Calyx of Held


I'm taking a class called neural encoding of sensory systems and it make me appreciate the complexity and elegance of the brain so much more than I have ever before. I wish that I had the time to take all the neuroscience classes and ECE classes and their per-requisites so that I could better understand the underlying machinery of the human (primate) brain.

The globular bushy cells, for instance, have the biggest axon diameters of all the neurons in the auditory system.
They need to be so thick because they need to transmit signals fast – from the cochlea (where hair cells transduce mechanical sound into electric signals) to a nucleus all the way on the opposite (contralateral) side of the brain. This takes a few hundred microseconds, quick enough so that the fibers connecting the cochlea from the same (ipsilateral) side of the brain only have time to fire one action potential on to that nucleus.

I read an article about a team of bioengineers at Stanford creating microchips that simulated 10,000 neurons. I feel like I could join them if I had the chance to take computational neurobiology or semiconductor physics – or both. If I every get a masters, I'll be sure to take those classes... if that's still something that I want to do when I get there.