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October, 2006
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Dura Mater: The outermost of the three Meninges, a fibrous membrane of connective tissue that covers the brain and the spinal cord.

Ion Channels

JoVE 10722

Ion channels maintain the membrane potential of a cell. For most cells, especially excitable ones, the inside has a more negative charge than the outside of the cell, due to a greater number of negative ions than positive ions. For excitable cells, like firing neurons, contracting muscle cells, or sensory touch cells, the membrane potential must be able to change rapidly moving from a negative membrane potential to one that is more positive. To achieve this, cells rely on two types of ion channels: ligand-gated and voltage-gated. Ligand-gated ion channels, also called ionotropic receptors, are transmembrane proteins that form a channel but which also have a binding site. When a ligand binds to the surface, it opens the ion channel. Common ionotropic receptors include the NMDA, kainate, and AMPA glutamate receptors and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. While the majority of ionotropic receptors are activated by extracellular binding of neurotransmitters such as glutamate or acetylcholine, a few can be intracellularly activated by ions themselves. When a ligand, like glutamate or acetylcholine, binds to its receptor it allows the influx of sodium (Na+) and calcium (Ca2+) ions into the cells. The positive ions, or cations, follow down their electrochemical gradient, moving from the more positive extracellular surface to the less p

 Core: Biology

The Spinal Cord

JoVE 10872

The spinal cord is the body’s major nerve tract of the central nervous system, communicating afferent sensory information from the periphery to the brain and efferent motor information from the brain to the body. The human spinal cord extends from the hole at the base of the skull, or foramen magnum, to the level of the first or second lumbar vertebra.

The spinal cord is cylindrical and contains both white and grey matter. In the center is the central canal, which is the remnant of the lumen of the primitive neural tube and is part of the internal system of cerebrospinal fluid cavities. In cross-section, the grey matter surrounding the central canal appears butterfly-shaped. The wings of the butterfly are divided into dorsal and ventral horns. The dorsal horn contains sensory nuclei that relay sensory information, and the ventral horn contains motor neurons that give rise to the axons that innervate skeletal muscle. White matter surrounds the gray matter and contains large numbers of myelinated fibers. The white matter is arranged into longitudinal bundles called dorsal, lateral, and ventral columns. Three membranes surround the spinal cord: the pia adheres closely to the surface of the spinal cord, followed by the arachnoid, and the dura mater—the tough outermost sheath. The spinal cord is divided into four different r

 Core: Biology

Lesion Explorer: A Video-guided, Standardized Protocol for Accurate and Reliable MRI-derived Volumetrics in Alzheimer's Disease and Normal Elderly

1LC Campbell Cognitive Neurology Research Unit, Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, Brain Sciences Research Program, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2Department of Medicine (Neurology), Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto

JoVE 50887

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