Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Mother Brain

The interrelationships of the various organs and systems within our body, and their similarity with the way our lives are organized and led, has often fascinated me. I first heard of hormones when, as a child, I made fun of a hirsute neighbor lady, and was sharply rapped on the knuckles by my mother, who explained things to me. There were some things you couldn't then do anything about.

Puberty happened, then a settling in into motherhood, changes in life, niggles of middle age, menopause, and the hormones are now old friends.

The first great piece of knowledge I acquired, was that there is more to hormones than just estrogen, progesterone, androgens, and testosterone. The dada types are the pituitary (administrative head type) hormones, the adrenal (trouble reaction tension) hormones, thyroid hormones and stuff like insulin.

Clearly, the Brain is the manager here. The various organs involved in generating hormones are like the children of a mother. All with attitude, none similar, sometimes going out of control, but many times saved by the sister/brother hormones from going astray, since they are all in it together so to speak.

Like in any family, let's say , some are girls, (estrogen-types), some are boys (androgen types). In addition, some are fairly high strung, some are headstrong, some love to eat , and even live to eat. Some of the children appear to be a bit mature for their age, and always consult their mother, when in doubt. But with all the variety, its a family that is together, thanks to a invisible virtual management by the mother.

I have always felt that the Brain is like a Mother. It has these little nudges it gives to set in motion stuff, that affects the performance and behaviour of its children, the various hormones. And the children know, that all of them must learn to get along, in some sort of dynamic balance.

And so the Mother Brain uses the Pituitary kid to send messages to the girls and boys, regarding their correct behaviour . If the levels of the estrogen girls and androgen boys fluctuate out of limits set by the mother, she knows, and adjusts things in the neighborhood. Like any mother who gets more alert as pubertal ages approach, the brain and pituitary too, change track sometimes, and set in motion more complicated checks and feed backs.

Then there are some children, regardless of age, who are so willful, they simply love to fight at the slightest provocation. There are also those , who prefer to turn their backs and run away. It's always fight or flight, as they say. These adrenaline kids, keep playing with situations in their lives, with the help of fellows like ACTH ( named so in the style of acronymed Bollywood movies ; viz; DDLJ,HAHK , or maybe the movies copied their acronyming style).

It's the mother's job, to ensure that the fighting kid doesn't go out of control, and the timid turn-your-back-and-run kid, starts learning to face things, and so she gets all the feedback and sends out messages again, sometimes with the help of other hormone kids that the kids listen to.

Of course there are gluttonous kids. They are always hungry. They gorge on things like pasta, bread, cakes,jilebis, gulabjamoons, and all fried stuff. Some kids don't really gorge on stuff like this, but have ancestors who did. The liver and gallbladder kind of throw their hands up in disgust, and the cells all over the body close their doors to any more glucose. As an energy factory, we are in trouble.

Much like the Mumbai roads and drains in the throes of a wild monsoon; they gorge on so much junk,plastic, trash and stuff, that the drains simply close up. Anything more is summarily rejected, and so we keep being flooded with rainwater and dirty stuff .

Much like the gluttonous fellow's blood being flooded with sweet stuff like glucose, that has been rejected by his cells. The kid loses all ability to judge how much is enough ; food or insulin. And the Insulin fellows get disturbed. Sometimes even non-glutton types suffer from this, but it is a bit complicated.

Like in any united family, everyone chips in to help, and the most influential kid decides the outcome, within the limitations set by the Mother Brain.

Just think, there are high strung folks, timid folks, guys messing around with digestion and insulin, and some kids behaving in ways contraindicated to their bringing up. A mother faced with so much tension, might do a couple of things.

One, gird herself up again , despite her now advancing age, and other weakened faculties, to tackle the wayward kids, kind of overextending herself energy wise and otherwise, causing various organs like the heart to overwork and puff up with over pumping.

Two, she could get all upset, depressed , start imagining things, get easily disturbed, palpitate, and take a break from managing the kids, causing a general mental and physical slowdown,in the house, which isn't good either..

And so the mother, the Brain, decides that the time has come to change the environment a bit to make things easier. Like adjusting the carburettor of a car to make the engine run slow, because the current setting has too many dangerous carbon byproducts lining the pumping cylinders.

So the Mother Brain with the assistance of the eldest, the Pituitary, , kind of sends memos down to the Thyroid gland, cranking its working downward or upward. The end purpose is to to ensure that all the children can live relatively healthily, in a peaceful useful manner, and so the thyroid gland adjusts the carburettor screw so to speak, resulting in folks being called hypothyroid (engine slow) or hyperthyroid (engine fast).

Like in all families, despite all the efforts, some of the kids get classified as gone cases. But the Mother Brain , like in real life , never gives up, keeping a sideways eye on what is going on at all times, keeping the other kids in the loop.

It is amazing how the Brain Mother Authority, senses the children's abilities, shortcomings, strong points, reactions to external forces etc, and nudges each of them into adjusting in an optimum way. True, exciting times may reduce, food may be boring for sometime. Sometimes the limitations put on some child, affect a particular organ or a particular body function too; but it is understood, that it is either that, or a complete catastrophe. And there will be , comparatively, a sense of overall peace amidst the kids.

Hormones are like that. Children of the Mother Brain. All in a balance, living as members of one family, adjusting with each other in a fine way, so as to not trouble any one too much. Of course these are not all the children. There are several more cousin types, too many to name here, ( some making their grand appearance only during special times, like our Union ministers during calamities ) which also get influenced by Mother Brain to change behaviour during certain situations..

Depending on the social and cultural milieu one hails from, the question may be asked as to why not "Father" Brain. In some cases , probably a Father figure control applies. But I have always thought that a mother is always more in touch with the minds of children. Its not whether she is always at home or at work. The thing is the awareness is there. Always.

And then there is the final convincing reason from the chromosomes. Mothers are XX. Human beings are basically designed to be XX. Due to a genetic situation, one of the X's, loses a lower limb, and XX becomes a lame XY, a male.

I know someone who calls XY, as langdaa (~lame)....

It makes sense to have a fit female brain, than a lame male one.......

By the way, ever heard of Father Earth ?


  1. Absolutely loved the article and your writing style! :)

  2. real nice... different

  3. Wow-your conceptualization of this is absolutely brilliant and to put in a manner for folks to understand.

  4. Brilliant ! I wish our medical institutions have teachers like you :):):)

  5. Prerna Grover Thank you !

    Center Shocker Thank You !

    Paula Scott Thank you . Took a long time for me to understand a bit myself :-)

    Kavita No. No. Be grateful, I am not teaching anyone :-))) But I count some doctors amongst my very good friends, and they never laugh whenever I ask stupid questions!

  6. Beautifully staed and a great analogy. Made absolutely easy to comprehend. Kudos!

  7. You are in your sixties? So am I. But, I don't consider myself old, at all, and neither should you. I suppose it is because my mother is 95 and is still going strong. My father died when he was 87. Life is for the living! Live it up!

  8. thanks for making this sound all so simple suddenly :D :D i have been struggling with my thyroid hormone for sometime too and i feel so much more better after reading this :)

  9. And why werent you my biology teacher in class 12...I would have gone in for medicine...loved the way you have explained stuff...Were you a teacher earlier? I so so so loved this post :)

  10. Completely amazing and easy to comprehend writing. i dreaded human biology so much as a student , I wish i had a bio teacher like you .

  11. I really would like you to explain Kalmadi's 'dementic' brain and its functioning. But loved the way you explained the correlated action of different hormones and the mother brain directing them. May call you to motivate our girls to take up Botany/Biology. Be prepared in to come over at short notice.

  12. nsiyer Thank you ! The whole thing is a bit too simplified, but thats how I understand....:-)

    gigi-hawaii Good advice ! thank you !

    quaintkal Me too. But one must always check one's doubts with the family doctor.

    R's Mom No I wasnt a teacher, though I've been told I could possibly pass for one. :-) I just have good doctor friends who always answer whatever I ask,and explain, no matter how stupid it is .

    Kirti Thank you !

    Hip Grandma I guess blogger is now behaving. And yes, we must all start studying Kalmadi's brain.... as for coming to motivate your girls, I thought you'd never ask :-))) !