Week 7. Chemical Control of the Brain and Behavior
This week we had a nice lecture about chemical control of the brain, virtual excursion to BABA Center, and home exercise.
The lecture was easy to follow and interesting. The more we study the brain and read the book, the better information fits into the brain, and things become more clear, but also we gain understanding about the immense complexity of this structure. We learned more about the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is part of the peripheral nervous system, it regulates many involuntary physiological processes, such as blood pleasure, heart rate, etc. Also, we learned a bit about the role of nutrients and their effect on ANS. In addition, we had a closer look at such well-known neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
An interesting fact that arose during the lecture was related to the nucleus basalis of Meynert, and its connection to the hippocampus, it has a key role in making new memories. High blood pressure and inflammation in the body makes Alzheimers disease go faster and nucleus basalis of Meynert has a specific role in this. We know that in a brain with Alzheimer’s disease we can see more collecting of amyloid placks and neurofibrillary tangles, but not all of the mysteries of this disease are solved yet. Interestingly it has been suggested that EEG/MEG could be used to recgonize unique biomarkers for the pre-dementia stages of Alzheimer’s disease (Nakamura et al, 2018). Acetylcholine esterase inhibitors are used for treatment, but these do not stop degeneration, and are thus not a cure for the disease.
In addition we learned about another type of dementia: Parkinsos’s disease. For this one treatment-wise dopamine as such does not help, as it does not cross the blood brain barrier, but L-dopa can get through it, thus this is given to the patients and it actually helps them alleviate symptoms.
On Tuesday we really enjoyed the virtual excursion to the BABA Center. The Center has specialists from different fields, various methods are used in their scientific projects, and as a result, they have fascinating research projects. It would be great to know more about their work and how the knowledge obtained in their research work appears in real-life practice.
In addition, this week we had a great opportunity to once again remember the main structures of the brain and describe them in our home exercise. Doing self-quiz and exercise 2 gave a lot of good practice and helped us to better memorize the material already studied.
Nakamura, Cuesta, Fernández, Arahata, Iwata, Kuratsubo, Bundo, Hattori, Sakurai, Fukuda, Washimi, Endo, Takeda, Diers, Bajo, Maestú, Ito, Kato. (2018) Electromagnetic signatures of the preclinical and prodromal stages of Alzheimer’s disease, Brain, Volume 141, Issue 5, May, Pages 1470–1485.