Assignment 2:Plasticity

One of the most remarkable things about the central nervous system is that it is inherently plastic. While traumatic injuries result in scarring that impede the re-growth of normal functions, the nervous system can also re-organize circuits to bypass lost functions. Even severe injury can be re-gained if the proper coaxing occurs as seen in the rat study. On January 8, 2011, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head and suffered traumatic brain injury. Physicians medically induced a coma to remediate the trauma associated with the injuries and to aid in recovery. For this assignment, please watch the video at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_MindBodyNews/gabby-giffords-finding-voice-music-therapy/story?id=14903987#.ULKIAptQBPI and write an essay as a reply below. This should cover the following items:

  • Describe how physicians remediated the damage induced. You should actually go outside of the ABC site to research this a little. Describe the parallel pathways utilized in the therapy and think about the difference between your own implicit/explicit pathways.
  • Indicate your opinion about whether she was the same person(personal identity) after the injury recovery. Think about what makes someone who they are cognitively. Think about someone’s identity as a continuum of their cognition. Is someone who recovers from other types of brain injuries (eg. stroke) the same person?
  • Read about Phineas Gage and Henry Molaison. Does this change your ideas about personal identity with respect to a continuum of cognition or can you modify/redefine personal identity.
  • Reflect on Assignment 1. Now that you have learned about the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, how do you appreciate the parts and functions of the nervous system? What do you think creates a cognitive continuum if the parts (neurons/glia and channels/pumps and circuitry) are so simple or complicated? Does your understanding of the A&P change the way you feel about what you wrote for Assignment 1?
  • A final reflection on how these stories and their effects on you. Make this meaningful based on your naive outlook at the beginning of the course and how you feel now as someone with a basic understanding of physiology.

This assignment is due December 17th.

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