Week 5: Chemical control of the brain

Been over a month since we started this course and we can say we have learned quite a lot about the functioning of the brain already. While last week we read chapter 6 which covered the functions of neurotransmitters in depth, this week’s lecture was based on that. We saw a few simple videos demonstrating the action of different types of post-synaptic receptors. They were very easy to understand and solidified knowledge that we already learned earlier in the course. We saw how ligand gated channels work by opening gates upon a neurotransmitter binding to its receptors.

We also saw how secondary messengers work with the help of a g-protein and the production of cAMP from ATP.

Rewatching the video on the cause of depression with sound was very interesting and new. We learned that depression is caused by the lack of enough neurotransmitter Serotonin and Noradrenaline and so anti-depressant drugs block the re-uptake channel of the post-synaptic neuron increasing the concentration of these neurotransmitters in the synaptic cleft.

This week’s reading is based on chapter 15 which we have started to read already. The chapter informed about the role of the hypothalamus and how vast its functions are in the human body. While we already had an idea about what functions the hypothalamus is responsible for and its location in the brain, this chapter goes in depth into the actual implementation.

The chapter mentions that the hypothalamus controls the pituitary gland which controls a lot of human behaviour and functionalities, making it the “master gland” of the human body.

The chapter briefly talks about the effects of stress on the brain which was interesting to read. Apparently prolonged stress can cause premature ageing of the brain. This is a good motivation to take time throughout the day to destress and take time to relax.

– M & P

So we got our exercise 1 results this week! A bit disappointed with the results since the questions were not so specific but the answers were required to be specific. Was a little confused with what was required so did not get full marks for the exercise although this could be the easiest exercise for this class. Well, this tells me about how I should modify my submission for the next exercise to include more detail and go more in-depth to score higher points.

Have not started the exercises after the second since the deadlines are quite far away, although with a quick peek they seem quite interesting and interactive (the reaction time one)

– M


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