Friday, January 24, 2014

eLearnIn The Neuroscience

Next up in my series on educational neuroscience youtube videos:

Views: 63000+
Like/dislike: 235/21
Comments: "like if  you had to see this for school"; "where was this video 2 years ago when I took Cell Biology!?"; "How is an impulse carried across the synapse?"


This one is simply odd.  It doesn't get too much THAT wrong, but it also doesn't really do a good job explaining things correctly or connecting concepts into a broader framework.  Let's see how it does on my five areas of eduvideo quality:


There are some content errors.  For instance:

Neurons are responsive in nature, by which we imply that Neurons respond to feelings and communicate the presence of that feeling to the central nervous system which in-turn is processed and is sent to the other parts of the body for action.

Sensory neurons respond to stimuli which they can detect.  Photoreceptors can detect light, for example.  "Feelings" is simply the wrong term here.  Also, I'm not really sure what is meant by "neurons are responsive in nature".  It's more or less true but in context doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Full line-by-line edit:

Level of Detail

The level of detail covered is too superficial to be useful.  This video basically says "Here are some facts.  Enjoy."


The organization occasionally makes little to no sense.  For instance:

Every neuron is surrounded by a plasma membrane, which is a bilayer of lipid molecules that are comprised of various protein structures. A lipid bilayer is a powerful electrical insulator, but in neurons, many of the protein structures embedded in the membrane are electrically active. 
Cell division cannot take place in neurons as they lack one of the two cylindrical cellular structures that aid in cell division. This is consistent with a simple cell division nature of the cell.
Dendrites are extensions of the cell with many branches, whose structure can be called as a "dendritic tree".

What is the fact on cell division doing there? Also note the content errors in red: lipids are not comprised of proteins (the membrane is comprised of lipids and proteins) and "electrically active" makes no sense and is wrong. There are some electrically-activated proteins, but it is more correct to say that there are proteins in the membrane that render it capable of electrical activity.

Topics are also introduced and dismissed with no warning, and are not connected. This is literally how the video ends:

There is only one axon that projects from each cell body, which is a finer cable-like projector. It is usually elongated and it carries impulses away from the cell body, that is, away from the 'soma'. It is called a efferent process. 
Many axons are surrounded by a segmented white fatty substance called myelin sheaths.

...and what does myelin do?


I'm convinced this was written by someone for whom English is not their first language, and then read off by someone else. There are some seriously funky grammatical decisions made here:

[...] these also affect the gland secretion.
The neurons connect to each other using a synapse (which is a structure that acts like a pathway connection that transmits the signals to the other cells) to form the nervous system.
[...] whose structure can be called as a "dendritic tree".

Despite being spoken slowly and deliberately, the language just doesn't make sense at times.


There are numerous visual oddities.  One theme common to neurovisualization (hell yeah I just made that up) is present: not very dense networks with pulses of light moving around the cells.  I swear people must think that the inside of the brain actually looks something like this:

In reality, things are much denser of course (one would not be able to see through it), although this is rarely mentioned in neuro videos or animations.  And it's never fully explained that the pulses of light aren't actually there - those are just meant to represent electrical signals.

Here's a visual content error from this video:

The nucleus is mislabeled as the soma.  Also this is the strangest looking neuron I've ever seen.  The dendrites are all way too thin and the soma has a crazy structure and color texture going on.  And why is the nucleus sitting on top of instead of inside it?


This video is simply strange.  The visuals are weird, the script is poor, and errors are made.  Basically, I can't wait to see what happens when I tackle another eLearnIn video: the human brain and its parts.

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