Most people are born with approximately 40 billion brain cells called neurons. While most other cells in the body replace themselves, neurons do not. Those of us that make it to a ripe old age will have fewer brain cells than when we were first born.
If the brain was just made up of neurons, it would look very stringy and fibrous, but it doesn’t look that way. In fact, it has a somewhat thick gelatinous texture to it. That texture is due to another type of brain cells known as glia cells. Glia comes from the Greek word for glue as these cells literally glue the neurons together. Besides gluing the neurons together, the glia cells also help to protect them and hold the brain’s shape.
A number of studies and research projects over the past few years have revealed that glia cells do a lot more than just hold and protect the neurons. One of the latest studies conducted by Maruizio De Pittà, a doctoral student from Tel Aviv University demonstrated that glia cells are key to how the brain adapts, learns and stores information. De Pittà says:
Glia cells are like the brain’s supervisors. By regulating the synapses, they control the transfer of information between neurons, affecting how the brain processes information and learns.
De Pittà suggested that the glia cells gave the brain a plasticity that allows it to adapt to different stimuli in the same locations, thus helping to dictate the ability to learn and memorize things. His colleagues suggested that the glia cells were even more central to the overall processing ability of the brain. In areas of the brain that are more involved in controlling the brain’s ability to process information such as the cortex and hippocampus, there are up to five glia cells for every neuron.
De Pittà’s professor, Dr. Ben-Jacob described the brain as a social network where the messages or input starts with the neurons but then is regulated and directed by the glia cells. As a signal reaches the synapse between neurons, the glia cells will either allow the message to be sent on or will delay sending the signal and in some cases, block it altogether. If certain synapses become too overactive, the neighboring glia cells will either re-direct or slow the signal down so as not to add to the load.
In the case of an epileptic seizure, the neurons in a specific area become overactive and the glia cells associated with them fail to properly regulate those signals. On the converse, the glia cells help to keep neurons alert and ready when there is little brain activity occurring in the area. Without the glia cells, you would not be able to do a number of tasks that are vital for day-to-day living.
De Pittà and his colleagues have designed a computer simulation of how the glia cells function in order to better understand their role and possibly help others to develop ways to cure various brain disorders such as epilepsy.
I love to read reports like this that talk about good science being conducted without any mention of evolution. It was science for science’s sake.
I also love to read reports like this as they continue to demonstrate the complexity of God’s creation. The wonder of discovering that one cell not only serves to hold and protect other cells, but actually processes and regulates the flow and storage of information, that can only be seen as a testimony to the infinite wisdom the Master Designer.
Brain’s Connective Cells Are Much More Than Glue: Glia Cells Also Regulate Learning and Memory, Science Daily, Dec 29, 2011.
When does life begin?
Take a journey from conception to birth with Dr. David Menton, former professor of anatomy at the prestigious Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Menton provides both a biblical and scientific answer to the question of when life begins.
Taken from one of Dr. Menton’s lectures, this video will reveal the wondrous design of the womb along with the numerous miracles involved along every step of the development of the unborn child.
Following the tragic starvation induced death of Terry Schiavo, Dr. Menton clearly shows the value and sanctity of human life.
With grace and sensitivity Dr. Menton concludes with a salvation message and explanation of the second birth process as described in John 3.