[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

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

Hearing with your eyes – A Western style of speech perception

Which parts of a person’s face do you look at when you listen them speak? Lip movements affect the perception of voice information from the ears when listening to someone speak, but native Japanese speakers are mostly unaffected by that part of the face. Recent research from Japan has revealed a clear difference in the brain network activation between two groups of people, native English speakers and native Japanese speakers, during face-to-face vocal communication.

It is known that visual speech information, such as lip movement, affects the perception of voice information from the ears when speaking to someone face-to-face. For example, lip movement can help a person to hear better under noisy conditions. On the contrary, dubbed movie content, where the lip movement conflicts with a speaker’s voice, gives a listener the illusion of hearing another sound. This illusion is called the “McGurk effect.”

According to an analysis of previous behavioral studies, native Japanese speakers are not influenced by visual lip movements as much as native English speakers. To examine this phenomenon further, researchers from Kumamoto University measured and analyzed gaze patterns, brain waves, and reaction times for speech identification between two groups of 20 native Japanese speakers and 20 native English speakers.

The difference was clear. When natural speech is paired with lip movement, native English speakers focus their gaze on a speaker’s lips before the emergence of any sound. The gaze of native Japanese speakers, however, is not as fixed. Furthermore, native English speakers were able to understand speech faster by combining the audio and visual cues, whereas native Japanese speakers showed delayed speech understanding when lip motion was in view.

“Native English speakers attempt to narrow down candidates for incoming sounds by using information from the lips which start moving a few hundreds of milliseconds before vocalizations begin. Native Japanese speakers, on the other hand, place their emphasis only on hearing, and visual information seems to require extra processing,” explained Kumamoto University’s Professor Kaoru Sekiyama, who lead the research.

Kumamoto University researchers then teamed up with researchers from Sapporo Medical University and Japan’s Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) to measure and analyze brain activation patterns using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Their goal was to elucidate differences in brain activity between the two languages.

The functional connectivity in the brain between the area that deals with hearing and the area that deals with visual motion information, the primary auditory and middle temporal areas respectively, was stronger in native English speakers than in native Japanese speakers. This result strongly suggests that auditory and visual information are associated with each other at an early stage of information processing in an English speaker’s brain, whereas the association is made at a later stage in a Japanese speaker’s brain. The functional connectivity between auditory and visual information, and the manner in which the two types of information are processed together was shown to be clearly different between the two different language speakers.

“It has been said that video materials produce better results when studying a foreign language. However, it has also been reported that video materials do not have a very positive effect for native Japanese speakers,” said Professor Sekiyama. “It may be that there are unique ways in which Japanese people process audio information, which are related to what we have shown in our recent research, that are behind this phenomenon.”

These findings were published in the journal “Scientific Reports” on August 11th and October 13th, 2016.

MRI of the Fetal Brain

Advancements in MRI are giving us an unprecedented look at the fetal brain.

Until approximately a decade ago, what researchers knew about the developing prenatal brain came primarily from analyzing the brains of aborted or miscarried fetuses. But studying postmortem brains can be confounding because scientists can’t definitively pinpoint whether the injuries to the brain occurred before or during birth. 

Over the years, however, improvements to MRI are finally enabling researchers to study the developing brain in real time. With these advancements, researchers are just beginning to understand how normal brains develop, and how abnormalities can manifest over the course of development. Scientists cataloguing typical infant brain development with the mini-MRI hope to use it eventually to study the brains of premature babies, who have a high risk of brain damage. Ultimately, clinicians hope to intervene early with therapies, if available and approved, to prevent developmental disorders when there are signs of brain damage in utero or shortly after birth.

Read more here in Nature Medicine. 

2

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.

Modern medical science is absolutely amazing. We are learning so much these days and with ever-growing rapidity. The new information rushes at us like a speeding train. However, that said, our understanding of the brain is in its infancy. We are still in the stone age when it comes to understanding the brain and how it works. The late Carl Sagan once said that as far as we as a species know, the human brain may be the most complex thing in the universe.

Cosmos, episode 11, “The Persistence of Memory” (0:50:00)

3

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!☀️

instagram

Have you ever wondered??

youtube

My Recommended Neuroscience/Psychology Books!

I’m always asked for what books I recommend to learn more about the human brain and behaviour so I’ve collected my top 7 in this video! I hope you enjoy, and feel free to put any others in the comments. A bigger masterpost can also be found here.

So I sat the GAMSAT yesterday 💉 And today (after a substantial amount of sleep) I started my day by reading this wonderful novel. 

For those of you who haven’t read it, I’d 100% recommend! For anyone wondering, the flash cards are called Moore’s Clinical Anatomy Flash Cards ☀️☀️

P.S. You can follow my Instagram here: taylamaree7

Emotion: The Tyranny of the Brain Chemicals

by Saṃsāran  

Since the time of the ancient Greeks, people have divided the psyche into thought and emotion. Philosophers have noted that “we” become our thoughts. So, who is this “we” if it is not our thoughts? I’ll tell you. This “we” is our subjective emotional state. A thought without an attached emotion is a black and white thing. A colorless thing. It seems that everything we do is to achieve a pleasant or at least a non-unpleasant emotional state.

Our outside circumstances are not the end goal. We do not wish to have riches and power for their own sake. We want them because we believe that if we have these things we will be content and it is contentment which is the ultimate accomplishment of any animal. The opposite of content is discontent and discontent is mostly anxiety. 

People seek out pleasure because it is a source, albeit a temporary one, of contentment. People bungee jump not for the “thrill” which is just a word for controlled fear, but because our brains reward us after a brush with danger with a burst of contentment. We made it. This time.

We drink and drug for contentment. Just ask any junkie. After orgasm. there is the “afterglow” which is a brief period of emotional reward for having mated. All animals experience this in some form. 

Since everything we do is an attempt to achieve this emotional state and this emotional state is a chemical state then we are slaves to these chemicals. If these chemicals are out of balance then no matter how rich, powerful, smart, wise or successful we are it will not be enough. It is easy for most of us to believe that if only this or that happened we would just be happy. It is harder to understand when those we perceive as having these things are miserable. Kurt Cobain blew his brains out? Young, rich and successful?  A new Dad?

Robin Williams hangs himself and he is wealthy beyond belief and universally loved. In fact, a lot of successful people become hopeless because they have achieved their dreams but are still discontent.

Is there an answer for this human dilemma?

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
– Socrates