Tête – à – Tête

I’m not much of a “morning person”. I’ve often felt that my brain is rather like those big lights that are used in school gyms – the ones that do almost nothing when they are first switched on, then gradually fade up to dazzling brightness over an interval of ten minutes or so. The analogy is far from perfect: my brain takes a good deal longer than ten minutes to warm up, and I wouldn’t say that I ever get anywhere near “dazzling brightness”. But you get the idea.

Well, as it turns out, the brain does indeed boot itself up in stages, in a fashion similar to the way a computer gets going: first the operating system itself must be loaded, and only after that can applications be run. This sequence of operations in the brain is managed by the thalamus, which, among its many functions, acts as a sort of concierge for sensory impressions, and which is itself activated by, and subsequently distributes, the chemical known as nitric oxide.

Now as it happens, nitric oxide is an important substance in the body’s regulation of blood flow, and it is by controlling the delivery of this molecular mojo to another essential organ that the sought-after medicament Viagra is able to get such, um, outstanding results.

Learn more here.

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One Comment

  1. the one eyed man says

    Outstanding or upstanding?

    Posted August 27, 2006 at 12:45 pm | Permalink