why study neurology?

James Teo james at teoth.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Jan 13 17:33:48 EST 2002


On 13 Jan 2002 06:13:59 -0800, mats_trash at hotmail.com (mat) wrote:
>> However I would say that the kind of reductionist/determinist certainties
>> that have been aired in this thread so far are worse than useless when it
>> comes to trying to understand what makes people tick and how one might
>> help them.
>>
>This is true to an extent.  However most psychiatric drugs are based
>on "deterministic/reductionist" theory (what else could they be based
>on?!).  SSRIs for depression and agents affecting the dopaminergic
>systems for schizophrenia have shown how these chemical systems in
>concert with others define 'us'. 

But we don't know how they work though, despite the monoamine
hypothesis. The most interesting question about all these drugs is why
they take 2-3 weeks to work when the chemical changes occur within
hours. The answer "changes in receptor sensitivity takes that long" is
only partially convincing.

>Susan Greenfield at Oxford is an expert on dopamine and also 
>interested in consciousness.  

Not actually true. She's more of an expert in acetylcholinesterase.
I once had a tutorial from her once, and it was fairly good on
inspiring you in neuroscience and cognition but going away, I realised
there wasn't any hard facts I learnt. But it was a good tutorial. 
I don't think she spends much time doing research now, what with being
People's Peer and having all those BBC producers bothering her.

>She believes simply that the electrochemical dynamics of our brains 
>are equivalent to our minds.

Well, I am not sure she ever said that much. She certainly says that
electrochemical dynamics of our brains affect our mind, but I don't
think she ever equivocally said that the mind is only electrochemical
dynamics. 
(Being devil's advocate as I do think the 'mind' is made up of
biological reductive processes)
Besides, just because chemical changes change the way we think does
not mean our consciousness is ONLY made up electrochemical processes.




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