This week our homework was to explore brain anatomy in greater detail. Our task was to name parts of the brain, including over 200 areas. It’s overwhelming task if one has to remember all the structures in such a short time, but this time it was more important that we learn the broader structure of the brain. From now on its assumed that the anatomical references (anterior, posterior, medial, lateral etc.) are known, so that its easier to explain neural pathways and structures. This is important, and I will certainly revisit the concepts over and over again during the course.
This time our group’s weekly meet was partly online, and we discussed about chapter 6. Chapter 6 is about neurotransmitter systems and it was interesting to see how the neurotransmitters responses are manipulated with drugs. The most interesting thing that I caught up when reading the chapter was the endocannabinoid lipid, the transmitter that causes cannabis sativa to produce effects.
The endocannabinoids are capable of so called retrograde signaling – moving from postsynaptic cells to presynaptic cell. The endocannabinoids bind to CB1 receptors in presynaptic cell. They are not packaged in vesicles like usual neurotransmitters but instead they are manufactured rapidly on demand. The endocannabinoids are also capable of diffusing through membrane. Most interestingly, there’s more CB1 receptors than any other G-protein-coupled receptors in the brain, and its not perfectly clear why, although there are several different explanations.
Next week there will be topics about chemical control of the brain and behavior. The topics of the course are getting more concrete and it’s interesting to see normal, daily activities through the neuroscience lens.