Friday, August 05, 2005

Neurotransmitters and PDS

Swallow one pill and your stuttering is gone! An attractive thought for most of us who have PDS. No tedious speech exercises or frightening exploration of our inner soul. Over the years many drugs have been tried out to reduce stuttering with mixed results. Some drugs seem to be able to reduce stuttering but not eliminate all dysfluencies. But, the effect is very dependent on the person, and side effects can be severe. In this post, I want to explain why drugs can have an impact on stuttering severity. But please take my expose in with a pinch of salt, I am not an expert.

Broadly speaking, many drugs impact stuttering by directly or indirectly changing the level of (certain types of) neurotransmitters in the brain. Thus, the issue is really about understanding how a change in the level of neurotransmitters can affect stuttering. Neurotransmitters are molecules that relay and modulate the electrical signals between neurons and are therefore able to inhibit or increase the activity of neurons. The mechanism is as follows. Neurons have long arms which end close to other neurons. When a neuron fires an electrical signal, the signal travels along the long arm. At its end due to the electrical signal, neurotransmitters are released and they dock to the receptors on the membrane of the other neuron. This docking provokes changes in the other neuron influencing its probability to fire a signal. Different regions of the brain have different sensitivities to the different types of neurotransmitters. This sensitivity comes from the number of receptors for a specific type of neurotransmitters the membrane of the neurons in that region have.

When I think about neurotransmitters acting on the brain, I think about the weather acting on a big city. Remember I compare the brain to a big city, with many different objects interacting with each other. And the neurotransmitters are the weather that changes the interaction of the objects. For example, during heavy rain fall, the motorways have more traffic jams because the tyres have less grip on the road. Or during suneshine, people are having less stress and work more efficiently. I think of PDS as a defect underground transport system either due to genetics (e.g. a blueprint for underground trains or how to build tunnes is missing) or developmental issues (e.g. the tunnels was never built due to an earthquake or no cash). You can now see how the weather (i.e. the neurotransmitters) can impact the functioning of the city without an underground system. Nice weather makes it easier to function without an underground system. Bad weather like heavy rainfall (i.e. different levels of neurotransmitters due to stress or panic) makes the absence of an underground system much worse. A drug that gives you nice weather makes you stutter less.

After this crude introduction, I will be able to discuss the Pagoclone pharmaceutical study in more detail in my next post.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your view on the brain in reference to studdering. I do know that meds or anti depressants makes the speech better Travis

AnDg said...

Thank you, After I read your article I find things related to neurotransmitters such as neurotransmitters diseases. I like articles like this because it can help me.