Anthropology, Department of


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Published in THE NEBRASKA ANTHROPOLOGIST, Volume 6 (1983). Published by the Anthropology Student Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588


Throughout the span of human evolution the brain has allowed itself to be controlled by nutritional intake. This correlation between nutrition and the brain has led me to believe that the human brain has allowed itself to be manipulated and controlled by an individual's dietary intake in order to successfully adapt to the environment. In looking at the indigenous peoples of the South American Andes, I found surprising parallels between human physiological adaptations to high altitude hypoxia and cold stress and the correlating control of neurotransmitters to the brain by dietary intake.

In a study of this type it becomes necessary to first break the barriers of scientific jargon and give a brief overview of the biochemical aspects involved in the study of nutrition and the brain. Within the context of this paper I have chosen to deal primarily with the neurotransmitter, serotonin, and its precursor tryptophan, due to their possible correlations with high altitude adaption.

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