Posts Tagged ‘other brain’

Test your brain knowledge: neurons think, glia glue?

I promised to tell you more about a remarkable book I read recently:

The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science, by Dr. R. Douglas Fields (2009).

Dr. Fields tells us about the two general types of cells in the brain: the neurons and the glia (glia means glue).

In a brilliant stroke, in his heading for Chapter One, Dr. Fields asks the creative question about glial cells:


I have been helping kids overcome learning problems for more than 30 years, teaching them that we are all smarter than we think.

Dr. Fields tells us why.

Glial cells constitute 85% of our brain and they are thinking cells.

Glial cells are thinking cells?

We always thought that neurons did the thinking job. We always thought the glia were just there to hold things in place, to hold things together (glia means glue).

The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New  Discoveries about the Brain Are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science

I had no idea that the “white matter” (the glial-cell brain) comprises 85% of our active learning brain, that it is an intrinsic part of our cognitive functioning.

We have been referencing only 15% all along (the neuronal-cell brain) and now we have the good news that we have more brain horsepower than we ever thought possible.

Thank you, Dr. Fields!

I am grateful that you have written about your astounding research findings in ordinary language and with incredible creativity, so that the everyday reader has no trouble following the details of your amazing discoveries.

Book cover photo from


Hey, I’m the “brain guy.” I thought I knew a little bit about the brain, eh? [I guess the operative word is “little,” right?]

I’m dumbfounded.

We have been primarily referencing only 15% of the brain all along (the neuronal-cell brain) and now we have another 85% we can connect with for thinking purposes. This is great! Now maybe we can “smarten up,” eh? 😮

Previously we thought (we thought we thought with only the neuronal brain) that the glia were mainly for insulation and packing. “Stuffing” if you like. 😮

Now we find that glial cells not only insulate and protect, they control the electrical-firing neurons. Without using any electrical current! As the son of a Journeyman Electrician, I find this new discovery not easy to believe, eh?

– Doc Meek, May 11, 2010, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

The Second Brain

When we think of our brain, we naturally think of what is inside our heads, located between our ears, behind our eyes, and safely within our skull.

Very few of us would think of our brain as partially residing in our intestines. Our spinal cord, maybe, not our gut.

We do say to others sometimes, “I feel in my gut that this is true, ” when we have no hard evidence to back something up. However, we don’t think of that as a brain activity usually, do we?”

Well, perhaps our “gut” doesn’t think in the way we usually think about thinking. However, it is intimately acquainted with our brain and they talk to each other all the time. We may not understand the language they are using when they talk to each other. They do understand it, however, and are really good at communicating with each other.

And, amazingly, when the stomach or intestines are having trouble with food or toxins in the food, they not only yell at the brain, they cause the brain to function less than optimally.

“Brain fog,” is familiar to many. Thinking of the digestive system as a possible cause of “brain fog” is not something very many of us think about.

Not very often would a parent think of digestive problems as related to the learning disabilities of their child.

More on this “second brain” in my future blog postings here.

Doc Meek, Learning Specialist

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; and South Jordan, Utah, USA

“Hey, maybe I’m smarter than I thought!”

With the help of that great Mom, Mrs. Elmer, whom I mentioned in my first post (and the boy of course), all three of us got to the top of the mountain!

The first thing we did was ask Mrs. Elmer’s son Bob what he liked and what he was good at. He loved sports so we began talking in a silly fun way to that part of his brain that was so smart about baseball. Then we introduced the smart baseball part of his brain to the spelling part of his brain, which was not so smart, yet.

Turns out the two of them (the two parts of the brain) were able to team up and turn the spelling part into a great team player. Bob learned to spell words he had always avoided and began to think, to himself: “Hey, maybe I’m smarter than I thought!”

This was just the beginning. We taught young Bob how to make pictures in his mind’s eye so he didn’t have to try and struggle to remember. He just looked up at his special TV screen (projected from his mind out in front of him) and wrote down what he could see clearly. No more hurt and anger about not being able to remember stuff. “I just copy it off my secret screen,” he says.

His marks went up. Now he was seriously thinking, “Hey, I am smarter than I thought.”

After we helped Bob discover he was smarter than he thought, his teacher told us what he reported to her: “Boy, I had no idea I could read like this! After I went to Dr. Meek, I liked going to school instead of getting into fights all the time.”

– Doc Meek

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