Ever reboot your computer? When you do, you are probably trying to solve a problem your computer is displaying, and you know that starting over may be the best way to go forward.
There is no “trick” used in computing that isn’t used in the design of our bodies. Polymorphism (same cell or organ doing different functions in different situations), inheritance, and abstraction (functions that are only understood and used by a certain types of cells) — the body did them before programmers. Multitasking and memory swapping are vital in how we use our brain and memory to think. You may not know much about computers, but just know this: all the self-correcting techniques of your computer or phone are child’s play compared with the body’s adaptation and repair abilities.
Reversion (resetting) is also part of the body’s design. When tissues or cells are damaged beyond simple repair, they may revert to a primitive state to try to fix themselves with a “reset”.
This is extremely hopeful for those who have suffered brain damage, or a debilitating disease of the brain. Although repair of the brain is particularly difficult due to its complexity, the body has some “tricks” to deal with even severe damage.
Connecting with neurons
In adults, brain neurons are relatively stable. When damaged, they can often detect that something is wrong and will attempt to repair themselves. Neurons have two signaling parts: axons that transmit signals to other cells, and dendrites that receive signals. Either piece, when damaged, can repair under the right conditions. The University of California published research in Nature that adult brain cells revert to an embryonic state when damaged, and in that state axon regeneration starts. The Huck Institutes’ Center for Cellular Dynamics published a study in Cell Reports that found that removing test neuron dendrites caused regeneration to begin within four to six hours, while axon regeneration started after a day or two. This all happened without the neuron dying: it just repaired its connections. Research in the Journal of Neuroscience reported finding a receptor named Protease Activated Receptor 1 (PAR1) that the body can switch to cause regeneration of myelin, the vital outer insulator of nerves. A study published in Nature Medicine found evidence of new neurons being created even in older adults.
A bundle of nerves
Like all the specialized cells of the body, neurons come from stem cells. Neural stem cells specialize into “progenitor cells” which can then further specialize into neurons. They can also produce support cells called “glia”, which are fibers that extend across the brain. These cells form a complex network which we still only partially understand. A mature brain is immensely complex. It is estimated that the human brain can process a billion billion calculations per second. This is more computing power than a supercomputer, and brain neurons can even disconnect and reconnect with other neurons (this is called “neuroplasticity”) — a computer cannot rewire its connections like that.
When the body makes more neurons, it does so where the neural stem cells are concentrated, and then the new neurons have to migrate to the location where they are needed. Neurons can travel along the glia network, and they can also search for certain signal molecules found on the surface of other neurons to find their correct location. Once there, just like in polymorphism, they start performing the function required at that location. They develop the axons and dendrites needed to communicate, and add to the overall network.
The network created involves hundreds of different types of neurons that have specialized message-carrying functions. The power required to run this massive network, still considered to have about twenty times the processing ability of the largest supercomputer, is about 20 watts (a bit more than a household LED light requires)
Consider the detail and care required to make one smartphone. The human brain grows according to a complex design blueprint, the likes of which we can’t fully understand, much less replicate.
Knowing that our brains continue to develop even as we age, there is no reason not to keep learning! One path to improving brain function is to challenge it. In this life we always have the opportunity to learn, develop, and improve. By doing so, we truly “renew our minds”.
A tough cell
Nerve cells are amazingly resilient, but regrowth and regeneration takes time. Regeneration of the brain cannot happen too much without consequences. A mature brain is normally stable and consistent, but if new neurons were being added constantly, that would disrupt the brain stability. The body reserves healing for the times it is needed; healing when not required would be chaotic and dangerous.
Your first priority, especially with the complexity of brain structure, is to take care of what you already have. Toxins, chronic poor hydration, excess blood sugar, continued lack of rest, poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, disease, emotional stress, and physical injury such as concussion can damage this delicate structure. Each day, each year that goes by where you maintain what you have sets the stage for a better brain and body in later life.
But life is risky: accidents happen, and we live in a world surrounded by toxins — we can’t avoid everything bad. That’s where healing comes in. Nerve cells have sophisticated health monitoring functions which can invoke healing when needed. Neuron regeneration which could be disruptive to a healthy brain ramps up when damage is detected. Here too, giving the healing mechanisms the best environment to do their work it vital.
So whether you are healthy, or trying to heal, the approach is the same: give your body what it needs!
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Your brain is an amazing organ. Not only does it processes information at phenomenal speed but it also repairs itself when the environment is receptive to this repair. The key here is the environment, both physical and mental/emotional. We teach how to make the environment of healing with our Seven Basic Steps to Total Health approach. This means diet and lifestyle are critical to your brain health and repair. One assumes that the body or brain will heal if it is possible, but what are you doing to promote that health and repair? Inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates and sugars? Acidic-forming foods of meat, dairy, eggs and grains are consumed regularly by most people. Stress emotions of fear and anger are inflammatory. If you do not change the environment, you do not heal: it is as simple as that.