Segments in this Video

B. Max's Secret Friend (04:36)


Trilby receives a friendship box from Polly Possum. Kids talk about how to make new friends. B. Max tells the other pups that Professor Fluffy is shy and busy inventing things.

Human Life Origins (04:43)

Learn about the process of follicle growth, release to the uterus, and fertilization. The ovum is the largest cell in the body, at .01 millimeters. View a high-resolution image of a fertilized egg and nuclei dividing.

Implantation and Development (03:18)

The fertilized egg attaches to the uterus; at five months its cells are making choices. A British study found that if a pregnant woman diets, her child will tend to become fat because its cell DNA has changed in response to nutritional signals.

Prenatal Diet and Child Obesity (02:42)

British researchers found that if a pregnant woman dieted, more pluripotent mesenchymal stem cells in umbilical cords turned into fat cells—suggesting a lifelong tendency towards being overweight. Cells change DNA according to environmental factors in a mechanism called epigenetic modification.

"Nothing Like a New Friend" (03:43)

Listen to a song and watch friends play together. B. Max introduces his invisible friend to the other pups. They all create pretend friends and start playing.

Cell Survival Choices (03:13)

Cells such as melanocytes and epithelial cells transform in response to environmental factors. Neurons are long living cells. Researchers color-coded a mouse brain cross section to create a nerve cell model.

Real Friends (04:14)

Kids talk about sharing with friends. B. Max and the other pups realize that real friends are better than pretend ones.

Language Learning Experiment (03:37)

Babies younger than 10 months can tell the difference between two Hindi sounds indistinguishable to the adult Western ear. The study shows we are born prepared to learn all languages, an ability we lose as we develop.

Decreasing Language Learning Ability (03:36)

Multilingual Harvard University researcher Takao Hensch identified a substance, Lynx1, which interferes with neuron connections as we age. It is also found in snake venom. Creating new neural pathways is difficult as we age.

Credits: Friends Forever (10:15)

Credits: Friends Forever

Neuron Maturation Strategy (02:04)

Beginning at age 4, the brain gradually loses plasticity in basic functions, senses, and pre-frontal cortex functions. Teenagers lacking decision and planning skills retain space for mental growth.

Harmony Project (02:54)

An after school program offers free music lessons to low income 10 year olds, an age when neuron connection formation is decreasing. Their academic performance has improved and many are going on to attend college.

Learning Music and Brain Plasticity (01:57)

Researchers collect data from Harmony Project participants to study how music lessons improve their academic performance. Learning an instrument increases neuron thickness.

Neuron Thickening Mechanism (04:03)

Glial cells wrap around axons in a process called myelination allowing electrical impulses to jump across pathways—increasing brain plasticity among music learners. Myelination increases transmission speed in complex mental tasks and allows us to continue learning as we age.

Harmony Project Outcomes (02:24)

The music program for low-income children shows we can overcome social circumstances to improve brain plasticity. Margaret Martin founded the project to give children a better chance in life.

Inherited Stress Sensitivity (03:59)

9/11 left many with PTSD. Pregnant women with low cortisol levels gave birth to babies with similar effects, likely triggered by epigenetic reactions through the placenta. Cells attempted to make children sensitive to anxiety as a survival mechanism.

Credits: The Power of Cells (00:21)

Credits: The Power of Cells

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How Cells Shape Our Lives

Part of the Series : Human Life: Our Amazing Cells
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Cell plasticity is essential for our bodies to grow. Because our genes are determined at conception, our body’s cells assess their environment and transform themselves by selecting which genes to express. This strengthens our ability to survive and shows that what determines our character in the womb is not simply our genes but the way our cells choose to express our genes. Our brain cells are particularly important for our growth. This episode introduces the dynamism of cells as they continually change throughout our lives.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL94801

ISBN: 978-1-68272-459-0

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.

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