The structure, growth, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology of the nervous system are all topics covered in the discipline of neuroscience. The term “neurology,” which translates to “neuroscience,” refers to a field of medicine that is predominantly but not exclusively engaged in researching pathology.
Another term for neurobiology, although it only occurs in a few languages, is often the same when it is not intended to be a subdivision.
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What is Neuroscience?
The nervous system, which impacts every organ and function of the mind and body, is the focus of the interdisciplinary study of neuroscience.
Neuroscientists study how the brain affects cognition and behavior or how individuals think. They can advance our knowledge of the body and the brain, their functions, and the illnesses that affect them.
Why Is Neuroscience Important?
Although neuroscience impacts several human functions, it also advances knowledge of various prevalent diseases.
These consist of the following:
⮚ Down syndrome
⮚ Brain cancer
⮚ Parkinson’s condition
⮚ Stroke related diseases
⮚ Autism Spectrum Disease (ASD)
A better understanding of neurological aspects helps treat and prevent these medical conditions.
Major Branches Of Neuroscience
Following are the major branches of neuroscience:
Affective Neuroscience: This field of study examines how neurons respond to emotions.
Behavioral Neuroscience: Neuroscience that focuses on the behavior of the brain.
Cognitive Neuroscience: This field examines how the brain creates and manages thoughts and the neural mechanisms behind those functions.
Developmental Neuroscience: Neuroscience in development examines how the brain and nervous system develop and change from birth through adolescence.
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience: Researchers study how specific chemicals, genes, and proteins contribute to the health and function of nerves and the nervous system.
Neurophysiology: This field examines how the nervous system functions, from the molecular level to the level of entire organs, and how the brain and its functions relate to various body components.
What is Neuro-Oncology?
The medical specialty of neuro-oncology deals with brain and spinal cord malignancies. Nervous system cancers are frequently severe illnesses that can ultimately be fatal.
Cancers of the nervous system can develop as primary tumors, secondary tumors, or metastatic tumors due to cancer spreading from one part of the body to another.
Primary tumors can strike anyone at any age, although most frequently strike young adults. Meningiomas are more common in women; however, most primary malignancies are more common in men.
Secondary tumors can invade the nervous system directly or through metastasis from another site of origin.
Causes of Neuro-Oncology
Brain tumors can arise due to genetic diseases like neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, and Turner syndrome. Age, radiation exposure, and a weakened immune system brought on by HIV/AIDS are all thought to raise the risk of brain cancer.
Types of Neuro-Oncology
Following are the types of brain and spinal cord tumors:
⮚ Astrocytic Tumors
⮚ Embryonal Cell Tumors
⮚ Ependymal Tumors
⮚ Germ Cell Tumors
⮚ Meningeal Tumors
⮚ Pineal Parenchymal Tumors
⮚ Recurrent Brain Tumors
About 15% to 20% of brain tumors cause seizures, as do about 50% of patients with melanoma metastases and hemorrhagic tumors. Pain is the primary symptom in most people whose cancer has progressed to the spinal cord.
Reduced blood supply to the spinal cord and traction on the membranes covering the bone, the meninges, the nerve roots, and the surrounding tissue produce the pain.
Imaging techniques are used in neuro-oncology diagnosis to identify the tumor’s position, size, and range. Additionally, methods like CT scan and MRI scan are performed.
Aside from these, positron emission tomography (PET), myelography, and angiography may also be employed. Cerebrospinal fluid analysis and a lumbar puncture may be necessary for some circumstances.
Treatment And Therapy Options In Neuro-Oncology
Neurological cancers can be fatal and include brain stem tumors, astrocytomas, glioblastoma multiforme, pontine gliomas, gliomas, and gliomas.
High-grade astrocytomas and brain stem gliomas are two of the most severe malignant brain tumors, with patients typically not living more than a few months without therapy. In these cases, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can extend survival by a few years.
Cancer cells multiply and develop more quickly than healthy cells. Damage to the DNA within cells is how radiation treatment functions. This therapy stops the growth and division of cancer cells, which ultimately results in their demise. Healthy cells close by are likewise affected by radiation, but they can repair the harm.
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As the name suggests, it involves treating any part of the nervous system through surgery. These include the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system.
Gamma knife therapy is one of the most effective, potent, and scientifically validated therapies for brain illnesses. Surgery is not involved in Gamma Knife therapy. Instead, it directs 201 small, focused radiation beams onto the tumor.
The specific radiation dose targets only the unhealthy tissue. The healthy tissue surrounding it is left unharmed. With the robotically controlled Gamma Knife, surgeons can administer radiation with greater accuracy, safety, and efficiency.
Under general anesthesia, the patient is subjected to HDR (High Dose Rate) brachytherapy. It requires inserting a variety of temporary applicators like catheters (hollow tubes). Through these hollow tubes, a radioactive source momentarily administers radiation therapy to the tumor according to ultrasound-based planning.
Compared to external beam radiation therapy, this enables the delivery of a high radiation dose to a much smaller region.
Radiation therapy includes proton therapy. Proton radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to harm the DNA of cancer cells. The treatment is non-invasive and painless. These genetic alterations stop cancer cells from proliferating and ultimately kill them.
Positively charged protons are used in proton therapy to obliterate cancer cells. Proton beams are controllable and may be directed precisely to the tissue that needs treatment. Because of this distinction, proton therapy is an excellent choice for treating tumors in or near vital organs like the heart or brain.
Relation Between Neuroscience and Neuro-Oncology
Neuroscience studies the overall functioning of the brain. This includes cognitive thinking and behavior, along with various brain diseases. On the other hand, neuro-oncology specifically deals with cancer in any part of the nervous system. Given that the brain is the center of the nervous system, most studies in neuro-oncology are common with that of neuroscience.
So, it is safe to say that neuro-oncology can be a part of neuroscience, though its focus lies more on cancer than various other aspects of the brain.