[Paleopsych] why does disaster cripple our two brains?

HowlBloom at aol.com HowlBloom at aol.com
Sat Apr 9 23:35:19 UTC 2005

re: the  old posting I’ve appended below: Why would misfortune and lack of 
control turn  down the body’s two leading learning machines—the cognitive brain 
and the immune  system?  Here’s a guess.  When I left the music business, I 
needed  to get away from music completely.  Music, something I’d loved all my 
life, repelled me.  So I went utterly music-less for ten  years.  Then, when my 
thirst for  music kicked up again, a strange thing happened.  I’d driven the 
old music out of my  system and was eager for the new.  A  kid of five or 
twelve imprints on the first music he hears and loves, the music  that gives flesh 
to his sense of identity.  Here I was, fresh as a kid, imprinting on music as 
if I were twelve years  old again, but imprinting not on the music of my 
youth, but on the music of the  21st century.  My musical  death had prepared me 
to be born again.  It had prepared me to become a Maroon 5 fan.  
So  here’s the hypothesis and the question.  Does woe and misery turn down 
your two key learning machines to prepare  you to grab hold of something new? 
Does it flush your learning system so you can  stitch yourself into a pattern 
you previously didn’t see, a team that’s getting  the things you got wrong 
right?  Does it prepare you to follow new leaders, new ideas, and even new  
beliefs? Does it prep you to join a segment of the neural net of society that’s  
contributing more than the old weave you were ejected from when you lost your  
job, broke up with your girlfriend, were rejected by the grad schools you were  
going for, or went through a messy divorce? 
Is the  disability the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune impose on you 
a two-sided  device used by the neural net, the collective learning machine of 
which you are  a part?  Does it tune down your  influence and your access to 
resources so that you don’t get in the way of the  mass mind when you are a 
failed component, a component that’s chosen the wrong  approach to the problems 
of the moment?  The evidence I’ve marshalled in The Lucifer Principle: A 
Scientific  Expedition Into the Forces of History and in Global Brain: The 
Evolution of  Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 21st Century says yes.  But does it 
also prep you to become a  useful module in a more promising part of the neural 
net? Hb 4-09-05 
We’ve  known for several years now that the immune system and the brain are  
joined.  The brain can turn the  immune system up on high or down to 
underdrive depending on the way it perceives  external reality.  A brain that  senses 
social isolation will shift the immune system into low gear.  So will a brain 
whose perceptual powers  tell it it no longer can control its circumstances or 
predict what’s coming  next.  (Yes, future projectors that  fail are hacked 
away by  apoptotic  processes—they self destruct.  By  keeping only future 
projectors that work, evolution compacts past knowledge into  a memory that then 
has future-predicting powers.  But I digress.) The following press  release 
hints that the brain and the immune system are part of a common learning  loop.  
John McCrone, in material I  posted last night, pointed out the value of a 
hierarchical learning system.  A hierarchical system may have a  processing 
mechanism that operates at superspeed on problems that need an  instant solution. It 
may have other processors working on the micro-level with a  clock tailored 
to nano-speed.  It  may also have slower processors that work on the big 
picture, the macro  view.  All can crank input into the  others—or even reset the 
others’ controls.  This multi-layered approach gives a neural network system  
flexibility.  The immune system is a  learning machine par excellence, but one 
that works by rewarding lymphocytes  that are doing useful work.  It  showers 
them with resources and with the ability to multiply.  Like evolution itself, 
the immune system  ruthlessly strips assets and the right to reproduce from 
lymphocytes that just  don’t fit the system’s needs.  The  brain also works on 
the Matthew Principle: “To he who hath it shall be  given.  From he who hath 
not even  what he hath shall be taken away.”  It rewards neurons that are 
helping it cope and strips those that aren’t  of such privileges as attention and 
influence--the right to connect to others,  the right to feed on information, 
the right to spoon its output to others, and  even, in the cerebral neurons of  
babies, the right to live.  Yet the vast system of swiftly changing networks 
in the brain gives it  many levels of capability, many simultaneous processing 
powers, all of them  different than those of the immune system. Combine the two
—the immune system’s  methods of processing and the brain’s many separate 
ways of sifting input,  mulling it, stewing it around, and making sense of it—
and you may have a more  intricate and able team than we imagined—one doing 
things throughout the body  and turning literally every limb and circulatory 
alleyway into an extension of  the mind.  Howard  Ps Note that the system described 
below  works on attraction and repulsion signals, just like electrons, 
protons, animal  voices, and bacterial or human pheromones.  Reprinted from 
ScienceDaily Magazine ...  Source: Washington University School Of  Medicine  Date 
Posted:  Friday, April 20, 2001  Web Address:  
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010419072152.htm  Molecule That Guides Nerve Cells Also  Directs 
Immune Cells St. Louis, April 19, 2001 — Researchers have the first  evidence 
that cues that guide migrating nerve cells also direct white blood  cells called 
leukocytes, which have to find their way to inflamed, infected or  damaged 
areas of the body. The study is reported in the April 19 issue of  Nature. "This 
similarity between the immune system and nervous system might  suggest new 
therapeutic approaches to immune system disorders such as  inflammation and 
autoimmune diseases," says Yi Rao, Ph.D., an associate  professor of anatomy and 
neurobiology at Washington University School of  Medicine in St. Louis. This 
study was a collaboration between the School of  Medicine and Baylor College of 
Medicine. Rao and Jane Y. Wu, Ph.D., an associate  professor of pediatrics and 
of molecular biology and pharmacology, led the  Washington University teams. 
Lili Feng, Ph.D., led the Baylor team. After a  cell is born, it navigates to 
its destination, guided by signals from other  molecules already in place. 
Researchers have found that the nervous system uses  molecules that attract 
migrating cells, molecules that stop cell migration and  molecules that push cells 
away. But so far, only attractive molecules have been  identified in the 
immune system. Neurons take minutes or hours to migrate to  their destinations, 
whereas leukocytes migrate within seconds. Even so, Rao and  colleagues wanted to 
determine whether migrating leukocytes and neurons use  similar mechanisms 
for finding their ways. "These experiments were carried out  to address the 
question whether there is mechanistic conservation between the  two systems," Rao 
says. His group studied a protein called Slit, a known  repellent in neuronal 
migration. Two of the three known Slit proteins also have  been found in 
organs other than the brain. The researchers simulated leukocyte  migration in a 
dish, using a molecule known to attract immune cells. When they  added human 
Slit protein (hSlit2) to the dish as well, fewer cells migrated.  They repeated 
the procedure in the presence of a bacterial product also known to  attract 
leukocytes. Again, hSlit2 inhibited cell migration. However, it did not  inhibit 
other functions of the bacterial product. The team then determined  whether 
Robo—a receptor that enables Slit to act on nerve cells—plays a similar  role 
in the immune system. They had previously made a fragment of Robo which  blocks 
the normally full-length Robo protein. When this blocker was added to the  
dish, Slit no longer inhibited leukocyte migration. So Robo and a receptor on  
the cells appeared to be competing for Slit. "These results suggest that Slit  
also is likely to act through a Robo-like receptor on leukocytes to inhibit  
their migration," Rao says. He and his colleagues also are trying to find out  
whether Slit can actively repel leukocytes and whether other neuronal guidance 
 cues influence immune cell migration. This study bridges the gap between two 
 previously independent fields—immunology and neurology—and highlights the 
need  for collaboration. "This kind of research could have been done several 
years  ago," Rao says. "But we all get used to addressing questions in our own 
fields.  This study shows what happens if we venture out and collaborate with 
scientists  in other fields." Reference: Wu JY, Feng L, Park H-T, Havlioglu N, 
Wen L, Tang  H, Bacon KB, Jiang Z, Zhang X, Rao Y. The neuronal repellent Slit 
inhibits  leukocyte chemotaxis induced by chemotactic factors. Nature, April 
19, 2001.  Funding from the National Institutes of Health supported this 
research.  Copyright © 1995-2001 ScienceDaily  Magazine | Email: 
editor at sciencedaily.com 
Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Visiting Scholar-Graduate  Psychology Department, New York University; Core 
Faculty Member, The Graduate  Institute
Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, 
Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; 
executive editor -- New  Paradigm book series.
For information on The International Paleopsychology  Project, see: 
for two chapters from 
The Lucifer  Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History, 
see  www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of  Mass Mind from the Big 
Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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