Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

Bo-Rin Kim's picture

there's gotta be more to it

This is my third or fourth time learning about action potentials and how they produce our body's output and process input. It still amazes me how our body is run by these electrochemical waves of activity, and I am still hesitant to accept the fact that these electrochemical signals are the whole story.

One of the main reasons why I cannot accept that everything we do is a result of these action potentials, or brain=behavior, is because we have thoughts. This goes back to the question of how consciousness can arise from physical material, which is a fundamental question that is the root of most questions in neurobiology. Do these chemicals and electric currents give rise to our thoughts and self-awareness as well? Or are they only responsible for our reflexes and behavioral responses to the environment. As complex as action potentials and chemicals are, I feel like they are still too simple to explain consciousness.

Moreover, several people have commented on how there can be input signals without outputs and output signals without clear input signals from the environment. The mind, or thoughts, can motivate behavior independently from the environment. In these situations, mental thought is the input signal for an outward behavior. So how does this mental force trigger a series of action potentials? What is the chemical make-up of a mental thought?

Understanding the cellular basis of how the nervous system works tells us a great deal about the intricate design and function of the nervous system. However, I don't think it provides the whole picture.  

Reply

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
3 + 17 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.