Until the last few decades, the frontal lobes of the brain were shrouded in mystery and erroneously thought of as nonessential for normal function—hence the frequent use of lobotomies in the early 20th century to treat psychiatric disorders. Now a review publishing August 28 in the Cell Press journal Neuron highlights groundbreaking studies of patients with brain damage that reveal how distinct areas of the frontal lobes are critical for a person’s ability to learn, multitask, control their emotions, socialize, and make real-life decisions. The findings have helped experts rehabilitate patients experiencing damage to this region of the brain.
Although fairly common, damage to the prefrontal lobes (also called the prefrontal cortex) is often overlooked and undiagnosed because patients do not manifest obvious deficits. For example, patients with prefrontal brain damage do not lose any of their senses and often have preserved motor and language abilities, but they may manifest social abnormalities or difficulties with high-level planning in everyday life situations.
"In this review, we aimed to highlight a blend of new studies using cutting edge research techniques to investigate brain damage, but also to relate these new studies to original studies, some of which were published more than a century ago," said lead author Dr. Sara Szczepanski, of the University of California, Berkeley. "There is currently a large push to better understand the functions of the prefrontal cortex, and we believe that our review will make an important contribution to this understanding."
In addition to revealing the functions of different areas within the prefrontal cortex, studies have also demonstrated the flexibility of the region, which has helped experts optimize cognitive therapy techniques to enable patients with brain damage to learn new skills and compensate for their impairments.
The review indicates that by studying patients with damage to the prefrontal cortex, investigators can gain insights into this still-mysterious region of the brain that is critical for complex human skills and behavior.
In Inuit oral history, the Tuniit loom both large and small.
They inhabited the Arctic before the Inuit came, and they were a different stock of people — taller and stronger, with the muscularity of polar bears, the stories say. A Tuniit man could lift a 1,000 pound seal on his back, or drag a whole walrus. Others say the Tuniit slept with their legs in the air to drain the blood from their feet and make them lighter, so they could outrun a caribou.
But despite their superior strength and size, the Tuniit were shy. They were “easily put to flight and it was seldom heard that they killed others,” according to one storyteller in the book “Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut.” The Inuit took over the best hunting camps and displaced the conflict-averse Tuniit. Soon enough, these strange people disappeared from the land.
This week, the prestigious journal Science published an unprecedented paleogenomic study that resolves long-held questions about the people of the prehistoric Arctic. By analyzing DNA from 169 ancient human specimens from Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland, the researchers concluded that a series of Paleo-Eskimo cultures known as the Pre-Dorset and Dorset were actually one population who lived with great success in the eastern Arctic for 4,000 years — until disappearing suddenly a couple generations after the ancestors of the modern Inuit appeared, around 1200 A.D. There is no evidence the two groups interbred.
The Dorset are almost certainly the Tuniit of Inuit oral history.
“The outcome of the genetic analysis is completely in agreement, namely that the Paleo-Eskimos are a different people,” says Eske Willerslev, a co-author of the Science study.
It’s not the first time his genomic research has synchronized neatly with indigenous oral traditions.
In February, when Willerslev and colleagues announced they had sequenced the genome of a 12,500-year-old skeleton found in Montana, the results showed that nearly all South and North American indigenous populations were related to this ancient American. Shane Doyle, a member of the Crow tribe of Montana, said at the time: “This discovery basically confirms what tribes have never really doubted — that we’ve been here since time immemorial, and that all the artifacts and objects in the ground are remnants of our direct ancestors.” The sequenced genome of an Aboriginal from Australia also revealed findings in line with the local communities’ oral histories, Willerslev says.
“Scientists are sitting around and academically discussing different theories about peopling of Americas, and you have all these different views on how many migrations, and who is related to,” he says. “Then when we actually undertake the most sophisticated genetic analysis we can do today, and this is state of the art, genetically — we could have just have listened to them in the first place.”
He was laughing when he said that. But he and many others are serious when they say that scientists need to revaluate the weight they give traditional indigenous knowledge.
“This is a pretty common theme. It’s really surprising that scientists and general commentators don’t appreciate the knowledge collection and transmission of indigenous peoples, given the wealth of knowledge about medicine, physiology, geology, earth sciences, wind patterns, ice fluctuations — the incredible scope of knowledge that indigenous people have and have sustained them in North America for tens of thousands of years,” says Hayden King, director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University and a member of the Beausoleil First Nation on Georgian Bay.
“It defies logic that this knowledge they’ve generated and transmitted wouldn’t be accurate and helpful in myriad ways.”
Although separated by hundreds of millions of years of evolution, flies, worms, and humans share ancient patterns of gene expression, according to a massive analysis of genomic data. Two related studies tell a similar story: even though humans, worms, and flies bear little obvious similarity to each other, evolution used remarkably similar molecular toolkits to […] http://dlvr.it/6m2syP
Nagano - Japan 2014
Hey guys! Okay, here are the rules:
- Reblog this to express interest
- Like to express interest
- 1 reblog and 1 like per person
- I would prefer it if you didn’t reblog this onto all your blogs, but I’m honestly not gonna comb through all the urls
- I will say though, that if my randomizer chooses someone, and their blog was obviously made for these sort of things, I will choose someone else.
- I will select three people and they can choose one book they want from the list under the cut below
- I will be adding more books to the list as I decide I don’t need them
- I will also prefer the winners to be one of my followers, BUT
- You do not have to follow me to win
- I will ship internationally.
- Once the giveaway winners are announced, I will post the rest of the list if any of you guys want to buy the books.
- You have until September 20th.
Edited Sept 1
September 2014 marks 100 years since the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. It’s estimated that the population of these migrant birds fell from 3.7 billion individuals to 0 in about 40 years, largely due to human impact, habitat destruction, and a lack of regulation on hunting, trapping, and their use in competitive tourneys.
Remember Martha, the last of her kind, and what she represents as not just a hallmark of her species, but as a symbol for our fragile environments today.