4 Mind-Blowing Stories About the Brain

4 Mind-Blowing Stories About the Brain

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(light music) – [Announcer] This Great Big Story is made possible by
Lexus, experience amazing. (light music) – The Harvard Brain Bank is one of the largest brain banks in the country. At the moment we house
approximately 5,000 brain specimens. (light music) My name is Sabina Berretta,
I am the Scientific Director of the Harvard Brain
Tissue Resource Center, which we affectionately call
the “Harvard Brain Bank.” Our mission is to collect brain specimens, store them, characterize them,
and then redistribute them out to investigators across the world. They do research on the human brain, and in particular on large number of neurological and
psychiatric brain disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson, Huntington, and many others. The Brain Bank never sleeps. We have two sets of people
that are on call 24/7. We have a very limited time window from when the person passes away to the time we need to be
done with this whole process. – So this is gonna be your first
brain late at night, right? – I know, first late-night brain. – We have to do it in less than 24 hours. Our courier will bring
it to McLean Hospital to the Brain Bank. – [Male Dissectionist]
So just put it out here, so we’re gonna take it ourselves. – There will be a dissectionist
ready to dissect the brain. (light music) That involves separating
the two hemispheres. One of the two hemispheres is put in a solution that preserves it. The other hemisphere will be
dissected in thick sections and also will be frozen. We are not even close to understanding a lot of what we take for granted, our thoughts, our instincts,
our feelings, our emotions. There are a lot of questions
we still don’t know, and a lot of our brain function still will probably be studied
for a long time to come. A brain donation is,
in a very concrete way, a gift of knowledge and it cannot be done without the help of families and people willing to donate their brain. (light music) (light music) – Give me a hug, give me a hug. Yes, I know, good girl. Wanna do some training? I work with dogs to train
them to into an MRI scanner and try to figure out what makes them tick and what they’re thinking. (light music) (light music) My name is Gregory Berns
I’m a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve grown up with dogs,
and I’ve lived with dogs pretty much my whole life. One of my favorite dogs had passed away and in the back of my
mind I started wondering, did that dog love me in
the way that I loved him, and that was really the beginning of it. All of these basic things that we’ve begun to sort out in humans,
at least in human brains, we want to do in dogs. If dogs can be trained to
go into an MRI machine, then maybe we could figure out what they’re actually thinking. So we have a dog in the
scanner, that’s Katie, and she is a veteran of the project, this is probably about the
15th time she’s done this. (light music) Just having the idea of, okay, well let’s train
dogs to go in the scanner, it wasn’t immediately apparent how you would go about doing that, and MRI scanners are not the
most pleasant environments. (MRI whirring) Okay, hey, Callie. Cool, good girl. Callie is the little black terrier who was the first dog to
train for the dog project. High-five. I built a simulator of an MRI. So, this is the simulator that
I built here in my basement, then we started adding in
recordings of the scanner noise, which is actually quite loud. (MRI whirring) We just started working with treats and positive reinforcement to see if we could get her to go into this thing. That actually proved to be pretty easy. And then so what we did
was we kind of put out word of mouth, do you
wanna join this project, do you wanna train your dogs for an MRI, and maybe figure out
what they’re thinking. The purpose of this is to go through a number of exercises
including basic obedience, as well as how they
react to the obstacles. When we hold the try-outs
it lets us weed out the dogs that we don’t think
would enjoy doing this. One of the benefits then
of having more participants is it gives you statistical power. You can start to average
dog’s brains together and get a better sense
for what’s happening. I started wondering very seriously if we could really finally
answer this question, do dogs essentially like us
just for the social bond, not about the food. – [Man] Good boy. – And what we found was,
looking at the reward system, that almost all the dogs
had equal responses, both to food as well as praise, and even a few dogs liked the praise more. Things that we were finding
about the dog’s brain in many ways confirmed, I think, what people know in their hearts about how dogs behave and why they behave. And the way I think about
dogs is, in many ways, they’re the ambassadors
to the animal world. (barking) They’re not that different from many of the other mammals out there, and so I suspect that a
lot of what we find in dogs probably holds true for
pretty much any mammal. (light music) (light music) (light music) – [Narrator] Have you ever
walked out of a building on a sunny day and had an
uncontrollable urge to sneeze? If you answered yes, like
me, you likely suffer from a strange genetic
condition that has remained unexplained by medical
science for millennia. And if you answered no, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Sun sneezing, as it’s more commonly known, is a medical condition called
the Photic Sneeze Reflex. – [Dr. Louis] Another name
that some have given is– – [Narrator] Hold on,
before we get into all that, this is Dr. Louis Ptacek, a
neurologist and human geneticist at the University of
California, San Francisco. Okay, go ahead. – [Dr. Louis] Another name
that some have given is autosomal dominant compelling
helio-ophthalmic outburst, or ACHOO Syndrome, but P.S.R. is really the appropriate name
that we should all use. Photic Sneeze Reflex
is a tendency to sneeze when suddenly exposed to bright light. (sneezing) – [Narrator] And as
strange as that may sound it’s more common than you might think. – [Dr. Louis] I estimate
that about one in 10, or 10%, of all people have this condition. (sneezing) – [Narrator] So a lot of us are affected, but how and why it happens
is not fully understood, despite the fact that humans have been pondering it for thousands of years. In 350 B.C. Aristotle posed the question, “Why does the heat of the
sun provoke sneezing?” Aristotle was barking up
the wrong tree though. – [Dr. Louis] This doesn’t makes sense because heat in and of itself
doesn’t cause sneezing. – [Narrator] Some 2,000
years later the philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon, also
tried to figure it out. His theory was that light from the sun caused your eyes to water, which then seeped into your
nose triggering a sneeze. (sneezing) – [Dr. Louis] It’s an interesting thought but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. P.S.R. occurs almost instantaneously and it takes longer for
the tear ducts to react. Furthermore, tears don’t cause sneezing. There’s no evidence for that. – [Narrator] So modern medicine has come with its own theories, and it has to do with
the wiring in your head. – [Dr. Louis] Sneezes
are triggered typically by irritating things in our nose, and these are detected by
nerve, the trigeminal nerve. – [Narrator] And right next
door to the trigeminal nerve is the optic nerve, you
may have heard of this one. – [Dr. Louis] The optic nerve
is stimulated by bright light and sends electric signals to the brain. Some of that signal can be
picked up by the trigeminal nerve and misinterpreted by the brain as an irritation in the nose. – [Narrator] Which triggers,
you guessed it, a sneeze. Well, that’s the theory anyway. – [Dr. Louis] Photic Sneeze
Reflex is not a disease, consequently the medical community hasn’t paid a whole
lot of attention to it, therefore we know very
little about what causes it. – [Narrator] But Dr. Ptacek believes that understanding
P.S.R. could potentially shed some light on more
serious conditions. – [Dr. Louis] Epileptic seizures can be caused by strobing lights, migraine headache is
precipitated by light. If we can understand what the mechanism is that leads to P.S.R.,
this may give insights into other conditions which actually are medically important
and represent disorders. – [Narrator] So, there you have it. This 2,000-year-old medical mystery may be worth solving after all. (orchestral music) – [Narrator] Imagine remembering every single day of your
life, all in perfect detail. For those with Highly Superior
Autobiographical Memory, or H.S.A.M. for short,
this is their reality. (light music) – [Rebecca] I remember
everything that’s personally happened to me since I was born. – [Narrator] That’s Rebecca Sharuk. I was fascinated by this condition, so I called her up to find out more. (phone ringing) Hi, Rebecca. – [Rebecca] Hi. – [Narrator] How are you doing? – [Rebecca] I’m doing all right. It’s a very wet Saturday morning here. How are you doing? – [Narrator] Side note, in
this moment I just realized Rebecca will remember that this day was a wet morning forever. So, you remember
everything in great detail. – [Rebecca] People can remember what they did last Saturday, but I can remember what I
did Saturday 10 years ago. – [Narrator] What about a memory from when you were just a baby? – [Rebecca] When I was twelve days old I was lying down on the fur
car seat in my parents’ car, and I was staring up
at the steering wheel, and I thought, “What is that?” – [Narrator] Rebecca is one
of only 60 people world-wide to have been identified
with having H.S.A.M. – [Rebecca] All through my teenage years I thought that everybody
remembered in this kind of way, I thought it was completely normal. – [Narrator] It wasn’t until she was 21 when her parents decided to submit her to the University of California to undergo two years of testing. After this, she was officially identified as having H.S.A.M. Since memories can come to mind unexpectedly any time of day,
a negative memory like this can make living with H.S.A.M. difficult. – [Rebecca] Mum was putting
me in this itchy, satin dress and I was crying because I didn’t like it, and Mum gave me this Minnie Mouse toy, and I couldn’t say anything at the time, but her face terrified me. – [Narrator] But on most
days, H.S.A.M. is a gift. Rebecca can recall happy memories in moments when times get tough. – [Rebecca] A good memory
that makes me so thankful about having this kind of H.S.A.M. memory. – [Narrator] Thanks for chatting, Rebecca. – [Rebecca] Yup, thanks, bye. (light music)

100 thoughts on “4 Mind-Blowing Stories About the Brain”

  1. So strange to imagine that all our perception lies in this fleshy thing and what they already found out about it…
    Shouldnt the woman be perfectly psychologically healthy remembering everything according to psychoanalysis? So paychoanalysis doesnt really work..

  2. The story about the brain bank, is truly something special. The researchers' passion to study the brain, being able to harvest brains from donors, the methods of storing the specimens, technology used to study and what can be learned, is just awe-inspiring

  3. I am always amazed by the people who decide to donate their bodies/organs for science. That is such an inspiring thing

  4. Lexus: "experience amazing"
    Acer: "explore beyond limits"
    Both these companies state incorrect statements about themselves.

  5. it makes me sad to see them all in containers 💔 they use to be people with thoughts, feelings, worries, and idea and now they’re just … hunks of meat.

  6. I remember a House MD episode involving the last condition in this video.
    The patient character "took a pill" to forget and forgive her sister.

  7. Interesting and worthwhile video. MRI for dogs seems strange, but potentially interesting. Chimps and apes might yield surprising results.

  8. I have the condition where I sneeze when I see a bright light and ive always just thought it was just an evolutionary that never took hold through the rest of the population. In our history any time we went from a dark area to a bright area quickly that probably meant you were leaving an enclosed area like a cave or structure and going outside so maybe the sneezing is just a reflex to the possibility of being exposed to many new particles in the air at once such as when you leave inside and go outside.

  9. I sneeze when coming out of a building and I still have no clue to what you are talking about lol 😄😄

  10. What are you doing?????? Sickness is from GOD, for what ever reason,, and NO ONE is going to live on this earth forever, I say "this earth" because ther is a new heaven and a new earth. We are to be following God, and being ready to go home to him.

  11. Do you even realise how many millions of neurons are lost when you cut brains using your hand so carelessly?

    Such carelessness with those specimens.

  12. I think what these people are doing is extremely awesome and cool but I actually only think its gross

    You know like.. these people with the brainy thingy library

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