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Brain: The part of Central nervous system that is contained within the skull (Cranium). Arising from the Neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including Prosencephalon (the forebrain); Mesencephalon (the midbrain); and Rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of Cerebrum; Cerebellum; and other structures in the Brain stem.

The Split Brain

JoVE 10162

Source: Laboratories of Jonas T. Kaplan and Sarah I. Gimbel—University of Southern California

The study of how damage to the brain affects cognitive functioning has historically been one of the most important tools for cognitive neuroscience. While the brain is one of the most well protected parts of the body, there are many events…


Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Traumatic Brain Injury

JoVE 10276

Source: Laboratories of Jonas T. Kaplan and Sarah I. Gimbel—University of Southern California

Traditional brain imaging techniques using MRI are very good at visualizing the gross structures of the brain. A structural brain image made with MRI provides high contrast of the borders between gray and white matter, and information about…


The Blood-brain Barrier

JoVE 10841

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) refers to the specialized vasculature that provides the brain with nutrients in the blood while strictly regulating the movement of ions, molecules, pathogens, and other substances. It is composed of tightly linked endothelial cells on one side and astrocyte projections on the other. Together they provide a semipermeable barrier that protects the brain and poses unique challenges to the delivery of therapeutics. The BBB is made up of a variety of cellular components, including endothelial cells and astrocytes. These cells share a common basement membrane and together regulate the passage of components between the circulation and the interstitial fluid surrounding the brain. The first type of cellular component, specialized endothelial cells, make up the walls of the cerebral capillaries. They are connected by extremely tight and complex intercellular junctions. These junctions create a selective physical barrier, preventing simple diffusion of most substances, including average to large-sized molecules such as glucose and insulin. A second cell type, astrocytes, are a type of glial cell of the central nervous system which influences endothelial cell function, blood flow, and ion balance in the brain through interaction and close association with cerebral vasculature. They provide a direct link between the vasculature

 Core: Biology

What is a Nervous System?

JoVE 10838

The nervous system is the collection of specialized cells responsible for maintaining an organism’s internal environment and coordinating the interaction of an organism with the external world—from the control of essential functions such as heart rate and breathing to the movement needed to escape danger.

The vertebrate nervous system is divided into two major parts: the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS includes the brain, spinal cord, and retina—the sensory tissue of the visual system. The PNS contains the sensory receptor cells for all of the other sensory systems—such as the touch receptors in the skin—as well as the nerves that carry information between the CNS and the rest of the body. Additionally, part of both the CNS and PNS contribute to the autonomic nervous system (also known as the visceral motor system). The autonomic nervous system controls smooth muscles, cardiac muscles, and glands that govern involuntary actions, such as digestion. The vertebrate brain is primarily divided into the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem. The cerebrum is the largest, most anterior part of the brain that is divided into left and right hemispheres. Each hemisphere is further divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal. The outermost layer of the cerebrum is called

 Core: Biology

Neural Regulation

JoVE 10835

Digestion begins with a cephalic phase that prepares the digestive system to receive food. When our brain processes visual or olfactory information about food, it triggers impulses in the cranial nerves innervating the salivary glands and stomach to prepare for food.

The cephalic phase is a conditioned or learned response to familiar foods. Our appetite or desire for a particular food modifies the preparatory responses directed by the brain. Individuals may produce more saliva and stomach rumblings in anticipation of apple pie than of broccoli. Appetite and desire are products of the hypothalamus and amygdala—brain areas associated with visceral processes and emotion. After the cephalic phase, digestion is governed by the enteric nervous system (ENS) as an unconditioned reflex. Individuals do not have to learn how to digest food; it happens regardless of whether it is apple pie or broccoli. The ENS is unique in that it functions (mostly) independent of the brain. About 90% of the communication are messages sent from the ENS to the brain rather than the other way around. These messages give the brain information about satiety, nausea, or bloating. The ENS, as part of the peripheral nervous system, is also unique in that it contains both motor and sensory neurons. For example, the ENS directs smooth muscle movements that churn and propel food al

 Core: Biology

Glial Cells

JoVE 10843

Glial cells are one of the two main types of cells in the nervous system. Glia cells comprise astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, and ependymal cells in the central nervous system, and satellite and Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system. These cells do not communicate via electrical signals like neurons do, but they contribute to virtually every other aspect of nervous system function. In humans, the number of glial cells is roughly equal to the number of neurons in the brain. Glia in the central nervous system (CNS) include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, microglia, and ependymal cells. Astrocytes are the most abundant type of glial cell and are found in organized, non-overlapping patterns throughout the brain, where they closely associate with neurons and capillaries. Astrocytes play numerous roles in brain function, including regulating blood flow and metabolic processes, synaptic ion and pH homeostasis, and blood-brain barrier maintenance. Another specialized glial cell, the oligodendrocyte, forms the myelin sheath that surrounds neuronal axons in the CNS. Oligodendrocytes extend long cellular processes that wrap around axons multiple times to form this coating. Myelin sheath is required for proper conduction of neuronal signaling and greatly increases the speed at which these messages travel. Microglia—known as the macrop

 Core: Biology

Motor Maps

JoVE 10175

Source: Laboratories of Jonas T. Kaplan and Sarah I. Gimbel—University of Southern California

One principle of brain organization is the topographic mapping of information. Especially in sensory and motor cortices, adjacent regions of the brain tend to represent information from adjacent parts of the body, resulting in maps of the…


Color Afterimages

JoVE 10194

Source: Laboratory of Jonathan Flombaum—Johns Hopkins University

Human color vision is impressive. People with normal color vision can tell apart millions of individual hues. Most amazingly, this ability is achieved with fairly simple hardware.

Part of the power of human color vision comes from a…

 Sensation and Perception


JoVE 10858

Vision is the result of light being detected and transduced into neural signals by the retina of the eye. This information is then further analyzed and interpreted by the brain. First, light enters the front of the eye and is focused by the cornea and lens onto the retina—a thin sheet of neural tissue lining the back of the eye. Because of refraction through the convex lens of the eye, images are projected onto the retina upside-down and reversed. Light is absorbed by the rod and cone photoreceptor cells at the back of the retina, causing a decrease in their rate of neurotransmitter release. In addition to detecting photons of light, color information is also encoded here, since different types of cones respond maximally to different wavelengths of light. The photoreceptors then send visual information to bipolar cells near the middle of the retina, which is followed by projection to ganglion cells at the front of the retina. Horizontal and amacrine cells mediate lateral interactions between these cell types, integrating information from multiple photoreceptors. This integration aids in the initial processing of visual information, such as detecting simple features, like edges. Along with glial cells, the axons of the retinal ganglion cells make up the optic nerve, which transmits visual information to the brain. The optic nerve partially cro

 Core: Biology
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