Summary of “We are more than our brains: on neuroscience and being human”

The mystique is expressed in multiple forms, ranging from ubiquitous depictions of supernatural, ultra-sophisticated brains in science fiction and the popular media to more sober, scientifically supported conceptions of cognitive function that emphasise inorganic qualities or confine mental processes to neural structures.
Brains are undoubtedly somewhat computer-like – computers, after all, were invented to perform brain-like functions – but brains are also much more than bundles of wiry neurons and the electrical impulses they are famous for propagating.
Another remarkable study showed that transplantation of human glial cells into mouse brains boosted the animals’ performance in learning tests, again demonstrating the importance of glia in shaping brain function.
Some of the most perspicacious animals are the corvids – crows, ravens, and rooks – which have brains less than 1 per cent the size of a human brain, but still perform feats of cognition comparable to chimpanzees and gorillas.
The more we feel that our brains encapsulate our essence, the less sensitive we’ll be to the role of environment.
The most extreme direction in futuristic brain technology is the drive to achieve immortality through the postmortem preservation of human brains.
The more we feel that our brains encapsulate our essence as individuals, and the more we believe that our thoughts and actions simply emanate from the bundle of flesh in our heads, the less sensitive we will be to the role of the society and environment around us, and the less we will do to nurture our shared culture and resources – whether in the context of criminal behaviour, creativity, mental illness or any other aspect of human life.
We must realise that we are much more than our brains.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Depression a Lack or an Excess?”

At each setting, he asked the patient to describe his feeling of well-being, his anxiety level, and his feeling of inner tension.
The patient now described a feeling of happiness all the way up to the maximum of 10 and a total absence of anxiety.
The neurologist turned up the voltage one more notch for the sake of the experiment, but at 5 volts the patient said that the feeling was “Fantastic but a bit too much.” He had a feeling of ecstasy that was almost out of control, which made his sense of anxiety shoot up to 7.
At once, Helen Mayberg became a star and was introduced at conferences as “The woman who revived psychosurgery.” Later, others jumped on the bandwagon, and now they are fighting about exactly where in the brain depressed patients should be stimulated.
“Area twenty-five proved to be smaller in depressed patients,” Mayberg relates, adding that it also looked as though it were hyperactive.
These were the chronically ill for whom nothing helped, the kind of depressive patients who often wound up taking their own lives; it was this type of patient that, 50 years ago, were warehoused in state hospitals.
“The patients are aware I have not given them anything but have removed something that was bothering them,” said Mayberg.
“No, no, young Schl├Ąpfer. There is only one symptom, and it has to do with pleasure. Ask the patient what gives him pleasure, and he will tell you: nothing.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “If you grow a brain in a lab, will it have a mind of its own?”

The prospect of a lab-grown brain is so compelling that the authors of an editorial in Nature published this week wrote that “The promise of brain surrogates is such that abandoning them seems itself unethical, given the vast amount of human suffering caused by neurological and psychiatric disorders, and given that most therapies for these diseases developed in animal models fail to work in people.”
Given how tantalizing-and genuinely beneficial-the promise of lab-grown brains is, they write that we can almost be certain that we will, at some point, grow a whole brain.
We’re far from that point-all we can do now is grow clumps of brain cells-but now is the time to consider the ethics.
The editorial itself raises a number of hugely important issues-how would you dispose of a living bit of brain? Who has ownership of the brain bits if the cells come from a donor?-but non-neurologists tend to leap to one big question in particular: when would we consider a brain to be its own person?
Scientists can create what are known as brain organoids, which are essentially clumps of brain cells.
Scientists haven’t figured out a way to get all those different groups to grow together in something resembling a real brain.
James Bernat, a professor of neurology and medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, says “I do not think scientists will ever develop a lab-grown brain organoid that would have enough neurological function to be considered a person.” Though he also noted that “Whether brain organoids of the future will ever develop neurological functions is highly questionable.”
“In our lifetimes, I do not think we will need to consider the question of when a lab-grown brain organoid is conscious,” he says, “Because I don’t think we will understand how the brain generates consciousness for the foreseeable future. Measuring it represents another challenge that might be possible if we can ever fully understand its precise biological mechanism.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Researchers are keeping pig brains alive outside the body”

In a step that could change the definition of death, researchers have restored circulation to the brains of decapitated pigs and kept the reanimated organs alive for as long as 36 hours.
It also inaugurates a bizarre new possibility in life extension, should human brains ever be kept on life support outside the body.
During the event, Yale University neuroscientist Nenad Sestan disclosed that a team he leads had experimented on between 100 and 200 pig brains obtained from a slaughterhouse, restoring their circulation using a system of pumps, heaters, and bags of artificial blood warmed to body temperature.
“These brains may be damaged, but if the cells are alive, it’s a living organ,” says Steve Hyman, director of psychiatric research at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was among those briefed on the work.
If a person’s brain were reanimated outside the body, would that person awake in what would amount to the ultimate sensory deprivation chamber, without ears, eyes, or a way to communicate? Would someone retain memories, an identity, or legal rights? Could researchers ethically dissect or dispose of such a brain?
Sestan told the NIH it is conceivable that the brains could be kept alive indefinitely and that steps could be attempted to restore awareness.
Devor thinks the ability to work on intact, living brains would be “Very nice” for scientists working to build a brain atlas.
“If people want to keep human brains alive post mortem, that is a more pressing and realistic problem,” says Hyman.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What happens to your brain on sex?”

What happens to your brain on love? Is there such a thing as “Casual sex”? What do we get wrong about male and female sexuality?
She’s written six books about human sexuality, gender differences in the brain, and how cultural trends shape our views of sex, love, and attachment.
Which is why romantic love is a far more powerful brain system than the sex drive.
So casual sex is not casual: It can trigger these brain systems for romantic love and feelings of attachment.
Sean Illing I’m sure you get pushback from people who worry about reducing something as rich and complex as love to brain systems.
You asked me about the brain circuitry associated with romantic love, so that’s what I told you about.
People pine for love, live for love, kill for love and die for love.
There are three brain regions that become active when you are in a longterm, loving relationship.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How bacteria are changing your mood”

Science is piecing together how the trillions of microbes that live on and in all of us – our microbiome – affect our physical health.
The microbiome influences the immune system, which has also been implicated in brain disorders.
A good rule of thumb is a healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome, containing a wide variety of different species living all over our bodies.
The microbiome You’re more microbe than human – if you count all the cells in your body, only 43% are human The rest is our microbiome and includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and single-celled archaea.
It’s an intriguing concept – that an imbalance in the gut microbiome could be involved in depression.
So scientists at the APC Microbiome centre, at University College Cork, started transplanting the microbiome from depressed patients to animals.
Similar evidence – linking the microbiome, the gut and the brain – is emerging in Parkinson’s disease.
The evidence linking the microbiome and the brain is as fascinating as it is early.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How bacteria are changing your mood”

Science is piecing together how the trillions of microbes that live on and in all of us – our microbiome – affect our physical health.
The microbiome influences the immune system, which has also been implicated in brain disorders.
A good rule of thumb is a healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome, containing a wide variety of different species living all over our bodies.
The microbiome You’re more microbe than human – if you count all the cells in your body, only 43% are human The rest is our microbiome and includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and single-celled archaea.
It’s an intriguing concept – that an imbalance in the gut microbiome could be involved in depression.
So scientists at the APC Microbiome centre, at University College Cork, started transplanting the microbiome from depressed patients to animals.
Similar evidence – linking the microbiome, the gut and the brain – is emerging in Parkinson’s disease.
The evidence linking the microbiome and the brain is as fascinating as it is early.

The orginal article.

Summary of “New treatments could save people who have suffered strokes”

The hospital wasn’t a specialized stroke center and transferred him to Yale New Haven Hospital, where I work and where he arrived two hours after his original emergency response call – and almost seven hours from when his symptoms first started.
The blood clots in the brain that cause strokes irreversibly change who we are and burden our families.
Strokes strike nearly 800,000 Americans each year, killing 140,000 and at a cost to society of $34 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s not the only powerful new tool against strokes.
Acute stroke care requires innovation in three broad areas: stroke diagnosis, pre-hospital technology and communication, and coordination of care from field to hospital.
Not all is gloom and doom for someone who has suffered a stroke.
Today, with new medicines, including those that treat high blood pressure, we have made great strides in stroke prevention.
Stroke care has changed for the better, but there is an urgent need to mobilize efforts to deliver these proven life-changing therapies to every stroke patient in minutes, not hours, if we are to realize the full gains of decades of investment.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to become mentally strong: 3 secrets from neuroscience”

If you want more brain stamina, you need to systematically increase how long you make it work.
Ever work longer and harder because there’s a looming deadline? Ever suddenly feel tired because you look at the clock and realize you’ve been at it for hours? So it’s not about how depleted you actually are – it’s about how exhausted you think you are.
Researchers at Canterbury Christ Church University in Britain gave cyclists doses of caffeine before a series of time trials – but they didn’t tell them exactly how much.
Their performance differences were completely due to their beliefs, not how much energy they really had. So we need to trick that governor.
Reduce how much effort your governor perceives and you’ll reduce how tired you feel.
So how do you make things into a game? Challenge yourself.
You need to act like a giant caffeine molecule and hide cues in your environment that remind you how tired you “Should” be.
Remember how “The Little Engine That Could” kept going? Well, that tiny train didn’t read as much science as you do, so you’re one step ahead of him.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How To Give Your Brain A Break Without Booking Vacation Days”

By giving your brain new experiences or activities to learn, you’ll be energizing it with similar effects to meditation or a restful break from the stressful, stuck situation you find yourself in when routine goes wrong.
So if you can’t squeeze a beach getaway into your plans this week, keep reading for some ways to give your brain a vacation without packing your suitcase.
Just like a walk in the fresh air feels restful after sitting in a hot office, without treading new mental ground your brain doesn’t get a chance to stretch its muscles, both figuratively and literally.
To give your brain a rest from the everyday, take a page from the neuroplasticity guidebook and get into a vacation mindset.
According to psychiatrist Dr. Shimi Kang, a brain will make the most of a rest or vacation when it experiences something new.
With new sights, sounds, smells, and activities, you’re helping your brain explore and energize with new pathways.
Can you make real time for this new activity in the long run? And will you? Author Michael Merzenich is a leading brain plasticity researcher who explores the topic in his book, Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life., and shows that, at first, any changes are temporary.
So even if you’re not in a place or time to take a real break or learn a new skill, you give your brain some fresh energy by wrapping your existing work in new trappings.

The orginal article.