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Neurotransmitters: Microscopic substances at the synapse control the balance between mind and body 3. The balance of excitation and inhibition is a pleasant stimulation that nature offers

3. The balance of excitation and inhibition is a pleasant stimulation that nature offers

KOBAYASHI: Today, neurotransmitters are often an issue even among people involved with children with minor developmental disorders.

MOCHIDA: Hyperactivity, for example, is attributed to dysfunction with dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain. The balance of neurotransmitters plays a central role in neurological disease: either excess and deficiency of any of the neurotransmitters will result in disorders.

KOBAYASHI: Are there more neurotransmitters for triggering postsynaptic excitatory responses?

MOCHIDA: Overwhelmingly more, indeed. Mind you, though, that the same neurotransmitter may sometimes trigger excitatory actions and other times inhibitory actions, depending on the context.

KOBAYASHI: My guess is that, in our modern society, there are an awful lot of substances that disturb our neurotransmitter balance.

MOCHIDA: That's true. If an exogenous element is something easily adhesive to neuroreceptors, or receptors for neurotransmitters, it will certainly affect the associated nerve. For example, many environmental hormones include precisely those elements that are easily attached to neuroreceptors. As a result, excitation that is naturally generated under normal conditions may sometimes be activated by abnormal conditions or substances.

KOBAYASHI: Children in today's society, if they miss natural stimulation, may easily resort to artificial stimulation from man-made gadgets or table luxuries, just as adults do.

MOCHIDA: If you are just talking about the physical mechanism, that's true. Suppose you only use certain nerves, leaving the rest unused. Then, you can easily drive your nerves into a manic state by taking something like alcohol. But that's the wrong way. We were born and grew up in the beautiful Nature the earth offers, so we'd better activate our nerves through natural stimulation, if we want to be true to real human nature.

Profile

Sumiko MOCHIDA, Ph.D.
Professor of Physiology, Tokyo Medical University.
Dr. Mochida was born in Nagano Prefecture. She earned her Bachelor's degree from the School of Pharmaceutical Science Kitasato University and her doctorate from Tokyo Medical College, followed by a postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. She was a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research Center for Science, Gif-sur-Yvette, France, prior to her current appointment. Professor Mochida received the 19th annual Saruhashi Prize in 1999, awarded to the most distinguished female scientist of year, for her groundbreaking work demonstrating that multiple proteins at the presynaptic nerve terminal function as biological sensors and switches for triggering the release of chemical neurotransmitters.

Noboru KOBAYASHI, M.D.
Born in Tokyo in 1927. Doctor of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo Pediatrician
Director, Child Research Net (CRN)
Director, Children's Rainbow Center (Japan Information and Training Center for Problems related to Child Abuse and Adolescent's Turmoil)
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo
President Emeritus, National Children's Hospital
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