Understanding the Brain: A Tour of CB3
Memorial Stadium is the home of the Huskers. But it also houses a unique facility dedicated to understanding the human brain. In this edition of Faculty 101, we go on a tour of the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior…and we meet Cary Savage, the center’s director. Learn about a partnership with Nebraska athletics to study concussions. And find out what you can do to protect your brain. ›› http://cb3.unl.edu/
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[00:00:04.880]At Memorial Stadium, not all the action is on the field.
[00:00:13.420]That's the sound of a functional MRI scanner.
[00:00:16.860]Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI,
[00:00:19.840]is a test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves
[00:00:22.940]to create detailed pictures, in this case, of the brain.
[00:00:29.540]The machine is a huge white cylinder,
[00:00:32.050]a volunteer lies on a table covered with a blanket,
[00:00:35.160]the top half of her body inside the cylinder.
[00:00:38.390]We were just able to get it here
[00:00:39.750]so I think we're just gonna roll through.
[00:00:42.350]In the control room, graduate student Zachary Cole
[00:00:45.160]is collecting data for a study
[00:00:47.040]dealing with attention, perception, and memory.
[00:00:50.070]The volunteer will be shown pictures on a screen,
[00:00:53.320]and while the functional MRI records brain activity,
[00:00:56.705]other equipment tracks eye movement.
[00:00:59.410]So we have eye tracking set up in there,
[00:01:02.150]there's a camera that looks at her eye and reflects back.
[00:01:05.310]Technician Joanne Murray can see the volunteer
[00:01:07.760]in the scanner through a large window,
[00:01:09.610]and communicates using a microphone.
[00:01:12.020]All right, so here we go,
[00:01:13.210]our scan will last for about six minutes,
[00:01:15.690]just do your best to hold very still.
[00:01:23.760]The black and white pictures of the brain
[00:01:25.590]appear on a computer monitor.
[00:01:27.950]So the number is changing,
[00:01:29.240]I'm getting that set of 51 images every second.
[00:01:34.650]So when we're finished with this exam,
[00:01:36.800]we'll have almost 5000 images.
[00:01:39.800]Why does Memorial Stadium house a functional MRI scanner?
[00:01:44.010]Right, so it's unique,
[00:01:44.970]there's nothing else like it in the world.
[00:01:47.380]That's Cary Savage, director of CB3,
[00:01:50.330]the center for brain, biology, and behavior,
[00:01:53.010]at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:01:55.270]The 30,000 square foot facility in Memorial Stadium
[00:01:58.590]includes lab space, and offices,
[00:02:00.740]for researchers dedicated to understanding the brain,
[00:02:04.010]and its impact on behavior.
[00:02:06.200]CB3 was part of an East stadium expansion,
[00:02:09.070]built on a unique partnership with Athletics.
[00:02:12.380]There is nothing else like this in the world.
[00:02:14.394]Starting with our physical relationship with Athletics,
[00:02:17.720]and the partnership with Athletics,
[00:02:19.190]our scientific partnership with Athletics,
[00:02:21.680]the diversity of the research that's going on here,
[00:02:24.180]the diversity of our technology that we have access to,
[00:02:26.810]the absolute cutting edge.
[00:02:28.260]We host people from all over the world who come here,
[00:02:30.400]and every single one of them is amazed
[00:02:32.460]that we have this in Nebraska.
[00:02:34.140]Coming up, Cary Savage takes us on a tour of CB3,
[00:02:38.030]he talks about the role the center
[00:02:39.750]plays in concussion research,
[00:02:41.690]and he has advise on how to promote brain health.
[00:02:45.110]That's this edition of Faculty 101.
[00:02:49.407]Okay, you should switch partners now.
[00:02:50.400]To be able to inspire young people.
[00:02:53.310]Ace your finals.
[00:02:54.310]It's really rewarding.
[00:02:55.440]I love the students.
[00:02:57.410]Welcome to Faculty 101,
[00:02:59.660]life hacks and success stories from Nebraska Faculty.
[00:03:06.472]Time for orientation, who is Cary Savage, and what is CB3?
[00:03:15.890]The human brain only weighs about three pounds,
[00:03:18.600]but it's responsible for our behavior,
[00:03:20.660]movement, and intelligence.
[00:03:22.630]Doctor Savage makes sure the students
[00:03:24.720]in his behavioral neuro science class
[00:03:27.040]know what they're dealing with.
[00:03:30.070]The human brain is the most complicated
[00:03:32.100]known object in the universe.
[00:03:33.891]We have billions of nerve cells that
[00:03:37.730]form trillions of connections,
[00:03:39.710]so the complexity is just mind boggling.
[00:03:42.220]We're just now developing the tools to really study them.
[00:03:45.300]For instance, functional MRI has been around
[00:03:47.780]since the early 90s, and has become a very valuable tool.
[00:03:51.730]10 years from now, there may be another tool
[00:03:53.270]that we haven't even anticipated yet,
[00:03:55.490]to better understand the brain. So, in order to do that,
[00:03:57.553]we need the scientists focusing on it,
[00:03:59.240]and also to continue to develop
[00:04:00.960]our tools to study the brain,
[00:04:02.590]in order to understand something that's so complex.
[00:04:05.020]With CB3, Doctor Savage is putting a stake in the ground
[00:04:08.700]to create a world class multi-disciplinary center
[00:04:11.770]at the forefront of brain research.
[00:04:18.086]Up next, lab work, a deep dive into research,
[00:04:21.690]and creative activity.
[00:04:26.330]Back in the fMRI scanner room,
[00:04:28.280]Doctor Savage shows me examples of the types
[00:04:30.850]of images the scanner can provide.
[00:04:33.250]The strength of MRI is that it can
[00:04:35.020]give us so many different kinds of data,
[00:04:36.987]we get data about the structure of the brain,
[00:04:39.500]both its basic anatomy and also its connection,
[00:04:42.240]and we also get information about the function of the brain.
[00:04:44.890]Images slow slices of the brain from
[00:04:47.230]different vantage points that
[00:04:48.730]highlight structures and connections.
[00:04:51.240]One image on the screen looks like a brightly colored
[00:04:54.080]impressionist painting of a bouquet of flowers.
[00:04:57.580]And those colors that you see
[00:04:58.740]aren't just meant to be pretty,
[00:05:00.600]they're actually telling us
[00:05:01.500]the direction of the connections,
[00:05:02.900]where they're going left to right,
[00:05:04.100]top to bottom, front to back.
[00:05:06.810]We know that from the color,
[00:05:07.890]so we can tell where the connections are,
[00:05:09.600]and actually where they're traveling.
[00:05:11.310]This is important, for instance, in our concussion studies,
[00:05:13.680]because that's what appears to get disrupted,
[00:05:15.870]is the connections, it's not so much focal lesions,
[00:05:19.070]individual lesions in the brain,
[00:05:20.430]it's the connectivity that gets disrupted.
[00:05:25.360]A hard hit on the field causes
[00:05:27.420]the brain to move inside the skull, leading to,
[00:05:30.000]sometimes, serious and long-term injury.
[00:05:32.620]The Centers for Disease Control
[00:05:34.200]estimates between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports,
[00:05:38.330]or recreation concussions occur
[00:05:40.570]in the United States each year.
[00:05:42.650]Our desire is to identify biomarkers of concussion,
[00:05:45.940]concussion severity, and concussion recovery.
[00:05:48.320]So we'd like to have a better idea
[00:05:49.330]of what's going on the in brain when there's a concussion,
[00:05:51.520]and how rapidly people recover, ultimately,
[00:05:54.700]hopefully, identifying biomarkers of maybe a player
[00:05:57.950]who's gonna recover quickly,
[00:05:59.220]versus someone who's gonna need more time.
[00:06:01.170]And, ultimately, biomarkers of recovery,
[00:06:03.010]is this person ready?
[00:06:04.490]As part of that effort,
[00:06:05.590]CB3 collaborates with Nebraska football,
[00:06:08.260]and Coach Scott Frost.
[00:06:10.240]Coach Frost not only agreed for us to scan his players,
[00:06:13.230]but he mandated it, and so every Nebraska football player,
[00:06:16.860]if he wants to play Nebraska football
[00:06:18.360]has to get a baseline MRI scan.
[00:06:20.350]If a player has a concussion,
[00:06:22.130]then we get them in within 48 hours
[00:06:23.800]and we scan them again with a whole series of scans,
[00:06:26.802]and again, on day three of return to play,
[00:06:29.340]right before they start contact practice again.
[00:06:31.950]All of our scans are read
[00:06:33.080]by board-certified radiologists at the Medical Center.
[00:06:37.660]Next up on the tour, the Salivary Bioscience Lab.
[00:06:41.320]So this is where we bring the samples, and analyze them.
[00:06:45.710]Psychology professor Tierney Lorenze
[00:06:47.830]uses the lab for her research
[00:06:49.640]on the sexual, and reproductive health of women.
[00:06:52.180]We can look at their endocrine components,
[00:06:57.630]their immune components,
[00:06:59.830]we can even look at some of the genetic components as well,
[00:07:02.630]so lots of different things that you
[00:07:04.570]can get out of a simple saliva sample.
[00:07:08.337]Doctor Tierney studies whether sexual desire,
[00:07:10.170]and arousal problems in women
[00:07:12.100]can be used to identify risk of cardiovascular disease.
[00:07:15.960]Another project involves developing technology
[00:07:18.390]that may someday lead to a more accurate
[00:07:20.450]and efficient blood test.
[00:07:22.470]The chance to work at CB3 provides unique opportunities.
[00:07:26.449]First and foremost we have just
[00:07:28.530]an incredible resonant faculty.
[00:07:30.770]We have some of the brightest minds in this area,
[00:07:35.010]I get to play with people who have expertise
[00:07:37.620]across a wide variety of different scientific fields.
[00:07:42.570]Being an interdisciplinary center too
[00:07:44.540]really fits very well for the kind of research that I do,
[00:07:47.850]which is in it of itself pretty interdisciplinary.
[00:07:51.060]CB3 Assistant Director Maital Neta
[00:07:53.250]uses the fMRI scanner and other methods
[00:07:55.900]to study chronic negativity,
[00:07:57.840]and how people respond to uncertainty.
[00:08:00.350]She says collaboration leads to better research.
[00:08:03.890]There are a lot of psychologists in CB3, like myself,
[00:08:06.130]but there are people from a lot
[00:08:07.890]of other domains of research,
[00:08:10.010]and everybody has unique perspectives,
[00:08:12.080]and ideas, and we're all very collaborative,
[00:08:14.270]and so I think that makes the research more rich,
[00:08:17.906]I feel like even just in the few years I've been here,
[00:08:21.360]I've come up with ideas that I surely never would have
[00:08:24.910]without this kind of environment.
[00:08:30.180]Doctor Savage studies the brain basis of health behaviors,
[00:08:33.750]for example, using functional MRI,
[00:08:35.780]he scanned the brains of individuals
[00:08:37.750]before they started an exercise or diet program,
[00:08:40.590]and was able to predict whether they would be successful.
[00:08:44.090]So, for instance, we looked at,
[00:08:46.040]and we have a paper under review now
[00:08:47.530]showing that we can predict weight loss,
[00:08:50.050]how much weight someone's gonna lose,
[00:08:51.770]knowing nothing else about them
[00:08:53.860]besides their brain function.
[00:08:55.250]And we showed that bilateral prefrontal cortex,
[00:08:57.400]individuals who are more active
[00:08:59.050]in their bilateral prefrontal cortex,
[00:09:00.600]this front part of the brain,
[00:09:01.930]that we know plays a role in impulse control,
[00:09:04.470]and thinking about the future, in delaying gratification,
[00:09:07.810]those individuals who activate those areas
[00:09:09.770]were the ones who lost the most weight.
[00:09:11.752]So we hope that this will really feed in
[00:09:14.420]to the push for personalized medicine.
[00:09:16.600]CB3 includes research across disciplines.
[00:09:19.150]Projects are varied, everything from improving
[00:09:21.574]treatment of stroke, to learning how interacting
[00:09:24.700]with your dog influences your behavior.
[00:09:27.610]First of all, we have faculty from multiple departments,
[00:09:30.060]and multiple colleges, and that's one of the unique things
[00:09:32.120]about CB3 is that we don't fall under a department,
[00:09:35.160]or even a college, we fall over the whole campus.
[00:09:37.650]So we have people doing all kinds of research,
[00:09:40.110]I talked about the concussion research,
[00:09:41.860]we have political science research going on,
[00:09:44.240]looking at the brain basis of political beliefs,
[00:09:46.290]and political communication.
[00:09:47.960]We have individuals looking at development of emotions,
[00:09:51.890]and sensory motor activities all the way from
[00:09:55.640]very young children up into old age.
[00:09:58.640]So we have a very diverse portfolio of research.
[00:10:02.212]Ready for office hours?
[00:10:03.470]How did Doctor Savage get here?
[00:10:08.170]As a young student, Cary Savage was always good as science.
[00:10:12.050]I think I've always felt like a scientist
[00:10:13.590]in terms of trying to understand the mechanisms of things.
[00:10:16.840]Like how do things work, and really trying to dig deeper,
[00:10:20.010]and understand how things work.
[00:10:21.330]He started college wanting to be a petroleum engineer,
[00:10:24.780]but a psychology class sparked his interest,
[00:10:27.600]and lead to a new major.
[00:10:29.260]And I think that's a story for a lot of students, right,
[00:10:31.570]we come in thinking, you're 18 years old,
[00:10:33.715]you're thinking you're gonna do something,
[00:10:35.057]and you're exposed to all of these different experiences,
[00:10:37.780]and then you find the thing that really clicks.
[00:10:39.880]After earning his PhD in Clinical Psychology,
[00:10:42.570]Doctor Savage took a fellowship
[00:10:44.480]at Massachusets General Hospital in Boston,
[00:10:47.060]where he was introduced to advanced imaging technology.
[00:10:50.350]Equipment and techniques not widely available at the time.
[00:10:53.900]I was at Mass General during my postdoc,
[00:10:56.590]which is one of two places were fMRI was invented,
[00:11:00.130]so I was in the right place in the right time,
[00:11:02.380]and that really stimulated my interest into imaging,
[00:11:04.710]and once I started doing this, it was over,
[00:11:06.580]I was gonna be a neuroimager.
[00:11:08.060]So I kinda moved away from the clinical round,
[00:11:09.860]and really focused on neuroimaging research ever since.
[00:11:12.320]Prior to coming to UNL, Doctor Savage was a senior scientist
[00:11:15.790]at Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Arizona.
[00:11:21.350]Now it's time for a pop quiz, random questions,
[00:11:24.590]life hacks, and wisdom for all of us.
[00:11:28.850]Do you have a habit that makes you
[00:11:30.430]happier or more productive?
[00:11:32.240]Yes, I am a runner, however,
[00:11:34.300]I don't care much for running on the road,
[00:11:35.980]on the sidewalks and things like that,
[00:11:37.300]I run on trails, or natural trails.
[00:11:39.650]But then I also have a real interest
[00:11:41.160]in high altitude mountain running in Colorado.
[00:11:44.170]I spend a lot of time in Colorado,
[00:11:46.830]and do high altitude mountain races,
[00:11:48.730]I have one coming up later in the summer
[00:11:51.110]that's gonna go up over 13,000 feet,
[00:11:53.480]and will involve not just running,
[00:11:55.560]but scrambling, using your whole body,
[00:11:57.080]a little bit of climbing, and even some ropes
[00:11:58.770]to get to the top of the mountain and then back down.
[00:12:01.594]What is something you know about life now
[00:12:03.270]that you didn't know when you were 18?
[00:12:05.016]The biggest thing is I don't know everything.
[00:12:06.550]I thought I knew everything,
[00:12:07.930]and now I know how little I know.
[00:12:10.690]In fact, not only do I not know everything,
[00:12:13.130]I know very little.
[00:12:14.220]There's so much about the world
[00:12:15.190]I still don't understand at age 56,
[00:12:17.270]and my education is what showed me
[00:12:19.530]how little I actually know.
[00:12:21.723]Do you have a motto or saying that is sort of your mantra?
[00:12:25.140]I often say to myself, "Life has a way of working out."
[00:12:28.180]And I say that when I have challenges,
[00:12:30.090]when things don't work out the way you want.
[00:12:31.510]Let's say I don't get a grant,
[00:12:33.220]spend a lot of time trying to get it,
[00:12:34.350]you don't get it, you get terrible reviews,
[00:12:36.040]or you don't get a paper published.
[00:12:38.270]You remind yourself that this has a way of working out,
[00:12:40.090]life has a way of working out, and you keep plugging away.
[00:12:42.470]So you don't give up, you keep plugging away,
[00:12:44.440]and life will work out.
[00:12:46.110]You hear a lot of things about the brain,
[00:12:48.800]are there any of those that
[00:12:50.020]you can either support, or say no?
[00:12:53.110]Right, well the only use, we only use 10% of the brain
[00:12:56.240]is one of the biggest misconceptions about the brain.
[00:12:58.410]In fact, I started my class, the very first lecture,
[00:13:01.540]addressing that misperception.
[00:13:03.340]And the reason is, the misconception,
[00:13:04.500]the reason is, I think it arose,
[00:13:06.360]most of us think it arose from the early
[00:13:08.310]functional neuroimaging studies,
[00:13:09.650]the cognitive activation studies,
[00:13:11.610]where they would show something like a language task
[00:13:13.820]and you'd see a left hemisphere activation.
[00:13:15.940]And people would see these spotty activations in the brain,
[00:13:18.700]and say, or we must just be using 10% of our brain.
[00:13:21.510]Well, in reality, the whole brain is interacting
[00:13:23.930]all the time, and if you lose any part of the brain,
[00:13:25.760]you're gonna miss it.
[00:13:27.080]We use our entire brain, 100% of it,
[00:13:28.890]for almost every activity.
[00:13:31.224]And now, graduation day, time for final thoughts.
[00:13:37.980]One of the reasons Doctor Savage
[00:13:39.560]enjoys trail running is that
[00:13:41.010]it focuses his mind on the task at hand.
[00:13:44.500]It helps me not obsess to much about work, right,
[00:13:46.800]when I'm up there in the mountain on a ridge,
[00:13:48.340]and I have to pay attention where I'm putting my feet,
[00:13:50.050]and that's all I'm paying attention to
[00:13:51.760]is where I'm putting my feet,
[00:13:52.770]and enjoying the beautiful nature around me.
[00:13:54.960]And evidence suggests healthy habits promote brain health.
[00:13:58.540]I spent two years in Phoenix right before I came here
[00:14:00.590]looking at modifiable risk factors for dementia,
[00:14:02.650]for Alzheimer's disease.
[00:14:04.120]And there's really a growing consensus
[00:14:06.360]that there are things that can be done
[00:14:08.100]to at least delay the onset of dementia,
[00:14:11.330]if not, prevent it all together.
[00:14:13.240]The biggest thing is maintaining
[00:14:15.330]the metabolic health of your brain,
[00:14:17.210]and the way that you do that is you maintain
[00:14:19.010]a healthy body weight for your entire life,
[00:14:21.040]if you can, for as much of it as you can,
[00:14:23.500]and you stay physically active,
[00:14:25.130]and you eat healthy foods.
[00:14:26.680]So it's healthy body weight, eating healthy foods,
[00:14:29.260]and staying physically active.
[00:14:31.260]If you have to choose one,
[00:14:32.270]physical activity is probably the most important one.
[00:14:35.030]We are built to move, and if we don't,
[00:14:37.160]it tends to have a negative impact
[00:14:38.410]on all of the organs of our body, including the brain.
[00:14:41.010]Experts know a lot more about the brain
[00:14:43.230]than they did a decade ago.
[00:14:45.090]But when it comes to this three pound organ
[00:14:47.580]there's still so much to learn.
[00:14:49.860]Well the brain is the edge of science, basically,
[00:14:54.370]in terms of what we understand about the human body.
[00:14:56.950]Trying to understand, to me, gets me excited
[00:14:59.410]at how do complex cognitive outcomes happen,
[00:15:03.790]things like I said, memory, language,
[00:15:06.790]the fact that we can think about the future,
[00:15:08.370]and plan for the future.
[00:15:10.180]How do these arise out of brain activity,
[00:15:12.410]and it's not just one brain area,
[00:15:14.180]but it's all these areas working together,
[00:15:16.270]and these processes emerge from that,
[00:15:17.920]and I think that's fascinating.
[00:15:19.540]Cary Savage wants CB3 to play
[00:15:21.870]a role in solving the mystery.
[00:15:27.330]That's it for this edition of Faculty 101,
[00:15:29.680]in the show notes, a link to the CB3 website.
[00:15:37.320]Faculty 101 is produced by
[00:15:39.210]the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:15:46.600]I think I was good at science,
[00:15:47.550]I always had an interest in science for sure.
[00:15:49.740]In fact, when I was a young kid,
[00:15:50.870]I wanted to be an astronomer.
[00:15:52.470]And my friends said you can't do that,
[00:15:54.320]because they thought I said astrologer.
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