The brain is made up of an estimated 100 billion neurons, and each neuron can have thousands of connections to other neurons. Additionally, there are an estimated 10 times the number of glial cells (support cells) as there are neurons, lending to an extremely complex system of communication in the brain. How is this complex network of neurons in the brain key to the brainâ€“behavior relationship? Discuss the process of information transfer within the brain and between the brain and the body. What types of developmental problems (emotional, cognitive, or physical) do you think could result from disruption of neural systems during childhood?
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Scientists estimate that the total number of functional neuron connections in the brain is around a hundred trillion (National Research Council (US) Committee on Research Opportunities in Biology, 1989). These connections are comprised of a complex network of nerve cells and supporting elements or glial cells (National Research Council (US) Committee on Research Opportunities in Biology, 1989). Researchers have begun to study these neurons in order to better understand the relationship between the brain and human behavior. The key to this relationship is found within the mysteries that neuron connections hold because scientists understand that behavior is often tied to one of the following: perception of the world, learned experience, memories or how one remembers information, communication with others, and how we control our movements (National Research Council (US) Committee on Research Opportunities in Biology, 1989). By discovering what these connections looks like within the brain, scientists are able to increase their understandings and predictions of human behavior.
In order to study how the brain processes and reacts with the body, scientists must study how nerve cells interact with one another and other cells found in the brain. The communication that these cells have with one another results in the actions or reactions that the body displayed along with behavior. These chemical reactions that happen within the brain are key causes of cellular and molecular mechanisms that result in how the brain signals the body to act or react (National Research Council (US) Committee on Research Opportunities in Biology, 1989).
With the sensitivity of all of these occurrences within the brain, there are a lot of possible deficits that could occur if damage occurs, especially during the intense time of development that occurs during childhood. Possible deficits could occur within emotional, cognitive, and physical areas of development. If the brain is unable to make the necessary connections, then the person will be unable to act or react in a predictable or â€œtypicalâ€ manner. For example, if emotion-related neurons are disrupted from development, then a person may be unable to read social cues or act appropriately with peers. If cognitive-related neurons are disrupted from development, then a person may struggle to understand and apply academic concepts. If physical-related neurons are disrupted from development, then a personâ€™s fine motor skills may be delayed.
National Research Council (US) Committee on Research Opportunities in Biology. (1989, January 01). The Nervous System and Behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217810/
Neurons can be the key to understanding our behavior due to their ability to process what we see into physical actions. Neurons can be a key component in understanding our behaviors. If we look at the basics we see that the brain receives information from the body’s sensory neurons then communicates that information to the interneurons which excite the motor neurons which are in charge of body movement (Carlson and Birkett, 2017). Our behavior can be described as actions and motor neurons are responsible for how our body moves which explains why it is so important to understand neurons and how they communicate in order to understand behavior.
Carlson and Birkett (2017) describe how neurons communicate using the examples of seeing a glass of water and picking it up or touching a hot surface. But how do neurons explain developmental problems like emotional or cognitive disorders? From the examples that Carlson and Birket (2017) explain we know that our sensory neurons are the first to start the line of communication. This would be what we see. If we think of emotional disorders and our ability to understand and process other’s emotions around us. If you have an emotional disorder in which you cannot process someone else’s facial expressions or you are not able to have empathy then your sensory neuron’s (which is the first line of communication to the rest of our body) completely distort the message to the rest of the neuron which ultimately can affect our body’s behavior. This can also go for cognitive or physical development problems as well. If one section of the communication between neurons is altered then it affects our body’s ability to respond ultimately affecting our behavior.
Carlson, N.R., & Birkett, M.A., (2017). Physiology of Behavior. Pearson.