The Enlightened Machine Essay, Research Paper
Brain Science, also known as nerve science, has been classified as an adventure. It mostly deals with our behavior, as well as speech, movement, coordination, and basically any part of our life in general is associated with it. As we study the brain more and more over the last twenty years, we begin to discover more and more about it and its hundreds of thousands of complex and involved tasks. Let us start with the basics, the brain from the out side is about 3 pounds of tissue. It contains two main hemispheres, and is filled with a liquid known as cerebral spinal fluid, or CSF. Our brain has been compared to many different inventions over the past few centuries. As far back as the seventeenth century, our brain was compared to a water pump, thus being called the main “pump” of our body. Then, during the industrial revolution, it was contrasted to the Great Telegraph. And later on to the circuit board of a telephone that was invented by Alexander Bell. And now, it is being associated with the motherboard of a computer. Over all, our brain can be compared to a racing team; every member of it has a small job, but it is a very important one. Our brain does not function as only one part, every part is constantly being active with all the other parts.
Now the inside of our brain is completely different. There are different sections for different areas of sensory activities, and different areas for motor tasks. Our memories and our intense emotions are generally considered to be part of the brain right above the brain stem. The back of our brain, or the occipital region, mostly interprets our vision, or in other words it processes what our eyes have seen into impulses. The frontal lobe part of our brain deals with most of our thinking, but a lot of our strategies and complex thoughts occur there. There are two ribbon like parts of our brain, both of which go down vertically from superior and inferior portions. The more posterior ribbon is mostly associated with touch and pressure, while the more anterior portion deals with movement. The impulses are sent down the spinal cord to our motor units which in turn change them into our normal movements.
Now there are many different types of new and not so new machines that man has made over the last few centuries that allow us to take “pictures” of our brain and it also allows us to locate diseases and trouble areas. The two newer types of devices would be the CAT scan and the PET scan. The CAT scan is basically a type of x-ray for the brain that shows us where the neural tissue is located in our brain. The PET scan shows us where the more active areas and the less active areas of our brains are. The third type of test is the EEG. This is an older type of test, but recently it has undergo a few upgrades to it so that we are now able to connect a video monitor to it and that will allow all the information to be passed on through wires and then sent to the monitor where we will view the images in color. It used to be hooked up to a few pens, and they would scribble on paper the amount of activity. The smaller the lines, the less active that part of the brain is. On the monitors, however, activity is rated by color. The warmer colors, such as yellow and red, are the positive or active parts. The colder colors, such as blue and green, show areas of non-activity. Activity mostly starts in the back or posterior portion of our brain, where our eyes first sense the surroundings. Then, about three tenths of a second later, it reaches the top of the brain and then it fades away.
The first subject that was studied in the video was Jason. Jason is a 10 year old male that suffers from almost the purest form of epilepsy, also know as Pimy Epilepsy. He suffers from constant seizures and also he has developed not only an extreme hated but a fear of medicine. The reason being is that he has had some terrible side effects from the many different types of drugs and medications that were prescribed to him that now he is reluctant to take them at all. This is unwise for Jason, because he desperately needs to take his medications in order to survive, if not more. His seizures are uncontrollable for the most part, and he him self does not realize the fact that he is having a seizure only until it is over. During the seizure, his eyes seem to roll back, he has heavy, unsteady breathing, and even he has had uncontrollable facial twitching. One of the most unusually things is that he can remember things said to him during the seizure. During normal brain function, the neurons are switching on and off information at a normal, controlled pace, kinda like lights in a big city; but during a seizure, it is like a giant thunder storm. Everything goes off, the reactions and the amount of exchange that is taking place is amazing. The neurons however still never touch. One of the main reasons that the seizure might take place is because not enough inhibitors are present. Inhibitors are one of the two types of neurotransmitters that our body has. Inhibitors stop the impulse, and the other type excites the impulse. When Jason was taken to a hospital to be tested out on hate sort of drug he should take for his illness, he was asked to forcefully have seizures so that the doctors can determine the drug. He had sensors hooked up to different areas of his brain, then he was asked to breathe deeply till he had a seizure. At the end of the experiments, the doctors prescribed Velcrolic Acid, which produces Gabba, which in turn inhibits or stops the firing of electrons. Since he has started taking the medication, he has experienced less and less seizures. Before the Velcrolic Acid, he was having as many as sixty seizures a day, now its down to about eight a day. Also, the overall length of the seizures has dropped dramatically, where before they would last up to a minute and thirty seconds, to where now they average at about five seconds a piece. Doctors now presume that maybe someday he will be able to lead a normal life style, maybe even drive a car, but even for now, he is able to ride a bike and play basketball without having to worry about falling down and hurting himself through a seizure.
Dr. Fred Plum studies people in hospitals and tries to determine what sort of disorder they have by just the way they act, or the way they do not act in that case. He tries to advance his knowledge of the healthy brain by studying the unhealthy brain. He usually looks for inconsistencies, things that may be small, but may also have a huge difference in the way the person is. He took three different subjects; the first was an elderly woman that was laying in a bed. After he had talked with her a bit, asked a few questions, he pointed out that she did not move at all as she spoke, she just lay there motion less. He also noted that as she lay, her head and neck was upright, a task that would require large amounts of energy on any normal human being. His symptom: Parkinson disease, a movement disorder. The next patient was an elderly male who stated that he has had the symptoms for about 7 days now, he complained of a loss of movement on the right side of his body. The verdict was that he had a light stroke near the back of the brain. The third patient was a middle aged female that complained of her right side feeling weaker. She drags her right leg, her eyes seemed to wonder about, and he had a stiffness in her arm. Her verdict was unfortunately multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Eric Kendel is called a master of the history of brain science since the 1800s. A little after his time, a Vietnamese physician named Fransod believed he could localize distinctions of character in areas in the brain, if fact in very small and accurate areas in the brain. He believed that if there was a certain trait that you were good at, you would get a lump of some sort that had enlarged that part of your brain. Many people believed that, and soon there were cartoons drawn of people with huge lumps in certain areas of the brain. As many followers as he may have had, he also had critics. One of those, a certain Pier Florence, didn’t at all believe that any higher function could be localized on the cortex of the brain. He took romantic love as an example. The center for that feeling is in the posterior part of the brain, so he took a cat, surgically removed that part of the brain, and after the cat had recovered it was just as aroused and just as willing to mate with the opposite sex. Thus proving Fransod wrong and leaving a major new found truth about the brain with use. In 1861, Dr. Broker had encountered a patient named “Tan” that had difficulty with language, he could read and write just fine, but he could not say a whole sentence by him self. While studying this patient, Dr. Broker realized that language is localized in the frontal area of the left hemisphere of our brain. Another great scientist was Kahal. He was able to visualize a nerve cell and then explain how it worked. He explained to use for the first time about how exactly a neuron is shaped, the basic parts of it. He also stated that information was passed from one part of a neuron to the other. It is stated that he was able to look at a dead structure through a compound microscope, and then tell about its function.
Dr. Nancy Wexel was a doctor that spent most of her life studying Huntington’s Disease (HD).
One of her expeditions took her to a town in Venezuela where most of the population suffered from it. She was trying to find a certain trait, or gene, that can be linked to this disease so that the future children of the people living there could be maybe cured. The quest for a cure for HD for Dr. Wexel is quite personal, considering the fact that her mother and all of her brothers died from it which mean that now she has a fifty fifty chance in inheriting it. When she was younger, she was always told that she hasn’t a thing to worry about simply because of the fact that woman are not able to inherit this disease. But in recent studies, it has been proved that men and women suffer from this disease equally, and there is no know trait that can suddenly stop the cycle. Huntington’s Disease is a very serious and very deadly disease. Those who are affected are scared for the rest of there lives, as short as they are. They have uncontrolled facial expressions, irregular walking patterns, and also irregular upper body movements. There is no way for anyone to really know if they have the disease for sure until they start to show symptoms, in which case it is already to late to cure. The way that it effects the brain is that it starts to kill all the cells in the middle of the brain, and that basically then cancels out all of our brain activity. At first, Dr. Wexel planned that the quest for that certain gene that causes HD would take a minimal of ten to fifteen year. But much to everyone’s amazement it took them only four years to find. Now doctors are able to tell which people have inherited this gene and which haven’t.
Another type of brain disorder, or brain disease, is Hydrocephalus (HS). This disorder is has only effected infants, mostly newborns. In this type of disorder, the normal flow of Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) is blocked in one of the brains ventricles, thus causing pressure to build up in the brain, causing severe misshaping of the cranium. If left untreated, it will result in death. The ventricles, which usually are butterfly shaped, are enlarged to the point at which the brain itself is only about a centimeter thick. The Plasticity, or the way that normal brain activity is spread out, is thus disturbed. Most neural activity comes from the back, or posterior, area of the brain. One invention that has saved many individuals from this sort of terrible death is a plastic bypass. The procedure is quite simple, the neurologist takes the bypass, inserts it into the part of the brain of choice, then he simply bypasses all of the Cerebral Spinal Fluid to the heart, where it then gets pumped back into the body as it should normally. A special case that should be noted is that of a girl named Sharon. She was born with Hydrocephalus, and she had a bypass made, and that has saved her from death. But what is truly amazing is the fact that even though her brain is considerable smaller in area then ours, she has been rated in school as being above average. She seems to basically excel in everything she does. She has stated that “If someone says I can’t do something, I do it just to show them that they are wrong”. But her case really does not help much. If anything, it raises more questions then answers.
Agnes de Hille was a professional dancer that was rising to the top. She had everything she needed to be quite possibly the best. On May 15, 1975, she had a huge concert held for her. It was great, it was sold out and everyone that was anyone was going to be there. Before the she was going to go on stage, however, one of the dancers did not make it. So they sent an extra to her room. She said great, but we need to fill out the paper work and make a contract so that the union would allow the kid to go out. So she picked up a pen and the contract, and right when she was about to write, she realized that she can not write. She could not do anything with a pen. So then the ambulance came, and she was paralyzed in the ambulance on the right side of her body. She later recollects that through it all, she honestly felt no pain, she felt no sensation of any kind going through her body. In the hospital the doctors discovered that she had a hemorrhage in her brain. A vessel ruptured on the left side of her brain, the side that contains the neurons for motor control and for vision. The rupture squeezed most of the tissue around it, which is interesting and quite lucky for her because usually when something of this nature occurs, it does not just squeeze the tissue, but it cuts and breaks it. So that is one reason for her successful recovery. After she had gotten out of the hospital, she then went into rehabilitation. Although she can’t tell here her right hand is unless she looks at it, she has learned to use it. The same can be said for her right foot. Since she is mostly paralyzed on the right side of her body, she had to learn how to do basically every movement all over again, which includes walking. She also has to watch out how she eats, because her right side is paralyzed, if food happens to go there, she will without a doubt drop it out of her mouth. Because of the difficulty of all of this, most people who survive this types of diseases usually don’t walk or do much ever again, they just simply give up on life in general and just lay in bed all the time. But Agnes had the perseverance and the determination to do things on her own, she wants to be normal. Now, she teaches at a dance studio, and she has even mentioned that she may be planning to return to the stage herself, it all depends on how well she recovers.