The Chemical Mind
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
In this article I will be talking about chemicals in the mind and how they affect the way we perceive the world. Psychology is a great way to learn about yourself, others, and how the world works based on the tendencies of humans. In this article I will be talking specifically about neurons, parts of a neuron, and types of chemical transmitters. This article is based off episode three of the crash course psychology series. I would definitely recommend their video if you are interested in learning more.
Our impulses, ideas and feelings are all created by our biological condition and the chemicals in our brain. There is a common misconception that psychology is different from biology but it is the opposite. Studying how the chemicals in your body affect our perception of the world can give us insights into how the mind works. So how would we begin to study that? The answer is, neurons. Our nervous systems are made up of neurons, also known as nerve cells. Neurons are pretty much built like any other cells except they have electrical chemicals that can produce electrical signals to communicate with other neurons. To try and understand why we think the way we think, and do the things we do we need to understand neurons since our brains comprise of billions of them. The size of a neuron can vary drastically from ones as long as your leg to ones less than a millimeter long.
Every neuron has the same basic parts: the cell body, dendrites, and axon. The cell body is what keeps all the necessary things for the neuron to live. Dendrites are branches sticking out of the neurons and receive other neurons electrical signals. The axon is what creates the neuron's own electrical signals. Neurons are either triggered if they receive sensory input, or when triggered by other neurons. Neurons are connected with synapses. The dendrites synapses are almost touching the neighboring neuron but not quite. That space is called the synaptic gap and is less than a millionth of an inch wide. The chemical messengers of the axon, called neurotransmitters, run down the synapses and cross the synaptic gap transferring the information to another neuron.
There are over 100 different types of neurons and cause us to think, feel and do different things. Neurons can be grouped into excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Excitatory neurons increase the probability that the neuron will take action or that you take action and do something. Inhibitory neurons do the exact opposite and decrease the probability that the neuron will take action. But the neurotransmitters aren’t the only transmitters from one neuron to the other. There is also the endocrine system which produces hormones. Neurotransmitters are extremely fast in their transmissions but the endocrine system takes it’s time for their chemical communications. Although neurotransmissions take less time, you are more likely to remember transmissions from the endocrine system.
In this article I talked about neurons, parts of a neuron, and types of chemical transmitters. Psychology is the study of the mind and can provide you with valuable insights on why we think the way we think, feel the way we feel, and do the things we do. “Everything psychological is biological” and this allows you to study how the different chemicals and cells help us do everything. When you break down everything in your mind, it can come down to cells, signals, and chemicals that can show you a representation of your mind. If you haven’t already, I would recommend you check out the crash course psychology series and my other article called intro to psychology.