Tag Archives: heart attack

Medical Microfiction: Autonomic


Thank you for installing AutoNoggin3000. Your personalized brain optimization report is now loading.

Franklin clicked on the report’s Background Processes tab. Breathing.exe, digestion.exe… OldTaxReturns91.exe?! It took up 25% of his working memory. Franklin closed the program.

The clarity of his thought increased instantly. Curious, he reloaded OldTaxReturns91.exe. His processes dulled again as the ongoing sex tape in his head came back online.

Excited by this discovery, Franklin skimmed the report for other unnecessary processes. Like this one with a turntable icon: DemBeats.exe. That must turn off the earworms. He terminated it.

The coroner’s report called his death a heart attack.


A Turntable!
Crank up DemBeats.exe!

The autonomic nervous system is the part of your nervous system responsible for the things your body does automatically. These are processes that happen regardless of whether you consciously think about them or not. Things like breathing, digestion, salivating, heart rate, and yes, sexual arousal.

Heart rate’s an interesting one. Heart muscle, also called cardiac muscle, is the only muscle in the body that produces its own electrical signals allowing it to contract. To put it anther way, your heart is a completely closed system. If given a continuous supply of nutrition and oxygen, your heart will go on beating without you. Past experiments have kept animal heart cells alive in the lab for years without bodies. More recently, there’s research in the works that allows you to drop a “dead” heart into a chemical cocktail that’ll start it right back up. That’s why in the medical world, life and death aren’t defined by heartbeat alone (it’s a combination of things, but that’s a topic for another day).

If the heart’s a closed system, then what does DemBeats.exe do? The autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate. It’s a natural pacemaker. So if you were to shut down that program, the heart itself decides how fast it beats, which means Franklin’s gonna have a heart attack.

The information technology sector was a signif...
Ever wanted to overclock your brain? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What would happen if we could optimize our brains like we do our computers? I for one would love to turn off background processes at will that were distracting or inconvenient. And what if we could clean out and organize all those old files we’ve been collecting? You could forget bad memories and clear out room for new ones. You could rescue those old files you wish you’d taken better care of, like my terrible Italian language skills.

Hey, where did all these old episodes of Pokemon come from?

If you could optimize your brain, would you want to change anything, and if so, what?