Ever find a thought somehow gets lost in the noise? Our neurons suffer from noise effects when transmitting data.
Addressing a current issue in neuroscience, Aldo Faisal and Simon Laughlin from Cambridge University investigate the reliability of thin axons for transmitting information. They show that noise effects in ion channels in the brain are much larger than previously assumed – meaning the fidelity of transmission is compromised.
Neurons in the cerebral cortex of the brain can have a wiring density of up to 4km per mm3 by using incredibly thin axons as wires, with an average diameter of 0.3 micrometers (1ìm is one millionth of a meter). Although, as in computer chips, this miniaturization economizes on space and energy, it increases the noise introduced by thermodynamic fluctuations in a neuron's voltage-gated ion channels. Axons use action potential (AP) to transmit information fast and reliably to synapses, but the reliability of transmissions down fibers of less than 0.5 ìm in diameter was unknown until this paper.
The human brain is a pretty flawed instrument. Those who claim that human bodies must be the product of an intelligent designer obviously aren't looking at the human body from an engineering perspective. The deficiencies of the structure and function of the human body seem obvious though.
Looking forward a future generation of transhumans will gain many advantages over humans. Those advantages will come from intelligent design done by humans to improve our brains with better designs of brain components.
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|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 May 03 10:54 PM Brain Performance|