Volume 1, Issue 4 
4th Quarter, 2006

The Dynamics of C-termini of Microtubules in Dendrites: A Possible Clue for the Role of Neural Cytoskeleton in the Functioning of the Brain

Jack Tuszynski, Ph.D.

page 5 of 5

If you do the math, the result is about 100 kilobytes per microtubule. Calculating the number of microtubules per neuron, you get one gigabyte of processing power per neuron. There are ten billion neurons. You have ten to the 19th bytes per brain and they oscillate or make transitions in this state on the order of nanoseconds, and ten to the 28th flops per brain.

This is conservative, to be sure. That is the computational capability within the brain at the scale of dendrites and inside the cytoskeleton.  

I will finish this up with a brief foray into the future. I have discussed what Mother Nature has already constructed for us. What can we do with this to operate it or make hybrids? I call it a bionano-factory. We can easily construct nanowires from microtubules and microfilaments – such as nanocables, nanoswitches, nanosensors, nanostorage devices and nanorobots. You saw some of the characteristics of motor proteins. All of this can be assembled and self-assembled and possibly directed to some degree. 

Microtubules can be decorated with nanoparticles and metallic, magnetic nanoparticles. Thus we are capable today of making structures that self-assemble and that have conductive properties that range from insulating to perfect conductors. We can coat them with gold, silver palladium platinum and magnetic beads, which have unique conductive, magnetic and chemically reactive states.

A microtubule network can be created where the microtubules go to with metallic particle beads. We can construct this surface now and hook them up to micro-electrodes that have sensors or microchips. This would be an architecture that you could control with input and output devices with microtubules of a billion possible shapes and sizes and conductive electronic properties. When you add to it these nanorobots -- kinesins and dyneins -- that walk at different speeds and different directions, then suddenly you are creating a new nano-universe.

TuszynskiProfessor Jack Tuszynski received his M.Sc. with distinction in Physics from the University of Poznan (Poland) in 1980. He received his Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics from the University of Calgary in 1983. He joined the University of Alberta Physics Department in 1993. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Biological Physics.



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