Psychologist Uses Sushi to Make Brain Complexity Simple

Apr 27 2018 -- 2:00 PM

Here's some brain food for you, LITERALLY. (That's pun magic, please applaud.) Seriously, though, there's a clinical psychologist who's posting brain explainers on Instagram using sushi, and they're all so educational and delicious you won't be able to help but release some dopamine.

To demonstrate how a signal travels from your limbs/organs to your brain, this little sushi man is going to have to go through some pain. Read below to learn more about how we feel acute pain! (Please note that “transverse” in the picture should read “thoracic”.) * Here the tuna nigiri 🍣 represents the skin region, or dermatome, covering the sushi man's bicep. . * When he gets cut with the 🔪 (sorry, it's for the science!), his peripheral nervous system becomes activated💥 in a process called "nociception." Nociception itself is not pain, just the nervous system's response to something that is potentially harmful. * This signal travels through sensory neurons in the periphery to pain-specific spinal cord tract(s). In this example, the signal enters through a thoracic spinal cord vertebra, the level of spinal cord associated with the bicep dermatome, passing the lumbar ones beneath. * Once in the spinal cord tract, the nociceptive signal travels up through the cord to the 🧠stem and the cerebrum (here, the salmon cerebrum roll). * A variety of 🧠 regions involved in sensation, emotion, memory/learning, and cognition work together to decide how painful the nociceptive signal is, where it's coming from in the body, and what kind of emotional response or action should happen as a result of the pain (e.g., pulling your hand away from a hot stove). . * Basically, the experience of pain gets made in the 🧠 , and nociception happens in the neurons below. * If you've ever had a medical procedure under general anesthesia, you (hopefully) experienced nociception without the conscious experience of pain.. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #sushi #science #sushilovers #sciencelovers #phd #food #foodpost #pain #brain #neuroscience #sushieveryday#womenwhoscience

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Atlas Obscura wrote up the scientific sushi rolls, which are being posted by Janelle Letzen, a postdoctoral fellow in clinical psychology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. She told Atlas Obscura that she decided to start posting the info(od)graphics to her Instagram — the_sushi_scientist — because she set a 2017 new year's resolution of learning a new skill, and decided on sushi. But sushi as... an art!

Serving up some thalamus nigiri for this #tastytuesday! The thalamus is a structure positioned right above the brainstem. Its main function is to act as a "sensory relay station," meaning it takes incoming sensory information and appropriately sends it to the cerebral cortex for complex processing. Read below to learn more about how the thalamus works, and comment or DM with topic requests! * * * 1. Let's think about the cerebral cortex as executive board members for the company, Brain Co. This company's goal is to take things that people see, hear, smell, and touch to create personalized experiences. These experiences include things like emotions, thoughts, and physical movements. The board members want to decide how these personalized experiences turn out, but they need a way of managing the overwhelming amount of sensory information presented to their company. . * 2. Brain Co. has several stores that are each specialized in collecting different types of sensory information. To run efficiently, they need a regional manager that will assess the stores' work to decide which cerebral cortex board member would be most interested in this type of information for experience personalization. The thalamus acts as Brain Co.'s regional manager. * 3. In this role, the thalamus has a handy organizational scheme to compartmentalize overwhelming amounts of information. The thalamus organizes all of these different sensory inputs using "nuclei," or bundles of specialized neurons that differ slightly among each nucleus. . * 4. There might be ~50 specialized thalamic nuclei, but the most popular ones are served up in this nigiri. Further, each nucleus deals with potentially more than one type of sensory information, so the most well-established are listed above. . * 5. If you swipe through the next two pictures, you'll see where the thalamus is positioned in the brain (Fig. 2), and Brain Co.'s organizational structure for different types of information laid out in "cortico-basal loops" (Fig. 3). *************************** #science #sushiart #educational #researcher #medicine #md #psychology #phd #nursing #rn #physicianassistant #pa #steam #neuroscience #brainscience #brain

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The explainers are overwhelmingly related to neuroscience (although there is one very tasty looking diagram of climate change made with a mushroom roll), and tend to revolve around various injuries, and basic brain chemistry instances.

Letzen covers everything from a complete splitting of the corpus callosum, the fibers that connect the hemispheres of the brain, to how RNA is structured, and each foodie-licious diagram has a simple explainer in text next to it.

In light of renewed political discord in the US over gun control laws, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about disconnection syndromes. A disconnection syndrome refers to a set of symptoms that occurs after association fibers between two brain regions have been lesioned. These most commonly occur after stroke or from multiple sclerosis.. * Full splitting of the corpus callosum, the fibers that connect the left and right hemispheres, stems from corpus callosotomy. This is a now rare surgical procedure to treat intractable seizures. As a result of this disconnection, the two hemispheres do not communicate with each other, so each has its own unique perception and impulses during the early weeks of recovery. For example, a patient might synchronously reach for a red shirt with his/her right hand and a blue shirt with his/her left hand. * After some time, patients are usually able to reconcile these two competing perceptions and impulses, reporting a unified conscious experience through "external cross talk." In verbalizing their experience out loud, both hemispheres can process the information originally available to only one hemisphere, so that the two can work together. * If external cross talk can help promote neuroplasticity in split-brain patients, maybe it can help promote politicoplasticity in our society. We need to hear each other’s perceptions, not stay trapped in our own hemisphere, to come up with integrated solutions that will create the safest outcomes for us all. ••••••••••••••••••••• #sushi #science #sushiscience #politics #republicans #democrats #sushiart #womenwhoscience #neurology #neurosurgery #neuroscience #food #sushiloveforever #sushitooth

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Letzen told Atlas Obscura that she does this because she considers herself to be a part of a new generation of scientists, who refer to themselves as "science communicators." These scientists want to explain scientific concepts in a fun, understandable way. (Like this guy, maybe?)

Nucleic acids are the building blocks of life. You can think of DNA as the genetic blueprints for cell function and growth that stays in the cell, whereas RNA acts like the hardworking construction crew that carrys out these instructions. Read below to learn more about RNA, and DM or comment with any topic requests! * * * * 1. Unlike DNA’s “double helix,” RNA has one strand of nucleotides, a type of organic molecule. Nucleobases pair up and stack on top of each other to form the helical structure. . * 2. Nucleobases in RNA include cytosine, guanine, adenine, and uracil (replaced by thymine in DNA). C/G and A/U bond together as base pairs. The order of these repeating units acts as specific instructions. * 3. RNA is super essential for making proteins, which are present throughout our bodies. For example, proteins form hemoglobin in blood and collagen in skin. . * 4. There are 3 popular types of RNA, with new forms still being discovered. Ribosomal RNA builds the actual site of protein synthesis, called the ribosome. Messenger RNA brings over instructions from DNA blueprints to be carried out in the ribosome. Transfer RNA brings over the raw materials needed to build proteins in the ribosome. * 5. Researchers have started testing the use of RNA subtypes as clinical treatments. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out the @rnatherapeutics FAQs website for a great explanation of how RNA therapies are being tested for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and viral infections. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #science #rna #dna #sushi #medicine #genetics #physicianassistant #nursing #studygram #psychology #molecularbiology #neuroscience #foodpost #scientist #womeninscience #education #research #instascience #womeninstem #phd #md #rn #pa

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Letzen also said that she eats the sushi after she's done making the diagrams, which is understandable. Can't throw out good food. And our brains must constantly be fed — in all kinds of ways....

via Giphy
What does your brain think of this sushi science? Command your fingers to write out your brain's opinion in the comments below!

Images: flickr / bindifry

We love sushi stories.