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Thread: Neurons: humans v. pigs, ants and worms...

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Neurons: humans v. pigs, ants and worms...

    Do we know of any functional difference between the neurons of a human and the neurons of other species, say pigs, ants, and worms?
    EB

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Of course.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    They are certainly larger and longer physically, and there are a number of ways in which their electrical processing is different. We've got these long branching dendrites that seem to allow for much more functional compartmentalization. We also have some weird inhibitory neurons called rose hip cells. Much of the research on this question is younger than a year, I think much more detailed answers will soon be possible.

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    They are certainly larger and longer physically, and there are a number of ways in which their electrical processing is different. We've got these long branching dendrites that seem to allow for much more functional compartmentalization. We also have some weird inhibitory neurons called rose hip cells. Much of the research on this question is younger than a year, I think much more detailed answers will soon be possible.
    I don't mean functional differences between brains or even part thereof, but between neurons. What you say seems to mean that we don't know yet that there are actual functional differences... Am I wrong?
    EB

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Yes you are wrong.

    Neurons, like other things genetic evolved.

    Primitive neurons are as different from modern and more complex life form neurons as are donkey transportation form Musk transportation. In fact neurons have gone from just passing information to organizing, manipulating, analyzing, and converting information from one form to another (sodium pump to hypothalamus release of hormones and the like into the blood system .

    As for mechanical function the example is earthworm neurons are unmyelinated while most mammalian neurons are myelinated. So functionally mammalian neurons function much more quickly than do earth worm neurons. Neurons have gone from single synapse and dendrite to multiple dendrite and synapse designs permitting much more complex manipulation of information within a neuron. Its a bit like a switch being organized into a small computer.

    Also neurons have gone from being simple links between input and output to complex arbiters of loci and strength of input to target processing regions of neurons. So neurons function to emphasize and inhibit activity of near by ascending and descending neurons.

    Neurons have gone from single transmitter substance throughout the organism to specialized functionally different transmitter substances among neurons according what neural system the neuron is a member.

    Neurons have diversified to be more specialized in what purpose they serve in the nervous system.

    Neurons have arranged into identifiable organizations such as line, ring, complex, dictating how they function in various families like fish, reptile, mammal,etc.

    Neurons have gone from a single metabolic support system to a multiple level metabolic support system resulting in longer, more rapid, and more complex communication, inhibition, and moderation activity. Neurons have branched out to form receptor organs which function differently depending on what is being sensed.

    Anyone who has examined a brain can see that neurons changed over evolutionary time. One doesn't even need to examine brains to see that whatever controls behavior has evolved just by examining differences in behavior of their fish, turtles, birds, and cats. We all have multiple species for pets, right?

    Neurons never were just wires connecting things.

    Now if you are going to insist that the function of a computer is just like that of a switch you'd be wrong as well.

    By the way you opened the door for differing brain discussion by giving examples of worm, pig and ant.
    Last edited by fromderinside; 10-07-2019 at 07:24 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Do we know of any functional difference between the neurons of a human and the neurons of other species, say pigs, ants, and worms?
    EB
    We do, plenty. Although, the neurons of pigs and the neurons of humans are essentially the same.

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    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16805421

    The myelin sheath, and hence the myelin-forming cells (i.e. Schwann cells in the PNS and oligodendrocytes in the CNS), have been a crucial acquisition of vertebrates.
    I'd make a guess that vertebrates / invertebrates are where things really diverged, but could be wrong about that, and I assume that's a simplification.

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J842P View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Do we know of any functional difference between the neurons of a human and the neurons of other species, say pigs, ants, and worms?
    EB
    We do, plenty. Although, the neurons of pigs and the neurons of humans are essentially the same.
    So, when do they stop being the same? Do all mammals for example have basically the same sort of neurons?
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16805421

    The myelin sheath, and hence the myelin-forming cells (i.e. Schwann cells in the PNS and oligodendrocytes in the CNS), have been a crucial acquisition of vertebrates.
    I'd make a guess that vertebrates / invertebrates are where things really diverged, but could be wrong about that, and I assume that's a simplification.
    This seems to me to be an adaptation of neurons to the need for increased performances in relation to a a more complex system. Neurons may be essentially the same in vertebrates and invertebrates except for the need to extend communication between neurons over longer distances, and therefore to speed up signal transmission, etc. If that's true, then the functionalities of neurons remain the same. All the functional evolution would come from the evolution of the system rather than that of the neurons themselves.
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16805421

    The myelin sheath, and hence the myelin-forming cells (i.e. Schwann cells in the PNS and oligodendrocytes in the CNS), have been a crucial acquisition of vertebrates.
    I'd make a guess that vertebrates / invertebrates are where things really diverged, but could be wrong about that, and I assume that's a simplification.
    This seems to me to be an adaptation of neurons to the need for increased performances in relation to a a more complex system. Neurons may be essentially the same in vertebrates and invertebrates except for the need to extend communication between neurons over longer distances, and therefore to speed up signal transmission, etc. If that's true, then the functionalities of neurons remain the same. All the functional evolution would come from the evolution of the system rather than that of the neurons themselves.
    EB
    I guess that depends on how you define 'the same'.

    We all evolved from single-celled microorganisms, so by your logic all cell-types, in all species have the same functionality, and any adaptation in cells is due to the 'system' it's adapting to, and not intrinsic to it's function. I'd argue instead that you're presenting a false dichotomy, and that components of a system can't evolve in distinction from that system.

    You're right that they have the same origin, but the differences between them aren't arbitrary, and so one could call their function 'different'.

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