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'panic spells' in the News

NMF neil.fournier at sympatico.ca
Fri Jan 30 22:17:08 EST 2004

Very intriguing concept, Ken.  I agree with you 110% percent!!! However,  I
wouldn't go as far to say that "panic disorder" can never have genetic
factors that contribute to some aspect of the source of variance.  (But I
would rather say that it is situational specific).

I think one of the major problems that has emerged in the pursuit of
brain-behavioral correlates has been through the use of traditional
bivariate approaches to understanding brain functioning.  This method has
been traditionally employed using single-lesion methods by which a single
structure or an aggregate of spatially adjacent structures is destroyed.
The total elimination of a behavior or its converse (the emergence of a
novel or unique behavior) is considered optimal.  A good portion of what we
know regarding the neuronal correlates of behavior have been derived through
such approaches. (Unfortunately, many researchers do not considered the
innate limitations regarding such approaches).    This bivariate approached
satisfies the beliefs: 1) of scientific parsimony, and 2) that the nominal
presence or absence of an event is totally associated with the nominal
presence or absence of a cause.  In the real world, brain research never
adheres to such strictly "serial approaches" in functioning. For example,
Cohen showed that destruction of all three of the separate neuroanatomical
pathways mediating learned cardioaccleration in pigeons was required before
conditioned response was eliminated.  Single lesion studies do not
necessarily allow one to discern the source(s) regarding the mechanism
involved with producing a behavior.  Only by considering the complex myriad
of neuronal interactions (or your concept of "biological mass") and their
accompanied time-varying neurophysiological processes, can we begin to
delineate any real understanding of brain functioning.  (I admittedly grant
that such multivariate approaches to brain functioning are extremely
difficult).  However, many  are beginning to take the view that global brain
functioning and dynamics are important for investigating the emergence of

Certain combinations of behaviors are placed under the umbrella of "panic
disorder".  In this case the output of the system can be produced by a
variety of different factors.  These factors will all produce the same
output and would all be used in the diagnostic and classification schemes of
disorder. (As measured through psychological assessment, neuropsychological
approaches, etc). (A classification which can be quite vague and ambiguous
depending on the context.  Hence, the ambiguity and limitation of clinical
assessment and the labeling of behavior).

The same qualitative "behavior" can be generated through a variety of
complex interactions involving many different convergent (and even
divergent) systems.  The problem is that a variety of different causes and
changes in neuronal functioning could be responsible for producing the same
output and thence would be considered in the etiological basis of the
disorder (in this case panic disorder).  This is analogous to the saying,
"All roads lead to Rome", where a variety of seemingly qualitatively and
even quantitatively different routes will lead to the same goal or
destination.   From a neuronal perspective, a variety of different complex
interactions among multifocal neuronal aggregates could be responsible for
producing the same output or behavioral profile of the system, however, each
component would be considered qualitatively (and even quantitatively)
different.  Hence, a variety factors (including in some cases genetic) could
lead to a seemingly similar production of behavior.  (This is similar to
another disorder, schizophrenia, where there really is no such thing as
"schizophrenia" but instead "schizophrenias").


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