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The Human Brain Science

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Understand the Brain with Medical Research



Meet Patrick Beukema, a graduate student in the The Cognitive Axon Lab at Carnegie Mellon. Patrick’s research involves learning how the brain changes to execute advanced motor skills with the goal of aiding diseases by understand the cognitive basis of motor skills.

To learn more about Patrick, visit

How the Brain Works Part 1 (UCLA)

These brief videos provide an introductory appreciation of how we learn skills and information, move, think, feel, speak and remember. They are brought to you by the UCLA Brain Research Institute and by Bruce H. Dobkin, MD, who directs the neurorehabilitation program in the Department of Neurology at UCLA. The videos especially aim to reach out to students in grade school to stir their interest, and to people with disabilities in walking, using an affected upper extremity, and loss of memory from neurological diseases such as stroke, brain trauma, tumors, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinsons, and Alzheimers disease.

Video 1:
General organization of a real human brain.

Video 2:
The pathology of brain injuries and diseases. Rat versus human brain complexity. How do we reach for a ball? How do we walk?

Video 3:
How does practice enable us to learn and retain skills and information?

Video 4:
How can we drive the nervous system to adapt in ways that help restore lost skills after injury from disease? Can we reorganize the brains connections?
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The Human Brain Science Discovery Documentary HD

Discovery Science Channel The Human Brain HD Documentary
Science Documentary Discovery Channel Documentary
The Human Brain Documentary human brain documentary human brain structure and function human brain anatomy and physiology human brain project human brain and quantum physics human brain power human brain evolution in this video.


The human brain is the main organ of the human nervous system. It is located in the head, protected by the skull. It has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but with a more developed cerebral cortex. Large animals such as whales and elephants have larger brains in absolute terms, but when measured using a measure of relative brain size, which compensates for body size, the quotient for the human brain is almost twice as large as that of a bottlenose dolphin, and three times as large as that of a chimpanzee. Much of the size of the human brain comes from the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobes, which are associated with executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The area of the cerebral cortex devoted to vision, the visual cortex, is also greatly enlarged in humans compared to other animals.

The human cerebral cortex is a thick layer of neural tissue that covers most of the brain. This layer is folded in a way that increases the amount of surface that can fit into the volume available. The pattern of folds is similar across individuals, although there are many small variations. The cortex is divided into four lobes – the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe. (Some classification systems also include a limbic lobe and treat the insular cortex as a lobe.) Within each lobe are numerous cortical areas, each associated with a particular function, including vision, motor control, and language. The left and right sides of the cortex are broadly similar in shape, and most cortical areas are replicated on both sides. Some areas, though, show strong lateralization, particularly areas that are involved in language. In most people, the left hemisphere is dominant for language, with the right hemisphere playing only a minor role. There are other functions, such as visual-spatial ability, for which the right hemisphere is usually dominant.

Despite being protected by the thick bones of the skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and isolated from the bloodstream by the blood–brain barrier, the human brain is susceptible to damage and disease. The most common forms of physical damage are closed head injuries such as a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by a variety of chemicals which can act as neurotoxins, such as ethanol alcohol. Infection of the brain, though serious, is rare because of the biological barriers which protect it. The human brain is also susceptible to degenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease, (mostly as the result of aging) and multiple sclerosis. A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are thought to be associated with brain dysfunctions, although the nature of these is not well understood. The brain can also be the site of brain tumors and these can be benign or malignant.

Allen Institute for Brain Science

The Allen Institute for Brain Science is an independent 512(c)(3) nonprofit medical research organization dedicated to accelerating the understanding of how the human brain works. Launched in 2003 with a generous seed contribution from philanthropist Paul G. Allen, the Institute tackles projects at the leading edge of science - far-reaching projects at the intersection of biology and technology - intended to fuel discovery for the broader scientific community worldwide.
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Operation Ouch - The Brain | Amazing Body Facts for Kids

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Today we are learning about our brains! What makes you...you?

You can buy the book here and download the series here

Operation Ouch is packed with incredible facts about the human body and fronted by identical twins Dr.Chris and Dr. Xand van Tulleken who experiment and explore their way through the fascinating world of medicine and biology.

This series will de-mistify hospitals for younger viewers; no longer will the hospital be a scary place to go as we learn all the exciting things that go on there. Chris and Xand will let the viewer into their exclusive world of medicine and explain the awesome things our bodies can do! #OperationOuch #ScienceForKids

The Science of Us: Mapping the Human Brain

In 2013, President Obama launched the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative -- a new research effort that focuses on inventing and refining technologies that will revolutionize our understanding of the human brain. In the spirit of this new endeavor, Northwestern Medicine's Andrew Parsa, MD, PhD, set out to inspire Chicago school children to become the future generation of neuroscientists.

Parsa, chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, teamed up with three Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to host an educational program called The Science of Us: Mapping the Human Brain. The objective of this new Northwestern Medicine program is to teach 4th and 5th grade students about the human brain and the importance of President Obama's BRAIN initiative.

I was amazed by how interested and attentive the students were during these talks -- they really connected to the content and asked very insightful and intelligent questions about the brain, said Parsa, who is a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and part of the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute. It was a very gratifying experience to share my knowledge and see these kids get excited about the human brain. If I can inspire at least one kid to go into the neurosciences, I will have accomplished my goal.

In conjunction with his presentations, Parsa also invited the students to participate in an essay contest to draft papers about why they think brain mapping is important and how it connects back to what they've learned in their science curriculum. Parsa personally graded the more than 300 essays written by students at South Loop Elementary, STEM Magnet Academy and Pulaski International School of Chicago. He returned to each of the schools to provide every student with a certificate of recognition for their excellent work.

Northwestern Medicine is deeply committed to giving back to our community so it's exciting to see Dr. Parsa, a leader in our organization, doing it in the context of education, said Posh Charles, vice president of external affairs.

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Exploring the Impact of Music on Brain Function

NCCAM Integrative Medicine Research Lecture

Aniruddh (Ani) Patel, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University. Dr. Patel's research focuses on how the brain processes music and language, focusing on what the similarities and differences between the two reveal about each other and about the brain itself. He has pursued this topic with a variety of techniques, including neuroimaging, theoretical analyses, acoustic research, and comparative studies of nonhuman animals. Dr. Patel has published more than 50 research articles and a scholarly book (Music, Language, and the Brain, 2008, Oxford Univ. Press). Dr. Patel was awarded the 2009 Music Has Power award from the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York City. In this lecture, Dr. Patel will examine what measurable impacts musical listening and musical training have on the human brain, and what neurobiological mechanisms support these effects. These impacts can be divided into two broad categories: effects that occur while the music is being heard, and longer-lasting effects on other cognitive and emotional functions. Of particular interest in the latter category are impacts of musical training on nonmusical brain functions such as language and attention, as mediated by mechanism of experience-dependent neural plasticity. This talk will discuss existing studies pertinent to these issues, and point out directions for future research.

For more information go to

Itzhak Fried: 2011 Allen Institute for Brain Science Symposium

Itzhak Fried, University of California, Los Angeles; Tel-Aviv University, Israel Neurons as will and representation: Recordings from the human brain

Dr. Fried recounted some fascinating observations he has made from single cell recordings in neurosurgical patients, pointing out that the variety of tasks accomplished by single neurons is remarkable. Single brain cells can recognize a face, particularly a familiar or famous face like Halley Berry or Oprah Winfrey, and the designated neuron will respond invariantly to one face but not another. Further, a neuron can be associative, firing when two stimuli are brought together, such as a face and a name. Then Fried tackled the question of how mental objects are selected for conscious representation, using a free recall paradigm to show that firing during both encoding and free recall is stimulus-selective at the level of single neurons in the medial temporal lobe. And, finally, turning to the question of the origin of will, Fried developed a paradigm where brain signals from electrodes implanted into the brain can detect a decision that patients have to make (i.e. to turn right or left in a driving simulation) before they are conscious of making that decision. How does will arise? Fried posited, Is free will actually free?

Jack L. Gallant: 2012 Allen Institute for Brain Science Symposium

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) detects the location of functions in the brain better than any other method we have today. While localization is necessary, it is not sufficient for understanding how the brain works. Dr. Gallant suggests the reverse approach - to search for functional maps. That is, he uses brain activity to determine or reconstruct what a subject was looking at. To this end the Gallant lab has constructed the WordNet model, which is able to predict what an observer is seeing from 2,000 nouns and verbs. The process uses brain activity in fMRI to predict from semantic models while an observer watches a video, and the results are remarkably accurate. Dr. Gallant explains how encoding models, decoding models, and functional maps of the brain are all closely related. Once you have encoding, you get decoding for free, he proclaims.

Building a "parts list" of the brain

Allen Institute scientists have developed the most detailed “parts list” of the human brain to date and made a discovery that could explain why many psychiatric drugs that work in the lab don’t work in people.
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Allen Institute for Brain Science: Fueling Discovery

Founded by philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen, the Allen Institute for Brain Science was established to accelerate the understanding of the human brain, compelled by the need to improve the treatment of brain-related disorders and inspired by our quest to uncover the essence of what makes us human.

Ed Lein: 2012 Allen Institute for Brain Science Symposium

The development, structure and function of our brains are guided by selective usage of the 20,000-odd genes in our genomes. Taking advantage of the Allen Institute's anatomically and genomically comprehensive atlases of gene expression in the developing brain in species from mouse to human, Dr. Lein explores the molecular logic of gene expression in the brain. How do gene expression profiles relate to the functional and cellular architecture of the brain, and what makes the human brain unique? Focusing on the human neocortex, the outermost layer of the brain, Lein showed that molecular similarities reflect spatial proximity across the neocortex; such that neighboring cortical regions are more similar to one another than to more distant regions. Surprisingly, these molecular similarities vary across the cortex in a graded fashion, in contrast to models of cortical architecture that drew sharp boundaries dividing functionally distinct cortical parcellations. Rather, these proximity similarities bear striking resemblance to gradients of gene expression seen during development, reflecting the common lineage of cells in adjacent cortical areas. Moving to a cellular level of resolution, Lein described efforts to understand the diversity of cortical neurons. He argued that specific molecular signatures provide a robust means to define a molecular taxonomy of neuron types. In particular, Lein showed that the diversity of excitatory neurons is greater than generally appreciated, with cortical neurons projecting to different brain regions showing distinct patterns of gene expression. Together these analyses show a clear, coherent molecular architecture in the brain, and open up many avenues for discovery of key neurodevelopmental genes and the investigation of genes that may contribute to our uniquely human cognitive capabilities.

Ed Lein, Allen Institute for Brain Science Deciphering the mammalian brain transcriptome
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Human Brain & Its Parts Simple explaination in Hindi | Bhushan Science

The study notes are available on Amazon India. The related affiliate links are provided below

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PsychENCODE - The brain's molecular architecture

Drs. Thomas Lehner and Geetha Senthil, of the NIMH Office of Genomics Research Coordination, explain findings from the first phase of the PsychENCODE initiative.

For more information:

NIMH news release
2,000 Human Brains Yield Clues to How Genes Raise Risk for Mental Illnesses


Yale news release:
In the developing brain, scientists find roots of neuropsychiatric diseases


UCLA news release
Scientists Discover genetic “missing links” underlying mechanism of psychiatric diseases


Yale video
In developing brain, roots of psychiatric illness found

Tutorial: BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain

This tutorial provides a brief walkthrough of the BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain, demonstrating how to use this resource for exploring developmental transcriptome data in the human brain.
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The Remarkable Learning Abilities of the Human Brain

(Visit:
0:25 - Main Talk - Greg Ashby

Humans have multiple learning systems that for the most part are functionally and anatomically distinct, evolved at different times for different purposes, and that learn in qualitatively different ways. Greg Ashby studies how people learn new categories of objects. This research has allowed the mapping the neural networks and has identified many important and surprising differences in how we learn. Recorded on 07/10/2017. Series: GRIT Talks [Show ID: 32755]

Human Brain Prefers Pitch

A brain imaging study has found that the human brain strongly favors harmonic sounds over noise, compared to the macaque monkey brain. The results suggest that speech and music may have shaped our brain’s hearing circuits. The two species appear to have evolved differences in the functional organization of brain regions involved in pitch perception. Bevil Conway, Ph.D., of the NIH Intramural Research Program, senior author on the study, explains its findings. The study was published June 10, 2019 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

For more information, see the NIH news release:
Our brains appear uniquely tuned to musical pitch


Reference:
Sam Norman-Haignere, Nancy Kanwisher, Josh H. McDermott, Bevil R. Conway. Divergence in the functional organization of human and macaque auditory cortex revealed by fMRI responses to harmonic tones. Nature Neuroscience, June 10, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41593-019-0410-7

Olaf Sporns: 2010 Allen Institute for Brain Science Symposium

Olaf Sporns, Indiana University Bloomington
The human brain: A complex network

2010 Allen Institute for Brain Science Symposium

Brain 101 | National Geographic

The brain constitutes only about 2 percent of the human body, yet it is responsible for all of the body's functions. Learn about the parts of the human brain, as well as its unique defenses, like the blood brain barrier.
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Brain 101 | National Geographic


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Dissecting Brains

On Wednesdays at Hammersmith Hospital in London, a few recently preserved human brains are dissected according to an international protocol and stored in a tissue bank for further research.

The brains have mostly been donated by people with Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis (both degenerative and incurable diseases of the central nervous system), but control samples of healthy brains are required too.

This documentary is a modified version of one which appears in the Brains exhibition at Wellcome Collection, with an added commentary from the neuropathologist, Steve Gentleman. It conveys the craft discipline exercised by scientists in their quest to understand these often-tragic conditions.

With thanks to the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Parkinson's UK Tissue Bank at Imperial College London.

For more information about the book that was published to accompany our Brains exhibition:


Filmed by Martha Henson

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