Lost in a Forest of Neurons

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in Sketchbook, Vestige | No Comments

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There she stands amidst a forest of neurons. A vista through every single thought you’ve ever generated. Nestled somewhere between that blanket you had as a child and lazy summer days. She stands still. So many trees lay fallen. So many memories lost.

Yet this analogy isn’t quite right;

“Every cell seems to have a mechanism of self-destruction. If the path is turned on, then the cell ends up dying,” Deshmukh said. This programmed cell death is called apoptosis. In most parts of our bodies, cells are constantly committing suicide and being replaced. “In your typical dividing cell this pathway always has to be on and vigilant and ready to be activated if the cell becomes harmful.”

But not in neurons. “Once neurons are developed and are fully mature, then the pathway becomes completely shut down,” said Deshmukh. Under normal conditions, these mature neurons don’t even seem to be able to undergo apoptosis, he said.

Maybe neurons are too complex to simply replace. Maybe the connections they have formed are too important to risk losing. I can’t help but see parallels with what Deshmukh is saying and the story of Vestige. Memories can not be erased, as much as we may want to erase some memories. And maybe this is why memories remain mutable, to allow new meaning to be applied to those memories that haunt our minds.

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