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Hypothalamus: Ventral part of the diencephalon extending from the region of the optic chiasm to the caudal border of the mammillary bodies and forming the inferior and lateral walls of the third ventricle.

Thermosensation

JoVE 10860

Peripheral thermosensation is the perception of external temperature. A change in temperature (on the surface of the skin and other tissues) is detected by a family of temperature-sensitive ion channels called Transient Receptor Potential, or TRP, receptors. These receptors are located on free nerve endings. Those detecting cold temperatures are closer to the surface of the skin than the nerve endings detecting warmth. These thermoTRP channels, while temperature selective, have relatively non-selective cation permeability. There are at least three types of receptors that are activated by cold, of which TRPM8 and TRPA1 are particularly sensitive. TRPM8 has a temperature sensitive range of about 10-26 oC (50-79 oF), and is largely associated with the perception of non-painful, or innocuous, cold. Menthol, a compound found in mint leaves, can also activate this receptor, which helps explain why this flavor is often perceived as cool. When temperatures are low enough to feel painful (i.e., noxious cold), TRPA1 receptors are activated. TRPA1 receptors respond to any temperature lower than 17 oC (~63 oF). There are at least seven receptors that respond to heat. Of these, five respond to temperatures in the innocuous warmth range: TRPM2 (23-38 oC, or ~73-100oF), TRPC5 (26-38 oC, or ~79-

 Core: Sensory Systems

Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis

JoVE 10879

The response to stress—be it physical or psychological, acute or chronic—involves activation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is part of the neuroendocrine system because it involves both neuronal and hormonal communication. Its function is to regulate homeostatic systems—metabolic, cardiovascular, and immune—providing the necessary means to respond to a stressor. In response to stress, the neurons in the hypothalamus release corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH, into the bloodstream. CRH takes a short journey to the pituitary gland where it stimulates the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH. The site of action for ACTH are the adrenal glands which lay just on the surface of the kidneys. When stimulated, the adrenal glands release two types of stress messages. Neural stimulation initiates the first message—the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine from the adrenal medulla. This activates the sympathetic nervous system resulting in elevated heart rate, blood flow, and respiration—processes designed to activate states of alertness and arousal. These two chemicals are also referred to as adrenaline and noradrenaline, respectively. ACTH initiates the second message—the release of glucocorticoids by the adrenal cortex. In humans, cortisol is the primary hormone

 Core: Endocrine System

Hormonal Regulation

JoVE 10893

The renin-aldosterone system is an endocrine system which guides the renal absorption of water and electrolytes, thus managing blood pressure and osmoregulation. Activation of the system begins in the kidneys with a small cluster of cells adjacent to the afferent and efferent blood vessels of the renal corpuscle. As the nephrons are filtering blood, juxtaglomerular cells monitor blood pressure. If they detect a decrease in pressure, they release the hormone renin into the bloodstream. Circulating renin interacts with angiotensinogen, a precursor protein synthesized by the liver, to create angiotensin I. A final step cleaves angiotensin I into angiotensin II, a process achieved by angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, which is released by the lungs. Angiotensin II temporarily increases blood pressure by contracting smaller blood vessels. It also induces the release of aldosterone from the adrenal cortex of the kidneys. Aldosterone directly stimulates the reabsorption of sodium and the excretion of potassium by the kidneys to maintain electrolyte balance. Moreover, circulating levels of aldosterone stimulate the release of antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, by the hypothalamus in the brain. Upon reaching the kidneys, ADH upregulates aquaporin channels in the nephrons which increase the water retention in the blood vessels. The combined effects of

 Core: Regulation and Excretion

The Sympathetic Nervous System

JoVE 10840

The sympathetic nervous system—one of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system—is activated in times of stress. It prepares the body to meet the challenges of a demanding circumstance while inhibiting essential body functions—such as digestion—that are a lower priority at the moment.

As a student, you may have had the experience of walking into class and finding a surprise exam that you were not expecting. In the moment of realization, you may sense your gut tighten, your mouth goes dry, and your heart starts to race all of a sudden. These are signs of the sympathetic system taking over in preparation to react. While you may not be in immediate danger, the system has evolved to facilitate immediate reaction to stress or threats: blood is directed away from the digestive system and skin to increase energy supplies to muscles. Furthermore, the heart rate, and blood flow increase, and pupils dilate to maximize visual perception. At the same time, the adrenal gland releases epinephrine into the circulatory system. Your body is now primed to take action, whether that means to swiftly flee from danger or fight whatever threat may be at hand. The sympathetic nervous system can be activated by various parts of the brain, with the hypothalamus playing a particularly important role. Sympathetic instructions from the central

 Core: Nervous System

The Parasympathetic Nervous System

JoVE 10839

The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system. This parasympathetic system is responsible for regulating many unconscious functions, such as heart rate and digestion. It is composed of neurons located in both the brain and the peripheral nervous system that send their axons to target muscles, organs, and glands.

Activation of the parasympathetic system tends to have a relaxing effect on the body, promoting functions that replenish resources and restore homeostasis. It is therefore sometimes referred to as the “rest and digest” system. The parasympathetic system predominates during calm times when it is safe to devote resources to basic “housekeeping” functions without a threat of attack or harm. The parasympathetic nervous system can be activated by various parts of the brain, including the hypothalamus. Preganglionic neurons in the brainstem and sacral part of the spinal cord first send their axons out to ganglia—clusters of neuronal cell bodies—in the peripheral nervous system. These ganglia contain the connections between pre- and postganglionic neurons and are located near the organs or glands that they control. From here, postganglionic neurons send their axons onto target tissues—generally smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, or glands. Typic

 Core: Nervous System

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: Nervous System

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: Nutrition and Digestion

Modeling Social Stress

JoVE 5429

Stress negatively affects our quality of life. In particular, some individuals experience social stress when placed in a social environment that they are unfamiliar with or have difficulty adjusting to. Since it is hard to examine mechanisms of social stress in humans, modeling this condition in animals may help scientist in developing new therapies for treating this commonly encountered…

 Behavioral Science

Murine In Utero Electroporation

JoVE 5208

In utero electroporation is an important technique for studying the molecular mechanisms that guide the proliferation, differentiation, migration, and maturation of cells during neural development. Electroporation enables the rapid and targeted delivery of material into cells by utilizing electrical pulses to create transient pores in cell membranes. Although…

 Neuroscience
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