Structure and Operation of the Human Brain – Week 4

This fourth week started, as usual, with a quiz. The quiz reviewed last week’s topics, the synaptic transmission. At the start of the course I was a little annoyed by having one type of examination each week; however I’ve come to like these quizzes, since they provide feedback as to how much you understood the previous topic and whether you should study more on some concepts so you don’t get left behind and can follow the following topics easily, since the topics build upon each other.

Things got a little fresh since we had some changes in the structure and approach to the lectures and exercise sessions. The lecture was prepared and given by Iiro instead of Risto like the last few lectures. The topic for this week was neurotransmitters and neurotransmitter system, things were a little bit more varied as we started with some background experiments between the link in alcoholism and opioid receptors and before going into the topic we also were presented with some videos to exemplify with some animations the ligand gated channels and the second messengers (cAMP).

Afterwards we boarded the lecture’s topic with some basic concepts, like what exactly is a neurotransmitter, their classification and what do they do; whether they are inhibitory or excitatory. We delved into each type of neurotransmitter and looked into the most prominent and common ones like Acethylcholine, GABA and glutamate, their receptors and what kind of reactions ensue when they’re recognized by said receptors; the principles of cholinergic synapses and the role of some neurotransmitters like GABA in the inhibition in the brain.

After this we returned to the second messengers cascades and then the relation between opioids and social bonding was discussed further.

Regarding the experiment session, although I wasn’t able to attend it I managed to do it later by running the program in my computer. We were presented with an experiment; to react to aural and visual stimuli and how different environments changed the reaction times.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some variety in how the lectures and exercises are presented and explained as this allows for a better understanding of them. I hope we can expect different approaches to the following topics.

Posted by Salvador Gutierrez Medina

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