Physiology of the Brain with Jacob and Joseph

The Friday Review

Check by weekly for a quick glance into the world of neuroscience. News, media, discoveries, and some listener engagement - we've got it all for you, each and every Friday. 

October 20

Welp. Some obvious slacking went on in the PB With J's camp last week. And the week before. And the - okay, you get it. 

To be fair, we did have a school holiday and an out of town trip in that stretch of time, but still. Nearly a month isn't great. 

But we're back! So that's all that counts, right? On top of these few tidbits from the scientific world, this week's episode is listener requested! The one and only Franki Batten (she's pretty much won the title of #1 fan, you all have some work to do...) threw this one out, so it should be pretty cool! We're definitely excited for it on our end. 

Also featured in this week's Friday Review is a sneak-peak into some of what Joseph is working on for his senior thesis project. So if you've ever wondered "who on earth are all the people who actually produce all these articles, anyway, and how does that all work?", we'll give you a bit of an idea this week. 

That's all we've got for this week! Hope everyone is enjoying the arrival of Fall! (and if you're reading this anywhere that's not incredibly far south, yeah, you caught that - fall is literally just arriving here...)

Where in the World Do All These Articles and Studies Come From Anyway??

So you're probably asking yourself: who on earth is actually doing all this work to produce all these scientific discoveries?? It does kinda feel like a black box sometimes, even with someone who is pretty integrally involved. 

And scientists don't exactly help with this often times. It's sort of painted as this "prestigious" process, and even that's no the intention, it definitely comes across that way. 

So perhaps we can accomplish a two-fold goal: you all can learn a bit about some of the research I do and perhaps a bit about how research works at all. 

At the end of the day, it all starts with an idea. What topic grabs your interest? What scientific inquiry would you want to explore? I've been working with a lab that looks at glial cells (shocker, right?), and for my thesis project we're pairing up with another lab who's hoping to look at Glia as well. 

Which brings up a good point. Collaboration is a huge part of science. So while you (the general public) may have no idea what goes on to produce a scientific "discovery," we do, and support each other a lot. Gone are the days of remarkably bright people working furiously through the night - it's all about teamwork and collaboration now. 

So anyway, onward. After the idea seems clear, you have to design a method of testing your question. Both finding your question and figuring out how to test it require hours and hours of wading through past literary findings - they help provide direction, highlight gaps, suggest improvements, and again, provide collaborators. For us, our idea is focusing on the role of glial cells in response to severe acute stressors, which serves as a model for PTSD. Basically, what role do glial cells have in the development of PTSD, if any?

After your design you start executing and producing - these sort of happen congruently. As you acquire data and analyze it, you begin to piece together what a scientific manuscript may look like from said data. We're still in the infancy here, but we're hoping to see if glial activation results in any morphological (shape) changes in the brain within this PTSD model (our model animal is a rat, by the way). 

Eventually, you write and write and write. And then write some more. And then a bit more. And then send it to publishers and just keep writing. It's a long and arduous process, but again, the teamwork and peer review ensure that everyone's work is high quality. Again, their work is high quality, not their results

Well, theoretically, at least. That's one of the big flaws in the system that we should all try and combat. Bad results are still important - they direct scientific knowledge too. But in today's current age the merit of a paper is often its results, not its work and questions. How can we actually combat that, though? Well, a good place to start is using credible resources to learn about science. We certainly try here, but definitely don't use those Facebook ads about new wonder drugs "discovered by scientists." Like really. Don't do it. 

Hope that brief double description was fun. As always, have a great week!


What's Up In the World of Neuroscience?

"Nature or Nurture? Innate Social Behaviors in the Mouse Brain" (

It's an age-old question that seems to become more complex every year - what roles do nature and nurture have in animal - and thus human - cognitive development? This study on mice dives into that in a pretty profound manner. They found that aggressive and sexual behavior were both hardwired in mice, meaning distinct neural populations became activated in those contexts. So nature. They found that the developmental journey arriving to such populations, however, was quite malleable, according to your surroundings. So nurture. This one is definitely worth a read - it might have some major implications one day. 

"Migraines May Be Brain's Way of Dealing With Oxidative Stress" (

Migraine's remain one of Neuroscience's great mysteries (so I did the math on one of the data points from the article, they cause 310,000 years worth of lost work days in the US in a single year), and various theories have emerged over the years. This article highlights a paper beginning to branch into a potential component/theory. This was outlines the potential role of Oxidative Stress in the brain (our truest fans will be quite familiar with that term) and theorizes migraines a defense mechanism to such stress. It's pretty interesting and definitely worth reading up on. 

"Binding Sites of Amyloid Beta Peptide Discovered" (

 Seems like there's huge news in the Alzheimer's research every hour. This one from Rice University could prove to be monumentally important though. Proteins both form and affect the body through binding - no binding means no functioning. In the case of Amyloid Beta (our truest will once again be familiar), abnormal binding leads to aggregation of the proteins, which is thought to lead to a whole slew of negative consequences in the brain. So thinking along those lines, knowing possible manners of manipulating these binding sites could prove to be pretty revolutionary in AD treatment. 

We figured we'd highlight one of our favorites. And no, of course the fact that Jacob's name is (sort of) in the name didn't contribute...

Creutzfeldt Jackob Disease, check it out here ( or on Apple Podcasts. 

Joseph Ramsey