Daily Encounters From The Brain’s Perspective

| January 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

7:30am. My alarm wakes me, and Brain tells my motor cortex to move my hands to swipe my phone to snooze.

8:00am. My alarm goes off again, and Brain tells my motor cortex to turn off the alarm and roll my body over. My body sluggishly gets up and flips on the lights. In that instant, Brain releases dopamine and serotonin to make me feel awake and like a functioning human. Brain also lowers melatonin because it’s no longer dark, and my sleep-wake cycle is dialed to “wake.”

9:30am. I’m walking down Bay State Road, and I recognize the humans walking towards me. Brain asks the fusiform gyrus face area in the temporal lobe, and it tells me that it’s Vicki and Emily. I wave hi, and there’s some dopamine that Brain releases because I like these humans. They make me happy.

photo credit: pierowx Luna ritratto 10 via photopin (license)

photo credit: pierowx Luna ritratto 10 via photopin (license)

9:45am. There is a dog. It is so cute. I reach down to pet the dog, and I make eye contact with the furry creature. Oxytocin surges out of Brain and tells me that I am in love. I love this dog.

9:55am. I am late to class. I am running because Brain activated my flight-or-flight response and my motor cortex. I am a little stressed, so my cortisol levels are slowly increasing. Brain puts me on edge, on high alert so that I can make it to this class.

10:05am. So I am late, but only by 5 minutes. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to relax myself. Brain activates the parasympathetic nervous system to slow my heart rate and relax my muscles, but there’s still some stress there because I’ve got to learn and pay attention now.

11:30am. I’m out of class and hungry. The vagus nerve signals from my gastrointestinal tract tell Brain that I want food. I buy a bagel from Einstein’s, and it’s enough to stretch the receptors in my stomach, which tells Brain that I’m satisfied. At least for now.

photo credit: ATOMIC Hot Links Nice rydes spotted in the wild via photopin (license)

photo credit: ATOMIC Hot Links Nice rydes spotted in the wild via photopin (license)

12:00pm. I’m looking through my email on my phone, and I’m about to cross the street. As I take my first few steps onto the crosswalk, the visual stimuli enters my eyes and travels to the back of Brain to the occipital lobe, where it gets processed. It’s processed as a threat —  a car racing toward me on Comm Ave — and Brain triggers the amygdala, which makes me feel fear. I am now in flight-or-flight mode — this time with a real physical threat — and my adrenal medulla releases epinephrine and norepinephrine. My heart is racing, and Brain tells my body to quickly, move back onto the sidewalk. The car zooms past me, and I am relieved that Brain saved my life, once again.

5:00pm. I am done with my classes, and it’s time to listen to a podcast. I choose an episode of The Moth podcast, and Brain takes the sounds as frequency waves and interprets them in the auditory cortex of the temporal lobe. I feel a wide array of emotions and thoughts: empathy, sadness, excitement, adoration, nervousness, fear, curiosity. Brain tells amygdala to make me feel these things, and Brain triggers the hippocampus to retrieve memories associated with these emotions. I get a little nostalgic. Thanks, Brain.

photo credit: Miss Jo|我是周小姐 indifference is the opposite of love via photopin (license)

photo credit: Miss Jo|我是周小姐 indifference is the opposite of love via photopin (license)

9:00pm. I’ve been working on homework, and Brain is now pumping up the melatonin and GABA. I’m slowly reaching the point where yawns are impeding any productivity. I take a break and watch some Grey’s Anatomy. Brain releases a rush of dopamine and serotonin because I enjoy this show. My mood elevates, and throughout the episode, I am more awake than I was for the past three hours while doing homework.

11:00pm. The dopamine is wearing off, and Brain is turning on the “sleep” dial in the sleep-wake cycle. Brain’s superchiasmatic nucleus (or “biological clock”) controls the circadian rhythms, which is telling me to sleep. My eyes feel heavy, and I slowly fall into a light sleep. My head on my pillow, my body under the covers, my breathing slowly becoming regular, I progress into my sleep cycle.

Featured photo credit: Mike Fritcher brain d a m a g e via photopin (license)

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Grace Kim

About the Author ()

Grace is a senior(!) studying Neuroscience in CAS and Global Health at the School of Public Health. She hails from the Bay Area in Northern California, which is undoubtedly hella nicer than its southern counterpart. She enjoys a good game of volleyball, a spontaneous adventures in the city, and good company balanced with plenty of alone time. She likes tea, smoothies, Korean food, bookstores, water, lemons, and sleep. She hopes to one day finish watching Breaking Bad, though she's been stuck on season 3 for 32 months.

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