full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Ralitsa Petrova: Could your brain repair itself?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Imagine the bairn could reboot, updating its withered and damaged cells with new, improved units. That may sound like science fiction, but it's a potential reality secstiints are investigating right now. Will our brains one day be able to self-repair? It's well known that embryonic clels in our young dlveoneipg brains produce new neurons, the mccsiriopoc units that make up the brain's tissue. Those newly geertnead neurons miatrge to various parts of the developing brain, making it self-organize into different structures. But until recently, scientists thought cell production came to an abrupt halt soon after this itinial growth, leading them to conclude that neurological diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and damaging events, like strokes, are irilveesrrbe. But a series of recent discoveries has revealed that adult brains actually do continue to produce new cells in at least three specialized locations. This porsces, known as neurogenesis, involves dedicated brain cells, called neuarl stem cells and progenitor cells, which manufacture new neurons or replace the old ones. The three regions where neurogenesis has been discovered are the dentate gyrus, associated with learning and memory, the screatunbuvlir zone, which may supply neurons to the ofaclroty bulb for communication between the nose and brain, and the striatum, which helps manage movement. Scientists don't yet have a good grasp on exactly what role neurogenesis plays in any of these regions, or why they have this aitilby that's absent from the rest of the brain, but the mere presence of a mcneaishm to grown new neurons in the adult brain opens up an amazing pboilisitsy. Could we harness that mechanism to get the brain to heal its scras similar to how new skin grows to patch up a wound, or a broken bone stitches itself back together? So here's where we stand. Certain ptonries and other small molecules that mimick those proteins can be administered to the brain to make neural stem cells and progenitor cells procdue more neurons in those three locations. This technique still needs improvement so that the cells reproduce more efficiently and more cells survive. But rcearesh shows that progenitor cells from these areas can actually migrate to places where injury has oucrcerd and give rise to new neurons there. And another promising possible approach is to transplant healthy haumn neural stem cells, which are cultured in a laboratory, to injured tssuie, like we can do with skin. Scientists are currently experimenting to determine whether transplanted donor cells can diidve, differentiate and successfully give rise to new neurons in a damaged brain. They've also discovered that we might be able to tceah other kinds of brain cells, such as astrocytes or oligodendrocytes to behave like neural stem cells and start generating neurons, too. So, a clupoe of decades from now will our brains be able to self-repair? We can't say for sure, but that has become one of the major glaos of regenerative medicine. The human brain has 100 billion neurons and we're still figuring out the wiring behind this huge biological motherboard. But everyday, research on neesueinrgos brings us closer to that reboot swcith.

Open Cloze

Imagine the _____ could reboot, updating its withered and damaged cells with new, improved units. That may sound like science fiction, but it's a potential reality __________ are investigating right now. Will our brains one day be able to self-repair? It's well known that embryonic _____ in our young __________ brains produce new neurons, the ___________ units that make up the brain's tissue. Those newly _________ neurons _______ to various parts of the developing brain, making it self-organize into different structures. But until recently, scientists thought cell production came to an abrupt halt soon after this _______ growth, leading them to conclude that neurological diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and damaging events, like strokes, are ____________. But a series of recent discoveries has revealed that adult brains actually do continue to produce new cells in at least three specialized locations. This _______, known as neurogenesis, involves dedicated brain cells, called ______ stem cells and progenitor cells, which manufacture new neurons or replace the old ones. The three regions where neurogenesis has been discovered are the dentate gyrus, associated with learning and memory, the ______________ zone, which may supply neurons to the _________ bulb for communication between the nose and brain, and the striatum, which helps manage movement. Scientists don't yet have a good grasp on exactly what role neurogenesis plays in any of these regions, or why they have this _______ that's absent from the rest of the brain, but the mere presence of a _________ to grown new neurons in the adult brain opens up an amazing ___________. Could we harness that mechanism to get the brain to heal its _____ similar to how new skin grows to patch up a wound, or a broken bone stitches itself back together? So here's where we stand. Certain ________ and other small molecules that mimick those proteins can be administered to the brain to make neural stem cells and progenitor cells _______ more neurons in those three locations. This technique still needs improvement so that the cells reproduce more efficiently and more cells survive. But ________ shows that progenitor cells from these areas can actually migrate to places where injury has ________ and give rise to new neurons there. And another promising possible approach is to transplant healthy _____ neural stem cells, which are cultured in a laboratory, to injured ______, like we can do with skin. Scientists are currently experimenting to determine whether transplanted donor cells can ______, differentiate and successfully give rise to new neurons in a damaged brain. They've also discovered that we might be able to _____ other kinds of brain cells, such as astrocytes or oligodendrocytes to behave like neural stem cells and start generating neurons, too. So, a ______ of decades from now will our brains be able to self-repair? We can't say for sure, but that has become one of the major _____ of regenerative medicine. The human brain has 100 billion neurons and we're still figuring out the wiring behind this huge biological motherboard. But everyday, research on ____________ brings us closer to that reboot ______.

Solution

  1. generated
  2. occurred
  3. irreversible
  4. research
  5. proteins
  6. couple
  7. neural
  8. process
  9. tissue
  10. teach
  11. scientists
  12. subventricular
  13. olfactory
  14. microscopic
  15. produce
  16. human
  17. scars
  18. migrate
  19. ability
  20. possibility
  21. developing
  22. neurogenesis
  23. goals
  24. divide
  25. initial
  26. switch
  27. mechanism
  28. cells
  29. brain

Original Text

Imagine the brain could reboot, updating its withered and damaged cells with new, improved units. That may sound like science fiction, but it's a potential reality scientists are investigating right now. Will our brains one day be able to self-repair? It's well known that embryonic cells in our young developing brains produce new neurons, the microscopic units that make up the brain's tissue. Those newly generated neurons migrate to various parts of the developing brain, making it self-organize into different structures. But until recently, scientists thought cell production came to an abrupt halt soon after this initial growth, leading them to conclude that neurological diseases, like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and damaging events, like strokes, are irreversible. But a series of recent discoveries has revealed that adult brains actually do continue to produce new cells in at least three specialized locations. This process, known as neurogenesis, involves dedicated brain cells, called neural stem cells and progenitor cells, which manufacture new neurons or replace the old ones. The three regions where neurogenesis has been discovered are the dentate gyrus, associated with learning and memory, the subventricular zone, which may supply neurons to the olfactory bulb for communication between the nose and brain, and the striatum, which helps manage movement. Scientists don't yet have a good grasp on exactly what role neurogenesis plays in any of these regions, or why they have this ability that's absent from the rest of the brain, but the mere presence of a mechanism to grown new neurons in the adult brain opens up an amazing possibility. Could we harness that mechanism to get the brain to heal its scars similar to how new skin grows to patch up a wound, or a broken bone stitches itself back together? So here's where we stand. Certain proteins and other small molecules that mimick those proteins can be administered to the brain to make neural stem cells and progenitor cells produce more neurons in those three locations. This technique still needs improvement so that the cells reproduce more efficiently and more cells survive. But research shows that progenitor cells from these areas can actually migrate to places where injury has occurred and give rise to new neurons there. And another promising possible approach is to transplant healthy human neural stem cells, which are cultured in a laboratory, to injured tissue, like we can do with skin. Scientists are currently experimenting to determine whether transplanted donor cells can divide, differentiate and successfully give rise to new neurons in a damaged brain. They've also discovered that we might be able to teach other kinds of brain cells, such as astrocytes or oligodendrocytes to behave like neural stem cells and start generating neurons, too. So, a couple of decades from now will our brains be able to self-repair? We can't say for sure, but that has become one of the major goals of regenerative medicine. The human brain has 100 billion neurons and we're still figuring out the wiring behind this huge biological motherboard. But everyday, research on neurogenesis brings us closer to that reboot switch.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
neural stem 4
stem cells 3
progenitor cells 2
give rise 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
neural stem cells 3

Important Words

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  2. abrupt
  3. absent
  4. administered
  5. adult
  6. amazing
  7. approach
  8. areas
  9. astrocytes
  10. behave
  11. billion
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  19. called
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  24. conclude
  25. continue
  26. couple
  27. cultured
  28. damaged
  29. damaging
  30. day
  31. decades
  32. dedicated
  33. dentate
  34. determine
  35. developing
  36. differentiate
  37. discovered
  38. discoveries
  39. diseases
  40. divide
  41. donor
  42. efficiently
  43. embryonic
  44. events
  45. everyday
  46. experimenting
  47. fiction
  48. figuring
  49. generated
  50. generating
  51. give
  52. goals
  53. good
  54. grasp
  55. grown
  56. grows
  57. growth
  58. gyrus
  59. halt
  60. harness
  61. heal
  62. healthy
  63. helps
  64. huge
  65. human
  66. imagine
  67. improved
  68. improvement
  69. initial
  70. injured
  71. injury
  72. investigating
  73. involves
  74. irreversible
  75. kinds
  76. laboratory
  77. leading
  78. learning
  79. locations
  80. major
  81. making
  82. manage
  83. manufacture
  84. mechanism
  85. medicine
  86. memory
  87. mere
  88. microscopic
  89. migrate
  90. mimick
  91. molecules
  92. motherboard
  93. movement
  94. neural
  95. neurogenesis
  96. neurological
  97. neurons
  98. newly
  99. nose
  100. occurred
  101. olfactory
  102. oligodendrocytes
  103. opens
  104. parts
  105. patch
  106. places
  107. plays
  108. possibility
  109. potential
  110. presence
  111. process
  112. produce
  113. production
  114. progenitor
  115. promising
  116. proteins
  117. reality
  118. reboot
  119. regenerative
  120. regions
  121. replace
  122. reproduce
  123. research
  124. rest
  125. revealed
  126. rise
  127. role
  128. scars
  129. science
  130. scientists
  131. series
  132. shows
  133. similar
  134. skin
  135. small
  136. sound
  137. specialized
  138. stand
  139. start
  140. stem
  141. stitches
  142. striatum
  143. strokes
  144. structures
  145. subventricular
  146. successfully
  147. supply
  148. survive
  149. switch
  150. teach
  151. technique
  152. thought
  153. tissue
  154. transplant
  155. transplanted
  156. units
  157. updating
  158. wiring
  159. withered
  160. wound
  161. young
  162. zone