“My conclusion, is that memory is what you are now. Not in pictures, not in recordings. Your memory is who you are now.”
… is the most overused and misunderstood concept in neuroscience and psychology at the moment.
Gross dissection of the rat brain
These are the remnants of what we did in school the other day. Teacher told us we shouldn’t post these on the internet but what’s he gonna do to me, sue me ? Yeah, he probably could, actually.
Badar Rashid decided to find out what white and grey matter inside a brain look like. He started with an image of neuron bundles taken using scanning electron microscopy, and blew it up to 4,000 times its actual size. He then added colour to the black and white result according to his own aesthetic.
The image appears in Physics Today (DOI:10.1063/PT.3.1651).
(Image: Badar Rashid, UCD)
Great image. Theses are actual neurons that have been given color.
Although the brain, weighing 1230 grams, is only average in size, several regions feature additional convolutions and folds rarely seen in other subjects. For example, the regions on the left side of the brain that facilitate sensory inputs into, and motor control of, the face and tongue are much larger than normal; and his prefrontal cortex—linked to planning, focused attention, and perseverance in the face of challenges—is also greatly expanded.
"In each lobe," including the frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes, "there are regions that are exceptionally complicated in their convolutions," Falk says. As for the enlarged regions linked to the face and tongue, Falk thinks that this might relate to Einstein’s famous quote that his thinking was often “muscular” rather than in words. Although this comment is usually interpreted as a metaphor for his subjective experiences as he thought about the universe, “it may be that he used his motor cortex in extraordinary ways” connected to abstract conceptualization, Falk says. Albert Galaburda, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, says that “what’s great about this paper is that it puts down … the entire anatomy of Einstein’s brain in great detail.” Nevertheless, Galaburda adds, the study raises “very important questions for which we don’t have an answer.” Among them are whether Einstein started off with a special brain that predisposed him to be a great physicist, or whether doing great physics caused certain parts of his brain to expand. Einstein’s genius, Galaburda says, was probably due to "some combination of a special brain and the environment he lived in." And he suggests that researchers now attempt to compare Einstein’s brain with that of other talented physicists to see if the brain’s features were unique to Einstein himself or are also seen in other scientists.
I am fascinated by our current fascination with Albert Einstein’s brain. While we have conceded, for the most part, that most human psychological traits including intelligence are a combination and interaction of environmental and genetic forces, we devote a lot of time to the study of good ol’ Albert’s brain. Undoubtedly, there is information that we can learn from this examination of Einstein’s exhumed sack of neurons. But I wonder if there is just a little more here than we let on. As much as we have learned from Einstein, we idolize him. In Einstein, in life and in continuing in death, we got a glimpse of where we were headed with the evolution of our intellect. And yet, I’d still assert that we would learn a lot more about studying his processes than his brain structure.
Just some morning thoughts.
Credit 1: Brain (2012)/National Museum of Health and Medicine (See Below)
Credit 2: Dean Falk/S. Witelson et al., The Lancet, 353, 19 June 1999
A nerve comprises axons of peripheral sensory neurons bundled together as ribbon. Here the axonal bundles of the dorsal root ganglions are imaged by fluorescence line scanning confocoal microscope (Zeiss LSM710) equipped with multiple lasers.
The warmer orange colors show parts of the brain most active during improvisational rap. The blue regions are most active when rappers performed a memorized piece. Credit NIDCD
Pretty excited to read this one.
Skull Fracture with Hematoma, ca 1700
Ferris Jabr takes a cue from Lena Dunham’s Girls and dissects current research on the biological maturity of the twenty-something brain. That age is a period of intense flux in the Western world, with jobs, relationships, emotions and stability all in limbo … is there neuroscience to explain any of it?
“To reflect the ongoing structural changes in the adolescent and twenty-something brain, many journalists and scientists use words and phrases like “unfinished,” “work in progress,” “under construction” and “half-baked.” Such language implies that the brain eventually reaches a kind of ideal state when it is “done.” But there is no final, optimal state. The human brain is not a soufflé that gradually expands over time and finally finishes baking at age 30. Yes, we can identify and label periods of dramatic development—or windows of heightened plasticity—but that should not eclipse the fact that brain changes throughout life.”
Some work indicates that many key developmental changes approach completion in our third decade of life, but there’s plenty of other brain circuitry that continues to evolve throughout life. We certainly know a great deal about how the brain matures, but perhaps not as much about why.
Read this excellent piece by Ferris. It not only demonstrates how little we really know about the real meaning of long-term brain development, but also asks a ton of good questions about what that development might mean in terms of “growing up”.
Check out the book, Quarterlife Crisis if you are experiencing this or if you are just interested in this phenomenon. Nothing about brain development, but geared towards emotional, professional, and social development during this stressful time.
Love the colors.
"This image shows three "Layer 5 pyramidal neurons", visualized in the visual cortex (the rear part of the brain) with a fluorescent dye, under a 2-photons laser-scanning microscope. The fluorescent dye is injected into each cell via a micro-pipette (seen on the bottom-right corner of each neuron).
These neurons receive, proceed, and store the information flow running through the brain, as a TV antenna does. This is achieve via their unique and characteristic “dendritic arborization” (composed by the massive branching emerging from the rounded cell body).
These brain cells are the substrate of consciousness and cognition.
Processing: speudo colours (image J) + brush strokes filter (photoshop)
Scale: in reality, this image’s height is roughly 500 µm (=0.5mm).”
When science meets art! (by Alexandre Moreau | Photography)
Marijuana under Electron Microscope
Astrocytes and blood vessels by Functional Neurogenesis