Reprogramming

r norman rsnorman_ at _comcast.net
Wed Jun 25 07:29:42 EST 2003


On Wed, 25 Jun 2003 12:04:36 +0200, J Zijlstra <jw53z at xs4all.nl>
wrote:

>Hello,
>
>I'm sure someone has posted something on this before but I didn't find
>it. 
>
>After reading
>http://www.rand.org/publications/randreview/issues/rr.12.00/rrfall2000.pdf
>
>I couldn't get that question out of my mind. They stated the
>following,  
>
>Whatever the initial reason for
>using drugs, the vast majority of
>people addicted to drugs cannot
>stop. “The reason for this is that
>prolonged drug use changes the
>brain in fundamental and longlasting
>ways. In some sense, the
>brain is actually rewired as a function
>of drug use.” (page 4)
>
>So are drugs users able to mentally change in a positive way (Talking
>about the tiny few instead of encouraging..)
>
>If this is true and I think that could be confirmed after 3 years of
>research. Am I then able to say that we are able to 'rewire' our brain
>in a positive sence?
>

The "wiring" of the brain is the pattern of synaptic connections
between neurons.  This includes both the microanatomy of which
specific neurons connect to which specific others and also to the
details like the strength of each synaptic connection, although some
people may interpret the notion of wiring to include only the
connections, not the strengths.

The specific web page you cite (the site you cite?) is almost three
years old and refers to the well known phenomenon of "upregulation"
and "downregulation" in the cell signaling machinery.  In this case,
it refers to changes in synaptic strength, not to actually changes in
connectivity.

These connections have always been known to be quite plastic
(changeable).  We "rewire" our brain with every experience, every time
we learn something. Neurons are dynamic, living cells.  In other
words, there is nothing magical or special or rewiring the brain.

The real purpose of using a phrase like that is to indicate to people
that the effects of drugs can far outlast the duration that the
chemical actually remains in the body. If you are really straining to
find someone who will tell you that abusing psychoactive drugs will
rewire your brain to make you a better, wiser, and more caring
individual, then you are indeed delusional.





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