Neurons are connected to each other to form networks that underlie behaviors. Drs. Akira Sakurai and Paul Katz of Georgia State’s Neuroscience Institute study the brains of sea slugs, more specifically nudibranchs, which have large neurons that form simple circuits and produce simple behaviors. In this study, they examined how the brains of these sea creatures produce swimming behaviors. They found that even though the brains of two species – the giant nudibranch and the hooded nudibranch – had the same neurons, and even though the behaviors were the same, the wiring was different.
The researchers blocked some of the connections in the giant nudibranch using curare, a paralyzing poison used on blow darts by indigenous South Americans. This prevented the brain of the giant nudibranch from producing the pattern of impulses that would normally cause the animal to swim. Then, they inserted electrodes into the neurons to create artificial connections between the brain cells that were based on connections from the hooded nudibranch. The brain was able to produce rhythmic, alternating activity that would underlie the swimming behavior, showing these two species produce their swimming behavior using very different brain mechanisms.
The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.
“Behaviors that are homologous and similar in form would naturally be assumed to be produced by similar neural mechanisms,” said Katz, co-author of the study and a Regent’s Professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State. “This and previous studies show that connectivity of the neural circuits of two different species of sea slugs differ substantially from each other despite the presence of homologous neurons and behaviors. Thus, the evolution of microcircuitry could play a role in the evolution of behavior”. (1)
Change the brain and you will still have a being which swims.
Change the brain and you will still have a being that thinks.
Change the brain and you will still have a human who is self-conscious.
Your brain changes all the time and yet you are still “you”.
The cosmos changes all the time and yet the laws governing it are the same.
The universe changes all the time and yet it is eternal.
Everything seem different and yet similar patterns arise everywhere.
Time seems to pass and yet you can always remember.
People die only to show that they are still alive.
Things change only to prove that they do not…
We all do.