It's not a secret for any of us that the brain is the mostcomplex and poorly studied organ of the human body. In the process, the brain uses a system of connected cells called neurons that exchange information with each other. In addition to electrical signals, various chemical processes take place in the brain, which greatly complicates its study. Recently, scientists have discovered a powerful and still unknown signal in the human brain. According to a study published in the journal Science, the mechanism found in the cells of the central nervous system can play a key role in the computational abilities of the brain.
Why are dendrites in the human brain special?
Dendrites are branched processes of neurons that receive information through the exchange of chemical elements and electrical signals with other cells.
Researchers from BerlinHumboldt University and their colleagues from the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Greece) suggest that neurons in the human brain can be more powerful computing units than previously thought. During the study, scientists studied the cortical cells of the external cortex, paying close attention to the second and third layers. It turned out that these layers contain cells with many branches, called dendrites, which connect them together and exchange information with other brain cells.
The discovered mechanism independently producesa special signal that allows neurons to perform logical functions in a special order. Scientists believe that this is a kind of new form of cellular interaction. Since neurons communicate with each other by exchanging electrical impulses and chemical elements, the signal is transmitted using membrane channels that exchange ions of potassium, sodium and chlorine. Researchers call this impulse an action potential. As work progressed, it turned out that similarly previously unregistered brain waves, the so-called calcium-mediated dendritic action potentials (dCaAP), are launched in the human brain.
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It should be noted that as subjects inthe study involved patients with epilepsy. To verify the reliability of the data, scientists double-checked the results on other tissues of the cerebral cortex. However, such studies have several limitations. So, it is possible that similar processes are present in other mammals, however, they are not visible in tissue samples in the laboratory.
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According to the Gizmodo publication, the authors of the article considerthe work is exciting. They believe that it opens up new frontiers in our understanding of the functioning of the brain and the properties of dendrites. Dendrites make up 95% of the surface area of pyramidal cells in the cortex, while remaining "uncharted territory" in the human brain. So, it is possible that it is precisely thanks to dendrites that a person has such a unique brain.