Medulla Oblongata Case Study

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Tuesday April 10, 2007 began just like any other day for new parents Aaron and Desiree Robinson. Desiree had to leave for work at 7:00am that morning, so it was Aaron who had to care for their 3 month old son Christian until she returned. It was a routine Tuesday, Aaron bathed and fed his son, and played with him until the early afternoon. A little after 1pm Aaron decided to lay Christian down for a nap. He made his way upstairs and laid his infant son on his back in his crib. Approximately an hour later Aaron went to check on the infant. When he walked into the room he noticed that his son was face down in the middle of his crib. Initially when Aaron saw this, he wasn’t concerned because it was not unusual for Christian to roll himself into …show more content…
Researcher Dr. Hannah Kinney and her team at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University specifically draw attention to the neurotransmitter serotonin found in the medulla oblongata, (also referred to as 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT (Kinney et al. 2009). The 5-HT plays a central homeostatic role in nearly every aspect of the central nervous system. 5-HT controls breathing, blood pressure, body temperature, and arousal. It is believed that low levels of neurotransmitter serotonin found in infants who have suffered fatalities as a result of SIDS could result in abnormal development of the dentate gyrus in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for learning, spatial orientation and memory. Similar to the 5-HT, through its neurological connections to the brain stem the hippocampus also affects cardiorespiratory function. (Brock et al. …show more content…
For example, during the early months of life it is not uncommon for infants to experience things such as hypoventilation, sleep apnea, and tachycardia due to their immature cardiorespiratory systems. When this occurs, Kinney’s research proposes that due to the irregularities in the brainstem certain receptors that are responsible for arousal (or the awakening of the infant) are affected, thus the infant does not wake up in an instance where he or she may be experiencing sleep apnea and this results in asphyxiation. Another finding among Dr. Kinney and her colleagues when assessing hippocampal abnormalities specifically, displayed deformities similar to those found in the hippocampus of infants with temporal lobe epilepsy. It is possible that infants may be experiencing seizures that stop the heart and stop breathing during sleep, however there is no conclusive evidence of this yet. Although this research is giving medical professionals a better understanding of SIDS, and although many researchers seem to agree with the brain stem hypothesis there is no affirmative evidence of what specifically causes SIDS. (Brock et al.

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