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What Makes Up The Bulk Of The Brain

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How To Strengthen Grey Matter

How to learn major parts of the brain quickly

For those who have experienced damage to their grey mater, perhaps from trauma, young infants and children often have the better outcomes than adults.

This is because their neural systems are still developing and are more adaptable than adultâs.

Although there may not be any proven treatments for grey matter diseases such as Alzheimerâs and Parkinsonâs disease, there are some lifestyle changes that could be adopted to help keep grey matter strengthened and potentially lower the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases:

  • Meditation and mindfulnessPhysical activity, specifically aerobic exercise
  • Games which can stimulate problem-solving, attention and creativity
  • Maintaining an uninterrupted sleeping pattern
  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of vitamins
  • Avoiding alcohol and other mind-altering substances
  • Wearing a helmet when completing activities such as cycling so as to avoid damage to the brain
  • Hobbies which can train fine motor skills such as calligraphy, knitting, or painting
  • Learning new skills or learning new information to stimulate the mind

Interestingly, there have been a growing number of studies which have suggested that electroconvulsive therapy may stimulate neuroplastic effects on grey matter.

Specifically, in a study by Camilleri et al. , they detected grey matter volume increases in the medial temporal lobe after treatment of ECT had finished.

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White And Gray Matter

The CNS can be roughly divided into white and gray matter. As a very general rule, the brain consists of an outer cortex of gray matter and an inner area housing tracts of white matter.

Both types of tissue contain glial cells, which protect and support neurons. White matter mostly consists of axons and oligodendrocytes a type of glial cell whereas gray matter consists predominantly of neurons.

Also called neuroglia, glial cells are often called support cells for neurons. In the brain, they outnumber nerve cells 10 to 1.

Without glial cells, developing nerves often lose their way and struggle to form functioning synapses.

Glial cells are found in both the CNS and PNS but each system has different types. The following are brief descriptions of the CNS glial cell types:

Astrocytes: these cells have numerous projections and anchor neurons to their blood supply. They also regulate the local environment by removing excess ions and recycling neurotransmitters.

Oligodendrocytes: responsible for creating the myelin sheath this thin layer coats nerve cells, allowing them to send signals quickly and efficiently.

Ependymal cells: lining the spinal cord and the brains ventricles , these create and secrete cerebrospinal fluid and keep it circulating using their whip-like cilia.

Radial glia: act as scaffolding for new nerve cells during the creation of the embryos nervous system.

What Happens To The Cns As We Age

The functioning of the nervous system changes from childhood to old age, reaching its peak development at around the age of 30. Different aspects of brain function tend to be affected at different ages. For example, vocabulary and the use of words start to decline at around age 70, while the ability to process information can be maintained until age 80 if no neurological disorders are present.

As aging occurs, the overall number of nerve cells starts to decline. A brain generally weighs 56% less at the age of 75 than at the age of 30 due to this decrease in brain cells. Overall brain function is also slowed due to several factors. These include less efficient synapses and the slowing down of the transmission of electrical signals between neurons.

Engaging in mental and physical activity can help to slow the decline in brain functioning, especially in the area of memory. Conversely, consuming 2 or more standard alcoholic drinks per day can speed up the decline in brain activity.

However, not all functions of the CNS are affected in the same way by old age. Although skills such as motor co-ordination, intellectual function and short-term memory decline, language skills and long-term memory can be retained, in the absence of any neurological pathology. Elderly people often remember things in the distant past better than recent events.

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Joining The Glia Club

Theres a loud sucking sound in this field as it draws in neuroscientists who, like neurons themselves, find themselves increasingly enmeshed with glial cells, says Bruce Ransom, MD, PhD, who heads the University of Washingtons neurobiology department.

In 1986, Ransom, then on Stanfords faculty, got the idea of starting a journal called Glia. At the time, the field was considered almost disreputable like parapsychology, he says. The first issue came out in 1988. That year, we barely managed to publish 300 pages. Now we could publish 4,000 pages a year if we wanted to, but were holding the line at about 2,000.

Besides astrocytes, two other glial-cell types have important, if not exotic, functions in the brain. Oligodendrocytes, which account for 40 percent of the cells in the human brain, extrude a flagship fatty product, myelin, which insulates neuronal surfaces and speeds signals along their wire-like axons. Myelin is largely responsible for giving heavily myelinated regions of the brain their lighter color.

Another glial-cell type, microglia, constituting as much as 10 percent of the brains cells, serve an immune function in our brains, which are somewhat impervious to immune cells attempting entry from across the blood-brain barrier. Actually of immune origin, microglia are thought to migrate into the brain early in development, before the barrier is in place.

And, hey, an elephant never forgets.

Glia in action

Description Of The Nervous System

The Difference Between Mind and Brain

Nerves are cylindrical bundles of fibers that start at the brain and central cord and branch out to every other part of the body, according to the University of Michigan Medical School.

Neurons send signals to other cells through thin fibers called axons, which cause chemicals known as neurotransmitters to be released at junctions called synapses, the NIH noted. There are over 100 trillion neural connections in the average human brain, though the number and location can vary. For example, a new study published January 2018 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that out of the 160 participants studied, the brains of highly creative people have more connections among three specific regions of the brain than less creative thinkers.

“You have these three different systems that are all located in different parts of the brain, but they are all co-activated at once,” said lead study author Roger Beaty, a postdoctoral fellow studying cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University. “People who are better able to co-activate them up with more-creative responses.”

A synapse gives a command to the cell and the entire communication process typically takes only a fraction of a millisecond. Signals travel along an alpha motor neuron in the spinal cord 268 mph the fastest transmission in the human body, according to Discover magazine.

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The Brains Behind The Operation

Nailing down astrocytes importance in creating new synapses was possible only because of the new lab techniques created by scientists, Barres prominent among them.

To best study how all the brains different cell types work together as a system, you first have to be able to tease them apart. Doing that was no mean feat, but Barres persisted. Since his graduate school days in neurobiology, Barres aided, since joining Stanfords faculty in 1993, by numerous postdocs and grad students has figured out how to separate the brain into its cellular building blocks. We can now purify each of these major classes of cells, put them into culture dishes and see what neurons do all by themselves and what they need glial cells for.

That purification advance also allows for gene profiling. Virtually all of an organisms cells have the same genes, but in one cell type only some genes work, while in a second type a different set are functional. Likewise, a healthy cell may turn on one set of genes, a sick cell another set. By extracting genetic material from purified cultures of single cell types and pouring the material over a gene chip a device that can quickly quantify the extent to which genes are turned on within cells Barres and his colleagues have learned which genes are active in each cell type, and at what levels.

What Are The Main Parts Of The Brain

There are three main parts of the brain: the cerebrum, cerebellum and the brain stem.

Was I A Bee/Wikimedia Commons

The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. Located in the front and middle part of the brain, it accounts for 85% of the brain’s weight. Of the three main parts of the brain, the cerebrum is considered the most recent to develop in human evolution. The cerebrum is responsible for all voluntary actions , communication, emotions, creativity, intelligence and personality.

What Are the Main Parts of the Cerebrum?

The cerebrum’s structure is made up of:

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Central Nervous System: Brain And Spinal Cord

  • Brain anatomy
  • Our bodies couldnt operate without the nervous system – the complex network that coordinates our actions, reflexes, and sensations. Broadly speaking, the nervous system is organised into two main parts, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system .

    The CNS is the processing centre of the body and consists of the brain and the spinal cord. Both of these are protected by three layers of membranes known as meninges. For further protection, the brain is encased within the hard bones of the skull, while the spinal cord is protected with the bony vertebrae of our backbones. A third form of protection is cerebrospinal fluid, which provides a buffer that limits impact between the brain and skull or between spinal cord and vertebrae.

    Diseases Of The Nervous System

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    “Of all the diseases of the nervous system, the most common difficulty that people have is pain, and much of that is nerve-related,” according to Dr. Shai Gozani, founder and CEO of NeuroMetrix, a medical device company. “There are 100 million people who live with chronic pain.”

    According to the Mayo Clinic, patients with nerve disorders experience functional difficulties, which result in conditions such as:

    • Epilepsy, in which abnormal electrical discharges from brain cells cause seizures
    • Parkinson’s disease, which is a progressive nerve disease that affects movement
    • Multiple sclerosis , in which the protective lining of the nerves is attacked by the body’s immune system
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a motor neuron disease which weakens the muscles and progressively hampers physical function
    • Huntington’s disease, which is an inherited condition that cause the nerve cells in the brain to degenerate
    • Alzheimer’s disease, which covers a wide range of disorders that impacts mental functions, particularly memory.

    Mayo Clinic also noted that the nervous system can also be affected by vascular disorders such as:

    Infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, polio, and epidural abscess can also affect the nervous system, the NIH noted.

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    Central Nervous System Definition

    • The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord.
    • The brain plays a central role in the control of most bodily functions, including awareness, movements, sensations, thoughts, speech, and memory.
    • Some reflex movements can occur via spinal cord pathways without the participation of brain structures.
    • The spinal cord is connected to a section of the brain called the brainstem and runs through the spinal canal.
    • Cranial nerves exit the brainstem.
    • Nerve roots exit the spinal cord to both sides of the body.
    • The spinal cord carries signals back and forth between the brain and the peripheral nerves.
    • Cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the brain and the spinal cord and also circulates within the cavities of the central nervous system.
    • The leptomeninges surround the brain and the spinal cord.
    • The cerebrospinal fluid circulates between 2 meningeal layers called the
    • pia matter and
    • the arachnoid
    • .
  • The outer, thicker layer serves the role of a protective shield and is called the dura matter.
  • The basic unit of the central nervous system is the neuron .
  • Billions of neurons allow the different parts of the body to communicate with each other via the brain and the spinal cord.
  • A fatty material called myelin coats nerve cells to insulate them and to allow nerves to communicate quickly.
  • What Is The Central Nervous System

    The central nervous system is one part of the bodys overall nervous system. It is made up of the brain and the spinal cord, which are located within and protected by the skull and the vertebral column respectively. The other part of the nervous system is called the peripheral nervous system . This is made up of all the parts of the nervous system that are not part of the CNS.

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    Study Of The Nervous System

    The branch of medicine that studies and treats the nervous system is called neurology, and doctors who practice in this field of medicine are called neurologists. Once they have completed medical training, neurologists complete additional training for their specialty and are certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology .

    There are also physiatrists, who are physicians who work to rehabilitate patients who have experienced disease or injury to their nervous systems that impact their ability to function, according to the ABPN.

    Neurosurgeons perform surgeries involving the nervous system and are certified by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

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    Cells That Make Up The Nervous System

    White matter: The brain

    The nervous system can be divided into two sections the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system . Our nervous system performs three major functions in the body:

  • It receives information from sites on cells where particular chemicals can bind to and so change the activity of the cell. These sites are called receptors.
  • It processes this information and determines the appropriate response by inergrating all the incoming signals from the receptors.
  • It signals other cells and body organs to perform the appropriate response.
  • There are two main type of cells that make up the nervous system neurons and glial cells.

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    The Cell Structure Of The Brain

    The brain is made up of two types of cells: neurons and glial cells, also known as neuroglia or glia. The neuron is responsible for sending and receiving nerve impulses or signals. Glial cells are non-neuronal cells that provide support and nutrition, maintain homeostasis, form myelin and facilitate signal transmission in the nervous system. In the human brain, glial cells outnumber neurons by about 50 to one. Glial cells are the most common cells found in primary brain tumors.

    When a person is diagnosed with a brain tumor, a biopsy may be done, in which tissue is removed from the tumor for identification purposes by a pathologist. Pathologists identify the type of cells that are present in this brain tissue, and brain tumors are named based on this association. The type of brain tumor and cells involved impact patient prognosis and treatment.

    What Is Grey Matter

    The central nervous system is made up of tissue known as grey matter and white matter. Grey matter makes up the outermost layer of the brain and is pinkish grey in tone, hence the name grey matter.

    It gets its grey tone from the high concentration of neuronal cell bodies in contains. Grey matter also contains unmyelinated axons. White matter on the other hand is mainly composed of long-range myelinated axons, which transmit signals to the grey matter, and only very few neuronal cell bodies.

    Grey matter is abundant in the cerebrum, cerebellum, brain stem, and the spinal cord. The sheet of grey matter that constitutes the cerebrum varies in thickness from about 2 to 5mm.

    In the cerebellum, which makes up just 10% of the brainâs volume, contains more neuronal cell bodies than the rest of the brain combined. In the spinal cord, grey matter is located in the centre and is shaped like a butterfly if sliced horizontally.

    Grey matter plays a significant role in allowing humans to function normally as it allows us to control our movements, retain memories, and regulate our emotions, among many other functions.

    Grey matter is therefore essential for all most aspects of human life.Grey matter is formed in early development from ectoderm. Throughout development, grey matter continues to form until the age of about 8 years old.

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    Blood Supply To The Brain

    Two sets of blood vessels supply blood and oxygen to the brain: the vertebral arteries and the carotid arteries.

    The external carotid arteries extend up the sides of your neck, and are where you can feel your pulse when you touch the area with your fingertips. The internal carotid arteries branch into the skull and circulate blood to the front part of the brain.

    The vertebral arteries follow the spinal column into the skull, where they join together at the brainstem and form the basilar artery, which supplies blood to the rear portions of the brain.

    The circle of Willis, a loop of blood vessels near the bottom of the brain that connects major arteries, circulates blood from the front of the brain to the back and helps the arterial systems communicate with one another.

    Interactions Between The Central And Peripheral Nervous Systems

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    The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves and ganglia . The PNS and CNS work together to send information between the brain and the rest of the body. Nerves emerge from the CNS through the skull and vertebral column, using the PNS to carry information to the rest of the body.

    The PNS is made up of two divisions sensory and motor. The sensory division carries signals from all over the body back to the CNS to be decoded, while the motor division carries signals from the CNS to cells all over the body to carry out the bodys responses to this information.

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