Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Glial Cells




Many Glia, Many Functions

There are a few different types of glia in the brain: oligodendrocytes, microglia, and astrocytes. Each is needed to optimize brain function.

Oligodendrocytes are specialized cells that wrap tightly around axons to form the myelin sheath. These cells speed up the electrical signals (action potentials) that travel down an axon. Without oligodendrocytes, an action potential would travel down an axon 30 times slower!

Astrocytes are star-shaped glia that hold neurons in place, supply nutrients, and digest parts of dead neurons. But because astrocytes cannot generate action potentials, they haven't gotten much attention, until recently.

Astrocytes can actually communicate with neurons and modify the signals they send and receive. That means astrocytes are much more involved than we once thought in both the processing of information, and the signaling at the synapse

Microglia are special immune cells found only in the brain that can detect damaged or unhealthy neurons. They eat foreign invaders (bacteria and viruses), then display the chewed up parts on their cell surface to signal for help.