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Neurons: The basic cellular units of nervous tissue. Each neuron consists of a body, an axon, and dendrites. Their purpose is to receive, conduct, and transmit impulses in the Nervous system.

Cranial Nerves Exam I (I-VI)

JoVE 10091

Source:Tracey A. Milligan, MD; Tamara B. Kaplan, MD; Neurology, Brigham and Women's/Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


During each section of the neurological testing, the examiner uses the powers of observation to assess the patient. In some cases, cranial nerve dysfunction is readily apparent: a patient might…

 Physical Examinations III

Embryonic Stem Cells

JoVE 10811

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are undifferentiated pluripotent cells, meaning they can produce any cell type in the body. This gives them tremendous potential in science and medicine since they can generate specific cell types for use in research or to replace body cells lost due to damage or disease.

ES cells are present in the inner cell mass of an embryo at the blastocyst stage, which occurs at about 3–5 days after fertilization in humans before the embryo is implanted in the uterus. Human ES cells are usually derived from donated embryos left over from the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. The cells are collected and grown in culture, where they can divide indefinitely—creating ES cell lines. Under certain conditions, ES cells can differentiate—either spontaneously into a variety of cell types, or in a directed fashion to produce desired cell types. Scientists can control which cell types are generated by manipulating the culture conditions—such as changing the surface of the culture dish or adding specific growth factors to the culture medium—as well as by genetically modifying the cells. Through these methods, researchers have been able to generate many specific cell types from ES cells, including blood, nerve, heart, bone, liver, and pancreas cells. Regenerative medicine concerns the creation of living, functio

 Core: Biology

Vision

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

The Retina

JoVE 10857

The retina is a layer of nervous tissue at the back of the eye that transduces light into neural signals. This process, called phototransduction, is carried out by rod and cone photoreceptor cells in the back of the retina.

Photoreceptors have outer segments with stacks of membranous disks that contain photopigment molecules—such as rhodopsin in rods. The photopigments absorb light, triggering a cascade of molecular events that results in the cell becoming hyperpolarized (with a more negative membrane potential) relative to when it is in the dark. This hyperpolarization decreases neurotransmitter release. Thus, unlike stimuli for most other sensory neurons, light induces a reduction in neurotransmitter release from photoreceptors. Although rods and cones both detect light, they play distinct roles in vision. Rods are highly sensitive to light, and therefore predominate in low-light conditions, such as at night. Cones are less sensitive and are used for most daytime vision. Cones are densely concentrated in the fovea—a small depression near the center of the retina that contains very few rods—and provide a high level of visual acuity in the area where the eye is focused. Cones also convey color information, because the different types—S (short), M (medium), and L (long) in humans—maximally absorb different wa

 Core: Biology

Tissues

JoVE 10696

Cells with similar structure and function are grouped into tissues. A group of tissues with a specialized function is called an organ. There are four main types of tissue in vertebrates: epithelial, connective, muscle, and nervous.

Epithelial tissue consists of thin sheets of cells and includes the skin and the linings of internal organs and body cavities. Epithelial cells are tightly packed, providing a barrier against injury, infection, and water loss. Epithelial tissue can be a single layer called simple epithelium, or multiple layers called stratified epithelium. In stratified epithelium, such as the skin, the outer cells—which are subject to damage—are replaced through the division of cells underneath. Epithelial cells have a variety of shapes, including squamous (flattened), cuboid, and columnar. Some epithelial tissues absorb or secrete substances, such as the lining of the intestines. Connective tissue is composed of cells within an extracellular matrix and includes loose connective tissue, fibrous connective tissue, adipose (fat) tissue, cartilage, bone, and blood. Although the characteristics of connective tissue vary greatly, their general function is to support and attach multiple tissues. For example, tendons are made of fibrous connective tissue and attach muscle to bone. Blood transports oxygen, nutrients and waste produ

 Core: Biology

Hair Cells

JoVE 10854

Hair cells are the sensory receptors of the auditory system—they transduce mechanical sound waves into electrical energy that the nervous system can understand. Hair cells are located in the organ of Corti within the cochlea of the inner ear, between the basilar and tectorial membranes. The actual sensory receptors are called inner hair cells. The outer hair cells serve other functions, such as sound amplification in the cochlea, and are not discussed in detail here. Hair cells are named after the hair-like stereocilia that protrude from their tops and touch the tectorial membrane. The stereocilia are arranged by height and are attached by thin filaments called tip links. The tip links are connected to stretch-activated cation channels on the tips of the stereocilia. When a sound wave vibrates the basilar membrane, it creates a shearing force between the basilar and tectorial membranes that moves the hair cell stereocilia from side to side. When the cilia are displaced towards the tallest cilium, the tip links stretch, opening the cation channels. Potassium (K+) then flows into the cell, because there is a very high concentration of K+ in the fluid outside of the stereocilia. This large voltage difference creates an electrochemical gradient that causes an influx of K+ once the channels are opened. This influx o

 Core: Biology

Animal Diversity- Concept

JoVE 10637

Kingdom Animalia is composed of a range of organisms united by a set of common characteristics. Barring a few exceptions, animals are multicellular eukaryotes that move, consume organic matter, and reproduce sexually. Although these attributes are shared, species within this kingdom are also extremely diverse. This diversity is due to adaptation of each species to a different niche. The niche…

 Lab Bio

Motor Units

JoVE 10871

A motor unit consists of two main components: a single efferent motor neuron (i.e., a neuron that carries impulses away from the central nervous system) and all of the muscle fibers it innervates. The motor neuron may innervate multiple muscle fibers, which are single cells, but only one motor neuron innervates a single muscle fiber.

Lower motor neurons are efferent neurons that control skeletal muscle, the most abundant type of muscle in the body. The cell bodies of lower motor neurons are located in the spinal cord or brain stem. Those in the brainstem transmit nerve signals through the cranial nerve, and primarily control muscles in the head and neck. Lower motor neurons originating in the spinal cord send signals along the spinal nerve, and primarily control muscles in the limbs and body trunk. A lower motor neuron fires an action potential that, at once, contract all skeletal muscle cells that the neuron innervates. Thus, motor units are functional units of skeletal muscle. The size of a motor unit, or the number of muscle fibers the lower motor neuron innervates, varies depending on the size of the muscle and the speed and precision the movement requires. Muscles in the eyes and fingers, which require rapid, precise control, are generally controlled by small motor units. In these units, motor neurons connect to a small number of muscle f

 Core: Biology

Eye Exam

JoVE 10149

Source: Richard Glickman-Simon, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, MA


Proper evaluation of the eyes in a general practice setting involves vision testing, orbit inspection, and ophthalmoscopic examination. Before beginning the exam, it is crucial to be familiar…

 Physical Examinations II

The Vestibular System

JoVE 10856

The vestibular system is a set of inner ear structures that provide a sense of balance and spatial orientation. This system is comprised of structures within the labyrinth of the inner ear, including the cochlea and two otolith organs—the utricle and saccule. The labyrinth also contains three semicircular canals—superior, posterior, and horizontal—that are oriented on different planes. All of these structures contain vestibular hair cells—the sensory receptors of the vestibular system. In the otolith organs, the hair cells sit beneath a gelatinous layer called the otolithic membrane, which contains otoconia—calcium carbonate crystals—making it relatively heavy. When the head is tilted, the otolithic membrane shifts, bending the stereocilia on the hair cells. In the semicircular canals, the cilia of the hair cells are contained within a gelatinous cupula, which is surrounded by endolymph fluid. When the head experiences movements, such as rotational acceleration and deceleration, the fluid moves, bending the cupula and the cilia within it. Similar to the auditory hair cells, displacement towards the tallest cilium causes mechanically-gated ion channels to open, depolarizing the cell and increasing neurotransmitter release. Displacement towards the shortest cilium hyperpolarizes the cell and decreases neurotr

 Core: Biology
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