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Brains of woodpeckers contain protein found in humans with brain damage

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posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 07:01 AM
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I was reading this while having my morning coffee and I thought I would share this.

With all the talk about concussions in sports and the amount of damage it can do,this makes a lot of sense to study a woodpecker.

www.cbc.ca...

The headbangers of nature.


Scientists wonder if the head-banging birds can shed light on concussions or other brain conditions




New research has discovered that the brains of woodpeckers do indeed contain a buildup of a protein found in people with brain damage and some neurodegenerative diseases. The protein tau is essential to the function of neurons. However, recent studies have found a link between patients with traumatic brain injuries and a buildup of this particular protein, which is why the researchers chose to examine woodpeckers.


When they tested other birds,they found no tau.


Their research found eight of the 10 woodpecker brains obtained from Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and the Harvard Museum of Natural History contained elevated levels of tau. None of the control birds — red-winged blackbirds — contained elevated levels of tau.


This part I found pretty interesting as far as evolution goes.
IMO,I don't think the brain would evolve over time from head injuries....it would just fail as it is supposed to.



"The fact that it is there is fascinating because there's the idea that if we're having all these evolutionary adaptations … why would that stop at the brain?" said Cummings. "Why would the brain say, 'Eh, not gonna bother'?"


To be fair,the source does state that better research is needed and I agree.


This COULD lead to more being known about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)
Some info on CTE

en.wikipedia.org...


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries.[1] Symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking.[1] This typically does not begin until years after the injuries.[2] It often gets worse over time and can result in dementia.[2] It is unclear if the risk of suicide is altered.[1] Most documented cases have occurred in athletes involved in contact sports such as American football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, and soccer.[1] Other risk factors include being in the military, prior domestic violence, and repeated banging of the head.[1] The exact amount of trauma required for the condition to occur is unknown.[1] Definitive diagnosis can only occur at autopsy.[1] It is a form of tauopathy.[1]


If this leads to some breakthroughs in head injuries...studying woodpeckers is a pretty good idea!!




posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 07:22 AM
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Do you know what wood peckers can do that we men can't ?.....................Whistle thru their peckers.
edit on 6-2-2018 by openyourmind1262 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 08:34 AM
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The real question ... do woodpeckers get senile (or dementia)?



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 09:14 AM
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originally posted by: ketsuko
The real question ... do woodpeckers get senile (or dementia)?

Woody Woodpecker seemed to be demented.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 09:33 AM
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a reply to: DrumsRfun

Excellent topic!

I have a feeling that if they look further they will find another protein or chem that reduces swelling and scarring in the peckers.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 10:27 AM
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a reply to: howtonhawky

It seems the tau could be protective?



Not all tau is created equal. Cummings explained that some types of the protein are protective, while others accumulate and can become toxic. Could the woodpeckers have the protective form?



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 10:33 AM
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a reply to: DrumsRfun


Apparently so does Metallica!!

NSFW

But enjoy!!






posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 10:57 AM
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Human share a lot of biological traits with birds and reptiles. Our brains are wired like a birds, but the structure is like a pig. Our protein sugar is not like most other mammals, it is more avian and reptilian related, except for a white footed mouse which we have one living in our house. Humans are attracted to colors like birds are too, mammals are not so much attracted to colors.

We are bird brains, or reptilians. No use looking for reptillians, we may all be reptillians, evolving from some sort of raptor.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 11:07 AM
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originally posted by: DrumsRfun
a reply to: howtonhawky

It seems the tau could be protective?



Not all tau is created equal. Cummings explained that some types of the protein are protective, while others accumulate and can become toxic. Could the woodpeckers have the protective form?




Yep we are close now.
Another guess would be that bbq helps brain injury in humans. lol
Sounds super crazy but i believe you brought up a very valid on time subject that will quickly gain much traction.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 11:29 AM
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a reply to: DrumsRfun

hmm.. Thanks for the thread, this is an interesting subject. Apparently there are two types of Tau, one is normal and one is like a toxin. The one they found in the heads of the birds was toxic. Tau (the bad type) has been located in the brains of people with Alzheimer's as well. So, if they can determine how the bird is able to withstand the g-force of 1,200 - 1,400 without sustaining brain damage, it could be helpful to both Alzheimer patients as well as brain damaged patients.


"The basic cells of the brain are neurons, which are the cell bodies, and axons, which are like telephone lines that communicate between the neurons. The tau protein wraps around the telephone lines -- it gives them protection and stability while still letting them remain flexible," explains lead author George Farah, who worked on the study as a graduate student at the Boston University School of Medicine.

In moderation, tau proteins can be helpful in stabilizing brain cells, but too much tau build-up can disrupt communication from one neuron to another. "When the brain is damaged, tau collects and disrupts nerve function -- cognitive, emotional, and motor function can be compromised," says Cummings.


The other thing mentioned is that Tau (the bad type) usually occurs a lot later in life after a brain injury (years from the initial trauma). And, there is some "debate" as to whether the birds acquired brain trauma or not. Some web sites claim they did, some sites claimed they didn't. I guess it all depends on which one you read. So far, what I read in the study was that they don't think that the birds sustained brain damage..so it still has to be determined maybe.

I never knew that the birds where over 25 million years old, nor did I know that some sport helmet designs were based off of them?

Link 1
Link 2
Helmet LinK
Different Helmet Link


Thanks!
blend



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 12:15 PM
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a reply to: DrumsRfun

What I found equally interesting were some of the other adaptations woodpeckers have made - such as wrapping their tongue round the brain as a shock absorber and having honeycomb structures skull bones that help absorb impact.

www.birdwatchingdaily.com...

Always thought the pecking was to find food - turns out it’s to attract a mate/defend territory as they can’t sing

Bob



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 12:17 PM
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plant golgi apparatus

Something to ponder.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 12:19 PM
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a reply to: DrBobH

Mating is only part of the battle.

They are eating the sap also.

Chances are that something a tree has helps them survive long term along with the other adaptations you mention.

On a side note the cat just came to the door with a fresh bird kill in its mouth.
edit on 6-2-2018 by howtonhawky because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 12:27 PM
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a reply to: howtonhawky

If we are talking headbanging and trees.

The bark of a willow tree is natures aspirin.
It is as close to an aspirin as you will find in the woods,from my limited knowledge and what I somewhat understand.

If they need a headache cure...I would assume it would be from willow.

I know nothing about woodpeckers though so I am just throwing it out there.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 01:03 PM
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a reply to: DrumsRfun

yep that salicylic acid in the bark was first separated out for arthritis.

I really dont know much bout it but it has t be something happening in real time for the peckers.

They don't prefer willows to other trees so whatever is helping them will be in most types of trees.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 01:40 PM
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So the term peckerhead actually has some truth behind it?



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 06:08 PM
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posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 06:14 PM
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a reply to: blend57

The problem is ... how would you know if a bird had dementia?

In the wild, such things would quickly lead to natural selection removing that older individual from the gene pool, so you wouldn't really find many individuals with dementia or what you would easily recognize as such by behavior.

The only way to really discover whether or not woodpeckers get the avian equivalent of Alzheimer's would be to study captive specimens who were kept isolated from normal natural selection pressures.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 07:45 PM
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In pets dementia is known as CDS Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome. Birds are also treated similar as dogs and cats when the symptoms appear.



posted on Feb, 6 2018 @ 08:09 PM
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originally posted by: howtonhawky
a reply to: DrumsRfun

Excellent topic!

I have a feeling that if they look further they will find another protein or chem that reduces swelling and scarring in the peckers.


As a scientist, I would look at the diet for anti-inflammatory/anti-oxidant foods being a key ingredient.




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