Link: Glial cells shown to be involved in working memory

post by CronoDAS · 2012-07-20T07:08:45.622Z · score: 9 (12 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 11 comments

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=marijuana-reveals-memory-mechanism

I wonder what the implications are for brain preservation and whole brain emulation? If glial cells are important, then saving and emulating the neurons alone probably won't be enough.

11 comments

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comment by David_Gerard · 2012-07-20T08:07:26.147Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I would be surprised if the selection pressure that led to intelligence hadn't taken advantage of absolutely everything it possibly could.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-20T09:46:30.325Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If it's just important for working memory, then it would seem like they could get "you" back without them - assuming that working memory implementation across humans is mostly similar. You'd need analogs of glial cells, but not necessarily the exact

comment by gwern · 2012-07-20T14:21:52.805Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Just because something is necessary for the brain to operate doesn't mean specific versions need to be preserved rather than some generic version. It is necessary for you to have a skull to think and live, but I don't think many people expect the individual bumps and indentations to need to be preserved for a faithful upload...

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-07-21T14:08:39.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, people probably have slightly different versions of glial cells, and which model of glial cells you have might have some effect on your personality and intelligence.

Actually, it's probably not just one model per person. I've been told that there's more than one sort of ATP (copying errors and variations), even inside one person, and if ATP isn't universally identical, then you can't expect anything else to be.

comment by betterthanwell · 2012-07-22T19:53:32.014Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know next to nothing of biology, but I would naïvely expect the structure of the ATP, ADP, AMP, etc. to be fixed across all organisms with mitochondria. Shouldn't copying errors or variations that produce something other than ATP in place of ATP kill any eukaryote, let alone a human? Perhaps you mean variations to ATP synthase?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-07-22T21:06:46.744Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know little biology, too. I can check back with the person who told me that-- the way I understood it was that there are slightly different versions of ATP, some of which are more efficient, but all of which work.

comment by DanArmak · 2012-07-27T20:19:02.471Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The WP article doesn't mention anything of the kind, and when I studied freshman biochemistry nothing like that was mentioned, either. OTOH there's a lot of variations in the (vastly bigger, more complex and more diverse and numerous) organic molecules that work with ATP.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-07-20T15:11:14.393Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If possible, better ones. Working memory seems to be a human weak point.

comment by RobertLumley · 2012-07-20T15:35:46.802Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I took neurobiology, we learned that glial cells aided in, well, pretty much everything. And I thought we specifically addressed memory too. But I could be misremembering.

comment by hankx7787 · 2012-07-20T15:59:32.338Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This should theoretically raise the amount of computing power required to create AI through brain emulation

comment by Dolores1984 · 2012-07-20T19:27:14.103Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've been of the opinion for a while that we should be planning on modelling glia just to be on the safe side.