why study neurology?

Nick Medford nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk
Tue Jan 15 13:10:33 EST 2002

In article <285320c2.0201150814.15a4063e at posting.google.com>,
James Teo <james at teoth.fsnet.co.uk> writes
>mats_trash at hotmail.com (mat) wrote in message news:<43525ce3.0201150200.
>> Initially yes, but new drugs are based on the findings of neurobiology
>> - a reductionist approach to the brain/mind. New receptors are
>> targeted, or the affinity and/or selectivity for a receptor known to
>> be important is improved.  No-one just throws them at patients and
>> watches anymore.
>Er, actually that's exactly how it is done. 
>We throw them at patients with a 'best guess' hunch, then when we find
>it works, we construct the monoamine theory to explain it, then fiddle
>around with similar molecules to see if they work. There is lots of
>discrepancies when we find molecules which should work but don't and
>molecules which shouldn't work but do. This is much more true in
>psychiatry than in other fields.

Exactly so.

>Rhetorical questions for Mat:
>1) Do you think the mind (as you understand that word, since we all
>seem to be using it differently) is an emergent property of neuronal
>firings, chemical changes and whatever else goes on in the material
>2) If so, then it can have new properties that its constituent parts
>do not, right? 

Yes. This is the whole point. And these new properties cannot be
magically "defined" by simply referring back to the original constituents,
despite the oft-repeated claim that they can.

>Then is it fair to say that treating at the level of
>the emergent property directly may be more effective in producing
>desired changes than treating at the level of the constituents in hope
>that the emergent property changes?

Exactly, the whole basis of non-pharmacological treatments, and IMHO
the basis for much "complementary" medicine too. 

How about this: a man is informed that his entire family has been killed
in an accident. He subsequently plunges into a suicidal depression. Over
time, he finds that SSRI's help to alleviate the depression. 

What was the cause of the depression?
Nick Medford

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net