How the brain works and does not work - Erin Legion Hall - March 8 2012
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  • 1. How our brain works and does not work David Spafford Associate Professor Director of Undergraduate Neuroscience Department of Biology, University of Waterloo
  • 2. ORGANIZATION OF THE TALK1. The brain is complex2. The brain is highly sensitive to injury3. The brain interprets the sensory information it receives4. The brain lives in its own virtual reality5. Our divided brain6. Critical brain feature for human culture – Mirror neurons.
  • 3. human brain 100 billion neurons 100 trillion synaptic connections dendrite dendritic spine pre-synaptic neuron synapse post-synaptic neuron nerve terminals Purkinje Neuron
  • 4. nerveperipheral nervous (wrapped bysystem nerve epineurium) nerve fascicle (wrapped by perineurium) neuron neuron (wrapped in (wrapped in endoneurium) myelin sheath) neuron
  • 5. The Brain Stem – The Primitive Brain- produces automatic, survival behaviors • midbrain • pons • medulla
  • 6. Cerebellum – body movement center– coordinates body movements– helps maintain equilibrium Cerebellar cortex
  • 7. MORE ADVANCED BRAIN Diencephalon on top of the Brain stem hypothalamus “master control gland of autonomic activities” epithalamus “pineal gland” – circadian rhythms thalamus “relay center of sensory information” Basal ganglia (Basal nuclei)internal islands of gray matter (help regulate voluntary motor activities) (basal ganglia) (basal ganglia) thalamus (basal ganglia)
  • 8. PROJECTION FIBERS AND CORPUS COLLOSUM corpus callosumProjection fibers”
  • 9. CEREBRAL CORTEX• 2-4 mm thick gray matter• accounts for 40% of the mass of the brain; cortical folds triples size of cortex• “home of our conscious mind” and information processing of the brain• enables sensation, voluntary and skilled skeletal muscle activity, language, memory, personality, self-awareness• Each hemisphere has functional regions white matter gray matter
  • 10. A • Primary olfactory cortex K L JB M • Orbitofrontal cortex NC • Prefrontal cortexD • Motor association area BE • Primary motor areaF • Primary somatosensory areaG • Somatosensory association area F EH • Visual association area G DI • Primary visual cortex HJ • Wernicke’s area CK • Primary gustatory cortexL • Primary auditory cortexM • Auditory association area IN • Broca’s area A
  • 11. 1. The brain is complex2. The brain is highly sensitive to injury3. The brain interprets the sensory information it receives4. The brain lives in its own virtual reality5. Our divided brain6. Critical brain feature for human culture – Mirror neurons.
  • 12. B A A B A B B B B C B A B B A AA Internal carotid artery C Circle of WillisB Cerebral arteries (anterior, middle)
  • 13. Stroke• Caused when blood circulation to the brain is blocked and brain tissue dies• Most commonly caused by blockage of a cerebral artery• Other causes include compression of the brain by hemorrhage or edema, and atherosclerosis
  • 14. Cerebral aneurism is a weak or thin spot on a blood vessel in the brain that balloons out and fills with blood. may leak or rupture, hemorrhaging into the surrounding tissue
  • 15. Concussions or traumatic brain injury Muhammad AliSidney Crosby Punch drunk syndrome concussion
  • 16. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
  • 17. Brain surrounded by bone (skull)
  • 18. 1. The brain is complex2. The brain is highly sensitive to injury3. The brain interprets the sensory information it receives4. The brain lives in its own virtual reality5. Our divided brain6. Critical brain feature for human culture – Mirror neurons.
  • 19. Sensory Integration:Our brains can fill in the gaps…
  • 20. Multimodal Sensory Integration (vision-hearing-touch-taste-smell)The brain makes use of multiple sensory inputssimultaneously to provide the “best” understanding possible. McGurk Effect image of a man uttering “ga ga” audio of him pronouncing “ba ba” our brains mesh these two to come up with “da da”.
  • 21. Amygdala – the emotional centerfear, anger, pleasure
  • 22. Capgras syndrome The brain injured patients mother came to see him, he exclaimed, "Who is this woman? She looks just like my mother, but shes an impostor! Shes some other woman pretending to be my mother.
  • 23. Synaesthesia – “Jointed perception” Daniel TammetTammet set a record on March14th 2004 when he recited thefamous mathematical constant Pi(3.141...) to 22,514 decimalplaces from memory in a time of5 hours, 9 minutes.
  • 24. Everyone has a limited form synaesthesia - important for metaphorical thinking , abstraction, creativity- 8x more likely for poets, artist, and novelists to have synaesthesia Alien language: “Booba” and “Kikki”
  • 25. 1. The brain is complex2. The brain is highly sensitive to injury3. The brain interprets the sensory information it receives4. The brain lives in its own virtual reality5. Our divided brain6. Critical brain feature for human culture – Mirror neurons.
  • 26. George: Jerry, just remember, its not a lie ifyou believe it.
  • 27. Phantom limb pain
  • 28. Sensory and Motor Areas of the Cerebral Cortex• Spatial map of somatic sensory area / primary motor area
  • 29. Vilayanur Ramachandran
  • 30. The Divided Brain
  • 31. Brain halves are asymmetrical
  • 32. Brain halves talk with one another through the corpus callosum
  • 33. Original interpretation of the divided brain
  • 34. Left side of brain can’t interpret the whole man, bicycle and house drawn by subject with right pareito-occipital lesion)Left to write: normal conditions, right hemisphereinactivated, left hemisphere inactivated
  • 35. Hemi-neglect - inability to pay attention to ornotice stimuli from one-half of the visual field
  • 36. Dr. Jill Bolte TaylorHarvard-trained and published neuroanatomist Morning in 1996 Jill Taylor: “I realized, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke!’ The next thing my brain says to me is, ‘Wow! This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?’” In her case, although the stroke damaged the left side of her brain, her recovery unleashed a torrent of creative energy from her right
  • 37. RIGHT BRAIN LEFT BRAIN
  • 38. Left brain - needed to manipulate things in the worldRight brain – provides the broader context
  • 39. Right brain – provides broad perspective
  • 40. Left brain – execution of tasks
  • 41. Left brain – execution of tasks
  • 42. 1. The brain is complex2. The brain is highly sensitive to injury3. The brain integrates and interprets the sensoryinformation it receives4. The brain lives in its own virtual reality5. Our divided brain6. Critical brain feature for human culture – Mirror neurons
  • 43. IMITATION, EMULATION,LANGUAGE, MOTOR PLANNINGORIGINS OF HUMAN EMPATHY HUMAN CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE = MIRROR NEURONS - mirror neurons for action - mirror neurons for touch
  • 44. Discovery of Mirror Neurons in Monkeys Brain recording of mirror neurons in prefrontal cortex Monkey grabs food pelletGiacomo Rizzolatti,Italy, early 1990s Monkey watches human grab food pellet
  • 45. Mirror Neurons for action= experience another other persons point of view, virtualsimulation of actionImitation / emulation – learn language, learning to hold apencil, feeling their pain,- discovery of culture moves rapidly through the population- discover of culture carried through the generations
  • 46. Mirror Neurons for touch- Somatosensory neuron will fire when I simply watch another person being touched (empathy)- feedback from receptors in skin prevent you from feelingsomeone elses experience of touch- Remove skin receptor connection to the brain, you thenremove the barrier between what that person feels and whatyou feelMirror neurons connects people as a whole creating humanempathy and the development of human culture