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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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BRAIN, MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 183-192

Recent advances in brain physiology and cognitive processing


1 Adjunct Professor on Philosophy of Science, Institute of Biosciences, State University of São Paulo (UNESP), Campus Rubião Jr., 18618-000, Botucatu-SP, Brazil
2 Adjunct Professor on Psychiatric Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, State University of São Paulo (UNESP), Botucatu-SP, Brazil
3 Professor of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, University of Marília, Marília-SP, Brazil

Correspondence Address:
Alfredo Pereira Jr
Adjunct Professor on Philosophy of Science, Institute of Biosciences, State University of São Paulo (UNESP), Campus Rubião Jr., 18618-000, Botucatu-SP
Brazil
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.77434

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The discovery of participation of astrocytes as active elements in glutamatergic tripartite synapses (composed by functional units of two neurons and one astrocyte) has led to the construction of models of cognitive functioning in the human brain, focusing on associative learning, sensory integration, conscious processing and memory formation/retrieval. We have modelled human cognitive functions by means of an ensemble of functional units (tripartite synapses) connected by gap junctions that link distributed astrocytes, allowing the formation of intra- and intercellular calcium waves that putatively mediate large-scale cognitive information processing. The model contains a diagram of molecular mechanisms present in tripartite synapses and contributes to explain the physiological bases of cognitive functions. It can be potentially expanded to explain emotional functions and psychiatric phenomena.


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