Ancient systems in the brain drive human cravings

promo-human-brain-852-6col

 

Neuroscientists are beginning to decipher how our stone age brains can misfire in the modern world and lead to addiction and disease.

Neuroscience is the new black, when it comes to fashion in scientific research.

“The gene was the central issue in biology in 20th century,” Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, neuroscientist at Columbia University said in an interview in Toronto recently. “The mind is the essential issue for biology in the 21st century.”

“And certainly if you think of public health consequences, the diseases, pain, schizophrenia, depression, manic depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, God knows what, so many miseries of humankind come from psychiatric and neurological disorders,” Kandel added.

Back in the 1960’s, when Kandel began his Nobel prize winning work searching for the biological source of memory, neuroscience was a lonely field. “It didn’t interest many biologists. Anatomy was considered boring, and electrophysiology was too technically complicated for most scientists to pay attention to,” he said.

_medium_chavahaima_12239

THE HUMAN BRAINA region-by-region exploration of how the brain functions

Richard Beninger is a behavioural neuroscientist at Queen’s University, who recalls that as a student he studied the brain as a collection of parts. “You could see white matter and dark matter and lots of fine detail, right down to the neuron level, but it was all morphology, structure,” he said.

“But all of that changed, once scientists began to understand the chemical pathways in the brain. The morphology is still there, but now we know what the transmitter systems are. So we have a whole new brain only in the last 40 years to work with,” Beninger said.

Today’s technology allows scientists to put living, breathing humans into a magnetic resonance imaging machine, tell them to think about something, and watch as the biological traces of thought appear and disappear in colorful bursts, measured by changes in blood oxygen levels. It means scientists can now explore the neural landscape in real time, and chart the cognitive forces that have shaped our species from our earliest days.

As they investigate this neural wonderland, scientists are probing the very essence of what makes us human. It’s as though they are lifting the hood of humanity, and tinkering with the wiring to find how what makes us do what we do. And they are discovering that the secret to everything we do, think, or feel, is in that wiring, a constantly changing network of neuronal connections sculpted by evolution and fired by electrical and chemical interactions.

Richard Beninger is a behavioural neuroscientist during Queen’s University, who recalls that as a tyro he complicated a mind as a collection of parts. “You could see white matter and dim matter and lots of excellent detail, right down to a neuron level, yet it was all morphology, structure,” he said.

“But all of that changed, once scientists began to know a chemical pathways in a brain. The morphology is still there, yet now we know what a conductor systems are. So we have a whole new mind usually in a final 40 years to work with,” Beninger said.

Today’s record allows scientists to put living, respirating humans into an captivating inflection imaging machine, tell them to consider about something, and watch as a biological traces of suspicion seem and disappear in colorful bursts, totalled by changes in blood oxygen levels. It means scientists can now try a neural landscape in genuine time, and draft a cognitive army that have made a class from a commencement days.

As they examine this neural wonderland, scientists are probing a really hint of what creates us human. It’s as yet they are lifting a hood of humanity, and tinkering with a wiring to find how what creates us do what we do. And they are anticipating that a tip to all we do, think, or feel, is in that wiring, a constantly changing network of neuronal connectors sculpted by expansion and dismissed by electrical and chemical interactions.

Pages:
Edit