The brain is often cited as the organ that separates man from other animals, but it is one of the least understood parts of the human body. Dr. Shiva Gopal Vasishta along with many medical authorities, as well as sociologists and philosophers, understand that the brain is the “CPU” of the body’s nervous system. Some of its functions and processes are well understood. Modern technology has the ability to map brain function and almost everyone acknowledges that the brain controls the body’s automatic functions, including heartbeat, breathing, and blood circulation, as well as emotions, and reactions to the environment and to other people.
But the brain is complex. Despite the vast amount of knowledge physicians and scientists have unlocked about the brain, much still remains to be discovered and understood. Physicians and researchers who study the brain believe there is still a lot to learn.
Complex Relationships Between Brain and Body
Recent research points to an association between brain function and diet, close ties between the brain and the gut, and additional evidence that either the brain plays a part in other diseases, or that many more diseases than previously thought have an effect on the brain. Further brain studies, it is hoped, will lead to more definitive answers, and to new clues that should help diagnose and treat some chronic conditions.
A recent article in Medical News Today highlights some additional brain findings, as well as pointing out other questions that still remain a mystery. For instance, there is no clear agreement on what causes us to yawn. It was once thought to be a sign of low oxygen levels in the brain, but that theory has been disproved. Research continues not only about what prompts a yawn, but also why yawns seem to be “contagious.” One possibility is that it is tied to empathy and what is termed “social behavior.”
The Relationship Between Brain Chemistry and Sugar
Based on a recent study with pigs, researchers have concluded that as few as 12 days of sugar intake leads to major changes in the brain’s opioid and dopamine systems. This effect was demonstrated through PET imaging and followed up by an actual examination of the pigs’ brains. The finding could have a major impact on the role of sugar in pleasure-seeking and addictive behaviors.
The Brain and Gut Bacteria
Although the relationship between mental health and gut bacteria remains somewhat controversial, there is mounting evidence that clinical depression also produces detectable physical differences in gut flora. Additional research is ongoing, but if the tie can be documented, it might lead to other research into physical manifestations of mental illness.
Parkinson’s Disease Demystified?
A 2019 study explored the theory that a specific protein, misfolded alpha-synuclein, that is a prime hallmark of Parkinson’s disease, can travel from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve. The characteristic tremor and other symptoms are the results of protein aggregation in the brain and corresponding destruction of certain dopamine-producing cells. Research is now concentrated on the beneficial effects of probiotics in fighting Parkinson’s.
Identification of New Brain Cells
Traditionally, it was accepted belief that the process of neurogenesis, or brain development, is essentially complete by the time a baby is born. However, more recent research has demonstrated that in some parts of the brain, particularly areas that have to do with memory, neurogenesis continues throughout a lifetime, although at a slower pace as a person ages. It has been seemingly confirmed through clinical examination of a part of the hippocampus known as the dentate gyrus. But much additional study is needed, according to the experts.
What Is Still Unknown
As is true with much of neurology, new discoveries lead to a greater need for more research. The discovery of a distinctive brain cell known as the rosehip neuron is one example, testimony to the fact that as sophisticated as modern medicine has become, there is still much to learn. This particular cell’s exact function is still unknown, but some believe that since it has not been identified in the brains of other mammals, it might play a part in the unique qualities of human beings. At this point, it’s still only conjecture.
Shiva Gopal Vasishta: A Leader in the Field of Neurology
Dr. Shiva Gopal Vasishta, MD, known as a “healthcare powerhouse,” is currently associated with Eastern Neurodiagnostic Associates, a practice in Vorhees, N.J., which he founded in 1992. With experience that spans more than 40 years, he completed undergraduate training at the Government Medical College, Nagpur in India. Shiva Gopal Vasishta completed a neurology residency between 1984 and 1987 at hospitals affiliated with Boston University. The physician went on to complete subspecialties in clinical neurophysiology and electrodiagnostic medicine at Tufts University Medical Center. While there, his emphasis was on cortical brain mapping as well as complex EMG studies.
Dr. Shiva Gopal Vasishta trained with world-class physicians and institutions, including the Major Brain Injury Center at Boston City Hospital, which was originally affiliated with Harvard University, and with Dr. Theodore Munsat, John Kelly at Tufts University Medical Center.
His continuing work with patients makes Dr. Shiva Gopal Vasishta uniquely suited to explore some of the questions that researchers have about relationships between brain function and physical complaints. In addition to helping his patients with persistent headaches and pain management, Dr. Gopal routinely employs electromyography (EMG) testing, cognitive remediation therapy and EEG testing to address traumatic brain injuries, and such medical diagnoses as peripheral neuropathy, complications of diabetes, nutrition as it affects brain function, myopathy, psychiatric disorders and conditions like epilepsy.