Thoughts on week 6

On this week’s lecture we talked more about neurotransmitter systems. I hadn’t heard before of categorizing the systems by how large areas of the brain they innervate ie. how diffuse they are. According to this classification acetylcholinergic, noradrenergic and serotonergic systems are diffuse systems. Intresting detail about noradrenergic system was that it’s single neuron that arises from the locus coeruleus in the brainstem can innervate both cortical areas as well as cerebellum. If I understood correctly, dopaminergic system is not considered diffuse because it acts more local at the mesolimbic, mesocortical and nigrostriatal pathways which are the most prominent dopaminergic pathways in the central nervous system.

We discussed also hormones secreted from hypothalamus and pituitary that have neuromodulatory action. Oxytocin, vasopressin and the hormones along the HPA-axis were familiar to me but the detail that oxytocin has been found to have effect in increasing only in-group altruism and decreasing out-group altruism was new and intriguing.

This week we also had a virtual excursion to BABA center. The center introduced us to EEG methods and equipment that can be used to study eg. the wiring patterns in preterm babies’ brains and the movement patterns in developing children.