From time to time, I’ve asked around for a good estimate of how many neurons are in the human brain. Ten billion–100 billion–something like that, is the typical answer I get. But there are actually a trillion other cells in the brain. They’re known as glia, which is Latin for glue–which gives you an idea of how little scientists have thought of them. But without glia, our brains would be useless. Scientists don’t yet really understand all the things that glia do for us, but it looks as if they do a lot–perhaps even processing information in their own mysterious way.
In my brain column in the September issue of Discover, I consider the long-neglected neurological elephant in the corner. Check it out.
[Image from Neurophysiology for the Audiologist]