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Neurons and stuff.

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Corey Wellmaker

on 4 November 2015

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Transcript of Neurons and stuff.

Neurons and stuff.
what you should know and stuff.
what is a neuron?
how do neurons communicate?
what is an action potential?
what is a neurotransmitter?
what is ritalin?
escape from planet soma
scenario 1

“Excellent!” Chief Oligodendrog grins. “Here’s the first method.” He barks into a small radio and a small Glialien enters with an enormous syringe. Oligodendrog explains that it contains a mutant gene for a voltage-gated sodium channel in nociceptive neurons; injection of the gene will produce channels that are non-functional, with disastrous
consequences. He then hands you the card below. “Kindly transcribe your answers so there is no dispute about what you said.”
leh bad fish
what is ritalin? is it a gateway drug?
what is a neuron?
light, sound, touch, heat, smell, taste...

majority of neurons
form local circuits connecting neurons in the brain

motor neurons
trigger muscle or gland activity
don't forget glia...
what is an action potential?
all-or-none versus graded
depolarization reaches threshold
See BioFlix - page 1052 - How Neurons Work
sodium, potassium, and calcium channels
what is a synapse?
See BioFlix - page 1055 - How Synapses Work
action potential reaches axon terminal
voltage-gated channels open, calcium diffuses into terminal
calcium in cytoplasm causes vesicles to fuse with plasma membrane
neurotransmitters diffuse across synaptic cleft
when it doesn't work
See BioFlix - page 1055 - How Synapses Work
ALS - motor neurons in the spinal chord and brain stem degenerate, and muscle fibers with which they synapse with atrophy
Myasthenia gravis - autoimmune disease in which a person produces antibodies to the acetylcholine receptors
presynaptic to postsynaptic
threshold is reached through graded potentials
scenario 2

Oligodendrog peruses your hastily scribbled answers. “Not bad, earthling. But that was only one technique out of many.” The small alien enters again, this time with a fl ask of fluorescent orange fluid. “This is one of my favorites. We’ve engineered a synthetic toxin that destroys the myelin covering your optic nerves and motor neurons. Care to have a sip of our special orange juice? It’s really quite tasty.” He hands you another card and swirls the oily fluid.
scenario 5

Once again, the instruction from your fabulous A&P professor pays off . Oligodendrog roars in frustration and summons his assistant. He enters with a hose and mask attached to a silver canister. “Here we go. How about a little puff of general anesthetic like sevoflurane? It will open more potassium channels in neurons of the reticular formation in the brainstem, and you won’t know what hit you. Oh, but be careful…it’s not those voltage-gated potassium channels that are affected.” You gulp. Other potassium channels besides the voltage-gated?? Uhhhhhh…
scenario 6

Beads of sweat dot your brow as you return the card. Oligodendrog notices. “Not so confident on this one, earthling?” However, his brow wrinkles as he reads your answer and crumples the card in disgust. “You got lucky with that one! I’ll trip you up yet.” He turns to his assistant and roars, “What’s next?!” It’s yet another syringe. “OK, tell me what happens when we flood your brain tissue with potassium until extracellular potassium levels are ten times what they should be!” This time Oligodendrog flings the card angrily in your direction. A knot forms in your stomach…the questions are getting harder.
scenario 7

Oligodendrog interrupts your thoughts. “Some types of epilepsy are caused by a genetic mutation that produces a voltage-gated sodium channel with a faster recovery from inactivation. You could probably tell me that this would increase the excitability or firing rate of the neuron and lead to seizure activity in the brain. However, we’ve created a sodium channel with a diff erent mutation. It alters the voltage sensitivity of the sodium channel so that it only opens at more positive membrane potentials. Amazingly, it also leads to seizures, but we’re not sure how. Since you seem to have such a thorough grasp of neurophysiology, perhaps you will enlighten us.”

Oligodendrog hands you the final card. You both stare at the vial and wonder who will be the recipient of its contents.
scenario 4

A low growl rises from deep within Oligodendrog. “You think you’ll get them all correct? Don’t be so smug.” This time, the assistant brings in a cage containing an enormous black mamba snake. Oligodendrog rattles the cage, which makes the snake open its inky black mouth and hiss angrily. "We’ve purified dendrotoxin K from the venom, and injecting it will block your voltage-gated potassium channels in no time. That will wipe the smile right off your face….or maybe it won’t.” He laughs and presents yet another card.

You read the questions and smile broadly at Oligodendrog.
scenario 3

Oligodendrog narrows his eyes after reading this card, and calls for his assistant again. "Well, well, you've got a few neurons firing in that earthling head of yours. But we're not finished yet." His assistant enters, holding some sort of arrow with a sticky residue covering the tip. "Sometimes we use a method borrowed from earthlings and prick uncooperative prisoners with an arrow covered in batrachotoxin from a poison-dart frog. This toxin causes voltage-gated sodium channels to open at a more negative membrane potential and also prevents their inactivation. An amount equivalent to a grain of salt will have nasty effects on your motors neurons."

You smile as you take the card. This one should be a piece of cake.
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