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Iaizzo_Neurophysiology_2011_Lecture - Introduction to...

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Introduction to Neurophysiology Paul A. Iaizzo, PhD Professor of Surgery and Integrative Biology & Physiology Associate Director for the Institute for Engineering in Medicine Paul A. Iaizzo, PhD University of Minnesota B172 Mayo, MMC 195 420 Delaware St. SE Minneapolis, MN 55455 T: 612-624-7912 F: 612-624-2002 Email: [email protected]
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Iaizzo, Page 1 Neurophysiology is a critical and exciting topic to study and understand in great detail for those working in any field associated with neuroengineering basic or applied research, device design and development, and/or neurology or neurosurgical clinical subspecialties. The purpose of this chapter is to provide a general introduction to neurophysiology with more detailed information on several selected topics, and to offer a high level overview of the workings of the human central nervous system. One can explore other sources to find in-depth discussions related to many of the topics introduced in this chapter, as well as learn the specifics of state-of-the-art neuroengineering concepts related to each topic. 1 Overview of Brain Anatomy and Neuronal Circuits In humans, the brain is considered as the control center (mainframe) of the nervous system. Yet, when one speaks of the central nervous system (CNS), we typically include the spinal cord and brain together. The brain is protected by a well-enclosed cranium and the spinal cord is protected by a vertebral column. Relative to other animals, the human brain has a highly developed frontal cortex, which is associated with executive functions, such as: self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought. The portion of the brain devoted to vision is also greatly enlarged in humans, as compared to other animals. Viewed outwardly or via imaging methods such as MRI, the human cerebral cortex is nearly symmetrical, composed of left and right hemispheres. Each hemisphere is then conventionally divided, each hemisphere into four lobes including the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes (Fig 1). These lobes are named after the bones of the skull that overlie them, with one exception the border between the frontal and parietal lobes is shifted backward to the central sulcus (a deep fold that marks the border between the primary motor cortex and the somatosensory cortex). From a functional standpoint, a given brain region may contribute to specific nervous system activity, e.g., the motor cortical areas on the right side of the brain (anterior to the central sulcus) control motor functions on the left side of the body and vice versa. In a second example, the brain areas primarily responsible for three-dimensional spacial resolution (i.e., knowledge of your body relative to the surrounding environment) in most individuals are attributed to the right temporal cortex. It should be noted that recent advances in functional MRI have been used to associate an individual ’s functional neural abilities to a specific brain region and/or to monitor abnormal functions within a given region.
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