Brain like mud swamp
Steven Michael Harris
stevenharris at mediaone.net
Mon Jul 31 11:39:23 EST 2000
Factors in the brain are mathematically very much like the evolution of a
A large number of you who read this essay will have great difficulty
"getting it" and may never "get it." Try hard. It is not easy.
I've written about the cellular event and also about the mathematical
advantage that inhibition holds over excitation in other essays.
[See related essays on my website at www.braintheory.net:
Another very big clue
In answer to a question that was e-mailed to me
A Cell's Pleasure and Pain
The "Cellular Event"
Movements of Stress
Excitatory and inhibitory medications can do the same thing to some
decisions of the brain
This slight mathematical advantage leads to a wide range of behaviors and
symptoms with time (and sometimes very quickly when extreme stresses affect
the nervous system).
In a synapse, exposure to repeated dominance of excitation leads to greater
receptivity to excitation (but reverses when taken to an extreme). Repeated
exposure of dominant inhibitory activity leads to greater receptivity to
inhibitory activity. Inhibition washes out excitation - excitation washes
out the inhibition. But changes in the direction towards greater inhibition
are more likely with a lot of back and forth movements of sensitivities
(both excitation and inhibition). All mental activity is the movement of
changes in mechanisms of sensitivity that occurs with the learning and all
mental activity is also the nature of the firings of cells that occurs with
thought that is affected by such changes in sensitivity that are a part of
such changes in sensitivity as well. The gradual changes towards more
sensitivity to inhibition in cellular events in various places of the
nervous system (remembering that many different cellular events occur in any
particular cell and that cellular events move through the system from cell
to cell so they are not easy to witness clinically instead of theoretically)
increasingly occur with greater activity and these changes can be reversed
with lesser activity (when cells are not firing, when the organism is
Decisions can go back and forth between on and off, excited and inhibited,
yes and no - but changes can quickly or slowly occur that make it more
difficult to change a decision from no to yes. A very small minority of
cellular events [See Essay: The "Cellular Event"] that have changed to a no
(inhibited) decision because of this factor are too active at certain times
(or most of the time) to change back to a yes (more receptive to excitation)
decision. A very small minority of cellular events can have a massive effect
on a nervous system because of the way one cell can influence tens of
thousands of other cells.
When I describe the mud swamp, I'm explaining what happens because of the
nature of liquids and solids and the changes that occur with time because of
the differences between liquids and solids and their molecular attractions
to each other. The molecules in the mud swamp are reacting to adjacent
molecules in a three dimensional world. The similar math event that occurs
in the nervous system is with movements of sensitivities in cellular events
and is a part of the physical world and created by the physical world of the
nerve cells and the changes that occur in nerve cells, but because of the
many changes that occur and the many different connections of cells to each
other and the almost infinite possibilities of different paths that nerve
impulses can follow through the brain (and the mathematical factor of how
the cell influences it's own inputs through circular feedback loops of
connections), the math involves far more than the three dimensions involved
with the example of mud substances. These factors in the movements of
sensitivities are also different in that this evolution of changes can occur
extremely quickly (mostly in select regions of a nervous system) and over a
great amount of time in the nervous system as a whole.
The nature of solids and their attractions to each other in the mud swamp as
opposed to the liquids in the mud swamp are mathematically akin (in a way)
to the nature of changes to inhibition receptivity as opposed to changes to
excitation in the nervous system (because of that slight mathematical
advantage that is given to inhibition).
The mud swamp in the example as a very wet mixture of mud and water
someplace that is fed by a source of water from some source on one end and
with that liquid flowing through the muddy area of earth and draining away
or evaporating away someplace downhill. The liquid is moving very slowly
through this muddy region.
In the infancy of this region of muddy liquid it is brown water. There is an
even mixture of this liquid throughout the region. Should a large amount of
clean water enter the swamp in one part of the swamp, it would quickly mix
into the entire swamp through osmosis so that the entire swamp would soon
have an equal mix of dirt/water from one end of the swamp to the other.
Let's now imagine that a drought or other change to the input of water to
the region begins to change the ratio of water to dirt so that there is less
and less water in the mix. With less water in the mix, the greater
attractions of the solids to each other start to change the characteristics
of the mud. Instead of a liquid mix moving freely in any direction, there
now can be found many small channels of muddy liquid flowing throughout the
field. In the beginning when the liquid mud dries enough that channels start
forming, the channels finger everywhere and flow in all directions with
muddy liquid flowing through them.
Over time, as the swamp dries out further, the solids are more solid and the
liquids that flow through are in fewer channels and these fewer channels are
deeper and not changing as rapidly as did the many channels when the dirt
was more wet. The liquid that flows through these fewer channels is clearer
and moves through these channels more quickly because such a great
proportion of hardened dirt does not slow it down anymore.
The older and drier the swamp becomes, the harder the dirt becomes, the
cleaner and clearer and faster the water flows through the channels, and the
deeper and fewer and less flexible those channels become.
Dirt is the inhibition and water is the excitation.
In the brain these patterns occur with the movements of sensitivity to
inhibition and excitation throughout the system over time. The factor that
repeated excitation in a cellular event leads to greater excitation in the
future, and that repeated inhibition in a cellular event leads to greater
and quicker response to inhibition in the future also adds to this kind of
Think of inhibition as stress. (The opposites of excitation and inhibition
are both necessary parts of the mechanisms of nervous system communication
and there is no good or bad between them, but the fact that one end of the
spectrum is the pain end and the fact that the same end of the spectrum
accumulates in excess because of the slight mathematical advantage - and
whenever there is any kind of excess of excitation as well - that inhibitory
end of the spectrum becomes the expression of all stress. Imbalance is
always more permanent on the inhibition end of the scale.)
The mathematics that causes the swamp to develop in such a way with the
buildup of solids (stress) is very much the math that is behind most
behaviors, learning, disorders, characteristics of normal development, etc..
The healthy baby is an all or nothing kind of actor. Every part of the body
is pleasure when happy, every part is pain when not happy. There are few
patterns developed yet in behavior. Like the very wet swamp with just muddy
liquid and no channels developed yet. (Think of the channels as learning.
The channels become deeper and less flexible with learning, with practice.)
The healthy young child changes focus from topic to topic, activity to
activity. Like the first expressions of the swamp when the solids begin to
attract to each other and there are many small channels of liquid mud moving
in all directions without any or many dominant channels. Patterns are
developing but they are not entrenched, more flexible. (The channels that
form in the softer mud are more flexible and less permanent as well.)
As the person ages the behaviors become more individual, the quirks more
specific, there is less flexibility. The activities of focus are fewer.
Activities that have been practiced are performed faster than those that are
new. (The water in the older swamp is clearer and moves faster through the
Inhibition is the cause of disorders of the brain and the nature of
disorders is expressed in this math as well:
The disorders that are the most severe are of a brain that is the most
inhibited and most like the older and drier swamp. Patterns that develop are
less able to change and with practice become more and more extreme.
(Symptoms get worse with time and practice. The channels in the dry swamp
just get deeper and the water flows through faster. Obsessions and
repetitious movement result.)
The person with bi-polar disorder has a very inhibited nervous system. When
a large number of cellular events are inhibited you have the obsessive
depression. Some parts of the brain can be so inhibited that they just stop
or the brain decides to inhibit a region completely to avoid pain. (Remember
that in a nerve cell high frequencies of firing are akin to inhibition and
slower frequencies are akin to excitation.) Because a cell that is
communicating excess inhibition is doing so to thousands of other cells, the
complete inhibition of that cell can lead to some interesting effects.
Excess inhibition leads to a complete shutdown of a region of the brain. The
brain is generally inhibited (so you have the hardened swamp effect with
less flexibility and faster movement of excitation) so that the shutdown of
a region of the brain leads to a gush of excitation when the normal
inhibitory responsibilities of that region are no longer working. Much like
a flood of water that rushes over that hardened swamp that does not absorb
the water but deflects it causing the fewer channels of water to cut deeper
and run faster with less flexibility in the paths that can be taken, the
switch to mania occurs with greater general inhibition of sensitivities in
synapses that leads to a regional shutdown of the brain that leads to a gush
of excitation occurring with more obsession (fewer choices of paths for the
impulses to follow) and lacking in logic because the information that was
processed by the part of the brain that was shut down is no longer in the
The old person is the old swamp. Inflexible with hardened characteristics
and some strong practiced abilities but the interests are fewer just like
the channels are fewer.
This essay is just the beginning of the explanation of many factors of
behavior and development and disorder. All disorders are at least partly
explained by this mathematical factor, the differences being the nature and
degree and location of such inhibition in the brain.
Other factors such as the reasons why stress will collect in some regions of
the brain over others (statistically) due to the wiring and the problems
that occur in logic when a "yes" turns into a "no" due to this inhibitory
advantage all need to be discussed later.
I'll be linking back to this essay with many future essays.
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