Altered States

David Longley David at longley.demon.co.uk
Fri May 19 09:16:30 EST 1995


In article <Pine.SOL.3.91.950518162852.16705B-100000 at suma3.reading.ac.uk>
           sarnicol at reading.ac.uk "Carmen N. Nichols" writes:
> 
> 
> On Mon, 15 May 1995, William C. Easttom II wrote:
> 
> > I am seeking data which correlates altered states of consciousness with 
> > specific regions of the brain.  I am defining altered states rather broadly 
> > and am interested in studies related to pathology or pharmacology the most.
> > Thank You in advance for your assistance.
> > 
>         I'm not really sure to be absolutely truthful but Aldous Huxley's 
> 'The Doors of Perception' and 'Heaven and Hell' are a cracking good read 
> for general background.  Sorry I can't help any more.
> 
> Martin 
> 
The classic areas are those in the temporal lobe (hippocampus, cingulate gyrus,
amygdla, entorhinal cortex etc). There was some classic work done in the late
1950s by Penfield (?), where patients had areas stimulated and they reported
their experiences. For details I'd browse through journals in the late 1950s
and early 1960s (e.g. Journal of Nervous & Mental Diseases, Neurology etc - 
I used to know, but have forgotten as it's been 15 years since I read this).

I think Penfield wrote a book about it too. There is a lot to be said for 
looking back at the literature in the 40s and 50s. Things were done then
that probably *couldn't* be done today. For epileptic auras etc, Jackson
himself writes very well, and that's going back to the late 1890s and early 
1900s.

For the psychopharmcology of 'odd states', I guess anything which messes up
the monoamines (dopamine, noradrenaline and 5 HT) should do. At a crude guess
that's what 'altered states' *are*, polysensorial disturbances - a bit like 
shoving a probe into a radio and poking about. 
-- 
David Longley



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