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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

ANOTHER ONE CHOICE   HANDS

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Neuroplasticity: Mind & Culture Changing the Human Brain

Brain Activity

For many years, it was thought that new brain cells could not develop in adulthood and that the connections between nerves were fairly static after childhood.  This was primarily because it wasn’t possible to see the microscopic details of changes that occurred inside and between neurons.  Also, since many…

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Human Brain and Mind

The most logical and intuitive place to seek the mind is in the human brain.   Neuroscience can observe the workings of perception, memory, thinking, and emotions by using imaging devices to see which sections of the brain light up while it’s performing different functions. Do Imaging Devices tell us about Subjective…

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