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The human brain is a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) mass of jelly-like fats and tissues—yet it's the most complex of all known living structures. A rear view of the skull reveals the brain and the cervical spinal cord, which function together as the central nervous system. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques provide an extremely detailed, 3-D view of a living brain.
Thanks to precision cutting techniques, researchers are able to examine a paper-thin slice of human brain. Skillful surgeons at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, remove a tumor from a woman's brain. A Baltimore, Maryland, epileptic patient performs tests designed to identify the source of his seizures. National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series. Get up close with some of the world's most fascinating underground communities, from gangs to cults to organized crime families. As the global population soars toward nine billion by 2045, this corner of Africa shows what's at stake in the decades ahead. Episoadele sunt scurte, de 20 de minute, iar gazdele acestui show sunt Jason Silva (regizor ?i filozof) ?i Apollo Robins, un cunoscut iluzionist, auto-descris ca ?i un ”gentlemen thief” (n.tr. Featuring programs from hit series Brain Games, Duck Quacks Dona€™t Echo, and The Numbers Game, the National Geographic Engage Your Brain Collection combines science and entertaining, interactive experiments and games to reveal the amazing inner-workings of the "crown jewel" of the human body.While the Emmy-nominated Brain Games sizes up the human brain through mind-boggling experiments, optical illusions, and brainteasers, Duck Quacks Dona€™t Echo assesses the validity of weird, unusual and over-the-top hypotheses through a series of interactive, original scientific tests.
Includes all of Brain Games Season 1 (three episodes), The Numbers Game Season 1 (three episodes), and Duck Quacks Dona€™t Echo (fourteen episodes). Centuries of study have provided increasingly detailed understanding of human brain anatomy. An engineer wears a helmet of sensors at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging—part of a brain scanner requiring almost as much power as a nuclear submarine. Photograph by Robert Clark; brain preparation performed at Allen Institute for Brain Science. Now scientists are turning their attention to the complex circuits that connect the brain’s many regions—some 100,000 miles of fibers called white matter, enough to circle the Earth four times.
Arranged in stacks, 10,000 photomicrographs form a 3-D model no larger than a grain of salt.
Caltech and UCLA scientists use pictures of celebrities to study how the brain processes what the eyes see.
The next time Hawkins has a seizure, the electrodes (purple cones) will pinpoint its source, allowing neurosurgeons to target what brain tissue to remove. Removing brain tumors is a risky procedure—surgeons need to excise as much of a tumor as possible without destroying neurons essential for functions such as speech, sight, and memory or the connective fibers between them.
Scans of one of Fortin’s patients revealed that a tumor (red) had grown into a region controlling the movement of hands and feet.
As he removed parts of the tumor, Fortin applied current to the region to determine if neighboring neurons were critical for movement. Scientists at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have added a gene to the neurons in zebrafish brains that causes them to produce light each time they send a signal. Go behind-the-scenes with our storytellers and join conversations about photography, art, and journalism.
Photographs by Lynn Johnson-->Inside the protective bunker I waited with the explosives team, fingers wedged firmly in my ears. Brain Games is a super fun, super educational compliation of challenges, myths, fun facts, science and games based on the hit National Geographic Channel's TV show of the same name!
Up to one trillion nerve cells work together and coordinate the physical actions and mental processes that set humans apart from other species. The remarkable apparatus uses motor neurons to control the body's many muscles and enables humans to perform myriad physical activities.
These nerve cells are interconnected, as shown in this microscopic image, so that they can transmit electrical impulses—and information—to other cells. The technique is critical for identifying abnormalities such as tumors, spotting the warning signs of some brain diseases, and revealing the extent of trauma from strokes. Surgeons can also cut living brains without fear of hurting their patients—the organ is incapable of feeling pain. Malignant tumors indicate often lethal brain conditions, but even nonmalignant growths can preempt normal brain activity.
Surgeons placed electrodes in his brain that will record which parts of the organ become active when he performs a variety of physical and mental tasks. Anul acesta, cei de la National Geographic au produs al doilea sezon al aceleia?i serii, dar i-au schimbat numele in Brain Games (”Jocurile creierului”). Antennas pick up signals produced when the scanner’s magnetic field excites water molecules in the brain. In this image taken at the Martinos Center, pink and orange bundles transmit signals critical for language. A high-resolution view of the image above reveals white matter fibers arranged in a mysterious grid structure, like longitude and latitude lines on a map. Red and green dots on the branches extending from this rat neuron show where it contacts other neurons. Arranged in stacks, 10,000 such photomicrographs form a 3-D model no larger than a grain of salt (in tweezers).
A human brain visualized at this level of detail would require an amount of data equal to all the written material in all the libraries of the world. In 2005 they found an individual nerve cell that fired only when subjects were shown pictures of Jennifer Aniston.
At UCLA’s Medical Center for Neuroscience electrodes are implanted in the brains of epileptic patients such as Crystal Hawkins.
The electrodes also provide a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on neurons functioning normally, which led to the discovery of nerve cells that respond to specific faces. Because zebrafish are transparent, the scientists can watch the sparkling activity of most of the 100,000 neurons in the animal’s brain.


Outside, shot number 52, trailing a 20-foot length of yellow-and-green-striped detonating cord, was securely taped to the wall of a one-room plywood building with a steel fire door. Kids will spend hours puzzling, laughing, sharing, and learning with this mindboggling book of brain power.Every wonder what makes you YOU? Her children's book Body Bugs: Invisible Creatures Lurking Inside You was a 2012 Book of Note with the Pennsylvania Librarian Association.
Any tumor may compress regions of the brain and increase internal pressure, upsetting the organ's delicate functional balance.
Ei au cerut ajutorul unor anumi?i exper?i in domeniul neuro?tiin?ei ?i unor oameni de rand pentru unele experimente care au fost prezentate in serial.
Another neuron responded only to pictures of Halle Berry—even when she was masked as Catwoman. The patterns of flashes are giving them new insights into how all brains process information. There was a countdown from five, a low a€?pow,a€? and a dull thump in the center of my chest. Chiar ?i telespectatorii (eu, voi) vor fi testa?i ?i supu?i unor anumite experimente mentale.
Follow-up studies suggest that relatively few neurons are involved in representing any given person, place, or concept, making the brain staggeringly efficient at storing information.
As detailed in the February 2014 National Geographic, Donoghue and Koch will reveal mind-blowing insights on how the brain turns thought into voluntary behaviors and how that knowledge can be used to help persons with disabilities.
So, fire up your neurons, hang on to your hippocamus, and join us on a rockin' ride through the twists and turns of the cerebral superhighway to discover how this amazing organ—that's about the size of a grapefruit and looks like a grey sponge—works! Join the conversation with the article’s writer Carl Zimmer, as they discuss what their discoveries are revealing about our minds—and human consciousness. Back then it was used to test half-ton ordnance; now it serves to study controlled explosives used by soldiers to blast holes through walls and doors in combat areasa€”standard practice in modern warfare. Department of Defense, between 2001 and 2014 some 230,000 soldiers and veterans were identified as suffering from so-called mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), mostly as a result of exposure to blast events. The variety of symptoms associated with the conditiona€”headache, seizures, motor disorders, sleep disorders, dizziness, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, mood changes, and cognitive, memory, and speech difficultiesa€”the fact that they resemble symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the fact that exposure to blast events often was not logged in the early years of the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq make it impossible to pin down casualty figures.Despite the prevalence of the condition, the most fundamental questions about it remain unanswered. Not only is there no secure means of diagnosis, but there are also no known ways to prevent it and no cure. Ignition sparks a chemical reaction, an instantaneous expansion of gases that pushes out a spherical wall of gas and air faster than the speed of sound.
Then comes the secondary blast effect, a rush of supersonic wind that floods the vacuum, hurling and fragmenting objects it encounters, weaponizing debris as high-speed, penetrating projectiles.Marines on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009 noticed a motorcyclist pass by, and moments later an IED exploded. The quaternary blast effects are everything elsea€”fire that burns, chemicals that sear, dust that asphyxiates.The mystery lies in the effects of the primary blast. Theories range wildly: Is it the shock wavea€™s entry to the brain through cranial orificesa€”eyes, nose, ears, moutha€”that causes injury, and if so, how? Or is external shock pressure on the chest channeled inside vasculature up through the neck and into the brain? Does the transmission of complex wave activity by the skull into the semiliquid brain cause an embolism?
The majority of soldiers diagnosed with blast-induced neurotrauma have also been hurled or rattled by blast wind. Is military neurotrauma, then, simply an exotic form of concussion?The tests in Colorado arose from a landmark 2008 study by the military of breachers, those soldiers whose job is to set explosives and who for years had been reported to suffer a high incidence of neurological symptoms. Marine Corps Weapons Training Battalion Dynamic Entry School, followed instructors and students over a two-week explosives training course. It turned out that for days after the larger explosions, breachers reported dull aches in the chest and back a€?like someone had punched them,a€? as well as headaches that a€?started with shooting pains in the forehead, progressed down the temples, behind the ears, and up through the jaw line.a€?Blast in the BrainStudies show that the key mechanical factors associated with brain injury are an increase in intracranial pressure and the braina€™s motion relative to the skull. Pressure in the brain returns to normal after only a few milliseconds, but brain motion can occur for hundreds of milliseconds after impact. Source: Andrew Merkle, Johns hopkins University Applied Physics LaboratoryMore significantly, neurobehavioral tests administered before and after the course showed a a€?slight indication of declining performance among the instructors,a€? who typically are exposed to more blast events than students are. This suggested that repetitive exposure even to low-level blastsa€”even over just a two-week perioda€”could be damaging.The breacher study went some way toward bringing blast-induced neurotrauma into focus. As Lee Ann Young, one of the studya€™s leaders, noted, it motivated six follow-on research initiatives that continue today. Previously, many in the military and medical communities had found it difficult to believe that a low-energy blast could inflict significant injury.
Christian Macedonia (Ret.), the former medical sciences adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told me. Many neurologists now advocate more precise terminology for this signature injury of the recent wars, such as a€?blast-induced traumatic brain injurya€? or a€?blast-induced neurotraumaa€?a€”and all I spoke with objected to the qualifier a€?mild.a€?In the bunker we waited for the smoke to clear, then ventured into still-singed air. The buildinga€™s door had been blown off, the opposite wall was in splinters, the struts were broken, and much of the frame was askew.
Pressure gauges at head and chest level had recorded the back-blast as it bounced off corners and walls. The explosion itself had been preserved on video, which replayed events, at two to three frames a second, that had flashed by at a speed of 14,000 frames a seconda€”the ignited fuse glowing red-gold in a long, snaking, elegant stem of light, then the gold-black bloom of the explosion: BOOM. Broken ConnectionsDiffusion tensor imaging tractography dramatically reveals the breakdown of neural connections in the brain of a civilian victim of severe traumatic brain injury (bottom), compared with a healthy brain (top).
Researchers in the Military Brain Injury Studies Program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences plan to similarly map the brains of deceased veterans of recent campaigns to assess blast effects. Edlow, Massachusetts General Hospital; Reproduced with permission from the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental NeurologyShot 52 was one of a series intended to cast light on the phenomenon of back-blast, the reflection of blast pressure off a surface. Other studies are examining the length of blast exposure and the frequency and type of blast. Studying a computer-generated graph, he traced the spikes and dips of pressure that oscillated through five cycles before flattening out. One hundred milliseconds is the minimum time it takes for a human to react to any stimulusa€”it had taken less than five milliseconds for the shock wave to hit the gauges on the walls. As Needham pointed out, a€?Anywhere in that rooma€”ita€™s on you.a€?Fatherly in manner, with white hair and a full white beard, Needham had been described to me by a colleague as a a€?cross between Santa Claus and Eeyore,a€? an impression that belied his stature as a high wizard in the black art of explosives.
With degrees in physics and astrophysics, he is an authority on modeling all variety of blast events and the dynamics of blast reflection, and he spoke with wistful nostalgia of the big a€?rumble boomsa€? of high-ordnance tests of years past. How a blast is reflected is determined not only by whether a space is square or rectangular, and the ceiling high or low, but also by where the wall studs lie, the number and placement of doors and windows, whether there are gaps or holes in the enclosure, whether there is furniture in the room.


A shock wave bouncing off a rigid surface, whether of thin plaster or of steel, can be more powerful than the original wave. Every feature in a landscape, every gesture a person makes, shapes a blast event.A terse conclusion of the original 2008 breacher injury study cited a€?clear evidencea€? that recommended safe standoff distances required revision.
Encompassing a multitude of variables, calculations about blast events are elaborately difficult, and only in recent years has it been possible to make the kind of models Needham is now devising.
Or, as another blast authority put it, a€?Until very recently, the dominant force that caused all this damage was basically magic.a€?Keen interest in blast effects began in World War I, when the signature mechanism of injury wasa€”as in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistana€”blast force, mostly in the form of exploding artillery shells. The term a€?shell shocka€? first appeared in February 1915 in an article in the Lancet that examined the case studies of three British soldiers exposed to blast events who complained of sleeplessness, reduced visual field, and loss of taste, hearing, and memory. Initially their affliction was believed to be a a€?commotional disorder,a€? referring to agitation of the brain caused by a blast shock wave. The term a€?shell shock,a€? implying that the shell burst itself was the cause of the damage, fell out of favor. In the following decades the shell-shocked soldier came to symbolize the emotional damage that is the cost of war, and medical research ceased to investigate the possibility that blast-force injury might be physical. Case reports give details of veterans sunk in lethargy or melancholy, a€?muddleda€? in thought, shaking convulsively on street corners, or going a€?around the benda€? and exploding in paranoid acts of anger. Atomic Energy Commission created the Blast Biology Program to test on various animals very large explosions that simulated the effects of nuclear events. Oxen, sheep, pigs, goats, dogs, cats, monkeys, rats, hamsters, rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs were subjected to live blasts or placed in shock tubes.
Kevin a€?Kita€? Parker, the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard, told me. Army infantry officer who served two tours in Afghanistan, where he saw and felt the effects of blast force. He began by reviewing the science for a class of proteinsa€”integrinsa€”that transmit mechanical forces into cells.
Using specially designed magnetic tweezers and a device resembling a miniature jackhammer to simulate the abrupt stretching and high-velocity compression of blast effects, Parker and a small team of students subjected engineered tissues of rat neurons, or nerve cells, to blastlike assault. The integrins on the cell surface initiated a cascade of effects culminating in a dramatic retraction of axons, the long tendrils that serve as a neurona€™s signaling mechanism.By working at the cellular level, Parkera€™s team sidestepped two central difficulties of any blast researcha€”namely, that one cannot expose humans to blast events and that animals are poor substitutes for humans. On the other hand, results from cells in a petri dish cannot be extrapolated to a human being.The array of theories neurologists are actively pursuing stands as eloquent testimony to how wide open blast-induced neurotrauma research is. Lee Goldstein, of Boston University School of Medicine, has taken a very different approach. At 52, he has the lean build, long dark hair and beard, and intensity of purpose of a desert prophet.In May 2012 he published the results of studies that examined a possible association between blast-induced neurotrauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that he and his team discovered in the autopsied brains of four military veterans with blast exposure.
Goldsteina€™s co-author, Ann McKee, of VA Boston, had been studying CTE in the autopsied brains of football players and other athletes.
First reported as a a€?punch drunka€? syndrome in boxers in 1928, CTE is associated with athletes who sustain repetitive head trauma. An incurable and ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disease, CTE leads to cognitive disability and dementia. The disease can be detected only at autopsy and is revealed by abnormal tangles of a protein called tau.To test the theory that blast exposure may have triggered CTE pathology, Goldsteina€™s team exposed mice to a single shock-tube blast that simulated the effects of a moderate-size explosive. High-speed cameras captured the resultsa€”a rapid bobble-head effect, as the heads of the mice shook back and forth in reaction to the force.
In 30 milliseconds, far less than the blink of an eye, the oscillating wind had spiked and dipped nine times. Critics of the study, however, point out that three of the four human cases that inspired the shock-tube experiments had experienced additional trauma unrelated to blast and that tests on mannequin models indicated that the bobble-head effect was not usual in the field.Some researchers believe that ita€™s a mistake to focus only on the head. The blast pressure wave hits the chest and abdomen a€?like a huge fist,a€? Cernak says, transferring its kinetic energy to the body.
By contrast, protection of the thorax significantly reduced inflammation in the brain, suggesting that the blast-body interaction has a crucial role in blast-induced brain injury.As of now, the only wholly reliable method of directly examining the biological effects of blast force on the human brain is autopsy.
In 2013 the Department of Defense established a brain tissue repository to advance the study of blast-induced neurotrauma in service members.
Overseen by Daniel Perl, professor of pathology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, Maryland, the repository has been receiving brains donated by service membersa€™ families. This is an injury that appears to be unique to military experience.a€?If hea€™s correct, the findings will have major implications not only for treatment but also for diagnosis and prevention. In June 2011 the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study that for the first time succeeded in detecting structural abnormalities in the brains of blast-exposed soldiers by using an advanced form of MRI. Evidence of brain white-matter damage was detected in 34 veterans with exposure to one or more blast events, compared with 18 veterans without blast exposure.a€?Wea€™d told the veterans to give us their best estimates of how many blast-related mild traumatic brain injuries they had sustained during their military careers,a€? said Eric Petrie, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington and the lead author of the study. Some in the study were five to six years out from the time of their last blast exposure,a€? he said, summing up one of the fundamental problems of all diagnostic studies that depend on self-reporting.
Explosively formed penetrators, a type of IED used to pierce armored vehicles, can be assembled for a few dollars. Disks that become bullet-shaped and molten hot as they fly through the air, these explosive projectiles can, in the words of one ordnance expert, cut through an armored car a€?like a hot butter knife.a€? In this way 25 dollarsa€™ worth of technology can take out a million-dollar armored vehicle and kill or inflict grievous injury on the soldiers in it.
The cost of their medical carea€”possibly over decadesa€”will add significantly to the economic disparity. But seven months after returning from Iraq, he had a seizure while driving, and a grand mal seizure six months after that.
Now rebuilding his life as a student and volunteer firefighter, his daunting regimen of 15 different medications is down to three, but the headaches and migraines have not gone away.Enrique Trevino, who at the age of 21 survived a massive IED ambush in Afghanistan one night two weeks before he was to return home, remembers only the bright flash and his buddies screaming his name. Nobody saw.a€?And nobody saw it for my brother-in-law, Ron Haskins, from whom I first learned about breachers. After retiring from the Army Special Forces, he worked with a private security force in Iraq.
He sustained two IED attacks that left him with headaches and ringing in his ears so loud he was unable to sleep. On his return to the United States, he worked for the Department of Homeland Security and conducted breacher training courses for a security company of his own.
One night in the summer of 2011, for reasons no one could fathom, he picked up a gun and ended his life.a€?We should get you guys to come out to New Mexico so you can see the devices, have explosions go off,a€? Ron had told me about a training course he led.




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Comments

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