15:58 13 March 2017
Scientists from the University of California who have been studying the components of neurons known as dendrites have found that the brain is 10 times more active than previously thought. It was also discovered that dendrites are not passive conduits as typically believed but electrically active in moving animals.
The discovery, which confirmed that the brain has over 100 times the computational capacity than previously believed, could pave the way for the development of brain-like computers.
UCLA neurophysicist Mayank Mehta, the study’s senior author, said: ‘Dendrites make up more than 90 percent of neural tissue,’ said
‘Knowing they are much more active than the soma fundamentally changes the nature of our understanding of how the brain computes information.
‘It may pave the way for understanding and treating neurological disorders, and for developing brain-like computers.’
He added: ‘A fundamental belief in neuroscience has been that neurons are digital devices. They either generate a spike or not.
‘These results show that the dendrites do not behave purely like a digital device. Dendrites do generate digital, all-or-none spikes, but they also show large analog fluctuations that are not all or none.
‘This is a major departure from what neuroscientists have believed for about 60 years.’