite suppressers in an attempt to help people lose weight. Some of the drugs on the market such as amphetamines and ephedrine influence the firing rates of your feeding and satiation centers in the hypothalamus. In a few words, they have your homunculus break dancing on your satiation center, thereby decreasing your desire for food. Still, other drugs are aimed at fooling your stomach. The common theme of these chemicals is that they have an extremely low caloric value. When they reach the stomach, they swell up
considerably and give you a “full feeling,” thus sending a message to your homunculus and the satiation center. Unfortunately, research has revealed that none of these drugs are very effective in helping people lose weight. The question is, “Why aren’t these drugs successful as diet aids?” After all, it’s been scientifically validated that many of these substances do indeed satiate biological hunger. Why is it then, that people who use these drugs and dietary aids still cannot lose weight? The most plausible explanation is that most overweight people eat whether they are hungry or not. Briefly, they don’t listen to or don’t detect what their bodies are trying to tell them. They eat out of habit rather than out of hunger. Put differently, the problem is most Americas don’t eat because they are hungry. They eat because Oprah’s on the tube, it is eight o’clock, twelve o’clock, five o’clock, they’re mad, happy, sad, relaxed, worried, anxious and a million other reasons. In short, they eat because of psycho-social reasons as well as physiological reasons. In fact, some weight reduction therapists believe that obese people do not know when they are physiologically hungry. According to these researchers, overweight people were not taught to discriminate between hunger and various psychological states of arousal such as fear, depression, anger and anxiety. They identify almost all psychological states of arousal as hunger and therefore, they eat when they experience these states. Consequently, diets, drugs or dietary aids that are only geared towards curbing biological hunger are most likely doomed to failure. In plain English, you don’t eat just because the glucose running through your blood is a quart low or because the little man in your hypothalamus is pounding your feeding button. Many other factors are involved. Again, it’s no big secret that our biological system interacts with our intra-psychic and social system to mold our behavior. In order to gain reasonable control of our eating behavior, we cannot disregard any of the aforementioned systems. If you want to control your eating behavior, you must pay attention not only to your body chemistry, but also to your psychological makeup and social environment. I know I’ve said that so many times it’s starting to sound like a commercial…but it’s true…it’s true. CRITICAL POINT: Our social conditioning applies not only to eating behavior, but to every aspect of human behavior. All of our actions, feelings, behavior and even our abilities are consistent with our conditioning and/or programming. Unfortunately, most people who embark on weight control programs only concern themselves with the biological aspect. They consume diet pills, they eat Weigh Watcher entrees, they count their calories and they exercise with Jane Fonda, but they seldom take into account their environment and the people who are in it. This is a mistake of significant magnitude. Dieting is just the first step in the journey to long term weight loss. If you want to control your
weight, your dietary program must take into account not just the calories you consume and how they are utilized, but your motives and mannerisms as well. Thus, in order to help an obese individual lose weight, I contend that you have to teach him or her to be aware of both his internal and external environment. In a word, you have to look at hunger as both a biological and psycho-sociological experience. CRITICAL POINT: a large extent we are a product of the people we surround ourselves with. Thus, it is imperative that we surround ourselves with positive people and a positive environment. If anything, society influences an athleteâ€™s behavior. Every aspect of human behavior is no differentâ€Śall human behavior is multidimensional. In order to gain a reasonable control of our behavior or for that matter to understand our behavior, we cannot disregard any of the aforementioned systems. Drug behavior is no different. If you want to understand drug usage, you must pay attention not only to body chemistry, but also to psychological makeup and social environment. That is exactly what we are going to do as we proceed in this text. We are not only going to look at how drugs affect our biological systems, but also how they affect our social and psychological systems.