What the brain is made of – and what it can do
When it comes to the brain, it’s all about the information.
That’s why it’s so important for pregnant women to know what they’re getting into, says neuroscientist Dr Brian Swain.
Dr Swain says there are many different types of brain cells that play a role in brain function, from the cells of the cerebral cortex, to those of the basal ganglia.
“They’re basically the cells that sit in the middle of your brain, and they’re like little rubber bands that keep you in place,” he says.
Dr Dr Swains latest research into the structure of the brain found it’s made up of more than 700 different types.
Dr swains latest discovery involves looking at the structure and function of specific types of nerve cells, called axons, that form connections in the brain.
“It’s really quite amazing, we’re now at a point where we know how these different types are connected, and we know exactly how they interact with each other, so we can actually make predictions about the neural circuits that govern behaviour,” he said.
“That means that the next step is to understand how the different types interact with one another, so that we can develop new ways to help people with epilepsy.”
So what we’ve done is we’ve found a way of looking at what are the individual axons that make up the brain and how they’re connected, so you can predict what happens with different types, and how that will affect behaviour.
“And then the next part is that we’ve looked at the types of cells that form these connections and we’ve seen that there are a number of different types that we know, so there are different kinds of neurons that are involved, different kinds that aren’t involved, and the information that they provide is all encoded in the proteins that they make.”
He says this type of information is called a “gene database”.
Dr Swainer said the gene database is like a book of names for different types and types of neurons.
The brain is also made up by a number, or types of connections, of different cells, each of which have different types in common.
The differences are like a fingerprint, and Dr Swinys research showed that the different brain cells are also made of different kinds, which are called types of proteins.
“If you look at the different kinds in the different neurons, you can get a sense of how the brain works,” he explained.
“For example, if you have a type of neuron that is connected to the same kind of protein as the other, and if you take one type of protein and put it in, it can make the other protein produce that particular neurotransmitter.
So, you could say that this particular type of cell, that particular protein, that protein is making that particular signal.”
The research also shows that certain types of neurotransmitters are involved in certain functions, and these functions can also be different from type to type.
Dr. Swain said the type of proteins that are making the different signals are called “gates” and it’s a lot like what we use in computers.
“These gates are the building blocks of how different kinds make connections.
For example, a gate is a protein that is involved in the release of a neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft,” he explains.
“So, when that neurotransmitter is released, that neurotransmitter can then be delivered to other neurons, and so you’re sending that neurotransmission to different areas of the cortex.”
The researchers also discovered that the types that are part of the gene databases are linked to specific types.
“The types that have the different protein-gene associations with one other are different from the different proteins that make the connections, and that can be linked to different types,” Dr Swann said.
The researchers say this kind of information can be useful for understanding the functions of different neurotransmitts in different types to help prevent seizures.
Dr Steven Cavanagh, a neurologist from the University of Queensland, said that the discovery of the different genes and the different neurotransmitter associations could help to better understand how to treat epilepsy.
Dr Cavanah said that he was impressed with Dr Swinns work, as it was so clear what he was doing. “
What we want to know is, what does that mean for the drug to work for a particular person, and what is the specific effect of that drug?”
Dr Cavanah said that he was impressed with Dr Swinns work, as it was so clear what he was doing.
“When we first started working on this, I thought, oh my god, this is really good work.
It’s so clear, and it is so much more than just looking at proteins,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“He’s doing something very fundamental in neuroscience, so it’s very exciting.”