More Co2 = less brains?

John E. Anderson jander at OSPREY.UNF.EDU
Sun Feb 9 11:47:37 EST 1997

Jason C. Doss wrote:
> "Ronald Blue" <rcb5 at MSN.COM> wrote in article
> <UPMAIL07.199702081833380330 at msn.com>...
> >
> >
> > ----------
> > From:         Jay Hanson
> > Sent:         Saturday, February 08, 1997 12:38 PM
> > To:   neur-sci at net.bio.net
> > Subject:      More Co2 = less brains?
> >
> > What are the effects on people of increased atmospheric Co2?
> >
> > Obviously, more atmospheric Co2 means less O2 available as
> > percentages of total gases.  I remember reading, quite some
> > time ago, that as the Co2 percentage goes up, the cognitive
> > abilities of man are decreased.
> >
> > Does anyone know of any studies in this reguard?
> >
> > Jay
> >
> > I believe you are correct.  But if you have less O2 then your
> > levels of CO may be higher.  CO is a neurotransmitter.
> > It might increase associative learning?
> > Ron Blue
> >
> >
> The actual percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is way less than one
> percent, whereas the percentage of O2 is greater than 20.  Therefore, other
> more serious environmental problems will come to bear before CO2 will
> "crowd out" atmospheric O2.
> However, that is not to say that too much CO2 is not a big deal.  Excess
> CO2 in the blood will acidify the blood, which will mess up the ionic
> equilibrium of the body's cells (particularly potassium), including neurons
> in the brain.  The deranged equilibrium probably does cause cognitive
> defects, if mild.  However,  the condition of having too much CO2 in the
> blood, or hypercapnia (or hypercarbia) will lead to unconsciousness if
> severe.
> By the way, CO or carbon monoxide is NOT a neurotransmitter.  In fact, it
> is a toxin that outcompetes oxygen for binding sites on hemoglobin, thus
> starving the body of oxygen.  You may be thinking of NO, or nitric oxide,
> which does have intercellular signalling functions.

CO *has* been proposed to be a neurotransmitter.  I think there was a
PNAS commentary article by Edelman and Gally several years ago which
mentioned it.

John E. Anderson
jander at unf.edu

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