The Materialistic Mind – Your Brain’s Ingredients | Synapses, Neurons and Brains | Coursera

Hi everyone,

Last week, I continued watching the “Synapses, Neurons and Brains” course from The second lesson was about “The Materialistic Mind – Your Brain’s Ingredients”, which discussed the structure of the nervous system, the neuron doctrine and the theory of dynamic polarisation. It was a very interesting lecture that compared the ideas of two great minds: Camillo Golgi and Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Although I had had M.D. classes that explained about neuron cells, axons, dendrites, synapses and everything else contained in the structure of the nervous system, it was enlightening to have a thorough explanation of the structure, the way neurons are “connected” not only in local but also in different regions of the brain (e.g., from frontal lobe to temporal lobe).

It was also interesting to understand there are different neuron types based on different classification methods (e.g., anatomical features, functional features, electrical activity pattern, chemical characteristics or gene expressions), but they all share the same components: soma, axon and dendrites, which all contribute to the communication and flow of information (electrical activity) that runs in the brain.

If I was to point some interesting questions, they would be:

  1. Is it possible that our conscious, knowledge and memories are not stored in our brain but are simply the result of the electrical activity going through predefined circuits?
  2. And that learning may be creating new paths through the trillions of paths that are inactive or nonexistent?
  3. If I was to develop a new Genetic Neural Network, using this assumption – one that changes not only the weight of its nodes but the structure of the network itself – is it okay to assume the network would be able to learn instead of being trained?




Author: Pedro Oliveira

Master in Informatics and Computer Engineering; Game Developer at FABAMAQ. Photographer, Marketer and Designer. Interested in Virtual Reality, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Neuro Engineering.

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