Friday, May 13, 2022

What Do Brain Cells Do

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The Brain Glucose And Insulin

How do brain cells work?

Brain cells are somewhat unique because they do not need insulin for glucose entry. Most other cells do require insulin for this purpose. Brain cells also do not use free fatty acids or amino acids for energy. Instead, they only use glucose or glycogen to meet energy demands and power cellular functions. Therefore, gluconeogenesis in the liver is very important. Between meals, if glucose were not produced by the liver, the brain would not have a usable source of energy.

The brain is the most energy-demanding organ in the body, using 50% of all sugar energy. Learning, memory, and thinking are closely linked to glucose levels, and how efficiently the brain is able to use glucose. When glucose in the brain is insufficient, neurotransmitters are not produced and communication between the neurons breaks down. Hypoglycemia can also lead to a loss of energy for brain function. This is linked to poor attention and cognitive function. However, too much glucose is also harmful to brain function, and is linked to memory and cognitive deficiencies. High glucose levels can actually cause the brain to atrophy or shrink, and lead to small-vessel disease that restricts blood flow. This leads to cognitive difficulties, and possibly, vascular dementia.

D.W. Choi, in, 2017

How Do Neurons Work

Neurons have specialised extensions called dendrites and axons. A neuron usually has a number of dendrites but only one axon, although this axon may have extensive branching. The axon can be as long as one metre, making neurons some of the longest cells in the body.

Information enters the neuron via the dendrites, passes through the cell body and then along the axon until it reaches the synapse. The synapse is the space between an axon and a dendrite of another neuron.

To cross the synapse, neurotransmitters are released at the end of the neuron. They are collected by receptors on the dendrites of neighbouring neurons, and the message continues on its way.

The axon is surrounded by a sheath of fatty protein called myelin. Myelin acts as insulation to the axon and prevents messages becoming interrupted. The myelin sheath has short gaps about one micrometre apart known as Nodes of Ranvier. Nerve messages leap along the axon from node to node. The thickness of the myelin sheath and the size of the gap between nodes determine the speed of messages, which can be as fast as 120 metres/second .

Nerve cells are surrounded by support cells called glial cells. They include oligodendrocytes which produce myelin.

Brain Cell Regeneration: Take The Next Step

Until recently, it was believed that growing new brain cells was impossible once you reached adulthood.

But its now known that the brain constantly regenerates its supply of brain cells.

And there is much that you can do to stimulate the process.

While literally everyone can benefit from growing more brain cells, it is of particular importance if you have certain psychiatric or neurological conditions.

Every day, give both your brain and body a good workout, get adequate sleep, and eat foods that promote growth factors like BDNF and NGF.

Additionally, you can experiment with various combinations of supplements that promote brain cell regeneration.

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How Sleep Affects Brain Cell Regeneration

Getting adequate quality sleep is one of the most important things you can do for the health of your brain and your mental wellness.

Sleep works by a number of mechanisms to promote brain health.

While you sleep, your brain is busy clearing away toxins and debris, repairing and reorganizing itself, consolidating memories, and growing new brain cells.

Chronic lack of sleep can stop the formation of brain cells, but fortunately, the occasional sleepless night seems to have little effect on brain cell regeneration.

But when you have an occasional bad night, be sure to get some exercise the following day.

Exercise offsets the negative effects of poor sleep on your BDNF levels.

What Does A Neuron Look Like

Does Marijuana Use Harm Brain Cells?

A useful analogy is to think of a neuron as a tree. A neuron has three main parts: dendrites, an axon, and a cell body or soma , which can be represented as the branches, roots and trunk of a tree, respectively. A dendrite is where a neuron receives input from other cells. Dendrites branch as they move towards their tips, just like tree branches do, and they even have leaf-like structures on them called spines.

The axon is the output structure of the neuron when a neuron wants to talk to another neuron, it sends an electrical message called an action potential throughout the entire axon. The soma is where the nucleus lies, where the neurons DNA is housed, and where proteins are made to be transported throughout the axon and dendrites.

The tree-like structure of a neuron. Dendritic spines are small structures that receive inputs from the axons of other neurons. Bottom-right image: a segment of dendrite from which spines branch off, like leaves off a tree branch. Note the very small size .

There are different types of neurons, both in the brain and the spinal cord. They are generally divided according to where they orginate, where they project to and which neurotransmitters they use.

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Surrounding our neurons are cells called glial cells. Glial cells support and protect the neurons, provide the neurons with oxygen and nutrients, and remove dead cells. Glial cells are much smaller than neurons and we have many more glial cells than neurons.

There are different types of glial cell, each of which plays a different role in supporting the neurons. The main types are astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and ependymal cells.

New Year New Brain Cells

Humans have been observing the cycles of nature for millennia now and have built into them countless ceremonies and opportunities to reset and have a fresh start.

We mess up, life gets messy But we dont want to stay stuck there. We want to be able to learn the lessons, let go, move on and start afresh.

Is it even possible to have a fresh start this year after 2 years of the uncertainty of COVID?

Yes it is possible.

Photo by Taylor Brandon on Unsplash

We need to corral coral our minds and get it out of COVID mode. Enough of that already.

A fresh start can guide us to look outside our lifestyles and start reigniting ourselves.

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And What Dont We Know

I think its fair to say that were still just scratching the surface. Inflammation is an incredibly complex process at the best of times, and when you combine that with the complexity of a condition like Parkinsons things become even more difficult to unravel.

We still have a long way to go to understand how inflammation gets out of control in Parkinsons, and there are a number of big questions that I believe we need to answer.

One of these is about timing. We know that the inflammatory response has different phases. What we dont know is when inflammation tips over from helpful to harmful and therefore when the right time to intervene might be. If we give these drugs at the wrong time we could stop microglia from doing a job that needs doing, but if were too late they may not be effective. We need to identify the right window of opportunity.

Another is where does inflammation start? There is now lots of interesting research that suggests it could be in the gut. We know that people with Parkinsons seem to have a different blend of bacteria living in their digestive system than people without the condition. Emerging evidence suggests that people with the condition may have more bacterial species that trigger an inflammatory response. Its possible that the start of inflammation could be here rather than in the brain.

Yale Researchers Were Able To Image A Dying Brain Cell For The First Time

How do brain cells work?

Understanding how the brain reacts when a neuron dies could be a key to unlocking the secrets behind aging and recovery from various neurological disorders.

Recently, Yale School of Medicine researchers set out to study the complex interactions between dying neurons and the glial cells in the central nervous system that are responsible for clearing dead cells and debris from the brain.

The researchers likened ridding the brain of dead cells to garbage collection. If you were to stop collecting garbage in New York City, you wouldnt be able to get in. There would be debris everywhere, says Dr. Eyiyemisi Damisah, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Yale School of Medicine. The brain, just like New York City, requires efficient garbage disposal. If dying or infected cells are not properly removed, the debris may damage the nervous system.

One of the major challenges facing such research is the lack of tools available to understand this process in the brain of living humans. Many cells die during growth and development in a brain each day, but actually observing what is known as corpse removal in a living organism has been limited.

Thats because the timing and location of cell death is unpredictable. It can also happen very quickly, which makes it hard to capture visually or to understand with precision.

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How Do Some Cells Become Brain Cells And Others Become Skin Cells Quizlet

How do some cells become brain cells and others become skin cells, when the DNA in ALL the cells is exactly the same. The cell grows, makes a copy of its DNA, and prepares to divide into two cells. What is replication? the cell makes an exact copy of the DNA in its nucleus in a process called replication.

Normal Cell Division And Growth

The images below show normal cell division and growth and what happens when there is abnormal cell division and growth, which can lead to the development of a tumour.

Signals from your genes tell your cells when to grow and when to stop growing, when to divide and when to die. This means your cells normally grow in a controlled way.

If these signals are not there, our bodies have further checkpoints to stop cells dividing in an uncontrolled way.

When a cell divides, it has to copy its genes to put into the new cell. However, mistakes can sometimes be made when copying the genes. These mistakes are called mutations.

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The Future Of Gliotransmission

Astrocytes appear to be involved in almost all aspects of brain function. Scientists want to know more about how gliotransmitters can inhibit, stimulate, or fine-tune the action potentials fired by neurons. But astrocytes may even do more.

There is growing evidence that astrocytes can alter how a neuron is built by directing where to make synapses or dendritic spines. They can also attract new cells to repair damage.

Knowing more about astrocytes will also shed light on diseases in which communication between astrocytes and neurons is altered, including Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, brain cancer, and ALS .

Images courtesy Adrienne M. Benediktsson, University of Iowa.

But Where Do We Start

Does Marijuana Kill Brain Cells?

In yoga, we like to start with the body because it is easier than dealing with our mind and all of its complicated thought patterns and emotions. Because of the body/mind connection, when we work with the body, change also occurs in the mind. This is the magic of yoga!

So starting the process of changing our outlook and giving this year the best chance and the best attitude it deserves, can be done with our body first.

Lockdowns and general COVID-19 fears have kept us more isolated and sedentary than usual. This has resulted in weight gain, fatigue and depression. Physical activity is just the right way to initiate a new start!

It seems that we have certain DNA passed down to us from our prehistoric ancestors. They were wired to move. That was a necessity for survival if you stopped you were eaten!

In fact, when you stop moving you give the body a message that you dont want to live and as a consequence, your body and your mind start shutting down.

So here we are with this brain wiring to move and we are languishing away in front of a computer or a TV How do we get back to leading our lives with natural movement? Are we even doing enough during the day to classify it as physical activity? That is the first thing we need to look at.

How can we incorporate more movement into our day?

Habits. We got into sedentary habits, now we need to develop new habits of moving.

Take on 5-10 opportunities like that a day and viola, movement is a part of your life again!

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The Rising Star Of The Show

Astrocytes are star-shaped glia that hold neurons in place, supply nutrients, and digest parts of dead neurons. But because astrocytes cannot generate action potentials, they haven’t gotten much attention, until recently.

Astrocytes can actually communicate with neurons and modify the signals they send and receive. That means astrocytes are much more involved than we once thought in both the processing of information, and the signaling at the synapse.

Brain Cells And The Hippocampus

While the vast majority of our brain’s cells are formed while we are in the womb, there are certain parts of the brain that continue to create new neural cells during infancy. Until recent decades, however, the brains limited capacity to regenerate triggered the belief that neurogenesisthe birth of new brain cellsceased soon after this stage.

However, research done over the last two decades has suggested that at least one part of the brain continues to create new cells throughout a person’s lifespan.

During the late 1990s, researchers at Rockefellers University in New York City conducted studies in which marmoset monkeys were injected with a tracer chemical that could differentiate between slow-dividing mature brain cells and fast-dividing new ones. What they found was that the hippocampus continued to create new cells without the constraint of age or time.

Later studies using carbon-14 dating confirmed that cells in the hippocampus, while continually dying, were quickly replaced by new ones. It is only by the formation of these cells that the hippocampus is able to maintain its central functions.

What it also showed us is that the number of new cells, and the frequency by which they are created, begin to decline with age. With that being said, the rate of decline wasn’t seen to be consistent and could vary significantly from subject to subject.

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Nerve Cells Do Not Renew Themselves

Your skin cells keep dividing, they die and give birth to new cells all the time, even when youre not injured. After an injury, the skin makes a bunch of new cells and uses them to heal your wound. Yet, nerve cells in your brain, also called neurons, do not renew themselves. They do not divide at all. There are very few exceptions to this rule only two special places in the brain can give birth to new neurons. For the most part though, the brain cannot replenish dead neurons. This is especially worrisome because neurons are very sensitive cells and they die for all sorts of reasons. When you bump your head and suffer a concussion, neurons die. When there is a glitch in the blood supply to the brain, also called a stroke, neurons die. Neurons also die when faced with changes in their own functions, which happens in the so-called neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease.

Stimulate Neurogenesis With Physical Exercise

Do brain cells Regenerate ?

Any kind of physical exercise is good for your brain and mental health, but, so far, the evidence points to sustained, moderate-intensity, aerobic exercise as the best for growing new brain cells.

This includes exercises like jogging, biking, hiking, power walking, or swimming.

Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey, author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, is a leading authority on how exercise impacts the brain.

Ratey recommends performing aerobic exercise according to this routine for maximum cognitive benefits:

  • Sprint for 30 to 40 seconds.
  • Exercise at a gentle pace for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat for a total of 5 cycles.

If possible, exercise outdoors.

Researchers have noted a strong correlation between the production of BDNF and sunlight.

BDNF levels in humans vary widely with the seasons, with the highest concentrations occurring in spring and summer and the lowest during fall and winter.

If aerobic exercise sounds too demanding, theres a less strenuous alternative.

Mind-body exercises, such as yoga, can increase new brain cell production in the hippocampus.

They also reduce stress, a known disruptor of brain cell regeneration.

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The Science Of Neurogenesis Suggests It’s Possible To Create Neurons That Improve Your Memory And Thinking Skills

Image: Decade3d/ Thinkstock

There are many aspects of aging you cannot prevent, but surprisingly, memory trouble is not one of them.

“The dogma for the longest time was that adult brains couldn’t generate any new brain cells. You just use what you were born with,” says Dr. Amar Sahay, a neuroscientist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “But the reality is that everyone has the capacity to develop new cells that can help enhance cognitive functions.”

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Astrocytic Glial Cells From 1

Dissociated brain cells are suspended in DMEM containing 10% FBS and plated at 13 × 104 cells/cm2 in poly-coated dishes. After preincubation for 3 days at 37°C and 5% CO295% air and 95% humidity, the cultures are refed with the same growth medium, and allowed to grow for 10-14 days. This is followed by dissociation of cells with 0.25% trypsin and replating of the cells at a density of 6.4 × 103 cells/cm2 and allowing the cultures to establish for 14 days before use. These cultures contain greater than 98% astrocytic glial cells as evidenced by staining with the glial fibrillary acidic protein antibodies .

Kamel S. Kamel MD, FRCPC, Mitchell L. Halperin MD, FRCPC, in, 2017

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