Sunday, March 20, 2011


Currently managing all my physiology again after dealing with the dreaded online quiz about measurement theory. I raced through it heart pounding and palms sweaty, anxious to have it over with. I ended up with 39 out of 50, according to auto-eval.

Yeah..., I think I'm a bit too worn in the tooth to be doing all this cortisol stuff to myself.

It isn't only that the material is alien to my personal proclivities and unattractive to my mentations, it seems to be something my brain finds outright aversive, crosses some sort of sense of order my cognitive capacity has developed over decades, forces it to adapt to a set of goggles that make the world look like Bizarro world, upside down and inside out. The effect is kinda nauseating, suggesting a protective response arising in the insular cortex.

That might seem like emotional over-reaction, but I'm merely reporting the opinion my insular cortex has about the matter. It's my affective motivational system talking to me. Or through me. (My cognitive evaluative system is busy right now, trying to pour water on hot exposed fuel rods, from dorsolateral prefrontal and medial prefrontal helicopters. I hope it works.)

My insular cortex is my Tiger mom. Truly, if there is anything intrinsic I have to be terrified about, it's my own insular cortex's reaction to anything it doesn't like. Amygdala schmamygdala. That I can deal with. My own insular cortex, not so much. It has never dished pathological pain out to me, fortunately. But it has a lot to express about anything novel, and I sure don't like when it activates and stomps around all over my brain. If it does, usually I can have a chat with it, and usually it goes back to normal levels - with repeated exposure to something disconcerting, it usually calms down.
Example: the first time I ever tried teeth whitening strips, my teeth burned, my mouth filled instantly with foamy saliva, and I couldn't stand the exposure. My insular cortex clearly hated them and my teeth hurt for days. When I tried again, years later, the strips did not provoke (I did not experience) the same reaction. I wondered if the strips were past some kind of expiry date as they seemed to have no afferent effect. The teeth did lighten up however, as they were supposed to.

That was a peripheral afferent stimulus, though. This is a cognitive-evaluative afferent stimulus. I don't have much experience with this. My efforts to grapple with learning measurement theory isn't mere graded exposure to a novel noxious stimulus, it's Graded exposure, exposed, judged, measured and scaled scholastically, to an entire set of information about exposing, judging, measuring and scaling - a quite different kind of critter and something that sets all my salience detector alarm bells off with Tiger mom insular cortex acting quite unilaterally, arbitrarily, and terrifyingly.

Do I really need this stress? At my age? With no real requirements to complete it in order to make a life? I guess I'll find out. Foot is still caught in the trap. Lots of time to think about how it all feels.

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