Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blissful Amygdala

They say ignorance is bliss and I would have to agree. It's all rather nice not to know what is going on.

This morning, I experienced the exact opposite of bliss. It could be that I was at the dentist and it could be that I happen to be taking a neurology class at the moment. Taking neurology classes and going to the dentist don't mix.

So there I was at the dentist feeling, well, horrible. As usual my body was erect in anticipation with fear at the anticipation of the coming pain. The dentist poked a needle into the soft oral tissue and I felt it break the surface and hang out in the space for awhile as something was being injected into me. Ow! I couldn't feel my cheek, part of my tongue or my bottom lip.

As I was going through this I began thinking about it in a very neurological/biological sense. I thought to myself "I am feeling this way because norepinephrine is being released at my neuronal synapses. That's why I feel so alert and awake to this pain. It is firing an action potential and igniting the next cell into action and sending this 'pain' message up to my brain. My amygdala is being aroused and I am feeling discomfort because of fear. I wish my pineal gland would kick into action so I would feel sleepy, but that's hard to do when a giant dentist light is shining in my face."

Let's say that I was not taking a neurology class, then I would be in ignorant pseudo-bliss as to what was going on. Although I still would not characterize a trip to the dentist as bliss.

Going to the dentist is far more enjoyable when one is not engaged in the process of attending a neurology class. Because, like they say, ignorance is bliss.

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