Skip to comments.Neuroscience: Map the other brain
Posted on 09/09/2013 4:10:37 PM PDT by neverdem
Glia, the non-neuronal cells that make up most of the brain, must not be left out of an ambitious US mapping initiative, says R. Douglas Fields.
The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative announced by US President Barack Obama in April seeks to map and monitor the function of neural connections in the entire brains of experimental animals, and eventually in the human cerebral cortex. Several researchers have raised doubts about the project, cautioning that mapping the brain is a much more complex endeavour than mapping the human genome, and its usefulness more uncertain.
I believe that exploring neural networks and developing techniques with which to do so are important goals that should be vigorously supported. But simply scaling up current efforts to chart neural connections is unlikely to deliver the promised benefits which include understanding perception, consciousness, how the brain produces memories, and the development of treatments for diseases such as epilepsy, depression and schizophrenia1.
A major stumbling block is the project's failure to consider that although the human brain contains roughly 100 billion neurons, it contains billions more non-electrical brain cells called glia2. These reside outside the neuronal 'connectome' and operate beyond the reach of tools designed to probe electrical signalling in neurons. Dismissed as connective tissue when they were first described in the mid-1800s, glia have long been neglected in the quest to understand neuronal signalling.
Research is revealing that glia can sense neuronal activity and control it3. Various studies also indicate that glia operate in diverse mental processes, for instance, in the formation of memories. They have a central role in brain injury and disease, and they are even at the root of various disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer's previously presumed to be exclusively neuronal. That the word 'glia' was...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
>>Glia, the non-neuronal cells that make up most of the brain, must not be left out of an ambitious US mapping initiative<<
I thought they were going to map the Male Below-the-Belt Brain... ;)
Maybe you could donate one?
Ah, the “little brain” who exerts so much control.
I heard that Einstein’s brain turned out to have the highest ratio of glial cells to neurons of any brain on record.
That's interesting, as I've heard that many believe Einstein was on the autism spectrum.