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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

A hug is duct tape for the soul.

And why is it that some people recover and others do not?

From Science Alert:
The human brain is often referred to as the most complex organ on the planet. It is responsible for an incalculable number of tasks, thoughts and functions every second of everyday of our lives.

The brain controls our emotions, our perceptions and our memories. In short, it is what makes us who we are.

Within the human brain, there are up to one hundred billion nerve cells, each with countless connections to each other. This complexity of connectivity is responsible for the limitless imagination and creativity of the human race.

This same complexity is also the reason for deficits in memory and function following disease and traumatic brain injury, such as those resulting from car accidents or gunshot wounds.

Understanding the brain

Traditionally, the brain was thought to be a static organ incapable of regeneration after the completion of embryonic development.

But in the past few decades, there’s been a radical shift away from this belief: we now know the adult brain is a very “plastic” organ, capable of forming new nerve connections.

It even maintains the ability to continually produce new neurons or nerve cells throughout life.

So where do these new neurons come from? Most readers have undoubtedly heard of stem cells. Unfortunately, most public attention has focused on the controversial use and study of embryonic stem cells.

During development, embryonic stem cells give rise to all our organs, including the brain.

Stem cells' ability to turn into cells with specific roles in the body comes at the cost of the developing embryo and provides the basis for moral and ethical objections.

Much less media attention is given to the remarkable fact that the majority of organs in the adult body retain a small population stem cells specific only to that organ.

In an adult body, these cells continually replenish and replace cells lost during the normal course of living.

It has recently been discovered that the adult brain also contains a population of this kind of stem cell: researchers have identified the presence of neural stem cells in animal brains.

Not only have we shown that these cells are present in adult animals, we have also identified this type of cell in animals of very advanced age.

More importantly, we have demonstrated that it’s possible to activate these cells and produce new neurons after brain injury.

We are now trying to understand how these stem cells are activated – what are the mechanisms that trigger new nerve cell formation?

Answering this question will open up the possibility of developing new treatment strategies for all manner of neurodegenerative diseases, including but not limited to dementia, Huntington’s disease and depression.
Keep reading.

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