We know that brains are made of neurons or nerve cells.
Neurons are some of the most diverse cells in the human body. Yet all neurons share the same basic features. They all have a central cell body and on one this cell body has a number of extensions that reach into the neighbouring environment. These extensions are called dendrites. The dendrites bring information into the cell body. On the opposite side of the dendrites is another single extension called an axon. It is through this axon that the cell body shares information with whichever part of the body it is communicating with. These axons can be quite long and traverse great distances.
Different Types of Neurons
Sensory neurons – transmit information from the entire body to the brain.
Relay or Inter neurones – Provide connections between other neurones.
Motor neurons send signals to parts of the body such as muscle to direct movement.
Pyramidal Neurons are involved in complex brain functions. They are found in the visual areas of the brain and enable us to recognise objects. This is where the brain scans a variety of different options to find a match. These neurons are able to connect a large number of other neurons, enabling us to to visualise a large number of different possible outcomes.
An Electrical Circuit
The way neurons work to transmit information can be compared to an electrical circuit. When a stimulus is applied to the dendrites, they pass this stimulus to the cell body which then decides whether to pass or not to pass this stimulus down the axon and then onto the structures that it is in communication with. This structure could be another neuron (nerve cell), muscle fibres, cells within an organ.
The brain is a mass of these neurones.
But How Does it Work?
While investigating the anatomy of neurons, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a very early neuroscientist, proposed that signals flow through neurones – in 1 direction only. The dendrite gathers information from other cells. The cell body processes this information and transmits it along the axon which in turn passes this information to the next part of the circuit.
These signals that pass through the neurones electrical pulses called action potentials or nerve impulses. They carry a voltage of 0.1 volts and last a fraction of a second. But these action potentials can travel great distances during that time – reaching speeds of 120 metres per second. Hence information from your toes pass to your brain in a fraction of a second.
These nerve impulse passes through the axon until it comes to its end. At the end of the axon is a space between neurons called a synapse. At the synapse the nerve impulse triggers the release of molecules called neurotransmitters. When released in the synapse, they go on to stimulate the dendrites of the next neuron in the chain. This stimulus can create action potential in the new neuron. By sending action potentials that stimulate neurotransmitters – theses neurons direct the flow of information throughout our bodies. This flow of information enables us to walk, talk, breathe, think and feel our emotions.
The Human Brain
The complexity of the human neuron network is staggering. Around 100 billion neurons make up our brains, each with 1000’s of synapses. This results in approximate 100 trillion interconnections in our brains alone. This excludes the neurons in our spinal cords and the rest of the body. This super-neuron network in our bodies, is one of the most complex networks that exists on this planet.
But What Makes Humans TRULY UNIQUE?
Unlike the electronic components of a computer, which is static – that is they cannot change after they are built – our network of neurons is flexible. We not only have the most complex network; we also have a network that is able to constantly change. This neural flexibility is due to a special class of neurotransmitters called neuromodulators.
Neuromodulators act like drip feeders. They are able to alter the volume of neurotransmitters released into the synapse. And this alters how the subsequent neurons respond to signals.
The Changing Brain
These changes due to neuromodulators help to fine tune how we respond to stimuli in the present moment. And over the time – they enable us to rewire our brains. Rewiring the brain results in creating a new neural network. Through the action of these neuromodulators, the brain is constantly changing allowing us to constantly adapt to the world around us, to learn new things, to change the shape and efficiency of our bodies.
This is how the IYogaa Performance Program works. By practicing the appropriate postures, breathing techniques, visual and auditory cues, neuromodulators and neurotransmitters are harnessed in the appropriate manner to create functional and structural changes in your body.