UCLA researchers discover the brain is 10 times more active than previously thought

March 9, 2017
UCLA scientists discovered that dendrites (shown here in green) are not just passive conduits for electrical currents between neurons.
Shelley Halpain/UC San Diego

UCLA Researchers are reframing how we understand the brain. Previously, the scientific community believed that our neurons (brain cells) have somas (neuronal cell bodies) that send electrical pulses to other neurons using branching dendrites. However, Mayank Mehta, UCLA neurophysicist and senior author, discovered that dendrites are not just passive conduits for electrical pulses in the brain. Actually, dendrites generate electrical pulses nearly 10 times more frequently than somas. Dendrites even generate large fluctuations in voltage rather than all-or-nothing electrical pulses. According to Mehta, “This is a major departure from what neuroscientists have believed for about 60 years.” Not only does this discovery overturn previous notions about the brain, but it also suggests that the brain has much greater computational capacity than was previously thought.

Read more at UCLA Newsroom