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Brain function, im worried about meds

  1. Jun 30, 2003 #1
    I took this from another board I posted on. Noone could really answer much of it. Please no debate about what intelligence is.

    I couldn't find a neuroscience message board, but I have some questions, so I'm hoping someone can answer them here. What exactly makes one intelligent. Is it the structure of the brain, or how well the brain is running? Can things change the structure of the brain, or the connections between neurons. SSRI's keep S bouncing around the synapse, so don't they send errant messages. I'm so worried that meds will change the structure of my brain, or destroy some connections. I know nothing about neuroscience. How does xanax work? I know that many drugs can destroy the brain. Can someone at least point me in the direction of a place where I can get these questions answered? Thanks.

    Ok, well the word intelligence isn't important. I could have us heightened consciousness, awareness, or anything of that sort. By intelligence I mean being able to think through logical steps, control thoughts, ground one's thoughts, tranform feelings into words, manipulate feelings that represent ideas, and so on. A "crack head" is not intelligent, no matter what exactly the word means. We have ideas about what it is. Anyway, do these drugs change the structure of the brain or destroy connections between neurons at all. Benzos or SSRIs. Xanax actually makes me feel more "intelligent" for a while, and then makes me feel less afterward. I just don't want to mess anything up. I like the way I think and I don't want it to change.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2003 #2
    Error. Your post is error-filled.

    You say "what makes someone intelligent" but nevermind what intelligence means.

    So let me ask you - "what makes someone blue" but nevermind what it means to be blue.

    Your entire post is one giant error. "Intelligence" is merely a perception - it does not exist, and thus has nothing causing it.

    And by the way - I am a neuroscientist, so you are getting the professional answer of over 9 years of training.

    You define intelligence (and make it something that EXISTS and not a perceptual quality) and I'll tell you what causes it in every single species you've ever heard of, one by one.
  4. Jul 1, 2003 #3
    well the second "paragraph" is in response to a bunch of people arguing about what intelligence is on another board, when really all i wanted to know is if meds would "crack me out", no need to try and be so superior, im a child

    your post is error filled

    you say intelligence is a perception, and then say it doesnt exist, how can something be anything if it doesnt exist, but enough with that, im comfortable with my understanding of intelligence, i even listed some traits of it, you are a neuroscientist, tell me what these meds do to the brain please, im concerned with this because i am on them, i do alot of thinking about what exactly intelligence is, and i agree with you that it is perception, but this post isnt for that, id just like to know how these meds will affect my perception, or my flow of thoughts and ability to make progressive steps in thought
  5. Jul 2, 2003 #4
    Noah - Here is my take on your question:

    SSRI's inhibit the "absorbing" material which acts similiar (in this context) to a sponge, and they allow more of the chemical to go from one end of a neuron to another.

    I don't need to go into crazy detail to tell you that your answer:

    These medications will change the structure of your brain no more than reading a new piece of material will, no more than seeing a new persons face will, no more than waking up and smelling pancakes will, and no more than recalling a long-forgotten dream or memory will.

    Everything you percieve through your senses that reaches any part of the brain changes the structure of your brain.

    You must understand that a medication is no more different or severe of a neurological changing agent than a piece of broccoli.

    Everything that enters your body changes your chemistry - and every perception alters your brain.

    What disorder are you taking the medications for?
  6. Jul 2, 2003 #5
    thanks, actually i think its a current that goes from one end of the neuron to the other, the chemical travels from one neuron to the next

    im on celexa for depression and anxiety, and xanax for anxiety, the xanax i dont take too often though

    what does extasy do, i know it puts big holes in the brain
  7. Jul 2, 2003 #6
    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by that. The only chemicals that travel from one neuron to the next (as part of their function) are neurotransmitters. Specifically they allow the nerve impulse to travel between synapses.

    Big holes in the brain? Not that I've heard of.

    Extasy, (MMDA if memory serves) is both a psychedelic and a stimulent, similar to the amphetamine (mescaline-like) analog psychedelics. These affect brain chemistry because of their similarity to neurotransmitters. Because they aren't identical, their effects change the way the environment is percieved and how the brain processes the information.
  8. Jul 2, 2003 #7
    I saw a show on MTV, and a girl who had been taking X had big holes in her brain, although they were probably just areas of little or no neural activity and I wasnt paying attention. The statement you have highlighted was in response to Shark saying that SSRIs allow more Serotonin to go from one end of the neuron to another. What I meant was that the chemical does not go from one end of the neuron to the other, rather from one neuron to another. It is an electrical current that traels through the neuron itself. I think.
  9. Jul 2, 2003 #8
    SSRI's allow more Serotonin to flood a synapse. Serotonin does not travel from one end of a neuron to another. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that effects post synaptic AP firing. As to any long effects of SSRI I'd have to say there must be some. Chemicals that effect the global chemistry of the brain must cause some changes to the synaptic pathways simply because of brain plasticity.

    BTW Ecstacy (MDMA ):wink: causes the brain to release more Serotonin than it would normally. The more you use Ecstacy the less effective it becomes. This is a long term effect. So you'd have to say that there is possibly a similar situation occuring in SSRI's.
  10. Jul 2, 2003 #9
    The basic answer is, no one knows.

    What exactly about the brain makes you intelligent, or motivated, or lazy, or anything -- we don't know. Taking psychoactive drugs (prescribed or recreational) certainly changes some things in the brain; so do life experiences -- falling in love, breaking up, being abused, being successful. For the most part, no one can say how each of these will affect you.

    No, certainly not. What we can do is study how these things affect people long-term. There is a lot of clinical experience with most psychiatric drugs, and the human brain is amazingly resilient; it takes a lot to mess it up. SSRIs will not "crack you out"; if anything they will probably help -- depressed people tend to be more sluggish thinkers. They're about as safe as you can get.

    Benzos (like Xanax) won't either; many people have taken them for decades with no ill effect. The only risk with them is long-term dependence: if you take a large enough amount (with Xanax I'd guess maybe more than 1mg/day) for long enough (~a year) you will become dependent and get more anxiety if you stop taking them. Sounds like you only take them sporadically though, which doesn't carry this risk.

    Ecstasy is (supposed to be) MDMA, methylenedioxymethamphetamine. It does two things: it's a psychostimulant, like methamphetamine or cocaine; but it also has an "empathogenic" lovey-dovey kind of effect, and sometimes very weak psychedelic effects. The first comes from stimulating dopamine release (the same mechanism as meth or cocaine); the second from stimulating serotonin release, the same neurotransmitter that SSRIs primarily act on.

    The problem is that high-dose or long-term MDMA use damages the ends of some serotonergic cells. The mechanism is still uncertain: either MDMA is metabolized into a toxic compound that directly damages the cells (through oxidative stress, eg 'free radicals'); or it depletes serotonin stores and allows dopamine in serotonergic cells, which causes the same sort of damage.

    In any case, animals and some heavy MDMA users show a clear decrease in density of serotonin receptors. (Not "holes in the brain.") It's not yet clear at what level this damage occurs -- whether only in daily users for years, or in occasional recreational users too. Also, even most heavy users don't show detectable impairment of any kind. This may be because 1) studies so far are not sensitive enough to notice the kinds of differences occuring, 2) there is no serious effect, or 3) impairment will get worse with age.

    (3) seems likely because this is what happens with dopaminergic cells in Parkinson's disease -- you can lose like 90% of yours before you start to notice any problems. (And neurons die off gradually with age...)
  11. Jul 2, 2003 #10
    thanks you answered my questions, one other though, ssri's inhibit reuptake of serotonin, reuptake occurs after the serotonin has left the tranmitting cell, so wouldnt that just leave it bouncinh around the synapse causing like false signals to be passed
  12. Jul 2, 2003 #11
    Electrical within the neuron - and chemical outside.

    But please remember at all times - it's all really electrical. Chemical is just an advanced and complex form of electrical activity.

    Furthermore - I could explain what X does - but just let me say don't do it. It does alot - and is not good.
  13. Jul 2, 2003 #12

    SSRIs inhibit the reuptake - which means the connecting neuron will accept MORE of the serotonin. No, nothing is left in the synapse, absolutely not.
  14. Jul 3, 2003 #13
    Hi Noahfor:
    Physicsrocks is right. Intelligence does not exist. But, when you get tired of trying to teach, unsuccessfully, your dog how to complete the square, and you tire of sophistry, do a google search for the "g factor". Ignore the "g orbital" stuff. The rest is about whether or not, in the real world, there is such a thing as cognitive ability.
  15. Jul 3, 2003 #14
    ill do that, but i still believe in intelligence no matter what it may be, even if intelligence is just unintentional thoughts that pop into one's head, i call it awareness in the second paragraph of my first post, thats really how i think of it now
  16. Jul 3, 2003 #15
    Intelligence doesn't exist? Please explain.

    in·tel·li·gence n.

    1. The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.
    2. The faculty of thought and reason.

    I'm pretty sure that I have the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge. I'm also sure that I have the faculty of thought and reason. If I'm mistaken I'd like to know why.
  17. Jul 4, 2003 #16
    Hi Deslaar:
    I'm not sure whether your post is to me or Physicsrocks. I was being facetious. Can't stick around today. Gotta take Rover to his Chess club meeting.
  18. Jul 4, 2003 #17

    Intelligence doesn't exist.

    People here make alot of common errors - one of them is claiming that something that is NOT tangible exists.

    Nothing that does not literally take up residence in a dimension exists.

    Intelligence, love, humour, sweet tastes etc.... do not exist.

    Rocks, steps, cars, blackholes - these things exist.

    Just because intelligence doesn't exist does NOT mean you do not experience the process of intelligence.

    Do say something is experienced is NOT to say it exists. People make this error WAY to much for a physics forum.

    Unfortunately I see no "mentors" here teaching these scientific truths - so I have to!
  19. Jul 5, 2003 #18
    Noahfor posted a question about the effects of drugs on the brain. I commend those who gave him useable answers. To state "error" and "intelligence doesn't exist" was just an arcane non-answer to a simple question. I doubt that he cared whether some guy could give a breakdown of nervous systems phylum by phylum or whatever that was about.
    Science does not exist (that word again) separate from the larger society. Scientists are payed to discover actually or potentially useful information for society, and to pass on the information, when and if necessary. Sometimes they pass on information in the form of answers to questions.
    A scientist should provide an answer to a question that is of some use to the non-scientist who asked the question. If he does not then that particular scientist is, well, useless.
  20. Jul 7, 2003 #19
    i've been taking SSRI's in one form or another for 3 years. i haven't noticed any change in how i think since going on them (thought being defined as the ability to make rational inferences). so i've never woke up thinking that 2+2=5 or had the formal structure of my reasoning affected by SSRI's. and those around me haven't noticed any significant changes (no "he's gone off his rocker!" rumors yet). they HAVE altered my perception of reality, though, in that life is not depressing to me anymore and i feel more energetic and focused than i've ever felt. so this was a drastic change from the usually depressed person i used to be.
    but i've had no negative effects on any of my cognitive processes (i.e. analytical skills, logical reasoning).

    i think those who suffer from depression and take antidepressants have a unique perspective because it really brings into question ideas like free will, the notion of a distinct personality, god, etc. once i realized that taking a small pill is the difference between my feeling very depressed and my feeling very good, it's hard to argue that brain chemistry doesn't play a significant factor in the makeup of a person. it's personally made me much more confident in science and scientific reasoning. (though perhaps you could argue that i'm being brainwashed.) but i'm sympathetic to those who might find scientific implications upsetting. after all, we're making advances (if they are advances) that call into question the entire history of western culture so far. so are we taking antidepressants as a technological solution to nihilism, or have we simply realized that the old picture of the human soul was incorrect? because of the tremendous change in my own life, i would argue that mental health problems are best explained with empirical answers. so in my opinion (and that of the medical establishment), you have nothing to worry about by taking SSRI's.
  21. Jul 7, 2003 #20
    i think a big part of thinking is feelings, feelings drive thought, i dont mean happy sad angry, if someone says something and you don't feel what they said then you don't truly understand it, how have ssri's affected your feelings, feelings of understanding, when you know without words, if you dont know what im talking about i understand, i just woke up
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