Lecture 8, Wiring the brain

General: This week we studied the development on neurons at the embryo and adult stages of life.

Lecture was extremely informative on basics of forming new neural connections. I found it particularly interesting on how brain reacts to the change of environment by suppressing neurons that are not needed and propagating the growth of new neurons to replace those lost. In, addition it is interesting how target cell requires a certain amount of neural impulses and can rearrange synaptic contacts based on relevancy of different neurons. There was an example about this on previous weeks about sewing shut an eye of a mouse and notifying how neurons synapses are rearranged to enforce the connection of the working eye.

VV: This lecture was great. I really enjoyed it. I would like to highlight a few information that I find the most interesting. The brain of ours is able to reallocate neurons, that took care of something the body lost (like an eye or hand), to process some other task. So there is no part of brain that would do nothing. Like even if there were it would be considered useless and this area would no longer get nutrition. This mechanism is used to cure/make better eyesight of kids. For certain period of time the healthy eye of a kid is covered and brain is forced to use the impared eye and there are no inputs from the good eye. This forces brain to grow more neurons that takes care of the impared eye, therefore the eye gets better.

The other very interesting thing for me was that stress and lack of sleep blocks production of new brain cells. New brain cells are responsible for brain plasticity, learning and memory. Thus, stress and sleeplessness blocks ability to learn new stuff and makes brain kinda stiff.