Brain Science


Brain Science

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  1. Your brain

    Slide 1 - Your brain

    • An owners manual
  2. A note about judgement statements

    Slide 2 - A note about judgement statements

    • We all own a brain so this information is personal to all of us.
    • We never know anyone’s full story – they, or someone in their life, may be affected by something that is mentioned in this unit.
    • We will try to avoid all judgement statements in this unit.
    • Examples: “that is so scary”, “I heard that’s not real”, “that would suck”
  3. Anatomy & function

    Slide 3 - Anatomy & function

  4. Central nervous system

    Slide 4 - Central nervous system

    • Brain
    • Spinal Cord
    • Nerves
  5. Brain cells

    Slide 5 - Brain cells

    • Neurons – “thinking cells”
    • Processes and transmits information
    • Sensory neurons
    • Motor neurons
    • Interneurons
    • Glial cells – “support staff”
    • All the cells that:
    • hold the brain together
    • Protect the neurons
    • Provide nutrients to the neurons
    • Destroy pathogens and remove dead cells
  6. Neurons

    Slide 6 - Neurons

    • Transmit electrical signals across the brain and body
    • Dendrites: receive signals from other cells
    • Axons: transmit signals toward synapses
    • Synapses: transmit signal to other cells
  7. Neurons  intelligence (sort of)

    Slide 7 - Neurons intelligence (sort of)

    • humans
    • ~100 billion
    • mouse
    • ~ 4 million
    • Chimpanzee
    • ~ 257 billion
    • African Elephant
    • ~ 4 billion
    • ~ 10.5 billion
    • False killer whale
    • 50% (50b) outside cerebellum
    • 2% (5b) outside the cerebellum
  8. neurotransmitters

    Slide 8 - neurotransmitters

    • Neurons don’t fully touch, they pass electrical signals across a gap called the “synaptic cleft”
    • Chemicals called neurotransmitters help transfer this signal
    • Over 100 types, each one is a key that only fits in the correct type of receptor
  9. serotonin

    Slide 9 - serotonin

    • 90% of the serotonin in the body can be found in the gastrointestinal tract, it helps control intestinal movement
    • 10% is in the brain; controls mood, sleep, and appetite
    • Secondary jobs: wound healing, blood clotting
  10. dopamine

    Slide 10 - dopamine

    • Cognitive alertness
    • Reward – motivation
    • Also active in signal relaying in blood vessels, kidneys, pancreas
  11. Norepinephrine

    Slide 11 - Norepinephrine

    • Fight-or-flight response
    • Heartrate, blood glucose availability
  12. Major brain areas

    Slide 12 - Major brain areas

    • Hindbrain
    • “reptilian brain”, control autonomic processes (breath, heart, hunger)
    • Midbrain
    • vision, hearing, motor control, sleep/wake and temperature regulation
    • Forebrain
    • “higher functioning” (thinking)
  13. Hindbrain function

    Slide 13 - Hindbrain function

    • Pons: relay sensory signals, sleep paralysis, breathing
    • Medulla Oblongata: heart, breathing, vomiting, blood vessel dilation
    • Reticular Formation: brain chemical production, motor coordination
    • Cerebellum: motor control, some attention and language, fear and pleasure
  14. Midbrain function

    Slide 14 - Midbrain function

    • Superior colliculus: optical - interaction with the world through eye movement, arm reaching, head turning (acts like a tiny topographic map of your surroundings)
    • Inferior colliculus: auditory – interpreting sounds and filtering out our own body sounds (chewing, breathing) from regular interpretation
    • Substantia Nigra: reward, addiction, movement
  15. Forebrain function

    Slide 15 - Forebrain function

    • Frontal Lobe: language (speaking), motor patterns, decision making, personality
    • Temporal Lobe: language (hearing), memory, behaviors
    • Parietal Lobe: sensory processing, body orientation, somatic responses (fight or flight)
    • Occipital Lobe: vision reception, vision interpretation
  16. Task: brain map

    Slide 16 - Task: brain map

    • In the shared notebook, complete the brain map by coloring in the correct zone and writing on the line:
    • The name of area
    • One main function of the area
  17. Teen brains & learning

    Slide 17 - Teen brains & learning

  18. Baby brains

    Slide 18 - Baby brains

    • At birth, humans have about 86 billion neurons
    • The vast majority of the neurons in the forebrain are present from birth and don’t replicate
    • As the baby grows new glial cells form and new neuron synapse networks form
  19. Brain growth stages

    Slide 19 - Brain growth stages

    • Birth to 3: growing - lots of neuronal pathways are being created
    • A stimulating, supportive environmental helps create as many as possible
    • 3 - 12: pruning - those connections most used are strengthened, others are eliminated
    • An active and engaged brain ensures that important connections are kept
    • 12 – 17: shuffling– the different lobes of the brain start to rapidly create connections with each other and neurotransmitter levels start to change
    • a healthy brain environment ensures that important emotional regulatory conditions are achieved
    • 17-24: balancing – the adult state of the brain is slowly being achieved. Neurotransmitters are leveling out and patterns of behavior are established
  20. Synaptic pruning

    Slide 20 - Synaptic pruning

    • As new connections are made , the brain physically grows (up to 5x it’s original size!)
    • From birth to sexual maturity, the human brain is also cutting out connections that aren’t useful
  21. Memory & learning

    Slide 21 - Memory & learning

    • You receive a specific set of stimuli
    • The relevant neurons all fire together at the same time
    • If the neurons all fire again soon, a link is formed between them
    • Now when one of those neurons fire, the others will also go off
    • The more often this happens, the more easily it happens
  22. Programmed cell death

    Slide 22 - Programmed cell death

    • Babies are born with more neuron cells than they have resources to support
    • Some neuronal cells die
    • When brain cells die, identical new cells don’t just pop-up to replace them
    • Rather, the space is filled in with glial cells or synaptic networks
  23. Time-lapse

    Slide 23 - Time-lapse

    • Gray Matter: mostly neuronal cells; do the computing.
    • White Matter: mostly glial cells; connects different nerve cells together
  24. Myelination

    Slide 24 - Myelination

    • The axon of the neuron is covered with a myelin sheath
    • The myelin protects the axon and improves the speed and efficiency of sending electrical signals
    • As you use a neuronal path, more and more myelin is added
    • So…effort literally leads to mastery
  25. Use it or lose it

    Slide 25 - Use it or lose it

    • Children make very simple associations, which are eventually replaced by more complex reasoning
    • Synaptic pruning involves keeping the most current and often used connections and cutting out the old ones
    • This makes the brain more efficient
  26. The Teenage brain

    Slide 26 - The Teenage brain

    • At your age (12-15) , your brain is doing the following things:
    • Strengthening myelin and improving pathway efficiency
    • Pruning out underused pathways
    • Producing less dopamine
    • Producing more serotonin
    • Finishing the development of the frontal lobe and linking it up to the midbrain (thinking brain to feeling brain)
  27. What this feels like:

    Slide 27 - What this feels like:

    • Less dopamine: it’s harder to feel like things are satisfying or rewarding
    • More serotonin: sleep a lot, sleep schedule changes, swing between very excited/happy and very dull/unhappy
    • Frontal lobe + midbrain link: first gut response comes from the “emotional brain” and this can cloud the rational “thinking brains” response
  28. Risks

    Slide 29 - Risks

    • Changes in dopamine can cause “pleasure seeking behavior”
    • Substance abuse problems can easily develop at your age
    • Impulsivity, rash decision making
    • 75% of lifetime mental health cases start between ages 11 and 21
    • 46% of 13-18 will meet criteria for a mental health disorder
  29. Task: learning to learn

    Slide 30 - Task: learning to learn

    • Look through the slides for this section and pick two interesting facts that can help inform your own learning. In OneNote, write:
    • The first fact
    • A specific and detailed way that you can take advantage of this fact to improve learning
    • The second fact
    • A second specific and detailed…
  30. Brain Disorders & diseases

    Slide 31 - Brain Disorders & diseases

  31. Diagnosing conditions

    Slide 32 - Diagnosing conditions

    • A diagnosis can only be made by a licensed mental health professional
    • They will interview and examine someone
    • They will use criteria established in a manual called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (DSM-5) to make an objective diagnosis and determine treatment – medial, therapeutic, or both
    • Everyone can identify with experiencing some of these symptoms sometimes.
    • The DSM-5 usually states, “…which cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”
  32. Overview

    Slide 33 - Overview

    • Non-Degenerative
    • Does not get worse over time
    • Degenerative
    • Does get worse over time
    • With all of these, not all symptoms are always present
    • Damage
    • Generally result from an event or events (injury, substances, other conditions)
    • Imbalance
    • Generally results from genetic predisposition and is often congenital (born with it)
    • Being genetically predisposed means that you are more likely to get the disease or disorder if you experience the appropriate environmental triggers
  33. depression

    Slide 34 - depression

    • Main Cause: Serotonin deficiency (imbalance)
    • Symptoms: Changes in mood, sleep, appetite
    • Categories: Non-degenerative, genetic predisposition
    • Most common medical treatment: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to prevent some serotonin from being absorbed and keep it in the clefts
  34. Anxiety

    Slide 35 - Anxiety

    • Main Cause: overactive midbrain, clouding forebrain
    • Symptoms: Constant worry, expecting the worst even with no clear reason
    • Categories: Non-degenerative, genetic predisposition
    • Most common medical treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – learning to control your midbrain response to stress (breathing, reframing)
  35. ADHD

    Slide 36 - ADHD

    • Main Cause: Dopamine deficiency (imbalance)
    • Categories: Non-degenerative, genetic, congenital
    • Symptoms: Difficulty choosing where to focus attention, impulsiveness, hyperactivity
    • Most common medical treatment: stimulants to increase dopamine production
  36. Parkinson's disease

    Slide 37 - Parkinson's disease

    • Main Cause: Substantia nigra (midbrain) damage and a related dopamine deficiency
    • Categories: Degenerative, genetic predisposition
    • Symptoms:
    • Motor Problems (early): Motor tremors, rigidity, slowness, imbalance
    • Cognitive Problems (later): mood, memory, behavior, eventually dementia
    • Most common medical treatments: treatment of symptoms
  37. Alzheimer’s disease

    Slide 38 - Alzheimer’s disease

    • Not well understood
    • Main Cause: Lesions in the forebrain, possibly a norepinephrine deficiency
    • Symptoms: Difficulty with language, memory, orientation, mood, motivation
    • Categories: Degenerative, leads to dementia
    • Most common medical treatment: treatment of symptoms
    • Correlation between AD and history of head injuries, depression, hypertension, obesity, air pollution exposure
  38. Substance abuse & Addiction

    Slide 39 - Substance abuse & Addiction

  39. Task: further research

    Slide 40 - Task: further research

    • Use the internet to do research on one of the mental disease or disorder listed. Answer the following questions on a OneNote page:
    • Is this condition degenerative or non-degenerative?
    • Is this condition congenital? Hereditary (you are genetically predisposed)?
    • What are the symptoms?
    • In terms of brain science, what causes this condition?
    • What is the most common treatment?
    • Please be mindful to pick a topic that you are comfortable researching and be mindful of your comments – you never know other people’s whole stories.
    • Dyslexia
    • Schizophrenia
    • Generalized Anxiety
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
    • Bipolar
    • Autism
    • Narcolepsy
    • PTSD
    • Parasomnia (sleep walking)
    • Insomnia
    • Stuttering
  40. Caring for your brain

    Slide 41 - Caring for your brain

    • Nutrition & self-care
  41. Fat & Water

    Slide 42 - Fat & Water

    • Your brain is made mostly of fatty “gray matter” and “white matter”
    • It is suspended in a fluid but separated from it by the blood-brain barrier
    • The barrier allows some nutrients to pass through but keeps bacteria out.
    • Diseases thought to involve the blood-brain barrier:
    • Epilepsy
    • Meningitis
    • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
    • Alzheimer's
    • HIV
    • Rabies
  42. Nutrition - fuel

    Slide 43 - Nutrition - fuel

    • 20% of the calories we eat go to fueling our brain
    • Our brains require glucose (sugar) as fuel
    • That sugar supply needs to be steady and consistent
    • Fiber rich foods vs. high sugar foods are best
  43. Nutrition – building blocks

    Slide 44 - Nutrition – building blocks

    • Our brains are made of fat
    • Fats are made up of different types of amino acids
    • Neurotransmitters and glial cells are made of different combos of amino acids
    • Research shows that food is the best source (not supplements)
  44. Hydration

    Slide 45 - Hydration

    • Your brain uses water for many things, including:
    • Clearing out toxins
    • Maintaining cell shape and position
    • Preventing overheating
    • By the time thirst is felt, a 10% cognitive decline is usually present
    • It takes 24 hours to regain proper hydration
  45. sleep

    Slide 46 - sleep

    • When you sleep your brain is still working
    • Replenishing neurotransmitters that were used during the day
    • Organizing complex information to inform decisions the next day
    • Stores memories in a more permanent way
    • Clears out toxic byproducts
    • Rehearses (and improves) performance of physical tasks
  46. Concussions / Traumatic Brain Injuries

    Slide 47 - Concussions / Traumatic Brain Injuries

    • Main Cause: direct and often repeated injury to the head
    • Early Symptoms: Confusion, drowsiness, headache, loss of consciousness, amnesia, ringing ears, bad taste, sensitivity, pupil dilation
    • Later Symptoms: can affect literally every part of the brain – particularly the part the received the most damage
    • Categories: Damage, sometimes degenerative
    • Most common medical treatment: treatment of symptoms, occasionally medically induced coma and/or surgery
    • Chronic concussions are of increasing concern in all sorts of sports and activities. Prevention is key – wear helmets, take full breaks after any fall or blow to the head
  47. Healthy habits

    Slide 48 - Healthy habits

    • Avoiding drugs and alcohol (you are most at risk for substance abuse now)
    • Getting enough sleep (when you sleep your replenish your neurotransmitters)
    • Eating a balanced diet (provide your brain with the right fuel and building blocks)
    • Stay hydrated (keep your brain clean and neurons in shape)
    • Practice new skills regularly (use it or lose it!)
    • Exercise (great for you in millions of ways – circulation, glucose balance, etc.)
    • Pause & Breath (give your frontal lobe time to catch up with your midbrain)
    • Wear a helmet (duh)
  48. TASK: Goal Setting Poster

    Slide 49 - TASK: Goal Setting Poster

    • Make a poster for yourself that visually reminds you to improve in two of the healthy habits
    • Use Publisher
    • Set a specific and quantitative goal for each habit
    • Make sure to be clear about how you know when you are meeting your goal
    • Include why the goal is important for your brain health
    • Make it attractive and snazzy