Your Weekly Dose of #5ThoughtsFriday: A description of what we think is important at BIAMD
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Here are the 5 things we thought were
worth sharing with you this week:
Photograph: Alex Lake for the Observer
Suffering a traumatic head injury is a terrifying ordeal, with serious implications for the way we live. Yet, strangely, there can be an upside. Here, four people talk about their experiences
Alpha Kabeja was cycling back from a job interview with MI6 on New Year’s Day 2012 when he was hit by a van and taken to hospital by ambulance. Actually, that’s not exactly right. He was taken to hospital in his private plane (the pilot parked it in one of the hospital quads). Wait, that’s not it either.

What actually happened on that cold, sunny day was that Kabeja came back from an all-night party, slung a bag of clothes over his shoulder, and cycled off to see his girlfriend. He was in a hurry, so when he realised he’d forgotten his helmet he thought, no bother. Moments from his home, he was hit by a van. The driver fled the scene, and Kabeja suffered a brain injury. The interview and the private plane? All fabricated memories produced by his brain as a way of making sense of his traumatic injury.

Our brains are miraculous and mysterious things. Everything we are and do, everything we feel and believe, is the product of electrical signals in our neural pathways. When something catastrophic happens to our brains, such as a car accident or a stroke, our personalities become rearranged, as though a burglar has rifled through our drawers. To the outsider, it may not appear anything has been stolen. But the owner of the house knows an intruder has been.

In the 18th century, Franz Joseph Gall suggested that our mental functions arose from the brain. Before then, physicians believed our intellectual capacities sprang from an abstract, metaphysical soul – or, failing that, from the heart, liver, or even the spleen. Gall was banned from Austria: the idea that our eternal souls sprang from a lump of flesh was deemed un-Christian, and a threat to public morality.

We know more about the brain today. We know that frontal lobe injuries make you short-tempered and irritable, and can lead to impulsive behaviour, such as gambling. We know that damage to the parietal lobe causes aphasia, or problems with language.

But there is still much we don’t know, or don’t want to know: although we no longer ban discussions of the brain’s functions as a threat to public morality, an old-fashioned squeamishness prevails when we’re confronted with the reality of a life-changing, but invisible, injury.

CLICK HERE to read four stories of adaptation and recovery.
A Researchers identify pathway that
drives sustained pain following injury
A toddler puts her hand on a hot stove and swiftly withdraws it. Alas, it's too late -- the child's finger has sustained a minor burn. To soothe the pain, she puts the burned finger in her mouth.
Withdrawing one's hand to avoid injury and soothing the pain of that injury are two distinct evolutionary responses, but their molecular origins and signaling pathways have eluded scientists thus far.

Now research led by investigators at Harvard Medical School, published Dec. 10 in Nature, identifies the nerve-signaling pathway behind the deep, sustained pain that sets in immediately following injury. The findings also shed light on the different pathways that drive reflexive withdrawal to avoid injury and the subsequent pain-coping responses.

Clinical observations of patients with neurological damage together with past research have outlined the distinct brain regions that differentiate between the reflexive withdrawal from a skin prick, for example, and the long-lasting pain arising from tissue injury caused by the pinprick.

The new study, however, is the first one to map out how these responses arise outside the brain.

CLICK HERE for more from this important study.
Zombie cells are the ones that can't die but are equally unable to perform the functions of a normal cell. These zombie, or senescent, cells are implicated in a number of age-related diseases.
In a mouse model of brain disease, scientists report that senescent cells accumulate in certain brain cells prior to cognitive loss. By preventing the accumulation of these cells, they were able to diminish tau protein aggregation, neuronal death and memory loss.

"Senescent cells are known to accumulate with advancing natural age and at sites related to diseases of aging, including osteoarthritis; atherosclerosis; and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s," says  Darren Baker, Ph.D. , a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist and senior author of the paper. "In prior studies, we have found that elimination of senescent cells from naturally aged mice extends their healthy life span."

In the current study, the team used a model that imitates aspects of Alzheimer's disease.

"We used a mouse model that produces sticky, cobweb like tangles of tau protein in neurons and has genetic modifications to allow for senescent cell elimination," explains first author Tyler Bussian, a  Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student who is part of Dr. Baker's lab. "When senescent cells were removed, we found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, eliminated signs of inflammation, did not develop neurofibrillary tangles, and had maintained normal brain mass." They also report that pharmacological intervention to remove senescent cells modulated the clumping of tau proteins.

Also, the team was able to identify the specific type of cell that became senescent, says Dr. Baker.

CLICK HERE  to learn more about senescent cells.
2) What We Are Using To Read That You Might Enjoy
Thanks to everyone who participated in our
2018 #5Thoughts Fanatics
We look forward to continue the tradition into the new year.

Congratulations to Our Final #5Thoughts Fanatic
Giveaway Winner of 2018.

Tracy Lawry

the winner of this week's
Kindle Reader Giveaway.
 If you decide to buy you didn't get under the tree this year, please don't forget to use  Amazon Smile  and select the Brain Injury Association of Maryland as your donation beneficiary.
5) Quote We Are Contemplating...

“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day. ” 


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