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How Does a Brain Work? — 4 Comments

  1. William Altenburg on said:

    Dr. Reece

    Very good general introduction for me to glial cellular function. I work in thermodynamics of cells and evolution of mind. My first query is, you refer to the role of the glial cells in the homeostasis of the brain. How does the cell perform this role and what part of the “steadty sate” system does it manage? Since management means producing something, a neurotransmitter signal?, an enzyme? in response to a change in the brain’s numerous concentration gradients.

    If the brain is the regulator of the steady state system for the body how does the role of glial cells as regulator of the brain evolve?

    Does it participate in time management?

    Are glial cells in the brains and ganglia of simple animals and even in early notochords?

    I look forwrd to your response.

    Bill Altenburg

    PS Are you familiar with the foundational work of Prigogine and Bertalanffy in thermodyanmics of dissipative structures in open thermodynamic systems?

    • Margaret Reece, PhDMargaret Reece, PhD on said:

      Hello William The brain is a very much a separate homeostatic compartment from the rest of the body. Even movement of molecules from blood into brain tissue is highly regulated. So homeostasis is maintained differently there than in the periphery. For example, antibodies from the periphery have restricted access to the brain. Microglia take on many tasks of immune defense for the brain in addition to scavenging debris such as antigen presentation to T-cells. Microglia secret a wide array of factors including glutamate, aspartate, and they are activated by pro-inflammatory cytokines, cell necrosis factors, and changes in extracellular potassium. Their extracellular signaling molecules allow them to communicate with other microglia, astrocytes, nerves, T-cells, and myeloid progenitor cells. Astocytes on the other hand play a role in maintaining the blood-brain barrier and in nerve cell signaling. They signal through glutamate and other chemicals called gliotransmitters. For more about these cells I recommend “The Cell Biology of Synaptic Plasiticity” by Victoria M. Ho et al. Science 334, 623 (2011).

      I am not familiar with the brains of very simple animals but glial cells in the brains of vertebrates are very similar. Much of brain research is carried out in rodents and is extrapolated to the human.

      The microglia may participate in time management because they do play a role in dendrite spine plasticity.

      I am not familiar with the work in thermodynamics, but I will look up the authors you suggest.

  2. iskandar basal on said:

    an advanced fiels of reasearch on the glial cells and their importance in the CNS. thanks for the paper of sobart et al.

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