Text written by Nicholas Colb
This week we focused on the aspects which allow widespread chemical communication between the brain and the rest of the body. The analogy in the book was descriptive: the point-to-point, rapid synaptic transmission in the sensory and motor systems can be compared to a telephone system making a link between two specific places, while the chemical control of the brain, operating in expanded space and time, can be compared to a television talk show which is broadcasted on a satellite network for millions of people. I find the complexity of the brain extremely fascinating; every week of the course, a completely new and mysterious aspect of the brain is unraveled.
It was stated that the hypothalamus is responsible for homeostasis, and that body heat in the cold is generated by shivering, goose bumps and shunting blood away from the surface of the body. However, it would be interesting to know how fever is generated—presumably by the hypothalamus—to increase body temperature radically. I’d consider it unlikely to be caused only by shivering, goose bumps and reduced blood circulation, while they can, of course, be considered symptoms of having a fever, too.
Furthermore, an interesting topic was the effect of stress on the brain. It seemed surprising to me that evidence has been found of a correlation between chronic stress and brain damage in mammals. Stress is ubiquitous and even encouraged in modern society, and the fact that it is detrimental to the brain sounds extremely alarming.