Chemical Control of Brain

In the lecture this week we continued with the neurotransmitters that we also addressed last week. The topic was chapter 15, which nicely combined what we have learned so far and how it concretely affects the brain. There was also an introduction to the mechanisms behind Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, which was very interesting. The videos could be broadcasted through Zoom this time, unlike last week, which was nice. Getting concrete examples of how the brain works makes it easier to stay motivated when studying.

Since there are so many new details, it is hard to remember them all. This could also be a problem later, affecting the learning, if the information from previous chapters is forgotten. In order to remember the information better, one of the group members tried to draw some of the pictures in the book by herself. This could make it easier to remember the details better.

There was an interesting question during the lecture, about the duration of dopamine in the body. When dopamine is secreted, how long does the effect last? And what about adrenaline? Do we know anything about its duration in the body? We also wonder how the change between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system happen? Is it possible that one of the systems affect one part of the body and the other affects another part of the body at the same time?

Posted by Malena Lindberg

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As we have mention here in previous posts, we have broadened our understanding about synapses and we have acknowledged that the information we have gotten from previous weeks in this course have set a good base for learning more. This week we dove even deeper into the synapse and discussed only the neurotransmitters, the information carriers.

The lecture this week was more easy to follow than the previous ones, even though the topic was difficult due to its many details. We also found it difficult to keep up with all the names of the different neurotransmitters and other substances. This got us thinking, how has the neurotransmitters been named? Sometimes, it seems like they have really complicated names originating from Latin or Greek and not knowing the logic behind the naming makes it more difficult to grasp the many new names. We also wondered the receptors are named by their agonist and not the neurotransmitters?

Speaking of agonists, it was a topic we found a bit more difficult than the others this week. Either we missed somethings in the book or it was not there to miss. The specific role of the agonists remained a bit unclear. We also wondered about how the agonists and antagonists appear in the body. Are they formed inside the body or are they just external?

This week we also returned exercise 2. While completing this exercise we had to go through the parts of the brain many times from different perspectives.. We think it is good for learning anatomy to force many repetitions. So in that aspect we liked the exercise.

Posted by Johanna Hansson

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Senses: Taste, Smell and Vision

This week we learned about the senses: taste, smell and vision. Compared to earlier weeks there were a lot of new things we were not familiar with. We learned a lot of new things this week and also returned our first exercise. For example, we found it surprising that the cells related to taste, smell and vision had similar functions as neurons such as some kind of action potentials. In addition, it was interesting to learn how neurons participated in these functions. This broadened our understanding of the different functions and synapses in neurons we had already learned previously. 

However, there was so much new knowledge that we considered it hard to process. Nevertheless, some of the facts our course book provided were interesting and easy to memorize. We considered that this boosted our learning. One of the facts was, for example, that only 20% of all smells smell good to humans. Another fact was water-water surface refracts light than air-water surface. Therefore, using goggles underwater is necessary in order to see well. 

This week’s lecture and readings brought some questions to our mind. One of our questions was that if the picture is formed to the retina upside down where in the brain the picture is turned the right way? Is it known? Another question that came into our mind was how in detail do we have to learn these? Is there a reason why? Do we have to apply this knowledge later? This question came in our minds because the course book is much more detailed than the lectures. 

Posted by Lotta Pyykönen

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Synapses and the anatomy of the brain

During the lecture this week, the learned mostly about synapses. Although the concept was known from before, a lot of new details were introduced. We did not know the complexity of the synapses, for example. During the exercise session this week, the topic was the brain anatomy. This lecture was a bit hard to grasp. Since the lecture was held online on zoom, modeling and understanding the 3D structure of the brain was a bit hard. The brain can be divided into so many different parts, so a lot of work and repetition is required to learn them all.

We think that these two lectures are important since they give a good base before continuing to more complex systems of the brain. For example, when we later discuss where different reactions take place in the brain, it is good to know the anatomy of the brain. Also, the synapses are important, since they play an essential role in how information is transmitted in the brain.

The lectures during this week also gave rise to some questions. For example, we saw that some areas of the brain are responsible for some specific functions.  We are wondering if it then can be assumed that this applies for all areas in the brain. It is also said that there are a lot of things still not known about the brain, but in our opinion, the areas that we have covered, seem to be quite well known. So, about which areas do we know the least? We are also wondering which enzymes convert precursor molecules into neurotransmitter molecules in the cytosol?

Posted by Malena Lindberg

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Neurons, glia and resting membrane potential

We have been working in an unfamiliar study environment due to the corona virus. We miss the contact teaching, especially exercise sessions and working together with our friends. The remote teaching brings some challenges to our learning, bu we stay positive and have, even due to the challenges, stayed on top of our game.

This weeks topics have been the neuron and glia cells, as well as neuronal membrane at rest and action potential. We came across many things, such as the structure of the neuron and the resting membrane potential, that were familiar from previous courses and high-school. But, repetition is the mother of learning, and we now have these things in fresh memory.

The glia cells, on the other hand, were not that familiar to us. We had no idea there were so many types of them, like Astrocytes and myelinating cells, such as Oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells. While learning about the function of the glia cells, we started wondering if there are cells that support other cells in other parts of our body the same way that the glia cells support neurons in the brain. If there is not, then why do the glia cells and the neurons have this, for them, unique relationship?

Today we feel wiser about the different types of cells in our neuron system, but this one question remains.

Posted by Johanna Hansson

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Welcome to our neuroscience blog!

We are three Aalto-university students that are currently studying the structures and operations of the human brain. We will post here weekly about things that we learnt that week. We will discuss things we find interesting and try to question the things we learn.

Welcome to join our journey in the world of the human brain!

Posted by Malena Lindberg

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