Cellular or Celestial?

Cellular or Celestial? A tapestry of stars, like “the heavens’ embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light”, astrocytes tile the entire central nervous system in a continuous and essentially non-overlapping manner that is orderly and well organized. A single astrocyte may contact 100,000 synapses!

Astrocytes regulate blood flow to neurons, release gliotransmitters and signal one another through calcium waves.

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19 Responses to Cellular or Celestial?

  1. RJ Matlock says:


    Amazing…could be lava ejection from earth….question (?) who’s brain do they get these scans from ?


  2. I think that eventually software could replicate this. Or even hardware with enough effort.

  3. Rajini Rao says:


    RJ Matlock , this is almost certainly from rat or mouse brain. Hard to get human volunteers, for some reason 😉

  4. Rajini Rao says:


    Patrick Smith , “One estimate puts the human brain at about 100 billion (10^11) neurons and 100 trillion (10^14) synapses.” Then there are about 5-10x more astrocytes than neurons, making even more extensive connections, modifying synaptic strength and adapting to changes. It would be impossible to replicate the permutations and combinations of all the contacts, IMO 🙂


  5. It would seem to be impossible, but you don’t have to replicate the synapses, just the neurons with similar properties to the real ones so that all those artificial synapses and astrocytes would be created. Of course, biology does it better than we could do. For now… However, evolution is messy with lots of inefficiencies which an intentionally created system could possibly improve upon. Who would have guessed that I would be carrying more computing power in my phone than NASA used to get to the moon? I do agree that for now, it is impossible.

  6. Matt Kuenzel says:


    It will be interesting when and if the computational or learning-related function of astrocytes is discovered.

  7. Rajini Rao says:


    Messy and convoluted, for sure Patrick Smith ! We may be better off designing machine logic and cognition from scratch. We have not considered the integration of the brain with all our other physiological functions, though…to the gastrointestinal tract, hormones, senses, and so on. Still seems unbelievably complex to me, given that neuroscience has barely scratched the surface of the brain.


  8. Beautiful image, Rajini. “Marbles of the dancing floor/Break bitter furies of complexity,/Those images that yet/Fresh images beget,/That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.”


  9. Yes, the whole Ai thing is a bit strange to me. Do we really want to imitate the human brain in a computer? It would be impossible because like you said, there are hormones, etc. Even a human brain grown from scratch from human DNA in saline solution and hooked up to some sort of IO device, would not really be human as we know it. There are no senses etc. So a machine, no matter how close we could get it to a human brain would not be human, though we may consider it to be intelligent life.


    Of course we may engineer our DNA and turn ourselves into a new species before that happens!

  10. Mary Rose says:


    I am creating a program entitled: Moving Into: TOTAL WELLNESS which will explore wellness from a scientific ‘new biology’ perspective and am hoping to make this into a syndicated series for distribution with an alternative TV channel owner i am connected with. To have photographs like these to add to the videos in some of the segments would be an incredible addition to the research science i want to reveal as we explore how the human body manifests consciousness. Would you be interested in working on this with me to provide some photos when appropriate? I am in the San Diego area and would like to connect with you. Am associated with some very high profile research scientists who will be working with me on this project. If interested, please connect with me via e-mail dustysummerrose@gmail.com.

  11. Haresh Bhatt says:


    There is so much beauty in what nature has designed. I wonder weather Francis Crick’s vision of NCC will ever be realized.( http://www.klab.caltech.edu/~koch/Elsevier-NCC.html)

  12. david olick says:


    Simulation of a brain would likely be very difficult. Creating software that has intelligence is a different story. We will most likely model our first attempts at this by examining how our brains do it and try to mimic it the best we can.


    Creating computers that are more intelligent than humans is inevitable. The biggest problem in my mind is not if we have enough processing power, but if we can develop algorithms to do things efficiently and accurately. Vision is one of those deceivingly complex areas for we analyze what we see very very well. Object recognition in particular comes to mind as it is extremely hard and still quite in its infancy. It’s hard for me to see things every day and realize that if I was a computer it would be difficult to understand 99% of the objects around me.


    The funny thing to me is that when we do develop computers that can think/reason as well as we do, they will be much better at quite a few things we are horrible at. Math, physics, communication, and learning are four easy examples. Numbers and calculations that take us time to write out and reason they will have an extremely accurate answer to instantly. They’d be able to communicate large ideas between themselves quite accurately, at huge distances, and be able to respond all within a second. Learning would likely take maybe a minute (if not instantly) instead of years like us 🙂


    I don’t mean to ramble, but I’m excited about what’s coming and the developments in these areas.

  13. Rajini Rao says:


    That was an awesome ramble, david olick 🙂 It’s the higher order cognition that will be a challenge to model. For example, we weigh risk against reward differently for different situations, often to serendipitous results..could we tune machine behavior similarly.

  14. Ravi Teja says:


    Quite sure, Evolution has humans covered. There’s basically a feel-free-to-try-and-replicate-my-design attitude, from Nature towards humans.


    But, It should also be taken into consideration that, even a 70-80 percent successful replication rate, will provide more than infinite stuff to learn and explore.


    Well, Nature. Thanks!


    Much Obliged.

  15. Rajini Rao says:


    Gorgeous, indeed LC Freiderici !

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