With 26 letters, the English alphabet can build tens of thousands of words. With 10,000 kinds of cells, the human brain can build a number of connections so vast it’s hard to grasp.
Like letters arranged into words, these connections must be “spelled” right as the brain develops.
“Because the nervous system is wired specifically, most of us make more or less the same words,” explains Peter Fuerst, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Idaho.
Incorrect connections in the brain are like nonsense words – they don’t work with the whole, potentially leading to developmental disorders, autism or sensory deprivation. Other times, neurons that make inappropriate connections function like a repeated word or exclamation mark, exaggerating normal behavior in conditions such as epilepsy or obsessive-compulsive disorder.