The brain

The brain… It is impossible to understand psychiatry without some basic information about the brain. For this reason I would like to talk about the brain in its simplest form and as far as is known. It consists of approximately one hundred billion nerve cells. Each nerve cell is capable of connecting to 200 up to 200,000 other nerve cells.

At each connection point there is what is called a synapse. The transmission between nerve cells occurs at the synapses. This is conducted through various transmitters. What is primarily significant in psychiatry are the chemicals that play a role in the transmission from one nerve cell to the other. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Serotonin and dopamine are only some of such transmitters. We immediately recognize that we are facing an enormous information processing network the size of which cannot be compared to computers. We also know that it has many properties that are different from today’s computers. The fact that the number of synapses and the power of the connection can change according to the conditions, is one of them. I should immediately mention that the first time I read this and other information it was in a book called “cybernetics” by Prof. Dr. Ayhan Songar. Just for this I am grateful to him. May he rest in peace. But returning to the subject; in general, nerve function consists of a process of stimulation and suppression. This process continuous, keeping a certain balance. The main neurotransmitter that triggers stimulation is called Glutamate. The act of suppression is associated with GABA. This means that everything is associated with the balance between these two chemical structures. So what is the role of other chemicals, like serotonin, norepinephrine associated with depression, and dopamine associated with schizophrenia? In order to preserve the balance they sometimes act in favour of GABA, and sometimes in favour of Glutamate. There is a connection between psychiatric disorders and the activities and amounts of neurotransmitters. Having mentioned activity, I would like to go into some more detail. Each neurotransmitter acts by binding itself to a protein molecule specific to that particular neurotransmitter. These proteins are called receptors. Effectiveness is associated with the number of receptors. An increase in the number of receptors produces increased effectiveness, a decrease in their number results in decreased effectiveness. If we return to the subject of balance and disease, you can imagine that the question “which chemicals play a role in which disease, at which stage and how?” requires fairly dynamic explanations. The most suitable techniques to display this dynamic are the electrophysiological techniques, like EEG and similar. This technique is used in all structures from the isolated nerve tissue all the way to animals and humans, where answers are sought to the questions: “which chemical plays a role in which diseases?” And in the light of this information: “what remedy can be found for these diseases”. I know this article may have become a little bit tedious but without knowing all this and more it is not possible to understand life. If at present you already have that consistency it means you are on the right path.

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