Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Ok, for the last time...

Seriously, people, we'll go through this one more time. After that, I'm cracking skulls. Recently I've heard several people, and a few t.v. shows, using the phrase: "Guess your synapses are firing." Okay, let me take this squiggley bag of snakes and lay 'em out straight for you: synapses do NOT fire.

No, no, really, they don't. I know many of you think they do, but they don't. A synapse is a term used for one of two things: either the entire arrangement of parts where neurons come together, or merely the empty space between two neurons. Yes, you read that right: empty space. Can empty space fire? Shit, can empty space do much of anything at all? No, obviously not. Now, that said, is it appropriate terminology to say that the entire arrangement of parts where neurons come together fires? NO! The pre-synaptic neuron fires. Whether or not the post-synaptic neuron fires depends on a number of factors. Further, synapses are one-way signaling terminals. So, if neuron A sends a signal to neuron B by firing, neuron B cannot send a signal back to neuron A through the same synapse. So, if the post-synaptic neuron fires, it doesn't make a goddamn bit of difference to the synapse. Nerves fire, synapses do not.

Don't believe me? Well then, by all that's holy, check this out:



Okay? Is that clear enough? If you haven't already, pay special attention to the label "synapse" that denotes empty-bloody-space. Seriously, folks, you're making me fucking nuts. It's like listening to someone say, "Gosh, your tools are hammering!"

This has been your public service message for the day.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was watching an anchor on CNN refering to "firing synapses" and my head finally exploded.

I am only reasonably intelligent (no chess, liked the movie more than the book, mensa is not calling) and from the time I heard the briefest description of how signals in the brain are transmitted - which your illustration...illustrates - I got the point which you pointed out so...pointedly.

It always aggrivated me when people smarter than me with lots of letters after there name talked inanely about "firing synapses". Whenever I tried to correct anyone they gave me the "whatever you say" look.

Thank you for putting that out there and thank you for being annoyed at this everpresent misnomer (is that the right word? I wasn't kidding about being only reasonably intelligent)

Kubbie
(i am not really anonymous, just to lazy to register or sign in or whatever)

Sunday, December 12, 2004 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey, letters after a name don't necessarily mean that the person in question is more intelligent or even more educated. At a minimum, it just means they've suffered through an institution for a particular period of time. Keep on correcting them, Kubbie. If they don't take you seriously, it's their loss.

I'm not sure misnomer is quite the right word, but it's close enough for me.

Monday, December 13, 2004 9:07:00 AM  

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