A plunge into the heart of the human brain

This Monday, October 26th we were able to follow a live brain surgery: National Geographic Channel and Mental Floss joined forces to capture live deep brain stimulation on an awake patient - a true feat of modern medicine - and thus celebrate a machine as formidable as it is complex: the human brain. Excerpts. 
C’is one of the biggest scientific puzzles still pending: how does our brain really work? "1,300 grams and neuron dust, wrinkled gray matter: the brain hides its complexity well. » said Eric Fottorino in his book "Journey to the Brain Centre" published in 1998. Neuroscience has made giant leaps in knowledge in recent years. Scientists have been studying the brain for centuries. Yet, around 1800, they recognized only those regions visible to the naked eye (1). New technologies have made it possible to delve into the depths of hidden brain structures.... Today it was a television camera that penetrated it. A first an intimate report to discover this "unknown land" of knowledge.
Produced by Leftfield Picture, Brain Surgery Live combined live images from the operating room at Case Medical Center University Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, with pre-produced elements tracing the evolution of science and medicine's understanding of the human brain and exploring what remains to be discovered. This live operation is a real first on French television.
Brain Surgery Live takes viewers into a state-of-the-art operating room to witness deep brain stimulation, an elective procedure in which the surgeon makes a small opening in the skull to access the brain. Throughout the operation, the patient is fully awake and able to interact with neurosurgeons and neurologists. The fact that the patient is conscious allows the neurologists to know where to place the electrodes. They then perform tests to make sure they have targeted the affected part of the brain. The patient is identified shortly before filming after undergoing a wide range of tests and examinations.
Super production for super reality
The production team equipped the high-tech operating room at Cleveland's Case Medical Center University Hospital with two hand-operated cameras as well as several robotic cameras integrated directly into the doctors' surgical equipment. This way, throughout the broadcast, viewers can see exactly what the neurosurgery team sees: images of the brain being operated on in real time.
In addition, Brain Surgery Live also took advantage of the hospital's state-of-the-art Surgical Theatre 3D simulator. Developed in part by Case Medical Center, this simulator is the only patented and FDA-approved platform for preoperative neurosurgical planning. This equipment is currently available in only five hospitals in the United States. The Surgical Theatre's 3D imaging is used to rehearse and visualize operations even before entering the OR.
Creatively guided by Mental Floss, the public will be able to gain a wealth of knowledge about the brain and the advanced technologies used in surgery. Viewers will discover how virtual reality is changing medicine, what science can learn from studying famous brains, the differences between male and female brains, and how the brain influences creativity and interacts with the rest of the human body.
Host Bryant Gumbel guides viewers through the surgery and takes them through the intricacies of grey matter. Dr. Rahul Jandial, expert commentator and neurosurgeon, accompanies him during the live broadcast. He provides insights into the scientific phenomena behind the operation. The neuroscientist and podcast host "Talk Nerdy"Cara Santa Maria, also contributes her expertise and comments.
Several excerpts are already available courtesy of National Geographic Channel. :
  1. The moment the doctors at the university hospital activate the electrode they have implanted in the patient to treat the essential tremor and the hand stops shaking immediately.
  2. Bryant Gumbel asks patient Greg Grindley how he feels during Deep Brain Stimulation. and that he responds with humor "I feel good. Glad to hear I have a normal brain. » 
  3. Patient Greg Grindley communicates with host Bryant Gumbel and his wife. during deep brain stimulation at Case Medical Center in Cleveland Ohio. 
Approved by...
Deep brain stimulation was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat essential tremor in 1997 and Parkinson's disease in 2002. Although it is now more widely available, this delicate procedure is performed only in selected medical centres that have doctors, nurses and technicians trained in the procedure and the necessary specialized equipment.
"Whether it's Brain Games, our Emmy Award-nominated series or Brain Surgery Live, we continue to explain the workings of the brain and spark viewers' curiosity and interest in this complex and wonderful organ of the human body," he says. said Tim Pastore, president, original production and programming manager, National Geographic U.S. "We offer a real-time dive into the heart of the human brain that we hope will be as informative as it is unforgettable. »
"Deep brain stimulation procedures are changing lives in hospitals around the world. Through this partnership with the National Geographic Channel, we're giving access to this marvel of modern medicine," he said. said Will Pearson, co-founder of Mental Floss... « From the history of the brain to future revolutionary advances in neuroscience, we invite viewers to discover the incredible capabilities of their brains and the secrets of their grey matter. »
"By working in partnership with National Geographic and Mental Floss, two brands committed to exploring science, we hope to demystify brain surgery and reduce the fear and stigma surrounding it," he said. said Dr. Jonathan Miller, Neurosurgeon and Director of the Center for Reparative and Functional Neurosurgery at Case Medical Center University Hospital. "We hope that this live broadcast of deep brain stimulation will raise awareness and provide a comprehensive understanding of this state-of-the-art surgery. » 
David George, President of Leftfield Entertainment and Executive Producer added, "It's extremely rewarding to offer National Geographic Channel audiences around the world the opportunity to share a life-changing experience. This program also highlights the extraordinary talent and commitment of renowned medical teams and institutions, as well as the fabulous complexity of the human brain. »
The neurosurgery team
Created about 150 years ago, theCase Medical Center University Hospital was first affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and is among the top national rankings established by US News & World Report in nine medical specialties for adult patients including neurology and neurosurgery. Case Medical Center is a pioneering institution in deep brain stimulation and also helped develop Surgical Theatre 3D, the surgical simulator that will appear on the National Geographic Channel program.
Dr. Jonathan Miller is the Director of the Center for Reparative and Functional Neurosurgery at Case Medical Center University Hospital. He is also Associate Professor and Vice President for Educational Affairs in the Department of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University. He has a degree in Neurological Surgery, with a special interest in the areas of neuromodulation, epilepsy surgery, deep brain stimulation, movement disorders, neuropathic pain, mood/cognitive disorders, medication management, peripheral nerve surgery and traumatic brain injury.
Dr. Jennifer Sweet is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a neurosurgeon working with Dr. Miller at Case Medical Center in the Department of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery. She also has a special interest in neuromodulation, deep brain stimulation for movement and psychiatric disorders, pain stimulation, medication management, traumatic brain injury and peripheral nervous system disorders.
Dr. Benjamin Walter is the Director of the Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Treatment Center and the Medical Director for the Deep Brain Stimulation Program at Case Medical Center University Hospital. He is also an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Case Western Reserve University and a graduate in Neurology. His primary focus is on deep brain stimulation, dystonia, functional MRI, movement disorders, Parkinson's disease and tremor.
Live animation
Bryant Gumbel is probably one of the most accomplished presenters. He has worked at NBC for over 20 years, including 15 years as TODAY presenter, longer than any other presenter in the history of the program. In addition to numerous Emmy awards, Gumbel has received the United Negro College Fund's highest honor, the Frederick D. Patterson Award, the Congress of Racial Equality's Martin Luther King Award, and three NAACP Image Awards.
Dr. Rahul Jandial, co-host, M.D., practices as a neurosurgeon and scientist in the City of Hope. He is an expert in the medical and surgical treatment of cancer affecting the brain, spine and spinal cord. His work includes the development of new surgical techniques to improve post-operative outcomes. In addition, his laboratory conducts research on the biology of cancer in order to develop future treatments. Dr. Jandial strives to serve the community through teaching, media appearances and humanitarian work.
Cara Santa Maria, co-host, is an American neuroscientist, science popularizer, journalist and "podcaster". She has written and worked as a science correspondent for the Huffington Post. She holds a degree in psychology with an option in philosophy from the University of North Texas, obtained in 2004, and a master's degree in biology with a specialization in neuroscience from the same university, obtained in 2007. 
The production team
Brain Surgery Live is produced by Leftfield Pictures for National Geographic Channels. The executive producers are Brent Montgomery, David George, Shawn Witt, Gretchen Palek, Robert Wheelock and Scott Miller. Joe Michaels is in charge of directing. The executive producers of Mental Floss are Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur. For National Geographic Channels International, Hamish Mykura is executive vice president and head of international content.
Wheelock, which produces the live feed is well known and has extensive experience in news and political coverage. Wheelock has worked for Al Jazeera America, ABC News Special Events, Good Morning America and the TODAY Show.
Awarded eight Emmy-awards and by the Directors Guild of America, Joe Michaels is an innovative producer of live and studio events for television. These include the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia; the World Series; the Super Bowl; the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament; the NBC Game of the Week; the Orange Bowl; the Hula Bowl; and SportsWorld on NBC. Joe Michaels has also directed commercials, plays and other events.
(1) Doctors of the ancient world believed the brain was made of mucus. Aristotle saw it as a refrigerator, cooling the heart's ardour. Between his time and the Renaissance, anatomists certified that our perceptions, emotions, reasoning and actions were the product of "animal spirits" - mysterious vapours swirling in the cavities of our heads and traveling through our bodies.
The scientific revolution of the 17th century changed this vision. Thomas Willis, an English physician, recognized that the creamy-looking tissue of the brain was the seat of our mental world. He dissected the brains of dead sheep, dogs, and patients, and made the first accurate maps of them.
Understanding that the brain is an electrical organ took another century. Inside the skull move not animal spirits but peaks of electrical voltage, which then emerge from it to reach the body's nervous system. And even in the 19th century, scientists knew little about the paths of these peaks.
Camillo Golgi, an Italian doctor, argued that the brain was a homogeneous connected network. Based on his research, the Spanish scientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal tested new techniques: he tinted neurons to identify their entangled branches. Cajal found that each neuron is a separate cell.
Then Jeff Lichtman, a neuroscientist at Harvard, projects Ramón y Cajal's research into the 21st century. With his team, he creates ultra-detailed three-dimensional images of neurons, revealing every protuberance or ramification. This allows them to take a closer look at the fine structure of individual nerve cells.
(Source: National Geographic)


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