Avoid some of the Main Brain Damaging Habits

1. No Breakfast – People who don’t eat breakfast have lower blood sugar levels. This can lead to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain (and to underperformance in terms of thinking, processing , retrieval and memory skills).
2. Overreacting – This can flood the brain with chemical which interferes with clear thinking, logical analysis and memory.
3. Smoking – This can cause a shrinkage in the brain, and possibly lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
4. High Sugar Consumption – Consuming too much sugar interferes with the absorption of proteins and nutrients. These are essential for healthy brain development.
5. Air Pollution – The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain. Again, this can reduce and interfere with the brain’s healthy functioning.
6. Sleep Deprivation – Sleep allows our brain to rest and rejuvenate itself. Long term sleep deprivation accelerates the death of brain cells. It interferes with putting down new memory traces, effective problem solving and memory retention.
7. Exercising your Brain in Times of Illness – Working or studying during times of sickness can lead to a ineffective thinking, poor processing, and to poor memory and retention.
8. Lack of Stimulation – Thinking is the best way to train our brain. Lack of stimulation can prevent new neural pathways from forming. It can also prevent us from reaching our potential in terms of creative thinking and analytical thinking.

Source: The World Health Organisation

Entire Rabbit Brain Successfully Frozen and Revived For First Time

Researchers from 21st Century Medicine (21CM) have for the first time successfully frozen and recovered an entire mammalian brain. This remarkable feat earned researchers the Small Mammal Brain Preservation Prize, awarded by the Brain Preservation Foundation.

The cryogenically preserved brain belonged to a rabbit, and using an innovative technique called Aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation (ASC), researchers were able to return the animal’s brain to near-perfect condition.  

“Using a combination of ultrafast chemical fixation and cryogenic storage, it is the first demonstration that near­ perfect, long-term structural preservation of an intact mammalian brain is achievable,” the Brain Preservation Foundation wrote in a news release.

Their study was recently published in the journal Cryobiology.  

Researchers successfully froze a rabbit’s brain, preserving its all of its synapses, cell membranes, and intracellular structures for the first time.  (Photo : Wikimedia Commons ) 

Naturally making your brain more efficient

It’s unclear whether brain-training games actually help our brain, especially in the long term. While there may not be a “magic pill” to make our brains more efficient, gaining new knowledge and using existing knowledge in new ways can improve our attention abilities, according to new research by Rachel Wu, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside.

“Adults can increase their attention skills by grouping objects into categories, and then using these categories to search for objects more efficiently. In other words, we can build new knowledge or use existing knowledge to increase our attention. Infants and children similarly can increase their attention skills by categorizing objects,” explained Wu.

Wu’s study showed one way in which we can become more efficient in our attention abilities – by using newly acquired knowledge of individual items to group them into categories.

“You can think about it this way – by knowing the category of food, it makes it much easier to search for something to eat for lunch, rather than searching for the huge number of individual items that you could eat for lunch. This new study showed how you can increase your attention abilities by learning about features of individual items to build a new category,” said Wu.

Image via @derekimai

Test Rapidly, Accurately Profiles Genetics and Treatment of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors can be rapidly and accurately profiled with a next-generation, gene-sequencing test developed at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

The test, called GlioSeq™, is now being used by UPMC oncologists to help guide treatment planning of brain cancers, said senior investigator Marina Nikiforova, M.D., professor of pathology, Pitt School of Medicine, and director of UPMC’s Molecular & Genomic Pathology Laboratory. Her team’s findings about the test were recently published in Neuro-Oncology.

“The diagnosis of brain tumors has been based primarily on cellular features seen under the microscope,” Dr. Nikiforova said. “However, patients with tumors that look identical may experience different clinical outcomes and responses to treatment because the underlying genetic characteristics of their tumors differ. We designed this panel to quickly identify those traits from very small biopsies of the brain lesion.”

“This can help guide the physician and the patient in planning treatment, since the molecular information allows us to more precisely characterize tumors and more confidently predict survival and response to therapy.  In addition, Glioseq™ facilitates the identification of clinical trial options with the appropriate molecular targets, as well as cases in which molecularly targeted drugs are available,” said co-investigator Frank Lieberman, M.D., professor of neurology, neurosurgery and medical oncology at Pitt and director of the Adult Neuro-Oncology Program at UPMC CancerCenter, partner of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Read more

Funding: The project was funded in part by National Institutes of Health grants CA155764 and NS37704.

Raise your voice in support of expanding federal funding for life-saving medical research by joining the AAMC’s advocacy community.

2

Most animals have smooth brains. The brains of humans (and a handful of animals we consider pretty intelligent – dolphins, chimps, elephants, pigs) start out smooth in the early days of gestation and get more and more wrinkled through infancy.

A wrinkled brain makes sense - folding means you can have a really big cortex but the different parts of the brain won’t be as far apart. But how do brains become wrinkled? Is it programmed somehow - does some genetic code determine the pattern of folds?

A new study from Harvard says no - its just simple physics. They created a 3D model of a smooth fetal brain and coated it with an elastomer gel “cortex.” When they immersed this brain in a special solution, the gel swelled, mimicking brain growth.

Lo and behold, the brain began to buckle, creating folds similar to size, shape and location of a real brain.

Image credit: Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS

Since I get asked a lot about where to learn more about the human brain and behaviour, I’ve made a masterpost of books, websites, videos and online courses to introduce yourself to that piece of matter that sits between your ears.

Books

  • The Brain Book  by Rita Carter
  • The Pyschology Book (a good starter book)  by DK
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow  by Daniel Kahneman
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  by Susan Cain
  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat  by Oliver Sacks
  • The Brain: The Story of You  by David Eagleman
  • The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science  by Norman Doidge
  • This Is Your Brain on Music  by Daniel Levitin
  • The Autistic Brain by Richard Panek and Temple Grandin (highly reccomended)
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind  by Yuval Noah Harari (not really brain-related, but it is single handedly the best book I have ever read)

Websites

Videos & Youtube Channels

Online Courses

2

New brain implant could move paralyzed limbs with just a thought

It’s called a stent-electrode recording array, and it has been used for the last few years for neurological conditions, according to a paper by University of Melbourne researchers. But a 39-person team from 16 of the university’s departments think it could be used to make people walk again. But wait it gets even better.

Follow @the-future-now