The Neuroscience Anthology project is a part of the INI Internship program. In addition to shadowing Dr. Vokshoor in clinic and in surgery, students in the internship program pick a neuroscience topic and complete an outside research project, giving students a chance to further investigate an area of neuroscience that particularly interests them. Their reports are compiled here to create a working, growing neuroscience curriculum.

Below you can explore what some of our interns have been researching:

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

By Melinda Ma

Every 15 seconds, someone suffers from a traumatic brain injury, due to car accidents, contact sports, or simply getting hit in the head. Although most people survive, concussions should not be taken lightly, because they impair neurological function. The effects of concussions are cumulative, thus, repeated head injuries can result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

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Mirror Neurons

By Lily Zhang

Mirror neurons have been referred to as the "most hyped concept in Neuroscience". Mirror neurons were first discovered in the 1990s by chance when a team of Italian scientists was studying the mechanisms behind certain actions and recording neuronal control of motor activity in macaque monkeys. These scientists saw that the same cells were activated when a monkey observed an action as when the monkey performed the same action itself. This fascinating discovery has allowed us to expand on our ambitions of a greater understanding and insight to certain behaviors.

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The Human Brain and the Ability to Generate Memories

By Vigen Tumoyan

The human brain is a complex neural network with countless abilities. An important part of the human brain is the ability to formulate memories. Additionally, sleep is an important state that is vital for adequate brain performance, such as memory formations. Individuals who generally receive low hours of sleep perform poorly the following day on various tasks, especially memory tests. Thomas et al. states, “Problematic sleep can be detrimental to the development of important cognitive functions, such as working memory, and may have the potential for negative consequences” (2014). In other words, sleep is required nightly for adequate daytime functioning and maintaining proper neural functioning. Receiving low hours of sleep and experiencing sleep problems can often correlate with poor mental performances, such as forgetfulness, absentmindedness, and/or misattribution.

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The Magic of the Limbic System

By Samara Khalil

Emotions: we all have them. In fact, you are experiencing this phenomenon at this very moment. But, what is an emotion, really? Is it a tangible anatomical function that scientists can map on a brain, or is it an abstract idea that humans have developed as a scapegoat for irrational behavior? As it turns out, emotions are a mixture of the abstract and the concrete.

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Effects of Meditation on the Brain

By Samira Soroory

The practice of meditation extends beyond relaxation and the typical yoga class. There are different types of meditation such as Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation that have received the most scientific attention. Meditation can be practiced on its own or as a part of yoga, t'ai chi and other practices. (Horowitz, 2010, p. 223). Other forms of meditation include body scanning, guided meditation, and deep breathing. Practicing meditation has the ability to benefit individuals with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) through the association of neuroplasticity. Slight bursts of electrical activity can be detected during mental activity and thinking. Mental training through meditation can restructure the circuitry of the brain (Kaufman, 2005, p. 1). Individuals who have TBI range from athletes, veterans, those with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), domestic violence, and other related traumas. Practicing meditation allows the individual to heal and have a whole sense of self.

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Spinal Cord Injury

By Tyler Lanman

Each year, there are approximately 12,000 spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the United States. These devastating injuries occur occur when severe trauma to the spine fractures or dislocates vertebrae, causing the spinal cord to bruise or tear. Spinal cord injuries exhibit a broad range of severity ranging from incomplete to complete. In incomplete SCI, sensation and movement is partially lost below the site of injury. In complete SCI, all sensory and motor functions below the site of injury are completely and permanently lost, resulting in paralysis. The riding accident that resulted in the paralysis of Christopher Reeve is an example of a complete SCI. The location of the SCI also determines the extent of injury. Injuries in the thoracic or lumbar regions can affect the torso, legs, bowel and bladder control, and sexual function. If the injury occurs in the cervical region, the ability to speak, breathe, and use arms can also be impaired. Although there are several treatments available for SCI victims, the damage from injury is largely irreversible.

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Alzheimer's Disease

By Ken Dekitani

You wake up one morning, and slowly you prop yourself up in bed as your joints, having braved the unmerciful test of time, ache and creak. Suddenly, an elderly woman walks in with a tray of your favorite breakfast foods and radiantly greets you. Naturally, you inquire, "Excuse me, I appreciate the food but may I ask who you are?" Her smile disappears. The creases in her face deepen as she replies, "Honey, I'm your wife."

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Parkinson's Disease

By Eshita Shah

Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder that is characterized by the progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the brain, particularly in a region known as the substantia nigra. This region is part of the basal ganglia, which is responsible for the initiation, coordination, and overall control of movement. As the disease progresses, the lack of dopamine in the brain leads to loss of control over voluntary movements, causing symptoms such as tremor, bradykinesia, and rigidity in muscles. Non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's include depression and loss of smell.

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