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July 23, 2019

Legitimate Help with dissertation formatting services


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Tags: education
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June 28, 2019

Who Owns Your Body Parts? by Kerry Howley


Who Owns Your Body Parts? by Kerry Howley
Organ transplantation as a treatment for severe patients is of great social importance since it can not only prolong life, but also ensure its higher quality. The most common type of human tissues transplantation is removal of organs and (or) tissues from a dead body. However, this type of transplantation also creates the great variety of issues, the most important of which is the appearance of money problem, i.e. the unfair allocation of finances in the donor-intermediary-recipient chain. In 2007, Kerry Howley in her article Who Owns Your Body? presented a comprehensive research on where from and where to the transplantation industry money goes, and what the donors (or their relatives) get from the tissue donation. The results were astonishing the donors in most cases receive nothing. Here, the real problem is that the donors relatives are blinded by their grief and funeral-related problems to such an extent that they forget to pay proper attention to the financial side of the donation, as well as to follow the destination of the tissue.
Howley did a great job studying the economic side of tissue donation. She tells a story of Alistair Cooke body, which was dissected for bones removal for the transplantation purposes. Obviously, bone tissue was removed illegally, without the recipient (his daughter, in this case) permission. The author claims that Cookes case is not nearly unique. The funeral business of removing body tissues and even utilizing the whole bodies has very furcate structure. Michael Mastromarino, who is to be blamed in this case, sold the Cookes bone to biotech industry companies that earn fortunes from every corpse coming into their hands. In fact, Mastomatino played a tiny role in the human tissue market. It is a multibillion industry involving both huge biotechnical companies and laboratories and funeral industries all over the world.
The Cookes story was only a trigger point for an international scandal. The fact the human tissues are used for bioengineering primarily undercover, i.e. without the recipients permission, opened a financial side of the question. Usually, the donor does not know where to his/her tissues are going. Indeed, one will doubt to give an organ to transform it into someones enlarged lips or the piece of synthetic skin for phalloplasty. In addition, the big concern is that the human body will become only the set of spare parts if the recipient will know the price of this or that tissue. That is why modern legislation carefully regulates the matter even changing the economic language of transplantation market. Meanwhile, the market is growing, and profits are rising.
The point raised by Howley is of especial importance nowadays. From the time the article was written, the transplantation market had only grown, and the issue of financial gain from tissue removal became even more acute. Problems of transplantation, as the fight against organized crime, drugs, or terrorism, are beyond one state. Transplantation becomes the sphere of international cooperation and is of interest for international organizations. It is true especially concerning the issue of dead body usage for bioengineering purposes. The main problem here is that the relatives are not even informed that some tissues are removed from their family member's body. However, in someone's nursing home essay I have seen this information.
Perhaps, what really surprises is the answer of authorities. The first rule of the tissue market is don't talk about the tissue market. In other words, they do not want to face the fact that tissue market exists beyond the desired boundaries and prefer to change names than really regulate it. Obviously, changing names in the tissue industry does partly help the relatives to overcome the grief and console themselves after the loss. On the other side, renaming does not change the essence of the matter. Using human tissues for marketing does exist, and some steps should be taken towards its regulation. It is obvious that existing legislation is not able to cope with expanding financial empire of human tissue use for bioengineering.
The other side of this coin is that knowing the prices and destinations may lead to uncontrolled consequences. For example, Howley claims, many bioethicists worry that payment will create a two-tiered system, in which the bodies of the poor are repurposed to serve the rich, and she is right. Knowing the price for the body parts may become the only way for the poor to earn money. It is much easier to sell a kidney (knowing that a person can live with one) or skin for a huge sum of money than to work hard and earn scantily. Knowing that the majority of tissues turn into cosmetics and other commercialized spheres and being familiar with the prices, the sold tissues by poor people would become the raw material or spare parts for the rich.
In conclusion, speaking about the whole industry of tissue transplantation it is clear that the purpose of its creation was positive and no one can deny that tissue donation has saved and is saving many lives and served as research material, helping scientists to make steps towards the treatment of complex diseases. On the other side, as many things in the modern world, the initial useful purpose turned into an instrument to earn money. Hiding behind the noble purpose of tissue donation, they make money on dead people and their relatives, infringing their rights and limiting their freedom of choice. Kerry Howley exemplified only one case of illegal tissue usage. However, the schemes employed in tissue market are far more complicated and, unfortunately, involve great variety of people that are related to the medicine in this or that way.
Posted by      Lilia R. at 5:30 AM MDT
Tags: research
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May 31, 2019

Food and Culture


Today, the diet of the USA population is a combination of numerous cultures and cuisines. Currently, Mexican Americans, Asian Indians, and African Americans are among the most widely spread and numerous ethnic groups of the US society, defining American nutrition. African Americans make over 15 percent of the total population of the USA. African Americans have their traditional nutrition habits, which are mostly different from the typical American diet. Nutrition traditions are best understood through the prism of the cultural context. Simultaneously, a better understanding of African American nutritional habits may provide avoidance of ethnocentric assumptions. In this regard, traditional nutritional habits of numerous minority groups of the USA, their common food habits, and interaction between the chosen cultures have to be examined in detail.
Traditional Food Habits
The nutrition habits of modern African Americans are based on certain health beliefs traced from generation to generation since their early settlement on the territory of the USA. Traditional African American food, which is also called "soul food", has been developed on the basis of numerous practices and traditions. Core commodities of the African American diet are represented by cornmeal, pork, and molasses, along with wheat flour and lard. Representatives of this ethnic group use flour for baking their traditional biscuits. However, flour has become cheap enough for regular purchases just recently. The most popular type of pork is commercially packed bacon, but a fat one.
Some families prefer to cook simple meals. For example, they slice a bacon or salt pork thin and cook it in fireplaces. Mixing bacon grease with molasses, they make a so-called "sap", which is eaten with meat and cornbread. Cornbread is made of cornmeal and water and baked on a griddle. In most cases, African Americans bake bread and fry meat. The preference for meat frying is usually given due to a short time of cooking; in summer, this feature is rather practical. Sometimes, in winter or late autumn, African Americans eat sweet potatoes and pork. Some families cook an opossum dinner. The carcass is seasoned with red pepper and baked with sweet potatoes in a pot. People of this ethnic group prepare crackling bread by frying it till a brittle condition. Then, they mix it with water, cornmeal, salt, and soda and bake it all. Oftentimes, African Americans eat turnips or cabbage boiled with pork fat.
Talking about spices, it should be mentioned that most African American dishes are heavily seasoned and salted. Members of the African American community widely use chilies and hot peppers, along with garlic, curry, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and sesame seeds. Seasonings made of ground seeds (for example, cotton and melon) and dried mushrooms are also rather common in the African American food. In the African-American community, breakfast meals are commonly light and lunch is usually represented by fast food. The dinner meal usually consists of one or several traditional dishes. Studies have shown that African Americans have from four to five meals per day with the largest one in the afternoon.
African Americans brought to the USA some foods, which are associated with superstitions. For example, the African diaspora brought black-eyed pea to the New World. Until today, a celebration of the New Year without black-eyed peas is deemed inferior and at least not lucky. Dried black-eyed peas have two physical properties, which symbolize good things: a significant increase in size when cooked and the guarantee of germination when planted. For historical reasons, eating black-eyed peas ensures good fortune, as stated in the Jewish Talmud.
Besides their beliefs into the good fortune of some products, modern rural African Americans also believe that some foods are capable of healing various illnesses. For example, in order to treat diabetes, they consume such dietary products as vinegar, lemon juice, teas made of roots and leaves, and herbal supplements from healthy food shops. Vinegar and lemon juice, for instance, are applied in order to reduce the level of sugar in the blood. Besides, many other natural remedies are used by African Americans for the treatment of numerous diseases. In order to treat the urinary tract infection, bearberry is used. Rheumatism, menstrual pain, and discomfort are eliminated by means of black cohosh or black snakeroot, while blue cohosh is appropriate for uterine contractions during work. At seizures, it is advised to use wild comfrey in the African American community and chamomile is used for poison ivy treatment and sleep aid. Sweet potato provides nausea relief during pregnancy.
Being an ancient ethnic group, African Americans have their own feasts and holidays, for which peculiar celebratory dishes are characteristic. For example, dishes containing peanuts, seeds, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and spicy sauces are traditionally cooked for Kwanzaa, one of the major non-religious holidays intended to honor African culture and inspire African Americans, whose labor has made a great contribution to the progress of the USA. In addition, the celebratory table also contains vegetables, fruits, and nuts symbolizing the harvest, which nourished the African people. African Americans also cook appetizers from black-eyed peas, peanut soup, fruit salads, and coconut pie and drink green tea with mint or ginger beer.
Undoubtedly, understanding of the interconnection between religion and food can help better understand the African American community, especially taking into account the fact that African Americans are very religious Christians and Catholics. Scientists mark that Christian faith makes significant transformations in their diet habits of the African American community. For example, eating crackers is an important part of Christianity because they are transformed into Christ's body. The Christmas Day breakfast usually contains such traditional for this ethnic minority dishes as eggs, ham, biscuits with butter and syrup, grits, and sausages. Other core dishes served for religious holidays usually include baked ham, green vegetables, candied yams, baked macaroni, baked chicken, cornbread, rice, and fruitcakes or apple pies for a dessert.
Adaptation of African American Diet to the USA
Several studies have shown that in the African American community the process of acculturation to the USA culture plays a crucial role in shaping their attitudes, cultural behavior, and, undoubtedly, dietary habits. Scientists have noticed that acculturation to the American culture is associated with unhealthy diet behaviors among African Americans. Acculturation to the American culture has led to shifts from traditional healthy foods containing whole grains, meats, and vegetables to more sugary, processed, and high-fat foods, which are currently rather popular and widely spread in the U.S. community.
Acculturation to the U.S. dietary style was not a difficult process for a long time. From the beginning, acculturation was inhibited by the elderly generation of African Americans who honored and highly valued their native traditions. However, new generations of the African American community strove to adapt to the cultural environment they were born and lived in. As a result, African Americans' acculturation to the U.S. dietary habits supposed partial or total acceptance of foods classified as "American". Thus, eating fast-food, for example, pizza or hamburgers and frequent ignorance of traditional long-cooked dishes, has become a consequence of these ethnic minority members becoming American and assimilating to their peers.
Experts argue that the dietary habits of African Americans are likely to take a turn for the worse due to the increase of the African Americans' length of residency on the territory of the USA. Eventually, African American ethnic minority groups will assimilate with the U.S. culture because with the course of time they obtain a broader variety of food options, thus becoming more likely to eat both healthy and unhealthy native and American foods. Moreover, African Americans have obtained more opportunities to expand their traditional menu and try exotic foods, which were unavailable for them in their motherland. Nonetheless, African Americans are likely to change their dietary behavior if they are limited in access to ingredients required for cooking their national dishes. As a result, they will slowly assimilate to the American unhealthy diet, straying away from homemade meals.
Food and Health Relations
The preference for a certain type of diet, a so-called "soul food", has caused numerous health problems among African Americans. Soul food usually includes a lot of fatty meats, sugar, and fried foods served with rich gravies, regular consumption of which leads to high rates of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and obesity. In comparison to the white American population, the African American ethnic group is characterized by higher incidences of hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. High incidences of cancer among African Americans are caused by low consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Thus, obtaining lower amounts of vitamins, magnesium, and calcium and consuming a great number of calories from the saturated fat, members of this community have the highest rates of obesity in the USA. Moreover, some studies have shown that African American men experience the most frequent incidences of hypertension and prostate cancer in the world.
Like any other diet, soul food has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, this type of food is rich for nutrients since it contains leafy yellow and green vegetables (collard greens, for instance), potatoes, legumes, rice, and beans. In most cases, many products required for cooking traditional African American dishes are cheap enough in the USA and, thus, available to African Americans with different levels of income. Having brought many local products with them during slavery times from Africa to the USA, African Americans have contributed to the expansion of the U.S. food market supply. On the contrary, soul food is poor in fiber, potassium, calcium and has a high level of fat. High levels of fat and cholesterol cause numerous diseases, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks, etc. Moreover, not all ingredients necessary for this diet are easily accessible on the territory of the USA or in particular states. Experts recommend to boil or bake some products instead of frying in order to decrease the fat amount. Focusing on fruit can help to enrich an organism with fiber and necessary vitamins, hence saving human health. Moreover, some heavily available ingredients can be replaced with other products with lower prices that are healthier and easily accessible.

Taking into account the above-mentioned information, it should be noted that the African American diet represents a combination of numerous cultural influences. As a result of stable acculturation, soul food has turned from healthy dishes for early slaves to an unhealthy diet for modern African Americans. African American foods contain a lot of fat and are mainly cooked by means of frying, resulting in numerous diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, etc. Nonetheless, some products are widely used for the treatment of numerous diseases. African Americans have many dishes associated with religion, superstitions, and traditional celebrations. Thus, soul food is a cultural heritage of the people who have saved its traditions until today despite a strong influence of the U.S. community.

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  Sorana Cirstea  says:
The food and QC department in the USA must start inspecting the local meat market and the slaughterhouses in Chicago and Texas. The fact that millions of people are living in the USA which is from different religions and races. The authorities should consider them as part of their programs and respect their cultures. Several articles were published by write my essay UK team to identify the problems that are facing by the minority regarding food quality specially beef and various kinds of seafood.
Posted on Tue, 22 Oct 2019 12:01 AM MDT by Sorana C.

December 6, 2011

Mirror Neurons Allow the Blind to "See!"


By watching the actions of others and comprehending the intent conveyed through the acts, individuals constantly learn from their social interactions and adapt accordingly. In humans a specific class of neurons, known as mirror neurons, comprise a system believed to be a factor in the understanding of actions and intentions, as well as in language procurement, learning by imitation, and development of empathy. It has been well established that the mirror system shows greater activation during observation of familiar movements, and can even be activated through listening to familiar sounds alone without any accompanying visual cues. While this clearly indicates that visual perception is not a requisite for activation of mirror neurons, it does not preclude the possibility that activation is ultimately due to visually based mental imagery that has been triggered by the auditory stimuli. So is functional sight vital to the activation of mirror neurons and thus to the ability to learn through imitation and interact successfully in the external world? Or can the visually impaired still retain use of their mirror neuron networks, and thereby learn from and effectively "see" the actions of others? Emiliano Ricciardi of the University of Pisa, in conjunction with his colleagues, designed a novel experiment in order to ascertain the correct answer.

The study consisted of eight blind participants and fourteen participants with normal vision. Of the eight blind participants, seven were congenitally blind and one lost vision at the age of two, yet had no memory of any visual experience. Each subject was asked to listen to twenty aural descriptions of hand-motor actions and ten environmental sound samples, such as of a rainstorm. The participants were also asked to perform motor pantomimes of specific actions upon hearing a spoken explanation of the movements and the items involved. Upon completion of the task, participants were asked to identify the sounds they heard, and rate their competency in performing the associated actions. The sighted participants were additionally asked to view action or environmental images, as well as pantomime action words that appeared on the screen. During all phases, every participant was imaged using fMRI technology, in order to observe changing brain activity throughout the tasks. Both groups of participants demonstrated equal capabilities in correct execution of the given motor movements and recognition of the various auditory stimuli.

The imaging results from Ricciardi's study revealed an overlap of brain activation between specific areas when participants listened to action sounds and when the actions were physically performed. This overlap isolated a left-lateralized mirror neuron cortical network that was comprised of premotor, temporal, and parietal areas in both blind and sighted subjects. Auditory presentation of familiar actions and movements caused greater overall activation of the mirror system network in both subject groups, compared to the activation elicited by unfamiliar sounds/actions.

These results were incredibly significant as they provided evidence that the mirror system can normally develop without vision through processing of non-visual information concerning actions. Individuals who were born sightless, and thus were never exposed to any visual stimuli, still possessed functioning motor-based mirror neuron networks that were triggered by auditory cues describing actions. Thus, blind individuals can in essence "see" the actions of others, in the sense that cortical activation of identical areas occurs in them as does in sighted people in response to observation/interpretation of action. This implies that mirror neuron networks are based upon abstract and supramodal sensory portrayals of actions, thereby allowing sightless individuals to understand external actions and learn through imitation of others as successfully as those without impaired vision. Ricciardi has achieved the seemingly impossible and presented the blind with the gift of sight... at least from a cortical perspective.

Original article can be found at: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/29/31/9719.full?sid=948c8b50-3d40-470f-b0dd-ca5c939b2ec0
Posted by      Anjali C. at 11:50 PM MST
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  Michael Hussey  says:
I didn‚??t know much about medical field or medical terms I am a student in computer science after reading the whole article I understand something is that with some surgery that is called Mirror Neurons allows blind to see and they do some activity on that also it is a very informative topic I am thinking to write my assignment online on this topic I know it is out of the field but very interesting topic to learn and write.
Posted on Thu, 30 May 2019 4:30 AM MDT by Michael H.
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Want to Ace the Final? Eat Protein, Not Sugar


We've all heard the saying "you are what you eat," but new research suggests "you think what you eat." A subset of neurons in the hypothalamus called orexin/hypocretin (orx/hcrt) cells are known to regulate energy, reward, and wakefulness and they are stimulated by protein and inhibited by sugar. So eat a protein rich mean before the final to ensure you stay alert and energized!

There are 20 different amino acids coded for by the human genome. They form the basis of all our proteins. In the November 17th issue of Neuron, a study lead by Dr. Denis Burdakov from the Department of Pharmacology at Cambridge shows that amino acids stimulate orx/hcrt cells while glucose depresses them. Interestingly, fatty acids did not affect the firing of orx/hcrt cells. People with defects in these cells have narcolepsy and weight gain, highlighting their importance in wakefulness and healthy metabolism.

The study used in vitro and in vivo techniques to test amino acid's effect on orx/hcrt neurons in mice. The mice were transgenic for orx/hcrt-eGFP, meaning eGFP was expressed only in orx/hcrt cells so they could be easily identified. The in vitro work was done using whole-cell patch-clamp experiments on brain slices, where amino acids clearly depolarized the cells, even in the presence of blockers of ionotropic glutamate, GABA, and glycine receptors. Live rats were force fed the same amino acid mixtures tested in the whole cell recordings and then researchers used an immunocytochemical assay to determine c-Fos expression, a marker of active cells. This proved that amino acids eaten do reach the lateral hypothalamus to stimulate orx/hcrt cells.

Next the researchers wanted to investigate the effects of combining glucose and protein into one experiment. They had previously shown that glucose depresses the same orx/hcrt cells that amino acids excite. In fact the glucose showed a higher inhibition level on its own than the amino acids had shown excitation. Therefore expected results from mixing glucose and amino acids were either to cancel each other or produce a slight inhibition due to glucose. Unexpectedly, the mixture depolarized (excited) the cell. Placing glucose alone on the same cell produced the characteristic hyperpolarization, so these results were puzzling. They used pyruvate, a breakdown product of amino acids, to examine if amino acids were changing the cell's response to glucose. Pyruvate did reduce the glucose response in a dose dependent manner, indicating that amino acids suppress glucose response in orx/hcrt cells resulting in depolarization/excitation instead of inhibition.

It's 3 pm and you just ate a bag of gummy bears and drank a soda. An hour later you begin to get sleepy. Why? The glucose is inhibiting orx/hcrt cells, causing a depression in energy and wakefulness. The best replacement for your sugary afternoon snack is something with protein, since amino acids can competitively compete with glucose, mediating a wakeful and energy producing stimulation. Diet is inexorably tied to brain function, a fact we should take heed of when studying for a big exam or trying to stay awake during lecture.


Karnani, M., Apergis-Schoute, J., Adamantidis, A., Jensen, L., Lecea, L., Fugger, L., Burdakov D. ( 2011). Activation of Central Orexin/Hypocretin Neurons by Dietary Amino Acids. Neuron, 73(4): 616-629.
Edited by      Amanda W. at 9:06 AM MST
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December 5, 2011

Baseball IQ


The use of performance enhancing drugs by MLB athletes has, for a long time, been the most distinct way in which players attempt to gain an advantage. By combining these drugs with physical training methods players have reached new levels of strength and endurance.

However, pure physical strength is not the only attribute that players must possess to succeed at the sport. Hand-eye coordination is key; you must have the exceptional ability to physically react to a visual stimulus in a matter of seconds.

What this means is that the best players owe their success to the ability of their brains as much as they do to their bodies. The brain is responsible for identifying a stimulus (baseball), deciding whether it will be in or out of the strike zone, and then sending a message to the muscles to swing/not swing. Considering that pitchers are reaching speeds of 95 mph consistently, it is extremely remarkable that this process can occur with success in such a short time frame.

Researchers have recently begun to study how the brain takes and decodes this type of visual in formation. In a paper titled An Oculomotor Decision Process Revealed by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging used fMRI to determine the brain structures involved in such a task.

The researchers had subjects do a go/no go task while their brains were scanned. They had the subjects to judge whether a moving target would cross a particular ‚??strike zone‚??. The target was viewed head on, similar to what a pitch would look like from a batter‚??s box. In the subjects field of vision was a circular target, which was the eventual strike zone. The task was simple. They had two buttons: one representing a target ‚??hit‚?? and one representing a target ‚??miss‚??. The subjects were asked to judge the outcome as quickly as possible and brain imaging was recorded as patients watched the entire flight of the ball.

They found the most activity in the supplementary eye field, frontal eye fields, and bilateral superior lateral lobule. The right prefrontal ventrolateral prefrontal cortex was especially active during go trials during a target hit as apposed to a target miss. They believe that this suggests that theses areas are involved in rule-based decision making. When, based off the trajectory of the object, the brain decides it will hit the target, a cascade of neurons fire resulting in the patients choosing a ‚??hit‚??. The same goes for a miss.

The interesting application of this in sports is that these areas could potentially be improved. Quicker neuron firing rates could result in quicker determination of go vs. no go, or in the case of baseball swing vs. no swing. It is entirely possible that the controversial performance enhancer of the future won‚??t have anything to do with brawn but with brains.

If this type of enhancement does play out it will be interesting to see the reaction of the fans and the media. Will this be considered to be on the same level of cheating as steroids? It is hard to say, but it seems to be an inevitable problem that baseball will have to face.
Posted by      Sean F. at 11:29 PM MST
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  monica jesvina  says:
i love this basically this is the area of the game where players. this is famous that baseball IQ is very high becuase they are always present mind and think advanced the reason is only their fous is not an only ball but all the same level of focus to their envoirnment, the players. Artist Dave London is an award-wining of cartoonist and i go on that award with my best custom essay writing service team employees because they love baseball to play or to see and they are a fan of Dave.
Posted on Thu, 16 May 2019 3:22 AM MDT by monica j.

Neuro-Anthropology: A step backward or forwards?


Neuroscience is an incredibly broad subject. The world that we live in is touched by the brain in so many ways; it is the brain that allows us to experience and investigate the world itself. The new field of Neuro-Anthropology hopes to find the link between how people interact with their environment, and each other, and the biological processes within the brain. How does the brain, in conjunction with the environment, affect what decisions we make and what we do? This seems like a mighty task, bringing together the ethical issues inherent to both fields and once again grappling with the age-old question: Nature or nurture? Interestingly, in his paper, "Humans, Brains, and Their Environment: Marriage between Neuroscience and Anthropology?" Georg Northoff reiterates the argument that the separation between nature and nurture is not applicable to the brain; that it transcends both to form a synthesis because it connects to the world in such an intimate way.
Northoff also summarizes a somewhat worrisome study by Gutchess et al., 2006 in which the neural activity of people in western and eastern cultures was compared. They found differences in the way that people processed information based on whether they lived in an individualist or collective culture. This is very interesting and highly relevant to the idea that the nature of our minds is influenced and synthesized to the nurture of our surroundings. But, such research also makes me worry about the focus on the differences between us. Throughout the history of cultural anthropology racist arguments have been made based on the idea that people from opposing cultures are inherently different and therefore "savage" or in need of "civilizing". I don't think that similar arguments could hold up in today's society but does knowing that someone in another society is fundamentally different all the way to the level of brain functioning change how we relate to one another? Does it make differences seem more acceptable since they are part of the internal biological function of the brain? Or, does it make our differences seem even greater and unapproachable?
Also, this new coalition between anthropology and neuroscience makes me think about the limits of the field. Does neuroscience really have the ability and power to describe things as complex as entire cultures. Can it explain why people act how they do, why they create their world in specific ways under different conditions? Does it have the ability to look out at such a macroscopic level? I feel like it might be stretching it bounds a little too far. Can the firing of Action Potentials really tell us this much?
Of course, these are the same tasks that anthropology, as a field, has been trying to tackle for a very long time. So perhaps, it isn't such a pipedream after all. It is, at the very least, a very interesting marriage between two very broad fields.

Source: http://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(10)00141-8
Posted by      Megan M. at 10:19 PM MST
Tags: anthropology
  Andreas Bachtold  says:
According to a blog by an online CV writing Company - The Decade of the Mind is a proposition for a research activity concentrated on four areas of neuroscience, including mental health, abnormal state subjective capacity, education, and computational applications. Sorting out activities to date has essentially included psychological researchers, computer scientists, and engineers, just as physicians.
Posted on Tue, 20 Aug 2019 1:23 AM MDT by Andreas B.

Viruses on the mind: More prevalent than we think?


The past several decades has seen huge leaps in the understanding of neurological disease. Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, Parkinsons, Multiple sclerosis and others have been narrowed down to dysfunction of specific brain regions. What we still barely know, however, is how these regions are damaged in the first place. Parkinson's is caused by damage or decrease in substantia nigra dopamine neurons, but what causes this damage? Sadly, there is no real definitive answer as of yet. Genetics tends to be a factor, but hardly explains every case. Toxins or immunity may play a role, but they too can not fill in all of the blanks.

Viruses have long been known to cause neurological illness, but only a diminishing fraction of all viral infections are those of the brain. Viral encephalitis is a clear case off a viral brain infection marked by inflammation and occasionally fatal inter-cranial pressure. while encephalitis is an obvious brain infection recent research has indicated viruses to be much more neurologically active than we give them credit for.

Many viral infections of the brain have long been nigh impossible to understand. Diseases have long been defined as caused by specific factors, the flu causes the flu and so forth, but many viruses do not exhibit this behavior in the brain. The polio virus can infect the majority of the population, but only a portion are afflicted with motor impairment. Why this is little understood, it is clear that viruses can penetrate the blood brain barrier in infrequent events. These viruses can gain access by stowing away inside immune cells or lapse in barrier integrity.

More and more evidence is coming to light that potential viral brain diseases are not caused by a specific virus, but by the location that the virus is dispersed. viruses that find themselves in a specific structure can cause focal damage to that area. Infection of oligodendrocytes in mice has proven to show MS symptoms, however, it is not clear if damage is caused by viral lytic effects or the immune response to the infected cells. The VSV virus has been shown to indirectly destroy serotonin neurons in rodents. After infection microglia detect the infected neurons and destroy them with the virus inside, leaving no evidence that the virus was ever there. The only real indication of this virus is the later deficiency of serotonin neurons, but there is no indication why they are missing.

As can be seen in the case of VSV viruses can be silent neuron assassins, leaving no trace as to the origins of neuronal demise. While it is difficult to detect any presence of viral infection in the brain, this very nature indicates that they may lead to many neurological diseases. The selective and silent nature of these neuron killers make them a perfect candidate for diseases of specific damage.

van den Pol, Anthony N. Viral Infection Leading to Brain Dysfunction: More Prevalent Than Appreciated? Neuron doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.09.023 (volume 64 issue 1 pp.17 - 20)
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Vegas Checklist: Casinos, Clubs, and... Sleep?


In the City of Sin, sleep might be your last priority, yet could sacrificing slumber cost you even more than the unfavorable odds of gambling already predict? According to researchers at Duke University, sleep deprivation results in a strategy alteration toward gain seeking behavior as opposed to protecting against loss during risky decision making. Numerous studies have established that insufficient sleep results in impaired attention, working memory, and learning. In this study, Vinod Venkatraman and his colleagues demonstrated that inadequate sleep also produces a bias in decision-making that is distinct from the general effect of diminished cognition due to the poor vigilance associated with sustained wakefulness.

Twenty-nine adult males, with an average age of 22.34 years, participated in this study. The subjects were presented with a number of complex mixed five-outcome gambles, with each outcome consisting of two positive monetary outcomes, a neutral reference outcome, and two negative financial loss outcomes. The outcomes fell under two categories: Gain-focus trials, and Loss-focus trials. For outcomes offered in the gain focus trials, participants could either choose to maximize their gain by increasing the value of the highest offered outcome (Gmax) or choose to improve their overall probability of winning money compared to losing money (Pmax). In the loss-focus trials, participants were able to either choose the Pmax option or choose to minimize their loss by decreasing the amount of their most negative outcome (Lmin). Following the presentation of all the trials, a few of the gambles were arbitrarily chosen and calculated to an actual monetary loss or gain, which were then shown to the subject. Each participant completed the task after a full night of sleep and again after being forced to remain awake for 24 hours, both times while being imaged by using fMRI technology. The participants were also required to complete the Psychomotor Vigilance task every hour throughout the night when they were forced to remain awake, in order to gather a measure of continual attention.

The results of the study revealed that in the sleep deprived state, participants demonstrated a greater inclination toward seeking gain, witnessed by the larger ratio of Gmax Vs. Pmax choices in the gain-focus trials and a decreased proportion of Lmin Vs. Pmax decisions in the loss-focus trials. Sleep deprivation did bring about decreased psychomotor vigilance in the subjects, yet the extent of the bias shown in risky decision-making did not correlate with the level of reduction in attention. Compared to judgments made following a normal night of sleep, sustained wakefulness resulted in increased activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and decreased activation of the right anterior insula. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex has been correlated with gain-seeking behavior, and the anterior insula has been associated with loss- averse behavior. Combined, the imaging results suggest that sleep deprivation causes individuals to be less troubled by losses and more interested in behaving with the intent of capitalizing gain.

In sum, inadequate sleep causes a prejudice in valuation by augmenting the importance afforded to profit gain as compared to preventing losses. In light of the finding that such judgmental impairment exists independent of measured vigilance, consideration must be given to the possibility that conventional treatments to maintain performance during prolonged wakefulness (i.e. stimulants) may be ineffective. Such treatments might succeed in enhancing attention, yet may not influence separate features of cognition. Thus, for financial sake, perhaps the appointment of a designated decision-maker is as important as the designated driver, when setting out on multiple sleepless nights in Vegas.

Original article can be found at: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/10/3712.full
Posted by      Anjali C. at 8:23 PM MST
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Posted on Wed, 7 Aug 2019 2:44 AM MDT by Anthony A.
  Raveer Sing  says:
I agreed that insufficient sleep results in impaired attention, working memory and learning. According to career booster reviews it may affect our professional and personal life by losing attention on important things. Proper sleep makes your life healthy and balance.
Posted on Sat, 10 Aug 2019 5:25 PM MDT by Raveer S.

Your Brain on Nirvana


Any student has experienced that moment in class when he cannot for the life of him recall what the professor has just said seconds before. Whether it was because he was distracted watching a gnat fly around the light overhead or because his furiously working writing hand wasn't taking notes quite quickly enough to keep up with the lecture, there are always a few intervals which we miss in our daily lives, because our brains lack adequate attentional resources - unless you happen to be an expert in Buddhist meditation, that is. Among its various purported benefits, which include changes in metabolism and blood pressure, meditation also has been shown to result in altered brain structure and function. In other words, meditation induces neuroplasticity. In much the same way that one can obtain expert proficiency in a foreign language, mental training via meditation can result in increased information processing capacity in the brain.

Meditation is used by an increasing percentage of people to promote relaxation and a heightened sense of well-being. In a study published by the IEEE Signal Processing Society, researchers showed that meditation also leads to increased levels of concentration and reduced attention blink, as well as resulting in enhanced cortical area, in a manner similar to other forms of skill acquisition. The study made the distinction between two types of meditation - Focused Attention (FA) meditation and Open Monitoring (OM) meditation. Utilizing fMRI to measure hemodynamic changes in various areas of the brain, FA meditation was shown to be correlated with activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; the visual cortex; and the superior frontal sulcus, supplementary motor area and intraparietal sulcus. These areas are associated with our ability for monitoring, engaging attention and attentional orienting, respectively. When an individual meditates regularly and becomes an "expert", the cortical area of these regions in the brain increases. This would seem to indicate that attention is a trainable skill.

In addition to being able to pay focused, long-term attention to a chosen object, meditation experts were also shown in the study to undergo less activation in their amygdalas in response to emotional stimuli. This would seem to imply that emotional behaviors are not compatible with a stable state of advanced level concentration, and also that our emotional state can be consciously controlled, to some extent.

The implications of attention as a trainable skill appear to be numerous. For example, let us consider Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It would seem that individuals who suffer from a seeming lack of ability to focus for prolonged periods of time might benefit from practicing meditative techniques, where the mind is calm and focused for prolonged periods of time. In addition, the general population might also benefit from the ability to reduce "neural noise" and thus pick up more information from the environment more quickly, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the constant data input. For students, their ability to focus in class and process more information more efficiently could have considerable impact on their learning. Many aspects of the impact of meditation on the human brain are as yet still unknown, but it would appear that it has profound effects on attention learning through the creation of novel synaptic connections, in addition to its role in promoting cultivation of general mental and emotional health.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944261/
Posted by      Clarinda H. at 6:36 PM MST
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  Andreas Bachtold  says:
Through meditation, students can get a lot of benefits like mind peace, attentiveness, concentration, good health and sustainability. These are some of the key results of meditation. I was stuck with an essay on research paper on child abuse and can‚??t get any bright ideas on to finish it. Meditation helps me to finish my assignment by gaining me my full concentration.
Posted on Fri, 4 Oct 2019 12:44 AM MDT by Andreas B.

What will they think of next?


Who knew? In the 1960's up until the 1970's ablative stereotactic surgery was used to treat neurologic disorders and neuropsychiatric illness. This treatment was largely abandoned after the 70's due to the development of highly effective drugs to treat these problems, for example, "Levodopa" to combat Parkinson's disorder. Today there seems to be a virtual renaissance of similar techniques used to help those suffering.

The technique being employed uses high-frequency electrical deep brain stimulation (DBS) on specific targets to negate some disorders. Compared to the traditional ablative stereotactic surgery, which consists of lesions and very invasive brain surgery (irreversible), DBS is much less invasive in some respects. By applying high-frequency electrical stimulation to specific brain structures a similar (but different) effect of a lesion is essentially observed. Ever since this technique's rise in popularity (starting in the 1990's) people have the option of a "less permanent". These electrical pulses are delivered by electrodes chronically implanted into a persons brain at specific regions. The exact mechanism of action for DBS still isn't fully understood and clear, but the affects and benefits to patients are both lasting and clear.

Some of the diseases mentioned in the article include Parkinson's, Tourettes syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. Patients receiving DBS to treat Tourettes syndrome had a >70% decrease of vocal or motor tics with disappearance of sensory urges. 35-70% of patients receiving DBS to treat OCD were benefitted by a significant reduction in obsessive and compulsive thoughts.

In my opinion, and it seems to be the case with most neurosurgical operations, DBS is the latest and greatest treatment available. Anytime patients can avoid a permanent/irreversible effect such as a lesion the better. My reasoning behind is vast. For example if a patient is suffering from body dissociation disorder and doesn't identify with their right arm and right leg and wants to have these two limbs removed. This persons could amputate these limbs without fully understanding the long term consequences involved or even without any benefit mentally. Or perhaps, the doctor could try a different technique, such as lesioning a brain region located using fMRI thought to be triggering body dissociation disorder. There is a chance the lesion might not properly treat the disorder or not treat it at all. Also the lesion may impair the individual in a more negative way in the long run, and since lesions are practically irreversible, the person is worse off. If DBS was used (tmi could be used as a pre-emptive mapping tool) the patient could be treated for their disorder in a non permanent way and avoid negative, unforeseen, long term issues.

I'm not entirely sure how invasive DBS is but the article made it out to be much less invasive as previous surgeries. Which to me makes sense since over time medical practices should become more and more efficient. Something haunts me about the fact little is truly known and fully understood about DBS and TMI. Little red flags go up in my head every time that fact is mentioned. Whether or not it is effective and beneficial I would prefer to know exactly why it is effective and beneficial before doctors implanted electrodes in my brain to deliver pulses of high-frequency electricity. This honestly sounds like something out of a science fiction story but the real freaky part is it seems to actually work. The big question is: Would you ever have DBS performed on yourself? My answer is yes.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089662730600729X
Posted by      Dylan R. at 5:42 PM MST
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Posted on Mon, 21 Oct 2019 11:42 PM MDT by Sorana C.

To Toke, or Not to Toke: Who Knows the Answer?


Growing up during the "war on drugs", we have all heard the plethora of myths and propaganda used to keep youth away from drugs, especially marijuana. "If you smoke dope you will go on to do heroin." "Marijuana will kill your brain cells." "Marijuana causes people to become violent and irrational." Despite these claims, it is a common belief, often found through personal experiences, that this may not be the case (not to mention the lack of data supporting the claims). This blurriness is not only seen in claims regarding the drug's effects, but in the contradiction between state and federal laws. There are currently 17 states (including Washington DC) which permit the use of medical marijuana for a variety of prescribed medical issues; while federal law on the other hand continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug, defining the substance as having a high potential for abuse and having no accepted medical use in the United States. Wait, what duuude? Yep, you read it right! While United States law claims marijuana has no medical benefits, the state of Colorado currently supports over 100,000 medical marijuana patients (Colorado Medical Marijuana Industry)1.

So with such a lack of consistent information regarding cannabis' effects, how do we know what to believe? In 2006, neuroscientists Ivan Soltesz and Kevin Staley teamed up in order to attempt to identify any relationship between cannabinoids and memory. This research examined the effects various cannabinoids, such as THC, a phytocannabinoid that is the major psychoactive principle of marijuana, and CP55940, a synthetic cannabinoid, on the CB1 cannabinoid receptors. This type of cannabinoid receptor is the most abundant G-protein-coupled receptor in the brain and has an extremely high density in the hippocampal formation, suggesting a possible link between cannabinoids and memory deficits.

This study found that in vivo, THC depressed hippocampal and neocortical EEGs at several frequencies. This process was then repeated using the synthetic cannabinoid CP55940, which acts as a CB1 receptor agonist, to confirm THC acted as an agonist to the receptor. Similar results were observed, finding that these cannabinoids lessened the power of hippocampal EEG activity in theta, fast ripple, and gamma oscillations. These oscillations play a critical role in several memory functions such as working memory, coordination of neuronal discharges across regions and memory consolidation. These results successfully show a correlation between memory deficits and the binding of an exogenous cannabinoid receptor agonist to hippocampal CB1 receptors. As a control, these trials were repeated, this time preadministering SR141716A, a CB1 receptor antagonist. As expected, the effects of the cannabinoids were successfully blocked.

This research is important for providing the groundwork for future marijuana research, which can be useful in future memory studies as well as studying models of addiction. So, before you go light up that joint, remember not everything you hear about marijuana is a myth: phytocannabinoids in marijuana are associated with memory deficits.

Sources:

Soltesz, Ivan, and Kevin Staley. "High times for Memory: Cannabis Disrupts Temporal Coordination among Hippocampal Neurons." Natureneuroscience.com. Nature Neuroscience, 2006. Web. .

1 Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry
Posted by      Hannah M. at 5:04 PM MST
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Posted on Tue, 6 Aug 2019 7:13 AM MDT by Anthony A.

Apple or Kit-Kat?


Obesity and addiction have been increasingly detrimental health conditions affecting the American people. Can these diseases be solved by simple verbal cues which trigger top-down processing in the brain to lead to more healthy/abstinent choices? A study by Hare et al found that, indeed, they can. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), the inferior frontal gyrus (IFC) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) are three brain regions that have been implicated in behavioral choices and decision making. Will the influence of health cues on self-control processes impact decision making in a more healthy and positive way?

Hare hypothesized that dietary choices will be improved by engaging the self-control processes in the DLPFC and IFG and that these choices will be affected by the value signals of the VMPFC, enhanced by the health attributes put into light during the experiment. Subjects were given four types of food to choose from, ranked healthy-tasty, healthy-untasty, unhealthy-tasty and unhealthy-untasty. It was insinuated before the decision making process that the subjects should either make a choice based on health factors or tastiness. fMRIs were used to observe the neural mechanisms at work during decision making. The study yielded a positive correlation between the VMPFC and the subjective stimulus value of each food option.

To understand the works at the neural level, let us find out what role the DLPFC plays in this cascade. The DLFPC has two regions, one, the DLFPC-M, guides the subject to make a healthy decision no matter what. This goal to be healthy is reenergized by health cues which in turn jumpstart a cascade of top-down control processes which govern decision making. The DLPFC-U however, is meant to take into consideration task instructions and to make a decision based on what the individual prefers regardless of the attribute values associated with them. These two areas of the brain come into conflict during this task. When the subjects were told to pick tasty foods, the DLPFC-M M signals to the IFG, which signals to the VMPFC to put more emphasis on the health attributes during decision time. In conclusion, health cues rendered the healthiness of food more important in the VMPFC and increased the likelihood that subjects will behaviorally pick the healthy-untasty food option.

This experiment proves that self-control processes in the DLPFC and IFG triggered by health cues are active during dietary choice and increase the subjective stimulus value of an item in the VMPFC, hence biasing behavioral choice. This study can be incorporated when developing treatments for obesity and addiction.
Posted by      Dora P. at 4:41 PM MST
Tags: fmri

Optimism: Is too much a bad thing?


We've all been told at one point or another in our lives to look on the brighter side of a given situation. Most of the time we do because the brighter side brings some sort of happiness and therefore when look on the brighter side of a situation, it helps us by easing the negative feeling we have towards that situation. And so by looking on the brighter side, we keep ourselves positive and our stress levels down a bit. But how can you still be optimistic even though there is information that goes against what you believe? As I go through the article, How unrealistic optimism is maintained in the face of reality, I will hopefully answer this question.
In this article, Sharot et. al. tries to explain why it is that some of us are so optimistic and could it be a bad thing? The article focuses on the events in which people do not take the necessary precaution they need to in order to protect themselves, that being the underestimation of future negative events, and why they were adamant about not changing (Sharot et. al.). So the way the experiment was conducted was Sharot et. al. took participants and told them to estimate the probability that an event would happen to them and then measured their brain activity. There was a total of eighty events that were "tested" all of which were adverse life events such as house hold accident, adultery, owing a large amount of debt, etc. They then combined a learning task with fMRI. This allowed Sharot et. al. to identify how blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals track estimation error in response to whether the information given lead to optimism or pessimism (Sharot et. al). To determine estimation error, they used the equation: estimation error = estimation - probability presented. They also used questionnaires to see if people changed their beliefs of an event based off of some kind of emotional arousal, how bad an event is, if they were familiar with the event, or if they have encountered such an event before.
Their results were that there was this region of the brain, right inferior frontal gyrus, in which showed a reduction for neural coding of undesirable error regarding the future for people who were optimistic. They also found that the reason there was this asymmetry in people changing their beliefs was due to a reduced expression of an error signal in the region implicated in processing undesirable error regarding the future (Sharot et. al.). The questionnaire that was administered showed that people didn't change their beliefs due to the severity of the event, if it is familiar or not, or if they have encountered it or not. The BOLD signal tracking showed that people with the largest optimistic update bias failed to show any undesirable error meaning the relationship between undesirable error and BOLD signaling was close to zero, where as people who did not show a selective updating in belief showed a strong relationship between undesirable error and BOLD signaling.
So it didn't matter whether how bad the future event was going to be, whether it was familiar or not, or if it has been encountered before but due a lack of not being able to code and process this undesirable error regarding the future. So really being optimistic or being optimistic even after information has disproved your belief isn't in your absolute control because if your brain fails to code and process it you can't really do much about it. Though you possibly could in theory but that raises questions for another time.

Sharot, Tali, Christoph W. Korn, and Raymond J. Dolan. "How Unrealistic Optimism Is Maintained in the Face of Reality." Nature Neuroscience. Nature America, Inc., 9 Oct. 2011. Web. 3 Dec. 2011. .
Posted by      Kou X. at 4:15 PM MST
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Pay Attention! The Relationship Between Memory and Attention


Memory and attention are not always seen as being related, however Johnson and Chun's article, the connections between the two of these processes are looked at in detail. This article would be considered a meta-analysis of several studies on the topic of memory and the different attention states themselves. Both perceptual and reflective attention was studied and reported, showing interesting results about how the brain categorizes and retrieves memories in relation to these types of attention. The majority of the studies that were focused on within the article had been arranged and performed by the authors of the article, giving an interesting perspective.

Neuroimaging was used to determine the areas of the brain most activated by certain stimuli. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was the technique most referred to in this article; fMRI's are used to visualize the neural activity based on the hemodynamic response of glucose release within the brain. With this technique, it was seen that similar areas of the brain are activated when a stimulus is first observed (what the article refers to as perception) and when the same stimulus is being recalled (referred to as reflection). For instance, a cue for a visual memory will cause a higher activity level in the visual cortex in the same way that the visual cortex was originally stimulated when the cue was first observed. Similar responses are seen in both short term and long term memory recollection.

It has also been observed that certain activities that relate to either perceptual attention, like repetition attenuation, or reflective attention, like reactivating and retrieving, activate areas that are generally similar to the areas activated during the experience of remembering. Beyond the areas originally involved, there are other areas involved in the processes of memory and attention. These areas include frontal and parietal areas such as the hippocampus, the anterior cingulate cortex, and other various areas of the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain. The article demonstrates that refreshing perceptual events, using both types of memory also shows similarity in both activity levels and in the sections that are activated. The studies have shown that there can be severe interference if a participant is told to recall multiple objects or situations that were encoded with similar attention states and that are located in similar areas.

This article could have improved if it had looked at multiple sources of stimulus rather than just visual stimulants, as there could be vastly different results from memories of different senses. Furthermore, reviewing their own experimental studies could give rise to a bias in the analysis of the studies. However, this article did bring up some important ideas.

The conclusions drawn from this article could lead to many other topics of research that could help in the understanding of how the ways of memory, attention, and how they are able to work together. Further knowledge of these relationships could provide information on how to improve educational systems and could promote more effective ways of learning.




Chun, M. M., Johnson, M. K. (2011). Memory: Enduring traces of perceptual and reflective attention. Neuron, 72(4), 520-535. Retrieved from http://download.cell.com/neuron/pdf/PIIS0896627311009615.pdf?intermediate=true
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Posted on Mon, 5 Dec 2011 7:55 PM MST by Christina U.

Lick, Lick, Lick...Mice and Autism


Autism. It seems as if everyone knows someone diagnosed with autism in today's society. Living with autism is no walk in the park and is sometimes harder for those surrounding the person, than the actual person diagnosed with autism, because of their behavior. Since mice models for autism began, about ten years ago, researchers have discovered a slew of new information, including genes liked to the disorder. While the ultimate purpose of mouse models is to provide testing grounds for drugs and to understand the molecular underpinnings of autism in the brain, sometimes research needs some regulations in order to reach that goal.

Nature Neuroscience is in the middle of presenting a special on autism titled, "The Autism Enigma." The special includes a variety of topics, blogs, papers, and news on autism to choose from, all of it great information. After reading several articles, one titled "New mouse models of autism highlight need for standardized tests." Williams argues that as more and more models are being made, it is necessary for standardized tests to be created in order to study and compare the effects of the various genetic mutations more clearly "that are collectively providing the field with a window into the brain structure, neuron function and cellular pathways associated with autism, as well as a platform for testing new drugs." Also, similar in most research, people have different ideas of what something is; for example, the paper uses repetitive behavior, for what one person may call repetitive behavior, like the repetitive licking of it's paw, another may not. Therefore standardized testing is required in order to further improve research in mouse models of autism.

Williams' paper also details information on current research being conducted. She reports results from Daniel Geschwind of UCLA, Matthew Anderson of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Guoping Feng of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Paul Worley of Johns Hopkins University, Jacqueline Crawley of NIMH, and Alea Mills of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Geschwind's mouse model had a mutation in CNTNAP2, which has been linked to both a familial epilepsy disorder and autism. This relation between epilepsy and severe autism, I have seen in a family friend so the fact that they are discovering genetic links is very promising. Anderson created a model with duplications in Ube3a, a gene involved in protein degradation which is linked to autism in humans. His mice ignored other mice, avoided new toys, and were abnormally quiet. Feng presented the newest model, showing that deleting Shank3, "which encodes a protein that helps stabilize synapses between neurons, in mice produced the same three core symptoms of autism as seen in people: abnormal social interactions, communication deficits and repetitive behavior." Worley also worked with Shank3, except they deleted only one exon of the Shank3 gene and found similar social problems within the mice's behavior. Crawley and Mills seem to have taken a different approach in which they observe communication and movements in the mice through highly sensitive microphones and video tracking technology. They hope to look at it from a behavioral aspect instead of neurogenetical in order to "take the blinders off" and view every aspect of the mouse.



Nature Neuroscience

http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v17/n11/full/nm1111-1324.html#/references
Posted by      Ashlyn C. at 3:41 PM MST

Morphine: Friend or Foe for People Dealing with Long-Term Pain?


Lights reflect off of the gleaming road in the rain. The highway embankment funnels traffic into a valley where pools of black water flood the lanes. Your car suddenly hydroplanes and you veer into the other lane. The sound of metal wrinkling like tin foil ricochets in your ear. You wake up in the hospital with a horrendous pain emanating from your broken legs. Morphine is dispensed to ease the pain. Rehabilitation is slow and the pain is incessant. Tolerance develops. Withdrawal symptoms like abdominal cramps and depression begin. You want to stop taking morphine, but the pain in your legs persists and makes it difficult to walk. What do you do?

Morphine has the possibility to help those in pain, but it also has the potential to create a dangerous addiction. Morphine has been in use since Byzantine times because it's a powerful and effective painkiller. Research is now looking into morphine's mode of action in the body, to better mitigate the unfortunate side effects of tolerance and addiction for long-term pain control. In the November 30th issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, a group led by Dr. Ping Zheng in China found that chronic morphine treatment actually switches the effect of dopamine from inhibition to excitation on pyramidal cells of the basolateral amygdala. Pyramidal cells in the BLA are involved in emotion. Excitation of these cells could change the emotional response, which is especially important in withdrawal, when negative feelings can contribute to a relapse.

The researchers used rats to test the effects of chronic morphine treatment. They induced morphine tolerance in rats and then used brain slices to study excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSC) using the whole-cell patch clamp method. Compared to the control group injected with saline, the morphine treated rats had higher amplitude EPSCs by 50%. After this observation, the team wanted to investigate the reason behind this change. They used a dopamine D1 receptor antagonist in the morphine treated rats, and the EPSC was now the same as the saline control group. Thus they concluded a change in D1 receptors is responsible for the excitatory response.

But what changed about the dopamine D1 receptors at the molecular level? The researchers determined that morphine treated rats had a higher release of glutamate from the presynaptic neuron. Looking at the expression of D1 receptors using Western blotting, they saw there was increased expression of D1 receptor, versus saline. The researchers hypothesized this increased expression might be dependent on protein kinase A (PKA) so they tested this with a PKA inhibitor. They indeed found that the increased release was due to PKA activation.

To supplement these studies, a behavioral test called conditioned place aversion (CPA) were performed on the rats. In this test, rats were placed in one section on days when they received the drug, and in another section on days when they did not receive the drug and were experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The rats were then allowed to freely go into either section, plus a third section. Time was clocked for how long the rats spent in each section and the CPA score was determined by the difference between the time spent in the withdrawal-paired compartment divided by the time spent in the drug-paired compartment. The researchers used this to test to determine whether the increase of D1 receptors is responsible for the withdrawal induced conditioned place aversion. The morphine rats strongly avoided the withdrawal compartment, but when a D1 receptor antagonist was injected into their BLA, they no longer avoided that compartment. Therefore, D1 receptors are responsible for part of the withdrawal process.

This study could lead us to understand more about the molecular nature of morphine tolerance and addiction. Using these findings, new ways to combat the negative side effects of morphine use could be implemented.

Li, Z., Luan, W., Chen, Y., Chen, M., Dong, Y., Lai, B., Ma, L., Zheng, P. (2011). Chronic Morphine Treatment Switches the Effect of Dopamine on Excitatory Synaptic Transmission from Inhibition to Excitation in Pyramidal Cells of the Basolateral Amygdala. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(48): 17527-17536.
Posted by      Amanda W. at 1:42 PM MST

Why Keep A Promise?


It is interesting to see the importance humans place on a promise. A promise is not visible or tangible yet it still seems to have a strong, compulsory quality to it. Why is that? The truth of the matter is humans have the exceptional capacity to establish social norms and create understood cooperation among each other that is not seen elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Before society's infrastructure of rules and laws existed, promises were still made as a way to ensure trust, teamwork and partnership. Furthermore and perhaps the most intriguing aspect of a promise is that it is a verbal, nonbinding agreement. Yet despite the lack of concrete liability we still make promises every day.

Some research looking into the systems of the brain involved in nonbinding agreements has been done but there are still more questions than answers regarding of this topic. Using promises as a premise for research opens a unique door because promises can either be kept or broken. They can be made for many reasons but there are two justifications for keeping a promise. The first is to ensure future trust and cooperation and is referred to as an instrumental reason. The second rational is because it is the right thing to do and is called the intrinsic reason. The study in this paper focuses on the latter of these two explanations.

Each trial of the experiment had two subjects, a trustee and an investor. The trustee's brain activity was measured. First the trustee promises the investor to always, mostly, sometimes, or never keep their promise. In this study to be trustworthy means sharing the money made equally. The investor could choose to invest or not and then the trustee could choose to keep or break their promise to share the money. The trustee could choose both the strength of their promise and whether or not to keep their promise. These freedoms of choice led to two main groups of trustee subjects: both groups almost unanimously promised to "always" keep their promise but when it came to keeping the promise the subjects split into either the group who honored their promise or who was dishonest.

This study was the first to create a design looking at three different processes that play a role in promises. The first stage is the promise stage where the promise is made, then there is what is called the anticipation stage while they wait for the commitment of the investor, and finally the decision stage where the promise is either kept or broken. Researchers could differentiate subjects who will keep their promise and who will break it by brain activity during the promise stage, when the deceitful act is already planned.

This study found that all stages of the paradigm revealed different, highly specific activation patterns in the brain. The promise stage is where the dishonest act may be already planned but not yet implemented and researchers hypothesize if the subject already plans to break a promise, this misleading gesture will induce an emotional conflict. This emotional clash shows activity in parts of brain involved in conflict and negative emotional process such as the anterior cingulated cortex or amygdala. The anticipation stage showed parallels in brain activity to personality traits such as depression and neuroticism, both of which are associated with negative expectations of the future. When the subject had to decide to keep or break the promise, breaking the promise showed similar brain activity to the emotional process of telling a lie and the guilt that that involves. This study showed plausible evidence tying nonbinding agreements to emotional and logical processes of the brain. This evidence is critical in explaining why humans value and venerate the simple idea of a promise.



Baumgartner, Thomas, Urs Fischbacher, Anja Feierabend, Kai Lutz, and Ernsty Fehr. "Broken Promises." Neuron 64.5 (2009): 756+. Science Direct. Elsevier Inc, 10 Dec. 2009. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. .
Posted by      Bethany B. at 10:48 AM MST
  Sarah Bennet  says:
Amazing blog and very emotional. A promise is not a concrete thing but it has feelings and quality to bond two people with trust. Everyone should need to read this and learn the important message from this. dba writing help
Posted on Wed, 3 Jul 2019 3:34 AM MDT by Sarah B.

A Terrible Mistake Has Been Made


Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) today has been wrecking the lives of the people today. Categorized as one of the top world killers in the world, scientists have worked hard to find the cure. For those who are patiently waiting for a cure, many participate in CARTs or combination antiretroviral therapy which uses the combination of different antiretroviral drugs to stop HANDS or HIV associative neurocognitive disorders. Patients participating in this therapy were found to experience increase damage to brain. It was concluded the therapy is not an effective way to combat HANDS. Mihyun and her team exposed hippocampi of rats to gp120 for different lengths of time, than inhibited suspected proteins of the pathway such as CXC4R and then viewed the results with Open Lab software and calcium imaging.

Gp120, a surface protein that functions to bind to T-cells, is a toxin that enhances NMDA activation, but how, no one knows how. Studies found by disrupting the trafficking of NMDA resulted in disorders such as Alzheimer's. Evidence suggested that gp120 assembles NMDA receptors into clumps or modified microdomains. This occurred by increasing the size and stability of lipid rafts which are involved in receptor trafficking. Mihyun and her team used this theory as a baseline to discover the mechanism.

The team was successful in finding a mechanism. First gp120 enhanced the transport of NMDA receptors into the membrane by signaling phosphorylation of the C terminal which regulated transportation of NMDA. Exposure of gp120 to the hippocampi was found to increase the levels of phosphorylation, specifically phosphorylation of serine 897 and serine 896. Finally inhibition of PKA or PKC resulted in halting gp120 activity. PKA and PKC were thus concluded as the kinases activated by gp120 to phosphorylate the C terminal.

Then gp120 stabilized NMDA receptor microdomains by increasing the size of lipid rafts. Ceramide, a substance used by lipid rafts, was believed to be involved in increasing the size and stability of lipid rafts. Ceramide is synthesized by hydrolysis of sphingomyelin, a type of lipid. By blocking hydrolytic pathways in the hippocampi, the lipid rafts were observed not to be increase in size. In particular the enzyme nSMase2 which hydrolyzes sphingmyelin, was found to be the one responsible for increasing lipid raft sizes. Mihyuan took this further and inhibited key factor from a separate pathway that also increased lipid rafts. CXCR4, a protein that HIV uses, was found to increase lipid rafts with the use secondary messengers called IP3 and PKC.

Finally Mihyun and team found that by stabilizing the lipid rafts, NMDAR receptors were prevented from dispersing from the microdomains. Gp120 were first exposed to hippocampi then exposed to Beta cyclodextrin, a drug that is used to disrupt lipid rafts.
Mihyun and her team had made a great contribution which will has brought us one step closer to finding a cure. Though it may seem like only a baby step, at least we are one step closer.

Bae, Mihyun, et al. "The Human Immunodeficiency Virus Coat Protein gp120 Promotes Forward Trafficking and Surface Clustering of NMDA Receptors in Membrane Microdomains." The Journal of Neuroscience 31.47 (2011): 17074-17090
Posted by      Erika L. at 8:31 AM MST
  Katie Bell  says:
HIV has been found to be the etiological operator of Aids in 1983. Since its starter discovering, HIV might be tentatively demonstrated to have the option to exist inside two unmistakable structures: HIV-1 and furthermore HIV-2, the previous which is entirely more destructive just as broad than the last mentioned at Best Coursework Website . While HIV-1 represents more contrasted with 99% of overall contamination, HIV-2 makes up about a straightforward 0. 11% and is for the most part limited to areas to India and furthermore Western Africa
Posted on Fri, 26 Jul 2019 7:37 AM MDT by Katie B.

Move now or move later?


We have all done this. While driving down the road, perhaps on a mountain path, you round a corner, and suddenly there is an obstacle, such as a boulder or another car in your path. In order to avoid crashing, a plan must be made quickly, requiring both visual and motor controls. Do you slam on the brakes, or perform dangerous swerve in order to avoid the object before you? Reacting immediately gives you sufficient time to perform an action, but extra information is lost to choose which action is best. For example, say you immediately decide to swerve to avoid the car in front of you, but as you swerve into the other lane, you realize there is another car coming in the opposite direction. If a bit more time were taken to observe the situation, you probably would have chosen to slam the brakes instead. On the contrary, the more time you spend before acting allows you to gather greater sensory information, aiding you in making a wiser motor action, but as a consequence, there is less time to perform your decided action. Although so much is going on, we perform these actions automatically.

Peter Battaglia and Paul Schrater have researched this very phenomenon. In their study, they allowed participants to control the time spent on looking and the time spent on action so they could visual accuracy for motor accuracy as needed. To do this, participants were placed in front of a computer with a touch screen. They were instructed to put their finger on a start button, which made a target appear on the screen, and glide the finger over to the target before a timer ran out. The computer recorded the time spent on sensory input (how much time between touching the start button and initially moving the finger) and the time spent on motor action (how much time between the initial finger movement and hitting the target). Upon starting the simulation, dots began appeared on the screen, representing new visual information, until the movement for the target was initiated. Different trials were performed where varied amounts of dots were originally placed on the screen before the trial began. Afterwards they quantified the results of low medium and high dot density.

The results showed that when there were more dots on the screen initially, the participant spent more time viewing before making that first movement. How does this apply to us? Basically, when we have to make quick motor decisions, our brains will automatically balance time spent viewing the situation and the time before initially making an action, based on how much sensory input is around. The more sensory input, the longer the brain takes to make a motor decision. So, if you were to round a corner on the road and see a car in the path while there is a lot of visual input, such as pedestrians, traffic lights, and bikers, it will take more time for to make a motor decision than if the road was empty. This balance between visual accuracy and motor accuracy exists inherently in everyone, allowing us to make the best decision possible when little time is available.



Battaglia, P., and P. Schrater. 2007. Humans trade off viewing time and movement duration to improve visuomotor accuracy in a fast reaching task. The Journal of Neuroscience. 27: 6984-6994.
Posted by      Kara G. at 8:24 AM MST



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