Are you aware that the bulk of current scientific knowledge has been discovered in the past ten years? And that many of the most original results have appeared in the last year? Can you imagine where we will be ten years from now? This blog is intended to be an exploration of a paradigm shift I expect to see in the scientific understanding of the connection between mind and the material world. Posts will look at scientific discoveries, as they appear, in the fields of neuroscience, animal behavior, microbiology, molecular biology, evolution and biophysics, and explore their relevance to the emerging view of mind as an integral aspect of nature.


No Brain Mapping Without Glia

B0009828 Microglial cells from mouse spinal cord, LM
Credit: Simon Beggs. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Two photon micrograph of microglial cells taken from lamina I and II of a living adult mouse spinal cord. All the cells have been genetically tagged with green fluorescent protein. Here the individual cells have been surface rendered in rainbow colours to emphasise their grid-like distribution and morphology. Horizontal width of image is 150 micrometres.
Multiphoton fluorescence microscopy
2011 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

It is unrealistic to consider mapping the brain without most of the critical brain cells. The three glia—astrocytes, microglia, and oligodendrocytes—regulate all aspects of neuronal signaling networks. Many neuroscientists have focused only on the structure of neuronal connections and synapses. In fact one of the…


New Neurons in Adult Brains Remodel Memory

B0006917 Retinal ganglion cell
Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
An isolated retinal ganglion cell. This is a type of neuron typically located near the inner surface of the retina of the eye that receives visual information from photoreceptors via two intermediate neuron types. Retinal ganglion cells collectively transmit visual information from the retina to several regions in the thalamus, hypothalamus, and midbrain. They vary significantly in terms of their size, connections, and responses to visual stimulation but they all share the defining property of having a long axon that extends into the brain. These axons form the optic nerve, optic chiasm, and optic tract.
Scanning electron micrograph
2008 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

The brain is extremely dynamic, building and pruning connections in milliseconds with many different types of neuroplasticity simultaneously arising in large circuits all over the brain. The holy grail of neuroplasticity has been the creation of new brain cells in adults. Research looking for one cell in a region of the…


Neuronal Signals in Inflammation and Cancer

B0006255 Human colon cancer cells
Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
Colour-enhanced image of human colon cancer cells in culture.
Scanning electron micrograph
2006 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

Neuronal signaling does more than transmit mental information. It also, regulates the microenvironments of cells and their behavior in bodily organs. These signals attempt to maintain stability. Communication between neurons and many other cells stimulates and regulates inflammation and the functions of stem cells….


Bacteria Work Together to Build a Biofilm Civilization

Public domain   biofilm

Bacteria build large city-like structures for protection. Constructing a biofilm is a masterpiece of cooperation. Previous posts show that bacteria are able to make complex decisions after analysis and synthesis of multiple simultaneous inputs without a brain. They are, also, able to communicate through an elaborate…


Are Microbes Friend or Foe of Cancer

B0006421 Breast cancer cells

Cellular communication is ubiquitous in life and previous posts have described many types of cellular languages. Critical signaling occurs in highly complex interactions of bacteria and human cells to help or fight cancer cells in their quest to form their own cellular community. Like other major cellular societies, cancer…