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Looking at the Mind

Date: 04-15-03
Host: George Noory
Guests: Peggy LaCerra

"All life forms have intelligence systems...and energy management is the problem to be solved no matter what the life form," said Peggy La Cerra, an award-winning researcher who appeared on Tuesday night's program. The co-author of The Origin of Minds, La Cerra suggested that the problem solving systems for everything from humans to bacteria are similar, and are based on "an energetic economic marketplace," where there is competition for resources.

"Insanity simply means that you're the only person to live in your reality," La Cerra said, defining reality as an agreement between people that can vary widely amongst cultures. She added that her research about the mind doesn't conform to standard medical models, which are often based on diagnosing pathologies.

Callers brought up a variety of psychological issues that La Cerra offered her commentary on. These included multiple personality disorder, behavioral changes, panic disorder and attention deficit problems. She said she is currently working on developing practical applications for her theories.

Biochemistry of Love

Peggy LaCerra has studied cognitive neuroscience to develop her theories about the evolution of the human mind. As mind and brain studies continue, new information is coming forth about little-researched emotions such as love. In an article in the latest Discover, Steven Johnson writes about how studies have shown that a brain peptide called oxytocin may contribute towards feelings of love and romantic relationships.

Neuroscientist Sue Carter examined the brain of prairie voles, a rodent species known for their unusually monogamous couplings, and found when they were injected with oxytocin they bonded more rapidly. But when the natural oxytocin in their brains was blocked, the voles coupled indiscriminately.

There is some evidence that a similar chemical process is going in humans, and enhanced levels of oxytocin have been noted during such bonding experiences as childbirth, breast feeding and sexual relations. "Some scientists believe oxytocin works in tandem with the body's natural opiates, with oxytocin triggering the drive for social attachment, and the optoids supplying the warm fuzzy, feeling of being in the company of loved ones," Johnson writes. It is fascinating to consider that something as elusive as love, which has often been placed in the heart region, may have a strong biochemical basis in the brain.

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Bumper music from Tuesday April 15, 2003

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