Brain Cells on the March
(Click pic for vid if you are reading this on Facebook.)
Doug’s little brain just got blown by a cool article on recent discoveries in neurology on the Neurophilosophy blog: New cells in the adult brain migrate long distances by crawling along blood vessels.
For most of my life it was the scientific concensus that no new neurons grew in the adult brain, that once you hit a certain age the number of your neurons dwindled inexorably over time.
That was disproven over a decade ago and new research is showing that mature brains are a hive of regrowth and rewiring – neuroplasticity.
I am fascinated by the brain, partly because I am hostage to its malfunctions but partly because there is no more interesting subject (there’s tautology for ya!). I picked up a well-reviewed book last year called The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, about current researchers in the field of neuroplasticity. It’s full of stories about people who learn to see with their skin and to balance with their tongue.
The female lead of Hel’s Bet, Heloise Chin, is fascinated with the neuroplasticity of her own brain. I bought Doidge’s book primarily for researching Hel’s Bet.
I just got a new pain doctor, Dr. Brendel, who, coincidentally had just seen Doidge give a presentation at a pain conference. Dr. Brendel was jazzed when he found out I’d read Doidge’s book because he wants to use neuroplasticity in his pain treatment. He told me that most patients want a pill – I want as few new therapeutic chemicals added to my current epliepsy/pain mix as possible.
The basic principle of neuroplasticity is that neurons that fire together wire together. So we are trying to wire pleasurable sensations into my experience of pain. We are starting with the smell of balsam pine needles and the fur of my pooches.
I’ll talk about how I am attacking my pain with neuroplasticity-inducing exercises in another post.
I wanted to share this cool video of newborn baby neurons marching off to their new jobs through the brain’s blood vessels. It’s a hopeful image for me. I see potential healing of my own brain.
Science is awesome. The more I learn, the more wonderful the universe becomes, full of miracles that can be understood and studied in depth.
(My blog just got a ton of referred traffic from http://alphainventions.com, which is some sort of blog merry-go-round that an indie webdev cooked up.)