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Spindle Cells

Robert McCormick's picture

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Some things you need to know about spindle cells.

Spindle cells acts very rapidly, guiding social decisions for us

Spindle cells enable us to make instantaneous judgments, brain cells shaped like a spindle, a large bulb at one end and a long, thick extension.

Has proven to be more plentiful in the human brain than in any other species.

They put the “nap” in snap judgments.

Spindle cells are rich in receptors for neurotransmiters such as serotonin, dopamine, and vasopressin.

Humans have 1,000 times more spindle cells than our closest primates, the apes who have a few hundred.

No other mammal has spindle cells.

People who are more interpersonal have more spindle cells than someone who is not as interpersonal.

Their body is 4 times larger than others brain cells. The velocity of a neuron transmission to other cells increases with the size of the long arms that project to other neurons, they have extremely high-velocity transmission.

Spindle cells concentrate in an area of the Orbitofrontal Cortex (OFC) that activates during emotional reactions to others-particular instant empathy.

There is also a large concentration in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) that is responsible for display and recognition of facial expression and activates them when we feel emotion.

This area has strong connections to the amygdala, which is the seat of all emotions.

There is a thick accumulation in the connection between the OFC and the ACC, the highest part of the cortex.

The ACC directs our attention, coordinates our thoughts, emotions and the bodies response to our feelings.

The ACC makes quick decisions which spreads via spindle cells to the OFC. In an initial encounter, these neural areas make their initial judgments pro or con in 1/20 of a second.

The OFC helps guide what we do once we know how we fell about someone, orchestrates actions that serve us well, and inhibit raw impulses.

Information above is from Daniel Goleman's excellent new book, Social Intelligence, 2006.