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V.S. Ramachandran: 3 Clues to Understanding Your Brain

Vilayanur Ramachandran tells us what brain damage can reveal about the connection between celebral tissue and the mind, using three startling delusions as examples.

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Introduction

Brain and spinal injuries physically damage nerve cells. They can also prevent nerve cells from receiving blood, resulting in cell death, in addition to the damage nerve cells suffer from injury-related trauma. Even after an accident, damage can spread to surrounding tissue, making things worse with time. These changes can cause a variety of symptoms including paralysis, compromised speech, and emotional and memory problems. Scientists are actively searching for new ways to keep cells alive in damaged environments, prompt the brain and spinal cord to generate new cells, and create better rehabilitation programs to help the millions worldwide living with neurological injuries. While advances in imaging technology have enabled physicians to pinpoint injury locations faster, molecular and cellular tools are helping scientists identify chemicals that can protect the brain and spinal cord from further damage. Ongoing research aims to reawaken brain circuits silenced by stroke or injury and drive the creation of new ones.

Discoveries

Talking Heads: Rebuilding Language After Stroke

Source: Wellcome Trust
Stroke can affect any part of the brain, resulting in the death of tissue vital for the brain’s normal functions, including language. In this film we meet Tess and Michael, who have each had a stroke affecting language in very different ways.

Stroke - Restructuring the Brain

Source: Wellcome Trust
Neuroscientists are exploring the structural changes in the brain’s white and grey matter that underlie learning. Understanding the precise cellular nature of those changes may improve diagnosis of brain damage and therapeutic interventions in stroke.

Injury in the News

100,000-Year-Old Case of Brain Damage Discovered

Source: LiveScience
Date: 23 July 2014
An ancient skeleton unearthed in Israel may contain the oldest evidence of brain damage in a modern human.

Safety Groups Target Brain Impact of Headers in Soccer

Source: USA Today
Date: 25 June 2014
A new concussion safety campaign is being mounted to delay use of headers by U.S. youth players until high school age.

Repairing the Brain

Source: Newsweek
Date: 2 June 2014
Revolutionary implants funded by the Pentagon raise hopes for millions with degenerative brain disorders.