Monday open question: How long will it take to “solve” the brain?


Let’s do a quick calculation…

At the largest neuroscience conference, SfN, there are maybe 30,000 scientists who show up. Let’s pretend that this is about 1/3 of all neuroscientists (probably an underestimate) so we get 100,000 of us suckers.

Now let’s pretend we could assign each one of them a neuron that we wanted them to study. And let’s pretend that we were going to try to understand mice because, well, why not. There are ~71,000,000 neurons in the mouse brain according to Wikipedia.

This means that the mouse has about 700 neurons per neuroscientist.

There are ~10^11 synapses in the mouse brain, or about 1400 per neuron. That means there are roughly 980,000 synapses per neuroscientist.

Additionally, inside of each neuron is a whole bunch of molecular machinery that we don’t understand. Here is a simplified schematic of one of these pathways (dopamine):

molecular pathways

I have no idea how…

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1 Comment

  1. By the time we humans begin to understand the intricacies of the mouse (or any, for that matter) brain, the brain will have evolved into something else entirely and what you would be left knowing is the last common ancestor of what will exist then and will have just begun the process of understanding the implications of those evolutionary changes.


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