jtotheizzoe:

pbsdigitalstudios:

This week It’s Okay to be Smart and BrainCraft have teamed up to teach us about our brains!

Watch “Why Your Brain Is In Your Head” on Joe’s channel here: http://youtu.be/qdNE4WygyAk

Watch “This Is How Your Brain Grows” on Vanessa’s channel here: http://youtu.be/aucscX191vQ

Check out this week’s It’s Okay To Be Smart!!!

I teamed up with the awesome neuroscience channel BrainCraft this week to bring you two awesome brain stories!! And while you’re at it, enjoy these GIF(t)s!

stufftoblowyourmind:

Step into the information elevator with Holly Frey from History Stuff and learn about proprioception — how your brain knows where your body is and what happens when there’s a kink in the brain circuitry. Hint: Woo-woo stuff.

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I hope that you’ll join me on the elevator and hurl through time and space as we explore themes like atomic collapse and humans smelling humans, all while accompanied by delicious HowStuffWorks staff members. Yes, that’s right. Delicious. - Julie

How Lobotomies Work
The lobotomy is a type of neurosurgery, or surgery performed on the brain, known as psychosurgery. The idea behind psychosurgery is that severe forms of mental illness can be treated by changing the way that the brain works. Doctors believed that by severing the connections that the frontal lobes, or prefrontal cortex, had to the rest of the brain, they could calm patients’ emotions and stabilize their personalities without doing away with their intelligence and motor functions.
The prefrontal cortex serves a number of complex functions in the brain, usually called executive functions. (Higher-level decision making and planning, reasoning and understanding, personality expression, creativity and behaving in a socially acceptable way all fit under this category.) The prefrontal cortex is connected to many other regions of the brain, including the thalamus, which receives and relays sensory signals.
The brain is essentially composed of two different types of matter: gray and white. Gray matter includes the neurons, or brain cells, along with their blood vessels and extensions. White matter comprises the axons, or nerve fibers, that connect the areas of gray matter and carry messages between them through electrical impulses. So a lobotomy was intended to sever the white matter between different areas of gray matter. (Another name for lobotomy, leucotomy, means “slice/cut white” in Greek.)
In the United States, about 50,000 patients were lobotomized, most of them between 1949 and 1956. The man who perfected what became the standard of lobotomies, Dr. Walter Freeman, called them “soul surgery” and claimed that they could be used to treat not only schizophrenia, but depression, chronic pain and other mental and physical conditions. Freeman, and other doctors who performed lobotomies, believed that they could relieve suffering. In some cases, they did.
Read on…

How Lobotomies Work

The lobotomy is a type of neurosurgery, or surgery performed on the brain, known as psychosurgery. The idea behind psychosurgery is that severe forms of mental illness can be treated by changing the way that the brain works. Doctors believed that by severing the connections that the frontal lobes, or prefrontal cortex, had to the rest of the brain, they could calm patients’ emotions and stabilize their personalities without doing away with their intelligence and motor functions.

The prefrontal cortex serves a number of complex functions in the brain, usually called executive functions. (Higher-level decision making and planning, reasoning and understanding, personality expression, creativity and behaving in a socially acceptable way all fit under this category.) The prefrontal cortex is connected to many other regions of the brain, including the thalamus, which receives and relays sensory signals.

The brain is essentially composed of two different types of matter: gray and white. Gray matter includes the neurons, or brain cells, along with their blood vessels and extensions. White matter comprises the axons, or nerve fibers, that connect the areas of gray matter and carry messages between them through electrical impulses. So a lobotomy was intended to sever the white matter between different areas of gray matter. (Another name for lobotomy, leucotomy, means “slice/cut white” in Greek.)

In the United States, about 50,000 patients were lobotomized, most of them between 1949 and 1956. The man who perfected what became the standard of lobotomies, Dr. Walter Freeman, called them “soul surgery” and claimed that they could be used to treat not only schizophrenia, but depression, chronic pain and other mental and physical conditions. Freeman, and other doctors who performed lobotomies, believed that they could relieve suffering. In some cases, they did.

Read on

neuromorphogenesis:

MIGRAINES

A migraine headache, often described as an intense throbbing or pulsing on one side of the head, is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Migraine attacks can be especially debilitating and cause significant pain for hours to days. They can be so severe that they interfere with activities of daily living.

Inforgraphic by WholesomeOne

How Amnesia Works

Those movies where someone gets hit on the head and can’t remember who they are anymore? They’re actually not too far off from the reality of amnesia. Learn everything about this bizarre and life-robbing condition with Josh and Chuck in this Stuff You Should Know podcast.

And there’s still time to cast your vote for the SYSK podcast to win a Webby Award! Vote here.

What Are Brain Orgasms and ASMR Whisperers?

In this episode of BrainStuff, Cristen delves into the euphoric sensations of the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) and reveals what triggers it and how science has responded so far.

pubhealth:

Growing Number of Chemicals Linked to Brain Disorders in Children
A new study finds that toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia.
Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say a new way to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.
“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH. “They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”
The new report follows up on a similar study conducted by the researchers in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits.
The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese; fluoride; chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides); tetrachloroethylene (a solvent); and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).
The study outlines possible links between these newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children.
For instance, manganese is associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills. Solvents are linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, while certain types of pesticides may cause cognitive delays.
Grandjean and co-author Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai, postulate that many other chemicals contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that erodes intelligence and disrupts behaviors.
But controlling this pandemic is difficult because of a lack of data to guide prevention and the huge amount of proof needed for government regulation, according to the researchers.
“Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” they write in the study, which was published in Lancet Neurology.
The researchers say it’s crucial to control the use of these chemicals to protect children’s brain development worldwide. They propose mandatory testing of industrial chemicals and the formation of a new international clearinghouse to evaluate industrial chemicals for potential developmental neurotoxicity.
“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” said Grandjean. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”
(From PsychCentral.com via Harvard School of Public Health)

pubhealth:

Growing Number of Chemicals Linked to Brain Disorders in Children

A new study finds that toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say a new way to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.

“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH. “They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”

The new report follows up on a similar study conducted by the researchers in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits.

The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese; fluoride; chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides); tetrachloroethylene (a solvent); and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).

The study outlines possible links between these newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children.

For instance, manganese is associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills. Solvents are linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, while certain types of pesticides may cause cognitive delays.

Grandjean and co-author Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai, postulate that many other chemicals contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that erodes intelligence and disrupts behaviors.

But controlling this pandemic is difficult because of a lack of data to guide prevention and the huge amount of proof needed for government regulation, according to the researchers.

“Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” they write in the study, which was published in Lancet Neurology.

The researchers say it’s crucial to control the use of these chemicals to protect children’s brain development worldwide. They propose mandatory testing of industrial chemicals and the formation of a new international clearinghouse to evaluate industrial chemicals for potential developmental neurotoxicity.

“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” said Grandjean. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”

(From PsychCentral.com via Harvard School of Public Health)

(via kammartinez)

neuromorphogenesis:

Your brain sees things you don’t

A doctoral candidate in the UA’s Department of Psychology in the College of Science, Sanguinetti showed study participants a series of black silhouettes, some of which contained meaningful, real-world objects hidden in the white spaces on the outsides. Saguinetti worked with his adviser Mary Peterson, a professor of psychology and director of the UA’s Cognitive Science Program, and with John Allen, a UA Distinguished Professor of psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience, to monitor subjects’ brainwaves with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, while they viewed the objects.

"We were asking the question of whether the brain was processing the meaning of the objects that are on the outside of these silhouettes," Sanguinetti said. "The specific question was, ‘Does the brain process those hidden shapes to the level of meaning, even when the subject doesn’t consciously see them?"

The answer, Sanguinetti’s data indicates, is yes.

Study participants’ brainwaves indicated that even if a person never consciously recognized the shapes on the outside of the image, their brains still processed those shapes to the level of understanding their meaning.

"There’s a brain signature for meaningful processing," Sanguinetti said. A peak in the averaged brainwaves called N400 indicates that the brain has recognized an object and associated it with a particular meaning.

"It happens about 400 milliseconds after the image is shown, less than a half a second," said Peterson. "As one looks at brainwaves, they’re undulating above a baseline axis and below that axis. The negative ones below the axis are called N and positive ones above the axis are called P, so N400 means it’s a negative waveform that happens approximately 400 milliseconds after the image is shown."

The presence of the N400 peak indicates that subjects’ brains recognize the meaning of the shapes on the outside of the figure.

"The participants in our experiments don’t see those shapes on the outside; nonetheless, the brain signature tells us that they have processed the meaning of those shapes," said Peterson. "But the brain rejects them as interpretations, and if it rejects the shapes from conscious perception, then you won’t have any awareness of them."

"We also have novel silhouettes as experimental controls," Sanguinetti said. "These are novel black shapes in the middle and nothing meaningful on the outside."

The N400 waveform does not appear on the EEG of subjects when they are seeing truly novel silhouettes, without images of any real-world objects, indicating that the brain does not recognize a meaningful object in the image.

"This is huge," Peterson said. "We have neural evidence that the brain is processing the shape and its meaning of the hidden images in the silhouettes we showed to participants in our study."

The finding leads to the question of why the brain would process the meaning of a shape when a person is ultimately not going to perceive it, Sanguinetti said.

"The traditional opinion in vision research is that this would be wasteful in terms of resources," he explained. "If you’re not going to ultimately see the object on the outside why would the brain waste all these processing resources and process that image up to the level of meaning?"

"Many, many theorists assume that because it takes a lot of energy for brain processing, that the brain is only going to spend time processing what you’re ultimately going to perceive," added Peterson. "But in fact the brain is deciding what you’re going to perceive, and it’s processing all of the information and then it’s determining what’s the best interpretation."

"This is a window into what the brain is doing all the time," Peterson said. "It’s always sifting through a variety of possibilities and finding the best interpretation for what’s out there. And the best interpretation may vary with the situation."

Our brains may have evolved to sift through the barrage of visual input in our eyes and identify those things that are most important for us to consciously perceive, such as a threat or resources such as food, Peterson suggested.

In the future, Peterson and Sanguinetti plan to look for the specific regions in the brain where the processing of meaning occurs.

"We’re trying to look at exactly what brain regions are involved," said Peterson. "The EEG tells us this processing is happening and it tells us when it’s happening, but it doesn’t tell us where it’s occurring in the brain."

"We want to look inside the brain to understand where and how this meaning is processed," said Peterson.

Images were shown to Sanguinetti’s study participants for only 170 milliseconds, yet their brains were able to complete the complex processes necessary to interpret the meaning of the hidden objects.

"There are a lot of processes that happen in the brain to help us interpret all the complexity that hits our eyeballs," Sanguinetti said. "The brain is able to process and interpret this information very quickly."

Sanguinetti’s study indicates that in our everyday life, as we walk down the street, for example, our brains may recognize many meaningful objects in the visual scene, but ultimately we are aware of only a handful of those objects. The brain is working to provide us with the best, most useful possible interpretation of the visual world, Sanguinetti said, an interpretation that does not necessarily include all the information in the visual input.

(Source: uanews.org)

theolduvaigorge:

Is this the most extraordinary human brain ever seen?
by Rowan Hooper
"Once you know what it is, this apparently innocuous picture of a blob assumes a terrible gravity. It is an adult human brain that is entirely smooth – free of the ridges and folds so characteristic of our species’ most complex organ.
We can only imagine what life was like for this person. He or she was a resident of what is now North Texas State Hospital, a mental health facility, and diedthere in 1970, but that’s all we know. While the jar containing the brain is labelled with a reference number, the microfilm containing the patient’s medical records has been lost.
Photographer Adam Voorhes spent a year trying to track down more information about this and nearly 100 other human brains held in a collection at the University of Texas, Austin, to no avail. The label on the jar states that the patient had agyria – a lack of gyri and sulci, the ridges and folds formed by the normally wrinkled cerebral cortex. This rare condition, also known aslissencephaly, often leads to death before the age of 10. It can cause muscle spasms, seizures and, as it vastly reduces the surface area of this key part of the brain, a range of learning difficulties.
David Dexter, who runs the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank at Imperial College London, says he has never seen anything like this before: “We do get the odd individual where certain sulci are missing but nothing to the extent of this brain.” Dexter says he is not surprised the person survived to adulthood since the brain is so adaptive, though he guesses there would be deleterious effects.
Earlier this year the University of Texas took delivery of an MRI scanner to document the structure of the brains in the collection in detail. While this might teach us more about the brain itself, the identity of the person who had this extraordinary brain – and details of his or her life – seem to be lost forever.”
***I feel like I’ve seen this image before…Any brain people want to comment on this phenomenon?
(Source: New Scientist)

theolduvaigorge:

Is this the most extraordinary human brain ever seen?

"Once you know what it is, this apparently innocuous picture of a blob assumes a terrible gravity. It is an adult human brain that is entirely smooth – free of the ridges and folds so characteristic of our species’ most complex organ.

We can only imagine what life was like for this person. He or she was a resident of what is now North Texas State Hospital, a mental health facility, and diedthere in 1970, but that’s all we know. While the jar containing the brain is labelled with a reference number, the microfilm containing the patient’s medical records has been lost.

Photographer Adam Voorhes spent a year trying to track down more information about this and nearly 100 other human brains held in a collection at the University of Texas, Austin, to no avail. The label on the jar states that the patient had agyria – a lack of gyri and sulci, the ridges and folds formed by the normally wrinkled cerebral cortex. This rare condition, also known aslissencephaly, often leads to death before the age of 10. It can cause muscle spasms, seizures and, as it vastly reduces the surface area of this key part of the brain, a range of learning difficulties.

David Dexter, who runs the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank at Imperial College London, says he has never seen anything like this before: “We do get the odd individual where certain sulci are missing but nothing to the extent of this brain.” Dexter says he is not surprised the person survived to adulthood since the brain is so adaptive, though he guesses there would be deleterious effects.

Earlier this year the University of Texas took delivery of an MRI scanner to document the structure of the brains in the collection in detail. While this might teach us more about the brain itself, the identity of the person who had this extraordinary brain – and details of his or her life – seem to be lost forever.”

***I feel like I’ve seen this image before…Any brain people want to comment on this phenomenon?

(Source: New Scientist)

(via kammartinez)

the-science-llama:

How Brains See Movement
Researchers mapped mouse and fly brains in so much detail that they were able to reconstruct the interconnections neurons were making and (in the fly-brain study) figured out how they were detecting movement. It turns out there are neurons to detect up,down,left and right for flies and the previous mapping of the brain showed how those signals were detected.

To create the mouse brain connectome, they sliced a small section of brain consisting of over 900 nerve cells (about 3x that of the fly brain) into super-thin images and reconstructed it with computers and some help from humans. As you can see it is very intricate and this is only a small portion of a brain which is many times smaller than a humans. Plus this is only 0.06% of the retina, so mapping entire human brains might be a while from now but we do have things like Eyewire where anyone can help map them.

(via thescienceofreality)

The Future of Stress | Fw:Thinking

Is stress just an engineering problem? Could we simply program our brains to relax? Chronic stress can lead to depression, cardiovascular disease, and even genetic changes that can be passed down to our children. In this episode, Jonathan looks into the future of stress and sees what role technology might have in reducing our anxiety.

But don’t worry, that’s not all we’ve got on the subject. The audio team digs deeper into what stress is, physiologically speaking, and some things you can do to combat it in What You Don’t Know About Stress Could Kill You. And they talk about the ways technology is helping and hurting our stress levels in Don’t Stress the Future.