What Do Single Neurons Know

B0006918 Retinal ganglion cell

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…

Synchronizing with Brain Clocks

B0005622 Enhanced MRI scan of the head

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…

Individual Cell Clocks and Immunity

B0004150 Mast cell showing histamine granules

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…

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…

Each Cell Has s Clock

PD circadian picture

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…

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…

Pain from Cells that Are Not Neurons

High resolution concept or conceptual 3d human male or man anato

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…

Update on Microbes Affecting the Brain

B0004798 Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, close-up

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…

The Science of Mind Wandering

Back In Nature

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…

Brain Receptors Just Got Even More Complex

B0007683 Ion channels

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…

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…

Intelligent Cellular Self Eating and Recycling

B0004343 Organelles in a pancreas cell

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…

Intelligent Lysosomes Are More than A Waste Disposal

B0004611 Phagocytic vesicle and lysosomes inside a macrophage

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,…

Update on Traumatic Brain Injury and Inflammation

2D Mri Brain Image with 6mm Pituitary Tumor

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…

Does Maternal Immune Response Cause Psychiatric Disease in Child

C0021943 Foetus in womb

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…

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…

Epigenetic Signals Regulate New Brain Cells

B0007285 Human 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…

The Powerful Immune Synapse

B0010532 Killer T-cell immune synapse, 3D-SIM

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…

Guardians of the Blood Brain Barrier

B0003405 Capillary with red blood cells

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…

Viruses evade DNA RNA Sensors

N0013888 HIV virus budding from T lymphocyte

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….

Neurons and Immune Cells Talking at Barrier Regions

B0003777 Villus from the human duodenum

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…

Short Chain Fatty Acids From Fiber As Critical Signals

W0030903 Cereals and legumes

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…

Hippocampus Brain Wave Signals

Lights Of Human Mind

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…

Vast Complexity of Immune Micro RNA Signals

PD     MiR-155_secondary_structure

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…

Vital Immune Communication with Peptides

colorful peptide

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…

Where is Subjective Experience in the Brain?

Brain - 3D illustration.

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…

Membrane Lipids Direct Proteins and Proteins Direct Lipids

N0019830 Endocytosis

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…

Psychiatric Illness and microRNA

B0003352 People with DNA fingerprints - artwork

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…

Extra Cellular Vesicles in the Brain

B0008197 Vesicle transport at the golgi apparatus

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…

Regulation of Brain Energy

Lights Of Human Mind

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…

Why is There No Cure For Huntington’s

Human Genome

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…

Mysterious Pre Synaptic Vesicles

B0004227 Synapse showing neurotransmitter 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…

Jumping Genes Regulation of the Brain

Molecular Colors

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…

How Do Dendrites Make Decisions

B0005209 Embryonic nerves growing into the developing limb

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…

How Human Brains are Built

B0001014 Foetal MRI scan

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…

Myelin Facilitation of Whole Brain Neuroplasticity

B0005970 Myelinated nerve fibres

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…

Intelligent Microbes Attack Organelles

B0008190 Organelles in spiral ganglion neuron

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…

The Role of Tau in Brain Function and Dementia

PD   Tau protein

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…

How Does Diet Influence Immunity

B0009442 Collage of mixed fruits and vegetables, MRI

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…

Insulin Resistance and Brain Disease

B0005622 Enhanced MRI scan of the head

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…

A New Way To Image Cells with Vibrational Spectroscopy

B0005858 Sound waves

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…

Are Microtubules the Brain of the Neuron

PD firbroblast microtubule green actin red

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…

What Do Infants Know


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…

Does Abnormal Amyloid Cause Alzheimer’s

B0003253 Brain falling apart - artwork
Credit: Heidi Cartwright. Wellcome Images
Photograph of the superior aspect of a human brain
manipulated to represent the brain falling to
Photograph - digitally modified
2000 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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…

Limitations of Genetic Research in Psychiatric Illness

Human Genome

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…

Limitations of MRIs for Understanding Behavior

B0005622 Enhanced MRI scan of the head

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…

Stress Causes Many Kinds of Neuroplasticity

Concept of stress with businessman with a rock on the head

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…

Progress and Problems in Brain Mapping

WC   Nerve_fibres_in_a_healthy_adult_human_brain,_MRI_larger

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,…

Unique Type of Neuroplasticity With Stress

B0003484 Migraine - illustration
Credit: Adrian Cousins. Wellcome Images
Computer artwork illustrating migraine.
Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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…

Reciprocal Relationship of Depression and Inflammation

B0003385 Depression- bad apple theory - illustration Credit: Adrian Cousins. Wellcome Images Computer-generated illustration showing the bad apple view of depression. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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…

Convergent Evolution of Intelligence

PD Geological_time_spiral

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….

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…

Vast Complexity of Dendrite Function

Dendrites FEATURE

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…

Fantastic Astrocyte Diversity

B0002342 Actin (red) in astrocyte cytoskeleton
Credit: C.Merrifield & M.Duchen. Wellcome Images
Rat basophilic leukaemia cell, showing the network
of actin filaments (red) that form part of the
cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton is directly
responsible for such movements as the crawling of
cells on a surface, muscle contraction, and the
many changes in shape of developing vertebrate
cells. The image was taken using a Zeiss LSM 510
Confocal Microscope.
Confocal micrograph
Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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…

Time Cells Organize Memory

FEATURE TIME   Stock_000017987518Small

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…

Placebo Affects In the Brain

PD Placebo pills

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…

Vast Complexity of Alternative Splicing in Neurons

PD   FEATURE    Alternativ_splicing

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…

Pleasure Circuits in the Brain

shutterstock_179204051  leafy brain meditation

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…

Maintaining Neuronal Identity

B0006918 Retinal ganglion cell
Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images
An isolated retinal ganglion cell. This is a type of neuron typically located near the inner surface of the retina of the eye that receives visual information from photoreceptors via two intermediate neuron types. Retinal ganglion cells collectively transmit visual information from the retina to several regions in the thalamus, hypothalamus, and midbrain. They vary significantly in terms of their size, connections, and responses to visual stimulation but they all share the defining property of having a long axon that extends into the brain. These axons form the optic nerve, optic chiasm, and optic tract.
Scanning electron micrograph
2008 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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…

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…

No Brain Mapping Without Glia

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

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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

New Neurons in Adult Brains Remodel Memory

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

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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

Neuronal Signals in Inflammation and Cancer

B0006255 Human colon cancer cells
Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images
Colour-enhanced image of human colon cancer cells in culture.
Scanning electron micrograph
2006 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

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….

How Does Expectation Affect Perception

FEATURE PERCEPTION  Stock_000025237954Small

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…

Vast Complexity of Chromatin 3D Shapes

B0003529 Chondrocyte showing organelles - coloured

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…

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

N0021139 Illustration; the pathology of Alzheimer's Disease

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…

Intelligent Cells Know Their Place

B0009505 Cell fates in zebrafish retina, acrylic painting

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…

Virus Tricks Manipulate the Cytoskeleton

B0001397 Stress fibres, focal adhesions & lamellae

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…

Electric DNA and Mind

Molecular Colors

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…

Transmission of Mis Folded Proteins in Brain Disease

WC   Nerve_fibres_in_a_healthy_adult_human_brain,_MRI_larger

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….

Fantastic Complexity in Brain Potassium Channels

B0007683 Ion 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…

Cannabinoids in Inflammation and the Aging Brain

FEATURE    shutterstock_179204051  leafy brain meditation

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…

The Very Intelligent Protein mTOR

FEATURE   Protein molecule for Complex Neuron Machinery

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…

Endocannabinoids Critical for Brain Function

Back In Nature

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…

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Signaling in the Brain

N0019835 Cell membrane with different receptor types

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,…

Vocal Learning Similarities in Songbirds and Humans

Artistic Birds

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…

Complexity of the Glia Neuromuscular Junction

B0004108 Poly-innervated neuromuscular junctions

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)….

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…

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,…

Does Cognitive Ability Improve In Old Age

AS0000186F02 Elderly lady, portrait

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…

The Enormous Complexity of Transport Along the Axon

B0006918 Retinal ganglion cell

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…

Where Prejudice and Stereotypes Reside in the Brain

Collection Of Happy Multi-Ethnic People

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…

Does Activity Determine Synaptic Creation and Pruning

B0006223 Neurons in culture

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…

How Many Different Kinds of Neurons Are There

B0009505 Cell fates in zebrafish retina, acrylic painting

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…

Versatile Lipoproteins in Healthy Brains and Alzheimers

N0019835 Cell membrane with different receptor types

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,…

Amazing Complexity of Cellular Membranes

N0019830 Endocytosis

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…

The Remarkable Language of Cells

B0003526 Cells in the cerebellum

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…

The Fantastic Array of Neuroplasticity Mechanisms

B0006224 Purkinje cells in the cerebellum

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…

The Complexity of the Frontal Lobes

B0005622 Enhanced MRI scan of the head

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…

Inflammation and Dementia

B0003253 Brain falling apart - artwork

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…

Electrical Fields Guiding 3D Shape of Cells and Organs

B0004955 Foot showing the surrounding electromagnetic field

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?…

Meditation and Brain Update 2014

Control Emotions.

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…

The Five Secrets of Brain Health

Istock FEATURE MEDITATION 2013 DidjMeditation-Warp

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…

New Complexity in Human Evolution Story

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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…

Social Touch Brain Pathways

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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…

Breathing Alters Perception

From Electron

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…

Can Neuroscience Improve Education

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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…

Astrocyte Calcium Signaling Leads to More Brain Complexity

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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…

Complex Migration of Leukocytes

B0004153 White blood cell - polymorphonuclear leucocyte

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…

Unique Gyrification of the Human Brain

B0005749 Human brain from above

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….

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…

Music Stimulates Emotions Through Specific Brain Circuits

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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,…

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…

Dynamic Relationship of Mitochondria and Neurons

B0003652 Mitochondrion (blue) surrounded by cytoplasm

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…

Intelligent Mitochondria Communication with Neurons

B0003650 Three mitochondria surrounded by cytoplasm

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…

Vesicles Transport Information

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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…

The Many Ways Neurons Repair Their Own DNA

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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….

Are Microglia the Most Intelligent Brain Cells

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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…

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…

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…

Extra Cellular Matrix Is Critical to Neuroplasticity

The Grid

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…

Intelligent T Cells

1024px -Healthy_Human_T_Cell

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…

Immune T Cells Are Critical for Cognitive Function

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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…

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….

Brain and Immunity Fight Internal and External Foes Together

Immunity Against Diseases

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…

Dual Function Molecules for Brain and Immunity

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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…

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…

Mirror Neurons

Leadership with education

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…

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…

The Limits of Current Neuroscience

MRI Image Of Head Showing Brain

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…

The Life of A Thought in the Brain

Spark of Genius

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…

Another Form of Neuroplasticity by Switching Glutamate NMDA Subunits

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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…

New YouTube Video Introduction to Neuroplasticity

Spark of Genius

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…

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…

Extraordinary Mental States Interview

Molecular Thoughts

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….

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

Glow of Fractal Dreams

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…

Meditation and the Brain 2013

Istock FEATURE MEDITATION 2013 DidjMeditation-Warp

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…

Human Cells and Viruses SUMO Wrestling

Bacteriophage T4 virus group #1

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….

Non Immune Cells Also Combat Microbes

Сell structure

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…

Q and A on Austin Radio

kids listening to 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…

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…

Complexity in Searching for the Neural Code

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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…

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…

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…

Astrocytes Control Synapse Function

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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)….

Feelings and the Sense of Time in the Brain

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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…

Feelings and Body Maps in the Brain

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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…

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…

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

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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…

Brain Evolution

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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…

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


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

Music Training and Neuroplasticity

Musical mind

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…

Music and the Brain

Data Flow XXL Series

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,…

What Is Music

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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…

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…

Intelligent RNA Small and Large

Protein molecule for Complex Neuron Machinery

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…

Alternative RNA Splicing in Evolution

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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…

Proteins in the Neuron Shape is Function

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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…

Protein Folding in the Neuron

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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…

Brain Electricity and the Mind

Spark of Genius

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…

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)…

How Does Neuroplasticity Work?

Human brain glowing lateral view

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…

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

Two-faced head statue, blue and gold

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…

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,…

Mind and Molecular Genetics in the Neuron: Part 1

Neuron green nucleus

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…

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…

The Emperor of Cells – How intelligent are Cancer Cells?

B0006629 Prostate 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…

New Brain Cells – Many triggers for Neurogenesis

Molecular Thoughts

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…

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…

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,…

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

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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,…

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

Microtubule first

 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…

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

Protein molecule for Complex Neuron Machinery

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…

Meditation and Neuroplasticity, Self Directed Neuroplasticity, New Default Mode

Meditation and Brain

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,…

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…

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…

A Cell Becomes a Neuron


Once upon a time, possibly 600 million years ago, a cell became a neuron. Microbial Mysteries Today’s single-celled microbes have capacities that resemble some of the functions of brains, as previous posts have shown. Microbes communicate in groups to make decisions and join with other cells, as if they were part of a…