Ode to a Dreamer of Dreams

Dear Dr. Sacks, Like the late Carl Sagan, you have a gentle way of magnifying everything into brilliant resolution and reminding us of our place in the universe. I always look forward to reading your books and opinion pieces, as you put which things matter into perspective. Last month, I was quite delighted to read …

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Top Ten Favorite Scientists

I was recently asked to make a list of my top ten favorite scientists, and after some deliberation, these are the people I chose: Richard Feynman: While Feynman made outstanding contributions to our understanding of quantum physics and to the Manhattan project, he is perhaps most remembered for his teaching as evidenced by the still-beloved …

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Compiled List of Medical Reads

MissMedDiva

Hey everyone! As promised, here is the list of compiled suggested medical reads from everyone. I don’t know about you, but I want to buy all of these books and start reading right now! Thank you to everyone that sent me suggested books – this list came from all of you! Take a peek, enhance your library, and learn even more about the amazing and fascinating medical world. At the very bottom of the list is a section titled “Textbooks/References” for pre-meds and medical students. Enjoy!

Why medicine?: And 500 Other Questions for the Medical School and Residency Interviews – Sujay Kansagra, M.D.

Everything I learned in Medical School: Besides All The Book Stuff – Sujay Kansagra, M.D.

Baby Doctor: A Pediatrician’s Training – Perri Klass, M.D.

Intensive Care: The Story of a Nurse  – Echo Heron

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

When the Air Hits…

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Physiology Notes

I haven't had much time to write lately, as schoolwork and doctor's appointments have kept me busy. For those of you who are taking the MCAT and/or a physiology class soon, I have typed up my physiology notes on the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, sensory physiology, and muscle physiology. All images are taken from …

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A Beautiful Mind, A Dysfunctional Synapse

The dopaminergic projection pathways in the midbrain also play a crucial role in the development of schizophrenia. The midbrain has two distinct dopaminergic projection pathways: the nigrostriatal pathway and the mesolimbic pathway. The former is involved in motor control and is associated with Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disease (after Alzheimer’s disease), while the latter is involved with addiction and reward behaviors and is therefore implicated in the development of schizophrenia.

The nigrostriatal pathway is compromised in Parkinson’s disease, which is often treated with L-DOPA, the precursor to dopamine, in order to stimulate the biosynthesis of dopamine within nerve terminals (dopamine is not administered because it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier). However, this increased biosynthesis of dopamine often leads to overstimulation of the mesolimbic pathway, which also utilizes dopamine, manifesting in schizophrenia-like side effects. Similarly, antagonists of the D2 dopamine receptor (called neuroleptics) used in the treatment of schizophrenia often result in side effects resembling Parkinson’s disease due to the unintended suppression of the nigrostriatal pathway. Abnormalities in other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and glutamate, may also contribute to schizophrenia.

Knowing Neurons

JohnForbesNashJr2_300 John Forbes Nash, Jr.
Image courtesy of Princeton University.

“I felt like I might get divine revelation by seeing a certain number; a great coincidence could be interpreted as a message from heaven.”

– John Nash in “A Brilliant Madness”

John Forbes Nash Jr. was a 20-year-old graduate student when he came up with the mathematical theories that would win him the Nobel Prize in Economics 50 years later. His mathematical insight into game theory is often over-shadowed by accounts of the eccentric behavior, paranoia, and delusions that characterized his schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia manifests in clinical terms as fixed beliefs that are over-imaginative and accompanied by experiences of hauntingly real perceptions of something not actually present. These hallucinations often take the form of auditory or visual disturbances and can be accompanied by a lack of motivation and clinical depression. In his own words in the documentary “A Brilliant Madness,” Nash…

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LTP: When Neurons Make a Long-term Commitment

An excellent explanation of long-term potentiation (LTP)!

Knowing Neurons

A few months ago, I got a new smart phone that had a bigger screen and a different operating system. For a while, I was annoyed that I made so many typos when texting and emailing, but now I’m completely competent with my new phone! It even feels strange to use the old one. In neuroscience, an experience like this is called synaptic plasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to change as a result of experience.

As Juan noted in his latest post, your brain really is a lot like a sponge. It is flexible and often changes the strength of its neural connections and networks. The more you use a particular neural network, the stronger it becomes because you are reinforcing that connection. For example, as I familiarize myself with my new cell phone, I reinforce the neural circuits that require me to become faster and…

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Live: “Better, Stronger, Faster” – A World Science Festival Event

Better, Stronger, Faster: The Future Of The Bionic Body Date: Saturday May 31, 2014 Time: 02:00 PM-03:30 PM Venue: Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College Moderator: Bill Blakemore Participants: John Donoghue, Jennifer French, Joseph J. Fins, P. Hunter Peckham The deaf begin to hear. The blind begin to see. Once damaged hearts begin to pump blood. Forget “wearable tech”—we’ve entered a zone where deploying …

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