Archive for April, 2012

I found my book for the book review

April 6, 2012

I finally found my book for the book review. It’s titled The Compass of Pleasure. In a nutshell it’s about how the brain make things feel so good. Many times these things are bad for us and sometime they are good but nonetheless, our brain synapses interpret pleasure. The following are my initial thoughts. 


“There are variants in genes that turn down the function of dopamine signaling within the pleasure circuit. For people who carry these gene variants, their muted dopamine systems lead to blunted pleasure circuits, which in turn affects their pleasure-seeking activities. … Any one of us could be an addict at any time. Addiction is not fundamentally a moral failing — it’s not a disease of weak-willed losers.” — David Linden
There are a lot of humans that are very cryptic when it comes to pleasure; a source of happiness that we spend most of our waking lives perusing. We also regulate pleasure because people and things tend to influence or sway us one way or the other.  It is also a prime mover in our lives, essential to learning how we find food and water to sexual interactions that inevitably pass on our genotypes on to the future.  Some types of pleasure are associated to the more guarded aspects of one’s life. Behaviors such as prayer, communion, dancing and meditation Many of our most important rituals involving prayer, music, dance, and meditation produce extraordinary pleasure that has become highly instilled in human social culture. This author, being a neuroscientist says it quite well, “While most people are able to achieve a certain degree of pleasure with only moderate indulgence, those with blunted dopamine systems are driven to overdo it. In order to get to that same set point of pleasure that others would get to easily — maybe with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends — you need six drinks at the bar to get the same thing.”
Religions, education and law, have deep connections with pleasure, and instill an idea or belief that mind is in control of body. This pleasure, basic as it may be, is easily heightened and induced by pleasures such as hard drugs (e.g. Cocaine, heroin) that act as catalysts. Even small amounts of nicotine and/or alcohol act in the same way on a neurological plain. This pleasure is a buzz that can be found in a number of mind and body altering substances. You can try to theorize how humans regulate pleasure with the backing from sociology and anthropology from many human cultures, but pleasure is mostly determined by both culture and tradition. However, The Compass of Pleasure investigates a different type of more intellectual theory based on a cross-cultural biological e. Through pricise and organized thinking Linden determines that, “Pleasure must be earned, must be achieved naturally, and it should be sought in moderation. Self denial of pleasure can yield spiritual growth, even while pleasure is transitory.”
In this book, Dr. David Linden, professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, continually reiterates to his students that we are in “the golden age of brain research” and contends that our daily live experiences are extraordinary. That we are centrally bound by pleasure through various vices such as exercise, meditative prayer, recreational drug use and even giving to charitable organizations. These things activate the anatomically defined and biochemically determined pleasure circuitry of the brain. Things like learning, eating fatty foods, shopping, internet usage, gambling and praying; calling upon neurological signals that activate what is called the “medial forebrain pleasure circuit”, a tiny section of connected brain tissues. These brain tissues, whivh are activated by neurons in the brain, communicate pleasure signals that range from minute to intense bepending on the human experience.
His theory does a good job of reframing the way we understand the brain in relation to the regulation of pleasure. He goes on to state that, “While we might assume that the anatomical region most closely governed by laws, religious prohibitions, and social mores is the genitalia, or the mouth, or the vocal cords, it is actually the medial forebrain pleasure circuit.” Both societies as a whole and individually, we very determined on both producing and managing pleasure, and the nurons that are deep withinn our brains are where this all happens. The biggest implication of his work would have to be in the relm of addiction. He calls this “the dark side of pleasure” and science is showing that addiction is associated with biochemical, electrical, and morphological changes which are association ithin the meddle fore brain plea­sure circuit. There is strong backing that these changes govern addiction, including progressive tolerance, craving, withdrawal, and relapse. To this end, memory, pleasure and addiction, are highly related and extremely interconnected.
David Linden uses many examples from George Gamow and Roger Penrose and captivates the reader to become curious. He states that, “It would be possible to write a book exploring the brain’s pleasure circuits that were free of not only molecules but also basic anatomy,… If you come along for the ride and work with me just a bit to learn some basic neuroscience, I’ll do my best to make it lively and fun as we explore the cellular and molecular basis of human pleasure, …, and addiction.”