The Extraordinary Operation of Our Brain and its Neurons
Have you ever wondered how our brain works, and how it transmits messages that become thoughts and actions? The neurons in your brain constantly engage with each other. We have about a hundred billion neurons in our brain that swap information with hundreds of thousands of others. Talking about such large numbers, we can assume there’s big work going on in the background to create our thoughts.
All your senses, emotions, thoughts, associations, and body movements can happen thanks to electricity. To produce our thoughts, our cells have to communicate with one another. But how do your cells solve that between two far-away parts in your body? By using certain chemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. You can even learn to regulate these chemicals in your brain for its most optimal functioning.
How Our Nerve Cells Communicate
So when you feel various sensations, like butterflies in your stomach, or some kind of craving, or addiction that is hard to resist, it is caused by a chemical release in your blood, which is distributed by diffusion. But the only problem with this is that it could be quite slow. That’s where your nerve cells step in, by enabling swift communication between various body parts. Nerve cells can do so by either stretching out to reach each other, so they can transmit signals easier.
This is only the beginning of the problem’s solution since it is not enough for your cells to reach each other. They also have to deliver the signal from one cell to the other. How? By using electricity. There are about 60 km-s of neurons in your body, communicating via small electrical pulses between one another. But it is quite different from the domestic electricity we use in our homes. This is more of a biological kind of electricity.
Electricity Is Linked to Movement in Our Body
It was a fascinating discovery that the movement of our body is strongly connected to electricity. It has been found in various animal species, not only in humans. Living things were first associated with some kind of electrical fluid that enabled the movement of our bodies. The first battery was also created based on the same principle, only using metals to connect and transfer electrical current. So this phenomenon is the foundation of our modern neuroscience.
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash
So there are two types of electricity which could fire our nerves. Outside electricity, for instance from batteries. But our bioelectricity stems from the inside of our body, coming from our nerves. How come we have electricity within our bodies? It all boils down to our neurons or nerve cells, the fundamental units of our brain and nervous system.
How Our Nerve Cells Work
These cells are in charge of receiving sensory input from the external world, sending motor commands to our muscles, and transforming the electrical signals each step along the way. We have many kinds of neurons but they are built up similarly. The cell body is in the center with the nucleus inside, surrounded by the dendrites which help neurons receive information from other neurons.
When a cell reaches out to connect with another, it does so through the so-called axon. The axon is like a wire that sends the signal to the receiving end, the synapse, where the sending neuron can pass its signal to the receiving neuron. But neurons don’t exist in vegetation or other living things. Only in humans and animals. Almost all animals have neurons.
Our old brain parts are responsible for our emotions, and memories. They control some important body functions, like our heart rate and breathing. They also connect with the cortex, our new brain. The cortex filters our outside world, and allows our senses and thinking to work. About two-thirds of all of our neurons operate in our cortex. Our brain forms a network of our neurons in form of a neural forest. Neurons connect through a gap, the synapse.
So several processes follow each other when an electrical zap is followed by chemical changes, which is followed by another electrical zap. This is the foundation of our brain activity, and the neurons in our brain communicate with one another like this. This is the reason why our brain is so complex and should be observed more. Imagine a hundred billion neurons in your brain communicating with hundreds of thousands of others!
Of course, our human brain become complex and one of a kind! Interestingly, neurons are not very bright on their own, but when the hundred billions of them work together, miracles can happen! To give you a hint, when you are brainstorming, your neurons are interacting highly. The key is in interaction, as always.