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The secret life of the brain

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Kirandeep Bajwa

on 24 March 2015

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Transcript of The secret life of the brain

The secret life of the brain
The human brain through the lifespan
5 Questions to Consider About the Human Lifespan
How is the brain changing and developing?
What influences the brain (positively and negatively)?
What do the experts say?
How do experiences influence brain development?
Outline the problems/difficulties in brain development presented in the video.
Episode 1: The Baby’s Brain: Wider Than the Sky

Meaning, emotions, ideas, memories, and dreams develop and evolve over the lifetime
Connections between cells
Connections in the brain constantly being made and changing- those used often strengthen, those not are “pruned”- similar to a telephone
Brain can develop with visual experience
Brain cells already form when woman finds out she's pregnant
Episode 2: The Child’s Brain: From Syllabus to Sound
Brain is plastic
Learning to speak as easy as a bird learning to sing
Speaking, listening, and understanding a part of the complex language system
Young human brain adaptable and able to change
By 11 months babies have adapted to only one language
Hope for plasticity of brain
Dyslexic children continue to remodel their own brains
Episode 3: The Teenage Brain: A World of Their Own
Human brain full sized, but not yet fully developed or finished. Adolescence is the last time where great changes take place
Pre-frontal cortex- allows us to make future plans, and is responsible for self-responsibility, morality, and self-control. It undergoes major steps in maturation
As it is still developing, adolescent years are often a time of turmoil and confusion; new parts of brain adjusting
Pre-frontal cortex functions like an orchestra and maintains harmony. A poorly functioning pre-frontal cortex makes thinking/reasoning difficult
With schizophrenia, some areas of brain are smaller to compensate for larger ventricles and retain brain size
Adolescent brain flexible and has a lot of potential for change. Pre-frontal cortex grows
Psychosis caused by dopamine and surge and overstimulate the brain, causing it to send inaccurate messages
Critical part of brain distorted, hijacked, and re-wired because of drug abuse
Episode 4: The Adult Brain: To Think By Feeling
Emotions have physical place in brain
Amygdala doesn't act on its own. Frontal cortex plays a role (ex. It can decipher between a stick and snake, while amygdala alerts)
Emotionally arousing experience releases hormones which enables you to deal with that experience in the future because you'll have a stronger memory of that particular set of circumstances, utilizing it for future decisions
Low levels of serotonin in depressed brain
Episode 5: The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives
Neurons can live for up to 120 years
Aging brain built to withstand that many years
New memories formed in hippocampus
Brain aging does not mean individual becomes senile- some age slowly, others rapidly
Even into old age, brain continues producing new neurons
The Baby’s Brain: Wider Than the Sky
Mother and father- relax baby
Contact and closeness with mother
The family or social group can give baby confidence
Premature birth affects the way the brain develops, as it's not completely developed at birth, and out of womb faster
The Child’s Brain: From Syllabus to Sound
With practice, children with language impairments can improve
Babies born with capacity to learn any language. Begin by listening
Right hemisphere just as good at understanding spoken speech. Abilities then represented in both hemispheres of the brain, not just the left. Much more plasticity there. Children already have the ability to acquire language built in and can then develop it
Brain can adapt to removal of hemisphere due to epilepsy and does not completely render an individual incapable of learning language
Dyslexia makes it difficult for children to decipher written language, though they may be bright
Dyslexic children's brains not active in some areas where words are associated with sound
The Teenage Brain: A World of Their Own
Schizophrenia as complex as the brain itself, and it’s difficult to pinpoint its biological origins
Adolescence a difficult time and the frontal lobe struggles to adapt
Medication can improve schizophrenics' quality of life, but anti-psychotic medications don't cure schizophrenia. Sometimes it doesn't work at all, as schizophrenia varies from person to person

The Adult Brain: To Think By Feeling
Stroke decimates hundreds of thousands of signals in the amygdala
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can prompt anxiety, fear, physical responses
Fear transformed from a life-changing, evolutionary response to danger into PTSD
With PTSD, thinking is hijacked by emotion and cortex held hostage by amygdala. Amygdala is overly sensitive, which something as simply as a harmless sound
Traumatic moment involuntarily recalled and relived, which repeatedly activates the amygdala and releases adrenaline, sending trauma deeper into the brain
The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives
Stroke survivors being taught, through Edward Taub, to revive stricken parts of their brains
Repeat movements using paralyzed part of body
The Baby’s Brain: Wider Than the Sky
Heidelise Als-
Neuroscientists use the example of the ferret- interaction between nature and nurture
Brain has different areas performing different functions
Which is more influential? Can nurture overpower nature?
Rewiring ferret's brain
Environment important but can't exactly change “genetic destiny” and genes
Scientists acknowledge that they shouldn't over interpret individual cases like Elizabeth's
The Child’s Brain: From Syllabus to Sound
Patricia Kuhl- language development a mysterious and profound change. At birth and short period after, babies can hear small differences in world's languages

Helen Neville- language dependent on so many systems and structures that a problem in any one of them can lead to a final common problem, a language impairment

The Teenage Brain: A World of Their Own
Steven E. Hyman- no disease crueler than schizophrenia because it hits during a period (late adolescence to early 20s) where a child is experiencing major changes, such as graduation, and is finally finding his or her place in the world

Weinberger- difficult to distinguish it from other illnesses; an enigma as to its biology

Nancy C. Andreasen- affects the higher human functions/the most evolutionarily advanced, like thinking

The Adult Brain: To Think By Feeling
Antonio R. Damasio- having a feeling of emotion allows one proper planning of future decisions

Richard Davidson- stress is natural, and we have ways in dealing with obstacles
The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives
Edward Taub- human brain plastic instrument. The amount of area of the brain involved in producing movement or receiving sensation keeps changing continuously based on the amount of use that part of the body gets. Brain like a muscle- the more you exercise it, the better it gets

Denise Park- with age comes decrease in higher brain function
Stem cells produce hundreds of different kinds of neurons. Stem cells barely produce in adult brain
The Baby’s Brain: Wider Than the Sky
Skin to skin contact- experience with mother is important
Nervous system recognizes mother
Presence of parents help child relax and gain confidence
Visual experience helps develop brain, and lack of proper vision would slow it down
The Child’s Brain: From Syllabus to Sound
Learning is about connections
Learning is changing weights of connections in brain depending on experiences
13 month old babies learn and understand with both cerebral hemispheres. At 20 months, when babies have been learning at least a dozen words a day and have increased the size of their vocabulary, the language center of the brain shifts to the left hemisphere
Ability to produce fluent speech varies from child to child
Reading complex to learn and does not occur naturally
Dyslexic children learn differently
The Teenage Brain: A World of Their Own
Activities of teenager determine what the brain keeps and prunes- what should be kept and what should be eliminated
Schizophrenia can affect emotional regions of the brain. The normal brain responds by affecting regions of brain that handle emotion, but perform poorly with people with schizophrenia, causing them to feel like they can't relate to others and ultimately feeling “empty” and without emotion
Hallucinations affect everyday life and can lead individuals to believe they're real
The Adult Brain: To Think By Feeling
Memories guide our every decision and experiences are almost always accompanied by some kind of positive or negative emotion or decision of the past that serves as a guide
Experience of negative emotions is necessary
Emotion forms self-concept and gives sense of self
Depression seems to run in families and can be passed down through generations, can be heightened by traumatic experiences early on in life
Violence can contribute to onslaught of depression
Prozac allowed woman to feel range of emotions after a long period of feeling empty
The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives
Millions of neurons are killed and injured during a stroke and damaged part of man's brain shrank to smaller size. Arm and leg left paralyzed
Physical activity helps maintain mental ability/intellectual functioning decreases at a slower rate or not at all
The Baby’s Brain: Wider Than the Sky
A baby out of the womb faces many difficulties- 3 months premature like Elizabeth- protective layer gone
Premature baby's brain is vulnerable because many weeks of development still remain
Cataract influences brain development in areas that contribute to sight or vision
Child will be more hypersensitive, over stimulated, and over reactive
The Child’s Brain: From Syllabus to Sound
Epilepsy- elimination of left hemisphere will stop seizures
Left hemisphere, when damaged- Katy and seizures- half of brain surgically removed so that she can lead a seizure free life and develop her language skills (she can't talk).
The right side of one's kid body left paralyzed after removal of left hemisphere- speech most effected and difficult and slow process to produce words
The Teenage Brain: A World of Their Own
Courtney- visual disturbances (seeing sparkles, etc.) as a result of schizophrenia, felt like he was “going crazy” and thought that he would remain that way for the rest of his life. Part of a research study at the University of Ohio- how schizophrenic brains function and malfunction. Difficult for him to stay coherent or pay attention to one particular topic. The progression of the illness made learning at school difficult for him- he eventually had to delay/put off college plans
Schizophrenia can cause suicidal thoughts, hallucinations seem real and can be terrifying
Drug addiction can cause feelings of worthlessness when not on drugs, decreased quality of life, abuse that could potentially lead to death
Individuals feed drug habits through crime if needed

The Adult Brain: To Think By Feeling
Marvin, after suffering a stroke, struggles to feel emotion, like fear, and doesn't experience the awareness of it. Can only guess at what he is or others are feeling
Heart rate increases due to memory of man's accident, and he experiences nightmares
PTSD can take over an individual's life
Depression can lead to feelings of emptiness, resulting in suicide
The Aging Brain: Through Many Lives
Stroke can leave body paralyzed
Parkinson's- body becomes and feels stiff
Alzheimer's- parts of brain that put thoughts into words are slowly dying. Memories begin to fade. Kills billions of neurons. Leaves tangles and plaques
Judgment and reasoning still not fully developed, so abusing drugs makes it worse
Addiction affects thinking, emotion, and behaviour
Repeated drug abuse causes reduction in enjoyment of normal pleasures, effectively tricking the brain. Not being on drugs causes individuals to feel hopeless and disallows them from enjoying life without them
Not feeling the effects of alcoholic as much as others can cause one to become an alcoholic- low response
An individual who used baclofen found that he didn't need cocaine anymore and cravings were curbed
Relapse is possible- 8/10 of those who leave rehab
Carla J Shatz- if connections are correct and are used, they're becoming strengthened and are constantly changing. Premature babies have half of process done, and the brain wiring happens in the nursery

Terri Lewis- a new born baby can recognize mother in 2 days with their sight only, and vision is the last sense to develop. Babies tend to see a different perception of world from an adult

Alex V. Levin- images are critical to developing vision, and these images aren't getting there. Thus, the brain isn't getting the vision
Debra L. Mills- experience drives language specialization

Dana Boatman- findings conclude that areas in right hemisphere that take on job understanding language correspond in language areas of left, but is not as efficient

Paul Worthington- pulling words apart as important as putting them together and is fundamental for reading
Elaine Walker- motor development integral in determining early signs of schizophrenia (using one hand, crawling in an asymmetric pattern), but can be found in normal children as well. Schizophrenia caused by events in early brain development

James Berman- feeling of hopelessness that causes individual to re-administer the drug

Anna Rose Childress- craving can push individuals to things they'd never do (sacrifice morality, their own lives). More brain activity when one sees images of drug use and less when there isn't
Bessel A. Van der Kolk- with PTSD, body cannot accept that event is over. Memory dominates how you see the world and yourself

Joseph LeDoux- Amygdala sends outputs to body so it begins to tense, hormones released, and blood pressure goes up, which is a normal response to danger and necessary for survival (early warning system)

Charles B. Nemeroff- critical periods in children when brain is plastic, and early trauma cause brain to not form normal connections, leading to consequences in later life
Too much cortisol triggered in brain of depressed person and makes brain vulnerable to subsequent depressions
Drugs only relieve depressive symptoms, but doesn't cure it
Combination of drugs and talk-therapy most effective way to treat depression
Nahid, M. (2015, March 11). Baby Funny Pictures. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from http://www.fun2smiles.com/2015/03/11/baby-funny-pictures/
The Simpsons' baby Maggie finally talks... and she sounds a lot like Jodie Foster. (2009, May 11). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1180432/The-Simpsons-baby-Maggie-finally-talks--makes-speech.html
Mood, P. (2012, September 25). Father, mother and child feet. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.inspiringwallpapers.net/father-mother-and-child-feet.html
Goldberg, J. (2014, April 5). Schizophrenia Slideshow: How Schizophrenia Affects Thoughts, Behavior, and More. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/ss/slideshow-schizophrenia-overview
Thomson, K. (2013, August 14). Overview of the Drug Abuse Problem in South Africa. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.harmonygroup.co.za/drugs/overview-of-the-drug-abuse-problem-in-south-africa/
Nazario, B. (2012, April 10). Slideshow: Stroke Rehabilitation to Regain Arm Movement. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/stroke/regaining-arm-use-after-stroke-10/slideshow-stroke
Ghani, A. (2014, March 17). How to Raise a Smart Baby. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.urbanhealth.com.my/medical/head-brain/raise-smart-baby/
Violette, A. (n.d.). Smart Babies: 20 Easy Ways to Make Your Baby Smart. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.chattymums.com.au/smart-babies/
Ferner, B. (2014, December 1). Humans take a lesson from the wild with kangaroo care for preemies. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://www.fromthegrapevine.com/health/humans-take-lesson-wild-kangaroo-care-preemies
Family history and low response to alcohol increases probability of becoming an alcoholic
Relapse can occur if returning to drug-filled neighborhood or friends, seeing or smelling can cause craving for drugs

Bloom, L. (n.d.). 4 Steps to Handle the Emotion You Don't Want. Retrieved March 23, 2015, from http://getentrepreneurial.com/archives/4-steps-to-handle-the-emotion-you-dont-want/
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