Based on these data I would speculate that in autism stressful alterations of the right amygdala occur prenatally due to untoward intrauterine
influences of the social and physical environment that substantially compromise the very early development of the midbrain reticular formation –
bioaminergic (dopaminergic, noradrenergic, serotonergic) nuclei that innervate the fetal amygdala. These bioamines, central to emotional functioning,
have energy regulating, arousal generating, and trophic functions. For example,in utero early pathological mechanisms within midbrain ventral
tegmental dopaminergic subnuclei could alter dopamine’s trophic functions and impair mesolimbic dopaminergic innervation of the central (and then
basolateral amygdala). These systems may also be sensitive to gestational neurotoxic pesticide exposure, which has also been implicated in autism
(Shelton et al., 2012). Allen Schore
Allan Schore is a freaking genius. No one understands the complexities of human socioemotional development than he does. No one else in the science
world writes as sophisticated-sounding as he does. He combines the latest insights into human interpersonal and intrapsychic phenomenology with
developmental neuroscience. Combines the two, tracks them together: what happens phenomenologically at day 15? What was the interactive context that
provoked this response in the infant? Why did the mother act as she did? And what is happening neurobiologically on day 15?
Humans have never understood the development of our own selves better than we do today. Forget mysticism, philosophy and anything else: the raw
science is in, and not surprisingly (if you trust the logic of evolution) we find that the core-functions of human development are socio-emotional.
This makes sense on multiple different levels.
Evolution operates on the principle of preservation of the past and novel adaptations. The two processes craft out organisms by 'selecting' new forms
from some preadaptation in the present structure. Thus, our brain is described by many neuroscientists as "triune": with the reptilian era of animal
development as the core metabolic regulatory architecture (cardiopulmonary), otherwise known as the brainstem; above this lies the limbic system, or a
socioemotional layer that corresponds to the later social-turn in evolution with the emergence of mammals. Notice the "layering" or encephalization,
as its called by neuroscientists. The final, most abstract layer of the brain is the cortex. In human beings, the cortex surrounds the socioemotional
prehistory of mammals and the reptilian brainstem. The hierarchical logic of evolution, and a cardinal principle of biology, is the economic calculus
of energy production. Organisms self-organize towards a state of equilibrium that we call homeostasis. Allostasis is the organisms tendency towards
greater complexity - predicting changes, which means incorporating "more" information from the environment.
Social emotions represent a unusual turn in evolution from individualistic organisms (reptiles) to inter-communicating organisms (birds and mammals).
This is an ontologically significant event, where organisms move from regulating at the individual level to regulating at a multiple level. The turn
to the social is a turn to multiply regulation, where each individual member of a species 'self-organizes' towards a state that harmoniously interacts
with other members. The 'state' is found in the test-ground of interaction. Every organisms individual state seems to bias the organism towards
relating, and so, organizing experience in terms of the compatibility of species-specific behaviors.
Human thought is built atop this edifice, ultimately servicing core-homeostatic needs, cloaked as emotions and feelings, and rationalized by
narrative-dominated thinking processes that indulge in narcissistic feelings of ones own intelligence. Human thought, working as it does to provide
"fixes" to the generalized action-scripts of socioemotional sequences, is the adaptation in our evolutionary lineage that creates in us, as an
emergent function, the sense of ourselves as "selves". Notice the emergence here: language, relying upon social-emotional co-regulatory networks, is
able to experience a very real sense of selfhood. The ability to convey to ourselves through speech the nature of our experience of the world, in fact
generates a profound illusion: the sense of being an ontologically "fixed" being. The process is ultimately dyadic, and thus social-emotional, but
atop of this various ideas and cliches construct a sense of how the world is. That we take this seriously and with deep earnestness speaks to the
success of the law of adaptation: it works. Were happier living as story-tellers, even if it carries with it the somewhat despicable (morally
speaking) logic of "good" or bad" for the individual organism, i.e. the body, and thus the emotional currents that provide grist for the narrative
So, what about Autism? Autism research has been dominated by a strain of thinking called cognitive developmental neuroscience. Cognitive neuroscience,
more generally, is a movement of thought that has dominated philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and biology for the last 50 or so years. It gained
steam in the 60's with Chomsky and later Jerry Fodor. To put it bluntly, their ideas (and many others; pinker, plyshkin, etc) thought about the human
mind in terms of the computer. With the development of computer scientists, psychologists got a little over-excited and started to believe their
metaphor of the brain as computer, and thus "mind as computer". Lost in this misty take was the emotional reality of our psychological phenomenology.
The fact that humans operated at a deeper, more unconscious level, emotionally (as psychoanalysis contended) was conveniently, or perhaps excitedly
ignored, as cognitive scientists depreciated the human mind from it's relational origins.
Of course, the whole enterprise has been anything but a failure. We have important ideas like working memory, semantic memory, declarative memory,
episodic memory and procedural memory, ideas crucial to understanding how the brain processes aspects of our conscious experience. I love reading
cognitive science, even when I sense that the author doesn't realize how emotional dynamics affect his attentional processes, and thus his attitude
towards a field like psychoanalysis (or analyzing the emotional dynamics of intra and inter psychological processes).
Autistic people seem to be people on the extreme end of social-emotional developmental dysfunction. The amazing thing is the way relational processes
FEED INTO the processes that keep the brain developing as is. The brain at birth is hardly finished growing. It grows 110% the first year in volume
(mostly white tract matter). And another 15% in the second. All of this growth is being REGULATED by the types of interactions the baby has.
More and more complex rapid, spontaneous and thereby implicit right-lateralized visual-facial, auditory-prosodic, and tactile–gestural
communications lie at the psychobiological core of the emotional attachment bond between the infant and primary caregiver. - Allan Schore
The autistic baby is ENORMOUSLY sensitive. Yet, research shows that many parents of autistic children RE-ENFORCE the fearful-amygdular over-activity
by flooding the baby with high energy "visual-facial, audit
edit on 9-9-2015 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)