We have all been told about the power one person, that one person can make a difference. Well, does the general principle also hold true about a single neuron?
Li et al., 2009 in a recent article appearing in Science magazine explored the power of a single neuron. The researchers found that by inducing repetitive high frequency firing of a single neuron they could switch the brain state from slow-wave sleep, to rapid-eye movement sleep. Rapid-eye movement sleep is thought to the sleep state in which we dream. The authors points out previous research indicating that the firing of a single cortical motor neuron could invoke whisker movement (Brecht et al., 2004), or a single somatosensory neuron firing could induce a ‘behavior’ (Houweling and Brecht, Nature 2008).
Therefore, judging by these three high profile journal papers, a single neuron can make a difference - one neuron firing can change your sleep state, motor movement, or induce a behavior.
If you think about it then we might be able to surmise how one neuron firing in one individual in the world could make a fundamental difference in this world. An interesting and thought provoking idea. Think Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelso Mandela, maybe you.
You and your neurons (maybe a single neuron) can make a difference. Something to think about, something to induce one or two neurons to fire.