Scientists have been studying the human brain for decades in an attempt to understand how the brain can do what it does. Scientists have made a very interesting discovery suggesting that the human brain may be significantly more powerful than previously believed. The image you see below may look like Christmas decorations, but it's a computer simulated image of pyramidal neurons in the cerebral cortex.
These microscopic branches of brain cells were thought to act as wiring of the brain. However, researchers now believe that these branches may actually behave as mini computers. The human brain has about 100 billion neurons with approximately 1 quadrillion connections known as synapses connecting those neurons together.
The anatomy of the brain includes many short branches called dendrites that project from one end of the heart of a neuron called the soma. The opposite end of the soma has a single thin fiber known as the axon sticking out. Scientists now believe that these dendrites may be able to actively process information rather than being mere passive wiring in the brain.
Lead author of the study Spencer Smith said:
Suddenly, it's as if the processing power of the brain is much greater than we had originally thought.
Previous studies have discovered that many of the molecules supporting electrical spikes that generate electricity in the axons of the neuron, are also present in the dendrites. Experiments have concluded that brain tissue with dendrites can use those molecules to generate electoral spikes themselves. The experiment involved attaching pipettes to dendrites in the brain of a mouse
When we started recording from dendrites, the bursts of spikes we saw were hard to believe. [Spikes from axons] are isolated, solemn obelisks, by comparison, the dendritic spikes we saw were raucous, dynamic events, with bursts and plateaus.
SOURCE: NBC News