Krissy C's Biology 111 Wikispace!

Semester 1, 2009

Post #1:
Ever had a good cry?
As most of you have probably noticed, you usually cry when you're upset. However, there is a much larger science behind these tears. In our nervous system, there is a side of us that is rather sympathetic. When we're upset, this side is alerted. Our bodies release tears from our tearducts to try and rebalance our nervous system. Although crying is a way to rebalance our nervous systems, if you cry for a long period of time and/or are in emotional distress for a long period of time, you could suffer serious consequences such as a stroke or a heart attack.

Also, a person who is diagnosed with depression typically cries more often than someone who has not been diagnosed. However, two thirds of the people who are diagnosed with depression are women.

Question: Do guys or girls cry more?
Answer: On average, men cry once a month and women cry five times a month on average. This is because of two hormones called prolactin and estrogen. These are typically found in women and each have many functions usually pretaining to women. One thing they do, is help women cry a little more than men. Prolactin is a hormone present in blood cells and also in tears. Another factor as to why women cry more is that a girl's tearducts are shaped a little differently than a man's.

So, guys, when you see a girl crying, don't get that look of fear in your eye. Just give her a hug and stroke her back until she calms down (unless you don't know her because that could be awkward). And girls, when you see a guy crying, don't think of him as less of a man because there is a tear rolling down his cheek. Just smile at him and eventually he'll smile back.

external image tear-duct-graphic-3_648348a.jpg

To read more about crying follow these links:
Saltz, Gail. (n.d.). The Science of crying. Retrieved from
Wilson, Tracy. (2008, October 30). How Women work. Retrieved from

Post #2: NewScientist Journal:

Could we reprogram our immune systems!?

Question: Is is true that our immune systems could fight cancer?
Answer: Yes! Macrophages are immune cells that are roped by tumours to help them grow. These can be turned into cancer killers!

How you ask? Well, macrophages typically clean up all the dead and dying cells. Logically, they should "gobble" up cancer cells as well, but the cancer cells are like Satan is to a Christian soul. They send chemical messages and convince the macrophages to become traitors to your body and they feed instead of destroy.

At this point, you're probably thinking: "Why not just remove the macrophages from our bodies?" Well, this would create fewer tumours inside us; yet, it would also make us much more vulnerable to infections.

Question: So if we can't remove them, can we alter them to ignore the cancer cell's temptations?
Answer: Well, a protein called Nf-kB slows a tumour's growth, but not near enough. So, scientists did some tests on some lucky mice where they gave them a gene needed to activate Nf-kB. When they injected this gene into mice with ovarian cancer, the modified macrophages fought back and sent out a strong immune response that slowed the tumour's growth.

So, to summarize, our bodies immune system can be altered to fight cancer. You just need a non-infected person's macrophages to be modified (like the mice) and then be injected into the infected person. From there, everything goes on inside your immune cells in your body.
Barras, Colin. (2007, October 6-12). Immune 'traitors' tuned to kill caner. 18-19.

Post #3


Have you ever been sitting around, trying to do some Math homework or write an essay when all of a sudden you bounce a little bit? Then you find yourself thinking "Stupid Hiccups!" Well, there is a logical explanation to all of this.

So how do hiccups arise? Well, if you want something to blame, then blame your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is usually quite nice to you. It pushes up when you breathe out to help push air out of your lungs and it pulls down to help air get into your lungs. However, there are some days when your diaphragm becomes quite irritated and causes you to suck air in quite quickly "HIC!" If you eat too quickly or if you eat too much, your diaphragm can become quite irritated. Other things that can cause irritation to your diaphragm are:
  • An irritated stomach or throat
  • Nervousness
  • Excitement
Although hiccups usually last only a few minutes, there are cases that last days or even weeks. However that is quite unusual and typically have another medical condition involved.

So how do you get rid of these viscious hiccups? Well,. here are some common ways to get rid of your hiccups:
  • Hold your breath and count to ten
  • Drinking water
  • Putting sugar beneath your tongue
  • Having someone scare you unexpectedly
Dowshen, Steven. (2009, May). What Causes hiccups?. Retrieved from

Post #4

Stress In Teens: Stress is everywhere and Teens are no exception. Some adults have gotten under the impression that only adults experience stress. However, that's not true at all. Young children and also teens experience stress on a daily basis.

Question: So what exactly are some things that can stress out a teen?
Answer: The Health Center has established some things that they believe cause stress in teens. Some of these things include:
  • Transferring schools
  • Going on a date
  • High expectations put upon them
  • Being over-scheduled
  • Having a job and being involved with extra-cirricular activities
  • Scholarships and other academic occurances

Question: What happens when all of these stresses pile up?
Answer: When all of these stresses pile up too high and aren't dealt with properly, the teen begins to feel distress. It can affect the teen both mentally and physically. Stress can deplete the brain of certain chemicals that are needed to regulate emotions and when depleted of these important chemicals, the person begins to feel mental and physical symptoms that can disrupt their normal routine.

Inside your brain, neurotransmitters regulate the sending and receiving of messages between cells. There are "happy" messengers and "sad" messangers. These "happy" messangers contain three main chemicals: Serotonin, Noradrenaline, and Dopamine. Each of these carry out their own specific function relating to our bodily functions. For example, Serotonin regulates our body clocks trying to keep our waking and sleeping patterns regular. When you're stressed, distress in this chemical causes sleeplessness. Noradrenaline, on the other hand, takes care of our energy levels. When we fall into distress, teens begin to feel a strong lack of energy. They typically feel as though they have no energy to do anything. Then Dopamine runs the pleasure center. Failure in this neurotransmitter will cause Teens to not find enjoyment in things they once did.

So what exactly lowers a person's tolerance for stress when they are already distressed? Well, a poor diet, lack of physical activity, and poor sleeping habits are all factors in stress in teens. Lacking all of these can make it harder for the body to replenish these chemicals that are lacking when you're stressed.

Question: What can happen to a teenager in distress from being over stressed?
Answer: Teenagers who have fallen into distress can be more susceptible to illness, it can make them very tired, and/or make them incapable of dealing with life in general. On top of that, stress can also make a teenager to fall into depression, constant boredom, severe emotions, ulcers, and also irritating bowel syndromes. All of these things can be preveted if teenagers learn proper coping techniques early on.

Question: Is it true that stress is stress; that there's only one kind?
Answer: The true fact is that, in teenagers, there are four types of stress. There's Eustress, which is actually a positive stress that is short-term and arises when in need of motivation or inspiration. Secondly, there's distress, which is a negative type of stress causing feelings of discomfort. There are actually two types of distress. Acute distres comes and goes rather quickly; however, chronic stress stays for weeks, months, or even sometimes years. The third kind of stress commonly found in teens is hyperstress which occurs when the teen is overloaded with work. When someone is in this state, the smallest things can trigger a major emotional response. The fourth and final kind of stress is hypostress which is actually the exact opposite of hyperstress. Hypostress comes into play when a person is severly not challenged or bored.

All of these stresses consume today's teenagers, so how can we deal with it? Well, we can do such things as these:
  • define a regular sleeping schedule
  • eating less sugar and more fiber
  • regularly exercise at least three times a week for a minimum of twenty minutes
What can be done other than what's listed above to deal with stress? Teenagers can definitely go to therapy, whether it be behavioral (helps teens calm their minds and body so that they can think more clearly), cognitive (this causes the teenager to think about why they're so stressed. Resolving this aspect can mean less worrying and happier thoughts), literary (this uses books, articles, ect to aid the teen in resolving issues), or talk therapy (simply talking through these problems with friends, family members, or even a therapist). Teens can also talk to your family doctor to find out whether or not you should be on any perscribed drugs.

All in all, stress isn't fun and, if not coped with properly in earlier stages, can cause major damage to a person's mind. Not only will their youth be affected in a strong, bad way, but their futures will be a reflection on what they're experiencing now.

To see more information about stress and how to deal with it, follow this link:
[[ |]]Citation:
Stress management - what are our options?. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Post #5

Are You Depressed?

If you're like me, you've began to reach the point where you're so stressed out and have no downtime. In result of this, some teenagers can tend to always be in a bad/sad mood, are constantly pessimistic, and occasionally have breakdowns. However, the biggest question with all of this is "Am I just really stressed out, or am I suffering through Depression?" The answer can't be found by yourself or by your parents (unless they're a doctor). The answer can only be found through a doctor or through a specialist. However, a suspicion can be formed between you and your parents.

So, here's a list of signs/symptoms of Teenage Depression:
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability or anger
  • Tearfulless that can result in constant crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and/or family
  • Lose of interest in various activities
  • Eating and sleeping habits change
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Restlessness
  • Enthusiasm and motivation begins to lack
  • Energy deprivation or fatigue
  • Difficulty trying to concentrate
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Just because some of these signs/symptoms are present doesn't mean that you're a depressed teenager. It could mean a lot of things, but if these signs are quite severe, have been present for a long amount of time, or have really changed you compared to your 'normal self', then you have something to worry about. At that point, you really need to see a specialist or at least a doctor.

I know it seems a little insane for some of us to be wondering whether or not we're depressed or not, but the reality is that if we are and it remains untreated, we could end up in a number of different scenarios that aren't good. Untreated Depressed Teens have the potential to run away, have problems at school, have low self-esteem, develop eating disorders, or even get to the point where self inflicted injuries like burning or cutting come into play. Sometimes, teens think that these things are the only ways that they can deal with what they're feeling.

To read more about Depression in Teens, follow this link:
Teen depression. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Post #6

Could There Really be a Science Behind Music?

No matter who you are or what your background is, you have some kind of music that you like. Whether it be whatever's playing on the radio, Christian, Country, Rap, Hip Hop, or any other type of music, everyone has a music that speaks to their soul.

Music is all around us. It's physically around us and going through our minds almost every moment of every day. Some people accept this as the farthest explaination of music. That it's there and that's it. However, is there something else there?

"Most important, the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that releases dopamine to regulate our moods and coordinate our movements, is fundamentally implicated in our experience of music." (Levitin 2009)

A nucleus accumben is a nucleus that's formed in the brain; on the floor of the caudal part of the anterior prolongation of the lateral ventricle. I know there are a lot of big words there so here are a few definitions for that last sentence and the quote featured above:
  • dopamine - neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for the central nervous system
  • caudal - "situated beneath or on the underside" (
  • anterior prolongation - an extended part near or toward the head
  • lateral ventricle - a horseshoe shaped cavity

So, from looking at what I've said here, and if you wish to read the full article, you can tell that there definitely is a science behind the music we listen to. Every note that we hear has a little process to go through in our brains and helps us to react to it.

For the full article, follow this link:
Leviten, Daniel. (2007, September 2). The Science of music. Retrieved from

Post #7

There's a Battle Between my Brain Brain?

Did you know that there's two sides to our brains? The right hemisphere and the left hemisphere? Each side controls a different "mode" of thinking. Typically, people tend to like one "mode" more than the other, meaning that that particular side is dominent.
Here's a two sets of lists to show the differences/opposites between the two hemispheres of the brain:
Right Side:
  • Random
  • Intuitive
  • Holistic Synthesizing (Taking something apart, like a problem, and figuring out why it ticks and how it does so)
  • Subjective
  • Looks at wholes
Left Side:
  • Logical Sequential
  • Rational
  • Analytical
  • Objective
  • Looks at parts
In school, adults tend to favor left brain dominent students beacuse they are much more logical and analytical while right brain dominent students tend to be more creative and "out there".

So what brain type are you? Are you both? Is one drastically more dominent than the other? You tell me.

For more information about left and right brain, follow this link:
[[ Citation:Right%20brain%20vs%20left%20brain.%20(2008)| ]]
[[ Citation:Right%20brain%20vs%20left%20brain.%20(2008).%20Retrieved%20from%20http:|Citation:Right brain vs left brain. (2008). Retrieved from ]]

Post #8

What's the Deal with These Emotions?

Here's a short video demonstrating some emotions that many teens go through:

Every one of us has had to deal with sadness at one point or another; sometimes certain people deal with it much more than others. However, we have all experienced it. At one point or another, most of us have gone from sadness, to anger, to joy in a short amount of time, but what is it exactly that causes this change to happen so quickly and drastically?

A portion of why a lot of teenagers are fairly emotional and have mood swings is because of puberty. All teenagers have to endure it and I don't think I've met a single teenager who enjoyed the experience. In all teenagers, sex horomones are produced during puberty. Girls get estrogen and progesterone while boys get testosterone.

So exactly what is estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone? Well, estrogen is the sex horomone that prepares a woman's uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone is another chemical in women that also prepares the uterus for pregnancy and helps maintain it. Now, in the boys, testosterone is simply the male sex horomone that creates sperm and other male sex organs. Each of these sex horomones have three main chemicals in them, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

So, in teenagers, the best explaination for our emotions is puberty. We all go through it, so we all have to deal with it.

To read more about emotions follow this link:
Citation:Schroff Pendley, Jennifer. (2007, October). //Why Am i in such a bad mood?//. Retrieved from

Post #9:

Why Am I Yawning?

Here's a very short video to start us off:

So how many of you yawned after watching that video? I didn't but I was very close. Is it because yawns are contagious? Is it because I'm tired or stressed? Well, first we should look into what a yawn is.

A yawn is an involuntary actions where we open our mouths widely and breathe deeply. We know it's involuntary because we started yawning before we were born. Research has proven that 11-week-old fetuses yawn. Also, there's a lot at work when you yawn. Your mouth opens wide and your jaw drops down so that you can take in as much as possible, all the air is taken to your lungs, your abdominal muscles flex and your diaphragm is pushed down.

Many dictionaries will tell you that yawning occurs because you're tired; however, there's more to it. Not too many tests have been done, but many theories have arised. Here are some of the theories I have discovered:
  1. Physiological Theory: This theory states that we take in more oxygen to get rid of a build up of carbon dioxide. This also (somewhat) explains why yawns are contagious. More people produce more carbon dioxide meaning that our bodies would want to take in more oxygen. The fault with this theory is that, if we yawned to take in more oxygen, wouldn't we yawn when excercising?
  2. Evolution Theory: This theory states that way back when, man started yawning to intimidate others by showing their teeth. The offshoot of this theory is that early man began yawning to signal to change activities.
  3. Boredom Theory: This theory is, in a way, self explanatory. The dictionary defines the act of yawning occuring when you're tired, bored, or drowsy. However, Olymic athletes yawn before their event; how does this theory explain that? I highly doubt they're getting tired of having the world watch them.

Yawns are not limited to humans. Animals and even fetuses yawn as well. However, science cannot define or explain this.

Yawn Facts:
  • Yawns typically last about six seconds
  • A heart rate can rise 30% during a yawn
  • 55% of people will see someone yawn, and within five minutes, will yawn themselves
  • Reading about yawning will typically make a person yawn
  • Olymic athletes usually yawn before their event
So, I hope too many of you didn't yawn excessively during this. And if you did, I hope it wasn't out of boredom.
Now, one final question for those of you reading: Which theory do you agree with?

Go to this website to learn more:
What Makes us yawn?. (2008, October 8). Retrieved from

Post #10

A Pink Brain vs. A Blue Brain

Dr. Lise Eliot is the author of "Pink Brain Blue Brain", a book focusing on the differences between brains in children, girls and boys. Her views state that she believes there is a great difference, but does science support it? Here is a point form list of they key items of her interview with The Globe and Mail:
  • The brains of girls and boys develop differently
  • Research has found surprisingly little evidence of sex differences in the devoloping of their brains
  • Dr. Eliot argues that brains are shaped by how the child spends time (i.e. playing with dolls versus balls)
  • Small differences grow over years as parents, media, teachers, ect. enhance them
  • Hormonal and genetic effects shape the brain as well as behaviour
  • There's two compounds of the human race's biology: nature and nurture
  • Young boys and girls grown up in different cultures. All you have to do is walk through Toys'R'Us and see the difference in one side of the store (containing many pink things) and the other side (containing action figures, ect.)
  • I wasn't finding more neuroscience earlier to show differences between the brains of girls and boys
  • For years, people were hearing that women have a larger corpus callusom (the fibre bundle connecting the two different sides of the brains) which explains why women are typically better multitaskers than men
  • Now, there isn't believed to be a difference between the corpus callusom between adult men and women
  • There is a one month gap between when a girl starts speaking and when a boy starts speaking
  • A boy's brain is larger than a girl's.
  • Girls mature faster in their self-regulation, self control, and inhibiting inappropriate impulses

So what do you think? Do you agree with things that Dr. Eliot has said? Ask me questions if you need to.

Mcllroy, A. (2009, October 24). Why Boys need barbies - and girls need footballs. The Globe and Mail, F3.