Brain: For the first time in history, a group of scientists was able to create a kind of atlas of the brain, identifying the types of neurons and their functions in this important organ of the human body. The achievement was published in the scientific journal Nature and is the result of five years of studies by a consortium of researchers, including neuroscientists from the University of California, USA.
According to Helen Bateup, one of those responsible for the research, the aim of the study is to fully understand the functioning of the brain. Thus, it would be possible to better understand how the complex network of neurons emits each of the functions of our body, as well as understand how a dysfunction in this organ can cause so much damage.
In addition to the clear health benefits, researchers also aim to unravel how the brain’s potential can best be harnessed. Although the information that we use only a small portion of our intellect is a fallacy, it is a fact that the human being could make even more use of his cognitive capacity if he understood better how it works.
An atlas of the brain
In an attempt to understand this important human organ, several scientists have identified dozens of brain cells in the past. They are generally classified by their shape, size and electrical properties, in addition to the genes that are responsible for their formation and manifestation.
However, newly published studies have identified about five times more cells than past analyses, creating a true map of the brain. The researchers’ focus, at least initially, is to understand the complex set of motor cells, which includes approximately 160 billion cells, including neurons and support cells called glia.
“If you think of the brain as a complex machine, how would it be possible to understand how it works without first understanding the function of each part?” asks Helen Bateup. “Once we understand how each brain segment works, we can move on to assimilate how each brain part works together.”