Not all mental processes that take place from the human nervous system depend solely on the activity of neurons.
Among the different parts of the brain, there is an activity that is directly dependent on what is happening in the endocrine system, that is to say all the organs that secrete hormones.
the pituitary gland (or pituitary gland) it is precisely one of the structures of our brain in which it is builds a bridge between the world of hormones and the world of nerve impulses that cross our neurons. Thanks to the pituitary gland, what we think and perceive through the senses has an impact on how we enter into a particular emotional state.
What is the pituitary or the pituitary?
The pituitary gland is an endocrine gland that helps us make all of these hormonal responses that take place in the body well coordinated with each other and keeps us in a state of harmony with what is happening in the environment.
The pituitary gland is one of the areas through which the production orders of certain hormones are quickly transmitted when certain stimuli are detected in the environment. For example, if we see a snake, this visual information, before reaching the areas of the cerebral cortex responsible for transforming this signal into something that can be thought of in abstract terms, goes through a region called the thalamus.
The thalamus processes this visual information and, by detecting patterns of information that relate this data to danger, transmits a signal that will pass quickly to the pituitary gland, located very close, and the pituitary will begin to secrete hormones related to the use of force. , reaction speed and force. These hormones will navigate the bloodstream and activate other glands throughout the body., This will put the whole body in a certain activation situation for several minutes.
All this without waiting for the cerebral cortex to process the visual information and the reasoning that snakes are poisonous has occurred.
The pituitary gland and the limbic system
The example we just saw is an example of how the pituitary gland converts nerve signals into the production of hormones that remain for several seconds floating in the bloodstream. While each “action” of a neuron lasts for thousandths of a second, the hormonal effects of the pituitary gland are longer lasting, Although its effects are also less precise.
While neurons connect to only a few other nerve cells, and not all, hormones remain uncontrolled in the bloodstream, activating areas of the body that are far apart and over a wider period of time. This is why, once we are done running, not only do we find it harder to breathe for the next few seconds or minutes, but our way of thinking is also altered; this is a side effect of hormones, which is of no use to us but occurs anyway due to the wide temporal range of the endocrine system.
The pituitary gland and Descartes
The pituitary gland is one of the most centered parts of the brain. In fact, it is located just below the hypothalamus. another of the structures that make up the limbic system.
This is in part why the famous philosopher René Descartes identified it as the possible place in which, according to his dualistic perspective, the soul (res cogitans) interacts with the matter of the human body (res extensa). Of course, this theory is rejected by the scientific communityAs it doesn’t really provide an explanation of how the pituitary gland works.
The pituitary gland is an example that psychological processes are totally related to hormonal processes and therefore also on the emotional side of our personality.
Keeping this in mind is important, because it reminds us of how rationality and irrationality are not two sealed compartments and also that there are certain automatic emotional responses that do not depend on how we think about what is happening. happens to us.