Where's the Myelin? - Update from the ARHP

Below is the latest article from the Association for Reorganisational Healing Practice. Interesting updates on how neurons work in the brain and body. 

It’s helpful to remember that we are in an evolving field. Reorganizational Healing is the cutting edge of health care and very dependent on what foundational science has laid as the bedrock of scientific truth. It seems we’ve found a tectonic plate and the bedrock is shifting on one of the fundamental neurological theorems.

We already know that nerves transmit impulses along their pathway via saltatory conduction. This impulse travels along the myelin sheath and jumps at the nodes of Ranvier. It has also been theorized that signal propagation happens through the connective tissue in a much more diffuse and rapid fashion via Oschman’s proposed Continuum Pathway. This continuum pathway offers a means of communication from the Spinal Gateway down through layers of structure to genome level.

Recent research done by Paola Arlotta of Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute and Jeff Lictman of Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology is suggesting that what we have believed about signal propagation along the course of the neuron may have been inaccurate or at least incomplete.

The research has found that the most evolved parts of the brain actually have a decrease in myelin along its axons. There are long gaps in which the myelin does not appear. It was previously assumed that nerve cells are all completely myelinated to ensure conduction flow.

One of Arlotta’s hypotheses is that these are more evolved forms of neurons and that “we may be looking into the future”. As neurological demands become more and more intense it may be that these neurons are seeking to make more connections. The myelin insulates the nerves to allow for faster signal propagation but limits its ability to make connections with other neurons. This forecast is suggesting we are looking at the next evolution of the human brain into a structure that can better handle all the connectedness and demand of this and future generations.

To add to the shifting sands, neurobiologists are also upsetting the classic belief that specific cell types, (ie. astrocytes, glial cells) have individualized functions. Terming the question “neuronal identity” researchers are now looking for more accurate and robust ways to classify the nerve cell types and understand how function is determined in a nerve cell.

It is well known that the nervous system is the most complex and evolved physical structure of the body and now we are finding that much of what we had considered known is in fact still in question.

If we apply the Triad of Change here we can see that all three sides are represented. The morphological change of less myelin than expected is the Structure, the branching to make more connections is the Behavior and the perceived demands of modern life (assumed impetus for change by the researcher) would be the Perception. The question becomes what is that change leading to? Are we seeing a new level of neural adaptation leading to new ability or structural changes? Certainly, time will tell.

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