I’m using it to write this story. To construct sentences, to move my fingers across the keyboard, to breathe. Yet, I have no clue how. ‘It’ does it all, but I - nor anybody else - know how it functions. The brain. Why is it that we still don’t understand this black box inside our heads?
Many scientists at the University of Twente are working on uncovering the mysteries of the brain: from understanding and curing brain diseases to replicating its incredible computational power. What are the most puzzling questions in brain motivated research? And what could we achieve once we have the answers?
Describing the brain
One could say that the anatomical structure of the human brain is the organ's least mysterious aspect, but it still holds its secrets. 'We have a fairly good understanding of the architecture, but we only have a limited understanding of how brains can so efficiently process information,' says Michel van Putten, professor of Clinical Neurophysiology at the UT and a renowned neurologist at the Medisch Spectrum Twente. 'There are essentially three basic types of brain cells: excitatory and inhibitory neurons and the glial cells. Neurons are excitable cells that continuously communicate mainly through chemical synapses using neurotransmitters or direct electrical communication. As neuroscientist Llinás once said: “Neurons are like people in a social network; they basically chat all the time.” But what is their language? How important are the electrical rhythms they generate? We don’t know.’