Blood sugar, dopamine, white matter

I’ve made some conceptual progress in understanding the relationship between these.

Ever notice how your brain starts to jump all over the place when your blood sugar is high? Particularly, you start to think in word salad and random fragments of short term memory. Often, you’ll get a song stuck in your head, or develop some other sort of mental-emotional memory fixation. This is partially due to briefly heightened physical energy, but mostly it’s due to raised associative horizon.

Well, it makes sense from an evopsyche perspective that our bodies want to reward the mental habits that cause our blood sugar to be high, because when we’re eating regularly it means we must be doing something right. Zog eat berries, Zog feel good, therefore Zog eat more berries.

So I figure blood sugar must be doing something to lower the average activation potential required to fire off our synapses, leading to a larger number of them firing off ceteris pablum. When a synapse fires, it becomes more efficient at firing in the future (often called synaptic strengthening). Sweets are already known to release dopamine in our brains, so I figure dopamine acts as a sort of middleman for white matter production and strengthening.

Let’s get back to Zog. Zog only has 26 neurons in his brain, A-Z, and is chronically hungry because he lives in the miserable Hobbesian state of nature. These neurons have synapses that fire off under an electric potential of 10 mV. The neurons A-M fire, becoming more efficient (5 mV to fire), and causing him to pick up a handful of red things and put them in his mouth. Yum! His blood sugar goes through the roof. Dopamine gets dumped into his system. Synapses A-M, which normally require 5 mV to fire spontaneously, now only require 2 mV, and synapses N-Z only require 5 mV (why? dunno).

Because there is also a lot of released chemical energy floating around due to the breakdown of sugar, synapses begin to fire off somewhat erratically. Zog experiences this, subjectively, as remembering wonderful disjointed memories about eating red things in the recent past. Synapses A-M are red hot on his EEG, and a couple of extra synapses N-Q are also firing off, though less frequently than A-M, due to temporarily low activation potential (5 mV), overall chemical energy in the brain, and proximity to A-M. Zog experiences N-Q, subjectively, as the desire to try new things tangentially related to eating handfuls of little red berries…for instance, putting other red things of different sizes in his mouth. Synapses R-Z have meanwhile weakened through disuse.

Eventually, the sugar rush ends and the extra energy is no longer available to fire of synapses N-Q, so Zog falls back on his forte of firing A-M (which have become very efficient) and eating little red things. The next time he gets a sugar rush, he may try firing off N-Q to see if something good happens.

About Aeoli Pera

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5 Responses to Blood sugar, dopamine, white matter

  1. Pingback: Amygdala, acetylcholine, gray matter | Aeoli Pera

  2. Edenist whackjob says:

    So the take-away is that you should do new things when you are in a high-dopamine state in order that you may expand your repertoire of readily-accessible visuo-emotional brain states?

    *grabs bag of mucuna pruriens*

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Yup, but keep in mind that when your brain is in a high dopamine state it is indiscriminate about the new brain states it picks up, as opposed to things that naturally cause dopamine release by simple causality. So if you’re eating your weirdo tree beans in the same place every time, you’ll start to feel an attachment to that location.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        That is, the “dependable dopamine release” location will feel “safe”, but you might feel the urge to visit new places.

        I think I like the location example better than the berries one.

  3. Pingback: Two sorts of reminiscence | Aeoli Pera

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