People are very curious about the brain. Through autopsies, they realized that the brain is just a bunch of neurons. But a person who has brain damage can have his character changed or perhaps only remember things only briefly, without any long-term memory. Nowadays, science has progressed, but still, the brain is a world of mystery for the human beings. For this article, I interviewed Professor Suh Yoo-Hun, who is researching how to figure out the mystery of the brain. In the interview, we can learn about his research and dementia, a brain disease.
1. Why did you choose to study the brain instead of other areas of the body?
When I was a child, I was curious about both the origins of the universe and what it is to be human. I wanted to know where human beings came from and what human being are. Eventually, I learned that I was more interested in what makes us human than the wider universe. I learned that the brain was at the center of the mystery of our humanity, and so I began to study the brain. The brain is called the last task of human challenges. Therefore, I think solving the mysteries of the brain can lead to the solution of the mysteries of human beings.
2. Of all of your research, what have you found most memorable?
There is adrenaline in the brain. I separated the PNMT of is adrenaline synthesis and I investigated the structure of the PNMT. I published a thesis on the PNMT. Genetic research has grown a lot today, but it was at its starting stage when I studied PNMT. So, I remember it was difficult to investigate the structure of the PNMT at that time. Furthermore, I found a factor of causing dementia and the fact that stem cells from abdominal fat can take a great part in helping people to cure dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
3. What effects to you think will come from the development of brain science in the future?
Developing brain science can have positive effects and negative effects in the future. Today, there is a lot of research being conducted about the brain in many countries like U.S.A, EU, Korea, and Japan. Especially, if the brain mapping project which was begun under the Obama administration is successful, we will know the cause of cerebropathias such as dementia and autism and treatments or cures could be developed. Also, we can arrange suitable education in accordance with the developing time of the brain. For example, students can study language efficiently when they are in elementary school because that period is a time for developing part of the brain that processes language. Although developing brain science can make new jobs in the future, there is a concern of using drugs for bad purposes like crimes or military purposes.
4. From the brain science point of view, what causes dementia?
The cause of dementia is complicated. The causes of dementia may be due to brain cells being damaged or brain proteins becoming toxic. Then, the brain malfunctions. Also, the brain may have gotten an infection and the channels in the brain may not be working properly. These complex causes of dementia are an obstacle to making a disease-modifying osteoarthritis drug (DMOAD). So far a drug like this can only relieve the symptoms to some extent.
5. What are effective ways to prevent dementia?
Having a healthy lifestyle is important to prevent dementia. The first one is using the brain properly. If people don’t use the brain, it could be damaged. So, people should study constantly. Reading, writing and speaking can provide positive stimulations to the brain. The second one is exercising. Exercising make the blood circulate more actively. It makes brain’s blood flow at a faster rate. The third one is eating properly. People should eat the three major meals of nutrients to make the base materials for neurotransmitters, and chew a lot when eating food. It is a good way to provide blood to hippocampus which gets involved in memory. The fourth is having a positive mind. A pessimistic mind can increase the occurrence of dementia. The fifth is sleeping well. People need to sleep for 8 hours every day regardless of their age. Because 8 hours is a time for brain to make neurotransmitters which are consumed during the daytime. The sign that we want to sleep is of a lack of neurotransmitters. Also, sleeping helps to eliminate toxic protein from the body. The last one is reducing alcohol. When you drink too much and don’t remember, you may say 'I blacked out'. This means that brain activity was stopped by alcohol. If the brain activity stops repeatedly, it can damage the brain.
6. What are your future goals?
Based on previous studies, my goal is finding innovative research results combined with 11.74T MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine which is the main research subject of Gil hospital’s “Research-Driven Hospital R&D”. I’ll also contribute to national development through continuous research and development of brain neuroscience.
We can easily recall the word AI and IoT when we think of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, Professor Suh Yoo-Hun said that brain science is at the center of the fourth industrial revolution as well. Artificial intelligence and other newer industrial technologies are based on the brain. Therefore, the key to a new industrial revolution is the development of brain science, which will contribute to making our lives more enriching in the future. Technologies applied to our future lives will recognize human speech and act accordingly. Knowing that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is actually based on brain science, why don’t you start to have interest in this field?< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >