Modern brain research The brain cell

It was after studying the brain cell that Sir Charles Sherrington, considered by many to be the grandfather of neurophysiology, was moved to make the following poetic statement:

'The human brain is an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern, though never an abiding one, a shifting harmony of sub-patterns. It is as if the Milky Way entered upon some cosmic dance.'

In each human brain there are an estimated one million, million (1 000 000 000 000) brain cells.

Each brain cell (neuron) contains a vast electrochemical complex and a powerful micro-data-processing and transmitting system that, despite its complexity, would fit on the head of a pin. Each of these brain cells looks like a super-octopus, with a central body and tens, hundreds, or thousands, of tentacles.

As we increase the level of magnification, we see that each tentacle is like the branch of a tree, radiating from the cell centre or nucleus. The branches of the brain cell are called dendrites (defined as 'natural tree-like markings or structures'). One particularly large and long branch, called the axon, is the main exit for information transmitted by that cell.

Each dendrite and axon may range from a millimetre to 1.5 metres in length, and all along and around its length are little mushroom-like protuberances called dendritic spines and synaptic buttons (see overleaf).

Moving further into this super-microscopic world, we find that each dendritic spine/synaptic button contains bundles of chemicals which are the major message-carriers in our human thinking process.

A dendritic spine/synaptic button from one brain cell will link with a synaptic button from another brain cell, and when an electrical impulse travels through the brain cell, chemicals will be transferred across the minute, liquid-filled space between the two. This space is called the synaptic gap.

The chemicals 'slot into' the receiving surface, creating an impulse that travels through the receiving brain cell from whence it is directed to an adjoining brain cell (see illustration detail, page 31).

Although simply illustrated, the cascade of biochemical information that surges across the synapse is awe-inspiring in its volume and complexity. It is, in microcosmic terms, a Niagara Falls.

A brain cell may receive incoming pulses from hundreds of thousands of connecting points every second. Acting like a vast telephone exchange, the cell overleaf: A single one of the brain's million million (1 000 000 000 000) brain cells, demonstrating a radiant natural architecture.

Brain Thinking

the amazing brain will instantaneously compute, microsecond by microsecond, the sum data of all incoming information and will redirect it along the appropriate path.

As a given message, or thought, or re-lived memory is passed from brain cell to brain cell, a biochemical electromagnetic pathway is established. Each of these neuronal pathways is known as a 'memory trace'.These memory traces or mental maps are one of the most exciting areas of modern brain research and have brought us to some startling conclusions.

Every time you have a thought, the biochemical/electromagnetic resistance along the pathway carrying that thought is reduced. It is like trying to clear a path through a forest. The first time is a struggle because you have to fight your way through the undergrowth. The second time you travel that way will be easier because of the clearing you did on your first journey. The more times you travel that path, the less resistance there will be, until, after many repetitions, you have a wide, smooth track which requires little or no clearing. A similar function occurs in your brain: the more you repeat patterns or maps of thought, the less resistance there is to them. Therefore, and of greater significance, repetition in itself increases the probability of repetition. In other words, the more times a 'mental event' happens, the more likely it is to happen again.

To return to the forest analogy, repeated use keeps the track clear, thus encouraging further 'traffic'. The more tracks and pathways you can create and use, the 'clearer', faster and more efficient your thinking will become. The boundaries of human intelligence can, in many ways, be related to the brain's ability to create and use such patterns.

In the winter of 1973, Professor Petr Kouzmich Anokhin of Moscow University made his last public statement on the results of his 60-year investigation into the nature of our brain cells. His conclusion, in his paper 'The Forming of Natural and Artificial Intelligence', was as follows:

'We can show that each of the ten billion neurons in the human brain has a possibility of connections of one with twenty-eight noughts after it! If a single neuron has this quality of potential, we can hardly imagine what the whole brain can do. What it means is that the total number of possible overleaf: Natural Architecture Plate 3

Human Brain Cell UniverseRadiant Thinking
Five brain cells demonstrating part of the 'neuronal embraces' throughout the brain. This image is simplified a thousand times and represents a microscopic area of the brain.

combinations I permutations in the brain, if written out, would be 1 followed by 10.5 million kilometres of noughts/'

'No human yet exists who can use all the potential of his brain. This is why we don't accept any pessimistic estimates of the limits of the human brain. It is unlimitedT

How is all this accomplished? By the biggest 'embrace' in the known universe - your brain cells embracing your brain cells. Each individual brain cell is capable of contacting and embracing as many as 10 000 or more proximate brain cells in the same instant.

It is in these shimmering and incessant embraces that the infinite patterns, the infinite Maps of your Mind, are created, nurtured and grown. Radiant Thinking reflects your internal structure and processes. The Mind Map is your external mirror of your own Radiant Thinking and allows you access into this vast thinking powerhouse.

Mirror Cells Brain

The brain's cerebral cortex shown face-on. The cortical faculties shown make up the powerhouse of intellectual skills that can be used in noting and thinking.

words logic numbers

rhythm spatial awareness Gestalt (whole picture) imagination daydreaming colour dimension sequence linearity analysis lists

The brain's cerebral cortex shown face-on. The cortical faculties shown make up the powerhouse of intellectual skills that can be used in noting and thinking.

Your brain's cerebral hemispheres

In the late 1960s, Professor Roger Sperry of California, who was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize for his research, announced the results of his investigation into the brain's most highly evolved area, the cerebral cortex ('cortex' meaning 'outer shell' or bark).

Sperry's initial findings indicated that the two sides, or hemispheres, of the cortex tend to divide the major intellectual functions between them (illustration above). The right hemisphere appeared to be dominant in the following intellectual areas: rhythm, spatial awareness, gestalt (wholeness), imagination, daydreaming, colour and dimension. The left hemisphere appeared dominant in a different but equally powerful range of mental skills: words, logic, numbers, sequence, linearity, analysis and lists.

Subsequent investigations by Ornstein, Zaidel, Bloch et al, have confirmed these findings. In addition the following has been discovered:

Although each hemisphere is dominant in certain activities, they are both basically skilled in all areas, and the mental skills identified by Roger Sperry are actually distributed throughout the cortex.

The current fashion for labelling people either left- or right-side dominant is therefore counter-productive. As Michael Bloch stated in his Tel/Syn paper: 'If we call ourselves "right brain" or "left brain" people, we are limiting our ability to develop new strategies.'

Saying 'I am bad at or do not possess mental skill X' is both an untruth and a misunderstanding. If one is weak in any skill area, the correct statement must be 'I have yet to develop mental skill X.' The only barrier to the expression and application of all our mental skills is our knowledge of how to access them.

The range of skills available to all of us include those previously attributed to either the left or right hemisphere:

Language

Number

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