Biochemistry and Behavior

Behavior can be described on a small scale as an isolated response to a specific event or on a larger scale also as one’s temperament, the tendency to respond in a specific way. For example, optimism is the tendency to look on the bright side of things, where pessimism is the tendency to see the negative side of things given the same set of circumstances.

Behavior arises from a symphony of nerve signals in the brain resulting in emotion, conscious & unconscious thought, and often a physical response, such as a facial expression, change in heart rate or other action. This symphony is actually a delicate balance of two types of nerve signals, also known as nerve impulses: excitatory and inhibitory. An excitatory signal promotes the passage of information from one neuron to another, while an inhibitory signal reduces or suppresses the chance information will be passed along. The net result of the impulses on a given nerve cell or area of the brain will determine the response – inhibitory (i.e. not do something) or excitatory (i.e. do something).

On a larger scale, the parts of the brain we can see with the naked eye are broken down into different lobes, which are associated with specific functions. For example, the cerebellum is involved in balance and the visual cortex interprets the images taken in by the eyes. The lobes are further divided into regions with specific functions. These many pathways create the delicate balance of signals responsible for our thoughts, memory, emotions, and behavior.

An imbalance in this delicate system of excitatory and inhibitory messages is the root of “bad” or undesirable behavior. A specific behavior or action may be a conscious choice. However, it may also be result of not inhibiting the behavior. Disinhibited behaviors occur when there is lack of proper inhibition allowing the undesirable behaviors to emerge or to happen. A classic example is the behavior changes often seen in someone who is intoxicated with alcohol, where they can “become” a completely different person. In this case there is an ingested, external poison causing disinhibition.

The interconnected matrix of neurons (nerve cells), glial cells (support cells) and blood vessels are very brittle and require very special and delicate care to maintain normal function. Inadequate sleep, allergies, low blood sugar, imbalances in nutrients chemistry, stress and other factors can all cause a change in temperament by adversely affecting this delicate symphony of the brain.

At Integrative Pediatrics of Ohio, we use Targeted Nutrient Therapy to help unlock the full potential of an individual’s brain. The focus of Targeted Nutrient Therapy is to find and treat the nutrient imbalances that can be underlying the undesirable behavior (anger, irritability), emotion (fear) or other reaction of the brain that is preventing an individual from functioning and living to their fullest potential.  To find out more about Targeted Nutrient Therapy please click here.

Copyright © 2011 by Allen Lewis, MD