Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 323869

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hippocampus, thalamus amygdala

Posted by EscherDementian on March 13, 2004, at 5:11:28

Am repeating this from a previous post because i would like to learn more about this~

>It shook my heart when i learned that children subjected to unrelenting fear actually have their brain hardware (hippocampus,thalamus & amygdala) changed for life. -i THINK i have those correct...
>
Can anyone expound?

Thanks,
Escher

 

Re: hippocampus, thalamus amygdala EscherDementian

Posted by noa on March 13, 2004, at 8:51:59

In reply to hippocampus, thalamus amygdala, posted by EscherDementian on March 13, 2004, at 5:11:28

I know that other babblers here will know more than me, but here is what I understand about the hippocampus and amygdala. (and PLEASE, if I've gotten something wrong, I hope one of the psychologists or scientists will correct me!!)

I think the thalamus is somehow involved in sensing danger signals. It sends a message to two parts of the brain about any danger signals it detects in the environment. The message pathway to the front of the brain, the thinking cortex, if you will, is a longer route than the pathway to the amygdala, which is like a mobilizer for reacting to danger (the 'flight/fight response'). So, the amygdala gets the flight-fight response going before the thinking part of the brain can analyze the danger signal. And, I think once the flight/fight gear is activated by the amygdala, if it is a strong flight fight response, it kind of short-circuits the cortex's ability to figure out what is going on from a reasoning, language oriented, problem solving sort of perspective because all those reaction chemicals are elevated (I think noradrenaline, cortisol, etc.)

I think that with chronic fear, the amygdala jumps in quickly no matter what level of danger is detected, and because the cortex is blocked by the stress hormones, it can't send back a message saying something like, "Hey, guys, this is just a little tiny potential danger signal but it is not really a threat because here are all the possible things I can do, say or think to put it in perspective and deal with it", or, "Hey guys, this resembles something that is a threat, but it isn't the same thing, so chill out".

The hippocampus, I think, helps to process experiences into memories. I think somehow if the amygdala has 'spoken louder' than the reasoning, language oriented parts of the brain, it affects the way memories are processed by the hippocampus, because the way the experience was processed is via flight-fight without being able to organize and make sense of and analyse the danger signal and organize a response that is proportional to the level of danger. I think that this is why some memories are processed as emotions and physical sensations rather than as a sequenced story memory of what really happened. Also, btw, if part of the flight fight response is dissociation, then the person really wasn't even fully present to remember what actually happened, but only has incomplete snapshots without a sequenced story.

Sapolsky, in his book, "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" says that the flight fight response is designed for short-term intense life threatening situations (zebra running from lion)where the physical and neurological aspects of flight-fight are adaptive to the situation and the situation is acute rather than chronic. In chronic severe stress, the flight fight chemicals take their toll on the body (eg, ulcer) and brain (eg, apparently, the neurochemicals of distress, when chronically present, cause the hippocampus to be smaller) over time and become less adaptive over time because, due to circumstances beyond their control, the child, for instance, can't flee or fight the source of danger.

In addition to Sapolsky's book, see Rita Carter's "Mapping the Mind".

I think all of this is one reason cognitive behavioral therapy is seen as effective--it helps build up the thinking brain's role in processing experiences.


 

Re: hippocampus, thalamus amygdala

Posted by EscherDementian on March 15, 2004, at 8:31:26

In reply to Re: hippocampus, thalamus amygdala EscherDementian, posted by noa on March 13, 2004, at 8:51:59

>> I know that other babblers here will know more than me, but here is what I understand about the hippocampus and amygdala. (and PLEASE, if I've gotten something wrong, I hope one of the psychologists or scientists will correct me!!)
>>
>> I think the thalamus is somehow involved in sensing danger signals. It sends a message to two parts of the brain about any danger signals it detects in the environment. The message pathway to the front of the brain, the thinking cortex, if you will, is a longer route than the pathway to the amygdala, which is like a mobilizer for reacting to danger (the 'flight/fight response'). So, the amygdala gets the flight-fight response going before the thinking part of the brain can analyze the danger signal. And, I think once the flight/fight gear is activated by the amygdala, if it is a strong flight fight response, it kind of short-circuits the cortex's ability to figure out what is going on from a reasoning, language oriented, problem solving sort of perspective because all those reaction chemicals are elevated (I think noradrenaline, cortisol, etc.)
>>
>> I think that with chronic fear, the amygdala jumps in quickly no matter what level of danger is detected, and because the cortex is blocked by the stress hormones, it can't send back a message saying something like, "Hey, guys, this is just a little tiny potential danger signal but it is not really a threat because here are all the possible things I can do, say or think to put it in perspective and deal with it", or, "Hey guys, this resembles something that is a threat, but it isn't the same thing, so chill out".
>>
>> The hippocampus, I think, helps to process experiences into memories. I think somehow if the amygdala has 'spoken louder' than the reasoning, language oriented parts of the brain, it affects the way memories are processed by the hippocampus, because the way the experience was processed is via flight-fight without being able to organize and make sense of and analyse the danger signal and organize a response that is proportional to the level of danger. I think that this is why some memories are processed as emotions and physical sensations rather than as a sequenced story memory of what really happened. Also, btw, if part of the flight fight response is dissociation, then the person really wasn't even fully present to remember what actually happened, but only has incomplete snapshots without a sequenced story.
>>
>> Sapolsky, in his book, "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" says that the flight fight response is designed for short-term intense life threatening situations (zebra running from lion)where the physical and neurological aspects of flight-fight are adaptive to the situation and the situation is acute rather than chronic. In chronic severe stress, the flight fight chemicals take their toll on the body (eg, ulcer) and brain (eg, apparently, the neurochemicals of distress, when chronically present, cause the hippocampus to be smaller) over time and become less adaptive over time because, due to circumstances beyond their control, the child, for instance, can't flee or fight the source of danger.
>>
> In addition to Sapolsky's book, see Rita Carter's "Mapping the Mind".
>>
>> I think all of this is one reason cognitive behavioral therapy is seen as effective--it helps build up the thinking brain's role in processing experiences.
>>



NOA,
i have topped my post with yours en-total because it is worth repeating. IMn-a-sHO

At this moment, for me, it is difficult to express an appropriate/accurate degree of gratitude to you for your explanation, descriptions, and book references. i've just taken ten breaths. Your level of terms was perfect for me, however educated and sophisticated my intelligence has come to be, i JUST wasn't 'getting it' ~until your sincere, educated, and 'off-the-cuff' reply. i almost titled my reply post "On my knees and in tears"... until i pulled myself together to type.
Funny, i am well known for 'getting it' in the most advanced degrees, and deepest vasts of 'humanness'... but ... _This_ (myself)sighted person is deeply in gratitude for your 'vision', noa. ...where i was blind.*

wow. You have filled the gaps between the floating comments i've caught and heard.
~and the difference between what i can grasp.

Thank you
I plan to take this in, and read the books you've referenced <--> with all the reference books here at the side of my bed and even more on my art studio floor....
And i promise to post further about all this ~for the benefit of others reading, too.

Have i mentioned what *sensibility* your post has brought me? And a meadow ground to launch from.

thank you noa,
Escher

*Suzanne Vega: "...Walk on her blind side was the answer to the Joke"...i guess it's why "Healer, Heal thyself!" doesn't work, AND The Sun's rays don't go inward (that would be the Black Hole aspect / You Can't Tickle Yourself / wow what a con job masturbation can be- -i'm amazed it even works at all...(mine).

P.S.
IMn-a-s-HO = In My not-always-so Humble Opinion

 

Re: hippocampus, thalamus amygdala EscherDementian

Posted by noa on March 17, 2004, at 19:14:52

In reply to Re: hippocampus, thalamus amygdala, posted by EscherDementian on March 15, 2004, at 8:31:26

Escher,

Wow, thanks. Just keep in mind that this is how I in my unscientific and lay person's way, understand this based on what I've read here and there. Which means it's best to check it with someone who knows more.

Also, if you have pieces you can share with me to fill in MY gaps of undersanding, that would be fantastic. Together, and maybe with more posters joining us, maybe we can put this puzzle together, piece by piece?

BTW, I came across this abstract when looking into something that intrigues me (the Immune Theory of Depression)--it speaks to some of the hippocampus changes:

http://www.biopsychiatry.com/hippocamp.htm


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