Monday, August 20, 2007

Still waiting; film at eleven

No, I don't have my grade yet. Sigh, sigh, sigh.

I have, however, entered a bizarro mode in which all things become reasons to bring up neuroscience. I went to brunch Saturday (thanks, Double Helix! hi, folks!), and I actually said "lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus" in conversation. I think I've crossed some sort of line, here.

It wasn't totally out of the blue, at least. One of the lovely knitters there mentioned strabismus and wondered what treatment would accomplish and why, and for the second time in two weeks, I launched into the Crazed Weasel Strabismus Summary.

What? You missed it? Never fear; you knew I'd tell you, didn't you? (I can't tell if you skip ahead from my tracking software, by the way. Just sayin'.)

Strabismus is that condition you see from time to time where both eyes do not look in the same direction. When I was a younger and smaller weasel, this did not often get corrected until a child was older. Nowadays, corrective action (often surgery) is recommended as soon as possible. Why? Well, here's why! The neurons that carry the signals for the right and left visual fields synapse on the lateral geniculate nucleus in a big mosh pit at first. As a small person grows, input from the eyes reinforces the physical connections for the two visual fields and non-reinforced connections go away (this is called Hebbian synapsing), and the normal result by the end of the critical period of development is neatly alternating bunches of synapses for left, right, left, right (etc.), which the rest of the brain keeps sorted neatly. The differences between the two fields give you depth perception. If the LGN only gets consistent reinforced input from one eye, by the end of the critical period, the neurons for that eye take up all the available physical space for synapsing on the LGN, and there isn't any room any more for anything from the other eye to go if it should be corrected later. So the sooner this condition gets fixed, the better. Critical period for this in humans ends about age 10.

Aren't you glad you asked? Wait - you didn't ask, did you? Oh, well.

I told the saleslady at the toy store about motor coordination in the cerebellum, too.

Yes, the children are thinking of prohibiting me from speaking when we are out in public.

On the topic of tiny clothes sizes that fit me: I was getting really grumpy about what the hell was going on, so I dug up a pair of pants I used to wear in about 1987. They are a 1987 version of size 8. I was in a very thin phase then. No, you will never see a picture of me in the pants; a brief perusal of fashion of the era will illustrate why. I will just say, "poofy through the legs, narrow at the waist and ankles;" for some reason the 80's brought us not only cocaine and Pee Wee Herman but clown pants for everyone. I can get them on, and even fasten them, but they are smaller than the size 4 jeans I bought this week and the size 4 Ann Taylor skirts I bought, too.

Just so you know, I'm not getting preposterously skinny; the clothes are getting preposterously large.

'Til next time, all. Here's some film (another fan-produced anime music video):


Anonymous Anonymous said...

for some reason the 80's brought us not only cocaine and Pee Wee Herman but clown pants for everyone.

HAHAHAHAHA ... Actually I saw "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" in the theater last night. It was totally a group movie experience - full theater saying lines along with the movie etc.

...Jessica (the kundalini writer)

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a more serious note, I wrote a poem for you. Its at my blog.

(hug from the now clued-in jessie)

12:53 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Young'un has strabismus. He inherited it from me, lucky duck. In my case, it went untreated and progressed to amblyopia (or "lazy eye", the condition you describe in which the brain ignores signals from the weaker eye).

Young'un's case is related to his far-sightedness, so he wears corrective lenses. His glasses help, although we can still see his eye wander when he takes the glasses off. His doc is following him closely, and will recommend surgery if the glasses don't do the trick in the next four years or so. I wore a patch, but apparently they've fallen out of vogue as a treatment option.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I think you need to a nice long one on the olfactory neuroscience. I'm about to do a nice post that should explain why.

2:42 AM  
Blogger Lucia said...

I would love to get you and Grant in the same room together. He tends to go on about Swahili verb structures. Latin, ancient Egyptian, ancient Sumerian and Klingon were not enough for him: he is now learning Swahili. At least he is finally learning a language that a lot of real live people speak. Perhaps you could do a duet on language structure (him) and development (you).

(My verification string is yopuklre. Sounds like Klingon.)

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Tattoo Queen said...

one of my favorite anime music videos. Not really anime, but final fantasy 7, but really, it's good :)

11:03 AM  
Blogger Jena the yarn harpy said...

Is there a name for it when the eyes are focussed directly straight ahead? Dave was told by an optometrist that most people's eyes point slightly inward toward their nose, but his are perfectly straight ahead and this is not normal? He got glasses, but the last time he wore them was when playing an evil psychiatrist in some one-acts that I directed in college (with his full beard and a turtleneck black sweater - he looked seriously academic).

I thought of you last night while driving home station-surfing, desperately trying to find something "listenable" and settling on a decidedly HARD rock station that reminded me of being 16 and having just gotten my license. It was all growl-rock and bass and though totally unintelligible, it was a good time to listen to while driving at 11PM. :) (Better than the Delilah drivel show, which has taken over THREE stations in our area at night! THREE!)

My verification code is raack, which is the noise I make when I realize that Captain Mullet And His Band Of Merry Linux Freaks have arrived.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Rosanna said...

Oh, man! Are you saying all those afternoons in middle school when I went and had eye training done to try and correct my lazy eye was for nought? Sigh...

4:40 PM  

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