Monday, March 13, 2017

objective psychonautics

I've been thinking about introversion lately, attempting to string together as much as I can, of what I've read an experienced, into a sort of grand unified theory of what the fuck my problem is.  Not that introversion is not a new concept to me, but I've been thinking of it in broader terms.  I've read some interesting pieces on what it means neurologically, that implicate it in a variety of issues.

As a concept, it's to be more inwardly focused.  As we process what's going on in the world around us, the introvert's mind delves more deeply into that process, fine tuning, questioning, doubting - it varies, depending on other factors, but as opposed to a process that transitions immediately into an external focus. That is, saying something, or doing something.

It's usually framed by what that means socially, but if what I've been reading is accurate, that's just one facet of a much broader issue.  People really notice when someone is more quiet or more loud, but less about how the rest of their lives play out, when they're not socializing.  If it's true that extroversion has something to do with dopamine and reward pathways, that isn't at all limited to social behaviors, and suddenly ties it into a whole lot of other sorts of behavior.

Decision making, for example.  Are introverts more indecisive?  Reward pathways are how we learn to make decisions.  When you see two object to choose between, there's a dopamine response to choosing one over another.  It feels good to know what you want, and move on to trying to attain it.  The introvert then might be less likely to want anything in particular.  Depending on the specific nature of the physiological difference.  Indecision, or less reward from deciding, or less of a response to having decided, but it's all related.  It may start one way, and become an issue of all three over time, habits, repetition.

Conversely, one who repeatedly engages their reward pathways will generally become more decisive, and less thoughtful.  That other part of the brain, where the introvert spends more of their time and energy won't be as well developed by the habits of an extrovert.  One might then conclude that the extrovert's default mode network is less active, but this could be a mere outcome along a causal chain, amidst a whole web of factors.

At another point along that chain, another difference might emerge - a more active default mode network can make it much harder to concentrate.  It can mean a whole lot more noise to contend with, while trying to focus on some external task.  A greater likelihood of procrastinating, incessantly distracted without any external stimulus at all.  For an introvert, controlling external stimulus to counter distraction would have much less benefit.  Especially in conjunction with less of a physiological motivation to take action, in general.

Are introverts more likely to have attention deficit issues?  This would seem to follow, and it's certainly true in my case, but I know some would beg to differ.  Could be a difference of degrees, or other factors involved, or it could be that people are using the same terms to describe entirely different neurological conditions.

Another way of looking at this all though, is that introversion really is specifically a social phenomenon.  Not that the rest of this isn't related, but along with introversion, these might all be symptoms of the same underlying neurological condition.  The same circumstance which makes me indecisive and inattentive might also be making me an introvert.

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