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Phineas Gage is one of the most famous patients in the history of neuroscience. He was 25 years old when he experienced a serious accident at his work place, where a tamping iron was shot through his head - entering under his eye socket at exiting through the top of his head - after an explosive charge went off. The tamping iron was over a metre long, and after exiting Gage’s head landed 25m away. 

Initially Gage collapsed and went into minor convlusions, but recovered quickly and was able to speak after a few minutes. He walked with little assistance to an ox-cart and was brought to a nearby physician. Initially the physician did not believe his story because he was in such good condition, but was convinced when: 

Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain, which fell upon the floor.

Gage exhibited a number of dramatic behavioural changes following the accident. Harlow, the physician who initially treated Gage, described this change “He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not pre­vi­ous­ly his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires”. However the surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow described his condition as improving over the course of recovery, stated he was “quite recovered in faculties of body and mind”. This may have been early evidence of neural plasticity. This recovery was also reported by a physician who knew Gage while he lived in Chile, who described his ability to hold on a full time job as a Concord coach driver, a job that required exceptional social skills.

Gage’s neurological deficits following his traumatic brain injury is thought to have been exaggerated and distorted over the course of history, to the point that he is often portrayed as a ‘psychopath’. Scientific analysis of the historical accounts of Gage’s life following his accident, namely by the psychologist Malcolm Macmillan, find that these distorted accounts are most likely untrue, and that Gage made a very good recovery.

Post-mortem analysis of the Gage case concluded that it was the left frontal lobe that was damaged in the accident, although further neurological damage may have resulted from infection. Combined examination of the Phineas Gage case with the other famous cases of Tan and H.M. have concluded that social behaviour, memory, and language are dependent on the co-ordination of a number of different brain areas rather than a single region.

Types of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

Typical complications of SCI include:
Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD)
Orthostatic Hypotension (OH)
Spinal Shock
Spasticity and Hypertonia
Contracture
Pain
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Heterotopic Ossification
Osteoporosis and Risk of Fracture
Pressure Sores
Impaired Temperature Control
Pulmonary Impairment
Bladder, Bowel and Sexual Impairments

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Vitamin D and aging--Lite

Hello, it’s your local Australian Shitposter here back with some more Exciting Content. This particular post will be the non-biologist-friendly version of a vitamin D paper I just read, which will just detail the behavioral studies. If that catches your fancy, I’ll be posting a biology-heavy (ish, I’m only undergrad after all) post about the study, detailing genetics and proteins behind the behavioral affects seen.

SO! It’s no secret that as you age, your cognitive abilities (executive and/or memory) decline. So a big emphasis in research lately has been on preventing or improving these deficits. This is the case in the study I’m posting about today by Latimer, et al. They theorized that there is a connection between Vitamin D levels and learning and memory, specificially that cognitive decline with aging can be slowed or prevented by higher vitamin D intake.

Research has long known vitamin D, specifically its active form 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, did play a roll in the brain, however it wasn’t until recently that vitamin D receptors (VDR) were found in the brain. Not only that, but the brain itself is capable of synthesizing it.

So how do we go about finding out whether or not there’s a connection? Well, first you need an independent variable, varying levels of vitamin D equalling the human levels ranging from deficient-sufficient, subjects, middle aged rats, (far cheaper and easier to manipulate than actual middle-aged people. Probably less racist, too, but I digress) fed the diet for 5-6 months, to mimic years of aging in humans during which cognitive decline would occur, and a way to test the dependent variable: a maze to quantify learning and memory. 

So, the behavioral test used is the Morris Water Maze (MWM). Animals don’t like water, as you can imagine, so they swim around until they find the platform. They do this for days 1-3. Day 4, they test how quickly and directly they get to the platform they learned to find. These days asses hippocampal-dependent memory. Day 5, they move the platform location which as you can imagine, confused the fuck out of the rats. How quickly a rat gets unconfused by this shit-show is an indication of their executive function, aka, reversal learning, used to detect deficits in executive function, as detailed in another post of mine. Days 5-7 they work through this bullshit so that hopefully by day 8 they’ve gotten over the old rules and are just as proficient in this new platform location as they once were with the original.

So! I’m going to explain each of these graphs. A… obviously is the schedule I just described. B) Latency on training days. As you can see, all the lines are about the same for days 1-3. This is good, because it means it isn’t affecting the rats’ ability to learn skills, which is not what they’re testing so it’d be a bit awkward if they found something about vitamin D and learning… actually also useful but ANYWAYS we’re glad we don’t have to worry about this additional variable. As for day 4, you can see there is no significant difference between the three, from this one would conclude that vitamin D doesn’t create an extreme deficit in memory, as would be indicated in day 4. C) Bar graph form of day 4 on the line graph still showing there isn’t significance, but you can more clearly see here that low vitamin D does show a trend towards requiring longer and more distance to find the platform. Not significant though, so graph D digs deeper) Performance on reversal learning, Day 8, as you can see, low and medium vitamin D diet subjects required quite a bit of time and distance to find the platform, while the high vitamin D diet subjects were able to unlearn the old location and learn (more importantly, remember) the location of the new platform. The reversal learning task indicates a greater performance of executive function in the higher vitamin D diet subjects. 

Bar graphs and line graphs not your thing? How about just a picture!


All these data points were taken from day 8. You can see the High VitD3 animals went pretty much immediately to the platform, which Medium and low showed a tendency to wonder, creating visual evidence of greater memory performance of High VitD3 animals.

Conclusion? Kinda: Sufficient vitamin D levels may prevent cognitive decline in aging rats… and thus, maybe eventually, in humans.

HA! And this was the light one… anyways, sorry for the lack of snark, I’m sleepy it’s 9:14 in Australia and 6am in Ohio soooo… yikes. Good night/morning everyone!

Source: Latimer, C., Brewer, L., Searcy, J., Chen, K., Popovic, J., Kraner, S., Thibault, O., Blalock, E., Landfield, P., and Porter, N. (2014). Vitamin D prevents cognitive decline and enhances hippocampal synaptic function in aging rats. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. E4359-E4366.

on.forbes.com
The Limit Does Not Exist by Forbes on iTunes

We talk with Kate Fehlhaber, neuroscientist, photographer, pianist, and science communicator, who just completed her PhD at UCLA. We discuss how Kate walks the tightrope between art and science, as well as the connection between her particular area of neuroscience research and photography. We also break down the bias of illusory superiority, the left brain/right brain myth and why it persists in pop culture, and the neuroscientist thinking of Proust.

 

[20170101 09:23]

Welcome to my studyblr! This is my first original post on this blog and I’m really excited for the new year :) These are some of my notes from my neuroscience class last semester and I’m kind of sad that it’s over because brains are cool dude (I’m a prospective neuroscience major so more brains in the future~). 

Taken from my instagram @izzybooks

Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words

It’s hard to imagine being unable to turn thoughts into words. But, if the delicate web of language networks in your brain became disrupted by stroke, illness or trauma, you could find yourself truly at a loss for words. This disorder, called “aphasia,” can impair all aspects of communication. Approximately 1 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from aphasia, with an estimated 80,000 new cases per year.  About one-third of stroke survivors suffer from aphasia, making it more prevalent than Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, yet less widely known.

There are several types of aphasia, grouped into two categories: fluent (or “receptive”) aphasia and non-fluent (or “expressive”) aphasia. 

People with fluent aphasia may have normal vocal inflection, but use words that lack meaning. They have difficulty comprehending the speech of others and are frequently unable to recognize their own speech errors. 

People with non-fluent aphasia, on the other hand, may have good comprehension, but will experience long hesitations between words and make grammatical errors. We all have that “tip-of-the-tongue” feeling from time to time when we can’t think of a word. But having aphasia can make it hard to name simple everyday objects.  Even reading and writing can be difficult and frustrating.

It’s important to remember that aphasia does not signify a loss in intelligence. People who have aphasia know what they want to say, but can’t always get their words to come out correctly. They may unintentionally use substitutions, called “paraphasias” – switching related words, like saying dog for cat, or words that sound similar, such as house for horse. Sometimes their words may even be unrecognizable.  

So, how does this language-loss happen? The human brain has two hemispheres. In most people, the left hemisphere governs language.  We know this because in 1861, the physician Paul Broca studied a patient who lost the ability to use all but a single word: “tan.” During a postmortem study of that patient’s brain, Broca discovered a large lesion in the left hemisphere, now known as “Broca’s area.” Scientists today believe that Broca’s area is responsible in part for naming objects and coordinating the muscles involved in speech. Behind Broca’s area is Wernicke’s area, near the auditory cortex. That’s where the brain attaches meaning to speech sounds. Damage to Wernicke’s area impairs the brain’s ability to comprehend language. Aphasia is caused by injury to one or both of these specialized language areas.

Fortunately, there are other areas of the brain which support these language centers and can assist with communication.  Even brain areas that control movement are connected to language. Our other hemisphere contributes to language too, enhancing the rhythm and intonation of our speech. These non-language areas sometimes assist people with aphasia when communication is difficult.

However, when aphasia is acquired from a stroke or brain trauma, language improvement may be achieved through speech therapy.  Our brain’s ability to repair itself, known as “brain plasticity,” permits areas surrounding a brain lesion to take over some functions during the recovery process. Scientists have been conducting experiments using new forms of technology, which they believe may encourage brain plasticity in people with aphasia.  

Meanwhile, many people with aphasia remain isolated, afraid that others won’t understand them or give them extra time to speak. By offering them the time and flexibility to communicate in whatever way they can, you can help open the door to language again, moving beyond the limitations of aphasia.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words - Susan Wortman-Jutt

Animation by TED-Ed

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Feeling motivated and pretty good today, I want to pass that exam on Wednesday as good as possible ✨ I do love mildliners, they are gorgeous (even though they last for 2 months 😞) but I’m so motivated just by using them ☀️ I hope you’re motivated and happy and y'all going to rock your exams 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼

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Life from the perspective of colour blind people 

Deuteranomalia: This is caused by reduced sensitivity to green light. Deutan color vision deficiencies are by far the most common forms of color blindness. This subtype of red-green color blindness is found in about 6% of the male population, mostly in its mild form deuteranomaly.

Protanopia: Caused by a reduced sensitivity to red light due to either defective or a lack of long -wavelength cones (red cones). Some scientists estimate that being a protan is associated with a risk of a road accident equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of between 0.05 and 0.08 per cent.

Tritanopia:  People affected by tritan color blindness confuse blue with green and yellow with violet.  This is due to a defective short-wavelength cone (blue cone). Whilst  Protanopia and Deuteranomalia are significantly more common in men, tritanopia affects both sexes in equal amounts.

Monochromacy: Only around 0.00003% of the world’s population suffers from total color blindness, where everything is seen in black and white. 

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Productive day today! Biology revision and I did a lot of reading 📖 today. One more class today, then I’ll try to finish my essay. I also bought 3 new books (I already read circle, but I just borrowed it) I’m looking forward to read thinking, fast and slow, I need to finish my English lectures first😧 Hope y'all having a good day and a good time!☀️

Scientists have pinpointed the ticklish bit of a rat’s brain.

The results, published in the journal Science, are another step toward understanding the origins of ticklishness, and its purpose in social animals.

Although virtually every human being on the planet has been tickled, scientists really don’t understand why people are ticklish. The idea that a certain kind of touching could easily lead to laughter is confusing to a neuroscientist, says Shimpei Ishiyama, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, Germany.

“Just a physical touch inducing such an emotional output — this is very mysterious,” Ishiyama says. “This is weird.”

To try and get a handle on how tickling works, Ishiyama studied rats, who seem to enjoy being tickled, according to previous research. He inserted electrodes into the rats’ brains, in a region called their somatosensory cortex.

Brain Scientists Trace Rat Ticklishness To Play Behavior

Photo: Shimpei Ishiyama and Michael Brecht/Science

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Have you ever wondered??

9.7 it’s ya girl fresh from her first ever college class!! it’s probably a good sign that I fell in love with it immediately, as it’s the first requirement in my bio/neuro major :)) I also decided to go with a normal planner this year sadly, a bujo just took too much time to keep up with and I’m going for efficiency!!

A Collection Of Books By Neurologist Oliver Sacks

If you’re interested in neuroscience or psychology, I’d highly reccomend any book by Oliver Sacks! I get asked a lot about books to read so you can also check out this video I made with my top 7 and this masterpost which includes websites where you can learn more!

1. Migrane

For centuries, physicians have been fascinated by the many manifestations of migraine, and especially by the visual hallucinations or auras- similar in some ways to those induced by hallucinogenic drugs or deliria–which often precede a migraine. Dr. Sacks describes these hallucinatory constants, and what they reveal about the working of the brain. 

2. Awakenings

Awakenings is the remarkable account of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen in a decades-long sleep, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of these individuals, the stories of their lives, and the extraordinary transformations they underwent with treatment.

3. The Island of The Color Blind

Oliver Sacks has always been fascinated by islands, and this book is an account of his work with an isolated community of islanders born totally colorblind.  He listens to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow.

4. Uncle Tungsten

A book about Sacks’ childood;  his discovery of biology, his departure from his childhood love of chemistry and, at age 14, a new understanding that he would become a doctor.

5. An Anthropologist on Mars

This book talks about 7 seemingly paradoxical neurological conditions: including a surgeon consumed by the compulsive tics of Tourette’s Syndrome except when he is operating; an artist who loses all sense of color in a car accident, but finds a new sensibility and creative power in black and white; and an autistic professor who has great difficulty deciphering the simplest social exchange between humans, but has built a career out of her intuitive understanding of animal behavior. 

6.  Seeing Voices

 A journey into the world of deaf culture, and the neurological and social underpinnings of the remarkable visual language of the congenitally deaf. Sacks writes “The existence of a visual language, Sign, and the visual intelligence that goes with its acquisition, shows us that the brain is rich in potentials we would scarcely have guessed of, shows us the almost unlimited resource of the human organism when it is faced with the new and must adapt.”

abstract science → neuroscience

the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience is recognized as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, cognitive science, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics, medicine (including neurology), genetics, and allied disciplines including philosophy, physics, and psychology.

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Human Brain!