the amygdala: "The
role of the amygdala has often been overlooked in models of brain function.
In 1937, James Papez described neural structures and circuitry believed
to control emotion and behavior. This system, termed the Papez circuit,
included the cingulum, the hippocampus, the mammilary bodies and the
anterior nucleus of the thalamus, without involving the amygdala. In
1949, Paul McLean expanded the original Papez circuit to encompass
cortical structures and subcortical forebrain nuclei, including the
amygdala. He termed these structures which were believed to connect
the brain with the bodily organs the 'visceral brain,' and later the
limbic system. Although McLean's limbic system included the amygdala,
the focus was on the hippocampus as the primary functional structure
in emotion." N. Keele, "Introduction To The Amygdala." http://merlin.utmb.edu/~nkeele.
intro.htm (Text slightly altered.)
the hub: "The
amygdala is like the hub of a wheel. It receives low level inputs from
sensory-specific regions of the thalamus, higher level information
from sensory-specific cortex, and still higher level (sensory independent)
information about the general situation from the hippocampus formation.
Through such connections, the amygdala is able to process the emotional
significance of individual stimuli as well as complex situations. The
amygdala is, in essence, involved in the appraisal of emotional meaning.
It is where trigger
stimuli do their triggering." J. LeDoux, The Emotional Brain. New
many responses: "When
the amygdala is up and running, its job is to match the sight of an
approaching peer with cortical data on past experience, rank, and context;
'look up' a corresponding emotional label (e.g. fear, affection, fury);
and initiate an appropriate cascade of autonomic, endocrine, and behavioral
responses, ranging from the racing heart and surging hormones provoked
by the sight of a potential mate to the gut--clenching, stomach-churning,
adranaline-elevating effort on confronting a belligerent superior..." D.
Biology of Violence. New York, 1998. p.99.
eye gaze: "scientists
recording cell responses in the amygdala found that, in addition to
responding to facial expression and emotions, the cells also respond
to the direction of eye gaze. For instance, one cell might fire if
another person is looking directly at you, whereas a neighboring cell
will fire only if that person's gaze is averted by a fraction of an
inch. Still other cells fire when the gaze is way off to the left or
right." V.S. Ramachandran and S. Blakeslee, Phantoms In The Brain.
slows breathing: "The
lesson I learned from cat brains in Kyoto was that their rhythms of
breathing go on to resonate through many higher regions. Among them
is the central nucleus of the amygdala. Here, nerve cells fire measurably
less whenever breathing is quieter and when expiration is prolonged.
This reduced firing in the amygdala could itself contribute to physiological
calming." J.H. Austin, Zen And The Brain. Cambridge,
MA., 1998. p.98.
One of the oldest: "Our
work indicates that the (Indo-European) protolanguage originated more
than 6,000 years ago in eastern Anatolia and that some daughter languages
must have differentiated in the course of migrations that took them
first to the East and later to the West....recent evidence now places
the probable origin of the Indo-European language in western Asia.
Three generations of archaeologists and linguists have thus far excavated
and deciphered manuscripts in close to a dozen ancient languages from
sites in modern Turkey and as far east as Tocharia, in modern Turkestan.
Their observations, together with new ideas in pure linguistic theory,
have made it necessary to revise the canons of linguistic evolution.
The landscape described by the protolanguage as now resolved must lie
somewhere in the crescent that curves around the southern shores of
the Black Sea, south from the Balkan peninsula, east across ancient
Ana tolia (today the non-European territories of Turkey) and
north to the Caucasus Mountains. Here the agricultural revolution created
the food surplus that impelled the Indo-Europeans to found villages
and city-states from which, about 6,000 years ago, they began their
migrations over the Eurasian continent and
T.V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, "The Early History of Indo-European
Languages." Scientific American, March 1990. p.110
is rooted in the Greek word epilambanein, which means to seize upon,
or to be seized, and it is the letter meaning that first described
the sudden way in which people appeared to be overtaken by forces outside
themselves. One moment they were perfectly normal, and the next they
had fallen to the ground unconscious, foaming at the mouth, their bodies
convulsing violently. Seizures seemed to be the work of demons, and
the hapless people who were under the spell or curse of epilepsy were
shunned and always suspect." R.
Martin, Matters Gray and White. New York, 1986. p.44-5.
to survival: "Among
the simplest uses of odour are those of prey-seeking and the avoidance
of predators. In the basic form a predator is guided to its prey by
its odour, while the prey animal takes avoiding action when it smells
the predator. A corollary to the predator/prey context is the use of
odour to deter predators, as with the evil effluvium of the skunk,
and of the use of an alarm pheromone to warn members of the same species
of danger...Another simple use of an odour is to guide an animal home.
This can be the simple use of an odour that guides the salmon on its
way upriver to the native stream or the sophisticated trail-laying
behaviour of ants which mark their path with a pheromone so that they
and their companions can find their way back to a source of food as
surely as Theseus followed the trail of twine through the labyrinth
of the minotaur." R.
Burton, The Language of Smell. London, 1976. p.11.