Electronic Brain

Credit: pixabay.com

Human brain and its working capacity have always been the topics of curiosity for mankind.  Supremacy of brain over heart is also debated many times.  It is said that brain control each and every activity of human and dominates our activities/thoughts more than heart. Scientists are always making efforts towards understanding the building blocks of brain and their working. It is well established that human brain is composed of neurons and neurons in the brain can have all kinds of different internal states, depending on the input that they received. This allows the brain to process information in a more energy-efficient manner.  The brain is superior to traditional computers in many ways. Brain cells use less energy, process information faster and are more adaptable.

The way that brain cells respond to a stimulus depends on the information that they have received which potentiates or inhibits the neurons. Scientists are working on new types of devices which can mimic this behavior, called memristors. Physicists are working on memristors, resistors with a memory, made from niobium-doped strontium titanate, which mimic how neurons work. Before building brain-like circuits with devices, researchers are planning to conduct experiments to really understand what happens within the material.

Scientists have revealed the structure of a critical receptor in the brain associated with learning, memory, behavior and mood. The α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (also known as AMPA receptor, AMPAR, or quisqualate receptor) is an ionotropic trans-membrane-receptor for glutamate that mediates fast synaptic transmission in the central nervous system (CNS). The new research is the first to reveal the structure of AMPA receptors in their natural state. This discovery could lead to new insight about the mechanism behind a wide range of nervous system disorders and diseases. Scientists have revealed the structure of a critical receptor in the brain associated with learning, memory, behavior and mood.

These are said to be the fundamental electrical switches of the brain and if these switches don't work right, then the brain doesn't function. It can lead to seizures, memory loss, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease. Researchers used cryo-electron microscopy and targeted mass spectrometry to reveal the architecture and subunit arrangement of AMPA receptors in rodents. AMPA receptors are activated by the neurotransmitter glutamate, forming permeable ion channels that carry signals between cells throughout the nervous system. By discerning the makeup of the working structure in rodents, scientists can isolate the same structures in post-mortem samples of human brains and make comparisons. They may then be able to determine differences between the structure and organization of healthy AMPA receptors and those in people with neurodegenerative diseases.

The new discovery comes by way of a technique that's revolutionizing the field of structural biology. Scientists want to understand how these receptors are different in devastating human diseases for which there are presently few, if any, treatments. By getting new insights about the mechanism of the disease, it could provide novel approaches for therapies. Previously the analysis relied on X-ray crystallography to visualize important structures in the central nervous system; however that technique requires scientists to stack up vast quantities of identical molecules so they can be crystallized to form an artificial picture of their native structure. The ability to use cryo-EM vastly improves the scientists' ability to discern individual receptors in their true natural, or native, state.

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