Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Increasing complexity of nerve synapses during evolution

Nicholas Wade points to the work of Grant and colleagues on how the complexity of nerve interconnections (synapses) has increased during evolution as the variety of their protein components has increased from a few to several hundred. Vertebrate synapses have about 1,000 different proteins, assembled into 13 molecular machines, one of which is built from 183 different proteins. The human brain has about 100 billion neurons, interconnected at 100 trillion synapses. Grant provides an analogy:
If the synapses are thought of as the chips in a computer, then brainpower is shaped by the sophistication of each chip, as well as by their numbers...From the evolutionary perspective, the big brains of vertebrates not only have more synapses and neurons, but each of these synapses is more powerful — vertebrates have big Internets with big computers and invertebrates have small Internets with small computers.

The top part of the figure (click to enlarge) shows the phylogenetic relationships of the species studied. The number of varieties of two signaling complexes, NMDA receptor (NRC or MASC) / postsynaptic density (PSD) are in parentheses. The lower half shows the occurrences of PSD and MASC homologs found in each of the 19 species as a percentage of those found in human.

1 comment:

  1. Reflection
    Synapse transmission between neurons in different systems of dimension
    Neuromusic for Kids
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