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At Mind Matters News: A little-known structure tells our brains what matters now


Work with monkeys and mice has shed light on the filtering role of a neglected feature of the mammalian (including human) brain:

Upper right, at 2:00 o’clock, is the cuneate nucleus
(Nucleus cuneatus)/Gray’s Anatomy ,Public Domain

Neuroscientists knew about the cuneate nucleus (CN) but believed it to be a “passive relay station.” Anyway, stuck at the join between the head and the neck and surrounded by life-or-death brain regions, it was hard to research. The current team’s work with monkeys and mice however, suggests a much larger and more important role than relay…

The researchers posit that the cuneate nucleus highlights some signals and suppresses others before sending them up to the brain regions that enable “perception, motor control and higher cognitive functions.” And it receives signals from those regions too. That’s pretty important because it could be a gatekeeper — or a door blocker. They hope that their findings will prove useful in understanding and treating some aspects of paralysis.

News, “A little-known structure tells our brains what matters now” at Mind Matters News (June 1, 2022)

Takehome: The cuneate nucleus (CN) in the brain stem turns out to communicate regularly with your prefrontal cortex and spine as to what you had better notice. The more we learn about the brain, the less likely it seems to be purely a product of material, natural causes.

You may also wish to read: What neuroscientists now know about how memories are born and die. Where, exactly are our memories? Are modern media destroying them? Could we erase them if we wanted to?


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