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The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless. Despite rumors to the contrary, there are many ways in which the human brain isn’t all that fancy. Let’s compare it to the nervous system of a fruit fly. Both are made up of cells, of course, with neurons playing particularly important roles. Now one might expect that a neuron from a human will differ dramatically from one from a fly. Maybe the human’s will have especially ornate ways of communicating with other neurons, making use of unique “neurotransmitter” messengers.
Subnetwork, 1995. This image shows a single neuron's soma and dendrites (at center, orange) and the dense branches of its axon (yellow). The latter spreads throughout a considerable portion of a rodent's hippocampus (an area implicated in learning and memory) and shuttles this neuron's information to thousands of others. The blue background reflects a staining of many neighboring neurons, revealing the overall structure of this brain region. <p style="text-align:right;color:#A8A8A8"></p>