October 2011 Archives

Cell Migration

The basic amount of cell migration that I have learned has led me to believe that it only happens in developing embryos. In fact, I am wrong. This article has taught me that it is very important in adult brains also. In fact this article is actually a blog about the work that this man, Dan, has done.

While cell migration is still mostly seen in fetuses, in terms of numbers of cells migrating in a small amount of time, migration as an adult is also critical. Migration of white blood cells helps the body to fight off disease and destroy pathogens that the body may have picked up. A continued expression of these fighters could result in inflammation though, so a solid balance is required between fight and retreat. I found it very interesting that this is actually the cause of asthma. If a person with asthma develops leukemia do they still have asthma? (Keep in mind that this question is NOT meant as a joke or harp on either of these diseases, but a serious question in terms of white blood cell counts. I mean no offense to anyone.)

From the beginning not only do the eggs and sperm have to travel to the meeting place but then the embryo has move to the uterus wall. The cells then divide and become differentiated. This also requires migration. There is especially coordinated migration in the young brain. The right connections need to be made in the right areas otherwise fatal or serious defects could occur. I would like to think of it as a dance or play of some sort where each person or nerve knows what it has to do and where it has to be at what part of the act. I know that many teachers and authors like to equate it to an orchestra.

It all just blows my mind that a human, or any organism, can develop from a single cell that has a mash of genes and develop into a fully functioning adult. Some times there are mistakes, but even then it is still on one in a couple hundred. It is a miracle! Another thing that I have learned about cell migration, not from this article, is that cells can know where they need to go based on the cells around them. Or they can differentiate into a certain cell based on their locations. The things that the brain can do, especially only days into development, are truly amazing and it's no wonder that most of it is still a mystery to the current generations.

Your Brain Is Not Prepared For Porn, Historically

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Your Brain On Porn is a detailed account of how people get addicted to internet porn and how this happens because, historically, our brains have never come into contact with something like this ever before.

It says that our brains were programed to make us indulge in the things that would keep us and our species going, such as sugars, fats, and sex. In modern days people are always able to obtain fats and sugars which is part of the problem as to why America is in general obese. Same goes with internet porn. Our programmed brains want us to have sex with as many people as possible, especially men. When we have sex our brains release dopamine which we experience as pleasure. When we have sex with the same person in the same way, the levels of dopamine that are released are decreased. When a new mate is found a surge of dopamine is again released. With internet porn one can "have sex" with as many people as they feasibly want.

The problem with this, along with them becoming shut-ins and perhaps some raw body parts, is they can become addicted. When these surges in dopamine are released, the person feels pleasure. The brain adjusts to this by decreasing the amount of dopamine it releases, along with the receptors that it possesses. This leads to the person needing more and more in order to feel the same pleasure.

They conclude that although porn has not been studied as much as other addictive substances, such as drugs or fatty foods, it is still just as dangerous when it comes to addictions as the others.

Craniopagus Twins

Craniopagus twins are twins that are conjoined at the head. This happens to about one in every 2.5 million births. Twins in the United States occur about one in every thirty-one births. The operation of separating conjoined twins, let along craniopagus twins, is a very risky procedure. However, it is one that needs to be done. Blood supply is often shared between the two twins. The stronger twin ends up having to pump it's heart harder in order to make up for the weaker twin. The stronger child then suffers from the extra effort.

These twins, Rital and Ritag Gaboura, from Sudan traveled to London to be separated. It is a procedure that would take four different operations. The first of which was one to stretch their skin so it could fit over their head once the separation is complete. Luckily for these twins the operation went smoothly and both girls are alive and healthy. Operations of this sort are not often done, and very often not successful.

I did not realize that one twin would have to make up for the other. I would also like to know if both of their brain are complete in mass and function. The article said that they will not know if either of the girls are going to be brain damaged until they get older. Science has come a long way since the 1950's when the first successful operation of this sort was reported. It gives families everywhere a hope, not to mention anyone with a deformity, in their brain or not. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20108161-10391704.html

A different article looked back on different twins after their surgery and noted that both twins were well. One just had some hearing problems from a deficient from the surgery and her brain fluid did not drain well. It also just said that her development is slower than that of her sister's. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/ctwins.html

Daniel Tammet

The brain is the only organ in that body that scientists do not have an almost complete diagram of how it works, and people like Daniel Tammet just accentuate that point. Tammet has an amazing mind. After experiencing epileptic seizures at the age of 4, Tammet has the amazing ability to remember series of numbers and do complicated math in his head. Large multiplications or divisions provided no problem while the rest of us would need a calculator. Tammet claims that his brain just tells him the answer, and that he does not actually have to do any thinking.

Tammet is also a whiz with words. He is fluent in 8 languages including English, French, Finnish, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Estonian, Welsh and Esperanto. I haven't even heard of some of those! He was given a challenge. It was said that he could not learn Icelantic in a week and prove his fluency on a national television store. When the week was over, the host said he was "not human".

Tammet is an amazing man, but the most amazing thing about him has to be that he developed these abilities from epileptic seizures. It would be interesting to know what went on in the brain, what new connections were made. Also if his brain really is telling him the answer or if his he is just processing information faster than he can comprehend. Or maybe the part of his brain is now cut off from his consciousness.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbASOcqc1Ss

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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