Scientists have come to doubt their long-held views that the brain is a network of neurons that communicate by chemoelectrical processes via axons. This is the standard view that the brain is alive with electrical current but it is caused purely as a result of chemical potential differences – positive (+) sodium ions passing through membranes to cause the interior of the neuron to become positively charged or positive (+) potassium ions flooding out of the neuron to cause the exterior to become positively charged. It all looks very chemical to them, and so they are quite content in thinking that this is all that is happening. The action potential once triggered then propagates down the axon like some sort of a snowball effect and then when it gets to the end of the axon it will be passed on to another neuron via a synapse, which again is described in great detail as a chemical transmission of the action potential.

Trouble is none of this is explaining what is happening with the myelin sheath. This is the coating of fatty material on the outside of the axon that acts as an insulator for the axons and is also said to be conducive to speeding up the flow of electricity. In an article in New Scientist (21 Feb 2015) “Meet your other brain” we are told that scientists are now shocked, ‘gobsmacked’ was the actual word used, to find that this myelin sheath is actually increasing or decreasing in real time. They had always assumed that the myelin sheath on the axons forms during development and then remains static as an insulator for the axons, and then as a result of aging processes begins to dwindle, thus bringing on diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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Researches at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, believe they have found evidence that memories might be passed down through generations in our DNA. In an article published in Nature entitled Parental olfactory experience influences behavior and neural structure in subsequent generations they examine the inheritance of parental traumatic exposure, that is to say the progeny or offspring remember the trauma or stressful experience that their parents were exposed to. It seems that researchers in the field come across evidence of this quite often, but it is poorly understood how this can possibly occur. Somehow the memory of the traumatic experience must be passed on in the genes.

In their paper the researchers describe how they condition the parent mice to fear a certain odor, in this case the smell of cherry blossom, and not only did the next two generations of their progeny specifically fear this same odor, but the researchers state that they observed “an enhanced neuroanatomical representation” of the specific gene for the olfactory receptor. In other words this specific fear had somehow become encoded in the DNA that went on into the progeny.

This research suggests that experiences are transferred from the brain into the genome, and these researchers are now continuing their studies to try to understand how information about life experiences could possibly come to be stored in the DNA. Specifically how can it be that our memories are stored in the genetic material that becomes passed on to subsequent generations. I feel I can contribute to this debate in two ways. Firstly it is now known that human thought can actually change the genes, and secondly the very architecture of the DNA packaged in the chromosomes strongly suggests that the DNA is actually made up of millions and millions of memristors, which is actually a new form of memory storage actually being developed in the computer industry. I shall deal with these two aspects in turn.

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Plant Consciousness and the Networked Intelligence

luminous electric flowers 08An article in New Scientist (6 December 2014) entitled “Roots of Consciousness” summarizes the growing body of evidence that plants have memory, sensory perception, attentiveness, intelligence and consciousness. Indeed there even exists today the Society for Plant Neurobiology based at the University of Florence in Italy.

It seems the mighty Charles Darwin first started the debate with his book “The Power of Movement in Plants”. He put forward the “root brain” hypothesis. The root of the plant is actually a very complex structure. The root has a cap for protection as it spreads through the soil, and is also capable of detecting various physical properties such as gravity, humidity, light, oxygen and nutrients. After the cap is a section called the meristem. The cells in this section are said to divide rapidly. After this comes the transition zone which was originally thought to have no purpose, and then there is the elongation zone where the cells actually lengthen allowing the root to grow and propagate through the soil. Charles Darwin said in his book: “It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle (primary root) acts like the brain of one of the lower animals.” It is now being seriously argued at the Society for Plant Neurobiology that this transition zone in the root is actually the nerve center of the plant.

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