Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Spark In Life

Spark In Life

   The human nervous system is a complex collection of nerves and neurons, which work together to receive or transmit signals throughout our entire body. Neurons communicate to other neurons, or other cells within the body, through electrical impulses known as action potentials. These action potentials trigger a release of neurotransmitter from the neuron, which then diffuse across what is known as a synapse, before binding to and affecting the postsynaptic neuron or cell. These neurons and electrical impulses can be involved in afferent pathways, which receive an external stimulus and bring information about it to the brain to be processed. They can also be involved in efferent pathways as well, which send a signal from the brain to a specific part of the body in order to carry out an effect or task. 

Diagram of the Human Nervous System (Infographic)

   Sensory neurons are involved within afferent pathways. Gustatory receptors can receive an external chemical stimulus within our mouth which our brain will process as sweet, or salty, or sour. Photoreceptors can take in light which is then processed into our vision and what we see. Hair receptors located within the vestibule of our ear can detect changes which eventually allow us to keep our balance when walking or moving. 

   With all of these different functions in the nervous system it can make you wonder, what would life be without these neurons and electrical impulses? Without nociceptors one could not feel pain. Without olfactory receptors one would not be able to smell. A neuromuscular junction is a neuron which synapses onto a specific muscle, allowing it to move and contract. Without these, we would not be able to move. Our entire life, including what we perceive around us and also how we respond to it, is controlled and dictated by the electrical impulses that our neurons send to our brain. Without these, we would perceive nothing. We would be able to do nothing. Without neurons, there would be no spark in life at all.


Posted by Michael Magnant (1)


  1. It's crazy to think that our very being relies so heavily on neurons. You brought up the point that it's hard to imagine life without neurons and electrical impulses and speculated that one would not feel pain without nocireceptors. There's a condition called congenital insensitivity to pain, in which an individual is physically unable to feel pain. I thought you might be interested in researching into this. I don't know much about the condition, but perhaps the cause of this condition is connected to neurons. Very informative article, thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Angelina Weng (3)

  2. I had no idea that the hair receptors in our ears play a part in helping us maintain our balance. I think that is so interesting and definitely something worth exploring. It would be cool to know what the mechanism behind that is and how our body evolved to be be able to do that.

    Zoe Israel

    1. The hair receptors aren't necessarily "in our ears" but rather in structures known as semicircular canals and also the vestibule within our ear.
      In these structures the hair receptors are within what is known a cupula. Cupulae are basically tiny little sacs that are full of an endolymph fluid. When our head moves in a certain direction, the endolymph fluid within the cupulae moves in a certain direction, thus disturbing the hair receptors in a certain direction. This movement of the hair receptors causes depolarization which sends a signal to our brain about which we are moving, allowing us to keep our balance. Just thought I'd clarify! :)

      -Michael Magnant

  3. I have always thought Neurobiology is very interesting. I have always been intrigued of when the neurons or "spark of life" interact and produce messengers to get the message across. It is always interesting how much behaviors are related to our neuronal makeup and the contributions they make. To just think about all the stimuli that our body receives and how it processes it, it is crazy to think about how difficult an area of research this must be.

    Zane Ruehrwein (3)

  4. This is interesting and I have always been fascinated by the idea that little neurons and electrical pulses basically control us as a being. More and more studies and knowledge comes out yearly. Very cool stuff.

    - Matt Alexander