Neuroscience

A new hope in treating neurodegenerative disease

Korean researchers have identified the inhibition of autophagy in microglia, brain immune cells. It is expected to help develop treatments for Alzheimer's disease which occur due to the inhibition of autophagy.

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Moving more in old age may protect brain from dementia

Older adults who move more than average, either in the form of daily exercise or just routine physical activity such as housework, may maintain more of their memory and thinking skills than people who are less active than ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Scientists discover new brain changes in early Alzheimer's disease

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have discovered new changes occurring in the human brain in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers used a multiomic approach to determine RNA, protein, and ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

New genetic clues to early-onset form of dementia

Unlike the more common Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia tends to afflict young people. It accounts for an estimated 20 percent of all cases of early-onset dementia. Patients with the illness typically begin to ...

Cardiology

Enlarged heart linked to a higher risk of dementia

Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), also known as an enlarged heart, is associated with a nearly two times higher risk of dementia according to a recent University of Minnesota School of Public Health study published in the ...

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Human brain

The human brain is the center of the human nervous system and is a highly complex organ. Enclosed in the cranium, it has the same general structure as the brains of other mammals, but is over three times as large as the brain of a mammal with an equivalent body size. Most of the expansion comes from the cerebral cortex, a convoluted layer of neural tissue that covers the surface of the forebrain. Especially expanded are the frontal lobes, which are involved in executive functions such as self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the brain devoted to vision is also greatly enlarged in humans.

Brain evolution, from the earliest shrewlike mammals through primates to hominids, is marked by a steady increase in encephalization, or the ratio of brain to body size. The human brain has been estimated to contain 50–100 billion (1011) neurons[citation needed], of which about 10 billion (1010) are cortical pyramidal cells.[citation needed] These cells pass signals to each other via approximately 100 trillion (1014)[citation needed] synaptic connections.

In spite of the fact that it is protected by the thick bones of the skull, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, and isolated from the bloodstream by the blood-brain barrier, the delicate nature of the human brain makes it susceptible to many types of damage and disease. The most common forms of physical damage are closed head injuries such as a blow to the head, a stroke, or poisoning by a wide variety of chemicals that can act as neurotoxins. Infection of the brain is rare because of the barriers that protect it, but is very serious when it occurs. More common are genetically based diseases[citation needed], such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others. A number of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and depression, are widely thought to be caused at least partially by brain dysfunctions, although the nature of such brain anomalies is not well understood.

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