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bronstein's picture

Beatles song: W/in You and W/out You

The title just suddenly popped into my head -- obviously generated by a bunch of memory neurons stuck in the '60s, a time when people were seemingly using chemicals to rewire how their sensory neurons were connected. For instance, LSD supposedly could cause users to "see sounds" and "hear colors."

Actually, there is a similar problem concerning "where connections are made" being considered in the research being done to reverse or "cure" paralysis. Some researchers are looking ahead to the time when we can get the axons to regrow across the glial scar (the lesion) that is currently believed to prevent regrowth at this time. The big question is: Once the axons regrow and make connections on the other side of the scar, will these connections actually be workable? Or will the axon that used to enervate (activate) the left big toe now be connected to the right calf? How much relearning will be required . . . and will a person be able to do it?

From the work that has been done in the rat model, it would seem that this will not be a problem. However, until the same degree of success is achieved in humans . . . .

Only peripherally (pun intended) related to this, I think, is that there is more and more evidence that the brain is constantly rewiring and generating new connections. This is where learning occurs, right? Is it true then that the more connections we have made, the faster we can retrieve material b/c it's like cross-indexing . . . or is it the more we have learned . . . or both? Do more similar connections mean that we have learned material more deeply . . . or that that the connections are simply redundant?

Will we be "given" the answers tomorrow? . . . or would that make us too much like simple med students?


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