The basics of brain functionality and introduction

This is a blog for the course NBE-4210, Structure and Operation of the Human Brain. It will detail what was presented in lectures for that week and explore thoughts and observations about these subjects.

For the second week, the lecture focused on a few subjects. First general motivation was presented for learning about the brain, such as curing disease and understanding just how the brain and consciousness works. These questions of course are of interest to most people, us included, and what we would like to some day understand. The potential for useful development is immense, everything from combating depression, improving memory, to stopping deterioration of cognitive functions, and maybe even improving the capabilities of what we have naturally to currently impossible levels. How this could be achieved is something I’d like to learn about.

But before getting so far, we must first understand the basics of the brain functionality. In this lecture, the chemical basis for brain functionality and action potentials was explained, as well as the structure of brain synapses along neurotransmitters and receptors. All of these are necessary to understand how information travels in the brain. The first part to understand is what sets off an action potential trough chemical change. Then, following this, the creation of neurotransmitters, which are sent through axons and delivered to receptors which trough various means translates this transmitter to a desired functionality.  Alternatively, information flows from neuron to neuron between synapses electrically, whether or not information travels chemically or electrically depending on the neurons. That is a very rough explanation on how an action is run through in a brain, but much deeper understanding is of course required to get to more specific information, such as what area of the brain does what, emotions, muscular movement, and so forth. These are things I look forward to learning more about!

A short introduction on who is working on this blog:

Markus Tayar has studied physics for his Bachelor’s in Aalto University. He finds the idea of consciousness and how to influence it fascinating so he intends to major in Human Neuroscience and -technology.

Ada Norberg, masters student in Life Science Technologies

Vasumathi Neralla, masters student in Speech Processing!

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