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How Science Studies the Human Brain

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The brain is our most mysterious, complicated, and least-understood organ. This is perhaps strange, when you consider that the study of the brain is essentially a group of brains trying to work themselves out. The brain monitors our bodies, keeps everything running smoothly behind the scenes, controls all of our thoughts, emotions and memories, and much more. It’s an organic supercomputer, the pinnacle of evolution so far.

Despite humans all having one, science is still learning how the brain is formed, what it does, and how it does it. This study has already yielded incredible findings, which have translated to a better understanding of the way we develop and function. But there is still much more to learn. And to learn it, scientists need to get a good look at what’s going on inside our heads. Here’s an introduction to just a few of the ways that they do it.

If you like this animation, LIKE us on Facebook: This 3D animation presents an overview of how a computerized tomography (CT) machine works and explains why CT scans are taken along with how they are used. An explanation of the CT scan procedure is also provided.
Watch more Epilepsy & Seizure Disorders videos: Learn how MRIs and CAT scans are used to evaluate patients with epilepsy from Steve Wolf, MD and Patty McGoldrick, NP in this Howcast video. MRIs and CAT scans are frequently used to evaluate patients who've had epilepsy. MRIs don't use any radiation. They use magnets to basically look at the brain. They give us a much better detailed picture of the brain to look at how the brain developed, see if there's any funny unusual blood vessels or anything else like that. CAT scans are used if somebody comes in with a first seizure or head injury and that gives a more gross picture off the head. So, you get more of a, sort of the bones and you can tell if there's a bleed going on or if there's some big nasty tumor sitting in there. But, they should just be a first sort of emergency neuroimaging. Yeah. So, CAT scans are typically used in the emergency room after the first seizure. But, if someone has a perfectly normal examination, you're not necessarily going to do it because a CAT scan's only going to eliminate abnormal blood vessel popping or bleed in the head, or head trauma. It'll look for a quick brain tumor. So, it's a good screening tool. But, someone with real epilepsy, you're going to want a really good MRI. And so you need a good MRI, which is a 3T machine. You need thin cuts. So, what an MRI does is it sort of cuts the brain into segments going this way and sideways. And it gives you a 3D representation of the brain. So, you want very thin cuts so that you can see at very small levels of the brain what exactly is going on, and if there's something there that could be causing seizures. So, when you're discussing with the people who take care of you, "Did I have an MRI? Did I have a CAT scan?" you want a good, quality MRI. Make sure you're not missing anything on there, making sure that there's no abnormal cortical dysplasia or migrational defect that could cause the epilepsy. And a CAT scan is not what we recommend. It's a good MRI read by experts who read brain MRIs all the time. And that will guarantee that you've got a good evaluation.
See inside the body thanks to MRI movies. Read more about this new technology here:
(October 23, 2009) Stanford Professor of psychology and neuroscience, Anthony Wagner PhD, discusses how the brain supports memory for everyday events, and will evaluate whether "mind reading" with brain imaging can detect when a person remembers the past and how this might be used as evidence in a court of law. Stanford University: Stanford Alumni Association: Stanford Reunion Homecoming 2009: h [iTunes Link] Stanford University Channel on YouTube:
IQ is a myth, according to one study. Worried your IQ scores aren't upto the mark? Then, you will love the results from one recent study. Deemed the largest study into human intelligence and cognition involving 100 thousand participants, it is contesting the idea of general intelligence being assessed by a single number, saying that IQ tests scores are not an accurate way to tell who is smarter than someone else. It's a little more complicated than that. The study's senior investigator Doctor Adrian Owen from the University of Western Ontario said: "If there is something in the brain that is IQ, we should be able to find it by scanning. But it turns out there is no one area in the brain that accounts for people's so-called IQ. In fact, there are three completely different networks that respond: verbal abilities, reasoning abilities and short-term memory abilities." Psychologist Lewis Terman came up with the term intelligence quotient or IQ as a number that signified relative intelligence in a person by taking aptitude tests such as National Intelligence Test, introduced in 1920s to test school children and The Scholastic Appitude Test (SAT), developed in 1926 for screening perspective candidates for colleges and universities. Have you ever taken an intelligence quotient, or IQ test? Do you think it was an accurate assessment of your intelligence level?
Scientists have made another huge stem cell breakthrough. This time growing a human brain tissue in a lab! Laci explains how this work might revolutionize treatment for currently untreatable conditions. Read More: Human 'Mini Brains' Grown From Stem Cells In Lab Dish "The first complete living model of the developing human brain has been created in a lab dish. Researchers grew human stem cells in an environment that encouraged them to form pea-size gobs of brain tissue, which developed into distinct brain tissues, including a cerebral cortex and retina." Tiny Brain Parts Teased from Stem Cells "Ear, eye, liver, windpipe, bladder, and even a heart. The list of body parts grown from stem cells is getting longer and longer. Now add to it one of the most complex organs: the brain." Cerebral organoids model human brain development and microcephaly "The complexity of the human brain has made it difficult to study many brain disorders in model organisms, highlighting the need for an in vitro model of human brain development." Wake Forest Physician Reports First Human Recipients of Laboratory-Grown Organs "The first human recipients of laboratory-grown organs were reported today by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In The Lancet, Atala describes long-term success in children and teenagers who received bladders grown from their own cells." Young Girl Receives Lifesaving Windpipe Transplant Made From Her Stem Cells "Hannah Warren was born without a trachea but now has one made from plastic fibers and a stew of her own stem cells." Lab-Grown 'Custom' Organs May Be Future of Medicine "Custom-made organs from a patient's own tissues would solve this problem, obviating the need for strong immune-suppressing medications that come with significant side effects." Scientists grow human heart tissue using stem cells "Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh turned human pluripotent stem cells into precursor heart cells, then used a mouse heart 'scaffold' to grow them into heart muscle. Researchers say the findings are a small step towards being able to manufacture transplant organs." Watch More: Trachea Transplant: Regrowing Teeth: Cold Vs. Warm Blood: ____________________ DNews is dedicated to satisfying your curiosity and to bringing you mind-bending stories & perspectives you won't find anywhere else! New videos twice daily. Watch More DNews on TestTube Subscribe now! DNews on Twitter Anthony Carboni on Twitter Laci Green on Twitter Trace Dominguez on Twitter DNews on Facebook DNews on Google+ Discovery News
The human brain contains about 100 billion interconnecting neurons, or cells that create and transmit messages. Scientists are just beginning to understand how this extremely complicated organ is "wired" to process information and relay commands to the body. Using a cutting-edge brain imaging technique called diffusion spectrum imaging, a team of Swiss and American researchers has produced the first detailed map of nerve fibers in the human cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain that is believed to be responsible for our species' unique mental capacity.
Scientists are getting a better than ever look inside the human brain. Sure they've had fMRI's for a while and they're great, but it's nothing when compared to what's coming out of Europe's Big Brain Project. Anthony shows us this unprecedented peek inside the human head. Read More: Big Brain Account Request: The Human Brain Project How Big is a Micron? "A "micron" is an abbreviated term for "micrometer", or a millionth of a meter (1/1,000,000 meters)." Watch More: Mapping The Human Brain: See-Through Brains: Slow-Mo Scorpion Sting: ____________________ DNews is dedicated to satisfying your curiosity and to bringing you mind-bending stories & perspectives you won't find anywhere else! New videos twice daily. Watch More DNews on TestTube Subscribe now! DNews on Twitter Anthony Carboni on Twitter Laci Green on Twitter Trace Dominguez on Twitter DNews on Facebook DNews on Google+ Discovery News
Loss of sensory or behavioural functions as a result of brain damage or dysfunction can clearly have a significant negative impact on quality of life. What progress are we making towards repairing damaged brains and sense organs and treating mental disorders? This lecture will consider what therapeutic promise is currently offered by pharamacological, brain stimulation, brain training, neuroprosthetic (connecting artificial sensors to the brain or using brain to control itself or artificial limbs etc), stem cell and gene therapy approaches. The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website: Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website.
Dr. Jay N. Geidd discusses the results to date from the longitudinal structural MRI project as well as the genetic and environmental influences on brain development in health and illness. Series: "M.I.N.D. Institute Lecture Series on Neurodevelopmental Disorders" [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 20273]