Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by sudden, uncontrolled electrical activity between neurons in the brain. These electrical disturbances typically manifest in the form of seizures which, in their mild forms, can go unnoticed, but in more severe cases can cause uncontrollable muscle twitches, loss of consciousness and, ultimately, memory loss. There are two classes of seizures: general, whole brain seizures and focal seizures, in which only a part of the brain is affected. Based on these two classes, additional seizure types are characterized by their severity and symptoms…
This Tuesday is April 20th, otherwise known as 420. For some it’s just another day in the week, but for others it’s a much-anticipated and beloved holiday. However, have you ever stopped to consider how this pseudo-holiday came to be? A quick google search will provide a number of varying and amusing theories. Some of the most popular 420 stories include 420 as a police dispatch code for cannabis use, as the number of chemical compounds in cannabis (actually there are over 500), or the day of Bob Marley’s death (actually May 11th). However…
One of the first things you’ll learn about if you start studying the brain is that it is made of cells called neurons. While neuroscientists have a decent understanding about how neurons work, it turns out that at least half of the brain is actually made of non-neuronal cells called glia*. Glia, named based on the Greek word for ‘glue,’ were initially thought to be a type of connective tissue in the nervous system, acting just as scaffolding, while the neurons did all the communicating. In the last couple decades, the growing field of neuroimmunology has highlighted the importance of a certain kind of glia: microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells.
Currently, there are no effective treatments for concussions. People typically heal over time. Doctors treat the symptoms (e.g.. headaches, concentration problems, trouble sleeping, memory), but do not tackle the actual problem (i.e., how the injury affects certain functions of the brain). This is due to the inability to see what is happening to the brain as it receives a concussion. Because of that, researchers use animal models (e.g., lab rats, mice, etc.) to assess how the brain is affected by concussions.
The more I learn about the discipline of neuroscience, the more I come to see it as the great scientific potluck of our day. While the actual meal at a potluck often seems disjointed, it allows guests to sample a wide variety of tasty foods brought by people from different culinary backgrounds. This post is… Read more »
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS) assistant professor Dr. Ehren Newman studies circuitry in the brain, particularly the circuitry that is associated with the making of stories and the retrieval of memories. Newman’s background as a computational neuroscientist enables him to bring a plethora of new insight into his current field of systems cognitive psychology. Memory is a complex process with multiple facets. “We don’t remember everything that happens to us with equal probability,” he observes. “Instead, we have fragmented memories of things of varying lengths.” So, how do we choose which memories to store and later recall?
Robotics are typically portrayed as complex mechanical systems that function according to a fixed code. Yet, that is quickly changing; certain robotic parts are now able to update their code in real time. By incorporating engineering and neuroscience research, scientists and physicians have found a way to make robotic pieces function “naturally” like any limb on the human body…
In the 80’s and 90’s, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America released several public service announcement commercials, which aimed to inform the public about the dangers of drugs of abuse. The commercials, which have made a lasting impact on society and pop culture, featured a shot sequence and narration of your brain (an uncracked egg),… Read more »
In the third part of this blog series, we will finish looking into human consciousness by thinking about what happens to it after death. If you have not seen the episodes, do not worry, spoilers are kept at a minimum! You can read parts 1 and 2 here. San Junipero is a virtual afterlife into… Read more »
In the second part of this blog series, we will look at three episodes where proposed technologies involve human consciousness. We will see if these technologies can become real possibilities in the near future. If you have not seen the episodes, do not worry, spoilers are kept at a minimum! You can also read part… Read more »