The Beginning of Understanding and the End of Alzheimer's
Too much dopamine in the frontal cortex and emotional trauma around the age of 20 is the cause of schizophrenia. Too much dopamine can cause anxiety and depression as well.Too much dopamine in the frontal cortex and emotional trauma around the age of 20 is the cause of schizophrenia. Too much dopamine can cause anxiety and depression as well. Too little dopamine in the back half of the brain will result in Parkinson''s disease. A functional MRI using SPECT technology has paved the way for many patients to seek pinpointed treatments. These scans measure blood flow and metabolism in the regions of the brain related to mood and produces a simplified three-dimensional output on the computer. I believe the test costs $2000 but the results can quicken the process of finding a medication that works best for your specific kind of depression or anxiety. The scan can also lead to discovery of tumors but its primary purpose is to identify areas of the brain that are either overactive or under active. The overactive parts are due to above normal levels of metabolism in that part of the brain. The under active parts are due to reduced blood flow.
This can be an excellent tool in finding out whether a certain kind of medication will work better than another. A pattern of activity (or inactivity) has been associated with certain disorders. Attention Deficit Disorder, for example, is seen in scans showing decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. Anxious depression can be seen by an overactive (malfunctioning) deep limbic system. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, on the other hand, is identified by an overactive cingulate gyrus.
Certain behaviors are visible through these scans. Conflict avoidance, for example, results from a malfunctioning basal ganglia. Aggression and rage is sometimes due to a decrease in activity in the left temporal lobe. Religious experiences can be seen in the over activity of the right-temporal lobe.
This simplified method of mental health analysis is going to get better and cheaper and will eventually result in a personalized medication for each patient. In this future scenario the patient gets the SPECT scan and the pharmacist comes up with the specific ingredients needed to normalize each part of the brain in one easy to swallow pill. This brings up the concern of Soma and the Brave New World. I believe, however, that this will be the best way of leveling our equality with one another.
The 1990s was the decade of serotonin. The early 2000s was known as the years of dopamine. The latter half of this decade is turning out to be the years of the GABA because of all the new treatments for bipolar disorder. In terms of neurotransmitters, the years between 2010 and 2020 will the decade of acetylcholine. This will be the time when we discover treatments (cures?) for Alzheimer''s disease and dementia. A new generation of medicinal abuse will come from these drugs that increase available acetylcholine levels in the brain. These drugs will restore the memory of an Alzheimer''s patient and turn a normal brain into a brain with super memory. Although this is not related to intellect, I believe that the years between 2020 and 2030 will be the decade of a transmitter not yet discovered that is correlated with intellect.
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