By Bernard Thomas Donovan
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Extra resources for Humors, Hormones and the Mind: An Approach to the Understanding of Behaviour
On the other hand, overdosage with L-DOPA caused the development of numerous kinds of involuntary and abnormal movements. Clearly dopamine was important as a neurotransmitter in the mechanisms controlling movement, and it was essential to maintain an optimal concentration for proper effect. At about the same time it was realized that many drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia shared a common ability in antagonizing the action of dopamine on the brain, and this finding provided the foundation of 52 Humors, Hormones and the Mind the theory that schizophrenia can follow from over-activity of the dopamineusing, or dopaminergic, processes in the nervous system.
The tips of the many endings of an axon enlarge into microscopic knobs or boutons, and where these connect with the surface of another cell, or a receptive dendrite or another axon, there is a specialization of the receptor surface, the synapse, although the surfaces of the synaptic bouton and receptor cell never actually make contact. More than 20 000 synaptic connections may be made on some neurons in the cerebral cortex and the synaptic changes may extend in time between one and two hundred milliseconds or more.
This observation pointed toward a localization of function to specific areas of the cortex of the brain and led to the mapping of the cortex in terms of the control of muscle activity. Likewise, the representation of sensation in other areas of the cortex has been plotted, often with the help of patients undergoing brain surgery whilst fully conscious, with pain being prevented by local anaesthesia of the operation site. While the areas of the cerebral cortex concerned with movement can be charted fairly readily, it is much more difficult to determine the purpose of other zones, particularly in relation to emotional behaviour and the control of those activities concerned with the maintenance of an optimal external and internal environment.