Brain Arousal and Information Theory
Arousal is fundamental to all cognition. It is intuitively obvious, absolutely necessary, but what exactly is it? In Brain Arousal and Information Theory, Donald Pfaff presents a daring perspective on this long-standing puzzle. Pfaff argues that, beneath our mental functions and emotional dispositions, a primitive neuronal system governs arousal. Employing the simple but powerful framework of information theory, Pfaff revolutionizes our understanding of arousal systems in the brain.
Starting with a review of the neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and neurochemical components of arousal, Pfaff asks us to look at the gene networks and neural pathways underlying the brain's arousal systems much as a design engineer would contemplate information systems. This allows Pfaff to postulate that there is a bilaterally symmetric, bipolar system universal among mammals that readies the animal or the human being to respond to stimuli, initiate voluntary locomotion, and react to emotional challenges. Applying his hypothesis to heightened states of arousal-sex and fear-Pfaff shows us how his theory opens new scientific approaches to understanding the structure of brain arousal.
A major synthesis of disparate data by a preeminent neuroscientist, Brain Arousal and Information Theory challenges current thinking about cognition and behavior. Whether you subscribe to Pfaff's theory or not, this book will stimulate debate about the nature of arousal itself.
What people are saying - Write a review
Toward a Universal Theory of Brain Arousal
What Is to Be Explained? Ethology and the Mechanisms of Arousal
Operational Definition of Arousal
A Quantitative Approach to Physical Measurement of Generalized Arousal
The Neurobiology of Arousal Constitutes an Interesting Application of Information Theory
Claims for This Chapter and Introduction to Chapters Following
Anatomy Is Not Destiny but a Little Neuroanatomy Helps
Primitive Master Cells in the Brainstem Provide a Neuroanatomic Core that Theoretically Matches the Behavioral Data
Heightened States of Arousal Sex Compared to Fear
Sex Behaviors CNS Mechanisms Require Arousal
Generalized Arousal Affects Specific Arousals and Vice Versa
Contrasting Sex and Fear
Applicability of Information Theory
Libido and Stress in Humans
LongDistance Lines Tuning Local Modules
Summary and Hypothetical Implications for Human Behavior
Arousal Is Signaled by Electrical Discharges in a System of Nerve Cells
Traveling Up the Brainstem
Olfaction and Vision
Informational Content Governs Amplitude of Response in Neurons Related to Arousal
Cerebral Cortex the EEG
Autonomic Nervous System Changes Supporting Arousal the Unity of the Body
Patterns of Autonomic Responses
A High Information System Shows Coordination sans Correlation
Supporting HormoneDependent Behaviors
Genes Whose Neurochemical Products Support Arousal
Genes Newly Recognized
Concepts and Questions
Major Systems Questions about Brain Arousal Networks
What Are Universal Operating Features of Arousal Systems?
How Do We Meet the Requirement for Rapid Changes of CNS State?
Sensitivity and Alacrity of Response Yet Stability? How?
Does Automata Theory Apply?
Questions in the Time Domain
Questions about Spatial Properties
Thermodynamics Information Theory and Questions for the CNS
How Does a Sine Wave Impact a Sawtooth?
Unity from Diversity?
Summary and Practical Importance From Biological Mechanisms to Health Applications
Applications to Human Conditions