Monday, May 14, 2012

"Know Your Neurons: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron" (SciAm)

LINK----> Know Your Neurons: The Discovery and Naming of the Neuron

This caught my eye today, by Ferris Jabr ( @ferrisjabr ). 

The third paragraph:
"Only recently, however, have I begun to recognize and appreciate the extraordinary diversity of cells in the nervous system—cells that differ from one another more than the cells of any other organ. Some neurons send electrical signals along fibers that stretch several feet; other neurons’ branches extend only a few millimeters away from the cell body. Some neurons possess a fractal beauty similar to that of ferns and corals: Purkinje cells, for example, often sport finely branched nets, like a sea fan. But some of their neighbors look more like tangled tumbleweeds. One neuron might appear more or less round under the microscope—like a firework frozen in climax—whereas another might spider through the brain like a daddy longlegs. Neurons not only differ in shape—different types of neurons turn on different sets of genes and not all neurons use the same chemicals to communicate. Excitatory neurons mostly stimulate other cells; inhibitory neurons prefer to stifle. Most neurons fire in patterns, but their tempos vary: some keep a steady beat, others remain largely silent except for the occasional burst of activity and still other cells continually fire like a trigger-happy toddler playing laser tag. To summarize: not all neurons are exactly alike. The brain contains multitudes."

I think that paragraph is just beautiful.  

No comments: