Biology of the brain, assignment help


watch a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey M. Friedman on obesity and the brain as part of the 2004 Holiday Lecture Series on “The Science of Fat,” sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Please click on the video to the right to watch “Exploring Obesity: From the Depths of the Brain to the Far Pacific”.

If you are having problems viewing the video, you can also access the lecture:

Below are other resources recommended

Food, eating, and weight concerns of men in recovery from substance addiction

Neural mechanisms underlying obesity and drug addiction

Scripps Institute: Cocaine and Set Points

Compusive eating in comparison to cocaine addiction

Knock out mice!

In addition to watching the lecture and answering self-test questions, you will prepare a lab report connected to each lecture.

In each of these, you and your classmates will present lab reports based on the model organism and scientific research on the lecture’s topic. For example, after watching Dr. Friedman’s talk, you will choose and read one of his other papers on the neurobiology of obesity or another scientific paper on research in this field and break it down into its components: hypothesis, the model organism, what was studied, what was learned, and formulate 3 new questions that you want answered.

For this laboratory assignment, we will limit our choice of scientific research articles to the neurobiology of obesity. As an activity, you will create a well-designed scientific lab report with new questions based on solid observations and facts.

he lab report should be 1-2 pages in length, double-spaced, with a font of 12. (This example uses Times Roman but you may prefer Ariel, Courier, etc. and that is fine.) The lab report must include all of these sections: a working link, a complete citation, Hypothesis, Model organisms, Controls, Variables, Experimental Methods used, Data, Results, Conclusions, and 3 New Questions. A scientific experiment is most meaningful if it opens up new and productive areas for further research which is what your 3 questions will be posing. In addition, choose 3 to 5 pivotal vocabulary words from the article and provide a meaningful definition for each, in your own words. You must give the citation(s) for the source of your glossary definitions.


Written Lab Report Example

In addition to watching the lecture and answering self-test questions, you will prepare a lab report connected to each lecture.
 In each of these, you and your class will present lab reports based on the model organism and scientific research on the topic.

Lab Report

You must provide a link to the article itself or the .pdf along with your review. For example, this is found at Dr. Jarvis’ lab website under “publicationsopens in a new window:”

Jarvis, Erich, Dopens in a new window. and Nottebohm, Fernandoopens in a new window. Motor driven gene expression. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. Vol. 94. pp. 4097–4102. April 1997.

Hypothesis: When songbirds sing, gene expression patterns in their brains will reflect this in proportion to how many songs they perform.

Model organism: Brains and behaviors of both canaries (Serinus canaria) and zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) were studied.

Controls: Some birds did not sing and this seemed easy to achieve. When a human sat near them, the songbirds did not sing.

Variables: The number of songs a bird sang over a certain unit of time (e.g., 30 minutes).

Methods: After the set period of time (usually around 30 minutes), the birds were killed and their brains prepared to be studied with radioactive probe by a technique known as in situ hybridization. Detailed information on this laboratory technique is available in two of the citations provided in the article.

Data: What I found interesting is that the brain sections were analyzed by researchers who did not know how many songs each bird had sung until after the results were recorded. In this way, even slight bias could not be introduced when counting the number of silver grains exposed per cell.

Results: The evidence of ZENK gene expression, (a sign of genes turning on, memory, learning, and brain activity), was very closely proportional to the number of songs each bird sang. See Figure 3A: birds that sang no songs, showed results with a very low background of activity, birds that sang a modest number of songs had evidence of ZENK gene expression midway between birds that sang no songs and those that sang a high number of songs.

Conclusions: There are many small experiments described n this paper. This part demonstrates that the very act of singing affects gene expression in specific areas of the bird’s brain and in proportion to the amount of songs sung.

New Questions: Do some birds have more ZENK gene expression than others? Could more gene expression be correlated with social position or the vigor in which the song was sung?


Make use of the college resources, good college dictionaries, and your text.

Plasticity: One definition of this word applies in the context of “synaptic plasticity” a critical concept in neurobiology. It refers to the ability of neuron connections called synapses as “malleable” and therefore capable of change. See The American Heritagedictionary.

Song system nuclei: These are collections of nerve cells that form a complex network of interactions in the bird’s brain. See Gale Encyclopedia of Medicineopens in a new window.

immediate early gene (e.g., ZENK): This research tool is also explained on pages 28-29 of the text (Box 2.1). Genes such as ZENK quick acting and can signal neuron activity in specific areas of the brain. See: text page G-14.

in situ hybridization: This is another research tool described in two articles cited in this one. It is explained on pages 29-29 (Box 2.1) of the text. It is a techique that uses radioactive probes that will bind through complementary base pairing on a section of DNA or RNA. In this paper, “riblprobe” containing radioactive sulfur is used. See: text page G-14.


  • Briefly discuss Dr. Friedman’s findings
  • What is thought to be the body’s “hunger center?” and “satiety center?”
  • What evidence suggests the involvement of areas outside of the brain?
  • What factors make it difficult to lose weight and to keep it off? See Figure 13.23 in the text (page 413) and explain it to an obese friend who doesn’t have a scientific background.
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