1: Mind Body Connection
3: The Brain and Nervous System
Neuron is a specialized nerve cell that receives, processes, and transmits
information to other cells in the body. We have a fixed number of neurons,
which means they do not regenerate. About 10,000 neurons die everyday, but
since we start out with between ten and 100 billion (Hooper & Teresi,
1987), we only lose about 2% over our
Information comes into the neuron through the
Dendrites from other neurons. It then continues to the Cell Body (soma)
which is the main part of the neuron, which contains the nucleus and
maintains the life sustaining functions of the neuron. The soma processes
information and then passes it along the Axon. At the end of the axon are
bulb-like structures called Terminal Buttons that pass the information on to
glands, muscles, or other neurons.
of a Neuron
Information is carried by biochemical
which we will talk about in more detail shortly. The terminal buttons and
the dendrites of other neurons do not touch, but instead pass the
information containing neurotransmitters through a Synapse. Once the
neurotransmitter leaves the axon, and passes through the synapse, it is
caught on the dendrite by what are termed Receptor Sites.
Neurotransmitters have been studied quite a
bit in relation to psychology and human behavior. What we have found is that
several neurotransmitters play a role in the way we behave, learn, the way
we feel, and sleep. And, some play a role in mental illnesses. The following
are those neurotransmitters which play a significant role in our mental
Acetylcholine involved in voluntary
movement, learning, memory, and sleep
much acetylcholine is associated with depression, and too little in the
hippocampus has been associated with dementia.
correlated with movement,
attention, and learning
much dopamine has been associated with schizophrenia, and too little is
associated with some forms of depression as well as the muscular rigidity
and tremors found in Parkinsons disease.
associated with eating, alertness
little norepinephrine has been associated with depression, while an excess
has been associated with schizophrenia.
involved in energy, and glucose
little epinephrine has been associated with depression.
plays a role in mood, sleep,
appetite, and impulsive and aggressive behavior
little serotonin is associated with depression and some anxiety disorders,
especially obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some antidepressant medications
increase the availability of serotonin at the receptor sites.
(Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid) inhibits
excitation and anxiety
little GABA is associated with anxiety and anxiety disorders. Some
antianxiety medication increases GABA at the receptor sites.
involved in pain relief and
feelings of pleasure and contentedness
Please note that these associations are
merely correlations, and do not necessarily demonstrate any cause and effect
relationship. We dont know what other variables may be affecting both the
neurotransmitter and the mental illness, and we dont know if the change
in the neurotransmitter causes the illness, or the illness causes the change
in the neurotransmitter.