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    Why do opiates create euphoria? 
    #1
    I understand that they bind to certain receptors, but what actual chemical reaction creates the content and happy feeling? Thanks
     

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    #2
    Bluelighter Gaz_hmmmm's Avatar
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    They make your brain release a shit load of dopamine. That'll be the reason.
     

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    Um...I heard the euphoria was specifically caused by opiates binding to the mu receptors, as opposed to the kappa or theta receptors. It's quite possible the opiate binding causes dopamine release though.
     

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    #4
    * The mu is what most opiates bind to, but others will bind to the kappa as well. Not sure about theta.
     

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    #5
    Anwer that question and you'll get a nobel prize.

    "how does alteration in neuronal firing produce alterations in cognition"

    They make your brain release a shit load of dopamine. That'll be the reason.
    I wouldn't bet on it... animals will rather press a lever that electrically activates opioid release than level that causes massive dopamine release... well that's what they say in the textbooks at least, I'm not sure if it's true.

    The answer is increadibley complicated, and outside the range of human knowledge at the current time.
     

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    Bluelight Crew p-mo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by BilZ0r
    "how does alteration in neuronal firing produce alterations in cognition"
    So are you conceding that neuronal firing causes cognition?
     

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    The translation of the experience from actual to remembered, and then to anticipated, might play a role. My experience with opioids taught me to expect euphoria, and indeed, my first experiences with opioids, while pleasant, were not euphoric.

    Anyway, when we consider the notion that the brain cannot recognize the difference between an experience imagined and one imposed, we can allow the substitution of an experience anticipated for imagined.

    From there, it is an easy matter to comprehend how a subject might augment the euphoria in the anticipated experience, thereby training the mind to experience precisely that when the opioid is finally administered. This would reinforce the neurological pathways associated with euphoria and correlate them with the opioid presence. This could give rise to an increased biological understanding of such a state, rendering it easier to reconstruct each time the tool is there.

    So I postulate that first, the brain comes to recognize the pleasant state of mind and the catalyst opioid. Second, the brain then reconstructs the experience (remembers), and in so doing augments the euphoric aspect. Third, verifies itself when the opioid is administered. Fourth, assigns a term for the mysterious emergence of a newfound state of being: Euphoria, and pursues it diligently.

    Just a guess.
     

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    #8
    So are you conceding that neuronal firing causes cognition?
    Neuronal firing causes cognition like legs cause walking. They're not the same thing, but one is the emergent property of the others action.
     

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    #9
    To understand how a drug would cause euphoria, you would have to have a basic understanding of why a certain electrical state of the brain represents what it does. Then you could deduce what part causes emotions or is responsible for judgement.

    We are heading in that direction, with parts of the brain labeled for such functions, but in a vague manner. Imagine it like a computer program, and scientists as reverse engineers trying to get to the source code.
     

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    Part of that process involves the conceptualizing of an emotional state, thereby making a model of it for the brain to rehearse with (as in the case of an opioid association).


    I believe that the brain is capable of programming itself in many ways. The cause/effect relationship of an electrical state and an emotional one should be thought of more as a flux IMO, becasue much of what occurs is a result of the precursors of imagination.

    This also applies to the question of neural firing. The preoccupation of chronology can misdirect us. Neural firing implies cognition. But this is all that is required when the base syntax recognizes only probabilities to begin with.

    Again, I must emphasize the importance of understanding that the chronology of events giving rise to cognition will always be an illusory proposition by the time it is converted to terms in which it can be talked about with a linear language, such as the written or spoken word.

    Try to think of this in terms more analogous to a surface state on a pond causing a certain shape of stone to have entered the water at some point. There are all kinds of problems with such a proposition, and they are problems that are roughly the equivalent of those associated with p-mo's query.

    I believe that the two are not interdependent, and probably do not share a cause/effect relationship any more than the tongue and cognition share.
     

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    #11
    Bluelight Crew p-mo's Avatar
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    After studying connectionist systems there are still a whole heap of problems that occur when trying to describe complex behaviour from simple subsytems (the XOR problem for example). Even the most stubborn behaviourist will admit that there will be far more to discover in the realm of cognitive sciene/neuroscience before such a statement can be made. Especially considering some of the complex behaviours between (for example) release of neurotransmitters and previous neuronal firings. The brain is vastly greater than anything we can comprehend. I'll quote Douglas Adams (badly) "If anyone were to find the true nature of the universe it would instantly disapear and be replaced by somthing vastly more complex". I think its also true of the brain (more possible connections than particles in the universe).
     

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    ^^^
    Previous neuronal firings are the very issue. The question is: To what extent do those firings influence subsequent firings?

    I think this is another way of stating the quesiton of anticipated effect (what we like to call placebo). There is a very real impact here, and it sems that the cumulative effect could potentioally result in an effect that would otherwise be impossible to reproduce; i.e. the first time heroin user will never experience the height of euphoria possible with heroin, because the additive impact of anticipated effect is not present.

    I think that the true drug induced euphoria is a synergetic result of the drug and the anticipated effect the user carries.

    This is not strictly a behaviorist point of view.
    Last edited by synchrojet; 11-07-2005 at 23:39.
     

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    Bluelight Crew p-mo's Avatar
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    If you think that there is a determistic way of describing future firings from current firings then that is a behaviourist point of view. Of course even a non-deterministic system can be turned into (admittedly a fucking huge) deterministic system. I dont like to think about it... it hurts my head
     

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    #14
    I don't like to think that we'll never understand how the brain works... I think I'd just pack up and go home if I believed that.
     

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    Bluelighter gloggawogga's Avatar
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    ^^^

    cognitive dissonance
     

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    Bluelighter specialspack's Avatar
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    Originally posted by BilZ0r
    Neuronal firing causes cognition like legs cause walking. They're not the same thing, but one is the emergent property of the others action.
    That's an open philosophical/cog sci question... not fact. Just thought I would remind everyone of that.

    Current trends seem to suggest that some kind of tight coupling with the enviroment is an essential part of consciousness/cognition.
     

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    #17
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    Any point of view can be modeled into a behaviorist point of view with syntax. This is purely illusory, however, because in that case we are defining the terms of cognition within the framework of cognition itself, and we are necessarily always doing that,so we must agree upon a set of terms that describe a difference between a model and an experience, and that is impossible to do accurately.

    Therefore we cannot adequately separate the memory from the experience, at least not in terms of what the brain reacts to (electrochemically), and so we are left with our perception of that difference, which is tainted into a linear reference (time) due to the linear nature of our des riptive syntax; namely, the spoken/written word.

    This is why I used the term 'strictly' to describe behaviorist in my assertion. I hope to avoid the ad nauseum trap of defining behaviorism and applying it to a situation.

    I think the correlation between language and cognition is of more importance than any chronology of events. The reason is that chronology can be mimicked by a linear syntax, and almost certainly is when we discuss memories.

    I cannot conceive of any significant difference between a memory and a precognition, or for that matter, any anticipated event. The illusion of a time oriented framework of reference again comes from the descriptive language, not the events themselves.
     

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    #18
    Bluelighter ayjay's Avatar
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    Originally posted by BilZ0r
    Neuronal firing causes cognition like legs cause walking. They're not the same thing, but one is the emergent property of the others action.
    Originally posted by specialspack
    That's an open philosophical/cog sci question... not fact. Just thought I would remind everyone of that.

    Current trends seem to suggest that some kind of tight coupling with the enviroment is an essential part of consciousness/cognition.
    Walking also requires a "tight coupling with the environment", so the analogy is good. Actually, I would extend the metaphor - there is a recursive interaction between neuronal firing and cognition, hence cognition causes neuronal firing like walking causes legs.

    Bringing it back to euphoria - we can posit the existence of a neuronal state (or class of states) that will be present when euphoria is experienced at a cognitive level. Thes neuronal states may be reached in a number of ways - impacted on by things like cognition, physical activity, nutrition and hydration, drugs etc etc. Opiate use can assist the attainment of the neuronal states associated with euphoria. BUT bear in mind that, for long term opiate users, there is little or no euphoria compared with that experienced by new users. This has been explained by some as due to changes in the relative activity levels of different opiate receptors over time. Could be part of it - but it would be dishonest to ignore how changes at a cognitive level might also impact on the neuronal state. For example - if you have had a fucked up habit for a few years, with many losses experienced that you attribute to your heroin use, this might change the way you feel when you use heroin.

    My 2c
     

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    Bluelighter gloggawogga's Avatar
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    hence cognition causes neuronal firing like walking causes legs.
    You're right. Walking does cause legs, indirectly. I mean if you had never walked your entire life, your legs would have never really developed into adult legs and you'd be crippled today. Similary, if you were to stop walking long enough your legs would decay and you'd loose the ability to walk. Moreover, the genetics for you to grow legs would have never evolved except for the need for terrestrial animals to be able to walk. Cognition IMHO is a lot like evolution.

    Last edited by gloggawogga; 14-07-2005 at 03:35.
     

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    #20
    This is just out of curiousity, so if any of you biochem majors have some input I would appreciate it. I was wondering if the euphoria had more to do with the change in neuronal state rather than a certain state that is achieved by all opiate users. I guess what I am asking is if the activation of mu receptors causes a certain change in the user's brain relative to its previous state, but not to a discernable state that is uniform throughout humans. Kind of like saying your brain on opiates is k + x (k being a constant unique to individuals and x being the opiate) instead of saying opiates bring you to level x. I don't know exactly how to word this correctly, but any input would be appreciated.
     

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    #21
    Bluelighter ayjay's Avatar
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    ^have you read "Freedom Evolves" (Daniel Dennett)? This is his thesis - consciousness has evolved in much the same way as other attributes of living things (like legs) - but let's bring it back to opiates and euphoria...
     

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    #22
    ^^^^^^ I use that legs-walking analogy for a reason... I don't see how anyone could deny it personally. I've ripped on cognitive scientists before, and I really don't want to offend you specialspack, but I mean, although, no it's not a fact, neither in a philosophical or even scientific sense, I can't see anyone debating it with any grounding in physiology...

    Meanwhile:
    ctivation of mu receptors causes a certain change in the user's brain relative to its previous state, but not to a discernable state that is uniform throughout humans
    Absolutely, certainly the case. While anotomically, everyones brain is generally the same, on a microcircuts level, everyones brain is radically different. Yet, a lot of things, simple "animal" states, like vigalence, arousal, etc... are probabley mediated by simple global changes... For example, although not the be all and end all.. histamine (I suspect, and maybe the orrexins/hypocretins) are probably 90% of the wake/sleep story. Recordings of histaminergic neurons are amazaing to see...:

    Put an animal in a novel environment, evolutionary requirement of vigalence, histaminergic cells fire like crazy, animal gets used to novel environment, turn on the lights, animal gets drowsy (can be recorded behavioural, EEG, EMG, heart rate, anything) histaminergic cell firing slows down. The second the animal falls asleep, histaminergic cells stop firing completely... and the second it wakes up again, histaminergic cells go back to mssive firing...


    Now of course there are down-stream effects of cortical excitabilility/reactivity on the whole, but the actual cue I don't think will be that complicated.
     

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    #23
    Bluelighter specialspack's Avatar
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    Originally posted by BilZ0r
    ^^^^^^ I use that legs-walking analogy for a reason... I don't see how anyone could deny it personally. I've ripped on cognitive scientists before, and I really don't want to offend you specialspack, but I mean, although, no it's not a fact, neither in a philosophical or even scientific sense, I can't see anyone debating it with any grounding in physiology...
    no offence taken. I think the question is whether cognition (or walking) supervenes entirely on the brain (legs) or on some rather vague combination of brain (legs) and world (enviroment). So if the brain causes cognition, is it a sufficent condition for cognition? In the case of walking, we can see that this is not the case - having legs but not using them or being in an enviroment where legs don't touch the ground (in water, in gaseous environment) does not produce walking. Both legs, correct environment and action are needed to produce walking.

    Anyhow...

    On a dynamical systems model of the brain, the state of euphoria could be regarded as an attractor in the state space. Activation of mu receptors could push the brain's "vector" through the state space towards the euphoria attractor. I think that chimes with what Entlix is saying...
     

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    #24
    Bluelighter gloggawogga's Avatar
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    have you read "Freedom Evolves" (Daniel Dennett)? This is his thesis - consciousness has evolved in much the same way as other attributes of living things (like legs) -
    I looked at some of his stuff online and that sounds like that might be what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that darwinistic evolution takes place, physically, within the body. This is already known to be true for how the immune systems generates new antibodies in response to new antigens. I'm extending the idea by hypothesising that a similar process takes place inside the brain in regards to cognition, learning, creativity, etc., i.e evolution takes place within our nuerology. (Somehow, we don't know how yet).

    Its much better explained and argued here.

    but let's bring it back to opiates and euphoria...
    Allright. With me after about 4 days on opiates the euphoria starts to go sour. This is prolly because my situation is unique. While I've never been addicted to opiates, I've dealt with numerous addicitons in the past (mainly meth, coke, etc), long (years) before I ever got around to seriously experimenting with any opiates. So day 4 on opiates is when I think "ok...where am I going with this". The best analogy I could make is like when a guy falls in love with a girl and then get burned by here. Then afterwards his heart is hardened and he has a hard time trusting other girls, especially those who remind him of the girl that burned him. The opiate euhporia reminds me too much of meth euphoria, and I've learned not to trust it. I'm not gonna get screwed by a bitch like that a again. She's great for a one night stand though

    But the real point here is that there are competing cognitive factors that affect how I feel. There are reasons for me to feel good on opiates, and reasons not to feel good. So there are reasons to do them and reasons not to them. There are competing cognitive factors. What choice will I make?

    In many every day sitiutions, my mind is full of competing ideas, feelings and beliefs, and there are processes in my mind for selction of them. When I face an engineering problem, or a personal problem, there are many approaches I can take, so I compare the aproaches and take the one that is best. Thats why I compare cognitive process to evolution. What I'm saying is that evolution takes place within our minds, within our learning and cognition. Survival of the fittest ideas and beliefs. Which are the fittest ideas and beliefs? In a mentally healthy organism the fittest ideas and beliefs would be the one's best for one's survival, i.e. the one's most consistent with environmental factors and healthy decision making.

    So basically I would hypothesise the mind is like an complex ecosystem. When you do a drug you alter the balance of the ecosystem, just like legalizing or illegizing deer hunting in a wilderness area will alter the ecological balance of the wilderness area. Or, actually, introduction of a drug into the brain would be more like when humans introduce a toxin into the ecosystem that kills one or two species, or maybe overfeeding of one species, or maybe introduction of a species from one continent into another. Either way you affect the balance of the ecosystem, creating a lot of cascading effects.
     

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    #25
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    Gloggawogga --

    Very interesting and apropos analogy. the introduction of a drug being analogous to, say, electing a member of a different party to office and rewriting the neuropolitics of that organism.

    The consideration of 'survivial' mus go beyond the organism in quesiton,a s that organism is always necessarily a part of a larger organism. So one cannot accurately judge the efficacy of any given set of parameters simply by the survival rate of the organism that implements them.

    I happen to believe that information itself is an organism. Language is used as a type of dormant egg, waiting to be fertilized, or reconstituted, by cognition. Language, in the absence of cognition, is just a collection of symbols, most likely completely indistinguishable from any other 'white noise', be it sonic or visual in nature.
     

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