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The world’s most detailed scan of the brain’s internal wiring has been produced by scientists at Cardiff University.

Not only does the scan show the direction of the messaging, but also the density of the brain’s wiring. Conventional scans clearly show lesions - areas of damage - in the brain of MS patients.But this advanced scan, showing axonal density, can help explain how the lesions affect motor and cognitive pathways - which can trigger movement problems and extreme fatigue.

Prof Derek Jones, CUBRIC’s director, said it was like getting hold of the Hubble telescope when you’ve been using binoculars. “The promise for researchers is that we can start to look at structure and function together for the first time,” he said.

It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience.

In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron.

But in this instance, the metal bar created a spark that touched off the charge. That, in turn, “drove this tamping iron up and out of the hole, through his left cheek, behind his eye socket, and out of the top of his head,” says Jack Van Horn, an associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Gage didn’t die. But the tamping iron destroyed much of his brain’s left frontal lobe, and Gage’s once even-tempered personality changed dramatically.

“He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity, which was not previously his custom,” wrote John Martyn Harlow, the physician who treated Gage after the accident.

This sudden personality transformation is why Gage shows up in so many medical textbooks, says Malcolm Macmillan, an honorary professor at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences and the author of An Odd Kind of Fame: Stories of Phineas Gage.

“He was the first case where you could say fairly definitely that injury to the brain produced some kind of change in personality,” Macmillan says.

Why Brain Scientists Are Still Obsessed With The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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In some cultures, it’s traditional for elders to smoke weed, a practice said to help them pass on knowledge. A study done by Andreas Zimmer at the university of Bonn, Germany seems to add truth to this tradtion. The investigators are studying the endocannabinoid system, which helps balance out our bodies’ response to stress. Mice whose endocannabinoid system don’t work properly age faster, leading Zimmer to investigate if stimulating the system may have the opposite effect. Zimmer’s team is now planning trials to see if these observations can be replicated in humans.

Scientists Become Research Subjects in After-Hours Brain-Scanning Project

A quest to analyze the unique features of individual human brains evolved into the so-called Midnight Scan Club, a group of scientists who had big ideas but almost no funding and little time to research the trillions of neural connections that activate the body’s most powerful organ.

The research is in Neuron. (full access paywall)

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. 

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Crystals of the hormone oxytocin

In women, this hormone is secreted naturally by the pituitary gland. Oxytocin has a variety of roles. This includes causing contractions of the uterus during labour, and the stimulation of the flow of milk in women who are breast-feeding. In men, oxytocin causes contraction of the reproductive tract during ejaculation to aid sperm release (lol). It is also thought to be involved in bonding and the formation of long-lasting relationships.

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

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)

Synchronicity is the fabric of the universe, and it validates astrology.

Mercury’s energy is electric; a quick and constant buzz – flexible, adaptable, progressive, perpetually busy, erratic but somehow remaining logical and systematic within that chaos. It is the entire aliveness of the cerebral mind embodied in one force, containing the eternal stream of mental processes within perimeters of reason: intellectual architecture, teeming with activity. Its title as a “messenger” originates from its mythological link to the Greek god Hermes, who lived to deliver information at lightning speed; the knowledge that such an energy belongs to or is created by Mercury is clearly ancient.

Celestially, Mercury has an equally active & extreme temperament. It revolves around the sun faster & more frequently than any other planet in our solar system; its surface varies between vast plains and deep, smooth craters to volcanoes and jagged ridges formed by rapid temperature changes; its internal temperature is hundreds of degrees colder than the external temperature, evident in the fact that ice forms upon it despite its close proximity to a star; it lacks an atmosphere so atoms are constantly cycling toward & away from it, and so on. It really could not be in more of an unstable position, yet there’s a delicate balance that holds it in place, and it continues to run regular laps.

The human cerebral landscape is strikingly similar. The brain contains approximately 100 billion cells on average & none of them ever stop moving. Every neuron has a specific job that is determined primarily by its location, and there is a particular structure to the functions of the neurons based on territory and purpose, but within that structure resides untamed fireworks of endless activity – cells are born & die rapidly, each of them exploding with information and stimulated receptivity, flooding the mind with a mosaic of collective motion so smoothly and so quickly that we are able to see, hear, smell, taste, feel, think, theorize, philosophize, understand, know, study, consider, remember, rotate, lift, flex, press, constrict, stretch, release, react…. able to be human, and to be present within that being: aware of it. Conscious. Alive. The very components that cause the brain to work – such as electricity and chemical reactions – are present in abstract energy and the physicality of planets.

These three planes are intricately interwoven & it’s incredible that they form such a cohesive whole (from an astrological perspective). They are separate strands of research & experience, formed on separate timelines with separate intentions – how could they possibly be this flawlessly parallel without a fundamental truth lying at the heart of it all? Astrology is a vital branch of the study of “why,” and choosing not to acknowledge that is essentially choosing to throw away one of the keys to unlocking that fundamental truth. We will never find all the answers if we continue to limit the questions.

April 14th 2017 | four / a hundred days of productivity 

Neuroscience is still killing me. I love this course, hate my prof, and am very, very scared for this final. She’s just so disorganized that I have no idea what we’ll be tested on?? Anyway, drowning myself in coffee and eating ice cream for breakfast - what an adult I am.