Posts tagged neurology
The Dreams of Santiago Ramón y Cajal is both a portrait of Cajal’s legacy as well as a testament to the beauty and vulnerability that occurs when our brain and body communicates. Though Cajal’s legacy is monumental; he is lesser known than his pioneering counterparts such as Newton, Darwin, and Einstein. For those who are unfamiliar with Cajal, the first part of the book reads as a biography. Readers become acquainted with his life and work, which are heavily intertwined. Before Cajal, the brain was seen as a “continuous web” as opposed to the individual units known as neurons that Cajal discovered them to be through his use of the Golgi stain. He, as well as Golgi, received the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work on the structure of the nervous system in 1906.
LEHRER: You suggest that glia and their calcium waves might play a role in creativity. Could you explain? KOOB: This idea stems from dreams, sensory deprivation and day dreaming. Without input from our senses through neurons, how is it that we have such vivid thoughts? How is it that when we are deep in thought we seemingly shut off everything in the environment around us? In this theory, neurons are tied to our muscular action and external senses. We know astrocytes monitor neurons for this information. Similarly, they can induce neurons to fire. Therefore, astrocytes modulate neuron behavior. This could mean that calcium waves in astrocytes are our thinking mind. Neuronal activity without astrocyte processing is a simple reflex; anything more complicated might require astrocyte processing. The fact that humans have the most abundant and largest astrocytes of any animal and we are capable of creativity and imagination also lends credence to this speculation. Calcium is also released randomly and without stimulation from astrocytes’ internal stores in small bursts called ‘puffs.’ These random puffs can lead to waves. It is possible that the seemingly random thoughts during dreams and sensory deprivation experience could be calcium puffs becoming waves in our astrocytes. Basically, it is obvious that astrocytes are involved in brain processing in the cortex, but the main questions are, do our thoughts and imagination stem from astrocytes working together with neurons, or are our thoughts and imagination solely the domain of astrocytes? Maybe the role of neurons is to support astrocytes.
Here, we study the characteristics of functional brain networks at the mesoscopic level from a novel perspective that highlights the role of inhomogeneities in the fabric of functional connections. […] The results show that the homological structure of the brain’s functional patterns undergoes a dramatic change post-psilocybin, characterized by the appearance of many transient structures of low stability and of a small number of persistent ones that are not observed in the case of placebo.
The results show that not all types of spookiness emerge in the same way from the brain. “They show that the neural networks involved in the feeling of a presence are not the same as those involved in out-of-body experiences or in seeing a doppelgänger,” says the lead author of the study, cognitive neuroscientist Olaf Blanke of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL).
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a simple means of brain stimulation, possesses a trifecta of appealing features: it is relatively safe, relatively inexpensive and relatively effective. It is also relatively easy to obtain a device and the do-it-yourself (DIY) community has become galvanised by reports that tDCS can be used as an all-purpose cognitive enhancer. We provide practical recommendations designed to guide balanced discourse, propagate norms of safe use and stimulate dialogue between the DIY community and regulatory authorities. We call on all stakeholders-regulators, scientists and the DIY community-to share in crafting policy proposals that ensure public safety while supporting DIY innovation.