Understanding Brain Chemistry

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Understanding Brain Chemistry What is it that makes us human? Is it our actions, our sense of purpose, or our ability to keep our mind on as well as perform complex tasks? Is it that we analyze our own mental processes, as well as the processes of others? What exactly is a mental state, and what creates it? Is it a level of attentiveness, an impulse, or an emotional state? What is it that allows us to experience these things? The answers all lie within our brains. The brain, like the rest of the nervous system, is composed by and large of neuralgia (glial cells), nerve cells (neurons), that are immersed in a constant flow of cerebrospinal fluid. The glial cells far outnumber the neurons, but have no axons or synapses, and therefore do not play a part in the electrical activity of the brain. They are simpler looking, much smaller, and have lower metabolic rates than neurons. Another important difference includes that glial cells maintain the ability to recover from an injury and divide their entire lives. Virchow first identified these cells in 1846, and gave them the name “neurogila”, which means nerve glue. Glial cells are credited with holding the brain together, and preserving its physical structure. They are also said to provide both chemical and electric insulation for synapses, as well as the other components of the brain, and transportation for chemicals between neurons and capillaries. Finally, glial cells are thought to break down and/or synthesize the neurotransmitters released by the neurons they shelter. Many mental illnesses are mainly caused by disorders relating to the metabolism of neurotransmitters. Neurons are the cells that create brain activity, passing chemical and electric signals from on... ... middle of paper ... ... The future, and more research, holds the keys to many more of the mysteries locked within us. Bibliography: Works Cited Brain Chemistry. beatcfsandfms.org 7 Feb. 2001 Carter, Rita. Mapping the Mind. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998 Golden, Frederic. “Probing the Chemistry of the Brain” Time. 15 Jan. 2001: 157-2 Livingstone, Churchill. “Chemisms of the Brain”. Basic and Applied Neuochemistry. Ed. R. Rodnight, H. S. Bachelard, W. L. Stahl. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1981 Posner, Michael I, Marcus E. Raichle. Images of the Mind. New York: Scietific American Library, 1994 Siegel, George J., R. Wayne Albers, Robert Katzman, and Bernard W. Agranoff, eds. Basic Neurochemistry. 2nd ed. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1976 Steiner, Meir, Kimberly A. Yonkers, Elias Eriksson. Mood Disorders in Women. London: Martin Dunitz Ltd, 2000

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