Google and Harvard's brain map reveals clues about the neural cell networks that store memories, dreams and trauma.

Google and Harvard's brain map reveals clues about the neural cell networks that store memories, dreams and trauma.

For the last 100 years, the scientific research has very slowly evolved that seeks to understand how our brains manage our bodily functions, and how memories, dreams, and trauma are stored.

This month awe-inspiring new research was published where Google scientists, in collaboration with a Harvard University Laboratory, have mapped a single cubic millimetre of the human brain cortex in unprecedented detail.

The photo (above) displays closely packed brain cells (neurons), each with large bases and extending long, delicate tails. These neurons are rendered in a spectrum of colours—blue, yellow, and green—each colour signifying the size and type of neurone. The mapping of this image in 3D (5000 slices) includes about 57,000 brain cells (neurons) and 150,000,000 connections (synapses), encapsulating a vast network of neuronal connections within just one millimetre. This visualisation represents a significant scientific milestone! 

Each human brain cell seems to connect to about 2000 other cells. Understanding these connections and structures will help us decipher the mechanisms of memory formation within neural networks. The arrangement and interaction of synapses suggest a complex framework where memories are formed, modified, and sometimes reinforced. 

This study will also shed light on the physical adjustments to neural networks that occur during REM sleep, the phase of sleep associated with the consolidation and pruning of yesterday’s memories to free up space for tomorrow. 

In about 20 years we’ll likely develop 'nano scanners' that will be able to see in living humans how these networks of cellular connections in our brain vary as our brains develop and age. We’ll soon be able to photograph ‘intelligence’ in growing teenagers, see what happens to our memory networks as our diets of nutrients and chemicals vary, get a holistic view as to how stimulants and sedatives switch neural networks on and off, and actually see the brain structures that exist with psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases that cause insomnia, depression, dementia, and memory loss. 

We live in amazing times, Ladies and Gentlemen!
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