Blog

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.


Dear Readers – Hiatus From Blog

For five years, I have written summaries of current scientific literature in subjects related to how mind exists in nature. This has included research into human and animal brains, plants, microbes, and general cellular intelligence. In addition to the weekly blog posts, I have posted relevant articles and archived blog…

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Can Neuroplasticity Make Brains Young Again

Neuroplasticity is the process where the brain changes itself to provide new capacities. It is how memory and learning works. The Holy Grail of neuroscience is to find ways to enhance the brain’s ability to provide new capacities. Recently, there was found a possible way to re open the windows of enhanced learning that…

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Cancers Produce New Distant Lymph Vessels for New Colonies

Cancers, like all cells, work in communities tied together through signaling. Like microbe communities they send and receive all kinds of signals for group behavior and for defense. They build their own unique organ with help from other cells. Recent research has shown that cancers enlist many other kinds of cells to work…

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Circular DNA in Human Cells Adds Even More Complexity

The previous post noted new complexity in the regulation of DNA that was just discovered. As well as the many levels of regulation, physical properties helped regulate how DNA is used. Now there is yet another new development—circular DNA in human cells adds even more complexity. The number of ways that DNA is…

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New Complexity in DNA Regulation

Which comes first the chicken or the egg? With proteins and RNA regulating the function of DNA and DNA producing RNA which then produces proteins, which comes first—DNA, RNA, or proteins? At first, the way DNA makes proteins seemed almost clear and simple—DNA makes RNA, which makes proteins in one direction. But,…

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New Research Problem of Species Definitions

While great progress is made in research allowing ever more detailed descriptions of all cellular processes, there are still severe limitations on the interpretation of neuroscience in terms of understanding behavior and the mind. Previous posts have shown that there are many problems in the interpretations of current…

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The Brain After Surgery

Both elderly and children appear to have a higher incidence of cognitive brain problems after even routine surgery. It has been considered that both have delicate blood flow to regions in between the large vessels. These are called watershed regions. It has been postulated that not being able to guarantee perfectly even…

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Many Animals Know How to Self-Medicate

As more is learned about animal intelligence, it is not understood how much of their behavior is learned or inherited in as yet unknown mechanism. Many of the intelligent behaviors are surprising and have been summarized in a series of posts. Please refer to posts on birds, lizards, ants, termites, and elephants. Perhaps,…

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More Complexity with Tau

For many years, amyloid toxic plaque accumulation has been considered to be the way brains are damaged in Alzheimer’s disease. Almost all experimental treatments have tried to stop this accumulation and none have helped. In recent years, the association of abnormal deposits of the vital tau protein that holds…

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Update of T Cell Complexity in the Brain

T cells have elaborate communication with almost all other cells. They are the master regulators of the immune system. But, they also converse with brain cells, blood vessel cells, and lining cells of the gut and skin. Previous posts have described communication with T cells and brain cells that are vital to keep normal…

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Immune Signals in the Brain

As technology increases our capacity to observe tiny biological systems, communication among cells has been observed with ramifications everywhere in biology. Up until recently, it has been very difficult to observe the behavior of individual cells everywhere in the body, but especially in the vast brain.  Observing…

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Supportive Brain Cells Help Cancers Via Communication

Cancers demonstrate that communication among a variety of wide cell types is vital to their survival. Cancers are able to convert many local supportive cells to become comrades in initiation, support, growth, and metastasis of the cancer. It is remarkable how they can trick immune cells, connective tissue and mesenchymal…

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Vital Conversations Among Cells in the Lungs

Human tissues that are exposed directly to the outside environment include the skin, the gut, and the lungs. In all of these, unique cells must deal with the complexity of exposure to toxins and many kinds of microbes. As with the gut and the skin, the path of air into the lungs consists of many different environments that…

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Conversations Among Organelles

All of life is based on interactions of signaling entities—communities, people, organs, cells, and even viruses. Remarkable progress has been made in deciphering the conversations between cells, but it is much harder to track signals among organelles. Observation is much more difficult because they are so much smaller….

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White Blood Cell Conversations In Chronic Inflammation

White blood cells (also named leukocytes) are called into action with microbe attacks and tissue damage of all kinds. They use very specific modes of travel to the inflammation site, spurred by the signals of capillaries, tissue cells, and other immune cells (these have been described in previous posts). Leukocytes travel…

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Neurons Helping Cancer and Regeneration

Neurons are vital for many processes not previously associated with them. Neurons can stimulate all of the symptoms of inflammation and use these mechanisms for neuroplasticity. Complex interactions of inflammation and cancer are now coming into focus and neurons are an important part of this picture. Cancer has been…

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Conversations of Lining and Connective Cells

Conversations among cells are the basis of all life. Important signaling occurs between immune cells, tissue cells, and brain cells. One of the most active and vital type of communication occurs among the cells that form the lining of organs and the matrix cells that form the connective structure. These wide-ranging…

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Signals for Designer T Cells Against Cancers

T cells are vital to fighting all types of invaders and to fix trauma using cytokine signals, physical attack, and various forms of inflammation. They either directly attack cells to kill them, influence the development of many different kinds of inflammation by orchestrating other immune cells, regulate the extent of…

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Cancer Cells Conversations About Metastasis

Cancer cells have elaborate communication among the cells in their developing community. They also converse with many other tissue cells—vascular, immune, and supportive cells nearby are cajoled into collaboration. Cancer cells signal in the same way a bacterial community does to defend itself against virus attacks and…

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Microbes Conversations About Entering Brain Compartments

The previous post described current understanding of the complexities of barriers that guard the brain. What is becoming clear is that all of the different compartments, and barriers, have differing characteristics—blood brain barrier, choroid cells, blood-CSF barrier, dura, sub arachnoid, pia, blood vessels, pericytes,…

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Many Barriers and Compartments Between the Brain and Immune System

It has been thought that the brain doesn’t have typical immune responses—it has been called “immune privileged.” With the discovery of the dual role of microglia as supportive glia brain cells and resident immune cells, this view changed somewhat. Then it was discovered that T cells populate the CSF and signal to…

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The Many Ways Neurons Regulate Immune Function

The nervous system regulates the heart, the lungs, and the GI tract often through circuits that rapidly respond with reflexes such as sudden change in heart rate or blood pressure. Now, research is finding similar reflex regulation of many immune events and responses. The circuits related to immune functions are complex…

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Mitochondria Help Cancers Grow

A previous post noted how microbes can help cancers in all stages of their development. Now, it has been found that the one-time microbe now the mitochondria is also vital for cancer to start, to grow, to survive and to metastasize. These microbes and the mitochondria use back and forth communication to help cancers in…

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The First Virus Communication Signals

One of the first discoveries about the unusual behavior and cognitive abilities of bacteria was a signal put out by many of the members of a community to make a group decision. This “quorum sensing” signal stimulates collaborative attacks and migration by sensing if there are enough providing signals to carry out the…

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How Do Bacteria Help Cancer

Cancers are a community of cells that engage in continual conversations to help their cells thrive, to expand to new locations, and to fight off attacks from immune cells, microbes, and other cells. Bacteria are another community of cells that constantly talk among themselves for group activity such as finding food,…

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What Do Single Neurons Know

As technology advances, we are able to observe the behavior, decision-making, and communication of individual cells. This complicates understanding how activity from individual cells is integrated into the function of organs and organisms at very different scales. A recent set of posts described the new findings on…

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T Cells Adapt to Fight Cancer

Helping T cells and microbes kill cancers as new advanced treatment is hot news. These new treatments are based on the natural outcomes of communication among cells, including immune, lining, brain, and cancer cells along with microbes. It is definitely striking that all of these cells speak the same language and can talk…

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Synchronizing with Brain Clocks

Up until recently, research into circadian rhythms has focused on central brain clocks that synchronize other cells. The three previous posts have described new research that each living cell has its own individual clocks based on genetic feedback loops combined with epigenetic loops. The three posts described the…

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Individual Cell Clocks and Immunity

Each cell has oscillating gene networks that somehow help organize, synchronize, and anticipate activity of the tissues and the entire organism. Energy from the sun is transformed into energy and material for the cell to use in sync to these rhythms. The rhythms also are related to how the cell develops in particular…

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Cellular Clocks and Metabolism

B0004343 Organelles in a pancreas cell

Until recently all circadian clock rhythms were assumed to be triggered from a central brain clock, synchronizing sleep, wakefulness, hormones, and metabolism. Now, many more functions have been found related to clocks and the variations throughout the body cannot all be triggered by one central clock. In fact, each tissue…

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Each Cell Has A Clock

For many years there was a consensus that most organisms have a circadian clock. In humans it was considered to be directed centrally by the master clock in the brain region suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This clock appears to be involved in directing essential physiological processes throughout the body including…

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Complex Cellular Conversations about Food Allergies

It is quite remarkable that the immune system can deal with an almost infinite number of different molecules and not have more disasters. In creating antibodies and receptors, immune cells are able to respond to newly synthesized molecules that have never been seen in nature before. Equally remarkable is the response to…

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Newly Discovered Circuits Produce Unusual Pain Syndromes

Exciting new research about chronic pain was featured in the previous post. It describes the many cells that are not neurons producing varied types of chronic pain with unorthodox signaling pathways. These diverse cells that stimulate unique new signaling pathways that stimulate particular kinds of chronic pain includes…

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Pain from Cells that Are Not Neurons

Recent research on pain shows a very surprising result. A new type of neuroplasticity has been discovered where “pain” teaches parts of the brain to experience more pain. Most surprising is that neurons are not involved—but rather brain glial cells, cancer cells, microbes, and immune cells. One recent result shows…

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Update on Microbes Affecting the Brain

Recent posts had already shown that gut microbe signaling with the human brain can have positive and negative effects on anxiety, stress, depression, obesity and degenerative illness. This occurs by neurotransmitters secreted into the blood, gut neuron stimulation, microbe travel into the brain, and immune cells…

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The Science of Mind Wandering

Some feel that spontaneous thought occurring without specific stimulation is closest to understanding how we define ourselves. These seemingly random self-produced thoughts occur during meditation, but also in dreaming, creativity, stimulus-independent thought, and in daydreaming. Brain studies have tied these to a…

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Brain Receptors Just Got Even More Complex

Hundreds of large interacting protein molecules operate together at the synapse to send a signal from one neuron and trigger a reaction in the next neuron. Receptors are large complex protein molecules that sit in the membranes of neurons and respond to signals such as neurotransmitters. When triggered, the receptor…

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Are Humans Evolving Now

Human ancestors have been found to have intelligence for 3 million years (see post on How Long Have Humans Been Smart). Our particular species, homo sapiens, appeared 200,000 years ago in Africa. This species of modern humans gradually replaced all others starting at 150,000 years, so that by 50,000 only homo sapiens were…

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How Does A Neuron Stay Polarized

While all cells are complex, the neuron is vastly complex. It is hard to understand how so many different mechanisms all through the cell can be correlated with mental events. Previous posts have clarified very complex processes in both the axons and dendrites. One post noted how materials are sorted, tagged and…

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Intelligent Cellular Self Eating and Recycling

The term autophagy means “self” (auto) “eating” (phagy also refers to phagocytes which are immune cells that eat debris and microbes). Just this week the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was given to the scientist who first discovered this process in yeast a generation ago—Yoshinori Ohsumi. Later, it was…

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Intelligent Lysosomes Are More than A Waste Disposal

Previous posts have described the very complex pathways that create membranes to surround the entire cell and to build vital cell compartments and well known organelles. A post noted how different types of fatty membranes are built for each organelle with many different complex shapes. These include mitochondria,…

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Microbes in Animals Confound Research

While many scientists draw conclusions from research that they think is incontrovertible, in fact there are many inherent problems with current research and its conclusions. A previous post described the many issues involved in attempts to understand the brain.  Another described problems with inferring how brain regions…

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Update on Inflammation and Degenerative Brain Disease

While mapping connections of neurons has become the holy grail of current neuroscience, it is clear that communication of neurons with many other types cells is, also, vitally important to every aspect of brain function. This includes constant back and forth signaling with astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes, immune…

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Update on Traumatic Brain Injury and Inflammation

It has become clear that all brain processes are extremely dynamic and ever changing. Neurons alter themselves every day including elaborate reworking of the scaffolding for long axons and new dendrites. At synapses, neuroplasticity alters synapses in many different ways (see post). For many years, it was assumed that…

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Does Maternal Immune Response Cause Psychiatric Disease in Child

As effects of microbial infections on fetal brains become more apparent, questions arise whether maternal immune responses can also have damaging effects. Immune activation of the mother is called maternal immune activation or MIA. In current animal models, MIA is able to cause lifelong changes to brains of children. It…

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Update on Interface of Immunity and Brain

Both the brain and the immune system perceive infections, trauma, stress, anxiety and social isolation. Both respond to efforts to defend and heal these traumas. Many previous posts have described increasing understanding of how neither can operate without the other. They have been called the “wired and wireless…

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Producing Many Kinds of T Helper Cells

T cells are the masters of the immune system. Through active communication with the brain they maintain balance between the immune and nervous systems. T cells respond to situations by regulating all other immune cells through signaling, either with secreted molecules or by direct contact. T cells have many very specific…

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Epigenetic Signals Regulate New Brain Cells

Relatively small numbers of new neurons are produced in several critical parts of the adult human brain. The most well understand region is the dentate nucleus of the hippocampus where new neurons are incorporated into memory circuits for new information that clarifies old memories. Please see the post on how new neurons…

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Special Relationship of Viruses and Endoplasmic Reticulum

It is quite remarkable how much viruses can accomplish with a very small number of genes and a handful of proteins. Previous posts have described the very elaborate lifestyle of HIV with only 9 genes, and Ebola with only 7 genes. Somehow, viruses are able to manipulate vast cellular machinery including organelles much…

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The Powerful Immune Synapse

Cells communicate with many varied signals—both chemical and electrical. Signals can be secreted in the space between cells, into the blood stream and in cerebrospinal fluid. Chemical signals can be sent in small vesicles (endosomes) or in nanotubes that exist between most cells. Another way that cells talk is by forming…

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Guardians of the Blood Brain Barrier

Two thousand years ago Aristotle wrote that cells lining blood vessels determine organs. Recently, he was found correct when capillary cells demonstrated elaborate communication with stem cells and many other cells. Unique capillary cells in each organ have dramatic effects on the life of the cells in that region. With…

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Are Fungus the Dominant Life Form

Bacteria and viruses exhibit communication and almost endless creativity and variation. We have no real idea just how many species there are. Bacteria and viruses have dramatic effects on the ecology of every part of the earth. Because of this, they have been considered by some to be the dominant life form. An increasing…

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Inflammasomes Are Large Complex Signaling Platforms

FEATURE Protein molecule for Complex Neuron Machinery

Many large proteins combine to form a signaling platform that orchestrates many varied types of inflammation. Irregularities in any of the proteins of this complex structure can produce devastating diseases, including cancer and autoimmune, metabolic and brain diseases. Inflammation can be caused by toxins, trauma and many…

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Signals for Complex Travel of White Blood Cells

White blood cells, which are called leukocytes, are able to find sites of infection and trauma through elaborate signaling. Of the many different kinds of immune and blood cells, the particular type is produced and sent long distances to the site of the trouble. First, they travel in blood vessels and then into the tissue,…

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Viruses evade DNA RNA Sensors

Some think viruses are not alive. It is, therefore, very surprising that they can evade elaborate cellular mechanisms used to find and destroy them. Search and destroy mechanisms of the cell and counter attacks from viruses are very complex. Cells use many sensors to find DNA and RNA that is not where it is supposed to be….

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Neurons and Immune Cells Talking at Barrier Regions

It is the border regions of the intestine, skin and lungs where the lining cells meet the outside world. They must respond to a vast amount of microbes and intense environmental factors. Conversations between lining cells, microbes and immune cells determine responses both healthy and unhealthy. Now it is found that…

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Short Chain Fatty Acids From Fiber As Critical Signals

Dietary fiber has been recommended for several positive health effects. However, the reasons for these effects are complex and just being discovered. As with all of life, it involves signaling among cells throughout the body including gut cells where it is ingested, microbes in the gut that metabolize it, and immune cells…

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Microbe Conversations with Skin Cells Produce Immunity

Skin is much more dynamic than most realize. The major epithelial cells, called keratinocytes, engage in very elaborate signaling to many different cells. They also produce many types of cells, some gradually becoming the firm barrier cells that make skin resistant to infections and trauma. Like lining cells of the…

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Hippocampus Brain Wave Signals

When electricity is measured in a brain region, the total value includes the sum of electricity from many different sources. Part of the measurement refers to electrical signals of the action potential along the axon. Some refers to the electrical field surrounding various brain structures. Another represents synchronous…

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Vast Complexity of Immune Micro RNA Signals

Immune cells travel independently and depend on signals for their activity. Called the “wireless” brain, immune cells communicate with many other cells—neurons, astrocytes, microglia, blood vessel cells, intestinal and skin lining cells, and tissue cells. Signals help develop special capabilities, such as T cells…

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Vital Immune Communication with Peptides

Communication among cells is the basis of all immune and nervous system activity. Research continues to find large vocabularies of signals in different languages—neurotransmitters, cytokines, small RNAs, protein transcription factors, small lipid molecules and glycan sugars. The numbers of signals is growing…

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Special T cells Inhibit Immune Reactions to Food

Immune cells in the gut are produced in response to environmental signals and communication between many different types of cells. The gut is a very special environment that includes cooperative and competitive efforts between many cells including trillions of friendly and unfriendly microbes, intestinal epithelial cells,…

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Where is Subjective Experience in the Brain?

Current science has no explanation for subjective experience. There isn’t even an adequate definition of consciousness. Recent research continues many approaches in attempts to find a brain region that is correlated with basic awareness or consciousness. In order to proceed without definitions, study attempts to find…

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Membrane Lipids Direct Proteins and Proteins Direct Lipids

The largest number of brain molecules are lipids (fats). Unique regulation of brain lipids is complex and contributes to many diseases. Surprisingly, it has been found that membrane lipids direct proteins and proteins direct lipids.  Previous posts have discussed the importance of lipids in communication between brain…

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Psychiatric Illness and microRNA

Until quite recently it was thought that only 2% of human DNA making proteins was important. The rest was called “junk.” Junk DNA was thought to accumulate through random processes with no physiological consequences. After the genome project did not find enough “mutations” to explain more illnesses or to explain…

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Extra Cellular Vesicles in the Brain

Vesicles containing  neurotransmitters at synapses are well known, but mechanisms explaining their speed are still not clear. Very recently, neurons have been found to use many other types of vesicles to communicate with other cells, not at the synapse. Myelin patterns have been found to be much more variable than…

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Regulation of Brain Energy

The brain uses 20% of the body’s energy, although it weighs three pounds. Humans have more genes operating to metabolize energy for the costly cognitive brain than other species. Recent research is now showing which neuronal activity uses the most energy. In fact, it is the activity of the ion channels along the axon and…

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Intelligent Capillary Cells Regulate Tissue Stem Cells

It is well known that neurons send a variety of intelligent critical signals to other neurons, glia, and immune cells using neurotransmitters, vesicles of several types, cytokines and nanotubes between cells. Elaborate back and forth communication between immune cells uses a wide variety of cytokines, neurotransmitters and…

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Why is There No Cure For Huntington’s

With extensive PR, the Genome Project promised rapid cures for many diseases by deciphering the genetic code for less than 2% of the human DNA involved in making proteins in a small number of people. After the Genome Project, there were almost no cures found in that code. In the decade after the project, research…

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Mysterious Pre Synaptic Vesicles

Even with intense study for decades, the way that neurons release neurotransmitters so rapidly and continuously is still quite mysterious. The machinery for this variable release of large amounts of vesicles in milliseconds is still being debated. It probably involves multiple different mechanisms. Studies of energy use…

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Jumping Genes Regulation of the Brain

The regulation of DNA is fantastically complex with many different layers: changing 3D shapes of the chromatin and loops of DNA; regional differences in nuclear DNA; large numbers of different epigenetic tags on DNA nucleotides and protective protein histone molecules; complex DNA repair mechanisms and alternative…

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How Do Dendrites Make Decisions

Dendrites have been considered passive calculators of input signals. In fact, they are extremely dynamic and can produce their own electrical spikes. Dendrites have a vast array of different ways to function when helping to determine the next axon action potential. Recent research has begun to scratch the surface of the…

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How Human Brains are Built

The development of the human brain involves orchestration of thousands of different kinds of cells in an array of trillions. A vast range of molecular and cellular processes operate in brain development over a very long period of time—the longest of all primates. Humans, also, have a longer childhood and adolescence for…

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Myelin Facilitation of Whole Brain Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticty is the way a brain makes lasting alterations of its own circuits when responding to experience. A vast array of mechanisms have been discovered for neuroplastic changes at synapses. In fact, large circuits engage in simultaneous varied mechanisms at synapses across the brain (See Post). There is no current…

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Biofilm Geo Politics

Biofilms are major causes of severe infections because microbes are able to protect themselves in a tough 3-D matrix that is difficult for the cell to attack. Until recently, it was thought that one dangerous microbe builds a biofilm. As has been found with most microbe activities, their strength derives from back and…

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Microbe Geo Politics in the Gut

With trillions of microbes comprising thousands of species or more, it has been impossible to fully study their composition or exact locations in the gut. Even more complex is their back and forth chatter between multiple Kingdoms such as bacteria, viruses, archaea, fungi, and eukaryote human cells in the lining and immune…

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The Politics of Gut Microbe Kingdoms

It was once thought that to prove the cause of an infection, a microbe is found. The microbe is isolated from the unhealthy person. Later, this infection is reproduced in an otherwise healthy animal by injecting that particular microbe. This approach is described in Koch’s Postulates and was the dogma of microbiology…

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Vast Complexity of Immune Pattern Recognition Receptors

Living among trillions of microbes, it is necessary to determine which are going to cause disease. This is done by recognizing patterns with special receptors on immune cells—pattern recognition receptors or PPRs. Once triggered, receptors activate powerful mechanisms to cause inflammation that is life saving but, also,…

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Intelligent Microbe Secretory Weapons

B0004797 Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, close-up

Microbes demonstrate incredible sophistication in making effector molecules that have multi-layered effects. A previous post described how some of these newly created proteins are the exact shapes that alter epigenetic tags in host cells. They produce very particular genetic changes influencing cascades in the nucleus,…

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Intelligent Microbes Attack Organelles

Human cells are massively larger and more complex than bacteria and yet microbes keep up relentless intelligent warfare. Previous posts documented surprisingly sophisticated, multi level attacks by microbes using protein molecules and micro RNA against plants and animals. Recently, new microbe techniques have been…

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The Role of Tau in Brain Function and Dementia

Recent research into the causes of Alzheimer’s has become increasingly complex. For a long time it was assumed that buildup of amyloid-β causes destruction of neurons and, therefore, the degenerative brain disease. Most current drug trials are trying to eliminate the toxic form of amyloid. However, very recent research…

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How Does Diet Influence Immunity

The short answer is by very complex intelligent communication with a vast array of signals from a single layer of cells. This single intestinal epithelial cell layer makes elaborate decisions about digestion, types of diet, analysis of the effects of trillions of microbes and the types of immune cells and specialized lymph…

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Insulin Resistance and Brain Disease

Insulin helps control the levels of blood sugar by aiding cells to take in the sugar through the cellular membrane. Simple sugars from diet can flood the blood and insulin avoids dangerously high levels. It is one of several hormones that are secreted to control sugar levels, which needs to be highly regulated from being…

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A New Way To Image Cells with Vibrational Spectroscopy

The holy grail of neuroscience, and medicine in general, is the detailed accurate imaging of cells and their contents in real time. A previous post on mapping the brain described many problems with current imaging technology in seeing details of the neuronal network. Even with accurate tiny slices of brain tissue observed…

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Are Microtubules the Brain of the Neuron

Microtubules may be the brains of the cell, particularly neurons—operating like a computerized Lego set. They are large complex scaffolding molecules that work closely with the two other rapidly changing structural molecules, actin and intermediate filaments, to provide structure for the entire cell including the…

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What Do Infants Know

Esme 2 FEATURE

What do infants know? Are infant cognitive abilities innate based on brain structure or learned? Recent research shows that infants have surprising mental abilities, despite their inability to move. Infants learn languages better than adults. Infants are not as good as adults with numbers but start with much more math…

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Clever Cells and Microbes Fight Over Vacuoles

Vacuoles are unique intracellular vesicles with many different functions. Some store critical molecules. Some store water or fat. Others are factories of destruction for waste, debris and mis folded proteins. Previous posts have described how individual organelles, like mitochondria have independent intelligent activity….

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Does Abnormal Amyloid Cause Alzheimer’s

With vast brain complexity, the cause of Alzheimer’s is not clear and there are no current treatments that alter the disease process. Most Alzheimer’s researchers assume the cause is abnormal clumps of amyloid-β that kill neurons. Some define early pre clinical Alzheimer’s as those with increased amyloid-β and are…

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Limitations of Genetic Research in Psychiatric Illness

Even after thousands of studies, the genetic basis of psychiatric illness is not at all clear. The relationship of mental events and genetic networks is extremely complex. A previous post discussed social interactions triggering genetic networks. Genetic networks are triggered by mental events and a vast number of other…

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Limitations of MRIs for Understanding Behavior

The types of technology available have determined theories of brain function. When looking only at regional brain damage from trauma, theories arose of specific brain modules. Early imaging, also, furthered the notion of modules. But, in fact, the brain has many very active local hubs with massive interconnectivity…

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Stress Causes Many Kinds of Neuroplasticity

Stress can be caused by sudden physical danger. In evolution, animals developed elaborate mechanisms for rapidly identifying danger and responding with fight or flight responses. When studying humans, it became apparent that the same responses can occur with psychological, interpersonal and work related stress. Further…

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Progress and Problems in Brain Mapping

The holy grail of many neuroscients is to map neuronal connections and from this explain how the brain (and mind) works. There are approximately 80 billion neurons and there are up to tens of thousands of possible connections from each neuron, which makes the number of synapses an unfathomable astronomical number. In fact,…

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Unique Type of Neuroplasticity With Stress

Both the wired neuronal brain and the wireless brain of the immune system perceive stress. The fact that psychological, social and physical stress all trigger responses from both the immune system and the brain, shows that immune and brain systems cannot be separated. Significantly, stress also triggers multiple…

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Reciprocal Relationship of Depression and Inflammation

B0003385 Depression- bad apple theory - illustration Credit: Adrian Cousins. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Computer-generated illustration showing the bad apple view of depression. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

It is unfortunate that the word “depression” is used in many different ways and is at the same time chosen to represent a brain illness. There are, undoubtedly, many subtypes of the illness depression and the current clinical definition includes a list of mental and physical symptoms, some of which are severe—sleep…

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The Very Intelligent Choroid Plexus Epithelial Cell

Small lining cells along the border of the brain’s ventricles are the gateway and supervisor of the relationship between the brain and the rest of the body, including the immune system. The choroid plexus cells produce cerebral spinal fluid, which bathes the brain and provides a cushion. But, it, also, performs a vast…

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Convergent Evolution of Intelligence

Advanced intelligence has evolved in vastly different types of creatures. Intelligence occurred independently even though these creatures started as small multi cellular organisms and diverged in evolution 500 million years ago. They each used different building blocks, genetic clusters, molecular cascades and signaling….

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The Uniquely Talented and Intelligent Octopus

The octopus has advanced intelligence despite 500 million years of separate evolution from mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. Octopus ancestors are, perhaps, the first intelligent beings on Earth. Recent research is beginning to describe their very unusual talents, behavior and brain, as well as their unique genetic…

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Many New Microbe Molecules Discovered in Humans

Inside of each of us, there are ten times as many bacteria and 100 times as many viruses as our own cells. This means we have 300 times more DNA from microbes inside of us than our own DNA (the total DNA has been called the hologenome- see post). Microbe DNA is not quiet, but is producing large amounts of molecules that…

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Vast Complexity of Dendrite Function

All mental processes critically depend on extremely active dendrites that receive messages from other neurons and process information. Neuroplasticity in all of its forms is based on altering and modulating the action of dendrites. Unique spacing and shapes of dendrite spines—thin, stubby, mushroom—determine where…

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Intelligent Cancer Cells Communicate with Exosomes

It is surprising that cells have so many elaborate ways to communicate with each other. Cytokines and neurotransmitters are well known methods. Recently, very unusual new signaling techniques have been discovered, such as small nano tubes (cytonemes) in which cells send many types of signals including important genetic…

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Spread of the Intelligent Dengue Virus

A small RNA strand able to make ten proteins has become the scourge of much of the world in the form of Dengue fever. This remarkable tiny virus is able to thwart the complex human immune reactions that fight viruses. Using some unique features, it is rapidly spreading through the world and infects millions of people per…

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Fantastic Astrocyte Diversity

Up to 40% of the brain is made up of astrocytes—many more than neurons—with a network larger than the neuronal connectome. Other posts have described how astrocytes are critical for every aspect of creation, maintenance, and pruning of neuronal synapses. Another post described how complex individual astrocytes can be…

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Time Cells Organize Memory

Yesterday, When I woke up I washed and dressed And while drinking coffee, The telephone rang, And you invited me to the meeting. Memories have specific sequences of events. How do our memories let us experience the exact time sequence? In dreams, the timing of events can be extremely condensed…

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Placebo Affects In the Brain

Placebos can influence health outcomes, but, it has not been clear how this happens. Recent posts have described how mental activity, such as expectations, determine perception, rather than just physical sensory information. Now, placebos demonstrate that perception alters physical health. Research shows that diverse brain…

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Vast Complexity of Alternative Splicing in Neurons

Alternative splicing of messenger RNA has been shown to be critical for the development of the human brain. The ability to make many new and complex proteins allowed the development of the enormous molecular complexity in different neurons and in different regions. For some reason, in evolution humans developed the…

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Pleasure Circuits in the Brain

The brain regions for pleasure are difficult to pinpoint, partly, because of many different ways we can trigger enjoyment. Pleasure can result from tasty food, a movie, school and athletic accomplishments, drugs, and noble efforts to help the community, the country and the world. A previous post noted that research points…

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Only Crows and Humans Can Do It

Many birds have remarkable abilities, far greater than has been considered possible with their small brains. Songbirds are a large category of thousands of species of birds that have advanced vocal learning ability, similar to humans. (See post on vocal learning similarities between humans and songbirds). Some of these…

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Maintaining Neuronal Identity

When neurons differentiate from stem cells, they become a very particular type of cell that can last a hundred years. The post How Many Different Types of Neurons are There noted that there are at least a thousand very different species of neurons with varied structures and functions. How does the cell know how to…

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Remarkable Fish Intelligence

Recent research shows that fish are remarkably intelligent and have complex inner lives. This should not really be surprising since animals with very small brains that are much different than humans are now known to have advanced social and cognitive capacities—see posts on birds, lizards, bees, ants and termites. The…

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How Do Cells Know What Size They Should Be

When considering the intelligence of individual cells, certain things stand out. Cells know exactly where they are and how to travel to far away places through many kinds of terrain with many different techniques. Cells know how to signal back and forth wirelessly to many different types of cells using many different…

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Cannabinoids and Seizures

Brain with electricity

Natural cannabinoids in the brain, related to those in the marijuana plant, have been described in previous posts as critical for many important brain functions, both in the fetus and the adult. Recent research now shows that they have a great importance in regulating brain waves and circuit hyperactivity that can produce…

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Microbes Effect on the Brain

B0004797 Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, close-up Credit: David Gregory&Debbie Marshall. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, computer-coloured red on green. Close-up view, showing pili. Electron micrograph 2003 Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/page/Prices.html

Hundreds of trillions of microbes live in the human gut, with 300 times the total DNA as humans. The products of this “forgotten organ” include large amounts of DNA that are critical to create necessary human nutrients, for essential metabolism and to develop the most effective immune system. Recent research shows…

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No Brain Mapping Without Glia

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…

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New Neurons in Adult Brains Remodel Memory

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…

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Neuronal Signals in Inflammation and Cancer

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….

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Bacteria Work Together to Build a Biofilm Civilization

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…

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Are Microbes Friend or Foe of Cancer

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…

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How Does Expectation Affect Perception

An extensive literature reveals that expectation determines perceptions, but it is not clear how. Previous posts have documented many findings that support this notion and a summary is listed below. But, how does the brain use mental concepts to modulate and determine what we think we see? While, it is not yet clear…

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Vast Complexity of Chromatin 3D Shapes

Humans have only 21,000 genes—the same as a worm—and they are identical in all of the different types of cells. It is not the inherited code of the genes that determines the different cellular functions. Rather, it is way that genes are utilized differently in each type of cell that determines which proteins will…

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Dr. Lieff Interviewed by Boston Business Journal About New Alzheimer’s Medicine

The interview was based on Biogen’s presentation of the results of a phase I trial of a monoclonal antibody that works to eliminate amyloid. In a relatively small number of patients, the monoclonal antibody treatment lead to less amyloid and improved cognition. To read the interview in the Boston Business Journal, CLICK…

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Intelligent Cells Know Their Place

Cells need to know where they are for many reasons. But, it is very challenging for an individual to know its exact location relative to a large outside world, without GPS. Despite great difficulties, remarkably, individual cells can make complex calculations and decisions based on their exact relations to other cells and…

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Dr. Lieff’s 10 Most Intelligent Animals for Discover Channel

Discover Channel asked Dr. Lieff to briefly describe the most intelligent animals. The list was honed down to 10 for a presentation on Discover Channel News. To see the Slide Show CLICK HERE For more detailed information about each of the animals from Searching for the Mind posts, please see the links below….

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Virus Tricks Manipulate the Cytoskeleton

Viruses, with only a few genes, are able to commandeer the complex mechanisms of human cells. Previous posts have described remarkable behavior of herpes, HIV and Ebola. These tiny pieces of genetic material are able to make proteins that evade the attacks from immune cells and trick membranes to allow entry. Viruses can…

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Termite Intelligence Update

Termites are the oldest social animals, starting elaborate societies 200 million years ago—50 million years before ants and bees. They began agriculture with fungus farming before ants. Like ants and bees (described in previous posts Remarkable Bee Brain and Ant Intelligence Update), termites exhibit remarkable…

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Electric DNA and Mind

The many electrical factors related to brain function bolsters the theory that mind might consist of electromagnetic fields, gradients and currents (one of several theories). Posts have described how in the developing fetus electrical synapses lay out the detailed brain structure with chemical synapses built on this…

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What Color is the Dress

Photo from Caitlin McNeill’s Tumblr Site Is it blue and black? Or, is it white and gold? How does expectation determine perception? A recent picture of a colored dress became an Internet sensation because people are divided into two distinct camps—one sees blue and black and the other sees white and gold….

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Transmission of Mis Folded Proteins in Brain Disease

Mis folded proteins transmitted in circuits throughout the brain might explain many degenerative brain diseases. Considerable evidence now points to the fact that critical mis folded proteins, once they appear, can act like prions by attracting other similar proteins and stimulating them to alter their structure as well….

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Ant Intelligence Update

Because of the remarkable intelligence of insects with tiny brains, such as bees, ants and termites, many ascribe their capabilities to the hive or colony. In fact, there is increasing evidence that individual ants, bees, and termites are very intelligent, which allows for intelligent actions of the colony. In the case of…

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Fantastic Complexity in Brain Potassium Channels

Most students of biology are familiar with the neuron’s action spike traveling along the axon because of electric flux of the sodium and potassium channels in the membrane. It is not widely known, however, that there are almost a hundred different kinds potassium channels in the brain with very different properties. The…

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Cannabinoids in Inflammation and the Aging Brain

This is the second post on brain cannabinoids. The previous post described the vast functions of endogenous cannabinoids in the developing brain. That post, also, described how cannabinoids are critical for stimulating neuronal stem cells in the adult brain’s hippocampus related to learning and memory. To fully understand…

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Evolution of Intelligent Viruses and Jumping Genes

50% of the human genome consists of jumping genes or mobile genetic elements. The 8% of human DNA from retroviruses has been vital to human evolution, such as determining the human placenta, epigenetic changes in the brain and digestive enzymes. An epigenetic immune system in the nucleus battles the jumping genes for…

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The Very Intelligent Protein mTOR

How can one protein molecule function as if it is a brain? It is able to monitor a large amount of different external and internal information and use this data to make critical decisions and take many simultaneous actions. The decisions involve multiple pathways controlling cellular growth and the amount of protein…

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Endocannabinoids Critical for Brain Function

Endocannabinoids are derived from fatty acids in a very complex process. They serve as critical signals for a wide variety of brain functions. “Endo” refers to cannabinoids made in the brain, as opposed to “phytocannabinoids” made in plants and ingested. For simplicity, this post will use the general term…

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Plant Intelligence Primer and Update 2015

Since Aristotle many scientists have considered plants robotic, rather than vital intelligent beings. Darwin did not subscribe to this view and published a book about intelligent plant movement where he called the root the plant’s brain. Recently, an excellent book summarizing the current data on plant intelligence,…

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Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Signaling in the Brain

Most people are familiar with proteins regulating genes and peptides and amino acids as signals and factors in the brain. Now, fat molecules are found to be vital signals for a wide range of brain functions, including protecting neurons from cell death, stimulating synapses and creating new neurons. In particular,…

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Vocal Learning Similarities in Songbirds and Humans

As more animals are found to have advanced cognitive ability, it is clear that the human brain is not the model for all advanced abilities. There are animals that have greater capacities; and those with similar capacities can use very different brain structures. Intelligence evolved a number of different ways. Last week 28…

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Complexity of the Glia Neuromuscular Junction

Most of us take bodily movement for granted. But, in fact, it is a very complex collaboration of many different systems—the long nerves of the pyramidal system, the fine-tuning of the extrapyramidal system and constant sensory feedback. The partnership of nerve and muscle occurs at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ)….

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Neuronal Networks and Brain Waves

Along with 80 billion neurons and 800 trillion constantly changing connections, individual neurons use very precise rhythms and groups of neurons oscillating together in very specific frequencies. The perplexing relationship of neuronal networks and brain waves is critical to future understanding of the brain. The many…

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Neuron Networks in Healthy and Diseased Brains

The dream of mapping the brain rests on the notion that the trillions of connections between 80 billion neurons form networks that are correlated with mental states. Please see the post, Limits of Current Neuroscience, for a discussion of the many complications in this approach, including the importance of brain waves,…

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Does Cognitive Ability Improve In Old Age

While decrease in physical strength and speed are seen in the elderly, brain changes are less clear. There is a common belief that the elderly gradually loose some mental capacities. But, is this true? Recent research shows the surprising fact that elderly brains are often better than younger brains for many tasks. This is…

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Can Individual Cells Choose Not to Age

In the search for eternal youth, it is not clear what causes cellular aging. It is, also, not known how much individual cells contribute to the aging of organs, tissues and animals. Recent research with individual cells shows that the process of cellular aging is not simple. There now appears to be many different possible…

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The Enormous Complexity of Transport Along the Axon

Some scientists consider scaffolding fibers and tubules in the neuron to be the seat of consciousness. They respond instantly to any mental event with massive movement and construction—building and rebuilding the structures for dendrite spines and axon boutons at synapses in the ever-changing neuron. Microtubules are…

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The Very Intelligent Ebola Virus Takes Front and Center

Several intelligent viruses have been featured in previous posts. Herpes has a very complex life style with more than 70 genes—traveling up and down the neuron and in and out of the skin cell. HIV has an extraordinary set of complex behaviors with only 9 genes—travelling with critical proteins in its capsid, evading…

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Where Prejudice and Stereotypes Reside in the Brain

Social prejudice is still a major problem despite an ever-smaller world with rapid worldwide communications and increased diversity at every level. Even in advanced societies, academia, and science—places where it should not be expected—prejudice appears to be consciously and unconsciously ever present. Some forms of…

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Does Activity Determine Synaptic Creation and Pruning

It has been assumed that use of neurons through activity (action potential spikes) stimulates more synapses and stronger circuits in the brain and that lack of use leads to pruning or elimination of the synapse. But, is this true? While it appears that activity can lead to new and increased circuits, the mechanisms for…

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How Many Different Kinds of Neurons Are There

Many issues confront neuroscientists in their attempts to map the brain. A previous post, the Limits of Neuroscience, listed critical problems. Connections are made and pruned each day and one neuron can have 100,000 connections. There are many types of synapses, many types of neuroplasticity in wide networks, and many…

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Versatile Lipoproteins in Healthy Brains and Alzheimers

A previous post discussed the great complexity of cell membranes and the varied lipids that are manufactured, tagged and transported for many different membranes—vesicles, signaling, and cellular compartment structures. Cholesterol is one of the key lipids with many functions. Another special molecule—a lipoprotein,…

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Amazing Complexity of Cellular Membranes

When seeking the origin of cellular life, most scientists first try to create a spontaneous fatty membrane that could, theoretically, surround a cell. In fact, real cellular membranes are anything but spontaneous and simple. Membranes are made of extremely complex lipids, of which there are a vast amount of different…

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The Remarkable Language of Cells

All living creatures communicate, providing group activity and defense. But, it has been surprising to find individual cells, also, have very elaborate communication. Amoebae communication is so complex that individual creatures are able to combine into what appears to be a multi cellular organism and then go back to…

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The Fantastic Array of Neuroplasticity Mechanisms

Last week a 24 year old woman went to a hospital in China because she was dizzy and nauseous. The doctors discovered that she had no cerebellum—the critical brain center with half of the brain’s neurons, related to movement and habit memory. As a child she was late walking and talking, but is now married and normal…

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The Complexity of the Frontal Lobes

The large prefrontal cortex was not considered important for many years. Now, we know that it is the critical brain link to thoughts and behaviors related to organization and goals. With the large numbers of traumatic brain injury, understanding the frontal lobes has become increasingly important. Imaging research has…

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Is the Dodder the Most Intelligent Plant

Previous posts have demonstrated elaborate communication and defensive abilities of plants using senses of touch, sight, sound and smell. Recent research shows plants engage in back and forth intelligent warfare with microbes using newly designed proteins for attack and defense through self-editing of DNA and RNA. Very…

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Inflammation and Dementia

Dementias are diseases that destroy the brain. Much is not understood about the causes of the various dementias, but, it is known that clogged arteries cause small and large strokes and vascular dementia. Misfolded proteins occur in many types of dementia and may be part of the cause. Genetics plays some role. Now, recent…

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Electrical Fields Guiding 3D Shape of Cells and Organs

How does the cell know what size and shape it should be? Many cells alter their shape to provide different functions, like microglia. Even more complex is the question as to how organs, limbs, and creatures know what size and shape they should be when they are growing. How do the cells know how and where to form an organ?…

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Meditation and Brain Update 2014

In the past year considerable research has been done on how meditation increases awareness while, also, increasing  physical and mental health. This post will update the latest brain findings and summarize conclusions from previous years. Many of the older findings were reinforced this year—the dramatic stimulation of…

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The Five Secrets of Brain Health

The brain is a 3-pound organ in our body, which, like any other organ, can be healthy or unhealthy. Uniquely, the brain is intertwined with our mind, emotions, behavior and the functions of all other organs. Fortunately, simple actions in daily life can have a great effect on maximizing brain health and minimizing…

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The Very Intelligent HIV Virus

Several posts have documented the unusual complex behavior of viruses. In particular, a recent post, The Remarkable Intelligent Varicella Virus, described a wide range of different complex behaviors for this small herpes virus. Somehow, it is able to enter and exit skin and nerve cells; travel up and down along the…

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New Complexity in Human Evolution Story

Every few months a scientist claims that human evolution occurred because of some new factor: language, fire, meat eating, walking, etc. It is always related to hunter-gatherer’s in the African grassland (a savanna is a dry grassland that has some trees). Many have created theories of the current human mind based on the…

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Social Touch Brain Pathways

Touch, which senses vibration and mechanical force, is one of the earliest senses in evolution and, in humans, is similar to hearing. Beginning as a very early sense in microbes, it has been a major way that cells communicate with their community. In humans, touch provides discrimination of size, shape and texture of…

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Light in the Brain

Light supplies the energy of life in many ways. When light hits the extremely complex molecular factories for photosynthesis, it triggers an electron that moves to the processing center by quantum superposition; this electron stimulates complex chemical cycles that make energy particles—ATP—as well as carbon molecules…

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Breathing Alters Perception

From Electron Breath is the only critical physiological function that operates unconsciously, but can, also, be directed consciously. While regulated by very complex chemical sensors in multiple places, it is, also, tied to specific activities, perceptions and emotions. The complexity of the neural circuits is…

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Can Neuroscience Improve Education

Human brain illustrated with interconnected small nerves - 3d re

Can the deluge of recent neuroscience data help improve education? This post will summarize what is known, and not known, about brain data and its possible impact on methods of education. There is a lot media attention to brain research and many of the popular conclusions are exaggerations. In fact, even neuroscientists…

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Platelet Intelligence

Platelets have been mostly thought of as a fragment of a cell that stops bleeding and not much else. They can, also, produce damage because clotting can block arteries causing strokes and heart attacks. So, it is a surprise that recent research finds platelets have many other roles including being critical players in…

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How do Microbes Make Decisions

How can microbes behave as if they have a brain? Microbes demonstrate complex decision-making and send specific chemical signals to colony members and other species, such as plants and animals. Their signals trigger group actions and behavioral changes including attacks. Slime mold microbe colonies show memory. Individual…

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The Very Intelligent Skin Cell

The skin is the major interface between the body and the outside world with its trillions of microbes and environmental toxins. Skin has many layers and various different types of cells—keratinocytes, fibroblasts that make the extra cellular matrix, immune cells of various types, and sensory cells that connect to nerve…

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Astrocyte Calcium Signaling Leads to More Brain Complexity

From Nybertuc Astrocytes are the neuron’s critical partners—helping to establish synapses, as well as, maintaining and pruning them. Astrocytes—five to ten times as numerous as neurons and making up half of the brain—create a huge scaffold. The astrocyte network signals with calcium fluctuations, while the…

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Q and A with Jeff Graubart about Quantum Physics and Panpsychism

Quantum physics most accurately describes nature at the very small size, but has many very unusual counter intuitive properties. Quantum properties of matter include action occurring at a distance between two particles, matter existing as a wave and solid at the same time and all possible future movements existing at the…

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Chronic Pain Is A Result of Conversation By Immune and Brain Cells

Increasingly, physiological events are correlated with complex back and forth communication between a wide variety of local and distant cells. Previous posts have described a new concept of the neuro-immune interface, also called the neuro-immune synapse. Instead of the well known synapse of a pre and post synaptic neuron…

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Complex Migration of Leukocytes

Leukocytes, immune cells also known as white blood cells, use very complex modes of travel to navigate the vastly different environments of the various human organs. A variety of immune cells, including T cells and neutrophils, travel throughout the body, in and out of these tissues. There are thousands of different…

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New Myelin Code Adds to Brain Complexity

The common wisdom that myelin is just an insulator to make faster neuronal communication has been overthrown by recent research that finds much more complexity in how myelin is used by the brain. The old “neuron doctrine” (one of many useless dogmas) was that each neuron sends a signal to the next neuron, and so on, in…

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Unique Gyrification of the Human Brain

The folding of the brain seems to be distinctive in humans and, therefore, has been considered a candidate to explain the unique mental abilities of humans compared with other animals. The amount of folding in the cortex appears to correlate with some specific cognitive abilities and sensory and motor abilities….

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Electrical Synapses Are Critical for Chemical Synapse Function

New research on electrical synapses greatly complicates plans to map the brain. Recent findings show electrical synapses are critical throughout the brain and interact in complex ways with chemical synapses making the function of the brain much more convoluted. Almost all of the current research on synapses and brain…

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New Studies Reveal Higher Levels of Genetic Complexity

Recent studies have described even more layers of codes and ways the genetic system is ordered in each cell. Two completely new superimposed codes have been described that greatly complicate genetic regulation—messenger RNA folding, and multi use codons called “duons.” In addition, this week the large international…

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The Very Intelligent Intestine Epithelial Cell

Maintaining positive and negative interactions with trillions of microbes; modulating the immune system to accommodate thousands of different microbe communities; determining multiple attributes of digestion of food and production of vitamins; influencing the human immune system development and normal function; signaling…

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Q and A with William Miller about his new Book on the Microcosm and Evolution

Many of the previous posts in Searching for the Mind have documented the cognitive abilities of cells, microbes, even viruses and perhaps jumping genes and prions. It is reasonable to consider that this active cognitive ability in cells influences evolution. Other posts have noted that in all animals, including humans,…

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Q and A with Tam Hunt about His New Book on Panpsychism

A previous post, Where is Mind in Nature, mentioned panpsychism as the philosophical view that, perhaps, is most consistent with the deluge of current scientific data about mind in nature. Searching for the Mind has described cognitive processes in cells, microbes, viruses and even jumping genes and molecules….

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Elephant Culture

How can we not appreciate the intelligence, empathy, and wisdom of elephants? How can we allow them to be murdered for their ivory? For generations, those who have known elephants have witnessed their very complex society with highly evolved social capabilities and wise, loving behavior. Legends for a thousand years…

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Music Stimulates Emotions Through Specific Brain Circuits

Music has a central role in human society because it so strongly evokes feelings and affects social activities and interactions. The study of music’s influence has greatly increased knowledge of emotion in the brain. Recent studies show dramatic effects on all the brain regions that are related to emotion—amygdala,…

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The Remarkable Intelligent Varicella Virus

Varicella zoster virus is an alpha herpes virus that has been described in a previous post as having  remarkable capabilities and a very complex lifestyle—the ability to travel up and down axons in a neuron, to move in and out of several different types of cells, to travel and multiply in T cells, to fool several…

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Dog Brain Center Processes Emotions of Human Voice

Dogs and humans have lived together for up to 30,000 years and know each other very well. Their vocalizations are, therefore, familiar to each other. They are also, both familiar with the same sounds in their shared environment. Dogs know when we are upset and when we are ready to play. It is, therefore, not completely…

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Individual Bacteria Join Together for Multi Cellularity

How complex is the communication among cells when individual bacteria join together for multi cellularity? Complex bacterial communication has been noted in previous posts. Each individual microbe joins together with comrades for many different activities including complex communication and decision-making. Bacteria in the…

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Inflammation Pathways in Neuroplasticity

The original definition of inflammation included four symptoms—fever, redness, heat, and pain—and only pain was associated with neuronal signals. Recently, it was shown that, in fact, neuronal activity is involved in mediating all four inflammation symptoms (See post). But, in fact, inflammation is far more complex…

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Guest Post On Why Animals Are Smarter Than You Think

A guest post for MindBodyGreen: Why Animals Are Smarter Than You Think (And Why You Should Care)  To read the article click here  “It is time for us to understand that animals, even the very small ones, are conscious. They have feelings, they show empathy, and they display intelligence in ways that humans…

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Dynamic Relationship of Mitochondria and Neurons

This is the second of a two-part post on the remarkable intelligent work of mitochondria in neurons. Mitochondria respond instantly to mental processes and provide the fuel for all activities of the neuron — buffering calcium signals that determine axon firing and transmission of neurotransmitters; movement of vesicles…

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Intelligent Mitochondria Communication with Neurons

Wellcome Trust Mitochondria are essential energy producers for many of the key functions of the neuron, including the movement and recycling of the vesicles that carry neurotransmitters, the assembly and movement of the structural tubules, the generation of electric charge in axons and dendrites, and the maintenance of…

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Vesicles Transport Information

Communication between cells is ubiquitous in nature. Microbes use a language of chemical signals; human cells use a language of cytokines and neurotransmitters. There is increasing evidence for many other mechanisms of cellular communication including electrical signals and recently discovered nanotubes between animal…

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How Long Have People Been Smart

The major way we learn about human evolution is finding fossils of bones and teeth as well as artifacts. These fossils and artifacts are dated by chemical and physical techniques and then analyzed for what they might imply about people’s behavior at that time. This process is like finding a needle in a haystack….

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Self Observation Alters Perception

How do we know anything? Some say that we only know about external reality through perceptions, analysis and thoughts about these perceptions. But, can we know intuitively through an entirely different process? Is creativity and genius in science an internal understanding from another source of knowledge? (Internal…

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The Many Ways Neurons Repair Their Own DNA

Neurons encounter many different types of DNA errors in three phases of brain development: the rapidly dividing cells building the fetal brain, the differentiation into specific types of neurons and the mature neuron that lasts the life of the organism. The neuron has repair pathways for each of the faults that arise….

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Are Microglia the Most Intelligent Brain Cells

As both unique immune cells and unique brain cells that constantly change shape and have numerous different functions, are microglia the most intelligent brain cells? Microglia travel independently, not attached to any structure, constantly circling a territory with extended arms repeatedly tapping all axons, dendrites and…

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Is the Primary Cilium a Cell’s Antenna or Its Brain

Almost every human cell has a little known structure called the primary cilium. It is similar to the well known motile cilia, but without special structures for movement. This solitary, unmoving structure, most often sticking out of cells, was considered a vestigial organ. While first noted in 1987, only recently has the…

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Microbe Tricks for Entering the Brain

The brain has many layers of protection from microbes. But, with great ingenuity microbes have mechanisms of traversing the tortuous multi layered pathways into the brain. This trip takes many different stages, and each stage needs highly specific complex machinery and signaling with complex molecules. Microbes are able to…

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Is A Prion an Intelligent Protein

Previous posts have described intelligent behavior in cells, organelles, and microbes. Viruses and jumping genes, which are virtually just a strand of DNA or RNA, also show complex behavior. Since DNA and RNA are involved in the process of reproduction and creation of new molecules, there is an intuitive understanding how…

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Where is Mind in Nature

All Searching for the Mind posts describe intelligent behavior in nature that is difficult to explain using theories that only allow for random interactions between molecules—that is, without mind. Intelligent behavior in nature can be observed in, at least, 6 orders of magnitude from the size of a human being down to…

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Extra Cellular Matrix Is Critical to Neuroplasticity

How can the area outside of, and in between, cells be critical to the functioning of brains? How can the brain direct complex sets of molecules floating between the cells? In fact, extra cellular matrix is critical to neuroplasticity. The many large complex proteins that make up this extra cellular matrix is not just a…

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Intelligent Plants Use Proteins and RNA to Fight Invaders

The previous post described an intelligent war between viruses and bacteria using self edits/mutations of their own DNA and RNA to make newly produced protein weapons. The bacterial weapons are very precise, large proteins that attack each of the processes that viruses use—attaching to the cell, entering nucleus,…

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Intelligent Virus Tricks

Russell Kightley The complex intelligent battle between bacteria and the phage virus determines much of what occurs on the earth, these being the two most numerous life forms. Half of the ocean bacteria are killed each day in this battle; the White Cliffs of Dover, made of dead microbes, are a small remnant of the…

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Guest Blog For MindBodyGreen – Choices That Can Change Your Life in Great Ways

I was asked to write a guest blog for the website MindBodyGreen. They requested that from all of the research on the Searching For The Mind Website, what are the things that I wish everyone would know about simple actions that can be taken to make life better.   This article was just posted. To read it click…

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Intelligent T Cells

The previous post described T cells affecting brain cognitive processes as well as immunity. The T cell in the CSF, somehow, is able to control other inflammation cells and increase cognition when there is no infection. Then, it switches to become the most potent killer cell when infections are present while decreasing…

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Immune T Cells Are Critical for Cognitive Function

Immune T cells have a very complex life, travelling to different regions of the body and maturing gradually through stages to be able to engage and fight a wide range of invaders. The T cell ( T for maturation in the thymus) is one of only two cells that edits and splices its own DNA to make a vast array of different…

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Networks of Genes Respond to Social Experiences

It is extremely surprising how networks of hundreds of genes respond immediately to human interactions and thoughts—despite the fact that actions of humans are eight orders of magnitude larger than molecular genetic events. But, it is, perhaps, more remarkable that networks of genes respond rapidly to social experiences….

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Brain and Immunity Fight Internal and External Foes Together

Brain and immunity cannot be separated. Almost every activity utilizes both. The previous post described dual functions of the most important molecules by the nervous and immune systems. Cytokines and neurotransmitters are signals for neurons, astrocytes and immune cells. Previous posts discussed the combined response to…

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Dual Function Molecules for Brain and Immunity

Many recent developments point towards the immune and nervous systems being the same system, including use of the same critical molecules and signaling pathways. Two recent developments in particular show the intimate connection—the origin of synesthesia and destruction of synapses in Alzheimer’s disease. The previous…

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Yet Another New Type of Neuroplasticity with Myosin Motors

Recently, experiments were able to erase drug-associated memories in mice without affecting other memories. This may one day help humans with unwanted memories in posttraumatic stress. What is remarkable is that this was accomplished using a new form of neuroplasticity. Inhibition of the specific myosin motor II during the…

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Mirror Neurons

When animals perform an action in pursuit of a goal, specific brain regions appear to be activated. When animals observe that action, different brain regions are used. Twenty years ago a type of neuron was observed in the macaque monkey that appeared to respond in both of these situations. Later, these were shown in…

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Unique Effects of Music on the Brain

Science is not able to clearly define music. But, whatever it is, music has very unique effects in the brain related to learning, memory, emotion and spirituality. It uses most of the brain in wide circuits that brings about such strong neuroplasticity that it affects the ability to learn other subjects as well…

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The Limits of Current Neuroscience

There is increasing media attention to conclusions from neuroscience research, many of which affect society. Unfortunately, often these conclusions are not warranted from the current level of knowledge. All types of theories about the brain, the mind, free will, ethics, and morality are circulated as facts because one of…

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The Life of A Thought in the Brain

With each mental event, dramatic structural changes occur inside large numbers of neurons, outside of neurons in the extracellular space, at the synapses between neurons and in glial brain cells. Remarkably, these molecular changes occur instantaneously all over the brain in specific circuits using many different…

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Plant Intelligence Primer and Update

Plants exhibit elaborate problem solving, planning, communication, and defense in relation to other plants and many different microbe and animal species. They are a lot smarter than most give them credit for. Recent research continues to show their extremely unusual complex behavior. This plant intelligence primer and…

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Q and A about the Mind of Animals

Picture from Alex Wild www.alexanderwild.com “By appreciating the intelligence of animals that are dependent upon us, humans would become more compassionate.”  “We can realize that we don’t have all the answers, and that the earth needs many more species than just humans. We must protect the other species from our…

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Animal Intelligence Update 2013

Neuroscience assumes that the human brain is the standard to which all animals’ brains should be compared. But, many animals show unique talents, and very advanced intelligence and social behavior. Their intelligence is quite different from humans and in some ways is superior. Many avenues of research show unique animal…

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New You Tube Video Introduction to Hidden Talents and Experiences

A new You Tube video introduction to hidden talents and experiences was just published on the Jon Lieff YouTube Channel. This video is an introduction to the post Could Everyone Have Hidden Extraordinary Talents and Experiences?  This introduction describes research into accidental savants, out of body experiences,…

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Could Everyone Have Hidden Extraordinary Talents and Experiences

From recent scientific findings, it is certainly possible that quite unusual talents and experiences could be available to everyone. This post will outline extraordinary talents and experiences that may be available to everyone under certain circumstances. It is a summary and update of a series of four posts on research…

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Virus and Virus Like Particles in Evolution

Only a very small percentage of the world’s microbes have been discovered, and even less of the much more plentiful and diverse viruses. So, it is not surprising that many dramatic new viruses have recently been found that alter our understanding of evolution. The giant Pandora viruses and many new unique ocean phages…

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Virus Intelligence Update

With the discovery of increasing numbers of different virus-like entities, all of which transfer DNA and RNA information between cells, the importance of virus intelligence keeps increasing. Not only do viruses continue to show new complex behaviors in adapting to any cell, organism or situation, they are, also, critical…

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Another Form of Neuroplasticity by Switching Glutamate NMDA Subunits

How is thought translated into molecular changes in brain cells? With constant changes to the wiring of the brain from mental activity, it is striking how many different ways the molecules in the circuits and synapses respond in milliseconds to new learning and experiences. Each day new neurons are minted in the…

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New YouTube Video Introduction to Neuroplasticity

This new YouTube Video Introduction to Neuroplasticity summarizes information from the post Neuroplasticity Primer and Update, and other posts on neuroplasticity. To see video click here The video discusses unusual subjective findings in a series of experiments including imaging for high jumping; fist clenching…

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Neuroplasticity Primer and Update

With subjective experience new cells are incorporated into the brain and new circuits are created, altered, strengthened or weakened. The static view of the brain has been disproven and it is now known that the brain is very active—constantly changing connections and growing circuits, thought-by-thought, minute-by-minute…

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Extraordinary Mental States Interview

Extraordinary Mental States Interview of Dr. Lieff was done by Jonathan Willbanks of Conscious Life News on April 3, 2013 as part of the Body/Mind/Spirit Summit. This hour and ten minutes audio interview includes a detailed description of the potential of human capacities as seen in a variety of very unusual mental states….

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Post in The Yoga Blog – “MD Explains Your Brain on Meditation”

A summary of the current advances in the effects of meditation on the brain was published in a post in The Yoga Blog.  An MD Explains Your Brain On Meditation (Expert Article) To read this article click here. A more elaborate description of the research was given in the previous post, Meditation and the Brain…

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Meditation and the Brain 2013

In the past year major scientific advances have shown positive effects of meditation on physical and emotional health including permanent changes in brain structures. Dramatic results include alterations in cellular DNA, and immune factors, which have begun to show possible molecular reasons for the positive effects of…

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Human Cells and Viruses SUMO Wrestling

Russell Knightly The two previous posts discussed the highly intelligent innovations of the individual cell to avoid microbe attacks; and the equally intelligent innovations of microbe invaders. The ubiquitin and SUMO systems, which tag and modulate proteins is a major target of both cell defenses and microbe attacks….

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Intelligent Cells Battle Intelligent Invaders New YouTube Video

Adenovirus PUBLIC DOMAIN

New Youtube Video  Click here to see video This video is an introduction to three posts on the battle between human cells and microbes. The focus is on the unique intrinsic immune systems of individual cells, with innovations for each different cell type and each different microbe. The posts are:  Non Immune…

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Microbe Innovations in the Battle with Human Cells

Russell Knightley The microbe attempts to avoid being killed by the elaborate defensive mechanisms of not only the innate and adaptive immune systems, but also, the elaborate defensive mechanisms of individual cells. In the previous post, it was shown that the autophagy process was an important part of the individual…

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Non Immune Cells Also Combat Microbes

The first line of cellular defense is not the specialized immune cells, but is the individual cell itself. The surprising abilities of individual cells, called cell autonomous immunity, are now becoming clearer when non immune cells also combat microbes. In fact, individual cells in the brain have developed completely…

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Q and A on Austin Radio

Q and A on Austin Radio  First Program  Peoples Rx with Bill Swail, RPh, and Julia Strickler, ND, on the Good News Health Show Question and answer with Dr. Lieff for thirty minutes discussing extraordinary mental experiences; PTSD and depression; neuroplasticity with music, exercise, food and more.  You can…

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New Type of Neuroplasticity Involving Changes in Neurotransmitters

A dogma from a generation ago taught that each neuron produced one neurotransmitter. It is odd that forty years ago there was already evidence that calcium activity stimulated peripheral sympathetic neurons, which normally release norepinephrine, to switch to release acetylcholine. At that time it was also observed that…

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Animal Cultures

All behavioral studies performed while animals are in captivity are suspect. Even flies, and other insects, behave differently in experimental conditions rather than a natural habitat. But, some animals are extremely difficult to study in the wild, especially if they travel much faster than we do, such as birds, or can…

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Jon Lieff YouTube Channel

The new Jon Lieff YouTube channel was started with a series of questions and answers from a Skype interview by Evita Ochel on EBTV. To view the channel and watch any one of the videos please click here. The eleven videos are on the following topics: How does meditation change the brain What is the relationship…

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Complexity in Searching for the Neural Code

Neuroscience searches for an algorithm known as the neural code. Such a code translates the firing of neurons into mental events including thoughts and emotions. Current large scale attempts to “map” the brain are based on this concept. This post will address some of the many, extremely difficult, problems with this…

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Hour-Long Skype Interview of Jon Lieff, M.D. Answering Questions about Searching for the Mind

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Interview of Dr. Lieff by Evita Ochel on EBTV To see the interview click here Questions covered include: The relationship of consciousness, mind and brain; Intelligence in animals, plants, and microbes; An expected paradigm shift in science where mind is viewed as an integral aspect of nature; Meditation…

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Inverse Relationship of Cancer and Brain Disease

Cancer and common brain diseases are in some ways mutually exclusive. If cancer is up then brain disease is down; if brain disease is up then cancer is down. What possible molecular interactions could bring about the fact that more brain disease means less cancer? This strange inverse relationship of cancer and brain…

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Astrocytes Control Synapse Function

How can the connections of the neuron (connectome) explain the mind, without including the cells that control all phases of synapse development and function? Astrocytes, the star shaped glial cells, are the most numerous cells in the brain. Glial cells outnumber neurons five to one (different ratios in different regions)….

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Feelings and the Sense of Time in the Brain

Time moves slowly when sitting on a very hot surface and when waiting for a lover to arrive. It moves quickly when joyful. If life is threatened time moves very slowly. The sense of time passing is strongly related to feelings, which are critical for decisions and actions. The brain mechanisms are not clear. But, there are…

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Feelings and Body Maps in the Brain

Do feelings arise out of physiological states to serve as warnings? Are they automatic mechanisms to quickly detect important changes in the body, such as hunger, thirst, and pain? Emotions, like fear, can be triggered from either external or internal information. What are feelings and emotions and how are they…

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Neuroplasticity Learning and Brain Circuits

Learning and memory depend upon neuroplasticity in the connections of brain circuits. Recent studies show much greater complexity in neuroplasticity than just changes occuring in single synapses. Rather, changes appear to occur in large distributed networks throughout the brain. Because of the widespread multi sensory…

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Psychology Today Post written by Marc Bekoff and me – The Birds and the Bees and Their Brains: Size Doesn’t Matter

A new post was written by Marc Bekoff and me for Psychology Today about unique animal brain structures that could help explain why animals are so intelligent with such small brains. It is posted today in the blog Animal Emotions by Marc Bekoff. To read the article  Click…

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Vital Plant Communication with Bacteria and Fungus

Several of the most important factors needed for plant survival are very dependent upon extremely complex back and forth, multi-layered communication – these include the use of vital plant communication with bacteria and fungus. What is a symbiosis–two forces approaching and each learning the signaling language for…

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New Scientific American Mind Guest Blog – Emotional Needs of Adolescents Stimulate New Brain Cells

My new guest post for Scientific American Mind was published today. It discusses the implications of the surprising finding of new brain cells in the adolescent amygdala, the center of emotion and social learning.   To read the article  Click…

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Human Ancestors

Are human beings different than they were thousands of years ago? How about hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago? Were human ancestors more ‘primitive” with less cognitive ability? Have humans evolved and become more intelligent with the incredible advance of high technology and science? Or were ancient ancestors…

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Brain Evolution

The remarkable and fairly rapid evolution of the human brain has been very difficult to explain. Previous posts have demonstrated that small and large non-coding RNAs in the brain as well as alternative RNA splicing have evolved much more rapidly in the humans, especially in the brain. Is it therefore possible that brain…

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Guest Blog for Scientific American Mind – Wired and Wireless Components of the Brain

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My new guest post for Scientific American Mind was published today. It discusses the complex relationships between the nervous and immune systems. To read…

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Music Emotion and Evolution

For many, music exists to express emotions. Music stimulates both psychological mood and physiological changes including heart rate and breathing. Music can help anxiety. It drives the body with loud, fast music making people lively and promoting dance. Slow, soft music can make people calm or sad. Are these inherent…

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Music Improvisation and Spirituality

Throughout history human beings have continually made new creative actions of all kinds determining culture and science. With creativity such a common human activity, the question arises whether it is an inherent trait? In the arts, creativity is often related to spirituality. Free form music is a natural creative form…

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Music Training and Neuroplasticity

With our multi sensory brain, music harnesses powers of nature, culture, and mind. How much is the brain changed by the effects of music training and neuroplasticity? Music is one of the most demanding cognitive and neural challenges, requiring very accurate timing of multiple actions, precise interval control of pitch…

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Music and the Brain

Melody, harmony, timbre, rhythm and lyrics are perceived as movement, as meaning, and as emotion in the brain. The unique power of music to harness nature, culture and mind plays out in the interaction of music and the brain.  Some consider vision the major sense, the way our view of the world is most organized. But,…

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What Is Music

What is music? Where does it come from? Is it an inevitable result of brain anatomy and the fundamentals of mathematics? Does it come from culture and mind? Does it come from the nature of consciousness? Has it evolved through time as a form of communication?   Three basic elements of language and music, pitch…

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Remarkable Microbe Makes Stem Cells

Microbes show advanced cognitive abilities – communication, group activity, and complex decision making. But, what can we say when a remarkable microbe makes stem cells?     How can the leprosy bacteria, mycobacterium leprae, turn a Schwann cell into a stem cell? Leprae’s captive vehicle, the stem cell, then…

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Crabs Feel Pain

Source: SARBAJIT SARBAJNA Pain can’t be measured. Experience can’t be measured. Many animals obviously experience pain. If crabs feel pain what does that say about other creatures’ experiences?   Do animals need a particular set of nerves or brain structures to feel pain? Many animals show surprising levels…

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Intelligent RNAs in the Brain

Alternative RNA splicing and non-coding RNA particles have evolved unusually rapidly. Intelligent RNAs in the brain have fostered rapid human evolution.   A war rages between jumping genes and the protectors of the genome. Epigenetic complexity, including RNA particles, was born fighting the jumping genes. Small RNA…

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Intelligent RNA Small and Large

The best supercomputers cannot calculate each of three superimposed processes  – DNA regulation, protein folding, and alternative RNA splicing. If these are not complex enough, intelligent RNA small and large show even more intricate functioning. The rapid evolution of non-coding RNA particles separates human beings…

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The Origin of Life and Consciousness

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Despite vast research in all scientific areas, the origin of life and consciousness remains unknown. Bottom up molecular theories assume that chemical properties, reactions, and unique environments can explain the origin and evolution of life. Information in cells may need top down, causal explanations. Can life…

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Alternative RNA Splicing in Evolution

There are 20,000 “genes” but more than 100,000 different proteins. Alternative RNA editing is necessary to form the many different patterns. In the fly, one gene has 38,000 alternative patterns. (picture below) In humans, one gene can have 500 alternative patterns. (picture below) Alternative RNA splicing…

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Giant Viruses, Microbe Intelligence and Evolution

Jumping genes and viruses are drivers of evolution.  Bacteria show many cognitive processes.  Bacteria shed unnecessary functions forming symbioses to save energy, or to give energy.   Giant viruses show that viruses could have evolved from bacteria by shedding functions, but still having microbe intelligence….

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Proteins in the Neuron Shape is Function

Despite great difficulties in understanding folding, for proteins in the neuron shape is function. At a billion tries per second, it takes ten billion years to test all protein folding possibilities in an average sized protein. (see post) Improbably, the protein accurately folds in milliseconds. (see post) The…

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Protein Folding in the Neuron

The shape is what determines the functions of proteins, either as a structural element in the neuron, or as an enzyme in reactions. To perform as an enzyme, the protein must have very exact structures, allowing specific molecules to interact with it while encouraging chemical reactions. Somehow the regulatory…

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Brain Electricity and the Mind

When the topic is color a group of neurons oscillate with synchronous beta waves between two brain regions.  When the content changes from color to orientation a different group of neurons have the same synchronous beta waves between two other regions. In this experiment it appears that synchronous waves are…

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Jumping Genes versus Epigenetics: The Real Drivers of Evolution

Jumping genes are strands of DNA that move or copy themselves and jump to new locations. Fifty percent of the human genome consists of copies of jumping genes. Horizontal gene transfer is when strands of DNA (or RNA) in bacteria copy and transmit themselves to other bacteria. Viruses inject strands of DNA (or RNA)…

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Gut Feelings: The Brain-Gut-Microbe Axis

“I’m not sure I agree with that!” “I’ve got a funny feeling in my belly.” “I better watch out!” Theories of consciousness must run through the body. How integrated are the organs of the human body with the embodied mind? Are specific organs, like the heart and the gut, critical to emotions, unconscious…

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The Remarkable Bee Brain

Bees use abstract thought and symbolic language. Bees routinely solve the advanced mathematical problem of the travelling salesman. Bees mix medications for their hive and know when a fungus is dangerous. Bees distinguish landscapes scenes, types of flowers, shapes and patterns. Bees forage for…

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Animals and Microbes: Who Is Influencing Who?

Do we choose our microbes by our behavior? Or do the microbes choose and manipulate us by their behavior? Our own eukaryote cells are the result of two microbes creating a working relationship (our cell and mitochondria). There is increasing evidence that these symbioses could be vital at every step of evolution. This…

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How Does Neuroplasticity Work?

A thought ……. Suddenly, new synapses Learning a fact ……. Suddenly, a new brain cell in the hippocampus Asleep …. … Axons are built, axons are pruned How does the brain know how to do this? How does neuroplasticity work? Previous posts have shown that learning stimulates new brain cells. Mental…

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Neurons and Immune Cells: Working Together to Identify Self and Other

Who is there? Friend or Foe? Are you with me or against me? To determine an “other” we must know who we are. Recent research shows that the two systems that determine a sense of self, that is neurons and immune cells, work much more closely together than previously thought. Neurons use a rapid wired system of…

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Lizards Aren’t Supposed To Be This Smart

The four recently hatched iguanas formed a group and a leader emerged. When walking in single file the leader looks back to check if everyone is there and okay. Now, after several months, they are going to leave the nesting island and swim back to their homeland. The leader swims out first. When all of the others didn’t…

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Are The Plants Listening?

Completely separated from other plants, such that no chemicals signals can reach them, young chili plants still responded to a predator. Young chili plants can sense neighbors, even as seeds and small seedlings and respond by allocating energy differently to stems and roots.  New research shows they sense these…

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Mind and Molecular Genetics in the Neuron 3: Evolution

How does the mind work in an instant through billions of neurons, trillions of synapses, and millions of interacting switches deep inside cells? The regulation of molecular genetic processes has been shown to be vastly more complex than previously thought. What do these new findings imply about the mechanism of brain…

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Mind and Molecular Genetics in the Neuron 2: New Genetic Landscape

Two hundred and fifty thousand cells a second migrating into place in the fetal brain. Finally, a trillion neurons are in place, each attempting to respond. Neurons capturing the incoming flood of sensory data, and those responding survive the pruning. The rest of the 900 billion cells are gone, systematically broken up,…

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Mind and Molecular Genetics in the Neuron: Part 1

A thought occurs! Instantly, the signal goes out, DNA is triggered and coding of RNA begins. Pieces of RNA are brought together and edited. Some large RNAs travel to the ribosome manufacturing proteins for microtubules and actin, transporting sacs holding neurotransmitters, building structures to seamlessly merge sacs with…

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Death of a Bird: Mourning and Advanced Cognition in Birds

Flying overhead the scrub jay sees a comrade is dead. The observant bird continues to fly, but is now agitated and calling loudly enough for birds to hear far away. Others now call out and spread the word. The flock of jaybirds all come to sit near the dead bird, still making a very loud chaotic noise. The large…

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Extraordinary Mental States 5: Spiritual and Religious Experiences

the night is very dark  — no moon  — no clouds  ……. stars are blazingly bright  …….  billions of stars in the milky way are so clear …….. the vastness is incomprehensible ….…… I feel so small ……… am I part of this universe? ……….  now, fear …….. in an instant, I am part of this one…

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Extraordinary Mental States 4: Psychedelics

Psychedelics burst into modern life with the discovery of LSD. The chemical lysergic acid diethyl amide, known as LSD, was discovered in 1938 by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman, working for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, while studying ergotamine, a chemical from grain fungus. Five years later in 1943 Hoffman accidently ingested…

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Extraordinary Mental States III: Body Consciousness and Out of Body Experiences

Lying down, almost asleep… wait… vibrations, tingling …. I’m…I’m separating …. lifting above my body …. floating above my body, …. looking down I see myself lying there …   Who am I? .. I know who I am and I can see my body …. but I’m not in the body…. Are these experiences “real” or…

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Extraordinary Mental States II: Super Talents

Daniel Tammet was asked to memorize the number Pi. As we may remember from school, Pi is an irrational number that is defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter of the circle. It is also related to many other different mathematical equations including those that define “fractals” called…

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Extraordinary Mental States: Overview

Jumping off the cliff …  lift off …  flying …  what a feeling ….weightless…  looking back at my room…  elation, sadness … who is back there … are they following me Suddenly waking up, I realize that it was “just a dream.”  But, at that moment I recognize that the same self-identity, my self,…

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Microbes Made Me Do It! How Smart Are Microbes?

Microbes are everywhere inside and outside of us, vastly outnumbering our own cells.  Their influence on every aspect of life, including our own behavior, is just beginning to dawn on us.  What do they do and how much do they know? Previous posts discussed cognitive processes at the microbe level, such as the ability…

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The Emperor of Cells – How intelligent are Cancer Cells?

Microbes have abilities to make decisions, communicate, and solve problems (See post).  In fact, recently it has been shown that large numbers of microbes in the human body (ten microbes for every human cell) are in constant communication with human cells and provide many functions for normal human life.  These functions…

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New Brain Cells – Many triggers for Neurogenesis

Before we could observe active changes in the neurons of the brain, neuroscientists assumed the brain was either static, with no new cells, or deteriorating, with cells dying as we age. With increasing technology, scientists can now see that this was wrong.  Important parts of the brain continue to make new cells…

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Why are Sponges and Yeast Stupid? Unused Microbe Machinery for Synapses and Oscillations

Despite having most of the genetic machinery to make neurons, synapses and brains, neither yeast nor sponges use these complex molecules for brains. Instead of using these genes all at once to make a synapse, they use each gene for other purposes one at a time.  But, it raises an important question as to why these…

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Dreaming, Deep Sleep, and Waking Consciousness

Are dreams a representation of inner conflicts, of hidden desires, ambitions and fears?  Do they have their own logic? Are they a way that the brain can recalibrate circuits and synapses? Is there a dream world? Dreams have been a source of fascination for thousands of years and are prominent in literature and…

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Meditation and Brain Changes: Recent Research and New Applications

A previous post in March 2012, Meditation and Neuroplasticity, outlined research about meditation causing changes in the brain, including new brain cells, axons, dendrites and synapses.  These studies showed dramatic brain alterations for all of the major traditions of meditation.  A brief summary of that previous…

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Virus Intelligence: Are Viruses Alive and Sentient?

The definition of life is a huge unanswered question. It is obvious that microbes and multicellular organisms are alive.  But when discussing viruses, and prions, the definition becomes vague and inaccurate. Life is often defined as a comparison between animate and inanimate objects. Inanimate objects include rocks…

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Quantum Computers in Biology: Quantum Effects in the Brain and Mind

Mind has strange features and so does the tiny world of atoms. Mind can instantly link to an almost infinite number of different associations.  It can conceptualize the size of the universe at one moment. A second later it hears someone calling, then a moment later empathizes with political unrest thousands of miles…

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Neuronal Signaling, Neuronal Democracy Depends on Individual Neurons – Bees, Microbes and Humans Also Vote

  Source: Todd Fitchette Not all microbes behave the same.  Although they can perform as a group and communicate, each individual microbe responds to stimuli a little differently and is able to act as an individual.  Previous posts have noted the unusual behavior of individual microbes to make decisions,…

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Neuronal Connections and the Mind, The Connectome

In the age of computers and the Internet one of the most appealing theories of how mind is generated from the neurons of the brain is by the computation of large networks of connecting neurons. Olaf Sporns  (Resources) coined the term “connectome;” it refers to the mapping of all neuronal connections. There are many…

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DNA Proofreading, Correcting Mutations during Replication, Cellullar Self Directed Engineering

To pass on the code of life to the next cell, DNA copies itself. This process is called replication.  Much is made of the mutations, or errors in DNA replication. Evolutionary theory relies in part on these mutations to explain the development of the dramatic diversity of nature; however, what is most dramatic about DNA…

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Free Will, Volition, Conscious Choice, and Neuroplasticity – Over Interpretation of Brain Imaging

Free will versus determinism is one of the oldest unsolved philosophical questions.  The question is whether human beings have free will to make independent decisions, or whether decisions are completely pre determined by molecules and material physical forces, including the state of the brain. A person is considered free…

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Microbe Internet, Electrically Wired Together for Energy and Communication

Microbes have demonstrated very complex social relations, between other microbes and other species.  A previous post discussed elaborate chemical communication amongst microbes, including their collaboration in building biofilm cities.  Another post mentions how individual cells are able to form larger structures that…

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Wise Animals: Animal Studies Need to Be In Natural Settings, Not Lab

Previous posts discussed the increased scientific awareness of advanced cognitive abilities in animals both large and small, on land and in water.  Although animals other than humans have many intelligent qualities, can they really think, and do they have a complex inner life? Currently, it is not possible to study the…

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Is the Mitochondrion Still a Microbe? A Mobile Cell Within a Cell Providing Energy, Metabolic Regulation and More

Scientists accept that today’s eukaryotic cells, which form all plants and animals, have parts (organelles) that were originally their own unicellular organism. This theory is called endosymbiosis. For example, one of the eukaryote’s organelles, the mitochondrion, was originally an independent smaller microbe. In fact,…

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The Neuron’s “Brain”: The Remarkable Scaffolding Microtubule, The Cells Engineering Language, The Neuron’s Circuit Board

 The neuron’s stable but ever changing structure is quite remarkable. While maintaining its shape, it performs specialized functions, such as growing long axons to send signals to other cells and growing thousands of dendrites to receive information from other cells. How does the engineering work? Regulation of the…

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Bee Doctors, Medicating the Hive against Dangerous Disease

A previous post discussed how bees can behave intelligently.  Their complex waggle language communicates accurate directions, relative to their hives and the angle of the sun as well as the quality of flowers.  In finding the shortest and most efficient paths between flowers, bees also solve the complex mathematical…

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Suggestion and Neuroplasticity, First Impressions, Gossip, Marketing, Unconscious and Conscious Reactions

In a previous post mind was considered “that part of a person that allows a unified conscious awareness of the world, our bodies, and experiences, including thinking and feeling.” The major legacy of the Freudian era of psychoanalysis is the observation that much of what we consider “mind” is unconscious. …

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Termites, Master Engineers, Skyscraper Mounds, Thermoregulation, Farming, and Insect Intelligence

Previous blogs have described some of the more intelligent abilities of bees and ants. We have seen that bees can solve difficult mathematical problems—for instance, when sizing up the most efficient route to a flower.  Fire ants are able to demonstrate a most remarkable raft structure as well as individual leadership….

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Attention and Neuroplasticity,The Flinch, Unconscious Automatic Pilot, Habit and Conscious Decision

Currently, there is debate whether all events in the mind are predetermined by the brain’s molecular system. Many neuroscientists believe it is so.  Another view is that much of the brain’s operation is unconscious, but there exists a free mind to initiate new activities or inhibit impulses. In this latter view the…

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What is Mind? Brain Oscillations, Synchronous Brain Waves and Consciousness

One of the major current theories of consciousness is that brain oscillations, also called brain waves, correlate with specific mental states.  It is the synchronous waves from different regions, that is, those that are beating at the same rate, that are believed to be important for the connection of different brain…

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Ants, Individual and Colony, Superorganism, Leadership, and Fire Ants

Like bees, ants are often considered to be mindless cogs in a machine—the hive, or colony—that somehow possesses its own intelligence.  This kind of intelligent society of insects has been called a “superorganism;” the internet would probably also qualify for this. Mathematical scientists have looked for…

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Complex Machinery in the Neuron, Vesicle Budding and Fusion, Transcription, and More

The neuron performs an incredible job in maintaining the mechanics of the cell while still being responsible for the transmission of mental function.  Its responsibilities include: building structures to maintain its long axon, building and rebuilding the large number of input receptors on its dendrites, maintaining the…

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The Plant “Brain”: Defense, Avoiding Predators, Attracting Insects, Timed Gene Synthesis

Previous posts, examined possible plant cognitive functions with the Dodder’s parasitism and the complex ability plants have to communicate with other plants and fungi. More impressive are the elaborate abilities of plants to defend themselves. Traps and signals When an animal predator eats the leaves of a plant, some…

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Microbe Communication, Quorum Sensing Behavior, Spreading Resistance, Altruism and More

A previous post shows microbes communicating well enough to form structures and function as a multicellular creature.  Many microbes demonstrate an elaborate language of signals which elicit a wide range of other behaviors. Messages between microbes often take the form of secreted chemicals. One chemical message tells…

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Meditation and Neuroplasticity, Self Directed Neuroplasticity, New Default Mode

The word meditation describes a variety of directed mental activities.  Some define it as a type of concentration, others as a self-study of mental processes, and yet others as a method for transcending ordinary worry and concerns.  Overall, meditation can have mental and physiological effects such as relieving pain,…

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The Emergence of Information – Physical, Biological, Digital and Mental Information

Information is most generally thought of as an ordered sequence of data or symbols that conveys some message or meaning. The branch of mathematics called information theory originally described the transport of small pieces of digital information. That theory has allowed for the development of the modern world of cell…

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Rat Empathy and Brain Evolution

Current theories of the brain’s evolution attempt to correlate mental ability with the evolutionary age and sophistication of its structures. The older and more primitive the structure, the less emotional and cognitive abilities should be present. However, recent studies are shaking the brain-behavioral evolutionary…

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The Rapidly Changing Neuron – Axons, Dendrites, Synapses, Decision-making and More

Previous posts discuss how the new science of neuroplasticity replaced the former, static model of the brain.  But, research is just now uncovering the inner workings of the incredibly active neuron. Repairing A Very Long Wire If we consider relative size, a human cell is smaller in comparison to a human, than a human…

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Bee intelligence, Bee waggle democracy, Bee Individuals and More

Certain large-brained animals – whales, dolphins, and chimpanzees, for example—as well as smaller brained crows have shown themselves to possess unusual intelligence with abilities to solve complex problems and use tools.  But what about insects?  Could these tiny-brained creatures also possess a similar kind of…

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Quantum Weirdness in Life, Quantum Biology

Quantum mechanics is a successful and accurate description of nature at the microcosmic level.  Its existence allows for the development of lasers, transistors and virtually all of our high tech gadgets. Because it does not permit a direct cause and effect determination of exactly what will happen, rather being based…

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New Sense Stimulates New Species, Attention stimulates Neurons

It is not clear how the African electric fish developed a sensory organ to send out electric signals to study the environment, much like the sonar of bats.  But recently, studies of the evolution of these fish showed that, as their need to send and receive electrical information increased, the brain centers needed to use…

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What is the Mind? 5 Theoretical Possibilities

Possible Location of Mind image

Mind is usually considered that part of a person that allows a unified conscious awareness of the world, our bodies, and experiences, including thinking and feeling. Since mind seems to depend upon molecular activity in cells and in brain circuits, scientists generally assume that mind is created by, or emerges from the…

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Mind and Brain: The Limits of the Senses, Top Down Control of Perception

In a now-famous experiment, people are told to carefully look for and count certain details of a performance.  During the performance, a man in a gorilla suit walks across the stage, bows, and walks off.  Almost no one sees it.  Why?  Because it wasn’t one of the details they were told to look for and they didn’t…

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Communication among Plants and with Other Species

Plants, while not generally thought of as being intelligent, do exhibit problem solving, planning, communication, and defensive behavior.  Plants actively search for nutrients and for sunlight. They move their leaves and stems in response to light and can change in which direction they grow in response to different…

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Brains at Sea, Whale Cooperation & Culture, Dolphin Social Relations with Fishermen, Octopi & Fish Using Tools