13. Advanced Neurology and Endocrinology | Summary and Q&A

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February 1, 2011
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Stanford
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13. Advanced Neurology and Endocrinology

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Summary

This video discusses the topics of neurobiology and endocrinology in relation to the nervous system and hormones. It highlights the complexity of these systems and their role in behavior and individual differences. The video also emphasizes the importance of the limbic system in understanding emotion and behavior. Furthermore, it touches on the concepts of neurotransmitters, multiple messengers, and negative feedback regulation in these systems.

Questions & Answers

Q: What two themes are highlighted in the lectures on neurobiology and endocrinology?

The two themes highlighted in the lectures are the different ways in which the nervous system and endocrine system can change their function over time, and the presence of individual differences in the brain and glands of different individuals.

Q: What is the role of neurotransmitters in behavior?

Neurotransmitters play a crucial role in behavior by transmitting signals between neurons. They are responsible for various processes, such as the production and breakdown of enzymes that make neurotransmitters, receptors for neurotransmitters, and the ion channels that allow excitability. They are part of the complex system that translates genetic influences and environmental factors into behavior.

Q: Is each neuron limited to releasing only one neurotransmitter?

No, it was previously believed that each neuron releases only one neurotransmitter. However, this idea was disproven in the 1980s when it was discovered that multiple neurotransmitters can be released by neurons. In fact, some neurons can release two or even three different types of neurotransmitters, adding more potential for information processing in the nervous system.

Q: What are some implications of neurons releasing multiple neurotransmitters?

When multiple neurotransmitters are released by a neuron, it often indicates different classes of messengers that have different structures and mechanisms of action. These neurotransmitters can have different speeds of action and effects, with some having rapid, short-term effects and others having longer-term effects. The presence of multiple neurotransmitters allows for a diverse range of information processing and coding in the nervous system.

Q: How is the release of neurotransmitters regulated?

The release of neurotransmitters is regulated through various mechanisms, including auto-receptors. Auto-receptors are receptors located on the neuron itself that serve as a form of bookkeeping. They provide feedback to the neuron about the number of neurotransmitters it has released, allowing it to regulate its own activity. These auto-receptors can be used to monitor the neurotransmitter levels and adjust neurotransmitter release accordingly.

Q: How does the endocrine system regulate the release of hormones?

The endocrine system regulates the release of hormones through negative feedback loops. This means that when hormone levels reach a certain threshold, they signal the hypothalamus to stop releasing the hypothalamic hormone that stimulates hormone production. This negative feedback helps maintain hormone levels within a desired range.

Q: What are auto-regulatory changes in the receptor levels?

Auto-regulation refers to the ability of cells to adjust the number of receptors for a neurotransmitter or hormone based on the levels in the bloodstream. When there is an increase in hormone levels, cells may down-regulate the number of receptors. Conversely, when hormone levels decrease, cells may up-regulate the number of receptors. This auto-regulation helps maintain balance in the system. However, problems can arise if there is an overshooting or undershooting of the receptor levels, leading to various pathologies.

Q: How do anti-depressant drugs work in relation to auto-regulation?

Anti-depressant drugs, such as SSRIs, work by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the bloodstream. These changes eventually lead to auto-regulatory changes in the number of receptors for those neurotransmitters. The time lag between the changes in neurotransmitter levels and the improvement in depressive symptoms is likely due to the time it takes for the auto-regulatory changes to occur. Understanding these auto-regulatory processes is essential in developing effective treatments for depression.

Q: What can go wrong in the auto-regulation of hormone levels?

Auto-regulation of hormone levels can be disrupted when there is an overshooting or undershooting of the receptor levels in response to changes in hormone levels. This can result in imbalances and pathologies. For example, in diabetes, there is a dysfunction in the auto-regulatory mechanisms of insulin, leading to improper glucose regulation.

Q: How does auto-regulation affect diabetes?

In diabetes, there is a malfunction in the auto-regulatory mechanisms of insulin, resulting in problems with glucose regulation. The body may fail to down-regulate insulin receptors, leading to insulin resistance. This can cause high blood sugar levels and contribute to the development of diabetes. Understanding and addressing these auto-regulatory issues are important for managing and treating diabetes.

Takeaways

Neurobiology and endocrinology are complex systems that play significant roles in behavior and overall health. The nervous system involves the transmission of signals through neurotransmitters, which can release multiple types of messengers. Auto-regulation and negative feedback loops help regulate the release and sensitivity of neurotransmitters and hormones. Auto-regulation can be disrupted, leading to imbalances and pathologies. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for developing effective treatments and managing conditions like depression and diabetes.

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