General Neuroscience

General Neuroscience

In our general neuroscience column, we explore a range of topics, from interesting neurological effects to neuroanatomy. Read here to find all things neuroscience!

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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...

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...

An Overview of What Happens When We Sleep

An Overview of What Happens When We Sleep


    Sleep is vital to the human body, but can often seem like a pain or a nuisance to any six-year-old. Scientists have long thought of sleep as a mystery, not understanding why we spent 1/3 of our lives on our pillows. Nevertheless, ancient scientists understood that sleep was important: our bodies tell us this every night when we experi...

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...

Von Economo Neurons and Higher-Order Functions, Intelligence, and Memory

Von Economo Neurons and Higher-Order Functions, Intelligence, and Memory


Abstract Von Economo neurons, also called spindle neurons, have been studied for their link to higher intelligence and memory capabilities. This article will discuss the role of the von Economo neurons in human brains, as well as the prominence of von Economo neurons in Superagers, individuals above the age of 80 with the cognitive function of a...

Basics of Neuroscience V: Addiction

Basics of Neuroscience V: Addiction


Introduction In society, drug abuse and addiction is often perceived as solely the result of poor life choices.  As a consequence of this view, addicts-- who are certainly suffering enough already-- are stigmatized by society.       Such a perspective flies in the face of neuroscience. A plethora of research has shown...

Basics of Neuroscience VI: An Introduction to Neuroanatomy

Basics of Neuroscience VI: An Introduction to Neuroanatomy


Introduction Like most complex organ systems, the nervous system is composed of many parts. One can consider the brain on the scale of hemispheres, regions, neural circuits, individual neurons, or even on molecules. In previous editions of Basics of Neuroscience, we have considered the cellular composition of the brain, neural communication (bot...

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...

Cognitive Maps Part 1: The GPS Within

Cognitive Maps Part 1: The GPS Within


Introduction Everyday, we make our way out of our beds to the bathroom or drive home from work or school all without getting lost or relying on our devices for navigation. It has become second nature to interact with these spaces and the objects within them to such an extent that that these interactions happen without much thought. There is, how...

Neural Basis of Positive Behavior:  Resilience

Neural Basis of Positive Behavior: Resilience


Introduction Every human being in the course of his life goes through various situations before which he must give an answer in order to maintain his personal stability. This response can be both positive and negative, which will determine the impact that he will have as a functioning member of society, since he will be able to make the choice o...

The Neurology Behind The Placebo Effect

The Neurology Behind The Placebo Effect


Abstract The power of mind over matter has fascinated scientists and doctors for decades. Naturally, we associate treating diseases with beneficial outcomes, allowing even placebos ─nonfunctional treatments─ to stimulate pain relief. In the past, the placebo effect has been coined a sham, but studies have proved that  placebos often have as...

The Role of The Right Hemisphere in Language

The Role of The Right Hemisphere in Language


Introduction Before the breakthroughs of Broca and Wernicke, the notion of language regions was based on observations in patients with brain injuries. This was not able to directly determine the brain areas in which language is localized. This researchers studied their patients and found that certain parts in certain regions lead to damage to la...

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...

A Brief Overview of Stem Cells in Neuroscience

A Brief Overview of Stem Cells in Neuroscience


Abstract The two defining properties of stem cells are that they can differentiate into different types of cells and replicate indefinitely. Stem cells in organisms are classified based on their presence in a stage of the developmental cycle and ability to differentiate. Some stem cells can also be genetically programmed to have greater potentia...

The Neuroscience Behind Education

The Neuroscience Behind Education


Introduction The question regarding the role of neuroscience in modern education is one that has interested both researchers and educators over the past few decades. As the understanding of cognitive development expands and new studies overturn entrenched beliefs while reaffirming select traditional practices, the field of neuroeducation is incr...

Cognitive Neuroscience:  A Critical Social Review

Cognitive Neuroscience: A Critical Social Review


Introduction Each human being has different ways of expressing themselves and acquiring notions about their environment, their actions, and their internal states to achieve a personal balance. This balance forms their identity, characterizes their behavior, and guides their particular interpretation of the world. These expressions are represente...

Mirror Neurons and Empathy

Mirror Neurons and Empathy


Introduction Have you ever cried, screamed, squirmed, or flinched during a movie?  Most of us have. But why exactly do these reactions occur? The images that appear on a movie screen are, after all, just images on a movie screen.  So how do these pixelated slideshows elicit such complex yet appropriate responses in the human brain? Tha...

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...

Adult Neurogenesis: Then and Now

Adult Neurogenesis: Then and Now


Abstract Whether or not new neurons are born in the adult mammalian brain has been the topic of much debate in the early years of neuroscience. After the discovery that neurogenesis does indeed occur in the mammalian brain, it was hard for many to believe it was so. However, various studies with indisputable results supporting adult neurogenesis...

Microbiota of the Gut and Its Relation to the Brain: The Gut-Brain Axis

Microbiota of the Gut and Its Relation to the Brain: The Gut-Brain Axis


Abstract A microbiota is an aggregation or community of microorganisms. The gut microbiota performs many functions in the body, from creating essential vitamins to aiding in the digestion of complex molecules. It also plays an essential role in the Gut-Brain Axis in promoting healthy mental processes and the psyche. The connections between the g...

Neuroinflammation: Friend, Foe, or Both?

Neuroinflammation: Friend, Foe, or Both?


Introduction Thanks to the blood-brain-barrier (BBB)—a structure made from specialised endothelial cells that prevents the passage of immune cells from the blood into the extracellular fluid of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system)—the brain enjoys a special immunological privilege. However, research over the past few deca...

Down Syndrome: An Overview

Down Syndrome: An Overview


Abstract Down Syndrome is a disorder currently afflicting 250,000 people in the United States according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine [1]. Down Syndrome is thought to be a childhood disorder, characterized by flat facial features and intellectual disability. Current research has found that Down Syndrome has been linked to many genetic...

A Molecular Approach to Addiction: ΔFosB

A Molecular Approach to Addiction: ΔFosB


Introduction Ravaging communities, tearing apart families, and ruining livelihoods, addiction is undoubtedly one of the most costly afflictions-- both socially and financially-- in the United States today. In 2013, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were illic...

The Neuroscientific Approaches to Free Will

The Neuroscientific Approaches to Free Will


Abstract  As we all know, our behaviours and perception in this world are derived from the complex processing of our brains. However, to what extent does our brain control every decision we make? The question of free will has always been one of the most elusive questions for both neuroscientists and philosophers alikes and many experiments ...

Decision making in the adolescent brain

Decision making in the adolescent brain


Abstract Adolescence is a developmental period between childhood and adulthood.  It is often associated with suboptimal decision making, leading to risky actions such as increased incidence of unintentional injuries, violence, substance abuse, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) [1]. Teenagers are sometimes consid...

Just Another Electrical Brain Impulse

Just Another Electrical Brain Impulse


Abstract In ancient times, dreams have been believed to be a window to the supernatural. Even today, an action we spend almost a third of our lives doing is still a mystery. Dreams are often given this magical aura, but where do dreams really come from? Sleep is the product of many stages of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movem...

Neurolinguistics: The Intersection of Language and the Brain

Neurolinguistics: The Intersection of Language and the Brain


Abstract: This article aims to provide an introduction to neurolinguistics, a subcategory of linguistics which is broadly concerned about the structure and use of language [3]. It is also related to psycholinguistics, which focuses on the relationship between language and psychological processes such as language acquisition [10]. This article ex...

The Brain: Origins and Destinies

The Brain: Origins and Destinies


Abstract The brain is a small, three-pound jelly-like mass that we can hold in our hands. And yet, within this little blob, lies everything that makes the vast majority of our fauna who they truly are. It has birthed various inventions, such as the wheel and the hydraulic screw; made amazing discoveries, such as fire and electricity; and develop...

The Role of Genetics in Neuroscience

The Role of Genetics in Neuroscience


Introduction The elusive nature of genetics has drawn much attention from a great number of neuroscientists and physicians. The genomic lock that contains the secrets behind thousands of disease states, pathophysiologies, and cellular mechanisms have been arduously studied ever since Mendel’s publication of "Experiments on Plant Hybri...

The Vast Endeavors of Neuroscience

The Vast Endeavors of Neuroscience


Abstract The human brain is perhaps the most complex piece of biological machinery known to man, trumping the central nervous systems’ of all living specimens. With dualistic functions ranging from logical reasoning to subliminal-self control over circadian rhythms, the “command center” of the body remains an underlying mechani...

Significance of Chaperone Proteins, Cisplatin-Effect Inducing Genes and Ribosomal p53 activator genes in Glioma

Significance of Chaperone Proteins, Cisplatin-Effect Inducing Genes and Ribosomal p53 activator genes in Glioma


Abstract Glioma consists of cancers involving the glial cells of the nervous system; types of gliomas include astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and brainstem glioma [1]. There are currently numerous treatments and therapies for all types of gliomas, but none of them are as effective as they should be; mainly because there is only a < 10% surv...

A New Era of Humankind: Exploring the Relationship Between Neurotechnology, Cognitive Liberty, and Government

A New Era of Humankind: Exploring the Relationship Between Neurotechnology, Cognitive Liberty, and Government


Abstract With the ever-growing neurotechnology market, we are entering a new era in which our mental privacy, the right of an individual to control their own thoughts and consciousness, is at risk. The government should enforce strict legislation to ensure technologies are not used for immoral purposes. It is imperative that the government acts ...

Why We See Faces Everywhere: The Pareidolia Phenomenon

Why We See Faces Everywhere: The Pareidolia Phenomenon


Abstract Pareidolia is a visual hallucination based on seeing recognizable patterns in objects and abstract installations [1]; a similar phenomenon is observed in auditory hallucinations. Most people have probably never heard of pareidolia, however nearly everyone has experienced it in some form. In our daily life, we are exposed to a lot of fac...

Descriptive Approach of Human Visual Perception of Physical World reality

Descriptive Approach of Human Visual Perception of Physical World reality


Abstract The interpretation of what we view and how we see the physical world is referred to as visual perception. Our brain processes what our eyes congregate, creating a perception that sometimes is not parallel with reality. The brain has a peculiarity of acting in a bizarre way of perceiving the subjective physical reality of the objective s...

Sleep - From Start to Finish: An Overview

Sleep - From Start to Finish: An Overview


Abstract Sleep is a complex and dynamic process that is vital for the functioning of any human. On average, humans spend about one third of their lives sleeping, but the purpose of sleep remains largely unknown [1]. In recent years, research has brought to light many of the previously unknown mysteries of sleep. To this day, discoveries continue...

Tackle Football: The Ultimate Concussion Generator

Tackle Football: The Ultimate Concussion Generator


Introduction According to Bennet Omalu,“Over 90% of players who play to the professional level have some degree of [chronic encephalopathy].” [1]. Omalu was the discoverer of chronic encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder brought by multiple blows to the head. This concussion expert states that this degenerative brain disease is prevalent ...

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory

Neurobiology of Learning and Memory


Introduction Learning and memory are both fundamental parts of our lives that make us who we are as individuals. Even by definition, learning and memory go hand in hand: while memory is a behavioral change caused by an experience, learning is a process that allows us to acquire memories [1]. Everything we learn starts with a new experience, and ...

Exploring the Ethics of Nootropics From an Adolescent Perspective

Exploring the Ethics of Nootropics From an Adolescent Perspective


Introduction In our academically competitive world, some students take artificial stimulants to improve their cognitive abilities in order to ultimately improve their grades. According to the FDA, nootropics are still a gray area [1]. Although they are not fully approved, many of them are available as supplements and foods. This article analyses...

The Truth About Dyslexia: A Complete Overview

The Truth About Dyslexia: A Complete Overview


Introduction  As we mature from infancy to early childhood, we develop one of the most important skills known to our species,  the ability to communicate, which begins with the capability to talk. Soon after, we begin to read and craft sentences. Oral communication has been present since the beginning of mankind. However, written langu...

Synesthesia: Hearing Colors or Tasting Shapes?

Synesthesia: Hearing Colors or Tasting Shapes?


Abstract Synesthesia is a remarkable instance in which one property of a stimulus evokes a second experience not usually associated with the first. There are many variants of synesthesia, including synesthetic experiences of color, taste, touch, and sound. In the last few decades, research has highlighted the classification and mechanisms underl...

Cognitive Offloading: An Overview

Cognitive Offloading: An Overview


Abstract Cognitive offloading refers to the process of relying on the external environment to reduce cognitive demand [1]. People write down important points of a speech, shopping lists, and upcoming appointments, and even calculate their finances in a matter of minutes using their phones. These actions are so common that they seem natural, but ...

The Role of Mutant SOD-1 in the Pathogenesis of Familial ALS

The Role of Mutant SOD-1 in the Pathogenesis of Familial ALS


Abstract Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects and destroys the motor neurons present in the Central Nervous System. It occurs in two forms, sporadic ALS (sALS) which is non-genetic and accounts for the majority of the cases of ALS, and familial ALS (fALS) that is transmitted genetically from parent to ...

The Orbitofrontal Cortex: A Brief Overview

The Orbitofrontal Cortex: A Brief Overview


Abstract The orbitofrontal cortex has long been associated with neuropsychological disorders due to its involvement in impulsivity, compulsivity, and habit.  The orbitofrontal cortex is also involved with reward pathways, decision making, and stress responses. In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of research into the functio...

The Secrets of Marketing

The Secrets of Marketing


Introduction We are surrounded by objects subtly trying to grab our attention,  whether it is an advertisement on the corner of a newspaper or a billboard next to a freeway. The whole concept of an advertisement is to not only introduce you to a product once, but to constantly bombard you with this product to try to persuade you to buy it. ...

Stress: An Overview

Stress: An Overview


Introduction Stress can be defined as an emotional state in response to certain triggers that are perceived as exceeding a person's coping skills and available internal and external resources [1]. From time to time, it is common for people to experience stress. Stressors vary from person to person, so an event that one individual may perceiv...

Implicit Social Cognition: Connection to Brain Regions and Measuring Tools

Implicit Social Cognition: Connection to Brain Regions and Measuring Tools


Abstract It is easy to assume that humans have full control over how they react to different societal encounters. However, this is not the case. Individuals can exhibit certain reactions without being aware of their own motives or even the actions themselves. Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji explained such a phenomenon using the concept of&...

Psychopathy: Finding Clarity in the Grey

Psychopathy: Finding Clarity in the Grey


Introduction In the 1800s, being neurodivergent  was a common reason behind an individual’s exclusion from society. Today, we understand that having a mental illness is not an alienating notion, but rather a realm of neuroscience which is so complex that we often misunderstand certain conditions, resulting in massive stigma around cer...

Neuroplasticity: Rewiring and Repairing the Nervous System

Neuroplasticity: Rewiring and Repairing the Nervous System


Introduction  Neuroplasticity refers to the nervous system’s ability to rewire and reorganize itself in response to new stimuli. In the past, the brain was generally believed to be unable to change. However, recent research in neuroplasticity has begun to demonstrate just how dynamic the nervous system truly is [1]. A variety of neuro...

Drugs and Toxicology

Drugs and Toxicology


Abstract Drugs have always attracted human attention. Drugs have a central role in human evolution thanks to their therapeutic potential to help humans cope with illnesses and disease. However, drugs can also have very serious negative effects on health due to their capacities to influence human physiology. This article discusses the influences ...

Concussions in Youth Athletes: A Brief Review of the Literature

Concussions in Youth Athletes: A Brief Review of the Literature


Introduction Sports are a common pastime in the United States and an integral part of American culture. Participation in sports, however, comes with numerous risks that student-athletes may not recognize. Athletes face the threat of sustaining concussions which often go unnoticed due to their ambiguous nature. Concussions are common in athletic ...

The Impacts of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Brain: An Overview

The Impacts of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Brain: An Overview


Abstract  The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented levels of social isolation in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. Social isolation has previously been established as a significant predictor of the risk of death, and loneliness has been shown to directly impair the immune system [1]. With many countries around the wor...

An Exploration of Psychopathy and Sociopathy

An Exploration of Psychopathy and Sociopathy


Introduction Modern society often portrays psychopathy and sociopathy as conditions characteristic of serial killers and terrorists, such as Charles Manson. However, only one percent of the general population is considered psychopaths and sociopaths [4]. People with psychopathy and sociopathy acquire the disorder from a combination of genetic pr...

Sleep Paralysis: An Overview

Sleep Paralysis: An Overview


Abstract About 7.6% - 30% of the general population has experienced sleep paralysis, with higher instances recorded among psychiatric patients and high school to collegiate level students [1]. Defined as a state of sleep-like immobilization in individuals immediately before or after sleep, sleep paralysis can occur in isolated or reoccurring pat...

Alcohol and the Brain: An Overview

Alcohol and the Brain: An Overview


Abstract Alcohol is an addictive substance, posing many dangers. It changes the very functioning of the brain, altering the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex and leading to cerebellar degeneration. Alcohol-induced shifts in levels of thiamine may lead to disorders involving confusion, loss of motor control, and even amnesia. In addition, levels ...

Religion, Spirituality, and the Mind: The History and Contributions Toward Neurotheology

Religion, Spirituality, and the Mind: The History and Contributions Toward Neurotheology


Introduction Derived from the prefix “Neuro” which refers to the nervous system and “Theology” meaning “the study of religion and spiritual beliefs,” Neurotheology studies the relationship(s) between the brain and our spiritual beliefs. This field of study is interdisciplinary and relies on aspects of philosop...

Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue

Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue


Abstract Millions of people suffer from neurological diseases worldwide. Nearly 15 million people suffer a stroke each year, more than 65 million people have epilepsy, and 50 million have dementia [1][2][3]. The numbers are just astounding. This is why research has been conducted to develop faster and more accurate computer-aided diagnosis (CAD)...

The Brain of a Honeybee

The Brain of a Honeybee


Abstract Honeybees differentiate themselves from other insects due to their ability to practice advanced cognition. Scientists have determined this by studying  honeybees’ process of “foraging”. Worker bees are able to communicate to other bees in the hive the distance and angle at which a food source is found. By being ab...

Changes in Neurological Expression of the Hippocampus on Kainic Acid-Induced Neurotoxicty

Changes in Neurological Expression of the Hippocampus on Kainic Acid-Induced Neurotoxicty


Abstract Kainic acid has aided neuroscience in advanced research and conceptualization of the molecular, neurochemical, and pharmacological mechanisms of underlying conditions like epilepsy and seizures. Over the decades, the kainic acid effect was not fully recognized. However, primitive researchers took note of the signs revealed after concurr...

An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

An Overview of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Introduction Autism is a “developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person's social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation” [1]. Autism spectrum disorders, known as ASD, are the range of neurological disorders that cause changes in an individual’s social, cogn...

The Neuroscience Behind Imagination, or what we imagine it to be

The Neuroscience Behind Imagination, or what we imagine it to be


Abstract The word imagination came from the Latin word ‘imagio’ or ‘imagin’, which simply means ‘image’. This word soon evolved and became ‘imaginari’, which means ‘to imagine oneself’. We have changed and edited this word and its meaning to such an extent that it now means ‘the f...

The Effects of Cocaine Exposure on Pregnant People and Fetuses

The Effects of Cocaine Exposure on Pregnant People and Fetuses


Abstract Substance abuse is a huge problem in the United States. In fact, over 33 million people suffer from it [1]. It is estimated that the economic cost of abuse of illicit drugs is about $193 billion [2]. The impact of such abuse can be especially adverse for the expectant people and their children. This paper discusses the effects of the us...

Dopamine in Addiction

Dopamine in Addiction


Abstract Dopamine (DA) is a neurotransmitter that relays signals between various regions of the brain, primarily functioning in the neural pathway that processes rewarding stimuli. This function allows DA to play a pivotal role in survival, but also implicates it in a much more dangerous disease: addiction. DA has been shown to affect regions of...

Neurological Manifestations of Menopause

Neurological Manifestations of Menopause


Abstract With the onset of 12-45 years of age, a female goes through various menstrual phases from menarche to menopause. Release of the endometrial lining in a rhythmic manner when the egg does not get fertilized is essential for women's health. The hormone release is regulated on the basis of this menstrual rhythm. As the ovaries age, mens...

Appetite Control: Leptin Grossly Influences Neuropeptide Y in the Hypothalamus

Appetite Control: Leptin Grossly Influences Neuropeptide Y in the Hypothalamus


Introduction Appetite cannot be permanently shut down because it is a temporal sensation. Appetite, in this article, is referring to one’s desire to intake food substances. Appetite is regulated neurologically, and the region of the brain responsible for this  is the  hypothalamus (HP). Research studies within the field of  ...

The Dynamic Mind: An Overview of Neuroplasticity

The Dynamic Mind: An Overview of Neuroplasticity


Introduction Neuroplasticity, a phenomenon describing the brain's capacity to change and adapt, refers to the morphological changes in the brain that occur due to an individual’s interactions with the environment. Throughout the course of one’s life, the brain develops synapses and circuits between neurons that reorganize to resp...

The Problem of Consciousness: A Review

The Problem of Consciousness: A Review


Abstract Consciousness is what makes humans aware of themselves and the world around them. Without it, they would be no different from a complex biological machine, sans any sense or understanding of the world outside. However, despite being so fundamental to their nature, they have yet to be able to fully comprehend consciousness and its origin...