Week 3: Questions


This week was all about synapses. As previously, we had a group discussion after reading the material and watching the lecture. At first, the topic did not seem to provide any particularly interesting thoughts as the synapses are part of basic knowledge about the functioning of the nervous system.

During the meeting, we pondered how learning actually happens in the brain and what kind of physical differences it creates. Learning and remembering things is quite an interesting topic. Sometimes it does not seem to make sense what the brain remembers and what not. I understand that some things are learnt by repeating multiple times. However, there are quite a lot of things one remembers, even though it would have been long since the thing took place, and it had not reoccurred since. What are the limits of long-time memory? Why are some things forgotten over long time and others aren’t even though we would not think about either? What actually happens when a person is trying to recall a thing after a while and why does it not come to mind immediately but rather after a moment of pondering? How does the brain filter which of the day’s topics are worth of remembering and which are discarded? Is there a limit on how much one can remember and does the amount vary between people? Coming back to the actual topic of the week, we also wondered how quickly and when do the synapses form. This brought us to talking about the importance of the amount and quality of sleep.

Sleeping itself raised plenty of questions, which I only mention here quite briefly. In our experience, when one is seeing a lucid dream, they usually wake up pretty quickly. Does this happen because a part of the brain thinks that it knows that one is awake, but at the same time another part of the brain tells that one is sleeping, and the brain fixes this conflict by waking up? Can we influence the dreaming person to know they are having a dream without waking them up?

Other questions we had on mind were about specific function of the electrical synapses and the evolution, and if the medications affecting synapses “aim” at a target or simply affect everywhere and happen to also affect the point of issue (like Burana).

In the end, this week’s meeting ended up sparking quite a lot of questions yet not very many answers, though we did provide some preliminary hypotheses. As the course proceeds, we expect to find answers to some of our questions. However, we do understand that the brain has so many mysteries yet to be solved that some of the questions may remain unanswered for now. Regardless of this, puzzling over questions is essential for without them one cannot begin to seek for answers.

Thank you for reading the post. Until next week!