10  Questions To Study For A Mitosis Quiz In AP Biology

Image source: Pixabay

You should be able to determine the number of chromosomes in cells after division, be familiar with the phases of mitosis, and readily identify cellular structures. Handle a mitosis quiz without stress or anxiety, and read on to learn the questions you must study for a passing score.

10 Questions To Study For A Mitosis Quiz In AP Biology

mitosis process, genetic diseases or anomalies are created.

Image source: Pixabay

If you need to prep for a mitosis quiz in AP Biology, you are going to need to understand the difference between mitosis and meiosis thoroughly.

Many students fail to be able to identify the difference between the two biological processes accurately. So, you don’t want to get disappointing results on your mitosis quiz; there are a few key points you are going to want to study.

Remember to acquaint yourself with the following before you think you are prepared enough for a mitosis quiz.

  • There are six different stages of mitosis.
  • You want to be able to visualize and analyze diagrams displaying the stages of mitosis confidently.
  • It is good to be aware of any irregularities during mitosis and resulting genetic consequences

Give yourself ample time to take comprehensive notes when studying your AP Biology material. Don’t try to memorize everything, but seek to understand and make connections between the information. It may also be helpful to draw out the processes of mitosis, labeling each stage with a description that you can understand easily.

Ask yourself questions about what step comes next, and predict if something were to go wrong in the process what would be the result?

 Taking steps to interact with your material will help you make more sense of things. You don’t want to only memorize and regurgitate the material without having a clear visual understanding of the what and why of the process.

What Is Mitosis?

Mitosis is the name given for the process of a cell’s duplication. When there is one cell with a single set of chromosomes, it goes through a step-by-step process where you end up with two cells that have identical sets of chromosomes.

When there are breakdowns or problems with the mitosis process, genetic diseases or anomalies are created.

 Check Out These 10 Questions To Study For A Mitosis Quiz

six different stages of mitosis.

Image source: pixabay

Out of all the information covering mitosis and meiosis, you may want to consider the following questions to help prepare you for an upcoming mitosis quiz. Choose to break down the information as you see fit and in a language, you can understand. Again, drawing images to help you better conceptualize the process is helpful, as well as using correct terminology.

WHICH STRUCTURE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MOVING CHROMOSOMES DURING MITOSIS?

The centromere is a region of DNA that holds together the two chromatids of a duplicated chromosome. Centromeres are responsible for attaching microtubules and direct the movement of chromosomes in both the process of mitosis and meiosis.

First, the chromosomes move toward the center of a cell during metaphase, and then they proceed to opposite directions during anaphase.

WHY DO CHROMOSOMES FAIL TO SEPARATE WITHIN MITOSIS?

Nondisjunction is when a pair of homologous chromosomes fail to separate. There are three forms of nondisjunction, and two happen during the process of meiosis I and meiosis II.

When the sister chromatids fail to separate during the process of mitosis, the number of chromosomes is abnormal, resulting in aneuploidy.

If a single chromosome is lost from a diploid genome, it is called monosomy. If a chromosome is gained, it is called a trisomy.

When chromosomes fail to separate correctly, it can lead to a genetic disorder such as Downs Syndrome or Turner Syndrome. In the most extreme cases, aneuploidy can be lethal. The risk of nondisjunction taking place increases exponentially with the rising age of parent cells.

Typically disjunction is found during the process of meiosis.

AT WHICH PHASE DO CHROMOSOMES BECOME VISIBLE AND OF WHAT DO CHROMOSOMES CONSIST?

Before chromosomes become visible during the prophase stage, the chromosomes are long strands called chromatin. The chromatin is tightly wound up into chromosomes.

Chromosomes are made up of DNA which is coiled tightly around histones. Histones are proteins which support the structure of the thread-like structures. Chromosomes are not visible under a microscope if the cell is not dividing, and it is not visible in the nucleus of the cell.

The short arm of a chromosome is the ‘p arm,’ and the long arm is known as the ‘q arm.’

WHAT IS CYTOKINESIS?

Cytokinesis is the process when cells physically divide. The cytoplasm of a parent cell splits into two daughter cells.

This process starts during anaphase and doesn’t stop until the telophase. Cytokinesis takes places during both mitosis and meiosis.

WHEN AND WHY WILL CELLS DIVIDE, HOW MANY CHROMOSOMES WILL THEY HAVE, AND WHAT TRIGGERS THIS PROCESS?`

Cellular division during mitosis may be triggered because of the need to replace or repair dead or lost cells or to grow in size. As part of the cell cycle, a cell will prepare to divide at interphase and begins its division process during mitosis.

A single cell will divide and reproduce copies of its DNA into two identical cells. The number of chromosomes will be the same as in the parent cell.

What Is The Difference Between A Diploid And A Haploid?

Diploid cells have a set of chromosomes from two different parents, with two homologous copies of each chromosome of their parents. Diploid cells reproduce by mitosis, and somatic cells are examples of diploid cells.

Haploid cells are created because of the meiosis process. Gametes or sex cells are a common type of haploid cells. Haploid cells only have one complete set of chromosomes.

Define Polyploidy And Aneuploidy?

When there is a variation in the number of chromosomes, it is described as being either aneuploidy, monoploidy, or euploidy. Depending on whether one part of a chromosome is lost, an entire set of chromosomes is lost, or one or more than one complete set of chromosomes is gained the term changes.

With chromosomes, conditions can either be double monosomic or double tetrasomic.

What Is An Allele And The Law Of Independent Assortment?

A gene is a single unit of information that is hereditary. Except in the case of some viruses, genes are made up of DNA which transmits traits. An allele is a genetic sequence which is a variant of a gene. When there are differences among copies of a gene, they are called alleles. At the locus of a gene, there are only two alleles present.

Gregor Mendel has been credited with our enlightened understanding about genetics, heredity, and what happens when there are variants in genetic transmission. According to Mendel’s Law of Independent Assortment, a pair of alleles will separate independently when gametes are forming. Traits are transmitted to offspring independently.

The Law of Independent Assortment was formed on principles uncovered when Gregor Mendel conducted experiments creating dihybrid crosses between plants which had two different traits. As a result of Mendel’s experiments, a ratio developed to reinforce this concept.

 What Type Of DNA Damage Occurs When Cytokinesis And Mitosis Fail?

If a cell fails to separate during cytokinesis, it may have multiple nuclei.

 

During the prometaphase and metaphase stage, if a cell fails, it enters the G1 phase of a cell cycle, or it results in cell death. The checkpoints within the cell cycle help to regulate the process of cell division and will signal to different pathways if there is a failure.

 

Steps are automatically taken to prevent any damaged DNA from being reproduced or transmitted to a new generation of cells, to protect integrity.

 

When mitosis fails to carry out is process an abnormal number of chromosomes is created. To prevent continuous cell division, abnormal cells may be removed. A failure in mitosis typically activates cell death and consequent DNA damage.

What Are The Cell Checkpoints And What Are Their Functions?

Depending on if certain conditions are met cellular division may be inhibited, such as in the instance that growth hormones are released. When there is cellular growth, cells have to divide to prevent cell crowding.

 

If there is a release of specific hormones or a lack thereof, cell checkpoints may not allow the progression of a cell to the next stage in the cell cycle until there are viable conditions.

 

At the G1 checkpoint, any damage to DNA and relevant external stimuli are evaluated before a cell can move forward to interphase.

 

The G2 checkpoint is needed to make sure that all chromosomes have been replicated without any damaged DNA. Until this is assured, a cell will not be able to enter mitosis.

 

The M checkpoint is responsible for making sure every chromosome is attached to the spindle, and will not allow the separation of duplicated chromosomes if there is a problem.

 

Cell checkpoints are part of the eukaryotic cell cycle.

Additional Helpful Pointers

Before your quiz make sure that you can break down any pertinent information in easy to understand terms. However, be aware of the correct terminology and the sharp differences between mitosis and meiosis to reduce any unwanted confusion. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and give yourself enough time to study the material before attempting to complete a quiz.

Don’t underestimate or disregard the power of drawing out your own diagrams to fully grasp the concept of each stage of mitosis. Visuals can have a stronger influence than reading words alone about the process.

Biome Map: Definition, Examples, And Why It Is Important

If you want to gain a better understanding of all living things, from plants to animals, it’s essential to learn about biomes and the role they play in Biology. Learn how to read a biome map and define each type of biome in the world.

Biome Map: Definition, Examples, And Practice

Biomes are an interesting and important part of Biology, and without understanding what a biome is and how it works, you don’t have a full understanding of Biology. Let’s take an in-depth look at biomes, so you can take a look at a biome map and understand it; learning about biomes can also better prepare you for if you’re ever tested on a map of biomes.

What Is A Biome?

While you might have learned a little about biomes when you were in elementary school, there’s a good chance that you don’t have a biome map memorized or know about all of the biomes. As we all know, the entire surface of the planet has some lifeform, but it varies depending on factors like vegetation, climate, water, and light.


 A biome is classified by the flora and fauna (dominant plants and animal life) that resides in that particular area; the plants and animals that live in a biome are also known as biota. While some biomes share some characteristics, each type is unique, and the smaller units in a biome are what we know best as a habitat.


Biomes are often mistakenly referred to as ecosystems (and vice versa). An ecosystem is made up of living organisms and the relationship that they have in their nonliving environment. There are many examples of ecosystems but think about a dark cave in a secluded part of the world and all of the known (and unknown) living things that live in the cave.


One of the reasons why ecosystems may be easily confused with biomes is that a biome may have many different ecosystems.

Exploring The Different Types Of Biomes

If you look at a biome map, you will notice that it is color-coded with a key that refers to different types of biomes. Depending on what map you look at and who is teaching you about biomes, you may only learn about five biomes, which include tundra, grassland, forest, desert, and aquatic; sometimes it’s six basic biomes be splitting the aquatic into marine and freshwater.


As you might guess, these biomes are basic, have a broad definition, and may refer to many parts of the globe. In order to gain a better understanding of Biology as a whole, you may want to consider learning more about other biomes like the rainforest, temperate forest, chaparral, taiga, savanna, temperate grasslands, and freshwater or marine.


Younger learners or individuals who just want some basic information on biomes may benefit from learning about the broad classifications, but taking the time to learn about other biomes (and their specialized classifications) can help understand the world as a whole.


As you explore biomes, it’s not uncommon to see different biomes in the same area, and often there are no clear boundaries from one biome to the next. If you were to compare a map of biomes from thousands of years ago to today, you’d see a completely different map.


Climate change plays a significant role in how biomes are defined and where they are located on a map. The major biomes typically correspond to the climatic zones, such as a tropical wet climate.

Tundra

Man and dogs in snow
As you might already imagine, the tundra biome is located in the northernmost regions on a map of biomes. A tundra is flat, cold, but still has plant life during the short growing season. A variety of birds call the tundra their home during the summer and migrate in the winter. Smaller mammals thrive in their habitats under the snow.

Grassland

grassland
The grassland biome is often referred to as plains or prairie, due to the large areas of a variety of grasses. Grasslands typically receive minimal rain and are often at high risk for fires. Even though there is not a large variety of flora, the biome is home to large herding mammals. Grassland is found on every continent except for Antarctica.

Forests

forest with rocks
The forest biome makes up about one-third of the Earth’s land area, and as you might imagine, there are more classifications to the forest biome than “just trees.” 


The tropical rainforest has two seasons, 12-hour days, and has little variation in the climate. You’re most likely to find tropical rainforest countries near the equator like South America, Southeast Asia, and Southern Africa.
forests with sunrays
A temperate forest biome is most frequently found in eastern parts of North America, northeastern Asian, and western and central parts of Europe. Animals from small mammals (squirrels) to predators (black bears) call the biome their home. 


The boreal or taiga forest is similar to the temperate forest biome and is found in Siberia, Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. The taiga forest biome doesn’t have as long of growing seasons as the temperate forest, and the climate is cold and dry.

Deserts

desert with camels
It’s not uncommon to see all types of desert biomes lumped into one broad desert biome and again, depending on the map you’re looking at or who is teaching information about biomes, the classifications may be different. 


Some people break down the desert biome even further to include hot and dry, semiarid, coastal and cold. If you live in the U.S., you may be most familiar with a hot and dry desert biome, as it includes four of the major deserts in North America. The seasons are very dry and warm year round.
desert
Semiarid desert biomes may be found in parts of the U.S., but are also found in Newfoundland, Greenland, Europe, and parts of Asia. There are more flora and fauna in semiarid biomes than the hot and dry.


The coastal desert biome sees moderate rainfall and the cold desert biome experiences heavy snowfall; both have plants and animals that have adapted to the environment (much like every other biome on the map)

Aquatic

sea turtle underwater
When exploring a map of biomes, it’s important not to overlook the aquatic biome. While many people pay close attention to flora and fauna throughout the various biomes “on land,” there’s plenty to consider when we look at the bodies of water.


The aquatic biome is typically divided into freshwater and saltwater (or marine) biomes. From there it might be broken down even more to ponds or lakes, rivers, oceans, and estuaries.
sting ray underwater
It’s essential to think about aquatic biomes because just like other biomes, climate change and other environmental factors affect these “off land” biomes, which over time will change the layout of a map of biomes.

Why Are Biome Maps Important?

world biomes map
Image Source: askabiologist.asu.edu
Now that you have a better understanding of the different biomes and how one map could be different from another, you might be wondering why biome maps are so important. As we mentioned earlier, learning about biomes and understanding where they are in the world can help us understand all living organisms. 


Biome maps can help people learn about places they may never get to see; the map may open their eyes to a new species of animal or a unique variety of flora. Biome maps may be a basic resource for understanding Biology, but without the maps, we know very little about Biology, it’s past, and what might be in store for the future of our planet.


Even though we may not see drastic changes to our environment in our lifetime, we can see small scales changes such as more prairie fires or decreasing populations of a specific bird.


To some, these may not seem like that big of a deal when comparing it to the world at large, but it can give us some idea as to how biome maps will continue to evolve.

Making The Most Of A Biome Map

Not only are biome maps an important resource to use in a Biology course, but it can be used in a variety of fields such as Agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture can utilize the map to learn more about soil distribution while conservation programs can strive to protect biomes that need it the most.

If your goal is to learn how to draw a map of biomes or memorize it for a class, you might want to consider the following tips.

  • Familiarize yourself with Geography; you can’t make a map without knowing where places are located.
  • Use the knowledge you already have. Think about living organisms and where they live. Can you guess what type of biome (or biomes) are in this area?
  • Get to know a climatic map. Remember climatic zones may correspond with specific biomes.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Make several copies of a blank world map.
  • Use a color-code and key that’s easy to read. Choose colors that stand out from one another.

What Does New Research Say About Slowing the Aging Process?

As we age, our bodies change significantly. Some of the effects of aging are quite apparent. For many, the skin loses its elasticity, the hair begins to turn gray, and mobility becomes much more challenging. It comes as no surprise that many people are looking for ways to slow and reverse the process of getting older.

But what does new research say about slowing the aging process? Is it possible? And to what degree does slowing the aging process affect the typical quality of life? In this article, we’ll look at what scientists have discovered so far in hopes of shining some light on the inevitable process of getting older.

Slowing the Aging Process

Slowing the Aging Process
Photo credit to AskMen

Over the past few years, there have been more than a few studies on slowing down and even reversing the aging process.  With age often comes disease and scientists are eager to cut down on the painful and expensive plights of old age. Recently a few different methods have shown promising success regarding the pace of aging.

Why We Age

Why We Age
Photo credit to EarthSky

To understand how researchers suggest we can slow the process of aging, one must first understand why we age, to begin with. Over the last thirty years or so, technological advances have allowed scientists to take a closer look at why we age.

In general, scientists now know that aging is controlled by genetic factors and biological process that occur naturally in the human body. More specifically, aging occurs because of the following reasons:

  • Telomere Shortening
  • Genome Damage
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  • Non-Genetic Factors
  • Unfolded Protein Build-Up
  • Stem Cell Exhaustion
  • Cellular Deterioration

Slowing Down the Aging Process

Slowing Down the Aging Process
Photo credit to Healthy Lifestyles Living

But what does new research say about slowing the aging process? A continuously growing body of research has revealed that a few different techniques can be used to slow down or reverse the process of getting older. These techniques include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Stress Management
  • Meditation
  • Regular Exercise
  • Positive Mental Attitude
  • Eating Healthy

What Does the Research Say?

Delving further into what scientists have to say about slowing the aging process, below we will discuss each of the age-slowing methods mentioned above. To keep things well-organized, we’ll start off with the most recent research and go from there.

Regular Exercise

Regular Exercise Slowing Down the Aging Process
Photo credit to Earth.com

Multiple recent studies have been conducted to establish any potential connection between regular exercise and longevity. In 2018, researchers confirmed that regular activity continued through the entire lifespan can decrease the chance of muscle decline in old age. Compared to their sedentary counterparts, active seniors were shown to have less age-related muscle deterioration.

Besides, regular exercise has been shown to promote the body’s immune system. A typical side effect of aging is reduced thymus size and an inability to stave off disease. Researchers found that regular cycling can cause the immune system to behave in a more “youthful” manner regarding white blood cell activity.

As a final note on regular exercise, researchers in 2017 found that vigorous activity can both promote mitochondrial capacity and increased telomere length. These two factors are essential when considering the process of aging, and both indicate that regular exercise is an excellent way to decrease the speed of getting older.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting
Photo credit to fitt-trend.blog.hu

Intermittent fasting has become somewhat trendy in the diet world lately, and for a good reason. In addition to stunning weight-loss related results, a study published in late 2017 suggests that the same technique could be a critical component to extending lifespan and slowing the aging process.

This study, published by Harvard researchers in October 2017 provides useful insight into the way that cells process energy over time. Researchers in this study used nematode worms to investigate the state of mitochondrial networks across the lifespan of the organisms.

Researchers used two techniques to mimic the process of intermittent fasting in their test subjects. The first involved merely restricting diet, while the second method used manipulation of a specific “energy-sensing” protein (AMPK). Both processes showed that intermittent diet restriction has a significant impact on mitochondrial networks.

In both types of dietary restriction, researchers noted that mitochondrial networks maintained a certain “youthfulness” in that they retained their fused state. This fused state promoted communications between the mitochondria and other organelles that modulate fat metabolism.

While this is indeed not the first study to show that intermittent fasting can accommodate graceful aging, it is a pivotal step in understanding why this technique can reduce the pace of getting older.

Stress Management

7 Stress Management Tips
Photo credit to Lachina

Stress has long been known to contribute to certain diseases such as increased blood pressure and depression. Recent research has revealed even more evidence that chronic stress is unhealthy. In particular, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have discovered a link in constant pressure and decreased levels of klotho.

Klotho has been recognized as a link in the mysteries of aging for quite some time. Previous studies have indicated that increased levels of klotho subsequently increase lifespan in different types of animals. However, this study from 2015 is the first to present a potential link between chronic stress and significantly decreased levels of klotho.

Dipping in a little further, it becomes apparent that proper stress management is crucial to increasing overall lifespan. By mitigating stress, it is possible that klotho levels will rise and subsequently lead to a slower aging process and a longer life.

Positive Mindset

It’s always a good idea to maintain a positive mindset, but as it turns out this concept is even more crucial when considering the process of aging. This study, published in 2016, shows a critical connection between how we think about aging compared to how we age.

Researchers showed that keeping a positive mindset about aging compared favorably against mindsets that embraced the difficulties of old age. In other words, people who believed that aging would bring with it poor memory and high blood pressure would develop these ailments more readily than those who did not believe in the inevitability of a shortened old age.

This study speaks volumes to the power of a positive mindset and the ability to slow the aging process by reducing stress. Because the mind is our most powerful tool for reducing our stress, and subsequently increasing telomere longevity, it is entirely crucial to engage in activities that will promote healthy cognitive function.

Meditation

Meditation Stress Management
Photo credit to vix.com

In this 2013 study of yogic meditation, researchers identified a definite link between brief daily meditation practice and an increase of telomerase activity. Also, those participating in a regular meditation practice saw a significant decrease in depressive symptoms and an increase in cognitive function.

The combined cognitive benefits and increased telomerase activity suggest that including a regular meditation practice can have incredible benefits on lifespan. As mentioned above, high-stress levels can contribute to premature aging in numerous ways. By increasing telomerase activity with meditation, cellular aging is slowed down.

By improving the daily lives of those who practice regular meditation, it can be presumed that reflection will positively contribute to the slowing of the aging process. Decreased depressive symptoms eliminate unnecessary stress and subsequently promote healthy and slow going aging.

Eating Healthy

Eating Healthy
Photo credit to Natural Society

It may come as no surprise that in addition to reducing stress and exercising regularly, eating healthy can promote a decrease in the pace of aging. Studies as recent as 2015 have continued to support healthy diet as a critical component to a long and healthy life.

Most recently, researchers have turned their focus to specific bioactive compounds that can slow down the aging of cells in the body. These compounds are typically found in fruits and vegetables and certain other foods like cacao and tea.

In previous research, scientists noted the benefits of consuming bioactive compounds for compromised populations. Recently it has been discovered that the same benefits are available to healthy adults as well. If you fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods, your cells will function well and resist the typical strains of old age.

So, what does new research say about slowing the aging process? Further research concerning the aging process mirrors what scientists have known for years. A healthy lifestyle is crucial for a long life.

While today’s studies are increasingly sophisticated in design, researchers are merely opening doors to understanding why health and longevity are so closely intertwined. In addition to the methods of promoting cellular survival mentioned above, it is important to note that genetics and social factors also impact how long we live.

In areas of the world that have the most substantial numbers of nonagenarians and centenarians, communities are thriving. These cultures enjoy all of the benefits listed above as a community and as such residents tend to live longer.

As technology continues to develop, we will undoubtedly discover more in-depth explanations regarding the process of aging. Accordingly, it is likely that we will reveal new methods to extend the lifespan of cells and further slow the aging process.

How the Human Brain Creates Memories and Processes Thoughts

It can be fascinating to wonder about the marvels of the human brain. Unlike most other animals, humans are self-aware. We can think, plan, and recall events that have happened in and around our lives. Despite our incredible capacity for thought, how the human brain creates memories and processes thoughts can still be quite a mystery.

How The Brain is Structured

 

It’s crucial, to begin with, the basic structure of the brain to start to understand how the human mind creates memories and processes thoughts. For the most part, animals all have relatively similar brain form. In this essential form, the innermost parts of the brain are the oldest in and have not changed much over years of evolution.

These inner parts of the brain control our most basic survival instincts such as breathing, resting, moving, and feeding. As you move away from the spinal cord, additional layers provide the capacity for higher thinking and better memory. In humans, our outermost layer of the brain is called the cerebral cortex, and it is incredibly sophisticated.

With such a highly developed outer brain layer we are capable of much more than the most basic survival functions. For example, humans frequently develop intricate social networks,  can retain memories for long periods of time and can experience emotions.

How We Form Thoughts

How The Brain is Structured
Photo credit to Searchgi.com

Moving forward from the underlying structure that allows for the formation of higher thinking patterns, we delve further into how thoughts are processed. The brain is composed of specialized cells known as neurons and support cells called glia.

As you probably know, neurons are the cells most commonly associated with the nervous system. However, it is important to note that without glial cells, the neurons in the brain would not be able to function at all. Many different types of glial cells exist in the brain and provide numerous benefits to the neurons.

Glial Cells

delveinsight.com
Photo credit to delveinsight.com

More specifically, glial cells provide the following benefits to neurons:

  • Guide Developing Neurons to Their Destinations
  • Protect Neurons from Harmful Ions and Chemicals
  • Provide Myelin Sheaths Around Axons
  • Modulate Communication Between Nerve Cells

As you can see, these lesser-known cells are incredibly crucial to a fully functioning human brain. In fact, without these essential support cells, humans would not be capable of processing thoughts or forming memories.

Neurons

Neurons Brain
Photo credit to Why mindbodycoach?

Neurons are the specialized cells that receive all forms of sensory input from the external world and communicate that information to the body and brain. Compared to other types of cells, neurons have a unique tree-like shape that fosters the work of delivering information throughout the body.

While much is unknown about the inner workings of the brain, scientists have discovered that neurons behave in a pretty specific manner. There are three main parts to each neuron; the cell body, the dendrites, and the axon. When exposed to an electrical impulse, information moves from the dendrites to the cell body and then to the axon.

Once the electrical impulse moves to the end of the axon, it reaches the synapse. Here the signal moves from one neuron to the next by way of a neurotransmitter. The neurotransmitter stimulates the next neuron, and the process begins again.

When neurons absorb information from the wide variety of stimuli we come in contact with every day, billions of connections can occur through the neural pathways described above. These connections are what lead to our perceptions about the world around us. Furthermore, these connections work together to create our thoughts.

But what happens after the brain has “processed”  thought in this manner? Does it all just end there?

How We Store Thoughts

Store Thoughts Brain
Photo credit to Braintoss

Now that we have outlined a basic understanding of how thoughts come to be, we can continue to work out how the human brain creates memories and processes thoughts. It’s important to understand that neuroscience is a very complicated discipline and is not entirely understood by researchers as of yet.

Most people understand that the process of storing thoughts is what we refer to as memory. However, a much smaller number of people have any real understanding of how our brains take seemingly “simple” thoughts and turn them into memories.

To start our discussion, we will begin by saying that memory, unlike other attributes of the body, is not a defined part of the body. Instead, the word memory refers to the elaborate means of remembering.

A wide array of models have been used to describe the way that memory works in the human brain. However, current researchers are quickly finding that these simplistic notions regarding memory are nowhere near as sophisticated or elusive as the human memory. Today, scientists are finding that it is made up of a complex web of cells placed explicitly around the brain.

Short-Term Memory

Short-Term Memory Brain
Photo credit to The Hearty Soul

Most people have heard the term “short-term memory” at one point in their life or another. However, only a handful of people can give an accurate description of what short-term memory is.

To begin our discussion, we’ll note that short-term memory is also known as active or primary memory. As these names imply, short-term memory is something that we use in our present state of being. Furthermore, it is worth noting that short-term memory is limited in both duration and number of items held.

For most functioning brains, the short-term memory lasts between twenty and thirty seconds. Sometimes this time frame fluctuates in either direction depending upon the circumstances under which information is received. Typically the average human brain can hold between four and nine items in short-term memory.

Long-Term Memory

Long-Term Memory Brain
Photo credit to Lumen Learning

In contrast to the fading short-term memories that we dispose of quickly, the long-term memory seems to be unlimited regarding the number of items stored. Additionally, long-term memories are typically stored for much more extended periods of time, usually many years. But how exactly does the human brain move items from short-term memory to long-term memory?

Most people are vaguely aware that there are a variety of techniques for committing specific information to memory. For example, people tend to “chunk” information into smaller parts of a larger whole to memorize it. Also, it is common to use rehearsal as a means of committing short-term memory to long-term storage.

Despite the knowledge of these memorization methods, the specific science behind “converting” short-term memories into long-term memories is not well understood. Several working theories try to explain the precise mechanisms of memory. Each potential philosophy is unique, and this particular subject is a matter of much scientific controversy.

Memory Loss and Difficulty

Memory Loss and Difficulty
Photo credit to UConn Today

It’s no secret that just as our brains have an incredible capacity to process information and develop memories, they also can “lose” memories. Injury, trauma, and certain illnesses can all affect the way we remember things and even make it seem that certain memories are gone for good. But what exactly happens when we “lose” a memory?

Because the mechanisms regarding thoughts and the way we store memories are not very well understood, it is difficult to say what precisely happens when we forget something. In some cases, memory loss seems to be temporary while in others it looks more permanent. By examining the different causes of memory loss, we can gain some useful insights.

Retrograde vs. Anterograde Amnesia

Memory Health Tests for Everyone
Photo credit to Memory Health

In movies that feature patients with amnesia, it’s often the case that these characters cannot remember their past. This type of amnesia is medically known as retrograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia can be caused by disease or injury and deals explicitly with memories stored before illness or injury. The ability to learn new concepts is generally not affected.

In contrast, anterograde amnesia preserves old memories and prevents the development of new memories. Because of the mystery surrounding how the brain stores memories, anterograde amnesia is very difficult to understand. Additionally, this type of amnesia provides a wide array of questions regarding how memories are formed and stored.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
Photo credit to Consumer Health Digest

The term dementia refers to a group of diseases that cause a slow decline in the ability to think and recall past knowledge. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common disorder associated with dementia and also the most common cause of it.

Despite Alzheimer’s disease causing the majority of dementia cases, there are several other causes of dementia. Some of these causes are reversible, suggesting a high degree of plasticity in the brain. However, there is no defined cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in general which highlights our general lack of understanding of the human mind.

Overall, the mechanism that dictates how the human brain creates memories and processes thoughts are complicated. Neuroscientists are continually researching new theories and challenging previous notions regarding the human mind.

As new technologies develop, scientists have high hopes of gaining a better understanding of the brain and all of its intricacies. However, until we can understand the subtle processes that create our ability to think and store information, it is unlikely that we will gain a better understanding of diseases that affect our ability to create and access our memories.

Biology, Babies and Serotonin

The Abnormal Biology of A Baby

Joseph was an unhappy baby. He didn’t sleep for long periods and appeared to cry all a time. He’d best if he had been held and rocked, or walked. He spit after feeding and was negatively compared to other babies in the family. His parents gently called him their “high care” child. He developed a few ear ailments that were treated with antibiotics. With the second antibiotic he obtained, he developed a rash. His doctor said he had been allergic to amoxicillin and put him on another antibiotic. He got over the ear infection, but continued to become whiny and had nausea.

After a different antibiotic he developed a white coat on his tongue which the doctor called thrush. As he grew, it became evident that he was intolerant to a foods. Milk gave him a stomach ache with pain and gave him a rash around his mouth area. He continued to be plagued with trouble falling asleep, tummy aches, frequent canker sores, and bed wetting as he grew older. He had more unusual fears than his sisters and brothers. When he started college his mother noticed his memory wasn’t as great as his sisters. He’d find something one day and have forgotten it the next.

Occasionally he looked like quite robotic.  Often times he seemed spacey while a lesson has been exhibited or when asked a question through the day. When a lesson or project became difficult for him, he became frustrated very easily over and would flare up or cry.  Josephs mother had been at her wits end trying to figure out how to help him. She’d tried rewarding, cajoling, punishing, and avoiding doing homework entirely. Nothing appeared to change his attitude towards studying or his capability to do it easily. He did enjoy the avoidance of college work, however, like we all do. As it turns out, Joseph was probably suffering from a deficiency of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin.

The Solution

Serotonin is the brain chemical that keeps us focused, instills a feeling of well being, and helps us fall asleep easily. How had he gotten this deficiency in serotonin?  Dr. Michael Gershon, a neurobiologist and physician Researcher at Columbia University in NY, discovered that 95% of serotonin is produced in our gut. Gershon has a book called The Second Brain wherein he describes this complex relationship between gut and brain functioning.

How was Josephs gut health endangered to a point where he could no longer make enough serotonin to keep him feeling good? We have both yeast and healthful bacteria in our intestines. When the mother takes an antibiotic when she’s pregnant or the kid takes an antibiotic, the yeast in the intestine begins to overgrow since the good bacteria in the gut is eliminated and the bad bacteria which was causing the ear or other infection is increased.

So as it turned out, if the measures to detect low serotonin were in place, Joseph could have avoided a lifetime of pain and confusion.  Over times, when it comes to Biology, if one chemical is out of wack, it can alter someones life to extremes.

No Major Variation in GIT Evolution of All Animals from Fish to Humans

Introduction

Studies on the evolution of the human Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT) have shown evolutionary traits that are similar to those of fish and other related vertebrates. This study has shed light on GIT illnesses related to the intestines and digestion, such as obesity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diabetes, just to name a few. These findings were published in the PLOS Biology Journal on Tuesday 29th August 2017.

Senior researcher and author of the report, John F. Rawls, a molecular genetics and microbiology associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine said that the results of the study suggest that fish, humans and related vertebrates share a common evolutionary path when it comes to the GIT, and that answers to some of these illnesses could be found in further study of these animals. The genes associated with the illnesses described above can be turned off and on, and therein lies the treatment and cure.

Penis Worm Priapulids GIT Evolution

Supporting evidence from the sea

Another study of the enigmatic marine Penis Worm (Priapulids) shows that the same genes may be the ones that control the development of the GIT beyond mere vertebrates. Dr. Andreas Hejnol, a researcher at the Sars International Center for Marine Molecular Biology said that it was a surprise to find that Priapulids for the gut in much the same way as starfish, sea urchins, fish frogs and humans.

This shows that different organisms for the GIT using the same genes and this development are more than 500 million years old. The results of the study were published in the Current Biology journal on 25th October 2017.

zebrafish

Reasons why the study of the evolution of the GIT is so important

The GIT is central to several important functions in all vertebrates. Primarily it digests food and absorbs nutrients, but it also processes toxins and drugs, stimulates the immune system and provides protection against the bacteria that could be harmful were they to enter the blood stream and other organs.

It has been indicated that some defects in the epithelial cells of the GIT are the root cause of colorectal cancer, infectious diarrhea, malnutrition, food allergies, obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

For a long time, scientists have comparatively studied higher vertebrates to find answers to human diseases, but the link across species had never been clear till now.

stickleback fish GIT evolution

Further study into the evolutionary paths of distant species

Colin Lickwar, another associate researcher and lead author, together with colleague have studied four species with distinctly different evolutionary paths to see if there are similarities in the evolution of the GIT. These species, humans, mice, zebrafish and stickleback fish have shown an oddly similar activity level of all their genes, and specific gene sequences in the same location which could be switched on and off.

Much to his surprise, Lickwar found that there was an amazing similarity between vertebrates. There was an intestinal epithelial sell structure that shared patterns along the GIT. These genes have been identified as causal to several human illnesses. If a control was to be found in one species, could it also be applied to another species, say human beings?

zebrafish flourscent

Implications in tackling human diseases

Human illnesses caused by the GIT have baffled scientists for a very long time. The results of this study have implications for the treatment of these diseases. The study of how fluorescent proteins were switched in the transparent zebrafish, could yield results that could be transcribed to humans.

Should treatments in these other species work, then scientists will only be a few steps away from finding treatments and cures for the diseases mentioned above. A lot of study still remains to be done, but this is one of the closets that researchers have been to finding a cure for diseases such as diabetes, which are difficult to manage, among many others..

GIT human

Conclusion

The similarity in the GIT evolution of humans and other vertebrates is similar, and has been so for hundreds of millions of years. The ancient gene responsible for the development of the Gastrointestinal Tract is similar in all the animals studied and these can be transcribed to other animals as well. It therefore remains to be seen whether treatment of certain conditions in other species can be related to treatments for the same conditions in humans. Perhaps, illnesses like diabetes will be a thing of the past, thanks to the innovative studies conducted by these scientists.

The study conducted with other organizations has shown that organisms completed unrelated to each other along the evolutionary pathway could hold answers to illnesses and conditions that seem to have no treatment or cure. This is probably the beginning of an alternative way of looking for cures to various human illnesses.

The research was done as a collaborative effort between the Sars International Center for Marine Molecular Biology, the Duke University School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

The Spider Silk Protein May Lead to Generation of Artificial Heart for Humans

The biocompatibility, biodegradability and strength of spider silk are some of the properties that have excited researchers on the possibilities it provides.

This is a protein-based compound that does not cause any adverse allergic, immune or inflammatory reactions in humans. Recently, recombinant technology has enabled scientists to manufacture spider silk, and there is a race to see what uses it can be put to.

A research team in Nottingham was able to use the silk to manufacture a biodegradable mesh that can accomplish two tasks at the same time. Firstly, it can be used as a replacement for the cellular matrix that is generated by human cells. This will help in the growth of new tissue, and is great for healing purposes. The matrix can also be used for making slow release antibiotics.

These developments show the immense possibilities of creating wound dressings from spider silk, which will help the wound to heal faster through the acceleration of tissue growth and also the slow release of the necessary antibiotics.

spider silk

The medical history of spider silk

For centuries spider silk has been used for medicinal purposes, but this history has not been properly documented. The Romans and Greeks used spider silk as a battle ground dressing when their soldiers were wounded. The methods used was quite ingenious. Deep cuts were washed out using a mixture of vinegar and honey, and then the wounds were packed with balls of spider webs.

Shakespeare also mentions this amazing healing power of spider silk in Midsummer Night’s Dream: “I shall desire you of more acquaintance, good master cobweb. If I cut my finger, I shall make bold of you” said the character called Bottom.

The development of spider silk in modern medicine

It took about 5 years for the research team at the University of Nottingham to develop a means by which chemically functionalized spider silk is created. The spider silk can then be used for a wide range of wound healing, tissue regeneration and drug delivery purposes.

A technique known as “click-chemistry” is used to attach molecules to the silk. These can then be slowly released from the silk over a long time. In the case of antibiotic delivery, they added the antibiotic levofloxacin to the spider silk, and this was released slowly for a period of 5 days. This means that when used to dress a wound, the wound is kept safe from infection for 5 days, before the dressing is changed.

Spider silk and cardiac tissue generation

Following these amazing discoveries, more research into spider silk and other artificial silk products went a notch higher, aiming at generating cardiac tissue. The protein that gives spider silk its mechanical stability has demonstrated excellent suitability for application as a scaffolding material in the generation of cardiac tissue.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel of the University of Bayreuth has produced silk from garden spiders in quantities that are large, and constant qualities thank to the use of E. coli bacteria.

Moving on, the research continued, with the collaboration of Jana Petzold, to apply a thin layer of silk protein on a glass slide for observation. They were able t focus on the functionality of cardiac ceils and came to the conclusion that there were no functional differences between the two.

They showed that hypertrophy, a condition where the heart ceils get enlarged especially in pregnant women and athletes could also manifest within the cardiac cell grown on a thin layer of fibronectin, derived from spider silk.

Spider silk protein

What are the implications of these studies?

If spider silk can be used to generate cardiac tissue, then some time in the future, artificial hearts could be available for transplant to people with cardiac conditions. This is something that has excited the medical fraternity given that cardiac illnesses are on the increase.

More people all over the world are suffering from cardiac conditions, even if there have been great strides in preventing and slowing down damage to cardiac tissue. Cardiac tissue does not naturally regenerate and when there is an irreversible loss of tissue in the heart, its functioning is affected.

Currently there is no treatment for this king of tissue loss, and the research into the use of  spider silk to create cardiac tissue has promising results.  The artificial silk protein that is made within a lab environment can soon be used to make cardiac tissue in high volumes and help people with cardiac tissue loss, or ischemic diseases.

Apart from cardiac tissue, the other tissue regeneration properties of the protein could have immense implications on the treatment of diseases that attack the body cells. E.g. Lupus. A lot is yet to be learned about the full potential of spider silk in modern medicine but the outlook is positive and excitingly full of possibilities.

Researchers Literally Reach for the Moon in Search for Parkinson’s Disease Cure

Researchers believe that the cure for Parkinson’s disease may be found by conducting their experiments in microgravity environments in space. One of the key Parkinson’s Disease proteins, called LRRK2, will be sent to the International Space Station for further study. Researchers say that microgravity conditions found in space will provide an optimal environment for conducting their experiments on this protein. All materials for this project will be sent to space aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule. They will be sent together with supplies and other science experiments to the International Space Station. The Michael J Fox Foundation, whose founder also suffers from this disease, is collaborating with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to find a cure for this disease.

More about Parkinson’s disease and the myths surrounding it

Parkinson’s disease is fraught with many myths about who can get it and why. We look at one famous personality who suffered from the disease and how his experiences clear the myths about the disease.

Maryum Ali, daughter of World-Famous boxing champion Muhammad Ali, says he was just “Dad” to her, and had to watch him transform from boxing champion to the most famous face of Parkinson’s Disease. Mohammad Ali was diagnosed with the disease almost 30 years ago, and later died a hero for having battled it for so long.

Parkinson’s Disease comes from the loss of the brain cells responsible for Dopamine production. The disease is characterized by impaired balance, rigid muscles, tremors and loss of memory and cognitive brain function.

When Muhammad Ali was diagnosed, there was very little information about the disease, which left doctors bewildered and at a loss of how to manage or cure it. A lot of myths were raised at the time, and some are still lingering to this day.

parkinsons disease Myth Number 1 – Parkinson’s disease is for older people

There is some truth in this myth, because the disease mostly affects people at around the age of 80. However, 10 percent of all people affected by the disease are under the age of 40 (data from the National Parkinson’s Foundation); young people are increasingly being diagnosed with the disease.

Myth Number 2 – There is nothing that can be done once a person is diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease

People have always seen the disease as one that has no cure or management; this is not true. There are several ways in which you can effectively manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. In Ali’s case, exercise helped a lot in keeping the disease at bay for longer.

The Geriatrics and Gerontology International journal published findings from a study which showed that Parkinson’s Disease patients who exercised for just one hour a week showed a marked improvement in their day to day activities. They were compared to a control group that did not exercise at all.

Brain stimulation treatments are another option that can help. Basically, a patient should look for an expert who can do an evaluation and then provide a solution. There is always hope for people with the disease.

Myth number 3 – Parkinson’s disease is genetic

Only 5 percent of the people diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease exhibit a genetic history of the disease. Scientists do not know what causes the disease, although they have shown that genetics do have a role to play. According to the National Institutes of Health, chemicals within the environment may be the main culprits in the development of this disease. There are inflammations and viruses which have also been linked to the disease.

What to take home about the myths is that Parkinson’s disease can be found in younger people, and there are many options available for the effective management of the symptoms.

parkinsons disease

What will happen in space?

The protein LRRK2 has the ability to modify other proteins. It is the mutations found in the genetic code in the LRRK2 protein that is thought to cause the disease in some individuals. Researchers are looking into the development of drugs that will inhibit or fully block the activity of this protein, so they can stop the disease from developing or slow its progress once it has manifested in a patient.

However, the knowledge of the precise structure of this protein is crucial to the development of such drugs. It is necessary to grow the crystals of LRRKS in lab dishes in order to get a detailed view of its structure. They have come to the conclusion that the gravity on Earth will affect the growth of the crystals and make them too small for effective study, hence the need to conduct this part of the research in space, under microgravity conditions.

One researcher from the University of Oxford, Sebastian Mathea, says that the quality of crystals grown under the gravity of earth is not good enough for effective study. He mentioned this at a press conference about the project on August 8th 2017.

This is why it is necessary to conduct the experiment on the International Space Station. The belief is that the microgravity conditions at the International Space Station will allow the crystals to become larger and have fewer defects. This way, they will be able to get a sharper, more-detailed look into the structure of LRRK2.

Mathea went ahead and said that the crystals will be grown in space for about a month, before being sent back to earth for analysis. The analysis will be done using high-energy X-rays.

According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, there is no current treatment to stop or reverse the progression of Parkinson’s Disease. The disease is a progressive neurological disorder and causes difficulty in movement, tremors, sluggish speech, and muscle stiffness.

If the study is successful, humanity will be one step closer to finding a cure for this debilitating disease, and give hope to millions of sufferers all over the world.