Unsupervised Thinking
a podcast about neuroscience, artificial intelligence and science more broadly

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Episode 12: Brain Freezing

The body is generally kept at around 37 degrees C, and the brain maybe even a degree higher. So it might seem like a bad idea to cool it down. But against intuition (or with it?) freezing the brain can actually be helpful, both for science and for medicine. In this episode we explain how cooling regions of the brain is used to create temporary lesions that allow scientists to explore their function. We also get into the tools scientists use to achieve this. We then cover more modern experiments, wherein specific cooling has given insights on key aspects of the visual system, bird song production, and even human speech production. Finally, we get into the medical uses of cooling including how it can be used to fight long-term effects of traumatic brain injury. Throughout, we hit on the absurdities of brain region naming, how rats feel about research, and some wild speculation about ancient Egyptians.    

We read:
The cryoloop: an adaptable reversible cooling deactivation method for behavioral or electrophysiological assessment of neural function
Cortical Inactivation by Cooling in Small Animals
Orientation selectivity of thalamic input to simple cells of cat visual cortex
Using temperature to analyze temporal dynamics in the songbird motor pathway
Functional Segregation of Cortical Regions Underlying Speech Timing and Articulation

To listen to (or download) this episode, (right) click here.

As always, our jazzy theme music "Quirky Dog" is courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) 
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

This episode is in loving memory of Bob Lindsay.

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