Shootin' from the Hippocampus

  • Published5 Sep 2012
  • Reviewed5 Sep 2012
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Saddle up and ride into the wild west of neuroscience. Follow Sheriff Wyatt ERP as he saves the Pitui-Territory from imminent peril, and learn about stress and the brain in this classic western-style 2012 Brain Awareness Video created by Brittany Smith and Eric Barker from Eugene, Ore.


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Narrator: Howdy, folks! This here’s Sheriff Wyatt ERP an’ his Deputy, Ron, here ta spin ya a yarn about stress an’ the brain. The Sheriff's been done run raggid by the bandits, Abner Malady and the HPA Axis of Evil, they've been terrorizin’ the folks of the Pitui-territory. So now, Wyatt an’ Ron are scopin’ the glandscape, searchin’ fer more trouble. 

Sarah: Help! Help! Save me! Help somebody save me! 

Ron: Holy Attractive Captive, Wyatt! 

Wyatt: We gotta save Miss Tonin fore she becomes a golgi-smear! Giddy-up! 

Narrator: Neurons are active brain cells. They communicate with one another by “firing” off chemicals called neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. 

Wyatt: I do miss your father, Old Ron. But I’m glad I got you, Deputy, I'll call you New Ron. 

Ron: Please don’t call me that. 

Narrator: When folks are stressed, the Amygdala says how much stress to feel, then the HPA Axis kicks in to gear. That’s the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal parts o’ the brain. They start pumping stress hormones, like cortisol, ta help ya fight off any danger. A little cortisol will help, but too much will damage the Hippocampus! 

Abner: [Wicked cackle.] 

Narrator: The hippocampus is a small bit o’ the brain, but it’s mighty important. You can’t make a new memory without it, and it puts the brakes to those stress hormones from the HPA Axis. It’s also real sensitive to damage by cortisol. The hippocampus can halt the cortisol, if it ain't already been damaged by it. 

Amy: Stop! Stop! Sheriff Wyatt! Halt!! 

Pierce: Stop! Stop! Sheriff Wyatt! Wait! 

Narrator: Wyatt and Ron were nearly to the tracks when townsfolk Pierce and Amy flagged them down with an urgent message from Abner. 

Amy: Sheriff Wyatt! A neurotransmission has just arrived for you! 

Abner: Sheriff Wyatt, the time has come to choose. Save the woman you love, triggering my TNT to blow the bridge, and destroy the oncoming train. Or sacrifice Sarah to save the bridge, the runaway train, and the passengers. [Evil cackle.] 

Amy: I don’t want to place too fine a point on this, Sheriff, but you should be feeling a very strong stress response at this moment. 

Wyatt: [takes a deep breath] All right. Amy G’Dala, get the mayor on the telegraph, tell him there's a neuroblastoma set to ignite the Corpus Callosum Bridge. Pierce, you disarm that TNT. New Ron, release Sarah Tonin. I’m gonna stop the Hippocampus Express! 

Narrator: Upon seeing the coaltisol-loaded engine, the Sheriff, too, felt over-stressed. He din't have a clue how ta stop that runaway train. 

Sarah: You’re quite the little Action Potential Hero! 

Ron: [Embarrassed noise.] 

Narrator: Meanwhile, Pierce ain’t bin able to stop the impending cataclysm. 

Pierce:[Blowing noise.] 

Narrator: After tryin’ and trying’, he determines to heroically drag the danger away from the bridge. 

[Explosion sound.] 


Narrator: Without the bridge, it was down to Wyatt to save the Hippocampus in time, but he couldn't do it alone. 

Everyone: The Pons! 

The Pons: Aaaayyy!  Wyatt, you gotta be cool! Relax, don’t come unhitched ‘cause of Abner! Take a deep breath an’ just calm down! 

Wyatt: [Deep, calming breathing... Happy gasp.] 

The Pons: Aaayy! Looks like ya've got a plan to stop the Hippocampus Express! 

Narrator: Wyatt got all the folks together an’ uncoupled that engine full a’ coaltisol, so it couldn’t damage the rest of the Hippocampus Express. Then they used their strength ter try an’ slow down the train, car by car. 

Everyone: Yaaaay! 

Sarah: [Kissing noises.] Oh, Sheriff Wyatt, you saved us all! 

Wyatt: Aw shucks. Sarah Tonin, you make me feel good! Train might be a little worse for the wear, but in time, we’ll get’er fixed up and runnin’ again. 

Narrator: Yup, with the help of his friends and some hard work, Wyatt ERP was able to stop runaway stress from destroying the Hippocampus Express. 

On the next episode of Wyatt ERP… Pierce’s TNT injury. 

Wyatt: If only there were a way to look at the damage INSIDE. 

Female voice: Mr. I! 

Pierce: Would I do it all over again? That’s a no-brainer.