All in the Timing: Mapping Auditory Brain Cells for Hearing Precision

When it comes to hearing, precision is important. Because vertebrates, such as birds and humans, have two ears—and sounds from either side travel different distances to arrive at each one—localizing sound involves discerning subtle differences in when sounds arrive. The brain has to keep time better than a Swiss watch to locate where sound is coming from.

In fact, the quality of this sound processing precision is a limiting factor in how well one detects the location of sound and perceives speech.

A team of researchers led by R. Michael Burger, neuroscientist and associate professor in Lehigh’s Department of Biological Sciences, has identified the specific synaptic and post-synaptic characteristics that allow auditory neurons to compute with temporal precision—ultimately revealing the optimal arrangement of both input and electrical properties needed for neurons to process their “preferred” frequency with maximum precision.

In order for birds and mammals to hear, hair cells in the cochlea—the auditory portion of the inner ear—vibrate in response to sounds and thereby convert sound into electrical activity. Each hair cell is tuned to a unique frequency tone, which humans ultimately experience as pitch.

Every hair cell in the cochlea is partnered with several neurons that convey information from the ear to the brain in an orderly way. The tone responses in the cochlea are, essentially, “remapped” to the cochlear nucleus, the first brain center to process sounds.

This unique spatial arrangement of how sounds of different frequencies are processed in the brain is called tonotopy. It can be visualized as a kind of sound map: tones that are close to each other in terms of frequency are represented by neighboring neurons of the cochlear nucleus.

Timing precision is important to cochlear nucleus neurons because their firing pattern is specific for each sound frequency. That is, their output pattern is akin to a digital code that is unique for each tone.

“In the absence of sound, neurons fire randomly and at a high rate,” says Burger. “In the presence of sound, neurons fire in a highly stereotyped manner known as phase-locking—which is the tendency for a neuron to fire at a particular phase of a periodic stimulus or sound wave.”

Previous research by Burger and Stefan Oline, a former Ph.D. candidate at Lehigh, now a postdoctoral fellow at New York University Medical School, demonstrated for the first time that synaptic inputs—the messages being sent between cells—are distinct across frequencies and that these different impulse patterns are “mapped” onto the cells of the cochlear nucleus. They further established the computational processes by which neurons “tuned” to process low frequency sound actually improve the phase-locking precision of the impulses they receive. However, the mechanisms that allow neurons to respond properly to these frequency-specific incoming messages remained poorly understood.

In new research, published in an article in The Journal of Neuroscience, Burger and Oline, along with Dr. Go Ashida of the University of Oldenburg in Germany, have investigated auditory brain cell membrane selectivity and observed that the neurons “tuned” to receive high-frequency sound preferentially select faster input than their low-frequency-processing counterparts—and that this preference is tolerant of changes to the inputs being received.

“A low frequency cell will tolerate a slow input and still be able to fire, but a high frequency cell requires a very rapid input and rejects slow input,” says Burger. “The neurons essentially demand that the high-frequency input be more precise.”

“What I find really striking is that the tuning of these neurons helps them uniquely deal with the constraints of the ear,” says Oline. “Neurons responding to low frequency input can average their inputs from hair cells to improve their resolution. But hair cells aren’t very good at responding to high frequency tones as they introduce a lot of timing errors. Because of this, and because they occur at such a high rate, averaging these inputs is impossible and would smear information across multiple sound waves. So, instead, the high-frequency-processing cells use an entirely different strategy: they are as picky as possible to avoid averaging at all costs.”

Burger and his colleagues built a computer simulation of low frequency and high frequency neurons, based on observations of physiological activity. They then used these computational models to test which combinations of properties are crucial to phase-locking. The model predicted that the optimal arrangement of synaptic and cell membrane properties for phase-locking is specific to stimulus frequency. These computational predictions were then tested physiologically in the neurons.

The team’s model is not only useful for determining how the brain responds to sounds, but also reveals general features of input-output optimization that apply to any brain cell that processes time varying input.

Paving the way to more precise hearing

Understanding the mechanisms that allow cells of the cochlear nucleus to compute with temporal precision has implications for understanding the evolution of the auditory system.

“It’s really the high frequency-processing cells that have uniquely evolved in mammals,” explains Burger.

Understanding these processes may also be important for advancing the technology used to make cochlear implants. A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that helps provide a sense of sound to someone who is deaf or has severe hearing loss. It replaces the function of the damaged inner ear by sending electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve. These impulses, in turn, are interpreted by the brain as sound.

Though an established and effective treatment for many, cochlear implants cannot currently simulate the precision of sound experienced by those with a naturally-developed auditory system. The sound processing lacks the clarity of natural hearing, especially across frequencies.

“Ideally, what you want—whether in your natural auditory system or through a cochlear implant—is the most precise representation in the brain of the various frequencies,” says Burger.

Burger and his colleagues have assembled what is known about the optimal electrical properties and synaptic inputs into a single cohesive model, laying the groundwork needed to investigate some of the big questions in the field of auditory neuroscience. Resolving these questions may someday lead scientists and medical professionals to a better understanding of how to preserve the natural organization of the auditory structures in the brain for those who are born with profound hearing loss.

anonymous asked:

Could you talk more about glial cells and what they do, please? It sounds really interesting!

SKIPS THE QUESTION I WAS ANSWERING TO ANSWER THIS (sorry folks that are waiting, but you’ll learn soon that scientists are fickle, easily excitable little nerds).

Okay, LET ME TELL YOU, FRIEND. 

Glial cells haven’t gotten a lot of attention in the past eternity because scientists are rude there haven’t been many tools to study them. Traditionally, neurons have been the stars of the show- if you’ll notice, it’s called neuroscience, like neurons, not cerebroscience, like brains or neuro/glial sciences, which doesn’t really roll off the tongue. And there are plenty of reasons neuroscientists/physiologists have focused on neurons. Neurons conduct sodium/calcium currents, can propagate action potentials, send electrical and chemical signals to one another, can be huge and complicated and are what your brain uses to control the rest of your body (aka nerves). They’re fancy, they’re exciting (badum TSS), and back when people first started recording from the nervous systems of animals, were the easiest/most practical to investigate; glial cells don’t conduct sodium/potassium currents, don’t seem to have much electrical activity (at first glance), tend to be pretty small. For the longest time, all they seemed to do was clean up after neurons, insulate them to make them a bit more efficient, and provide them with necessary metabolites. Cool, but if neurons are NASA engineers, glial cells are like the janitors and service people of the HQ. Clearly important, valued, but by societal standards, not as cool to know as an aerospace engineer.

Enter calcium waves, the tripartite synapse, radial glia, and forebrain engraftment of astrocytes.

So glial cells can typically be broken down into 3 major types: schwann cells/oligodendrocytes, microglia, and astrocytes. Schwann cells/oligos (for short) are the cells that make up the myelin sheath of a neuron. If you imagine that axons (the projections/arms of neurons) are electrical wire, you can imagine that Schwann cells/oligos are the stuff that insulates them. You never see exposed copper wires where you can reach them, and neurons tend to be like that. Being insulated helps them conduct electrical signals. As a note, the difference between Schwann cells and oligos is that oligos are in the brain and Schwann cells are everywhere else (the spinal cord, for example). 

Microglia are the first defenders of the brain. They’re basically the immune system of the brain, which needs its own thing because what can enter/exit the brain is so tightly controlled (that blood-brain barrier though). As a result, your usual immune cell first responders can’t get through, and the brain would be defenseless without these microglia. Of course, because of this tight regulation, it’s very rare that diseases get into the brain in the first place (brain infections are waaaaay rarer than throat infections, eye infections, sinus infections, etc). This means that microglia are typically going around cleaning up plaques (lumps of unusable proteins) and other trash, breaking down dead/damaged/unneeded neurons and synapses, and generally going around making sure the brain is neat and tidy. When pathogens do get into the brain, they immediately go into attack mode, eating up anything that might hurt the brain and using their cytotoxins to break things down. And when the brain is damaged, if you read the TBI post, they also send signals to other glial cells, neurons, and immune cells to ask for backup or tell them what’s going on. Unfortunately, when microglia are damaged or are overactive, they can also release the same toxins they use to help the brain, causing injuries, swelling, and damage elsewhere. However, that’s in really severe cases. They’re generally really helpful, and they can even help regrow and readjust neural circuitry. 

Finally, we have astrocytes- the STAR of the show (*canned laughter*). Holy crap are astrocytes cool. They get their name from their star shape, but the name is also appropriate for something they do that we call “twinkling” (yes, that is the real name for it. Here’s a video from Smith’s lab at Stanford:

Now, that’s not actually what it looks like in the brain (these astrocytes have been made to express something that makes them light up when calcium moves through the cell, and these are in culture, on a dish), but what you’re seeing is that they do, in fact, have electrical responses to stimuli (the neurotransmitter glutamate, in this case)

In case you want to know what it looks like in neurons, here’s a video from Sur’s lab at MIT (btw neurons also use calcium, but differently):

These are neurons in the visual cortex (the part of your brain responsible for sight) of a living mouse in response to being shown the image on the top right corner. Again, neurons in your brain aren’t constantly glowing, they’ve just been genetically altered to do so here for the sake of being able to measure their activity.

You can see that the neurons respond in what look like networks, that they have larger processes, and that signals travel really far, really fast. Astrocytes are way tinier in comparison and generally slower. But the interesting thing is that, in the brain, astrocytes form something like nets (we call it tiling) that neurons send their axons through. Without going into too much detail, this basically allows astrocytes to grab onto a ton of neuron’s axons at once, so they’re able to hook into the electrical activity and respond to it. Importantly this tiling also allows astrocytes to talk to other astrocytes, meaning that when neurons are carrying all the big important infromation of the brain, astrocytes respond to it, talk to each other, and possibly modulate the signal the neurons are sending. They basically mediate a LOT of the activity going on in the brain.

Another thing you may have heard of is the synapse- basically the tiny space between the tiny bits of two neurons that are talking to each other. If you google “synapse”, you’ll see something that looks like two appendages next to each other- but recently, it’s been discovered that many synapses are actually composed of three cells (thus the name “tripartite”). Astrocytes send their tiny arms around these synaptic contacts and adjust the information that goes from neuron to neuron, then possibly feed information back to other astrocytes, or use that information to know how to adjust information flow at other synapses. They’re not sending all the cool info, maybe, but they’re twiddling with dials, making sure everything is efficient and appropriate.

…This is getting really long so I’ll try to be more concise. 

Radial glia are a type of glial cell that you don’t really have now that you’re grown, but that exist when you’re still in the womb, developing a brain in the first place. First hypothesized by Pasko Rakic (my hero) and later confirmed when we had the tecnology to test it, these cells are found to stretch their arms all the way from the very center point of what will become your brain to its outer edge and provide a structure for baby neurons to crawl up to where they need to be. The vast majority of neurons in your brain right now did this way back before you were even born, and they’re still in the same place they were when they first did this! So basically, radial glia make it possible for your brain to even get organized. Even more visually interesting, some of these cells are also necessary for the formation of sulci and gyri in the brain- that is, the wrinkles that you imagine when you think of what your brain looks like.

BASICALLY, glial cells are waaaaaaaaay more than support cells in the brain and are important for its development, function, and healing.

Now that might be all fine and dandy and fun nerdy brain stuff, but something even cooler: if you give a mouse human astrocytes, they get smarter.

Let me say that again: human astrocytes can make mice smarter.

In an absolutely beautiful, elegant, and stunning study (it’s my favorite tbh), Xiaoning Han, at the lab of Jan Nedergaard at the University of Rochester, implanted neonate mice with human derived astrocytes. These astrocytes were faster, bigger, better, and again, made mice learn faster, both from a behavioral and electrical point of view. Within a day, they were performing as well on different tasks as control mice after a week, and in many cases, they made fewer errors or performed even better with more training. These human-derived astrocytes (which were pulled from stem cells using some cool genetic and technological tricks) not only integrated into the brain structurally, but were able to alter its function– keep in mind, no changes were made to the neurons of the mouse’s brain by the experimenters.

Of course, you should always be skeptical in science, and this was one study, on a limited array of tasks, without knowledge of long term effects, requiring replication, and certainly only possible in mice at the moment, but…. that’s awesome???

So I guess a summary is required. Basically, neurons are really cool and the NASA engineers of the brain, and glial cells are superheroes with janitor day jobs. #science No, but in all seriousness, glial cells are really, really cool and a lot of neuroscientists are starting to investigate them too. Your brain isn’t just neurons, and all those “support” cells are much more impressive than they’ve been given credit. I could probably go on and on for hours, but you get the idea- and if you’re interested, there are plenty of papers you can read online (try looking up the scientists I mentioned above ^). 

I hope this somewhat appeased your curiosity!

–Mod Nopal 🌵

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Giant Artwork Reflects The Gorgeous Complexity of The Human Brain

The new work at The Franklin Institute may be the most complex and detailed artistic depiction of the brain ever.

Your brain has approximately 86 billion neurons joined together through some 100 trillion connections, giving rise to a complex biological machine capable of pulling off amazing feats. Yet it’s difficult to truly grasp the sophistication of this interconnected web of cells.

Now, a new work of art based on actual scientific data provides a glimpse into this complexity.

The 8-by-12-foot gold panel, depicting a sagittal slice of the human brain, blends hand drawing and multiple human brain datasets from several universities. The work was created by Greg Dunn, a neuroscientist-turned-artist, and Brian Edwards, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, and goes on display at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. 

“The human brain is insanely complicated,” Dunn said. “Rather than being told that your brain has 80 billion neurons, you can see with your own eyes what the activity of 500,000 of them looks like, and that has a much greater capacity to make an emotional impact than does a factoid in a book someplace.”

To reflect the neural activity within the brain, Dunn and Edwards have developed a technique called micro-etching: They paint the neurons by making microscopic ridges on a reflective sheet in such a way that they catch and reflect light from certain angles. When the light source moves in relation to the gold panel, the image appears to be animated, as if waves of activity are sweeping through it.

First, the visual cortex at the back of the brain lights up, then light propagates to the rest of the brain, gleaming and dimming in various regions — just as neurons would signal inside a real brain when you look at a piece of art.

That’s the idea behind the name of Dunn and Edwards’ piece: “Self Reflected.” It’s basically an animated painting of your brain perceiving itself in an animated painting.

To make the artwork resemble a real brain as closely as possible, the artists used actual MRI scans and human brain maps, but the datasets were not detailed enough. “There were a lot of holes to fill in,” Dunn said. Several students working with the duo explored scientific literature to figure out what types of neurons are in a given brain region, what they look like and what they are connected to. Then the artists drew each neuron.

Dunn and Edwards then used data from DTI scans — a special type of imaging that maps bundles of white matter connecting different regions of the brain. This completed the picture, and the results were scanned into a computer. Using photolithography, the artists etched the image onto a panel covered with gold leaf.

“A lot of times in science and engineering, we take a complex object and distill it down to its bare essential components, and study that component really well” Edwards said. But when it comes to the brain, understanding one neuron is very different from understanding how billions of neurons work together and give rise to consciousness.

“Of course, we can’t explain consciousness through an art piece, but we can give a sense of the fact that it is more complicated than just a few neurons,” he added.

The artists hope their work will inspire people, even professional neuroscientists, “to take a moment and remember that our brains are absolutely insanely beautiful and they are buzzing with activity every instant of our lives,” Dunn said. “Everybody takes it for granted, but we have, at the very core of our being, the most complex machine in the entire universe.”

Image 1: A computer image of “Self Reflected,” an etching of a human brain created by artists Greg Dunn and Brian Edwards.

Image 2: A close-up of the cerebellum in the finished work.

Image 3: A close-up of the motor cortex in the finished work.

Image 4: This is what “Self Reflected” looks like when it’s illuminated with all white light.

Image 5: Pons and brainstem close up.

Image 6: Putkinje neurons - color encodes reflective position in microetching.

Image 7: Primary visual cortex in the calcarine fissure.

Image 8: Basal ganglia and connected circuitry.

Image 9: Parietal cortex.

Image 10: Cerebellum.

Credit for all Images: Greg Dunn“Self Reflected”

Source: The Huffington Post (by Bahar Gholipour)

Alzheimer’s beginnings prove to be a sticky situation

Laser technology has revealed a common trait of Alzheimer’s disease – a sticky situation that could lead to new targets for medicinal treatments.

Alzheimer’s statistics are always staggering. The neurodegenerative disease affects an estimated 5 million Americans, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or a form of dementia, it claims more lives than breast and prostate cancers combined, and its incidence is rising.

To help fight this deadly disease, Lisa Lapidus, Michigan State University professor of physics and astronomy, has found that peptides, or strings of amino acids, related to Alzheimer’s wiggle at dangerous speeds prior to clumping or forming the plaques commonly associated with Alzheimer’s.

“Strings of 40 amino acids are the ones most-commonly found in healthy individuals, but strings of 42 are much more likely to clump,” said Lapidus, who published the results in the current issue of ChemPhysChem. “We found that the peptides’ wiggle speeds, the step before aggregation, was five times slower for the longer strings, which leaves plenty of time to stick together rather than wiggle out of the way.”

This so-called “wiggle” precedes clumping, or aggregating, which is the first step of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. Lapidus pioneered the use of lasers to study the speed of protein reconfiguration before aggregation.

If reconfiguration is much faster or slower than the speed at which proteins bump into each other, aggregation is slow. If reconfiguration is the same speed, however, aggregation is fast. She calls the telltale wiggle that she discovered the “dangerous middle.”

“The dangerous middle is the speed in which clumping happens fastest,” Lapidus said. “But we were able to identify some ways that we can bump that speed into a safer zone.”

Lapidus and her team of MSU scientists, including Srabasti Acharya (now a biotechnology researcher in the San Francisico Bay area), Kinshuk Srivastava and Suresh Babu Nagarajan, found that increasing pH levels kept the amino acids wiggling at fast, safe speeds. Also, a naturally occurring molecule, curcumin (from the spice turmeric), kept the peptide out of the dangerous middle.

While this is not a viable drug candidate because it does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier, the filter that controls what chemicals reach the brain, they do provide strong leads that could lead to medicinal breakthroughs.

Along with new drug targets, Lapidus’ research provides a potential model of early detection. By the time patients show symptoms and go to a doctor, aggregation already has a stronghold in their brains. Policing amino acids for wiggling at dangerous speeds could tip off doctors long before the patient begins to suffer from the disease.

Link Between Paternal Aging, Autism and ADHD

In the experiments, in order to minimize the physical influence of the father, the male mouse was isolated and in vitro fertilization was used to impregnate the female. The researchers found that the offspring of young fathers exhibited impaired vocal communication, while the offspring of older fathers exhibited hyperlocomotion.

The research is in PLOS ONE. (full open access)

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Book Recommendations: Books that have helped me think and write critically when it comes to scientific literature. I’ve never gotten below a 4.0/1st in a lab report.

This post will be especially helpful for those taking psychology, neuropsychology, neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, pharmacy etc. All books are written by world leading academic researchers and are very well referenced. 

Bad Science by Dr Ben Goldacre - 342pgs, Age 11+.

If there is a book on this list that you read, let it be this! Dr Goldacre focuses on the misuse of science by journalists, homeopaths, schools and big pharmaceutical companies. The book has a great segment on understanding “The Placebo Effect”. Other topics include; Brain Gym, misleading cosmetic adverts, issues with vitamin pills and “toxins”. He has a blog he runs Badscience.net that has great free articles! The book is beautifully referenced and really easy to read, definitely worth investing in. If you can’t spend money on the book just yet, there is a similar free talk here

Drugs: Without the Hot Air by Prof David Nutt - 316pgs, Age 12+.

Prof Nutt incurred the wrath of the UK government when he put forth research papers stating that alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than many illegal drugs, including LSD, ecstasy and cannabis. In “Drugs”, he talks us through the science of what drugs are and how they work, quantifying and comparing the harms caused by different drugs, as well as drug addiction. This book is a great starting point and has educated me on all major drugs better than any textbook has. It’s written in simple English with numerous references and even has a wonderful segment titled “What should I tell my kids about drugs?”. I have had the pleasure of meeting Prof Nutt multiple times and given the slander he has endured, he remains passionate and dedicated to his field. Prof Nutt runs a website aimed at the general public Drugscience.org. There is a similar free talk here.

Bad Pharma by Dr Ben Goldacre - 404pgs, Age 15+.

Another gem by Dr Goldacre, this is a slightly heavier text than the above two books but is a must read for those going into pharmacy or research. Bad Pharma explains where new drugs come from and issues with missing data in clinical trials. Companies run bad trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the benefits by design. When these trials produce unflattering results, the data is simply buried. Dr Goldacre discusses the issues with design and also the harms of not making the missing trial data available. This book is not ‘anti-drug’, this book highlights issues with publication bias and how this needs to be and can be mended in order for doctors and patients to make better informed decisions on the drugs they are prescribing/prescribed.There is a similar free talk here.

The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat by Dr Oliver Sacks - 246pgs, Age 11+.

Written by the late Dr Oliver Sacks, this was the first book I purchased at the age of 13 in the field of neurology that made me go nuts for the brain. As a huge fan of Roald Dahl’s style, this book was just perfect. Dr Sacks turned patient case studies into short stories, inviting you into the incredible world of neurological disorders. The following phenomena are covered: visual agnosias, memory loss, Parkinsonion-symptoms, hallucinations etc. Dr Oliver Sacks has multiple books that are worth investing in, have a look at  Oliversacks.com. There is a similar free talk here.

Phantoms in the Brain by Dr V. S. Ramachandran - 257pgs, Age 15+.

Ramachandran, through his research into brain damage, has discovered that the brain is continually organising itself in response to change. Phantoms in the Brain explores case studies and experiments invented by Dr Ramachandran like the Mirror Box to help understand the underlying issues. Examples of the case studies involve a woman who persists that her left arm is not paralysed (albeit her entire leftside is paralysed) and a young man loses his right arm in a motorcycle accident, yet he continues to feel a phantom arm with vivid sensation of movement. In a series of experiments using nothing more than Q-tips and dribbles of warm water the young man helped Dr Ramachandran discover how the brain is remapped after injury. This book is really enjoyable and is a slightly more in-depth read than The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. There is a similar free talk here.  

The Lucifer Effect by Dr Philip Zimbardo - 488pgs, Age 18+ (due to explicit images).

Prof Zimbardo provides an in-depth analysis of his classic Stanford Prison Experiment, and his personal experiences as an expert witness for one of the Abu Ghraib prison guards, raising fundamental questions about the nature of good and evil. This book has really interesting commentaries on The Columbine Shooting, People’s Temple Mass Suicide, Prison Abuse in Afghanistan etc. I enjoyed the book but it does get really repetitive (it definitely could have been made shorter by 100 pages), the publishers also use a really small font. There is a similar free talk here


Ages have been mentioned not as restrictions but as guidelines in terms of the writing style and sensitivity of the literature. Every book mentioned above doesn’t need to be read chronologically, from cover-to-cover. They have been compiled in such a way that you can dip in and out of the chapters without confusion. Lovely!  All free talks are given by the authors and they cover the same topics that are mentioned in the books. 

If you ever wish to discuss the literature, do get in touch with me! 

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!!

How to Hijack Your Brain’s Reward Circuitry and Make it Work *For* You

The reward circuit of the brain has several component parts, each of which plays a distinct but interconnected role.  We’re going to focus on the five most important parts: the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the ventral striatum, the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the cerebral cortex.

Read the rest of the article here!

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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 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼

Structurally, the nervous system has two components: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. The peripheral nervous system consists of sensory neurons, ganglia (clusters of neurons) and nerves that connect to one another and to the central nervous system.

Functionally, the nervous system has two main subdivisions: the somatic, or voluntary, component; and the autonomic, or involuntary, component. The autonomic nervous system regulates certain body processes, such as blood pressure and the rate of breathing, that work without conscious effort. The somatic system consists of nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord with muscles and sensory receptors in the skin.

[x]

Shedding Light on a Cell That May Contribute to Alzheimer’s and ALS

An achievement by UCLA neuroscientists could lead to a better understanding of astrocytes, a type of cell in the brain that is thought to play a role in Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS; Alzheimer’s disease; Huntington’s disease; and other neurological disorders.

The research is in Neuron. (full access paywall)

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Human Brain!

I googled science pick-up lines and I was not disappointed
  • You’re so hot, you denature my proteins. 
  • Do you have 11 protons? ‘Cause you’re Sodium fine!  
  • You make my anoxic sediments want to increase their redox potential. 
  • I’m more attracted to you than F is attracted to an electron. 
  • We fit together like the sticky ends of recombinant DNA. 
  • You’re hotter than a bunsen burner set to full power. 
  • If I were a neurotransmitter, I would be dopamine so I could activate your reward pathway. 
  • According to the second law of thermodynamics, you’re supposed to share your hotness with me. 
  • How about me and you go back to my place and form a covalent bond?
  • I wish I were Adenine because then I could get paired with U.
  • If you were C6, and I were H12, all we would need is the air we breathe to be sweeter than sugar.
  • I want to stick to u like glue-cose.
  • You must be the one for me, since my selectively permeable membrane let you through. 
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I just uploaded a video on why heartbreak feels like physical pain 💔 let me know what you think!!