Home > Conscious > Chapter 10 > 10.2. The Necessity of Wireless Communication

 

For over a century, synaptic transmission between neurons has been thought to be the only method that can transfer information within the brain. However, there are several types of information that cannot be conveyed by synaptic transmission. For instance, the feeling of pain or pleasure represents the entire mental state, which emerges as a result of systemic brain activities, rather than individual neuronal firing. Then, how can the brain implement synaptic connections so that neurons can respond to such information accordingly? Generally speaking, wireless communication is required for the information arising from large scale synchronized neuronal firing. This section will present three examples that may employ wireless communication in the brain.

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Figure 10-2. Location of the striatum which consists of nucleus accumbens, caudate and putamen. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

Turn Feeling into Action

"Seek pleasure, avoid pain" is a basic animal nature essential for survival. The feeling of pleasure or pain does not reside in a particular brain area (Chapter 12). It is a state of the entire system. The mental state must somehow be sensed by the brain, and trigger action accordingly. Since the mental state is not encoded in individual neurons, this cannot be achieved by synaptic transmission alone.

Chapter 12 will present evidence that the painful feeling arises from the geon with high density of GR waves while pleasant feeling is caused by low density. Because GR and EM waves are generated simultaneously by brain activity (Section 8.3), the mental feeling is also reflected in the power of EM waves. In the brain, the striatum has been demonstrated to play a central role in action selection: Go or NoGo. To be consistent with the pleasure principle, "seek pleasure, avoid pain", the strong EM power should cause the striatum to initiate the NoGo action while the weak EM power should facilitate the Go action. Exactly how it is implemented in the brain will be discussed in Section 10.4 and Chapter 13.

Long Range Synchronization

A brain consists of many functionally specialized areas. Synchronization among relevant areas is critical for efficient performance of a specific task. For instance, the conscious perception of sensory inputs requires synchronization within the cerebral cortex, and memory retrieval involves synchronization between the cortex and hippocampus. Neuroscience studies have confirmed that even distant brain areas can have synchrony with zero phase lag, which is remarkable considering that synaptic transmission and axon conduction will cause delay. The zero-lag synchronization can readily be explained if the coupling between distant areas is mediated by EM waves which travel at light speed (Section 10.5).

Activation of Spatial Cells

Spatial cells are a class of neurons responsible for the construction of spatial coordinates to facilitate animal's navigation in an environment. Four types of spatial cells have been identified: place cells, grid cells, border (boundary vector) cells and head direction (HD) cells. The first three types of cells respond preferentially to the theta band. The HD cell fires at a preferred direction. This directional preference can be explained by the tuning of microtubule antennas. The microtubule associated protein, Tau, could be involved in the design of microtubule antennas. Most HD cells are present in the brain areas that constitute the Papez circuit. Tau protein is a central player in Alzheimer's disease. Incidentally, the Papez circuit is the most severely affected in Alzheimer's disease (Aggleton et al., 2016).