A fascinating report on NPR by science correspondent Jonathan Hamilton yesterday (March 16, 2015) tells the story of Jonathan Keleher, a rare individual born with a major portion of his brain missing: the cerebellum. The name in Latin means “little brain,” because the cerebellum sits separately from the rest of the brain looking something like a woman’s hair bun. Neuroscientists have long understood that the cerebellum is important for controlling bodily movements, by making them more fluid and coordinated, but researchers have also long appreciated that cerebellum does much more. Exactly what these other functions are, have always been a bit mysterious.
As we turn the page on 2014, here’s a list of some of the year’s highlights in neuroscience – along with a heavy dose of speculation about what they might mean for the future of the brain.
Marijuana use is legal in many states for medical purposes, most of them dealing with neurological conditions (pain, epilepsy, tremor, multiple sclerosis, and many others). From the perspective of a neuroscientist researcher, the situation with respect to “medical marijuana” is absurd. Continue reading
On the second day of classes, I polled my students to find out how many had taken the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. About half of them raised their hands; the other half looking on either smugly (they hadn’t done it…yet) or embarrassed (they had done it, but they didn’t want to admit it).
The cost of sustaining vital research on brain diseases may be more than we’re willing to pay, but less than we imagine. Continue reading
My Grandmother once offered me her brain so that I could put it in a jar and keep it on my desk at work.
“That’s very kind of you, Gram, but no thanks. That’s kind of creepy!”
We both laughed. Continue reading
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating neurological disease where the protective layer around nerves begins to die off, attacked by the body’s own immune system. Without this insulation, the nervous system begins to shut down. Eventually, many people with MS lose the ability to move, speak and control basic bodily functions. Patients usually get their diagnosis in the prime of life and there is nothing to be done besides taking drugs that will postpone the progression of symptoms. These treatments are associated with side effects that can be as debilitating as the disease itself and they are hugely expensive. So, in 2006 when an Italian physician, Dr Paolo Zamboni, announced a simple method for treating MS, it received international attention. Continue reading