C. Rose Brain Series #10: The Disordered Brain

Charlie Rose Brain SeriesEpisode 10 of the Charlie Rose Brain Series focused on the disordered brain, with discussions about neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Huntington’s disease, and spinal cord injury. With series co-host Eric Kandel, the panel included: (from the available transcript)

John Donoghue’s work allowed paralyzed patients to move and communicate using only their thoughts and a machine called a brain-computer interface. He is a professor at Brown University and the cofounder of a company called Cybernetics.

John Krakauer explores how the brain controls movement and how movement is recovered following a stroke. He is an associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Columbia.

Nancy Bonini studies the genetic basis of neurological disease by performing experiments on fruit flies. She is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Howard Hughes medical investigator.

Mahlon Delong is an expert on Parkinson’s disease and a pioneer in the growing field of deep-brain stimulation. He is a professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Some highlights discussed in the 18-minute excerpt below:

  • The differences between psychiatric disorders and neurological disorders.
  • How Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke were instrumental in demonstrating localization of function within the brain by focusing on language impairments.
  • By studying neurological disorders, we gain insight into how the normal brain works as well as treatments for abnormalities, impairments, and disorders.
  • Deep-brain stimulation has proven successful in treating some patients with disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, but it doesn’t work for everybody and it’s not a cure. It’s also beginning to be applied to patients with psychiatric problems.
  • Fruit flies are being studied and used in experiments with applications to humans as many genes and gene pathways are shared between fruit flies and humans.
  • Sophisticated, miniature electrode arrays have been implanted into the motor cortex of paralyzed patients such that their brain activity (action potentials, or thoughts) can be transmitted outside of their nervous systems to control external devices such as (potentially) video screens, robotic arms, etc.
  • Traditionally, psychiatrists have not thought in anatomical terms as have neurologists, but there is now a need for more overlap between the two disciplines.

View the full episode online at the Charlie Rose site.