Marks on the Path


The picture is of the Tyre mark on wet, muddy road. Same will be the picture of the impression of every thought on the neural paths of human brain. Round the clock, we nurture billions of thought forms. Some times knowingly, and most of the time quite unknowingly. This is a very important information, that must be kept in mind, very useful in Self Development (Personality Development) .


Exercise Makes You Smarter

Exercise not only makes you healthier and

happier, it also makes you smarter, says

new research. An up-and-coming field of

neuroscientific research has linked

smartness to your regular routine of cardio.

The neuroscience researchers have found

that there is more to exercise that just

improving your blood circulation. It helps in

expression of a particular gene that floods your brain with brain derived

neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Mental sharpness, ability to learn and memorise

are aided by the BDNF protein.

The study was carried out in DartmouthCollege in USA by lead researcher

Michael Hopkins and his team. The team divided the participants in four groups

before giving them a memory test and conducting a mental health survey. One

of the groups exercised daily, another exercised daily but not on the day of test

and survey, third group whose participants exercised only on the day of their

test and survey, and the last group who remained sedentary.

The conclusion of the research by Hopkins and his team was that only the

group that exercised throughout, including on the day of the test and survey,

experienced a boost in BDNF. The researchers clarified that only moderate

exercises such as walking were performed by the participants, and there was

no vigorous workout schedule that they went through. They said that for

deriving mental health benefits out of exercise, it is important that you do not

exert your full might when working out. You just need to move all of your body

for more than half the days in a week.

The positive effect of exercise on mental health was also confirmed by a

research in Canada. Moderate strength training in women aged 70 odd for six

months slowed down the aggravation of dementia. And in young men and

women, the result of exercise was that they became sharper, mentally faster

and smarter. This corroborates the findings of the DartmouthCollege Research

Exploring the dimensions inner

Illustration of the major elements in chemical synaptic transmission. An electrochemical wave called an action potential travels along the axon of a neuron. When the action potential reaches the presynaptic terminal, it provokes the release of a small quantity of neurotransmitter molecules, which bind to chemical receptor molecules located in the membrane of another neuron, the postsynaptic neuron, on the opposite side of the synaptic cleft.


Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse.

Neurotransmitters are packaged into synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane on the presynaptic side of a synapse, and are released into the synaptic cleft, where they bind to receptors in the membrane on the postsynaptic side of the synapse.

Release of neurotransmitters usually follows arrival of an action potential at the synapse, but may also follow graded electrical potentials.

Low level “baseline” release also occurs without electrical stimulation.

Neurotransmitters are synthesized from plentiful and simple precursors, such as amino acids, which are readily available from the diet and which require only a small number of biosynthetic steps to convert.

Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934): Discovered a ‘ 20 to 40’ nm gap between neurons, known today
as the synaptic cleft.

Neurons – when we go fathoms

Much of what we know about how neurons work comes from experiments on the giant axon of the squid. This giant axon extends from the head to the tail of the squid and is used to move the squid’s tail. How giant is this axon? It can be up to 1 mm in diameter – easy to see with the naked eye.

Neurons send messages electrochemically. This means that chemicals cause an electrical signal. Chemicals in the body are “electrically-charged” — when they have an electrical charge, they are called ions. The important ions in the nervous system are sodium and potassium (both have 1 positive charge, +), calcium (has 2 positive charges, ++) and chloride (has a negative charge, -). There are also some negatively charged protein molecules. It is also important to remember that nerve cells are surrounded by a membrane that allows some ions to pass through and blocks the passage of other ions. This type of membrane is called semi-permeable.
Resting Membrane Potential

When a neuron is not sending a signal, it is “at rest.” When a neuron is at rest, the inside of the neuron is negative relative to the outside. Although the concentrations of the different ions attempt to balance out on both sides of the membrane, they cannot because the cell membrane allows only some ions to pass through channels (ion channels). At rest, potassium ions (K+) can cross through the membrane easily. Also at rest, chloride ions (Cl-)and sodium ions (Na+) have a more difficult time crossing. The negatively charged protein molecules (A-) inside the neuron cannot cross the membrane.

Action Potential

In addition to these selective ion channels, there is a pump that uses energy to move three sodium ions out of the neuron for every two potassium ions it puts in. Finally, when all these forces balance out, and the difference in the voltage between the inside and outside of the neuron is measured, you have the resting potential. The resting membrane potential of a neuron is about -70 mV (mV=millivolt) – this means that the inside of the neuron is 70 mV less than the outside. At rest, there are relatively more sodium ions outside the neuron and more potassium ions inside that neuron.

The resting potential tells about what happens when a neuron is at rest. An action potential occurs when a neuron sends information down an axon, away from the cell body. Neuroscientists use other words, such as a “spike” or an “impulse” for the action potential. The action potential is an explosion of electrical activity that is created by a depolarizing current. This means that some event (a stimulus) causes the resting potential to move toward 0 mV. When the depolarization reaches about -55 mV a neuron will fire an action potential. This is the threshold. If the neuron does not reach this critical threshold level, then no action potential will fire. Also, when the threshold level is reached, an action potential of a fixed sized will always fire…for any given neuron, the size of the action potential is always the same. There are no big or small action potentials in one nerve cell – all action potentials are the same size. Therefore, the neuron either does not reach the threshold or a full action potential is fired – this is the “ALL OR NONE” principle.

Action potentials are caused by an exchange of ions across the neuron membrane. A stimulus first causes sodium channels to open. Because there are many more sodium ions on the outside, and the inside of the neuron is negative relative to the outside, sodium ions rush into the neuron. Remember, sodium has a positive charge, so the neuron becomes more positive and becomes depolarized. It takes longer for potassium channels to open. When they do open, potassium rushes out of the cell, reversing the depolarization. Also at about this time, sodium channels start to close. This causes the action potential to go back toward -70 mV (a repolarization). The action potential actually goes past -70 mV (a hyperpolarization) because the potassium channels stay open a bit too long. Gradually, the ion concentrations go back to resting levels and the cell returns to -70 mV.


the figure shows an action potential recorded from a pyramidal neuron in the CA1 region of a rat hippocampus117, illustrating commonly measured parameters. The action potential was elicited by the injection of just-suprathreshold depolarizing current (purple). Use of a brief (1 ms) injection has the advantage that the spike and the afterpotentials are not directly influenced by the current injection. The response to a subthreshold current injection is also shown (red). Resting potential (Vrest) is typically in the range of -85 mV to -60 mV in pyramidal neurons. Voltage threshold (Vthresh) is the most negative voltage that must be achieved by the current injection for all-or-none firing to occur (in this neuron it is about -53 mV, a typical value). Threshold is less well defined for spontaneously firing neurons, especially in isolated cell bodies where transition from gradual interspike depolarization to spike is typically less abrupt than in slice recordings, and for such cases threshold is more easily estimated from phase-plane plots (Fig.2). The upstroke (also called the depolarizing phase or rising phase) of the action potential typically reaches a maximum velocity at a voltage near 0 mV. Overshoot is defined as peak relative to 0 mV. Spike height is defined as the peak relative to either resting potential or (more commonly) the most negative voltage reached during the afterhyperpolarization (AHP) immediately after the spike. Spike width is most commonly measured as the width at half-maximal spike amplitude, as illustrated. This measurement is sometimes referred to, confusingly, as ‘half-width’ or ‘half-duration’; ‘half-height width’ would be clearer. As is typical for pyramidal neurons, the repolarizing phase (also called ‘falling phase’ or ‘downstroke’) has a much slower velocity than the rising phase. Figure modified, with permission, from Ref. 117 © (1987) Cambridge Univ. Press.

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran


Vilayanur Subramanian “Rama” Ramachandran (born 1951)
is a neuroscientist best known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and psychophysics.
He is the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neurosciences Graduate Program at the University of California, San Diego.

Ramachandran is best known for his experiments in behavioral neurology which, despite their apparent simplicity, have generated many new ideas about the workings of the brain. He has been called “The Marco Polo of neuroscience” by Richard Dawkins and “the modern Paul Broca” by Eric Kandel.

In 1997 Newsweek magazine named him a member of “The Century Club”, one of the “hundred most prominent people to watch” in the 21st century and in 2011 Time listed him as one of “the most influential people in the world” on the “Time 100” list

Emerging Mind !

Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran (in accordance with Indian family name traditions, his family name, Vilayanur, is placed first) was born in 1951 in Tamil Nadu, India.
His father, Vilayanur Subramanian, was a UN diplomat, and as a consequence, Ramachandran spent much of his youth moving among several different posts in India and other parts of Asia.
Ramachandran is the grandson of Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, Advocate General of Madras and co-architect of the Constitution of India.
He is married to Diane Rogers-Ramachandran and they have two boys, Mani and Jaya.
Ramachandran has studied neurological syndromes to investigate neural mechanisms underlying human mental function. Ramachandran is best known for his work on syndromes such as phantom limbs, body integrity identity disorder, and Capgras delusion. His research has also contributed to the understanding of synesthesia.

An Observer into Fathoms

More recently his work has focused on the theoretical implications of mirror neurons and the cause of autism. In addition, Ramachandran is known for the invention of the mirror box. He has published over 180 papers in scientific journals. Twenty of these have appeared in Nature, and others have appeared in Science, Nature Neuroscience, Perception and Vision Research. Ramachandran is a member of the editorial board of Medical Hypotheses (Elsevier) and has published 15 articles there.

Ramachandran’s work in behavioral neurology has been widely reported by the media. He has appeared in numerous Channel 4 and PBS documentaries. He has also been featured by the BBC, the Science Channel, Newsweek, Radio Lab, and This American Life, TED Talks, and Charlie Rose. In the episode “The Tyrant” of the television show House, M.D., Dr. House cures phantom limb pain using a mirror box.

He is author of Phantoms in the Brain which formed the basis for a two part series on BBC Channel 4 TV (UK) and a 1-hour PBS special in the USA. He is the editor of the Encyclopedia of the Human Brain (2002), and is co-author of the bi-monthly “Illusions” column in Scientific American Mind.

Mind - A whirlpool !

His Main Research Domains :
1. Human vision
human visual perception using psychophysical methods to draw clear inferences about the brain mechanisms underlying visual processing.
2. Phantom limbs
He theorized that the body image maps in the somatosensory cortex are re-mapped after the amputation of a limb.
3.Mirror visual feedback
4. Capgras delusion
5. Synesthesia
6.Mirror neurons
7. Body integrity identity disorder
Books by Ramachandran
* Phantoms in the Brain : Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, coauthor Sandra Blakeslee, 1998, ISBN 0-688-17217-2
* The Encyclopedia of the Human Brain (editor-in-chief) ISBN 0-12-227210-2
* The Emerging Mind, 2003, ISBN 1-86197-303-9
* A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness: From Impostor Poodles to Purple Numbers, 2005, ISBN 0-13-187278-8 (paperback edition)
* The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human, 2010, ISBN 978-0-393-07782-7
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