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Edward Justin Modestino ejmodest at sas.upenn.edu
Thu Feb 18 17:31:53 EST 1999

Bill Gates,
Oh sorry Dave,
What do you mean by the abundance of neurotransmitters (NT's)?  Do you mean
the availability of NT's?
     Monoamines are usually abundant among those with average diets.  This
is because average diets contain their amino acid precursors, i.e.
L-tryptophan, L-tyrosine.  Of course, this excludes those with
neuropathologies.  They may even have abundant NT's but don't respond to
them correctly due to receptor malfunction, lesions, etc.  Other pathologies
may have a deficiency of NT's.  However, other transmitters are not as
dependent upon dietary precursors.
    Could you please clarify the question and also what your prof. meant
about evolutionary garbage?  Was she suggesting as we have evolved, we would
need less NT's and therefore our abundance is just vestigial like tonsils or
an appendix?

Bill Gates wrote:

> Howdy,
>     This group doesn't seem to have much traffic, but it could just be
> my server.  I have a
> question.  In my neurobiology class, we were discussing the abundance of
> neurotransmitters; and my prof asked us for guesses of the cause.  She
> put me on the spot, so I suggested that perhaps certain regions of the
> brain primarily respond to certain transmitters, and other regions are
> more responsive to another subset.  Thus, it would be possible for the
> brain to regulate activity in various regions by simply controlling the
> concentration of various transmitters.
>     My prof didn't buy this explanation (and I don't entirely blame her,
> since I pretty much made it up from my meager knowledge of
> neurotransmitters), and instead suggested that the abundance is to
> facilitate "fine tuning" of the transmitter action.  She further
> suggested that part of the abundance is due to evolutionary "garbage".
> I don't entirely buy her explanation.  Would anybody be able to shed
> some light on this issue?
> Dave

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