Final Project

August 11, 2014

The limbic system is always something that has fascinated me.  Teenagers go through a lot of changes both physically and emotionally and have to deal with problems regarding the limbic system.  I thought it would be cool to incorporate text messaging with information about the limbic system.  Here it is:  a friend of mine just had a breakup with her boyfriend and I walk her through to deactivate her limbic system.  Enjoy!

PS: sorry for the bad texting language but I really wanted everyone to get the whole feel 🙂  The “thought bubble” on text 2 is my thoughts that my friend cannot see

Legend of Texts:

WTH- what the heck

OMG- oh my god

WHT- what

“The D Word”- Dylan

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Sources:

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/limbicsystem.html!

http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/what-is-the-limbic-system-in-the-brain-definitionfunctions-parts.html#lesson!

http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s4/chapter05.html!

http://www.primals.org/articles/hannig04.html!

http://www.effective-mind-control.com/limbic-system.html!

http://www.craniosacralschool.com/images/THE_LIMBIC_SYSTEM.pdf!

 


Imaginary Neuro-Tech

August 10, 2014

Throughout scientific history, many technological advances have been made.  In the year 2014, there are so many different types of imaging systems for the brain and so many different angles the brain can be seen in.  An MRI looks at the structure of the brain- tissues and cross sections of the brain; a PET scan looks at molecular information of the brain; and a CT scan looks at bones and soft tissues.  The technology I would be creating would be somewhat of a high resolution camera that would be able to see specific neurons in the brain and how they are intreating with one another.  Assuming technology has majorly advances at this point in time, this camera would be able to capture these neurons in a cross section, much like an MRI, so a neurologist would be able to clearly see each section of neurons.  Let’s take this into a real world situation- an MRI has located an issue within a specific part of the brain, or even a tumor.  This camera would be able to go in and capture neuronal activity.  This would allow the neurologist more insight into the problem the patient is having.  Now, the whole point of this camera is so brain surgery does not have to be performed until further knowledge is gained, so there would have to be a noninvasive way the camera went in- possibly through the nose and into the brain that way.

As stated before, technology would have to be extremely advanced for this to happen.  The first thing that needs to occur is a camera that can capture photos at that level of high resolution, almost at a microscopic level.  The next thing in the series of advancements would have to be this microscopic camera that would be small enough to fit through the sinuses into the nose.  I assume this would not be as difficult because we already have cameras this small, the right technology would just have to be compacted into a small volume.  The second part of this camera would have to be an accompanying video camera so the surgeon would be able to see where he/she is in the brain.  This would allow the camera into certain regions and specific places (prefrontal cortex, cerebrum etc).  At this point in time, with technology rapidly advancing at the rate it is, I would give this technology another 15-20 years to be created.  A lot of the parts needed are existing at this point in time, its just putting the pieces of the puzzle together and then testing it to make sure it is accurate which could take up to 5 or 6 years in itself.

Overall, I think this type of technology would be a great addition to the types of brain imaging we have.  We have so many different brain imaging types that could work together and  I believe this would make a huge victory in the medical field and if the technology is created right, save many lives and help to expand the existing knowledge we have of the brain.

 

 

 

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Neuroscience and the Law

August 9, 2014

On November 5, 2009, Kent Kiehl, a neuroscientist, took the stand to describe the scientific findings from an fMRI scan of Brian Dugan’s brain.  Kiehl took the stand for around 6 hours describing how Dugan scored a 38 out of 40 on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist and continued on with the analysis of Dugan’s brain.  Allowing fMRI evidence into court has recently been a controversial subject because, as some critics say, it is rarely used in diagnosis and there is no way to know that during the time of the scan, the defendants mental status is the same as it was when he/she was committing the crime.

An fMRI, otherwise known as a functional magnetic resonance imaging, uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create a very detailed image of the blood flow in the brain.  More specifically, an fMRI can also be used to detect where certain activity is occurring in the brain which can lead to scientists to understand what we are feeling, when we are lying etc.  Other technologies used in court cases include a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.  A PET scan is a type of nuclear medicine imaging.  It involves a patient to inhale, swallow or be injected with radiotracers which are used to light up a specific point of activity in the body or brain.  In court cases, a PET scan is better than an fMRI to diagnose mental abnormalities such as schizophrenia or any other mental disorder.

Using an fMRI as evidence in a court case has been a very controversial subject in both the medical field and with lawyers, judges and jurors.  In reality, an fMRI can be used to detect physical abnormalities in the brain.  In this case, if there is tissue missing from the brain and there is indication of a psychiatric illness, this is more or less legitimate evidence in a court case.  The brain scan doesn’t lie.  On the other hand, fMRI’s are rarely used for diagnosis and there is a much better way of showing the same data in a more concrete way.  In addition, there is no way to say that the defendants brain is in the same condition as it was when he/she committed the crime.  The brain changes all the time, so unless the scan was done directly after the crime was committed, there is no way of knowing.   A PET scan is much more concrete than the fMRI scan.  It is used much more in the field to diagnose psychiatric conditions and is much more established for diagnosis than the fMRI is.

Therefore, with the evidence presented above, my recommendation is not to let fMRI’s be used as court evidence.  If the defense team would like to present another method of technology with a more solid reputation, I think that is to be taken up in a separate manner.  An fMRI does not use enough concrete evidence to dismiss a person from a crime they have committed.  It is important that everyone get a fair and equal trial, and by using an fMRI, I do not think that is an acceptable thing to allow back into the courtroom.


‘Chin Up: Fear and Sadness Will Not Last Forever’

August 7, 2014

Sorry this is a bit late, I had trouble uploading all the pictures.

Anyway, this is my children’s book on anxiety and depression. I hope the colorful pictures and easy to follow storyline inspires all of you to grasp tomorrow and take the chance to do things that make you happy. From personal experience, anxiety once seemed like an actual person, I let it take everything over. But now, I understand that fear is only as big as you think it is.

f1 f2 f3 f4 f5 f6 f7 f8 f9 f10 f11 f12 f13 f14 f15 f16 f17 f18 f19 f20 f21 f22 f23 f24

Final Project: Sources

Basic/Background Information:

 

Physical and Mental Effects of Anxiety and Depression:

Treatment/Therapy Options:

How Family and Friends Can Help:

 

 

 


Final Project- Time Perception

August 7, 2014

Hi everyone! I chose to talk about time perception in the brain for my final project. Time perception is something I have been very interested in for a few years and it immediately struck me that that’s what I should do my project on. I chose to make a video describing different aspects of time perception. Though I’m still not the world’s greatest public speaker, I thought that making a video would be slightly more entertaining than writing a paper. In the video I talk about the speed of different sensory signals, duration distortions, how health issues affect time perception, and I even list off some interesting facts at the end.

I was hoping to embed the video directly into this post, but the video wayyy exceeds the MB limit, so I will provide you with a direct link to the video on Vimeo here.

My sources:

“Brain Time” By David Eagleman (http://edge.org/conversation/brain-time

“Does Time Exist” (http://vimeo.com/31469073)

“Do Humans Have a Biological Stopwatch?” by Dan Falk (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/do-humans-have-a-biological-stopwatch-164710819/?no-ist)

 


Final Project: Neurogenetics

August 6, 2014

My final project is an online poster with a brief introduction into neurogenetics. Here’s the link:

https://magic.piktochart.com/output/2431357-neurogenetics

I chose neurogenetics because I’ve always had a particularly keen interest in genetics. Over the course, I’ve seen how closely linked genetics and neuroscience is, particularly regarding neurological disorders, and I wanted to explore that a little more. The final product is perhaps not as in depth as I was hoping to go, but I think it still highlights the most important aspects of what neurogenetics is really about.

My project is aimed towards high schoolers with minimal background in either genetics or neuroscience. I was originally planning on doing more of an infographic, but I wanted to include explanations that were more…well, explanatory. That’s how I ended up with a poster of sorts. It combines the high level of interest that accompanies the bold graphics and colors of an infographic, but still doesn’t compromise on content.

I hope you guys like it!

Sources:

Bean, Andrew, Ph. D. “Genetics and Neuronal Disease (Section 1, Chapter 15).” Neuroscience Online: An Electronic Textbook for the Neurosciences. Ed. John H. Byrne. Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy – The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, n.d. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.

Greenstein, P., and T. D. Bird. “Neurogenetics. Triumphs and Challenges.” Western Journal of Medicine (1994): 242-45. PubMed Central. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.

“Huntington Disease.” Genetics Home Reference. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2013. Web. 06 Aug. 2014.

Huntington, George. “On Chorea.” The Medical and Surgical Reporter: A Weekly Journal 26.15 (1872): 317-21. Wikisource. Web. 6 Aug. 2014.


Final Project: Anatomy of the Human Brain

August 6, 2014

I chose to choose different areas of the brain, draw pictures of them, and write a little bit about each of their functions. I am really interested in the different areas of the brain and what they do. It was interesting to see that there are many different brain regions that have very similar functions and also very opposite functions, but they all come together in one great form of communication that allows us to perceive and interact with the world the way we do. I think it’s incredible!

 

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Final Project – Catatonic Depression and the Effectiveness of Electroconvulsive Therapy

August 6, 2014

This topic really interested me mostly because there are several myths about it and although it is common and one of the most effective treatments for this condition, the exact way in which ECT fixes the brain is not really well understood. So, I wanted to find out more about why it is used and if the myths were true. In my poster, I try to inform the reader about how the electricity is incorporated and show the effects of the treatment. I chose to do a poster because it is a fun way to convey information about a topic that is new to me. Also, it breaks down the information in a way that it can be recalled later.

Sources:Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 12.03.52 AM

http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/21/how-electroconvulsive-therapy-works-for-depression/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8010381

http://www.namihelps.org/Electroconvulsive-Therapy.pdf

http://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/65099/FullReport-hta9090.pdf


Powerpoint final project

August 6, 2014

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2tzY5ZunAlNYkg4VUlNYjNKWG8/edit?usp=sharing

This link will take you to Google drive. For maximum effect, download the original and open it as an actual powerpoint (.pptx) document. Then hit “enable editing” and put it in slideshow view. The works cited is located at the back of the powerpoint (when you press “exit” on the main page). I chose a powerpoint because I like working with them, and powerpoints are good at keeping readers engaged.

It’s about three common childhood neurological disorders: ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Dyslexia. The topic has always interested me. The powerpoint is kind of interactive, so you can compare the similarities and differences between the three conditions. One big similarity I want to point out is that none of them have cures. One interesting difference I want to point out is that some of the disorders have a visible effect on the brain that you can actually see in a scan, while other disorders (like autism) have no visible effect on the brain. In other words, we have a limited understanding of how to tell an autistic brain from a non-autistic brain. In many cases, our understanding of these disorders is quite limited. Also, there’s a lot of variety in the different forms that each of these disorders can take.


Memory and the Brain

August 6, 2014

Ok, so Word Documents are not permitted as a media form….sorry here goes…

I chose this medium because I felt I could convey the most information from an old-school, straight-up, report. I have always been interested in memory, and as a result, I chose this topic. Through this project, I am just trying to convey some interesting facts, and possible ways to keep your memory in the best shape possible.

The Human Brain

When rating organs by complexity and intricateness, the human mind may be at the top of the list, followed by the brains of various other animals. The inherent complexity of the brain, any brain for that matter, results in a plethora of encounters with extreme difficulty when studying it. One of the challenges of neuroscientists is understanding the mechanisms at play in the brain in respect to memory formation – diseases such as Alzheimer’s are, today, impossible to cure due to the obscure nature of memory in the brain. Understanding memory, and its formation, holds the key to increased human intelligence and treatments for various forms of neurological disorders, dementia being a forerunner on the list. Intelligence has led humans to the top of the food chain and the brain has played a critical role in humans being able to dominate the world with intelligence. Contemporary humans often overlook the power of the brain, and its everyday function and impact on lives which is vital in many, if not all, different facets of life.

The human mind usage myth, as purported by various Hollywood movies, (most recent of which are Lucy starring Scarlett Johansson and Limitless with Bradley Cooper) actually depicts the polar opposite of the reality. Humans do not only utilize 10-14% of their brain; the entire brain, 100%, is used all day, every day. In fact, even while asleep, most of the brain is still fully active doing very important activities such as repairing muscles, directing traffic, and consolidating memories. The Hollywood depiction of increasing human intelligence through the use of technology and medicine are farfetched and untruthful. However, mankind may still be able to make brains “smarter” by adding brain cells, either neurons or glia. A more natural method to increase intelligence would be to increase oxygen intake. More oxygen would result in a more efficient and powerful mind (Boyd).

The brain is relatively small compared to some of the super computers that we have today. However, the brain has more than a billion neurons, each of which can form over 1000 connections with other neurons. If each neuron did not form these connections, or synapses, then we would only have a couple of gigabytes of storage in our brains, the equivalent of a portable music player. With these synapses, neurons can mutually strengthen each other: with the combined force of a billion neurons, the human mind the capacity to hold up to 2.5 petabytes of memories, information, and experiences. One petabyte is a little over one million gigabytes and with this massive storage capacity, it becomes extremely hard for the brain to send out signals that say “sorry your memory disk is full.” If anyone completely filled up his/her brain’s memory capacity, he/she could store 300 years worth of continuous TV shows in his/her brain…in HD (Reber)! Moreover, the brain is so useful because it uses such little energy to run. On one of their episodes, Scishow compared the world’s fastest super computer, K, to the average human brain. They deduced that although K was able to process four times more operations per second and store ten times more information than the human brain, it required 9.9 million watts to run. The human brain requires a whopping 20. To put that into perspective, K has an annual operating cost of 10 million dollars and originally cost 1.25 billion dollars to create. Conversely, the brain costs nothing but food and oxygen intake. In addition to more energy and money, the K supercomputer takes up much more space; K takes up 672 datacenter racks each of which are seven feet high, 19 inches high, and 21 inches deep! This gives it a volume of nearly 20 cubic feet. On the other hand, the brain is the size of two fists put together which when converted into cubic feet is (approximately) 0.022389! K takes up over 900 times the space of a single brain. The battle of supercomputer versus brain might seem won by K in the specifications and sheer computing power, but when one digs a little bit deeper, the brain is more efficient, cost-effective, compact, and mobile.

Understanding memories is a complicated and ambitious endeavor. Making memories is a very complicated process which involves most of one’s senses. When something is remembered, the whole experience is remembered, not just one particular sense of that object or phenomenon. Take for example, the memory of a grandmother. When first meeting one’s grandma (or anyone for that matter, as xenophobes will attest), she is foreign, unknown, and uncomforting; the senses, disregarding the initial appeal, store multiple pieces of information about her. Her appearance, the sound of her voice, and her scent are all stored immediately after the first meeting. Once these senses do their job, the information is sent up, as multiple unique sets of information, to the hippocampus and then stored as one whole experience. Neurologists believe that the hippocampus, along with the rest of the frontal cortex is responsible for the decision of whether to keep the memories or throw them away. If the frontal cortex decides that the memory is worth keeping then it is sent into multiple different parts of the brain to be stored as a long term memory. If the memory is deemed not worth remembering then the cortex will keep it in the short-term memory. Although variations occur from person to person, short term memory is very brief (as the name suggests) and is only capable of storing memories for an average of 30 seconds. So where do the neurons come into play? Synapses, all 160 trillion of them, are the location of the memory storage. The synapses have to first connect and once connected, they can split apart. Consequently, not triggering certain synapses for long periods of time can make them split, and the memory between those two neurons will be lost (Mohs 1-2).

There are multiple reasons why memory loss occurs. Most of these factors are just having direct damage to the brain either chemically or physically. Alcohol and tobacco use, sleep deprivation, stress, stroke, and malnutrition are all known causes for memory loss. No matter how old one is, everyone suffers from memory loss if not to an extreme level, at least to a certain degree. The older a person gets, the worse their memory is due to their immune system degeneration and more exposure to memory loss factors. Alcohol and tobacco use damages the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream and in turn lessens the amount of oxygen entering the brain which will then inhibit brain functions including memory. Sleep deprivation results in fatigue, and fatigue will act as an impediment to brain function. This happens because there are three steps in memory making: acquisition, consolidation, and recall. Acquisition is gaining something (information, memory, experience, or otherwise) that is worth remembering. Consolidation is storing that memory in the brain. Recalling is the act of remembering a memory later on. Scientists say that acquisition and recall take place during the day, when the brain and body are both active. However, the act of consolidation occurs during the sleeping period when the brain is still active and functioning. The brain will process information and memories that occurred during the day and will consolidate them or store them in the brain. Without a good night’s sleep, memories cannot be consolidated and in turn cannot be recalled a day later. This leads to an important life lesson, don’t cram! All-nighters may seem useful, but in reality, are one of the worst ways to study.

Yet another cause of memory loss is stress. When people are stressed, the mind is both extremely stimulated (because of the many things that the mind knows it has to do) and distracted (fun activities seem even more fun when one has extreme amounts of work to be done). Stress triggers a highly complex chemical process that occurs throughout the body. During stressful situation, a certain chemical, cortisol, is distributed throughout the body by the brain and it provides energy to the limbs to take action and get work done. While it may provide the body with required energy, this process robs the brain of its energy, especially the hippocampus. When this process lasts for a long amount of time the hippocampus gets damaged and the brain function is hindered. With the proper amount of sleep, without stress, the hippocampus repairs itself and is then able to replay the events during the stressful period and new memories are created; however, repeatedly exposing this fragile part of the brain results in irreparable damage which inhibits brain functioning and could, potentially, turn into permanent memory loss (Argyle; Chang).

Malnutrition, most importantly not having the proper amounts of B1 and B12 vitamins greatly impacts brain function and more specifically memory. Vitamin B12 is probably the single most important substance, other than of course oxygen and other essentials, which the brain needs. This vitamin helps to repair and maintain nerve cells and make new DNA (which will make more new nerve cells). Although the body only requires 1.8 – 2.6 micrograms per day, B12 is essential to memory because without it, nerve cells (that have bonds to other nerve cells) will die due to lack of maintenance. Vitamin B12 is analogous to a technician for brain cells; once in a while, every cell needs some maintenance. B12 repairs neurons and restores them to full functionality. Without healthy nerve cells the brain cannot function and therefore cannot store memories. B1, while not as important to the brain, can lead to brain dysfunction. B1 improves the immune system and enhances the body’s ability to cope with stress. This leads to a more efficient hippocampus, which leads to improved memory. A deficiency of B1, which is very rare, causes an inability to digest essential carbohydrates. This digestion inability leads to build up of acidic substance in the bloodstream which decreases mental alertness. This acidic substance decreases mental alertness. Interestingly enough, although B12 is highly important for the body, its deficiency is very common among teenagers and adults, whereas B1, although not as important, is deficient in very few people (Office of Dietary Supplements; Ehrlich).

Although scientists know how memory loss is caused and the main brain regions affected, they still do not know how the brain makes and stores memories. Because it is most likely in the synapses that these memories are kept and stored, it is nigh on impossible to “fix up” a person’s memories after the onset of dementia. The main reason why there is no fool-proof way to cure memory loss is because it happens at such a cellular level, it is impossible to restore the original setting. There are just too many possibilities for the different arrangements of the individual neurons that make up each and every memory. In addition, there are many different causes of memory loss and once it occurs, it is hard to reverse the effects and processes that take place to initiate memory loss in the first place. Memory loss may never be curable. As a human race, nobody will get rid of the words, “I forget”, as far as the eye can see. Unless with some miraculous technological advancements that will empower doctors with the ability to position each and every one of the 160 trillion synapses, there is no feasible way that memory loss can be cured.

The brain helps humans in various different ways and it is imperative to realize that without it humans would be lost in everyday life. From remembering simple tasks to knowing how to execute them, from reading and comprehending text to interpreting speech, from knowing what to do next to remembering the faces of loved ones. The brain plays one of the most critical roles for humans and the success of the human race is testament to the old adage “Brains before Brawn”. Humans may lack the strong physical features that many predators have but compensate with intelligence that is second to none enabling us to be at the top. Homo Sapien success is owed to the brain, without which it would be impossible to perpetrate even the simplest tasks. The social animal may not have talons or fangs, but it does have something much better: an unbelievably fantastic, amazingly efficient, better than others, brain which allows it to do tasks that would seem impossible to any others.

Works Cited

Argyle, Matt “Can Stress Cause Memory Loss?.” Can Stress Cause Memory Loss?. 13 Jan. 2009

EzineArticles.com.

Boyd, Robynne. Do People Only Use 10 Percent Of Their Brains?: Scientific American. Scientific American, 2 Feb. 2008. Web.

Chang, Louise, MD. “Memory Loss (Short- and Long-Term).” Pg. 1-2. WebMD. WebMD, 26 Aug. 2011.

Chang, Louise, MD. “WebMD.” Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss (2005): WebMD. WebMD, 18 Mar. 2011.

Ehrlich, Steven D., NMD. Vitamin B1University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland, 26 June 2011.

Essenfeld, Bernice. “Brain.” Gale Encyclopedia of Science. Ed. K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. 4th ed. Detroit: Gale Group, 2008. Discovering Collection. Gale. UDLibSEARCH Main Account.

Mohs, Richard C.  “How Human Memory Works” 08 May 2007.  Pg. 1-2. HowStuffWorks.com.

Office of Dietary Supplements. “Vitamin B12.” QuickFacts. National Institutes of Health, 24 June 2011.

Reber, Paul. What Is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain?: Scientific American. Scientific American, 11 Apr. 2010. Web.

Scishow. “Brain vs. Computer.” 03 May 2012. Online Video Clip. YouTube.

 

It’s been great guys.

Cheers

Dhruv