By Gerardo Schafer [email protected]
A group of scientists claims to have discovered a new region of the brain linked to the minute movements of the body. It turns out that we humans can have an extra kind of thinking that is not found in other primates.
Neuroscience Research Australia (Neura), who named his discovery as an endo-terminal nucleus, is responsible for the neuroscientist George Paxinos and his team because it is located inside the inferior cerebellar peduncle (also called the restiform body). It is located at the base of the brain, near where it connects with the spinal cord.
This area is involved in receiving sensory and motor information from our bodies to refine our posture, balance and movements.
"The lower cerebellar peduncle is like a river that carries information from the spinal cord and brain stem to the cerebellum," Paxinos said in the journal ScienceAlert. "The endo-terminal nucleus is a group of neurons and is like an island in this river," he added.
Paxinos confirmed the existence of this brain structure while using a relatively new brain coloring technique he developed to make images of brain tissues clearer for the last atlas of neuroanatomy he has been working on.
The researcher had been receiving clues that the endorresistant nucleus had existed for decades. In a procedure called anterolateral therapeutic cordotomy, a surgery to alleviate extreme and incurable pain by severing the spinal pathways, he and his colleagues noticed that the long fibers of the spine seemed to terminate around the endo-endiform nucleus.
The location of this indescribable part of the brain makes Paxinos suspect that it may be involved in fine motor control, something that is also supported by the fact that this structure has not yet been identified in other animals, including rhesus monkeys or marmosets.
"I can not imagine a chimpanzee playing guitar as clever as we do, even if they like making music," Paxinos said.
Humans have brains at least twice as large as chimpanzees (1,300 grams versus 600 grams), and a larger percentage of our neuronal pathways that indicate movement makes direct contact with motor neurons: 20% compared to 5% in others primates.
Therefore, the endorrespiriform nucleus may be another unique feature of our nervous system, although it is still early to say. That's why Paxinos is ready to do some work with the chimpanzees soon.
To find out which function the end-to-end nucleus can serve, we may have to wait for a high-resolution MRI capable of studying it in a living person.
There is a very popular myth that has been expanding for years in society, which says that we use only 10% of our brain, to the disappointment of many, is totally false. There are even some who attribute Albert Einstein as the founder of this myth.
There are two phenomena that can explain the misunderstanding. Nine out of ten brain cells are called glial cells, which are support cells and provide physical and nutritional assistance to the other 10% of the cells, the neurons, responsible for "thinking." But that does not mean that 90% does nothing, only has other functions.
Be that as it may, even scientists can not fully explain certain capabilities the brain possesses, how to dream, where memories are stored and how to access them, consciousness or personality.