Observing Neural Synaptic Responses to Pain

During my Freshman Year at the Texas Academy of Math and Science, I took an introductory Biology course in Animal and Plant Physiology. As part of the laboratory section of the class, I, along with two of my research partners, Prashanth Ganesh and Jonathan Huang, was tasked to take on a research project involving an important field of study on one of the human body systems. Being a student interested in the studies on the Brain and Nervous System, I had suggested to focus our group’s research interests on the nervous system’s response and feedback mechanisms to pain stimuli. Fortunately, my group members were interested in the idea as well.

Recently, I had organized a prezi detailing the the mechanisms in how the nervous system interacts with external pain stimuli and responds with appropriate signalling. In the prezi, I organized the flow of the presentation in such a way that I could first clearly define what “Pain” represents in the perception of the human mind. In order to explain the nervous system’s mechanism to responding to this “feeling”, I first focused on the foundation of what constitutes the nerves themselves. Nerve Cells (Neurons) are constituted by axons, dendrites, axon hillocks, and cell bodies. Each part of the neuron is crucial in directing electrical signals from one neuron to another in order for the brain to gain input, process the information, and carry out the respective actions. By familiarizing the audience with these concepts and terminology, the biological processes in which the neurons communicate through signal transmission can be understood.

I then described the classifications of the different types of neurons that exist within the body. With regards to the interest of pain, I focused primarily on a type of sensory neurons known as nociceptors. These neurons acted as “response” cells for particular stimuli that were considered potentially harmful and/or painful to the human body. What my partners and I found quite interesting while we were researching the subject of nociceptors was that these particular neural cells’ activity could be regulated based on specific types of pain stimuli consisting of temperature variations (extreme heat or cold conditions affecting the extremities of the body), piercings or sharp breaks of the skin’s surface, or the presence of chemicals. Depending upon the severity and type of stimuli, the amount of activated nociceptors could vary from person to person, only testifying to the extreme complexity that the nervous system possesses.

From these facts, I continued the presentation to highlight the process of presynaptic and postsynaptic terminal interaction between  multiple neurons and the functions of neurotransmitters. This led into the topic of the molecular biology of neuron response signalling through the processes of depolarization and the creation of action potentials. I elaborated on how the excess of Sodium (Na+) ions flow inside a membrane of a channel, thereby increasing the charge of the overall membrane potential. Electrical signals are generated and flow from one synaptic terminal to the next until repolarization occurs and potassium (K+) ions flow out of the membrane of the channels decreasing the positive charge of the potential.

To help illustrate the process of the nervous system mechanisms, I used several diagrams on the makeup of a neuron as well as video describing the processes in even further detail. All the media used in the presentation were accredited to the respective original sources.  Since the videos were made available for public use and viewing under Youtube, the content was assumed to be used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

To wrap up the information that my group and I had researched, I concluded with an article that we had found rather interesting and very relevant to future research on synaptic control to pain. The original article was appropriately accredited within the presentation. The research described is still being conducted to this day, and it is only a matter of time until we can reach valid results that can further our understanding of neural synaptic communication and responses to stimuli.

To View the prezi on the official website, click the link attached: https://prezi.com/-y8om7-8jece/neurotic-synapses-relations-to-pain/#

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