Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Adding more Grey Matter

  1. Apr 30, 2007 #1
    I have read that greater intelligence is associated with the volume of grey matter in particular regions of the cortex. I have read that that the way the volumes of grey matter are distributed over the brain is highly hereditary.

    I have also read (this bit I interpreted a bit so I could be wrong) that if the patterns of 'wiring' in these regions is set up in a particular way it can be efficient ... so a person with lower volume of grey matter but 'better' wiring might be still be as intelligent as a person with more volume but 'poorer' quality of wiring.


    I have found out that you can build more synapse by employing more critical thinking and alternative thinking in solving problems. So intelligence could be factored in because you are adding more wiring. Is more wiring the same as 'better quality' of wiring? I'm not sure but maybe. What do people think?

    some of the other tips are

    Meditation using a buddhist technique, which is shown to boost the grey matter associated with attention: I got this from


    and following the suggestions outlined in this article: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060522150621.htm

    Finally I have read it is possible to create neurons using stems cells in a culture. This has been done in labs. So is it possible to 'hook up' cultured neurons via some kind of interface to your cortex so you simply add more processing capacity...like adding more RAM. Has this been done? Is this possible? I am not sure how the brain would be
    able to adapt to this, would it send out blood vessels and the supporting stuff like astrocytes to nourish these newly added neruons?
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 30, 2007 #2
    Well..i thought of the ear on the back of the mouse thing... and the idea of axon guidance which has been studied somewhat. So if you drill a hole in the skull, build some biodegrable scaffolding like they did for the mouse, take your cultured neurons, take an axon from this lot and using the scaffolding and axon guidance mechanisms, get it to penetrate into the cortex and hook up with a neuron you suddenly have a bit more horsepower... obviously there's a whole bunch of considerations but it could work possibly yea? the mouse's blood vessels fed the ear, so in the same way, blood vessels could feed the extra brain bit.... obviously this is all a bit simplistic but the crux of the idea might work yea??
  4. Apr 30, 2007 #3
    Unlike the way a computer uses it's RAM or CPU, the brain doesn't have generic "processing neurons" as far as anyone knows. Neurons are organized into particular circuits dedicated to certain tasks. So, just connecting up new neurons in a random fashion is unlikely to produce any cognitive benefit. If anything, it could mess up the circuits which already work, or slow them down.

    On the other hand, there is potential for stem cell therapy for particular diseases like Parkinson's Disease where a certain cell type has degenerated in a particular area. Or for spinal cord injuries, people want to use stem cells to replace those lost neurons, curing paraplegics and such.
  5. Apr 30, 2007 #4
    Is not being intelligent a disease? I am not sure to get a clear definition of what a disease is. Should there be a minimum threshold that all people deserve a chance to be above. In my view, its just like trying to eliminate poverty and getting more people into the middle class.

    Anyway.. I'm not talking about connecting things randomly obviously... just throwing out basis for what can be refined or corrected... so long as the principle is not stopped.
  6. May 1, 2007 #5
    instead of 'drilling hole and carrying on which is a bit stupid... I have read now that it is possible to increase the production of precursor cells in the adult brain via controlling the amounts of some naturally occurring proteins. I didn't investigate further.

    So far scientists have been successful with doing this in mice brains. If it is then possible to guide these precursor cells into appropriate grey matter regions that were deficient or diseased, then possibly, the natural processes might take over and differentiation into the appropriate neuron type could be achieved.

    Then employing axon guidance techniques, ailments ranging from Parkinson's disease all the way to improving intelligence (above a threshold 120 IQ??) can be achieved potentially.
  7. May 1, 2007 #6
    Oh, just then I read that we really understand very little about biology...take the example of a complete change in understanding of genes and their function recently as an example..So all these attempts might just turn out far more complicated..
  8. May 1, 2007 #7
    The processing power and adaptability of the human brain far exceeds that of any modern computer. What exactly is it that you want to improve upon?
  9. May 2, 2007 #8
    I am thinking about what can be done to improve intelligence.

    Reason is

    Well...I realise that there is an inherent inequality in society in terms of intelligence. A lot of people don't even know that the way they think about solving problems is not rational..

    then I read somewhere that for IQs below 120, IQ is the best predictor for socio-economic success. I also read in other places that social ease and open-mindedness is affected by IQ levels.. I have observed both these things first hand with a small set of people. It just seems a bit sickening below certain IQ levels, no matter what your effort, you're still going to be relegated to the realm of 'battler'. exceptions are there but maybe this is reasonably accurate observation for masses.

    Some of the smarter people are truly egotistical, hubristic and simply exploit the 'lower people's limited sanity. Yea this is just nature and maybe an attempt to improve the brain like could upset some ecological balance which could lead to extincition instead of..a closer to utopian reality. But I think that depends on how society would choose to work with (if it was invented) increased levels of sanity. These smarter people may become more accountable as was mentioned by verty in another post long back..which can only be a good thing.

    Increased levels of sanity would mean
    1. able to be stable in new situations by capacity for better pattern recognition and problem solving.
    2. ability to overcome the problem with mis-interpretation of data which means chance for accurate identification of
    personal strength and weakness.
    Last edited: May 2, 2007
  10. May 2, 2007 #9
    Just for information sake.. I have read that the genetic code mutates in response to the environment that the organism is exposed to.

    So this might mean..in a very subtle way that intelligence may be improved if
    one considers this

    1. neural cells are replaced as part of natural process as they die.
    2. genetic code in neural cells somehow affected by environment
    3. genetic code is what is read in producing proteins
    4. proteins may be responsible for part of the notion called thought.

    So if a human reacts positively to the challenge posed by their environment the quality of their thinking ability may improve? maybe this is too much of a stretch...

    that actually leads me to a question.. what is the biology behind thought? I don't really know.
    Last edited: May 2, 2007
  11. May 2, 2007 #10
  12. May 2, 2007 #11
    1. This is not true, for the most part.
    2. This is not true, for the most part.
    3. This is true, it is often called the 'central dogma' of molecular biology.
    4. This is almost certainly true though as yet unproved, it is hard to imagine how to 'prove' such a statement. It is similar to what Francis Crick called 'the astonishing hypothesis'.
  13. May 2, 2007 #12
    if somehow you could stop a cell from producing proteins or produce 'duds'..and then put a stimulus to evoke a certain reaction and if the organism fails to respond (wat's the deal with comatose patients?..just a thought) or never responds in the same way ever again (say you knock out a substantial part like same type of region in both hemispheres) then maybe this is the basis for proving that proteins are integral to thought.
  14. May 2, 2007 #13
    That way, you can only show that whatever you are testing is necessary for a particular kind of behavioral task. It is much harder to show sufficiency.

    Even worse, a subject's success at behavioral tasks does not really guarantee that the subject is thinking. This is often called 'the hard problem of consciousness'.
  15. May 3, 2007 #14
    I'm sure setting up such an experiment is much harder than this... but

    you could give this organsism some new problem to solve...that you know they have never encountered. This way they may be forced to 'think'. How much closer can you get to a garauntee of thinking than this?... this is just common-sense reasoning.

    As for the necessary and sufficient bit.. I'm not sure what you can learn..going the other way..just doing the experiement and observing might give you an idea of just what is missing as a result of lack of protein synthesis. Don't know how much somebody can actually learn from such an experiment if there is still very limited understanding about biology of thought at this point but you could maybe glean something
    Last edited: May 3, 2007
  16. May 3, 2007 #15
    read up on plasticity for point (1). there's a high rate of plasticity in chilrden...but people have also seen it in older people(or was it rats) especially in one fo the regions of the hippocampus that processes memory and i think the prefrontal cortex that processes "decision making and p lanning"
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook