Imagine standing in a football stadium packed with 100,000 screaming fans. Now imagine what it would be like to try to make yourself heard by a friend on the other side of the stadium. How would you go about selecting a method of communication to accomplish this? If you think it would be difficult communicating in a crowd of 100,000, now imagine what it would be like in a crowd of billions.
At any given moment, there are thousands of neurons in your brain that are trying to get their messages heard by other neurons amongst a throng of billions. Just how they are able to effectively communicate and get their messages through to the right sources is the subject of researchers from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Comprised as a joint project between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, the Center researchers have discovered that the neurons in the brain have two different methods of communicating with the other neurons.
The neurons in our brains communicate using electrical impulses known as action potentials or spikes. These action potentials carry a code which is passed on to other neurons. The method used to pass this code was the subject of their study.
According to Dr. Nathan Urban, the Dr. Frederick A. Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences and head of the Life Sciences Department of Biological Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University:
Neurons face a universal communications conundrum. They can speak together and be heard far and wide, or they can speak individually and say more. Both are important. We wanted to find out how neurons choose between these strategies.
Dr. Urban and his team studied the mitral cell neurons found in the olfactory bulb. This part of the brain is responsible for processing signals from the nose that give us the ability to smell. They found that in some instances, the neurons took only a few milliseconds to convey their messages. In these situations numerous neurons were simultaneously conveying similar information. Dr. Urban equated it to a crowd at a sporting event that was chanting the same thing so that their collective message is readily heard and understood.
This joint communication is effective for simple messages but not for more complex messages that contained more detailed information. For those types of messages, they found that the neurons took up to a full second to convey their message. This longer communication resulted in a stronger spike that would tend to inhibit weaker signals from other neurons. In these instances Dr. Urban compared it to a room full of people where each person spoke in turn so that everyone was individually heard.
The researchers concluded that the neurons determined their method of communication based upon the simplicity or complexity of the information to be conveyed. The more detailed and complex the information the longer and stronger the action potential of the individual neuron signal. Dr. Urban and his team discovered that even the individual neurons in the brain have a decision making process built into them, providing more evidence of the uniqueness of the brain’s design.
The human brain is a marvel of creation. No computer has yet been built that can match the full ability of the brain. Not only does the brain simultaneously control all of the body’s functions and responses, it also has the ability to receive, process and respond to external stimuli, in other words, the brain has the ability to think and reason to a myriad of circumstances. It also has the ability to create such aesthetic things as music, artwork and poetry. More amazing is that is accomplishes all of these processes in the small confines of the human skull and at an operating temperature that would fry most computers.
Compare this to IBM’s Watson supercomputer recently featured on the popular game show Jeopardy. Watson was the culmination of years of intense research conducted by numerous individuals. A computer system designed to respond as Watson did was so large that it was housed in a large room that had to be artificially cooled. Even then, Watson was only designed to interpret a query and respond with what it computed as being the best response. It wasn’t designed to simultaneously control and maintain numerous complex systems nor was it given the ability to create abstract ideas such as artwork, music, poetry, etc.
Consider for a moment the amount of intelligence that went into the designing, building and programming of IBM’s Watson computer. Then try to comprehend that the brain, which is far more complex and multifunctional, is suppose to be the result of random chance evolution. It should be obvious that this does not compute no matter how you program it.
The only possible explanation for the formation of the human brain is that it had to be the work of a far greater intelligence than man. That leaves only one possible conclusion which is the omniscient Creator God of the Bible.
13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-15
Neurons Ask ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’, Red Orbit News, March 27, 2011.