We have all heard horror stories about patients who remember or feel surgeries, even though they were under general anesthesia. While these cases are fairly rare, they shed light on the notion that when it comes to certain general anesthetics, our brains might be in more of a sleep and dreamlike state than previously realized.
Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland have revealed that even under general anesthesia, some parts of the human brain are still able to process sensations from their surrounding environment. This will occur even when the patient cannot recall any of it upon waking.
For many years, medical doctors and research scientists believed the human brain had a limited capacity to undergo self-renewal as it aged, where unlike other organs of the body, loss of a cell to death or damage is not followed by growth of replacements. But according to a recently-released study, the neurons making up the bulk of the brain might actually be replenished well into adulthood. As such, perhaps the public service messages advising people that you only get a fixed amount of brain cells and therefore should not use illicit drugs and alcohol because they kill neurons may be in error.
To better understand the research and its significance, here is some background information on the architecture of the human brain.
Scientists Believe Blood From the Young Can Regenerate the Brains of the Old, and They're About to Test It on Humans
Building on previous research into aging brains, new research conducted at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), published in the journal Cell, has discovered that the blood of the young can regenerate the brains of the old. One day, this might enable the creation of therapies to treat age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. However, before you go looking for a teenager to harvest blood from, keep in mind that the research has only been tested in mice. However, there is a clinical trial underway by a Monterey, California-based startup known as Ambrosia, where you can attempt to young-down your brain with youthful blood transfusions for a cool $8000.
The UCSF researchers, led by neurobiologist Saul Villeda, drew upon the effects of a recently discovered cellular enzyme known as Tet2 (ten eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase 2), an epigenetic regulator, which makes chemical annotations to parts of DNA that change the activity of many different genes, including some that help prevent cognitive decline in the aging brain. Many of the genes it marks are indicated in increased risks of common age-related health conditions (which also are common killers), such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
When young people learn about their five senses, they learn the basics: which parts of their body allow them to see, smell, taste, hear and touch. But sight for one Australian seven-year-old is much more complicated. A recent case study shows that he is the first known person to be able to see despite damage to the “seeing” part of his brain.
Not only can the boy, known as B.I., see, he can see better than many people with normal brains. He’s simply a bit near-sighted.
This is a tale of two children.
Their brain scans came to the attention of Professor Bruce Perry, chief of psychiatry at Texas Children’s Hospital. The difference between the two scans tells a horrifying story. One looks small and, for lack of a better word, desiccated. The other looks like the brain scan of an adult, in miniature.
Ever driven a long distance and been shocked to arrive at your destination with no memory of the trip itself? Turns out a wandering mind is nothing to worry about, and that daydreaming may, in fact, be linked to a brain mechanism that spares you from focusing on the daily grind.
A new study sheds further light on the little-known workings of the brain’s default mode network (DMN), a group of interconnected brain regions believed to be responsible for daydreaming and mind wandering. Its results provide compelling evidence that, in addition to helping spur “eureka” moments in well-known daydreamers from Einstein to Archimedes, the DMN plays an integral role in our ability to perform tasks on autopilot, allowing us to guess likely outcomes ahead of time, and thus devote fewer mental resources to mundane tasks.
It sounds like a scene from a science fiction movie or spooky Halloween tale: A hospital patient dies, but can hear everything going on around them, including being pronounced dead.
It turns out, this actually happens.