Regenerating brains….. NOT :(

This is cell CIO 4-5-1, one of my favorite cells of all time. I injected this cell with dye in the late 1980s and I still remember the joy that I felt when I found it under the microscope. Two readers have asked whether the brain regenerates. The answer is “No.” Let’s start by defining regeneration. A salamander that loses […]

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Our remarkable oculomotor system

Ryan McDonald and Andy Poulos (hidden) provide “oculomotor” control for two cameras. I wrote in a previous post about being confined to a tiny space as we film Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life. Now I am told that my confinement has been imposed upon me because I pace too much. Why would pacing be a problem? Well, […]

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Filming a MOOC

My view from where I stand at the front of the set. From left to right: Ryan McDonald, Emily Bembeneck, Marlon Aguilar. Not pictured: Andy Poulos, me. Organizing, designing and filming “my” MOOC, Understanding the Brain, has been an amazing experience. I put my in quotations because the MOOC is definitely a team effort. Not only are others entirely responsible […]

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The latest CTE news

I read with dismay the latest news that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been identified in a young man who played mostly amateur soccer. Patrick Grange played soccer throughout his childhood and in college and even in semi-pro leagues. He developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in his mid-20s and died at age 29. His brain was studied and the pathology reported is a grade 2 case (out of a 4-point scale) of CTE. Here I want to make two points. First, this news further deepens parents’ and young people’s dilemmas regarding sports. The most commonly played organized sport among youth in the world, even in the latecomer U.S., is soccer (or football in the parlance of the world outside of the U.S.). Much was made of Patrick Grange’s penchant for head-butting the ball. However, it is not clear at all that Mr Grange’s CTE was a result of his head-butting proclivities. His parents report that he suffered from at least 3 serious concussions. Regardless of which injuries were in the straw-pile that broke the camel’s back, I think that most parents recognize that soccer can be a dangerous sport. Weighing the positive physical and social benefits of team sports against the potential for future disability is a personal judgment call. The influence of future harm upon the final decision is greatly impacted by discounting as discussed in a previous post. The second point to be made here is the connection between […]

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Mammograms and a “history of breast cancer”

I was talking about my previous post (http://wp.me/p4e7xm-1H) with a colleague. We were discussing how the cautions against regular mammograms probably do not hold for individuals with a family history of breast cancer. My colleague then pointed out that in fact women’s histories have been contaminated by the high number of women “successfully” treated for tumors that would likely have […]

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