[ExI] Meaningless Symbols.

Spencer Campbell lacertilian at gmail.com
Sat Jan 16 16:54:23 UTC 2010

2010-01-16 BillK <pharos at gmail.com>:
>But, (there's always a but)   :)
>the Mailman list archives and other mail systems prefer messages in
>Plain text (i.e.not HTML).

I was so careful not to use any italics or special quote formatting or
other frivolity! Today I realize: I could have just hit the Plain Text
toggle. This has now been done.

2010-01-16 Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com>:
>We do know what most antidepressant drugs do, insofar as we know what
>receptors they affect and how exactly they affect them. What we don't
>know is why this should have an effect on mood. It's a similar story
>with other psychoactive drugs.

Right; I should have been more specific. Neurons themselves aren't
that mysterious. I wouldn't say we know "exactly" what most of these
peculiar little chemicals are physically doing, but certainly we know
"roughly". Multiply the completeness of our knowledge about
drug-neuron interactions by the completeness of our knowledge about
neuron-neuron (or neuron-mind, if you prefer) interactions, of course,
and the resulting figure will be more than a little humbling.

Afferent-Neuron Alice becomes inexplicably stimulated by the sensory
system. Alice shoots electricity through Interneuron Bill to
Efferent-Neuron Carl. Carl becomes stimulated for a perfectly good
reason. In response, Carl shoots more electricity through four other
interneurons. The signal cascades through a bewildering, tortuous
pattern of interconnections, roughly localized to a roughly known part
of the brain, causing you to drop your ice cream. Aww.

A sidenote: if I remember correctly, depression causes hippocampus
shrinkage. Antidepressants cause the hippocampus to regrow, or regrow
faster. This was only discovered very recently. I doubt I have to
stress how very baffling it is, but I will anyway: it is very

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