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Importance of Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience

Neuron Communication

Neurons refer to specific cells designed to transmit and receive electrical or chemical signals and are what constitute the nervous system. To perform these functions, the glia cells offer support to the neurons. Neuroscientists compare neurons to electrical wires since they have the same purpose of transferring signals from one region to the next (Jabeen & Thirumalai, 2018). On the other hand, glia resembles a worker within a factor who is in charge of ensuring everything is in order by maintaining the wires and removing those that are not functioning properly. To communicate, neurons utilize both chemical signals and electrical signals. For this to occur, there are two main mediums that are involved: the action potential and neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical signals which transfer the data between neurons. Action potentials are electric signals that the cells utilize to communicate with one another. For communication to be complete, an action potential must excite a neurotransmitter, and this occurs at the nerve junction.

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Action Potential (Electric Communication)

Numerous channels found on the cell membrane allow the inward and outward flow of negative or positive ions within a cell. Generally, the outside of the cell is less negative compared to the inside (Jabeen & Thirumalai, 2018). Furthermore, these charges found on the cells do not remain constant since they either receive input or produce output, thereby making them increase or decrease. For instance, particular inputs are responsible for increasing the positivity of a neuron’s membrane, while others reverse the process. Action potentials are the basic communication units between neurons and transpire when all the inhibitory and excitatory inputs make the potential of the membrane of neurons reach the action potential threshold (Jabeen & Thirumalai, 2018). In this case, the action potential threshold refers to a distinct charge that the cell’s membrane must reach to enable an action potential to transpire. The action potential transfers the information to the axon, where chemical transmission occurs.

Neurotransmitters

In the nervous system, there is no physical contact between neurons; rather, they are very close to the synapse. Scientists define synapses as the structure that is responsible for transmitting electric nerve impulses and are found between two neurons (Jabeen & Thirumalai, 2018). The presynaptic neuron is the one that sends signals from one neuron to the next. On the other hand, the postsynaptic is the one that receives information. A synaptic cleft is a small space found between neurons. Presynaptic neurons release neurotransmitters in the synaptic cleft, where they transmit signals to postsynaptic neurons. Four actions emerge after an action potential finds the axon. First, there is the depolarization of the membrane by the action potential, which opens positive sodium voltage gates. These positive voltages enter the cell, which depolarizes the presynaptic membrane. As a result of this action, positive calcium ions open within the presynaptic neuron causing more of these ions to enter the neuron. Synaptic vesicles are forced to stick to the presynaptic membrane causing the release of neurotransmitters, which diffuse in the synaptic cleft, thereby sticking to the postsynaptic membrane.

Techniques Utilized to Assess the Structure and Function of the Brain

Electrophysiology refers to the electrical neuronal events recoding varying from the cellular to the molar. One technique utilized to assess brain function is the Electroencephalogram (EEG). An electroencephalogram test is done when a physiologist wants to examine whether there are abnormalities within an individual’s brain. To do so, a doctor studies the different brain activities or brain waves (Casson et al., 2017). During the operation, electrodes containing metal discs that have thin wires are placed on an individual’s scalp. The role of the electrodes is to detect small electrical charges that originate from the brain cell activities. These tiny charges are multiplied and recorded on a computer in the form of a graph or can be printed out on paper. These results are then studied by the doctor to identify abnormal brain patterns.

In the process of conducting an EEG test, the medical practitioner usually studies 100 computer screens or pages of the activity. The health provider not only concentrates on the fundamental waveforms but also evaluates sudden energy spikes and stimuli responses such as the flash of light (Casson et al., 2017). The essence of an EEG test is that it helps in detecting such illnesses as epilepsy and stroke. When such conditions exist, the EEG test reveals spiking wakes during the procedure. Individuals with lesions caused by stroke or tumors generally have EEG waves that are slow (Casson et al., 2017). Additionally, diseases related to sleep disorders, psychosis, and Alzheimer’s illnesses are other ailments that the test can help detect.

Magnetic resonance imagery (MRI) is one technique used to assess the functioning of the brain. The procedure is among the best methods for evaluating how the brain operates. According to experts, MRI utilizes strong electromagnetic pulses and magnetic fields to excite protons (Mehranian et al., 2016). As a result, the excited protons produce a photon before they decay and regain their usual state. The MRI then measures the photons and generates a map of living tissue on a computer screen or printed on paper. The spatial resolution of an MRI is about 3 mm, which makes it a preferred technique for clinical applications and research (Mehranian et al., 2016). Despite being an essential tool in medicine, there are other areas where the equipment needs improvement. One such area is the low temporal resolution, which provides uneven evaluation results.

I think I can participate in a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment. The reason for this is that the research will help future generations who may be suffering from different illnesses related to the brain. Furthermore, I would participate in the study because the process does not involve using radiation, such as X-rays. As a result, I am certain that I will not have any side effects that relate to being exposed to X-rays, such as cancer. Additionally, the process does not involve the use of positron emission tomography and computer tomography. I believe that if the research is done in the correct manner, there would be little to no risk involved.

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Definition of Terms

In physiology, there are terms utilized to describe the general location of a certain section of the body. Anterior is an anatomical word that means in front, while posterior is a term that describes what is to the back of a particular object. Rostral and caudal are terms utilized to explain how far or close something is to the tail or head of an animal. The term rostral provides details concerning the location of something located towards the nasal or oral area. Within the brain, this term describes something located towards the frontal lobe tip. The cephalic or caudal refers to how near an element is in relation to an organism’s head.

On the other hand, the term superior details the position of something at the top, while the word inferior is the lower position of something. For instance, the head is the superior part of an organism’s body, while the feet are the inferior sections of the body. The dorsal part of an animal refers to the upper side of the back of that organism, and the ventral part is the lower or front side of that animal. Finally, there are those biological terms used to describe how far or close something is from the body’s midline. The term lateral demonstrates that something is at the side of the midline and uses words such as right lateral or left lateral to provide the position of an element or organ. Medial refers to the position of something in relation to how close it is to the middle of the body.

The cortex is made of four major lobes: the occipital lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, and the frontal lobe. The location of frontal lobe is behind the forehead and is the largest in the brain of a human being. They are significant for expressive language, voluntary movement, and control of higher functionalities (Agirman et al., 2017). The parietal lobe is found at the top of the head, near the back, and is essential for interpreting and processing somatosensory inputs. The temporal lobe forms part of the lower sections of the cortex and is located near the year. This section of the cortex is believed to process particular visual perceptions, language, and emotions (Agirman et al., 2017). It is found posterior to the temporal and parietal lobes and constitutes the caudal section of the brain. The main role of this lobe is to process visual information. The importance of looking from the left or right for a sagittal view, front or back for a coronal view, and from the top or bottom for a horizontal view is to identify where different body organs are situated.

Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience

I believe that the most important factor of neuropsychology is that it allows one to study different patterns related to the weaknesses and strengths of the brain. In my opinion, neurophysiologists can assist patients dealing with sicknesses, genetic conditions, or injuries that involve cognition and the brain. Furthermore, my perception is that medical practitioners in the field of neurophysiology can offer a more holistic perspective of learning to live and manage symptoms associated with the brain or the mind. I think that this enables one to develop a comprehension of the origin and nature of brain-related ailments, offer recommendations, and make diagnoses for appropriate treatment and intervention. In my view, cognitive neuroscience is significant because it offers solutions to issues associated with contemporary science philosophy. The study mainly concentrates on acquiring knowledge of how the nervous system works. I believe that by knowing how the human body works, experts would be able to identify problems associated with health easily.

I believe that the combined study of neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience would provide a better understanding of how the human brain works. Furthermore, I think that through various research, experts have been able to develop modern technology that has been used to treat various diseases associated with the brain. I think that scientists should continue studying the fields together to further the existing development in this area of medicine. I think that the combined study between the two fields of medicine offers more in terms of addressing psychological, behavioral, and cognitive issues. The combination of the two provides a wide area that can assist in studying the origin of particular diseases related to the brain. I believe that doctors would be able to address and identify psychological disorders more easily when there is continuous research in both neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience.

References

Agirman, G., Broix, L., & Nguyen, L. (2017). Cerebral cortex development: An outside‐in perspective. FEBS Letters, 591(24), 3978-3992.

Casson, A. J., Abdulaal, M., Dulabh, M., Kohli, S., Krachunov, S., & Trimble, E. (2017). Electroencephalogram. Seamless Healthcare Monitoring, 45-81.

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Jabeen, S., & Thirumalai, V. (2018). The interplay between electrical and chemical synaptogenesis. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120(4), 1914-1922.

Mehranian, A., Arabi, H., & Zaidi, H. (2016). Vision 20/20: Magnetic resonance imaging‐guided attenuation correction in PET/MRI: Challenges, solutions, and opportunities. Medical Physics, 43(3), 1130-1155.

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