Jacob Umans

Jacob Umans

Jacob Umans is an aspiring physician-scientist in the Stanford University Class of 2021. As a cofounder of the IYNA, he is passionate about neuroscience and hopes to share his excitement about all subfields of neuroscience -- especially glial biology and neuroimmunity -- with students around the world. He hopes to go on to earn an MD/Ph.D. after graduating from Stanford and to use his clinical experience to guide his research program towards a better understanding of and improved therapies for chronic neurological diseases. Outside of neuroscience, Jacob is an avid fan of bad puns, table tennis, and reading.


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A Brief History of Neuroscience

A Brief History of Neuroscience


Pre-Modern     For thousands of years, humans have been fascinated with their unique intelligence and computational abilities.  The source of this wonderful power has been a mystery since ancient times. Some early humans, recognizing the importance of the brain, drilled holes in the skulls of the diseased (in a process known as &l...

Pharmacology of Everyday Life

Pharmacology of Everyday Life


Caffeine     Nearly everyone understands that coffee can help people wake up in the mornings or stay awake during late nights, but far fewer understand exactly how it does this. One key pharmacological effect of caffeine is its competitive inhibition of the adenosine receptor. Adenosine, a dephosphorylated form of ATP, signals the shor...

Famous Case Studies of History

Famous Case Studies of History


    Though in the modern era, neuroscience is becoming increasingly reliant on digital means to obtain data (as described in the new technology section of the journal), case studies have a lasting legacy in neuroscience. From ancient times to the present, case studies have given neuroscientists new means to understand the brain. Up to the...

Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier

Crossing the Blood-Brain Barrier


Introduction A prominent difference between physiology of mammals and other species is the presence of a cerebral vascular wall. The barrier, known as the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), is part of the brain’s natural defense. Although the BBB prevents harmful chemicals and viruses from entering the brain, it also prohibits many drugs from acce...

Basics of Neuroscience II: An Introduction to Internal Neural Communication

Basics of Neuroscience II: An Introduction to Internal Neural Communication


    Hello, readers of YNCA Journal, and welcome back to the Basics of Neuroscience course, presented by the YNCA Executive Board. In last week’s lesson, we discussed the basic structure of neurons. We also touched upon basic neural communication, discussing synapses and neurotransmitters. In this edition, we will go further in depth...

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease


    Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to memory loss. As of 2016, Alzheimer's disease affects 5.4 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (Alzheimer’s Association, 2016). There are two principal forms of the disease. Fami...

Research Methods: EEG

Research Methods: EEG


History     Electroencephalography, more commonly known by its abbreviation EEG, is a widely used technique to study the brain. Some of the earliest work on the electrical properties of neurons goes back to Galvani, who experimented on frog tissue to determine that electrical stimulation allowed communication within the nervous sy...

Basics of Neuroscience III: Neuronal Communication

Basics of Neuroscience III: Neuronal Communication


    Hello YNCA readers, and welcome to our third Basics of Neuroscience lesson. Today, we will explain how neurons communicate with each other. Last month, we explained how each neuron acts as an independent relay stations. In this issue, we hope to discuss the molecular events underlying communication between neurons. These first three l...

A Thermal Window for Yawning in Humans: Yawning as a Brain Cooling Mechanism

A Thermal Window for Yawning in Humans: Yawning as a Brain Cooling Mechanism


    Yawning: whether after a long movie or a late night, it happens to all of us.  When people think of yawning, the first thing that comes to mind is sleepiness. But why, from an evolutionary standpoint, would yawning when sleepy help us? One widely believed explanation for yawning is that it serves as a means to bring in more ...

Basics of Neuroscience IV: Learning and Memory

Basics of Neuroscience IV: Learning and Memory


Hello YNCA readers, and welcome to our fourth Basics of Neuroscience lesson. Today, we will explain how neuronal bonds grow and decrease in strength to form memories and allow us to learn. Last month, we explained the molecular and chemical basis for neural communication, and provided a basic overview of the most common neurotransmitters and neuror...

Aplysia Californica: Little Sea Slug - Big Breakthroughs in Learning and Memory

Aplysia Californica: Little Sea Slug - Big Breakthroughs in Learning and Memory


Introduction     Aplysia Californica, a sea slug, has played a major role in the advancement of neuroscientific knowledge over the past several decades. Due to its unique biological properties,  this model organism has been incredibly valuable to researchers investigating the molecular basis of learning and memory.    ...

The Power of Play: The Effects of Portal 2 and Lumosity on Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills

The Power of Play: The Effects of Portal 2 and Lumosity on Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills


    A recent study conducted at Florida State University investigated the efficacy of Portal 2 (a video game) and Lumosity (a brain-training program). This study analyzed problem solving, spatial skills, and persistence in participants of the study who spent eight hours either playing Portal 2 or Lumosity. The researchers found that ...

Research Methods: ERP Technique

Research Methods: ERP Technique


Introduction Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) are electrical signals generated by the processing of EEG data. Since their first use in research in 1935-6 by Pauline and Hallowell Davis [1], ERPs have become a powerful tool used by cognitive psychologists to investigate the overall activity of the brain. In language research, ERP analysis can prov...

Research Summary: Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease

Research Summary: Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease


    As discussed in the disease section of the YNCA Journal, the peptide Amyloid Beta (Aβ) is highly linked to the pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques form when Aβ clumps together in the synapses of neurons, blocking cell-to-cell communication. Though always viewed in a rather unfavorable light, the study featu...

Study Summary: A Molecular Link between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology

Study Summary: A Molecular Link between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology


Background     Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death among the elderly, and the affected population is ever increasing. This growing number of patients has resulted in a rising demand for improved treatments and innovative research. Alzheimer’s is thought to result primarily from the aggregation of amylo...

Basics of Neuroscience I: A Cellular View of the Brain

Basics of Neuroscience I: A Cellular View of the Brain


Introduction     Hello, reader, and welcome to the YNCA’s Basics of Neuroscience Course. This course will help provide a basic understanding of how the brain and nervous system works.  Throughout our issues, we will explain every facet of neuroscience, from the level of massive connected systems to the level of discrete cell...

Research Methods: Model Organisms in Neuroscience

Research Methods: Model Organisms in Neuroscience


     In the previous issue of the YNCA Journal, we discussed how neuroscientists have studied human patients to learn about the brain. Despite the progress that can be made in human studies, such studies are very limited in scope due to the moral issues involved in human experimentation.  Due to these ethical barriers, scientifi...

Research Methods: Human Experimentation

Research Methods: Human Experimentation


Introduction When conducted in accordance with ethical guidelines designed to safeguard the health and well-being of participants, human experimentation can provide valuable insights into the inner workings of the human brain. In both basic research and clinical trials, human experiments have offered valuable information to allow researchers to ...