Friday, October 7, 2011

Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power - 2

Regular readers of Toxins of Power blog probably also read other websites or blogs that deal with the issue of "corrupting power".

We note that Psychology Today, no piker by any means, purported to answer the question about how what we call "power" corrupts leaders in office.

But that article, which we reference and link to below, never attempts to even define "power", rather, it only goes through a reasoning process that bifurcates "power" into "social" power contrasted with "personal" power.

That Psychology Today article goes on to state that even though the answer to the question "why and how does power corrupt leaders?" is complex, it is nevertheless "fairly clear":
The answer is complex, but fairly clear. Leadership is at its core all about power and influence. Leaders use their power to get things done. A simple distinction is between two forms of power. Socialized power is power used to benefit others. We hope that our elected officials have this sort of power in mind and are primarily concerned with the best interests of their constituents.

The other form of power is called personalized power, and it is using power for personal gain.
(Psychology Today, emphasis added). That article goes on to say that leaders can also become "intoxicated" by power, which implies a toxic element, a toxin of power, without further explaining the notion of a toxin that "intoxicates".

Meanwhile, the Toxins of Power blog has continually attempted to answer the question: "why does power corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely?", and we have tried to do so in multiple ways.

We have even alluded to a possible "mystical" aspect of the notion of "power", as well as toxins of power, but we never stopped there just because sometimes the type of "power" that corrupts humans may sometimes seem to be a "mysterious" notion.

No, we plod along, and we recently began a series where we postulate that, in light of recent microbiology research, perhaps microbes are players in forming those "hard to figure" toxins of power.

In the previous post of this series, it was determined that:
In the next post of this series we will review the impact that pollution has on the environment, specifically on microbes, then tie that data into the hypothesis.

From there we can follow the domino effect that pollution could have on microbial performance.

Moving on from there, in light of these recent discoveries set forth above, we can follow the impact on symbiont microbes on to potential impact on our human cognition.

That is, we will move from potential impact in general on toward the impact on specific symbiont microbes that could cause, in turn, specific behavior impacting the generation of toxins of power.
(Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power). It doesn't take long to determine that anthropogenic pollution, at least in terms of environmental pollution outside of the human-microbe symbiotic community, is difficult to isolate as a participant in the development of toxins of power.

If we look back into human history, back to the first empires such as Egypt or Akkad, we can clearly see what we could identify as corruption by power caused by the toxins of power, but we can't find the massive, destructive episodes of environmental pollution that endangers civilization on a massive scale like we have in today's world.

So, at a macro level it would seem, at least at first blush, that any microbial participation in the production of the toxins of power is innate to the symbiotic relationship itself, whether generated primarily by human cells, by microbial cells, or by both in concert.

This general conclusion is supported by recent experimental evidence:
We therefore studied the expression of these genes in the frontal cortex, striatum, amygdala, and hippocampus of GF and SPF mice, by means of in situ hybridization technique. In GF mice, NGFI-A mRNA expression was significantly lower in various subregions of the prefrontal cortex, including the orbital frontal cortex (Fig. 4 A and A′); as well as in the striatum (GF vs. SPF: 329 ± 33 vs. 586 ± 18, P < 0.0001), hippocampus (CA1 region, GF vs. SPF: 258 ± 15 vs. 499 ± 22, P < 0.0001; CA3 region, GF vs. SPF: 166 ± 13 vs. 236 ± 6, P < 0.001; dentate gyrus, GF vs. SPF: 76 ± 4 vs. 113 ± 5, P < 0.0001) and amygdala (GF vs. SPF: 126 ± 17 vs. 212 ± 19, P < 0.01) compared with SPF mice. Similarly, GF mice had significantly lower BDNF mRNA expression in the hippocampus, amygdala (Fig. 4 B and B′), and cingulate cortex (GF vs. SPF: 162 ± 6 vs. 193 ± 10, P < 0.05), which are key components of the neural circuitry underlying anxiety and fear ... Our results suggest that during evolution, the colonization of gut microbiota has become integrated into the programming of brain development, affecting motor control and anxiety-like behavior.
(National Academy of Sciences, emphasis added). These data show that when microbe free (GF) subjects are compared to the other subjects that are not microbe free, almost a doubling of relevant factors, in certain areas, occurs in the Amygdala.

That is significant to the hypothesis, because previous posts on this blog have shown the Amygdala to be a critical potential factor in the corruption by power.

Thus, we can conclude this post by noting that we have moved ever closer to identifying potential mechanisms, systems, or environments wherein toxins of power can emerge.

We can also conclude that, while massive, environmental, modern pollution could still be a factor in contributing to toxins that lead to corruption by power, that environmental pollution can not be a sole source of toxins of power, nor can it be the original source of the toxins of power on this planet, because corruption by power has been around longer than massive modern pollution has been around.

Thus, in upcoming posts, Toxins of Power blog intends to explore the issue further, keeping those conclusions in mind.

The next post in this series is here.
Here is a relevant biology class about microbes. At the beginning is information only for the students, so move the locator to where the actual lecture starts at 5:30 into the video:

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