The recent release of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" reminded me of one of my favorite ape vs. man films – this 1932 video that shows a baby chimpanzee and a baby human undergoing the same basic psychological tests.
Its gets weirder – the human baby (Donald) and the chimpanzee baby (Gua) were both raised as humans by their biological/adopted father Winthrop Niles Kellogg. Kellogg was a comparative psychologist fascinated by the interplay between nature and nurture, and he devised a fascinating (and questionably ethical) experiment to study it:
Suppose an anthropoid were taken into a typical human family at the day of birth and reared as a child. Suppose he were fed upon a bottle, clothed, washed, bathed, fondled, and given a characteristically human environment; that he were spoken to like the human infant from the moment of parturition; that he had an adopted human mother and an adopted human father.
First, Kellogg had to convince his pregnant wife he wasn’t crazy:
…the enthusiasm of one of us met with so much resistance from the other that it appeared likely we could never come to an agreement upon whether or not we should even attempt such an undertaking.
She apparently gave in, because Donald and Gua were raised, for nine months, as brother and sister. Much like Caesar in the “Planet of the Apes” movies, Gua developed faster than her “brother,” and often outperformed him in tasks. But she soon hit a cognitive wall, and the experiment came to an end. (Probably for the best, as Donald had begun to speak chimpanzee.)
Our Three (Brain) Mothers
Protecting our brain and central nervous system are the meninges, derived from the Greek term for “membrane”. You may have heard of meningitis - this is when the innermost layer of the meninges swells, often due to infection, and can cause nerve or brain damage, and sometimes death.
There are three meningeal layers: the dura mater, arachnoid mater, and pia mater. In Latin, “mater” means “mother”. The term comes from the enveloping nature of these membranes, but we later learned how apt it was, because of how protective and essential the meningeal layers are.
- The dura mater is the outermost and toughest membrane. Its name means “tough mother”.
The dura is most important for keeping cerebrospinal fluid where it belongs, and for allowing the safe transport of blood to and from the brain. This layer is also water-tight - if it weren’t, our cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) would leak out, and our central nervous system would have no cushion! Its leathery qualities mean that even when the skull is broken, more often than not, the dura (and the brain it encases) is not punctured.
- The arachnoid mater is the middle membrane. Its name means "spider-like mother", because of its web-like nature.
The arachnoid is attached directly to the deep side of the dura, and has small protrusions into the sinuses within the dura, which allows for CSF to return to the bloodstream and not become stagnant. It also has very fine, web-like projections downward, which attach to the pia mater. However, it doesn’t contact the pia mater in the same way as the dura: the CSF flows between the two meningeal layers, in the subarachnoid space. The major superficial blood vessels are on top of the arachnoid, and below the dura.
- Pia mater is the innermost membrane, which follows the folds (sulci) of the brain and spinal cord most closely. Its name means “tender mother”.
The pia is what makes sure the CSF stays between the meninges, and doesn’t just get absorbed into the brain or spinal cord. It also allows for new CSF from the ventricles to be shunted into the subarachnoid space, and provides pathways for blood vessels to nourish the brain. While the pia mater is very thin, it is water-tight, just like the dura mater. The pia is also the primary blood-brain barrier, making sure that no plasma proteins or organic molecules penetrate into the CSF.
Because of this barrier, medications which need to reach the brain or meninges must be administered directly into the CSF.
Anatomy: Practical and Surgical. Henry Gray, 1909.
Lakota girl, ca.1875
This isn’t a Lakota girl she’s a Filipina mestiza de sangley
Bah! way to erase the woman’s identity.
Check your sources, gdi. *glares*
And her portrait is one of the most famous old portraits and recognizable among many Pilipin@s. The photo, which is called Mujer de la clase rica, was indeed taken in 1875, but not of a Lakota girl but a Filipina/Chinese mestiza by Dutch photographer Francisco van Camp who was well known during the 19th century for his refined portraits in the Philippines.
The fact this post got so many notes with misinformation, poor research, and thus erasing her ethnic identity saddens me.
I looked this up and it’s a shame how many other Native American blogs and sites wrongly identify this photo. Appreciating WoC beauty but erasing her identity and origin is beyond careless.
That shit blew my mind and made understanding cultural appropriation way clearer for me.(via isanah)
I am sent to see a patient for a GI consult. I walk into the room to find the patient in tears. After an introduction, I begin the interview.
She is not doing well. Her numerous medical problems and the prospect of having to go to rehab (for physical therapy) for the third time this year have overwhelmed her. I reach out to hold her hand - my first step outside my comfort zone.
But I don’t mind because my desire to help her feel better is greater.
As our conversation continues, she speaks of God and faith. And I realize that here is a patient for whom a prayer would help. And so I gather myself and ask her if she would like me to pray with her - second step outside my confort zone.
But I don’t mind because this is the least I can do for her.
She is surprised but pleased and asks me to say the prayer - another step outside my comfort zone.
But again, my desire to help her is greater and I am already committed.
My prayer is clumsy but I hope she understands it is heartfelt.
As I reflect on this experience, I am grateful for my school, Dr. Cranquis’ Mumbled Gripes and WayfaringMD for teaching me about spirituality in medicine and thus giving me the courage to step outside my comfort zone.
For a brand new, clueless, bumbling 3rd year medical student, today I can happily say that I helped a patient :)
YEAH! Success! Good for you for making yourself a little uncomfortable to help a patient! Keep up the good work!
BOOM: WHOLE. PERSON. CARE.
(And a thrillingly-well-written retelling of the event too. Great job x2!)