Tag Archives: parkinson’s

The Endorestiform Nucleus was found at the junction of the brain and the spinal cord. Credit: NeuRA.

Scientists find new brain region that may be unique to humans

At the base of the skull, near where the brain meets the spinal cord, neuroscientists have found a previously unknown region of the brain. This structure, which may be involved in fine motor control, hasn’t been found in other primates and could be unique to humans.

The Endorestiform Nucleus was found at the junction of the brain and the spinal cord. Credit: NeuRA.

The Endorestiform Nucleus was found at the junction of the brain and the spinal cord. Credit: NeuRA.

George Paxinos, a world-renowned brain cartographer, and colleagues at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) were mapping the brain for a new atlas when they made the discovery. They have named the new brain region the endorestiform nucleus because it is located within (endo) the restiform body, which connects the spinal cord and medulla oblongata with the cerebellum.

The function of the endorestiform nucleus is not entirely clear but since it’s located right at the junction of the brain with the spinal cord, the researchers have good reasons to believe it is involved balance, posture, and fine motor control.

Paxinos had hints of the endorestiform nucleus’ existence for decades. One important clue was that during surgery for patients suffering from chronic pain, the researchers had noticed that long fibers from the spine seemed to end where the new brain region was found. However, it wasn’t until the team used modern brain staining techniques, which image fine details of brain tissue, that the endorestiform nucleus could be identified with confidence.

The hidden brain region that may enable humans to play the piano and perform other fine motor tasks

Human brains are generally just like a monkey’s brain — only much bigger. The researchers looked for the new brain region in other animals, and couldn’t find it. The endorestiform nucleus may thus be unique to humans, although it is still too early to know for sure.

“The region is intriguing because it seems to be absent in the rhesus monkey and other animals that we have studied,” said Professor Paxinos, adding, “this region could be what makes humans unique besides our larger brain size.”

If it is indeed unique to humans, it could prove important for treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease. This supposition needs to be tested by imaging the brains of living persons — both healthy and with a motor dysfunction — with a higher resolution MRI. In the future, Paxinos and colleagues plan to study the brains of chimpanzees in search of the nucleus.

“There is nothing more enjoyable for a neuroscientist than finding a previously unknown area of the human brain,” Paxinos told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).

“What it remains to be done is to determine the function of this newly discovered brain region. Now that it has been mapped, it will be possible for it to be studied by the wider research community,” he added.

Paxinos detailed the portion of the brain in his book Human Brainstem: Cytoarchitecture, Chemoarchitecture, Myeloarchitecture. His findings have not yet been peer-reviewed.


Recents studies show how coffee is good for your health

Steaming hot, iced, blended, black, creamy. Coffee! It comes in many forms, and it’s part of my daily routine. It’s part of many others’ too. Last week several established publications’ websites were running coffee-related articles, touting this beverage’s health benefits. Scientists have remarked on this drink’s healthful qualities in the past. The idea that coffee is good for you is not a new one.

The Relationship with Diabetes

The delightful drink seems to help in warding off type 2 diabetes. The sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG for short, is a protein which controls the sex hormones in the human body: testosterone and estrogen. It has also been considered to have a key role in the evolution of this specific type of diabetes.

It has been observed that drinking coffee will increase the amount of plasma of SHBG. A few years ago, a study showed that women who ingested a minimum of four cups each day were slightly less likely to develop diabetes as opposed to those who didn’t drink it at all.

Help in Other Areas

The Best Way to Start the Day Right. Source: Pixabay.

Coffee, primarily the caffeinated kind, has been known to prevent as well as alleviate Parkinson’s disease. The consumption of caffeine has been found to significantly decrease the number of Parkinson’s cases. In fact, it may even aid in simple movement in individuals afflicted with the disease.

It provides some benefits for those who are concerned about their heart. Small daily doses can assist in preventing heart failure. In one study, it was shown that the risk of heart failure in people drinking four European cups of coffee per day was reduced by 11%.

Newer studies show that the regular intake of a relatively small amount of coffee can bring down the chances of premature death by 10%. Additional benefits could possibly include preventing cirrhosis, decrease the likelihood of multiple sclerosis (MS), and prevent the onslaught of colon cancer. However, to be certain whether these benefits are actually present in coffee more tests are needed. It is also one of the very best sources of antioxidants which protect the human body against destructive molecules called free radicals. This is good since free radicals are believed by many scientists to bring about cancer, blood vessel disease, and other serious ailments.

The Biggie: Coffee and Liver Health

From Pot to Cup. Source: Pixabay.

Perhaps the biggest health factor it basks in being associated with is liver health. Marc Gunter, head of a recent large-scale European study noted by National Geographic, has stated coffee drinking is linked to good health in the liver and circulatory systems. He also says it can account for lower inflammation levels in those who drink it as opposed to those who don’t.

The discoveries this study has led to supply the strongest defense to date for the healthful qualities of coffee. Gunter informed the scientific community and the public that he plans to examine the beverage’s chemical compounds in an attempt to know what makes it healthful.

We have actually seen how it can aid in liver conditions for several years. For instance, it was found that consuming three cups of coffee on a daily basis reduced the chances of getting liver cancer by 50%! Decaf also decreases the number of enzymes located in the liver. Thus, it is seen that caffeine is not always the prime healthy aspect provided in coffee. Drinking the beverage frequently has been associated with decreasing the risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) which is a rare disease infecting the liver’s bile ducts.

As we’ve seen, coffee has quite a few benefits when drunk regularly and moderately. The important thing to recognize now is that many specific studies need to done on coffee itself and how it relates to treating various illnesses.