Writings/Blog

Do Chameleons Dream in Multicolor?

What if at one point in our evolutionary history, our “consciousness” was characterized by a perpetual dream state? This sounds vaguely like the notion of Julian Jayne’s Bicameral mind theory, but according to Jaak Panksepp, the “Rat Tickler” and Affective Neuroscientist (he wrote the book), it is possible that at one time in our evolutionary history, this was the case.

In his research, Panksepp  determined that neurons that contribute to the dream state are responsible also for some orienting reflex function in the waking state. This discovery encouraged him to further attempt to understand the original purpose of the dream state of mind.

Dreaming is a higher brain function than REM sleep and at one time may even been a primitive form of consciousness. Now relegated to the background, dreaming nonetheless serves an important function in integrating our multiple daily doses of information into the more primitive areas of the brain. It is in this state that we have a sense of the perception of the world from the standpoint of the reptilian brain. The co-creation of the neocortex attempting to make sense of the processes within the basal ganglia is dream.

So, it may be that the odd nature of dream imagery are a way of translating information that our basic functionality can understand and use to keep us alive another day.

But what does this imply for our further understanding of our own brains? How does this impact our understanding of our dreams? If we consider the purposes of the reptilian brain, whose survival-level functions are often mentioned in conjunction with trauma – fight, flight, freeze or approach, and that this area of the brain is the seat of the most primitive emotions governing our survival – fear, rage and lust, then it could be our dreams are giving us clues as to how our relationship with the world is impacting our actual nature in terms of raw primary emotional processes.

For example, a feeling of entrapment in a job one hates may metaphorically translate into the embodied feeling physiological inhibition and in our dream, we may feel a strong desire to run – even if we live the most sedentary of lives. Or that a long dormant sexual desire will seem to emerge “out of the cracks” like a horny little gecko. Our reptilian brain is interaction with what we have learned during the day. It speaks a different language than us, but our cognition does its best to understand what it is trying to say.

So, maybe nest time you are interpreting your dreams, along with engaging in complex, meandering, cognitive interpretations (if that is your inclination)…also, ask your “inner reptile” what it thinks. After all, that guy has been around for hundreds of millions of years, so let’s give him some say in the matter. After all, he’s going to keep you alive!

Food as addictive substance

This is the excerpt for a placeholder post. It can be deleted or edited to make it your own.

The mega-profitable junk/processed food industry has caused much of this preventable, chronic disease problem. That this in light of their super-scientific methods of assessing what is addictive or not is all the more distressing, since like the tobacco industry, knowing how to push the limits of creating and addictive but thoroughly legal substance is the objective of their research

The industry spends a tremendous amount of money on the dual approach of marketing and creating addictive substances out of corn and chemicals. Then, the public is seduced into using these products through a multi-level strategy  – advertising, addictiveness, availability) in allowing these products to be staples of their diets, I think the outrage might result in healthier choices. This approach to marketing began in the thirties, but in earnest after the war, therefore what we see in lower-income seniors is the result of a lifetime diet of Coca-Cola, white bread and chips.

But this does not mean that an older person is doomed. Changing the diet now, adding exercise and just generally understanding that making healthy choices in not only empowering, but also results in a better, longer life. I was recently reading about the enormous pile of money DaVita dialysis clinics make. Wouldn’t it be better for Medicare to put this money into education, and possibly subsidies for healthy food? I would definitely add an incentive component to the proposal in that respect. Healthy eating should be a major aspect of any care plan for seniors.

Also, just a thought, what if junk food was treated likes an addictive substance? Could a recovery approach be added in the healthy eating piece?