Day 341, Learning About the Prefrontal Cortex in the Brain

Day 341, Learning About the Prefrontal Cortex in the Brain

“Excessive protein kinase C activity has been shown dramatically to impair prefrontal function and suppress the firing of prefrontal neurons.”

Joaquín Fuster, neuroscientist, Prefrontal Cortex, Fourth Edition, p. 102.


Saturday Morning


Preparing For My Day


5-10 things I am grateful for:
  • a new day
  • being a resident of the beautiful state of Colorado
  • getting through the driving I did yesterday
  • my loving husband
morning comments, feelings, ideas, moods, and empowering questions:
How can I be more artistic, aware, connected, genuine, motivated, and passionate today?
mood and energy:
feeling better
having more than average energy
the reason it is important
next action(s)
Drove my husband to his appointment.  Survived it (and the driving)!
Mobility, Service
Drive him to his follow-up appointments also.
Applied my knowledge of cognitive distortions to keep my mood from crashing, especially by avoiding personalizationaccepting blame for events outside of my control.
Mental health
Continue to rout out cognitive distortions.
Listed ways in which I am connected and made connection a priority in my life.
Becoming a linchpin
Make quality connections and give as much as you can.
Evaluated types of motivation, resolving not to let the lure of new things keep me from achieving long-term goals.
Becoming a linchpin
Overcome obstacles and keep achieving the steps to long-term goals.
Thought about what it means to be genuine.
Becoming a linchpin
Be yourself.


I meditated for a while, then read.  In Focus, Daniel Goleman describes a poster in grade schools, which reminds children to stop, calm down, and think before acting.  I made my own version as shown below:


Prefrontal Cortex

My husband said, “It makes sense.”  Daniel believes the use of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for:
  • executive functions
  • decision making
  • emotional control
  • planning complex cognitive behavior
  • abstract reasoning
  • sustaining attention
  • impulse control
  • personality expression
  • moderating social behavior
is key to success.  Tragically, the prefrontal cortex of my brain is severely impaired during mania.  When I was manic, my impulsive attention flitted from one thing to another, keeping me from ever completing anything.  I could not get things done, but I could start dozens of things in quick succession.
The above traffic light graphic shows the essence of using the prefrontal cortex. Daniel believes the prefrontal cortex can be strengthened with exercise.  Two exercises for your prefrontal cortex include putting on your rose-colored glasses and following a sleep routine.

Protein Kinase C

In the last few hours, I have learned more about the prefrontal cortex.  This surprisingly led me to find a mechanism through which lithium and valproic acid likely controls bipolar disorder.  Protein kinase C (PKC) is a family of 10 enzymes that catalyze the transfer of a phosphate group from ATP (the energy currency of biological systems) to another molecule.  Scientists found PKC to be elevated in manic bipolar disorder patients.  Lithium and valproic acid, medicines used to treat bipolar disorder, indirectly inhibit the activity of PKC.
PKC is expressed in the prefrontal limbic structures such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala areas of the brain.  Protein kinase C (PKC) signaling is involved in the regulation of activities related to bipolar disorder such as:
  • neuronal excitability
  • neurotransmitter release
  • apoptotic pathway activation (death of cells)
  • mitochondrial (cellular energy-producing organelle) dysfunction
  • oxidative stress (free radicals)
  • neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nerves)
Unfortunately, the only drug that is relatively specific for inhibiting protein kinase C and crosses the blood-brain barrier is tamoxifen, an anticancer drug used primarily by breast cancer patients.  Who wants to take that?  However, it is enlightening to have some light shed on the mechanism of lithium and its connection to the prefrontal cortex.
Whether there will be any new and better drugs remains to be seen.  In the meantime, I will take lithium (and complain less?).  We will see.  I do not want to lose the function of my prefrontal cortex again.

Planning and Logging

It is now past bedtime.  I just finished up my Cronometer log.  I worked on my TCC P&L for PC plan and log today.  However, sometime in the early afternoon, I stopped keeping the log.  I think it was still useful, however, keeping in mind that I planned to use it as little or as much as I wanted.  Here it is in its imperfect state:  (I did not end up getting and processing the mail.)
TCC P&L for PC
Timely, Consistent, Clear Planning and Logging for Productive Creativity
Up to 8
  • JV Life Tracker
  • Take evening primrose oil for eczema.
  • JV Life Tracker mindmap
  • Denneroll for chiropractic
  • Make the bed.
  • Worked on getting my husband’s Colorado handicap placard for parking.
  • Wrote in my journal.
  • Walked.
  • Researched possible triggers for eczema.
  • JV Life Tracker (for 2 days)
  • Cleaned toilet plunger.
  • Made bed.
  • Soaked night-guard in Efferdent.
  • Took evening primrose oil for eczema and logged and notated it in Cronometer.
  • Our Daily Bread
Blog – Preparing for My Day
Breakfast – avocado
Made a ham and corned-beef, iceberg/Romaine/spinach-and-tomato salad for my husband and myself.
Watched a nature show, Earth Odyssey, on TV.
Read Focus by Daniel Goleman.
Read Focus by Daniel Goleman.
Created a graphic.
Green drink for lunch.
Make omelet for husband.
Made a green drink for lunch; a sandwich for my husband.
Get the mail.
Process the mail.
Process the mail.

Thinking of Tomorrow and Getting Some Sleep

Tomorrow, my step-son is coming to work with us on the estate again.  I pray that will go well.  I listed 17 items I want to work on tomorrow in my Aspirations “Little Black Book.”  I will plan them into my TCC P&L for PC chart tomorrow.
The goal now is to sleep peacefully for 7-8 hours.  I need to take my medication, brush my teeth with Sonicare, wash my face, charge the Androids, etc.  My husband is watching TV, which may make it difficult to get to sleep.  Sleep deprivation can disrupt the connection between the amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex, which basically results in emotional (re)actions without any judgment behind them.  

Sunday Morning


Weight and Calories

Unfortunately, I gained weight back.  Our trip to McDonald’s after my husband’s appointment Friday may be a factor (2074 calories for the day and 2054 calories the day before).  All I can do is work to keep my calorie level under control and exercise more too.  Yesterday, with a green drink, I did not do too badly at 1666 calories.


It is possible that my prefrontal cortex was damaged from trauma in childhood.  (Mom mentioned that I fell out of my crib on my head as a baby.  I also landed on my head once while diving into too shallow water in a swimming pool.)  I have not had a brain scan to confirm that, however.  Fortunately, it appears that my prefrontal cortex functions okay most of the time.  However, in times of mania, especially, it is severely impaired.
Excess protein kinase could be responsible for many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  Lithium inhibits protein kinase C.  “Excessive protein kinase C activity has been shown dramatically to impair prefrontal function and suppress the firing of prefrontal neurons.”
(Joaquín M. Fuster, Prefrontal Cortex, Fourth Edition, p. 102.)
Joaquin Fuster
Whether it was genetics or trauma, both and/or other factors that caused my bipolar disorder, it is important now to protect and exercise the functions of my prefrontal cortex.  Much as I dislike taking lithium, it apparently has a protective effect on the brain and can specifically protect the function of the prefrontal cortex.  The hippocampus, the part of the brain that makes new memories, is also affected by protein kinase C.  Lithium can help protect it as well.
During mania, I had massive short-term memory failure.  I lost my car at the mall, looked for it, and could not remember where I had looked.  Mall security helped me find it.  Another time I misplaced my keys several times, while I was trying to be careful, and locked myself out of my apartment and then repeatedly my car.  I had to get help from security officers.
Lord, having an illness that affects the brain is no fun.  However, I have been told I have a good brain and even that I am “a brain.”  Help me and my readers to conserve the ability to function. A bipolar disorder background can portend a future of dementia. Help me to protect the function of the prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain.
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.
KaeLyn Morrill

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