What the Synapses in Your Brain Actually Look Like

Illustration for article titled What the Synapses in Your Brain Actually Look Like

Without synapses, your neurons wouldn't be able to communicate and your brain would be little more than a ball of meat. Exactly what synapses look like has been a mystery until now, and it turns out that even though their job is simple, they're complicated as hell.

You have trillions of synapses in your brain, and when you zoom in, each one is an insanely complex miracle of nature. A tiny biological switch with so much nuance it's mind-boggling. Using a number of techniques like Western blot, mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, and super-resolution fluorescence microscopy, German researchers were able to get a close look inside, and recently published their findings in Science.


What you see is a party of some 300,000 different proteins all hanging out in and on a single synapse. And there are trillions of those parties raging in your brain right now. The specifics of what they all are doing is, of course, super complicated, but even someone with half a brain can appreciate how insanely complex our bodies really are. So exercise your synapses by pondering that.

You can hop over to National Geographic to see a whole insane video tour. [National Geographic via It's OK to be Smart]

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We still think this and all the other "miracles of nature" we've discovered could happen via random mutations? If we're still not able to reproduce nature with deliberate technology because it's too complex, then how could random mutations do it? Try to ponder that objectively.