[Neuroscience] Re: How many neurons are used?

Matthew Kirkcaldie m.kirkcaldie at removethis.unsw.edu.au
Sat Jun 17 18:41:57 EST 2006


In article <aeu792trjo2ara5fumll5sm3hm1jfv3jp2 at 4ax.com>,
 r norman <NotMyRealEmail at _comcast.net> wrote:

> On 16 Jun 2006 23:11:06 -0700, "chadmaester"
> <chad.d.johnson at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> >How many neurons, on average, are used to make sense of a commonly-used
> >(i.e., well-understood) word, just in a normal conversation, and
> >without regard to visual or auditory processing? For instance, when you
> >hear a word it makes you think of something else. That is what I am
> >after.
> 
> What you ask cannot be answered because we do not understand the steps
> used to process sounds into words into meanings and, especially, to
> associate one idea of something related.
> 
> However we do know that what you describe involves many large regions
> of the brain so that certainly many millions of cells would be
> involved.
> 
> We can count the small number of cells involved in having a sound
> "register" in the auditory region of the brain.  However there is no
> way even to begin to describe what is involved in producing the
> reaction "I heard that!".

You know, I mentally drafted a response to Chad's question and it was 
spookily, uncannily, exactly the same.  Even down to the order of the 
points, the initial "no-one knows how" and then "however".  All I would 
add is that the most accurate answer that could be given is which 
regions of the brain increase their blood supply when these kinds of 
tasks are performed.

I must be honing my didactic skills!

Thanks for your questions Chad - even when there is no answer it's a 
great reminder of the gulf between what we know and what we would like 
to know ... !

      Cheers, MK.


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