Showing posts with label brain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brain. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The inside story of the brain revealed at new exhibition

A major new exhibition looks at some of the great and gruesome things we have done to our grey matter over the course of human history.

Albert Einstein’s genius brain is going on display at a major new exhibition telling the remarkable story of our grey matter.

The exhibition, Brains: The Mind As Matter, looks at what we have done to our noggins over the course of human history in 150 objects, including art, manuscripts, artifacts, videos and photography.

The brain’s secrets continue to confound and inspire us, despite our attempts over the centuries to manipulate and study it.

As well as Einstein’s brain, which research shows had larger-than-normal regions for dealing with numbers, there are also specimens of the founder of computing, Charles Babbage, and serial killer William Burke.

Artworks on the theme of the brain by contemporary artists including Helen Pynor, Andrew Carnie, Annie Cattrell, Susan Aldworth, Jonathon Keats and Katharine Dowson will also be on display.

The exhibtition takes us through journey around our brains, and the emotions and ethics associated with what we do to it.

The brain contains 100 billion nerve cells and some 100 trillion synapses or neural connections. It cannot be transplanted.

The exhibition has four sections:

* Measuring / Classifying, looks at our attempts to understand the relationship between the size and shape of the brain and how it functions

* Mapping / Modelling shows how we have tried to represent the anatomy of the brain from wax models to beautiful paintings and the latest kaleidoscopic Brainbow images of nerve cells

* Cutting / Treating explores how we have drilled and dissected the brain over thousands of years from early crude attempts to complex 3D images

* Giving /Taking traces the stories of brain harvesting, from the horrors of Nazi mass murder and experimentation to the hope offered by research into neuro-degenerative disorders

Marius Kwint, guest curator, said: "Brains shows how a single, fragile organ has become the object of modern society’s most profound hopes, fears and beliefs, and some of its most extreme practices and advanced technologies.

“The different ways in which we have treated and represented real, physical brains open up a lot of questions about our collective minds.”

Ken Arnold, head of public programmes at Wellcome Collection, added: "We all recognise its outline and know that it is the most important part of us; but for many, the brain remains as mysterious as it is beguiling.

“This exhibition presents brains of extraordinary people among other intriguing specimens, and showcases remarkable tales from more than 500 years of scientific investigation into the physical matter of the mind.”

News by Mirror

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Eating less keeps the brain young

A team of Italian researchers at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome have discovered that this molecule, called CREB1, is triggered by "caloric restriction" (low caloric diet) in the brain of mice. They found that CREB1 activates many genes linked to longevity and to the proper functioning of the brain.

This work was led by Giovambattista Pani, researcher at the Institute of General Pathology, Faculty of Medicine at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome, directed by Professor Achille Cittadini, in collaboration with Professor Claudio Grassi of the Institute of Human Physiology. The research appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Our hope is to find a way to activate CREB1, for example through new drugs, so to keep the brain young without the need of a strict diet," Dr Pani said.

Caloric restriction means the animals can only eat up to 70 percent of the food they consume normally, and is a known experimental way to extend life, as seen in many experimental models. Typically, caloric-restricted mice do not become obese and don't develop diabetes; moreover they show greater cognitive performance and memory, are less aggressive. Furthermore they do not develop, if not much later, Alzheimer's disease and with less severe symptoms than in overfed animals.

Many studies suggest that obesity is bad for our brain, slows it down, causes early brain aging, making it susceptible to diseases typical of older people as the Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. In contrast, caloric restriction keeps the brain young. Nevertheless, the precise molecular mechanism behind the positive effects of an hypocaloric diet on the brain remained unknown till now.

The Italian team discovered that CREB1 is the molecule activated by caloric restriction and that it mediates the beneficial effects of the diet on the brain by turning on another group of molecules linked to longevity, the "sirtuins". This finding is consistent with the fact that CREB1 is known to regulate important brain functions as memory, learning and anxiety control, and its activity is reduced or physiologically compromised by aging.

Moreover, Italian researchers have discovered that the action of CREB1 can be dramatically increased by simply reducing caloric intake, and have shown that CREB is absolutely essential to make caloric restriction work on the brain. In fact, if mice lack CREB1 the benefits of caloric restriction on the brain (improving memory, etc.) disappear. So the animals without CREB1 show the same brain disabilities typical of overfed and/or old animals.

"Thus, our findings identify for the first time an important mediator of the effects of diet on the brain," Dr. Pani said. "This discovery has important implications to develop future therapies to keep our brain young and prevent brain degeneration and the aging process. In addition, our study shed light on the correlation among metabolic diseases as diabetes and obesity and the decline in cognitive activities."

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