The human brain is arguably the most complex organ. Throughout life, it is shaped ever so slightly by each and every experience we endure. The resulting nuances are what make us unique individuals. Unfortunately, the more intricate the system, the harder it is to fix when damaged. Death of any brain tissue will almost certainly result in some sort of physical or cognitive impairment, and, in severe cases, epilepsy, coma, or death. This is because the lost brain tissue can neither grow back like skin nor be replaced like a kidney.
Or can it?
According to the World Health Organization, smoking is responsible for approximately 6 million deaths in the world every year or one fatality every six seconds. 71% of all lung cancers and 42% of all chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are attributable to tobacco use. Oddly enough, not everything related to smoking is bad news: smokers seem to be protected against Parkinson’s disease. Continue reading
For the first time in over a decade, a new Star Wars film is upon us, and if you’re like the staff of Knowing Neurons, your nucleus accumbens is firing off dopamine as fast as it can! Oh, what’s that you say? Lightsabers, Star Destroyers, and the Force have nothing to do with neurons, action potentials, and brain waves? Ah … I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an incredibly debilitating neurodegenerative disorder. Currently, there is no treatment that effectively reverses the progression of the disease or delays its onset. Huntington’s is a particularly difficult diagnosis because it is an autosomal dominant degenerative disease, meaning that any child of an affected parent has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. Most children who inherit the disease have inevitably watched their parents battle with it.Continue reading
The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 500,000 people will experience spinal cord injuries (SCI) every year. Researchers at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland reported that approximately half of human spinal cord injuries lead to paralysis severe enough to keep the person in a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life. An incomplete spinal cord injury is sufficient to cause severe motor impairments. However, in most of these patients, a few nerve fiber bridges remain at the site of injury. Can researchers figure out a way to repair these paths and help the patient regain functional movement after spinal cord injury?Continue reading