[Neuroscience] Re: signalling methods used by nerves

r norman via neur-sci%40net.bio.net (by r_s_norman from _comcast.net)
Wed Oct 31 12:33:58 EST 2007

On Wed, 31 Oct 2007 10:27:50 -0700, diversarts
<m.k.ball from btinternet.com> wrote:

>Hi - I know nothing about neuroscience, but am interested inthe
>insights that can be gained into system design from the human body.
>Does anyone understand the signalling method that the body uses for
>transmitting information from nerve cells to the brain and then back
>from the brain to... a muscle for example?
>Using water as an anology, I'm assuming that each nerve cell is at the
>end of a tiny stream that connects to a greater river until it reaches
>the spinal chord, which would be the equivalent of the amazon. By
>comparison, you could consider an 'electrical wiring' model, where
>every nerve had a tiny direct cable to the brain, which may end up
>being bunched together with other cables but is still ultimately a
>separate direct line.
>I'm assuming that the first model is correct, and that nerve cells
>send signals that are mixed with signals being sent by other cells -
>and if this is the case, presumably that means that nerve cells have
>to include some unique information with the signal that they send that
>identifies them as the source of the signal. If this is the case, what
>form would that identifier take?
>I anyone can shed any light on this, or set me straight if I'm making
>completely the wrong assumptions here, that would be great!

Your second model is the correct one (or at least more nearly
correct).  Each nerve cell has its own separate  and private
connection to locations within the brain.  All the nerve cells use the
same signal, called the 'action potential' but they differ by how they
connect within the brain.  That is more like the electrical pulses in
a digital computer, where the pulses all look the same but are wired
into specific locations and the wiring determines the function.

The mechanism for producing the signal, the action potential, has been
known for about a half century now.  What you need to do is get a good
introductory college level biology book and read the chapters on the
nervous system and how it works.  

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