Biology 202
Neurobiology and Behavior
Spring 2004

Forum 10

Name:  allison
Subject:  dreaming
Date:  2004-03-23 09:31:30
Message Id:  8963
Michelle raised the idea of the brain's self regulating ability, I wonder what role dreaming plays in this process? The dreams I remember are always such a random combination of images and experiences. Is my brain combining past experiences with imaginary images for the purpose of regulating or erasing these experiences from my brain? Does waking up and remembering a dream compromise the function/purpose of the dream? It seems plausible that not remembering a dream is b/c the brain has erased it as well as the experience, and therefore the function of the dream is satisfied. Just some random thoughts...
Name:  Jenny
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  sleep walking
Date:  2004-03-24 09:13:04
Message Id:  8977
In class we had discussed experiences where we would temporarily forget who we are, like the first few moments of being awake after a deep sleep or sleeping in an unfamiliar place. But what happens when we appear to be asleep but our body can continue to move in a manner similar to waking?

Often sleepwalkers can move about their homes with ease, knowing where the stairs are, locks are, etc, but if they are woken in the middle of the sleep walking experience, they are disoriented. It seems like the I-function isn't regulating the sleep walking experience, and when the person wakes up, the I-function wakes up and is startled and confused. I wonder what the role of the I-function is in sleep, and what the interplay between the I-function and the unconscious is during the times when one isn't completely asleep or awake?

Name:  Student Contributor
Subject:  Sleep Walking
Date:  2004-03-25 09:49:18
Message Id:  8994
Once when I was about 15, I sleep-walked from my bedroom on the second floor downstairs and into the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee and got out a bowl of cereal. Then, without touching any of it, I went back upstairs to bed. Now I don't remember this, but my mom saw me heading upstairs and found my mess in the kitchen. So what was going on there? I don't remember a thing, but for some reason I got out of bed with the desire to get breakfast, but then went back to bed without actually eating it. So what's the function of sleep-walking, anyway? Why did I do it? What might I have been thinking? What does any sleep-walker think, if they think at all?

Just some questions I've got ...

Name:  dana
Date:  2004-03-26 18:49:34
Message Id:  9016
Did you know if you type "sleepwalking" into google, a bryn mawr neuro webpaper is the first response?


Its a good paper, very informative

Name:  debbie
Date:  2004-03-28 13:31:36
Message Id:  9031
I asked Brad last week to perform a seemingly easy task that i was unable to accomplish. He was also unable to complete this task. We are hoping that Dr. Grobstein or someone in the class will be able to explain why we just can't do this --

Sit down in a chair and make clockwise circles with your right foot. After a few circles, lift up your left hand and write the number 8 in the air. Is your right foot still making clockwise circles? If it is not, why isn't it? Try again real hard to see if you can do it.


Name:  Anjali
Subject:  Spinning and remembering dreams
Date:  2004-03-28 16:00:01
Message Id:  9033
I had a thought after class on Thursday, during Ballet. It makes sense to me now, why you'd feel sick to your stomach in a car or on a boat. But then why do you get dizzy when you're spinning? You're the one who's initiating the movement- your body ought to know that yes, the world's spinning but that's ok, because you're the one who's causing it to do that. And yet that's not true. Spinning even a little bit always makes me horribly dizzy. And somehow I'd always thought that the fact that I get dizzy very easily is linked to the fact that I get car sick very easily. I thought it was all classified under motion sickness. But if there's such a difference in the effect on your body between motion that you create yourself and motion you're subjected to, I'm very confused. The two kinds of motion seem to have about the same effect on me.

Another thing: what Allison said about dreaming made me remember something- about waking up and not remembering dreams. I had an idea a couple weeks ago, about why people can't remember their dreams very well. I know that in order to remember something, I have to understand it- if a concept I'm trying to learn doesn't make sense to me, I'll be able to memorize it, but I'll never be able to remember it. Could it be the same for dreams? The fact that they often aren't often very coherent or logical makes them difficult to remember? It feels like the dreams that I can remember the most easily are the ones that make the most coherent sense- the ones that are like continuous stories. Otherwise all I'll remember are little bits and pieces that don't go together- I'll wake up with the memory of a specific emotion, or random images, and the feeling that there was more there that I can't remember but that it didn't really make much sense.

Also, what Debbie said about making circles with your foot and tracing the number 8 in the air: when I tried it it make me think of rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time... or is that the way it goes? I can't remember. One of those things that you spend forever trying to do in elementary school. Anyway, I don't know if it's related or not. But it made me smile a bit to remember it.

And one last thing: I loved Mariya's comparison of motor symphonies to jazz bands. I hadn't even thought of that, but it makes so much sense. And what Katina said about motor symphonies going out of tune: the first thing that came to mind when I read that was losing motor coordination. I suppose that tripping over your own feet could be an example of a motor symphony not being in tune?

Name:  Shirley Ramirez
Date:  2004-03-28 17:25:33
Message Id:  9034
The discussions we have been having on how we learn have been very interesting. It is so fascinating how different individuals learn things differently. I was talking to my friend and I asked her what she thought about learning. She believed that we learn differently because of our birthdays and the position of the moon, sun and planets. I was very intrigued, but did not understand her explanation 100%. It was appealing to see that other people have non-biological/psychological explanations.
In the rest of my other classes I had learn about learning using Pavlov's and Skinner's theories and had just concluded that practice makes perfect!!! Now, I was wondering if when we learn do we create symphonies in the brain and the more we practice, do the symphonies strength? A better idea would be that we build on prior knowledge instead of creating the symphonies from scratch. Another question is: why is it that some people learn better through writing, seeing or actions. Do you think it just depends on how we originally got taught information? Or did we develop individually?
On another topic, it was interesting to learn about motion sickness and how it actually works. It nice to know what is happening in my body when I am sick. This class has helped me really value our body-it is so complicated!!!
Name:  maria s-w
Date:  2004-03-28 21:44:24
Message Id:  9042
As far as dreaming goes, I was thinking the other day about how strange it is when a dream that I'm having requires some sort of sensory experience--for example, that in my dream I taste something or smell something or fall over and expect to feel pain when I hit the ground--but don't. At least in my experience one doesn't actually have any of those sensory experiences, but there is some echo of the sensation that I am dreaming of having. It would seem can't just dredge up the memory of what a diet coke tastes like and experience it in my dream. This isn't the case with sight and emotion. When you are having a frightening nightmare you don't feel a watered down version of fear, it's real fear and you obviously have visual experiences as you're dreaming. I don't know about sound...I know that in dreams people speak to me and I know what they're saying, but I don't think i actaully have the experience of hearing the voice of my mother, for example, calling my name, even though I know that I have a memory of what her voice sounds like and when I'm awake can call it up and hear her voice in my head.
I don't know if this is common, but I have these sort of strange episodes at times when I'm going to sleep where just as I'm drifting off my I-fxn seems to wake up but the rest of my body doesn't. It's this really uncomfortable state of being awake and trying to move and not being able to. The episode only ends when I sort of wrench myself's a really bizarre experience. I've heard it called 'sleep paralysis,' but I don't know if that's the technical term...I wonder what exactly that is going on when that happens.
Name:  Prachi Dave
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Date:  2004-03-29 09:26:25
Message Id:  9048
In discussing memory and learning, I often wonder what processes form the basis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A professor I once worked with believed that the flashbacks that characterise PTSD are a result of your unconscious attempting to integrate snatches of affective trauma memories into a coherent whole such that once this whole narrative of the trauma event is achieved, individuals can begin to reconcile themselves to the emotional impact of the trauma itself. This is part of the base of re-experiencing therapy that is somewhat typical of treatment for PTSD sufferers, it seems. It seems interesting that at any given point in time, one can devote only a certain quota of cognitive resources to the processing of an event and in emotion-laden events, it is such emotion that characterises the memory...

Also, I still don't believe that adults find it as easy or easier than children to learn language.

Name:  Erica
Subject:  Memory
Date:  2004-03-29 11:31:04
Message Id:  9049
Prachi's comment on PTSD reminded me of Tuesday's class and how we discussed the I-fn's ability to suppress the feeling of physical pain. I was wondering if this could apply to memories as well. We mentioned the whole idea about how an emotional response can be triggered from the recollection of a painful memory. But, which part of the brain is at work when someone can unaffectedly recall a memory that would generally warrant a painfully emotional response? Is that the I-fn trying to sever the connection between thoughts and emotions if at all possible? Or can emotional pain simply be suppressed in the same way that a person walking over hot coals has the ability to not feel physical pain? In addition, where does the unconscious come in? If we believe that everything goes through the unconscious first, would this then be an example of the memory but not the pain making into conscious thought? To this effect, I was wondering if in place of the actual emotionally painful response to the memory there might instead be only a memory of the pain, which has a degree of third-person-ness. People sometimes say that they've had the experience of feeling as though they were an outsider looking in on their own lives. What if the same holds true for a memory, and what effect does that inevitably have on the individual?
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  glial cells?
Date:  2004-03-29 18:38:54
Message Id:  9054
I just wanted to comment on something that was brought up in my bio 102 class while discussing the nervous system. It is in regard to this article in the recent Scientific American, the cover story is on glial cells and their possible impact on memory assistance. Although I had honestly not heard of them before this biology course, I felt like the article had a few interesting points to bring up. The one that got me thinking was how they outnumber the neurons 9:1, and they have their own voltage gated channels so they can monitor the synapses in the neurons around them. Apparently there is also a link between this ability and their job in repairing and doing general upkeep on the nervous system. I was wondering if Dr. Grobestein or anyone else in the forum knows something about the validity of these hypotheses. I strongly urge my classmates to check out the article, it ties in very closely to the course.


Name:  Katina Krasnec
Subject:  MS and Motor symphony
Date:  2004-03-29 19:56:46
Message Id:  9055
In Multiple Sclerosis, degeneration of the nerve tissue causes difficulty moving limbs or muscles, and occasionally sporadic movement. While the destruction of the neurons and nerves correlated to what occurs to muscular function, what occurs with the motor symphony? Is it "out of tune" so to speak, or is it, as well, affected by the disease? I understand that the motor symphony is not a specific entity, but in a sense as part of the nervous system.

Is there such as thing as a too finely tuned motor symphony? Do world class athletes have a different type of reaction/nervous system to allow them to perform at the level they do? What can one do to improve reactions and the "motor symphony?"

Lastly, on what level does our brain help control these functions? Is there some deterioration in the brain that leads to clumsiness or another sign of a lack of coordination, connected to the symphony?

Name:  Mike
Subject:  MS and Perception
Date:  2004-03-29 20:59:28
Message Id:  9056
In response to Katina:
MS acts on two levels, first it degerates the nervous tissue (starting with the myelin) and destroys motor function. The effect of the degeneration is most pronounced in the optic nerves. Optic neuritis, the name for MS induced degeneration of the optic nerves distorts spacial perception and sight deteriorates much in the way it does with old age (second level).
Thus there is a difficulty interpreting the output of the rest of the body and reacting to it. i.e. Walking down a flight of steps requires constant output as a direct result of perceiving the body's location relative to the stairs, etc.,
I don't know if the motor symphony is affected as a result of low responsiveness of muscles or a deterioration of somatic muscle memory, but there is difficulty in queing the symphony to play. MS affects motor neurons and sensory neurons, so as they deteriorate, the whole nervous system must constantly adjust to fluctuating or deteriorating functionality.
Name:  erin
Date:  2004-03-29 21:07:34
Message Id:  9057
Class last Thursday got me thinking about the extent to which we are aware of our actions and behaviors. If corollary discharge signals within our box model affect input-signals which provide an updateable model of oneself and the world – without the I-function – what then accounts for our behavior? Is our behavior a result of corollary discharge signals or is our behavior a reaction to what our I-function dictates? I get motion sick – even on very short distances (like on the Bluebus to BM or Haverford) as a result, I ride with my head against the window in a certain position and sit in the same seat. The disconnection between expectations and input cause me to behave in a certain way – without involving the I-function. However, I am very conscience of what I am doing. In any other situation, the same behavioral response to such a conflict between signals would seem even more bizarre. In principle, behaviors would seem to be accountable by corollary discharge signals and their resultant processes – w/out the I-function, if that is the case when do we become conscience of our behavior? Are we never conscience of what is being fired in our nervous system and only aware of our responses to the degree that they are physically observable? Is it possible for there to be an overlap between this and the I-function? If not then, what is behavior? When or how do we know when our actions are a conscience choice and when they are a result of and elaborate relay of signals that translate into motor symphony.
Name:  Kristen
Subject:  motion sickness
Date:  2004-03-29 21:16:02
Message Id:  9058
The discussion regarding different kinds of motion sickness was of great interest to me. My father is one of those people who gets carsick/seasick/jet lag. He gets it so badly that he can physically turn green. He has tried many things in an attempt to get over his "sickness"; drugs such as Dramamine, special patches, and even garlic. At one time someone gave him this bracelet with special pressure points on it to wear on his wrist claiming that it would prevent sea sickness. I was wondering what exactly these "cures" do to the nervous system in order to help people who are prone to such sicknesses.
Name:  Ginger
Subject:  Dizziness
Date:  2004-03-29 21:38:32
Message Id:  9060
I was greatly inspired by Anjali's posting on dizziness. In my modern dance class, we would do a warm-up called the "brain dance." It consisted of a series of movements, including spinning in one direction for a minute, that supposedly stimulate/wake up the mind. I often wondered how the swimming feeling of my head was helping my brain. So for today's post, I researched car sickness versus self-inflicted dizziness. As we learned in class, car/boat/plane sickness is caused by a conflict in signals to the brain. When I sit in a car, my eyes are in static equilibrium--the body appears to be still. However, my inner ear which contains endolymph [endolymph: a fluid that resists movement. When it moves, it triggers nerve signals to the brain indicating direction.] is in dynamic equilibrium--the body is moving. Therefore, the "sickness" is caused by the brain receiving mixed signals. Dizziness from spinning is a somewhat similar problem. When you spin, the endolymph in your ear spins with you. It tells the brain that you are spinning. However, when you stop, the endolymph keeps moving. Thus, your brain receives a signal that you're moving from the inner ear, although your eyes say, "hey, we're stopped." This confused brain moment results in lovely vertigo. All this being said, I still have a few questions: In relation to the philosophies behind the "brain dance," is it healthy for your brain to be confused every once in awhile? Also, why do people respond differently to motion sickness (as in very sensitive or not at all)? Is this a reflection of a quality of that individual's brain or of a characteristic of the endolymph (e.g. slightly more viscous than another person's)? My information concerning the logistics of motion sickness came from: "What makes you dizzy when you spin?" & "Why do people get car sick?"
Name:  Lindsey
Subject:  back to memory erasure
Date:  2004-03-29 23:37:45
Message Id:  9063
Going back to the movie Eternal Sushine of the Spotless Mind also brings up by association the recent movie "Paycheck." This film is based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, and a character that undergoes selective memory erasure. In an interesting article, it talks about how this erasure is implausible because memory does not exist in individual neurons, rather it exists over a pattern of neurons (like a motor symphony).

Can we say that specific memory erasure will be impossible (although we can never say impossible these days!) because it is an all encompassing idea? The example used is idea of a bike: not only do we have that memory of learning to ride the bike for the first time, but of all the other times we ride the bike, as well as numerous other associations we have of it. In some ways memory becomes a web mapped around various parts of our brain. Not only is it difficult to locate its origin, but it allows for us to exist as ourselves every second as a "ubiquitous" pathway. Memory is continuity and therefore our Self, so if we eliminate even a simple idea of a bike, we could arguably render a large part of our personality obsolete. In response to Chelsea, I think we would be different people. Amnesiacs have the same problem—they cannot remember who they are moment from moment, thus they are unrecognizable as the person people once knew them as. In some ways this shows that our Self is a construct of society, we are what people recognize us as.. individuals who act in a particular way on a consistent basis (with exceptions here and there).

Name:  Shadia
Subject:  Choice& Consciousness
Date:  2004-03-29 23:57:44
Message Id:  9064
Thursday's discussion got me rethinking about choice. The idea that there is a mechanistic explanation behind any given choice is a disconcerting one. As a society, we operate under the assumption that we have free will—the person who risks his life to save another rather than flee in the face of danger is deemed a hero, the one who commits a crime is condemned. A while back someone had raised the question of how such a "we-are-wired-to-choose...explanation" would alter legal implications, in terms of responsibility for one's actions. Looking at Pleurobranchea and how it doesn't withdraw its proboscis when it is eating because of the inhibitory corollary discharge signals produced by chewing was interesting but how can we apply it to ourselves? Upon first glance, Pleurobranchea seemingly exhibits free will, which we then learn it does not in fact have. But can the same be said of us? I don't think so... because I feel *certain* that given my actions in any situation, I can imagine having done the complete opposite. It sounds simple enough... Pleurobranchea, if it were complex enough, could not experience having the concept of a withdrawn proboscis while eating just like we cannot have an internal battle about whether or not our hearts should beat. The interesting thing is that the question of choice and the ability to determine what it is we have "control" over is inextricably tied to self-awareness and the I-fnct.

On another note, I was really entertained by the various postings over the past week. Anjali your question about dizziness literally transported me back to my fourth grade health class where I first learned about the fluid in semi-circular canals. It had been a question I had always wondered about because my brother and I loved to compete to see who could spin the longest when we were little. Anyway, I remember consciously willing myself to remember this when we it was first introduced in fourth grade. (I can tell you where I was sitting, what I was wearing, and what the picture in the book looked like.) I realize this sounds like a very excessive response but I still do this sometimes—(e.g. when ppl mention their birthdays, or random facts/images like Nepal's flag). I'm just wondering/hoping :) that others do this too—not memorize things but tell yourself that this is something you want to know and invariable remembering that thing along with the situation it is presented in along with that desire....

Name:  Emma
Subject:  thoughts
Date:  2004-03-30 00:09:51
Message Id:  9065
There is so much in this forum I am unsure what to respond to. In response to the dreaming/sleepwalking discussion I once heard something about dieters sleepwalking and stuffing their faces at night. This would imply that in sometimes sleep our desires surface but why does this happen? How does the brain functioning differently as we sleep bring up these images. Sometimes those images are from a long time ago. I remember in High School I was introduced to this boy by a friend of mine and we all talked for about 10 minutes. I did not see this boy for months afterwards and never thought about him. Then suddenly one night I had a dream that he was killed in a bus crash. When I woke up I couldn't even remember his name or where I had met him. After a few days I remembered meeting him but still couldn't remember his name. That dream has always stayed vivid to me and contained fears that I myself had(the boy died when the bus stopped at his stop and he was thrown through the window, something I am afraid of) but I have never been able to figure out how a boy I didn't know played such a big part in a dream.
Name:  Kimberley Knudson
Subject:  memory
Date:  2004-03-30 00:38:22
Message Id:  9068
I was talking with a friend of mine and his parents one day. We got into a discussion of early childhood and memory. His parents told me a story that when my friend was 4 or 5 he recalled his birth. They were watching a television program and a scene of a woman giving birth came on. He turned to his parents and said that he remembered when that happened to him claiming that the scene was all red, supposedly from the placenta. My friend does not remember saying this but his parents remembered it quite distinctly.

This story goes against my limited knowledge of memory and development. I remember watching a documentary on the topic and from it, I was under the impression that humans do have enough neural connections to retain memories that could be understood and processed with visual interpretations.

My question is, could a person remember his or her birth?

Name:  cham
Subject:  Vertigo
Date:  2004-03-30 00:50:00
Message Id:  9069
This week's postings on "self-inflicted" motion and dizziness versus motion and dizziness that is imposed upon our bodies (e.g., through movement of a car or boat) made me wonder about a different kind of dizziness- that experienced as a result of Meniere's Disease. as usual, i offer some personal experience- i have Meniere's Disease and can tell you that it is a form of "dizziness" unlike any other, whether it be self-inflicted or not. Although the etiology of Meniere's Disease is not fully understood, it is somehow related to a malfunction of the endolymphatic sac mentioned in a previous posting. it is also associated with the body's sodium regulation and endocrine activity. Attacks seem to be brought on by stress, but why? Perhaps there is an interaction with blood pressure and the malfunction of the endolymphatic sac, as it would explain both the relationship to stress as well as to increased sodium levels in the body. Does that even make sense?
Name:  Michelle
Subject:  Motion Sickness
Date:  2004-03-30 03:22:02
Message Id:  9072
Over spring break, I went to a place called Wonder Works in Orlando, Florida. It was an upside down building that had 100's of interactive exhibits and displays for the mind. The entrance into the first floor of exhibits was a tunnel. In the tunnel, there was a suspended walkway about 20 feet in length. A giant and continuous spiral was painted on the ceiling, floor, and walls of the tunnel. The ceiling, floor, and walls moved in a clockwise manner, much like a mouse wheel. Before entering the tunnel, I could easily see through this illusion. I saw the walls very clearly moving and the walkway remaining stationary. However, as I took two steps in, I began to feel like I was turning upside down, and clutched to the handrails. I stepped back towards the entrance and saw the walls moving, I stepped forward and felt myself moving again. I began to focus on various fixed points in the room: the handrails, the light of the opposite doorway, and the floor of the walkway. In focusing, my mind would start to believe that I was stationary, but if I caught even a little bit of the moving walls, I would lose focus and feel as though I was motion. In this case, my body told my mind that I was motionless, yet my eyes managed to trick my mind into believing what it was seeing. My sight took precedence over my other senses. It seems as though because this exhibit most employed sight, the combination of my other senses could not draw my mind away. It seems odd to me that my mind could not listen to my body's sensation, but instead listened to a single sense. After going through that tunnel, it seems to me that motion sickness or other such feelings are a result of various combinations of senses. Depending on the situation, some senses can override others and one's overall reaction to both illusion and reality is a specific blend of all our senses, the tools we use to interpret situations we are faced with.
Name:  Liz
Subject:  Night Shift
Date:  2004-03-30 06:35:35
Message Id:  9073
As someone who works the occasional night shift, I found our discussion of the effectiveness of those who work nights particularly applicable. From my experience, it is much more difficult to sleep during the day. Despite knowing that I should sleep during the day since I was up all night, it is difficult when the sun is out in the middle of the day. During the winter when I would get back to my dorm room and the sun would not yet be up, I could sleep for several hours but now with the sun rising earlier, I find myself having to take measures to make my room dark so that I can sleep. I want to be awake during the day even though I know I should be sleeping.
Name:  Maja
Subject:  memories
Date:  2004-03-30 07:26:13
Message Id:  9074
In response to the discussion about memories, a few questions sparked in my head. When people go through an experience that is unpleasant, weather it be physically or mentally traumatic, they never seem to be able to remember it to be as awful as it truly was. This goes hand in hand with the phenomenon of being unable to remember the feeling of pain. We can remember that something must have hurt, but we can never recall the degree of pain or re-experience it. Being unable to recall just how miserable a painful history was is a good self-preservation mechanism that helps you move forward in life. However, what puzzles me, is that people often tend to focus on and remember all the good aspects of that miserable time period, to the point where they are even able to fool themselves into thinking that perhaps it was not all that bad.

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