Archive for November, 2013

Symptoms are spotted by Posterior Insula’s Searchlight

November 21st, 2013

Student: Today it was cold outside, and when I started out to exercise I promptly reactivated my cold-induced asthma. I could hardly catch my breath until I put a hand sock, er, ‘glove’, over my mouth and nose. Voila, not so much wheezing, and my breathing became a lot easier.

Professor: Very smart trick, like our study highlighting the simple use of a surgical face mask to block exercise-induced wheezing (Brenner et al., 1980).

Student: Say, in our last blog post you suggested that,

  • the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) acts like an externally driven searchlight.

Professor: Please, also remember that the TRN acts as a bottleneck allowing only a small part of the thalamus’s activity to travel up into the cortex. Perhaps a better metaphor is a clogged up strainer, and the function of a searchlight is to show holes that ought to be opened.

Student: But what is the mechanism that operates the searchlight? Click here to read more