Week 5

This week we backtracked from sensory systems to neurotransmitter systems. We got a little more in-depth explanation on functions of different neurotransmitters and -receptors. One type of neurotransmitter is usually used in each synaptic transmission, but it’s not limited to only one. Recently we have learned that ATP can function as a neurotransmitter and it can be stored in vesicles together with some other neurotransmitter. It is also very important to know that same neurotransmitter can effect different receptors and have completely different effect.

We went through life cycle of ACh and learned also what happens after the neurotransmitter has been released to the synaptic cleft. Some of the neurotransmitters are transported back to the presynaptic neuron to clear the synaptic cleft, but this process can be interfered with by using some kind of drug for example and it can greatly affect the excitability of the neuron.

We also had an example of second messenger cascades and the various effects it can have compared to transmitter-gated ion channels. These systems are the brains way to modulate action in the future so that we can ultimately adapt our behavior.

One very interesting thing we learned was how neurons die when they lack energy to keep up the membrane potential. This results in death by excitotoxicity. I would imagine some drugs can also cause this if for example inhibition is prevented (some GABA receptor antagonist maybe).

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week 4

This week we had a lot to read about for the quiz. We started Part 2 of the book with topics of chemical senses, eye, and vision. Some of the questions were difficult and for example remembering the specific olfactory sensory pathway from such a wide area of topics was just guessing at best. It was interesting to get familiar with some of the basic sensory information processing though.

We learned that our eyes have different purposes for different kinds of vision. The center of vision is the most accurate and is capable of perceiving 3D shapes and depth thanks to binocular vision. The peripheral vision is less color sensitive and is used mostly for movement detection. The human eye and visual processing seem to be quite unique. The way how we determine where to focus our attention even though we see the full picture, was also interesting. Our brain has the ability to focus on the things that it finds important for example if danger is nearby. The layered structure of the striate cortex was a new concept and it reveals architecture for brains parallel computing. This had me wondering  how this brain area is used in blind people as study I read recently showed that when people used echolocation, their V1 is active. Echolocation requires combining sensory input from two different sources so the binocular receptive fields are probably useful in that.

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Week 3

This week we had a quiz regarding chapter 4 and 5. The topic of chapter 4 was action potential and the topic of chapter 5 was the synaptic transmission. The quiz was 5 min long which was ok but the maximum length only 10 words which were quite hard for me.

There were a lot of old information but also new. It has been taught already in high school, how action potential forms and how synaptic transmission happens. But there was also some new information, for example, it was new to me that they recycle synaptic vesicle, that there are different receptors and that they can be found in both sides (postsynaptic neuron and presynaptic neuron).  Even synaptic transmission, there are multiple ways to control synaptic transmission. An interesting example was that after drinking alcohol, the body is trying to excite the over inhibition of neurons. This causes hangovers.

On Tuesday, we construct our own brain. We first had a small presentation of the brain anatomy, then we started to construct the brain using the playdoh. It was fun, I haven’t use playdoh in school since elementary school. It also helped us to understand where each part of the brain is. Also once the instructor told us it’s functionality, it was easy to connect these two things together.

 

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Week 2

This week we had our first quiz which was quite easy if you had already answered the questions from the book chapters. In the lecture we talked a little about brain disorders and their cost to society, which is massive. Depression seems to be getting more common these days so the cost might even be increasing. Learning more about these disorders could have major positive impact on economical and societal level. Though finding a cure by just suppressing symptoms might not be a cheap solution, but this might be the only way to help with some disorders. Hopefully that something like opioid epidemic in US doesn’t happen elsewhere.

We also went over how the resting membrane potential is former and how the action potential propagates but this was already familiar for both of us. Periodic action potentials when constant external voltage is present was a new for me, but it seems to make sense if you think about sense of touch for example. You can feel a fork in your hand even if your hand and the fork are not moving. Although you don’t really feel your clothes on your skin after a short while so either the sense is filtered by the brain or the action potentials stop firing.

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Week 1. Introduction

The first week began with an introduction lecture. First, in this lecture, we learn basic info of the courses. We learned that our courses have two different methods of completing it. First one is to just do the exam. This way was said to be quite hard but not impossible. The second one consists of two things; doing the exam and then some addition task(quizzes, visitings, this blog). It is some much better way than just reading and doing the exam.

After the basic info, we went to the topic: Introduction of the brain. We both already knew some information but for me, the new thing was the dying methods and important invention was it. Also naming different parts of the brain was quite new to me. I was surprised how these names are used in the medical field and much information it can give.

Our homework is to read chapter 2 and 3: Neurons and Glia along with The Neuronal Membrane at Rest. These topics are quite familiar from bachelor courses but I’m expecting that we get a much deeper understanding than on bachelor level.

During this course, I’m personally interested to know more about the neurotransmitters and their influence on developing disorders and diseases as well as the chemical control of the brain and its impact on behavior.

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Hello world!

Welcome to Aalto. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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