Narrator: This is Science Today. The human brain has long been likened to a computer, but a better analogy may be the Internet according to UCLA neurology professor George Bartzokis.
Bartzokis: The neurons or the nerve cells are in fact the computers and they're all connected by wires, just like in an Internet and the wires actually represent about half the brain and the computer is the other half. 104 these wires in our brain are actually coated with insulation, just like regular wire would be.
Narrator: But unlike regular wiring, the insulation of the wires in the brain – called myelin – does three very important things.
Bartzokis: First, it increases speed of transmission, so just like an Internet; you have a much faster connection. Second, it decreases refractory time, so it actually increases bandwidth. And finally, when you successfully myelinate an entire circuit from one neuron to another, it actually brings whatever that circuit does online, so you can use it in an instantaneous basis. So, really, the analogy with the Internet is actually much better for the brain.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.