Is life au des in biology?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Elegant Degradation

{Until stem cell therapies}, your neurons will decrease in number before you reach optimal general performance. This is because not all of them are used. In fact, the loss of most of them is normally due to the brain's own synaptic pruning - it gets rid of the ones that aren't used.

Neural networks find the simplest solutions. Neural nodes are groups of neurons that perform a function within a neural network. You can think of each thing you know as being embodied in a neural node. After brain damage, the functions of lost nodes may form in another location. The new nodes may actually be more elegant than the original ones if they form in more integrated neural circuits.

But such grace is never certain. It is more reliable to hold onto the neural reserve by which neuroplasticity can make new neural circuits for any purpose. One thing that makes a node elegant is how few neurons are required for it to serve its purpose. Repeated brain damage will leave wide gaps in grey matter.

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