Just recently, scientists from the State of Israel have published a new and bold theory with respect to how the brain learns things. According to them, this could open up doors to new possibilities and bring in new ideas to treat degenerative diseases. Consequently, this could boost the power held by computers. The research was published in Scientific Reports, which is a journal run by Nature. The study was peer-reviewed before being published, which indicates that it has been closely scrutinized, analyzed, and then deemed to be worthy of being published. Various independent experts were contacted to go over the final report.
The study states that a large chunk of learning takes place in a different part of neurons than what is normally believed, specifically the dendrites. In reality, it is believed that most of the learning that the brain does happens in the synapses. These are small gaps that exist between two different neurons and relays the impulses of the nerve. Dendrites, on the other hand, are just an extension of nerve cells. Prof. Ido Kanter, who works at the Bar-Ilan University, was the leader of the research, even during the time of this study being verified in animals. In his words, this finding is exciting because now, drug developers can take reference from it to come up with new kinds of treatments for various degenerative disease.
These include Parkinson’s, as well as Alzheimer’s. He went on to add that it would be in the best interests of the people if special attention was paid towards strengthening the abilities of the dendrites. Consequently, new treatments will then become possible. Kanter further talked about how most of the research these days focuses on coming up with medications for the synapses. However, if only a percentage of those resources were allocated to dendrites, then the result could be revolutionary. According to him, this is an opportunity to open new doors for medicine development.
He expressed hope that the findings of the study would be instrumental in the achievement of new medicinal goals. In the words of the Professor, this finding is also important because it shows that dendrites do not consume as much energy as the synapses do. Thus, venturing into the field of brain theory and learning more about how this function will allow people to understand medicine and computer science better than before. For the past 70 years, learning through machines has primarily been based on the idea that brain learning occurs through modification of the strength of the synapses.
This follows the relative firing activity of the neurons that connect them. According to Kanter, dendrite learning can prove to be quite efficient as compared to the functioning of synapses. This will eventually lead to the explanation of why brains are slower when compared with computers but are actually capable of doing so much more in a couple of areas. Moreover, the Professor believes that learning more about dendrites will enable people to imitate its efficient nature and apply it to the field of artificial intelligence.